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Wednesday, 27 June 1906

Mr SPEAKER - Does the honorable member think that that has anything to do with the question?

Mr JOSEPH COOK (PARRAMATTA, NEW SOUTH WALES) - It is in reply to an interjection. Until the honorable gentleman saw a chance of getting over their backs on to the Treasury bench we never heard of him doing anything but opposing the interests of the working men of Australia.

Sir William Lyne - That is not correct.

Mr JOSEPH COOK (PARRAMATTA, NEW SOUTH WALES) - I do not desire to. go further into that matter now, because it really is not important. But the honorable gentleman sits opposite to me, and is continually interjecting. As usual, it is the man who lives in a glass house who throws stones - the man whose record will show that time and again in the history of Australia he has been opposed to the interests of honorable members in the Labour corner.

Sir William Lyne - Never.

Mr JOSEPH COOK (PARRAMATTA, NEW SOUTH WALES) - He has been bitterly opposed to them.

Mr Hughes - There is more joy in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety and nine just men.

Mr JOSEPH COOK (PARRAMATTA, NEW SOUTH WALES) - Well, I can appreciate that sentiment; and' if the Minister of Trade and Customs admits that he is now on the stool of repentence, all is well.

Sir William Lyne - Not at all.

Mr Thomas - Mr. Reid said that the honorable gentleman did more for us than he would do in a thousand years.

Mr SPEAKER - These interjections, so constantly repeated by honorable members on both sides, seem to me for the most part to be intended to irritate and annoy. They therