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Tuesday, 26 June 1906

Mr HENRY WILLIS (Robertson) . - The honorable and learned member for Northern Melbourne has given us an analysis of the Bill that one might have expected to be delivered in Committee; but his speech was nevertheless very valuable, inasmuch as it showed that the Bill will, in alll probability, prove to be sham legislation. That is how I interpreted his arguments. But, as the honorable and learned gentleman is now leaving the Chamber, I shall not refer to his remarks at greater length.

Mr Isaacs - The honorable and learned member said that he would vote for the Bill, so that he cannot think that it will prove to be sham legislation.

Mr HENRY WILLIS - Although he may vote for it; he does not think that it will accomplish all that it is desired to accomplish.

Sir William Lyne - The legislation of the. United States does not accomplish all that it is desired to accomplish, but it is a great check.

Mr HENRY WILLIS - The honorable and learned member also proved that the Bill would do a great deal of harm, because innocent persons would be injured by prosecutions. He gave instances of the manner in which innocent men might be brought before the Court, and he is evidently of opinion that the measure has been imperfectly drafted. But whatever his views may be, we know that legislation of a similar character, though not so drastic, has been enacted in other parts of the world. As recently as Saturday last, it was recorded in the public journals that a number of persons representing trusts and combines had been brought before American Courts, and heavily fined, while others were sent to prison for a number of years.

Sir William Lyne - Does not the honorable member consider the American legislation fairly effective?

Mr HENRY WILLIS - The Minister assumes that I am opposed to anti-trust legislation. I say that the American legislation is effective; but this measure is still more drastic, because it goes further than the American Acts go. As the honorable and learned member for Northern Melbourne has pointed out, innocent people will be brought within its provision, and branded as criminals, although they have no criminal intent, and may be men who, instead of wishing to injure the public, desire to benefit the public as well as themselves. Under the Bill, such persons may be prosecuted and severely fined, and, in some cases, sent to prison. The Minister did not take the advice offered to him during the second reading discussion of a similar Bill last session, when it was suggested that, during the recess he should redraft the measure, with a view to making it less drastic and more effective.

Sir William Lyne - I said at the time that if I did anything I should alter the Bill to make its provisions more drastic.

Mr HENRY WILLIS - The honorable gentleman has done so. He was advised to make the Bill less drastic and more effective ; but his desire has been to make it more drastic, and, as the honorable and learned member for Northern Melbourne has shown, he has made it less effective. The Bill has bean introduced with the idea of preventing the destruction of Australian industries, but, as the honorable and learned member for Northern Melbourne has pointed out, it is a very dangerous instrument. It would have been preferable for the Minister to wait until the report of the Tariff Commission was before us, so that we might have been fully informed as to the disabilities under which our manufacturers labour, and the hardships that are being inflicted upon consumers. Possibly, when that report is before us, we may find that we can achieve our object more effectively by removing Tariff anomalies, than by legislation such as that) now proposed. It seems to me that the introduction of the Bill is premature. We cannot expect to make such a measure effective without having, the fullest information before us. The Minister has not adduced sufficient reasons to justify the hurried passing of the Bill. He has shown that certain evils exist in the. United States and Canada, but he has not been able to satisfy us that similar conditions are to be found here. Canada had copied the legislation of tha United States, and New Zealand has, to some extent, followed suit; but we have not sufficient information before us to justify us in adopting the very drastic steps now proposed. Before thi? Bill was introduced, the Government should have fully assured them selves of the necessity for such a farreaching measure. The conditions in America are very different from those which- prevail here. The people of the United States are a self-contained community. As Mr. Chamberlain has pointed out in some of his addresses on Preferential Trade, the importations into the United States are infinitesimal as compared with the local production and the exports. The United States have developed their manufactures to such an extent under an almost prohibitive Tariff, that they are now able to produce practically all that they require. In such a country, there is a wider field for the operation of trusts, and such combinations are capable of more destructive work than would be possible in Australia. The introduction of legislation of this kind would probably have effects directly opposite to those which would be brought about in the United States. We cannot possibly produce all that we require, and through the operation of a measure of this kind, the cost of goods which have to be imported in order to meet the daily necessities of the people will probably be increased. I approve, with certain modifications, of the provisions contained in Parts II. and III. of the Bill, which are intended to repress monopolies, and prevent the dumping of goods upon our market, because I believe that legislation intended to operate in the directions indicated would prove beneficial to the consumers. Monopoly, whether of the sources of production or of distribution, is essentially pernicious and injurious to the community. According to the newspapers, the Beef Trust in America has recently been fined for having obtained certain concessions by way of rebates and preferential rates from the railway companies in that country. We know that preferential rates have been in existence upon some of our States railways. As these rates, however, were intended to benefit one State as against another, and to bring traffic to certain lines of railway, they were regarded as legitimate. In the United States, the railway rates are arranged in such a manner as to enable the trusts to sweep all competitors from their path. Then, when the trusts have established a monopoly, they raise the prices to the consumer. The Shipping Combine might operate to the detriment of the people here in much the same way. If the associated shipowners are adopting the practice of granting rebates to certain persons who give them the whole of their patronage, and of withholding similar concessions from other persons who occasionally ship their goods by other steamers, some act:on should be taken to restrict their operations. Then, again, we are told that the tobacco combine is endeavouring to secure a monopoly. A number of persons with a large amount of capital may form a combination or trust capable of controlling the means of exchange, of crippling industry, strangling opposition, tyrannizing; over the retail traders, and reducing the free people of a State to pay tribute to the millionaire class. It is common talk that the tobacco combine are tyrannizing over the small retailers. All the evils that are (known to exist in America in connexion with the tobacco trade are now arising, although perhaps in a less objectionable form, in Australia. It is only a matter of time, however, when this combine will be as pernicious and destructive in Australia and as capable of monopolizing the whole trade, of raising, prices, and of, at the same time, foisting on the public an inferior article, as it has proved iri the United States. The reasons put forward by the Minister for the proposed legislation are not altogether clear and satisfactory. They must be viewed with a certain amount of suspicion, because the Bill is being hurried through, the House before honorable members have had an opportunity of considering the conclusions of the Tariff Commission, which has sat for a very long time, and has incurred an expenditure of £10,000 in collecting much valuable evidence. The Commission have obtained verv striking testimony from persons who went before them reluctant to give the fullest information. If we had their conclusions before us we should be in a much better position to frame an effective measure. The Minister of Trade and Customs is not to be absolved from blame, if his only reason for expending public time and treasure at this stage in connexion with this measure is derived from the experience of the United States. At present we have no such evils as are to be found there. With us, trusts are in their infancy, and we must be fortified with the fullest information before we can expect to deal effectively with such a complex subject. The Minister has made out a prima facie case against the American Tobacco Company of Australia, which has a capital of ^3,700,000. and is seeking to monopolize the tobacco trade. As a representative of the people, I regard it as my duty to cut the tentacles of this octupus, but, whilst I hold that we are here to deal with the abuses of trusts and combines, it does not, in my opinion, follow that we should nationalize an industry that can be successfully controlled under legislation such as has been passed in other parts of the world. When a country is invaded by an enemy, or if its agents or emissaries are within the gates insidiously mining and sapping, with a view to capturing the citadel - the markets which should be available to the honest manufacturer - the Parliament should immediately legislate as against a common enemy.

Mr Webster - Who expresses that opinion ?

Mr HENRY WILLIS - That is my deliberate opinion, after looking into this matter thoroughly. I have not arrived at my conclusion off-hand, but after having considered the whole subject as one' who desires to legislate for the benefit of the country. The party, of which I am a member, has always brought forward legislation for the frood of the people. The Minister of Trade and Customs laughs, but I would challenge him to mention any legislation of a democratic character that has not had the support of the majority of. honorable members on this side of the House. If any concessions are granted, they should be granted to the masses of the community, whose interests require to be safeguarded more than do those of the sharp, unscrupulous business men, whose chief mission in life is to filch the earnings of the unprotected. May I go further, and affirm that if the oppressor is of our own citizenship he must be stripped of his disguise as the wolf of its sheep's clothing. In this connexion, I desire -to refer particularly to the Colonial Sugar Refining Company.

Mr Wilks - That company has opposition to face now.

Mr HENRY WILLIS - I am very glad to hear it. No concern in our midst is a safe one - so far as the community generally are concerned - unless fair competition is assured. Human nature is the same in all of us. As soon as a man secures control of a market), he will fleece the public right and left. The Minister has intimated that he has asked for. a report from the Colonial Sugar Refining Company as to the charges which they are levying upon the public for the sugar which, they are distributing. I say that he should thoroughly satisfy himself that the company are dealing fairly with the ^people. He should ascertain whether the greater portion of the large bonus which Australia is paying, for the maintenance of the sugar industry - ostensibly for the preservation of a White Australia - is not finding its way into the coffers of that company, thus enabling it to make larger profits than would otherwise be the case.. I should like to know whether the Minister has received such a report, and whether he is satisfied that the public are not being injured. The Australian shipping combine is also under suspicion, having been charged before the Shipping Commission, in Brisbane, with a clandestine attempt to interfere with freedom of commerce. That is a very serious charge. The evidence given before the Commission was to the effect that the shipping combine conferred certain privileges upon those persons who shipped their goods exclusively by its steamers. Individuals who occasionally shipped merchandise by their vessels were not granted the same concessions.

Mr Robinson - Every Government railway in Australia does the same thing.

Mr HENRY WILLIS - No. I have already stated that differential and preferential railway rates in Australia have been imposed for the purpose of protecting the capital which hag been invested in lines that run a long distance from the seaboard towards a neighbouring State line that is nearer to the seaboard.

Sir William Lyne - Does not tha shipping combine prevent a person who does not conform to its regulations from shipping goods by its steamers again?

Mr HENRY WILLIS - I believe so. Further, the combine ordered a line of steamers off the Australian coast, and the vessels had to be withdrawn. It is our duty, as legislators, to deal with that combine, and, upon this side of the Chamber, I have not heard a single voice raised against the enactment of legislation which will prevent the public from being robbed by such an organization. Then there is the tobacco combine.

Sir William Lyne - The tobacco combine in America is possessed of ^57,000,000 or ^38. 000.000

Mr HENRY WILLIS - The Minister is not referring to the Australian combine.

Sir William Lyne - I am speaking of the trust with which the Australian combine is associated.

Mr HENRY WILLIS - These three trusts would not suffer financial loss or be injured in any way - if their business methods were honest - by being subjected to the provisions of Part II. of the Bill. The speech of the honorable and learned member for Northern Melbourne only served to strengthen my conviction that these combines should be specified in the Bill, and that the Governor-General in Council should be empowered to specify by regulation any other combine which is carrying on business to the detriment of the public, with a view to bringing it under this portion of the measure. No injury whatever could befall these companies as the result of such legislation, but a large measure of protection would be conferred upon the public, and a great deal of scandal would be avoided. There are trusts whose businesses cannot be controlled as can those of the three combines which I have mentioned without injury to the consumers. .There are other trusts which are capable of doing damage to our industries and our commercial interests if they are passed unnoticed. Included in the latter category are the Massey-Harris Company, the International Harvester Company, and, so far as a great deal of the trade of Australia is concerned, the steel trust. If the goods manufactured by the agricultural implement makers, and bv the steel trust - which controls the output of steel rails and metals used in railway construction - were specified in a schedule published in the Commonwealth Gazette, as is provided for in the New Zealand Act, and if another schedule were gazetted showing the selling price of such goods in the country whence they were shipped, as compared with their selling price in Australia, much good would result. In New Zealand this experimental legislation will terminate within a month, but in my opinion we might permanently copy it here with advantage, it having been conclusively proved in that Colony that it is beneficial to the public interest. It would protect the consumer against the operations of the trust. It would also enable the manufacturer to utilize all the inventive genius of Australia in a particular machine. The ideas of Australians have already been copied irc America, so far as harvesters are concerned. It might be possible to improve upon them locally to such an extent that ultimately we should command the whole trade of Australia, because we ought to be able to produce a machine quite equal to the American article. I think that the local manufacturers of agricultural implements might, with advantage, be brought under this Bill. Railway requisites, steel rails, galvanized iron, and wire netting might also be subjected to restrictive legislation. Should such legislation not operate beneficially, it could easily be repealed. The manufactures I have mentioned might lae dealt with separately, and not under indiscriminate dumping provisions. The Minister in his speech dealt very fairly with the provisions of the Canadian and New Zealand Acts. He clearly showed how they could be brought into operation, and how the public could be protected in a similar way to that in which they are protected in NewZealand. In my opinion, it would be a mistake to pass a comprehensive Bill which could be applied indiscriminately. In the hands of an extreme fiscalist it might be used for party purposes, even if it were not used - as. it could be - dishonestly. Socially, I regard the Minister as a most excellent citizen, and as a party man he is a rabid protectionist. He is an excellent reader of human nature, and I fear that he might be tempted to administer this Bill in the interests of his party. Even against the promptings of his better self he would lean towards the interests of the manufacturer rather than towards those of the consumer, who should be his first consideration.

Sir William Lyne - I should lean towards the interests of the consumer rather than towards those of the importer.

Mr HENRY WILLIS - On the other hand, if the measure were being administered by a free-trader he would probably lean just as much in the other direction, and in that case a great deal of injury would be done to the manufacturer. It is not a good thing to place in the hands of a Minister an instrument which he can use for party purposes, against the best interests of the community, and against the general progress of the Commonwealth. The interjection of the Minister leads me to believe that he intends to amend the provision relating to the appointment of a Board of three persons to determine what is unfair competition, by substituting for that body a Justice of the High Court. Is that correct?

Sir William Lyne - Yes.

Mr HENRY WILLIS - I do not see how it would be possible for a lawyer to determine such a question " satisfactorily.

If he possessed the same instincts as does the honorable and learned member for Northern Melbourne, I do not think he would be competent to .satisfactorily solve a matter of that kind. But if the Minister appointed a high-principled commercial man, and placed him above party considerations, it would be possible to secure satisfaction.

Mr Wilks - What salary would he be worth ?

Mr HENRY WILLIS - If we desired to secure a first-class man we should have to give him ^2,000 a year.

Mr Wilks - Does the honorable member think that he would perform his work satisfactorily for that sum?

Mr HENRY WILLIS - I do. I desire to legislate against abuses. The honorable gentleman said that this was not a question of free-trade or protection, but of legislation for the benefit of the people. If it be the object of this legislation to protect the people against abuses brought about by the dishonest operations of trusts and combines, its consideration should not be affected by party views based upon a belief in either free-trade or protection. The American Steel Trust has already operated, and it is shown by our Customs returns that we import from abroad steel and iron articles of all kinds to. the value of ,£7,000,000. These imports are to be dealt with under the dumping provisions of this Bill. They comprise electrical appliances, anchors, arms for army and navy, revolvers and pistols, rifles, bicycles, cutlery, chains, bar, rod, angle, and tee iron and steel, galvanized plate and sheet, girders, beams, hoop iron, ingots, pig and scrap iron, rails and railway material, wire rope, sewing machines, and all other kinds of machines, axles and springs, bolts and nuts, mixed metalware, horse-shoe and other nails, manufactures of metals, pipes, and tubes, plated-ware and plated cutlery, tanks, iron and steel wire, barbed wire, wire netting, tin plates, machine tools, and tools of trade. It seems to me that if any attempt is made to prevent the importation of these articles which, for many years to come, cannot possibly be manufactured here, the effect must be to raise their price to the consumer. At the present time the farmer pays highly for everything he uses, but the Minister of Trade and Customs now proposes to add from 10 to 50 per cent, to the cost of all these articles, which are required by the primary producers of the country. He is going to make a special effort, on behalf of Australian manufacturers, to have these goods produced in Australia, although we know that they cannot for many years be manufactured here.

Sir William Lyne - I said that I would get as many as possible of them manufactured here.

Mr HENRY WILLIS - The honorable gentleman has given us another list of articles, many of which are required by .the primary producers, comprising wire nails, galvanized wire ropes, table knives, farm waggons, sewing machines, steel rails, lead, shovels, wash-boards, tin plates, typewriters, and lawn mowers. He gave the American prices of these goods; and the lower prices at which they are sold in foreign lands, specially mentioning Australia.

Sir William Lyne - Is not that dumping?

Mr HENRY WILLIS - The honorable gentleman assumes that that is the result of dumping, but, as a matter of fact, it is the result of a prohibitive Tariff. In the country in which these articles are made there are very high protective duties imposed, under which manufacturers are able to get very high prices for their wares in their own country^ and are thus enabled to sell their surplus manufactures abroad at lower prices than those prevailing in their home market. They sell their goods abroad at prices which they would be willing to accept in their home market but for the opportunities afforded them to rob the people under a high protective Tariff.

Sir William Lyne - The honorable member is going to make a Tariff question of it.

Mr HENRY WILLIS - I am not, but I have the Minister's figures before me. The list supplied bv the honorable gentleman is an example of what happens under high protective duties, and the Minister now proposes to raise the prices of these articles to the primary producers of Australia.

Sir William Lyne - 'I did not say anything of the kind; that is a misinterpretation of my words.

Mr HENRY WILLIS - I do noi wish to quote long passages from the honorable gentleman's speech, but he submitted a list, which I have in ray hand, of articles to which I have referred as being sold in America at one price, and in foreign lands at a lower price. We have always contended that that is the effect of a protective Tariff. If you can rob people by taking, from them more than you are justly Entitled to demand for ,your wares, you are thus enabled to take your surplus manufactures and dump them, if honorable members please, in a foreign country for sale at cost price, and yet secure sufficient profit on capital invested to amass a large fortune as the result of opportunities afforded by high protective Tariffs. If the Minister desires to bring the importation of these goods under the dumping provisions of this Bill, he desires to raise their price to the primary producer.

Sir William Lyne - No.

Mr HENRY WILLIS - I have read the list, and honorable members know that it comprises' articles required by the primary producer. The Minister desires thai imports of these goods shall pay duty to the extent of 50 per cent, more than they are now paying, because that will be the effect of bringing them under the dumping provisions of this Bill. These matters can be very much better dealt with in a Tariff Bill than in an anti-dumping measure. It is not fair to the House and the country that in his position as Minister of Trade and Customs, the honorable gentleman'. should attempt to bring all these wares required, by the primary producer under the provisions of this Bill, when he knows that they can be more effectively and appropriately dealt with in a Tariff Bill. What is more, the honorable, gentleman says that under the provisions of the Commonwealth Customs Act, and the Tariff Act, he has power to deal with every one of these articles at the present time. The honorable gentleman has taken legal advice upon that -matter, but his reason for not acting as the Minister of Trade and Customs, is that he wishes tha House to give him encouragement, and to confirm the suggestion he has made in order that he may to-morrow, if he pleases, operate in Mie direction hera indicated, and add to the burden of every farmer and producer in the Commonwealth, by from 1.5 to 50 per cent, on the present selling price of the articles he uses.

Sir William Lyne - That is very unfair.

Mr HENRY WILLIS - I think honorable members will agree that I am dealing fairly with this Bill. Part II. of the measure can be used to deal with the Sugar

Trust, the Tobacco Trust, and the Shipping Trust. I am prepared to operate against those trusts, against which I say the Minister has made out a prima facie case. Under Part III. of the Bill, I should be prepared to deal with the Steel Trust, and other trusts mentioned, such as the Massey-Harris and International Harvester Trust.

Sir William Lyne - No dreadful calamity happened when I dealt with the Massey-Harris harvester.

Mr HENRY WILLIS - It appeared that there was collusion in our midst in that particular line of business.

Sir William Lyne - I was going to ruin the farmer then, according to some honorable members.

Mr HENRY WILLIS - If the Minister did good on that occasion, I am glad to know it. I am not speaking as one having a grievance against the Minister of Trade and Customs, but as an unbiased citizen, and Member of Parliament. I say that it is a most unwarrantable act on the part of the Minister to propose to bring the long list of articles to which I have referred, and which, even with the progress we are making, we cannot hope to manufacture in Australia for another thirty or forty years, under the dumping provisions of this measure, so as to raise their price to the primary producer.

Sir William Lyne - It will not raise the price.

Mr HENRY WILLIS - The honorable gentleman has stated that these articles are sold at a certain price in the country in which they are manufactured, and in Australia at a lesser price.

Sir William Lyne - If they were manufactured here the prices would be lower than they are.

Mr HENRY WILLIS - If I had known that the Minister would try to repudiate his own figures, I should have worked out the prices he gave in English money, because it is not satisfactory to speak in dollars to the electors of Australia. We must consider some articles which are not included in the list presented by the Minister. Let us take kerosene oil, for instance. The honorable gentleman says that there is a company prepared to spend something like £80,000 in the construction of a railway to certain shale mines.

Sir William Lyne - They are at it now.

Mr HENRY WILLIS - And that they have a capital of £60,000 or £70,000.

Sir William Lyne - From £600,000 to £700,000.

Mr HENRY WILLIS - I suppose that honorable members are aware that to produce oil from shale the shale requires to be baked, and the crude oil obtained from the shale kilns cannot be compared with the well oil which we get from America. The Minister's proposal in this connexion is to make kerosene oil expensive, to tax: the consumer and the poor man again - not the poor man who lives in large centres, but the poor man in the country.

Mr Robinson - To tax the farmer's illuminant.

Mr HENRY WILLIS - Yes, the farmer is to be taxed again. The Minister proposes to protect the product ofthe kerosene shale industry against the well oil of America.

Sir William Lyne - That is a deliberate misstatement. When did I say I was going to protect the shale industry ?

Mr HENRY WILLIS - How is the Minister to protect the industry unless he keeps the American well oil out? If the American oil is allowed to come in. then the honorable gentleman's friends will be madmen if they try to compete with it with oil derived from kerosene shale.

Sir William Lyne - They are not my friends.

Mr HENRY WILLIS - We know very well that these men have not put £600,000 or £700,000 into a venture of this kind nor would they put down £80,000 for the construction of a railway line, which can be used for no other purpose than the transport of oil or of shale for use in gasmaking, without some shrewd idea that they will be given protection which will enable them to keep their industry going. It would therefore appear that the Minister is desirous of putting up the price of well oil, under the operation of Part III. of this Bill, to that ruling in Australia for shale oil. If I am making an inaccurate statement, it will do me no good.

Sir William Lyne - The honorable member is making a misstatement - an absolute misstatement ! .

Mr HENRY WILLIS - The pick and shovel have to be used in taking out the shale in the mine, just as coal is taken out. Then it has to be trucked, put into kilns, and baked) so that the oil may be extracted from it. Does the Minister mean to say that oil so produced can be sold at the same price as oil which is obtained as easily as water can be taken out of the sea? That is the case in America, whence we get our kerosene. Yet the Minister proposes to protect this shale industry.

Sir William Lyne - I never said anything of the kind.

Mr HENRY WILLIS - The Minister intends to attack the Oil Trust of America. He went into details, and told us what his friends had told him. He is not an innocent. He knows what these men have in their minds, and they know that the Minister wishes to see their industry established, and that he will go to the length he has stated in his speech of preventing the importation of the oil sold by the American Oil Trust.

Sir William Lyne - I did not say so.

Mr HENRY WILLIS - He intends to stop the dumping of kerosene oil on Australia.

Sir William Lyne - The honorable member has a very imaginative brain.

Mr HENRY WILLIS - I am quoting from the Minister's own speech. Is. he going to exempt this Oil Trust ? The Minister himself said that he was astounded in looking into the matters placed before him by his officers. But in America they talk of millions as if they were merely blackberries. But if the trust is not to operate here the price of oil . will be put up by the producers of the local oil. The Minister will come to Parliament, give the figures at which the oil is sold in America, and will then say, " Here is an industry whose operations throw our men out of employment. It is conducted by workmen who are employed for longer hours per day, and at lower pay than are the men engaged in a similar industry in this country. Unless we keep out this imported oil our own works must be closed up." He will say, under the provisions of this Bill, " This imported oil must be kept out." But away out in the back blocks the primary producers take the crude oil to use in their oil engines. It can be taken cheaply into the back country, whereas coal cannot possibly be taken up, because of the expense. The Minister will not allow this crude oil to come in. When the Tariff was before Parliament I dealt with this particular subject, and I remember the right honorable member for Balaclava, who was then Treasurer, saying, "We must give Dave Watkins something to protect the coal industry."

A high duty was placed on crude oil, because it is used as fuel in the oil engines, and in producing steam power. There is another industry which the Minister will injure by prohibiting the importation of oil. . Motors are coming into use in Australia. In Sydney one maysee hundreds of motors at work on the harbor. If this dumping provision is enforced, and the oil which they use is made too expensive, they must go out of use. The "cost of imported oil will be too great ; ar::l it will cost too much to produce ' naphtha or benzine in Australia, although it is quite possible to produce it. The Minister, to encourage the industry of his friends who are investing ,£600,000 or £700,000, will keep out all the refined oils which are supplied by the Oil Trust of America. Various kinds of engines can be, and are manufactured well in Australia. They are manufactured as well as they are, because of competition from abroad. The Minister is going to prevent improvements in the manufacture of our engines and boilers, because under these dumping provisions he will prohibit the importation of Tangye engines, or of the magnificent American engines, which conduce to the improvement of Australian manufactures. It will be said that these imported engines are dumped into Australia, and that therefore they must be excluded in the interests of Australian industry. Then, again, we import leather. We get Krons leather from America, and other excellent leathers from England and Europe. We must import heavy sole leather ; sufficient for our requirements cannot be produced within the Commonwealth. It is impossible to continue our boot and shoe-making industry successfully unless we import the superior kinds of leather. Firstclass sole leathers must be made from hides that are stout in the shoulder, as well as in the butt. Not one in fifty Australian hides has the quality necessary to make first class sole leather. New Zealand and other cold countries, however, produce thick hides which make excellent sole leather.

Mr Page - Home buyers are very anxious to obtain Queensland hides.

Mr HENRY WILLIS - Queensland hides are the worse in the world for thinness. They fall away in the shoulder They are, however, suitable for light sole leather. 0

Mr Page - They bring the best prices..

Mr HENRY WILLIS - The butt is stout, but the shoulder is thin, and it is not suitable for heavy sole leather. I repeat that it is impossible to produce in this country the highest class of boots and shoes to the extent of our requirements, unless our manufacturers import superior sole leather for the purpose. The Minister by his policy would encourage the putting of inferior leather into what ought to be first class boots, and our manufacturers would turn out Loots with first-class upper leathers and inferior soles.

Sir William Lyne - The honorable member would like us to wear buffalo hide.

Mr HENRY WILLIS - Evidently the Minister knows nothing about buffalo hide. If he did, he would be aware that it is spongy and unsuitable for the best class of boots.

Sir William Lyne - The honorable member says that Queensland hides are of no 'use, although as a matter of fact they are the best in Australia

Mr HENRY WILLIS - I know something about this subject. I have shipped thousands and thousands of pounds worth of these goods. I tell the Minister that he will injure the boot and shoe industry of Australia if he shuts out imported leathers. We produce here upper leather that is very good as far as it goes, but we need also to import the best upper leathers. This Bill would lead to the use of shoddy leather, and would promote the utilization for splits, tweeds, and other kinds of upper leather with destroyed fibre. It would lead to the use of such leather, and would keep out French, German, and English calf, English sole leather, and American Krons. I appeal to the Minister to allow these dumping clauses to be struck out, and not to permit the Bill to operate except in regard to the trusts which I have mentioned, and which might be enumerated in a list proclaimed by the Governor-General in Council. Any trust that became a menace to the public, and to the best interest of the community, might be placed upon that list. By such means we might accomplish something useful ; but, as tha Bill is now framed, it would simply lead to extorting from the public, through the manufacturers, higher prices for inferior articles. I hope the Minister will think the matter over.

Sir William Lyne - The honorable member has uttered so many stories about my speech that I could not think of doing what he wants.

Mr HENRY WILLIS - It does not matter to me personally. I have accurately quoted from the Minister's speech, which is in my hand. I am speaking on behalf of a very large constituency.

Sir William Lyne - I have a bigger one than the honorable member has.

Mr HENRY WILLIS - I am speaking on behalf of the people of this country. If the Minister will do justice to himself, he will act in the interests of the people; but he is not doing so by insisting upon every letter of this Bill, and bringing so many industries under the operation of the third part of it. Clearing sales held by storekeepers, when they wish to raise the wind to meet their monthly bills, or to make their quarterly payments to their financiers, will not be permitted, if this Bill is carried out in its entirety. These tradesmen, having, perhaps, made a big profit on their early sales, are able to share with the public the ordinary profit on the balance of the stock. They sell out at what they call a sacrifice, and I believe that such is often the case. The sales are for the benefit of the masses of the people, and they tend to the stability of the credit of our tradesmen abroad. But, if this Bill ' passes, a shopkeeper will not be at liberty to Have his auction sale, or to dispose of his softgoods at a sacrifice at the end of the > season. Consequently, the mother with a large family will not be able to get good clothes and shoes for her children at a low figure, as she has hitherto done.

Sir William Lyne - We shall not have any more paper shoes.

Mr HENRY WILLIS - In Australia we produce some of the verv best boots and shoes, but not in great quantities. The very finest leather in the world is to be made of the wallaby skin of Tasmania and Kangaroo Island, and from New Zeland hides.

Mr Page - Just now, the honorable member said that Australian leathers .were of no use.

Mr HENRY WILLIS - What I said was that we must go to cold countries if we want the best hides for producing sole leather; and Queensland is not a cold country. The very best of boots and shoes can be made in Australia, and some of the very worst are made here. They will, I suppose, continue to be made. What is done with the shavings and the splits from our currying factories? They are all made up and sold in our midst. If there were more competition from abroad the shavings from the currying shops would not be pressed into sole leather and made into boots and shoes. Under the provisions of this Bill a premium will be given to the dishonest manufacturer, who, in the sight of the Minister of Trade and Customs, will be regarded as a public benefactor.

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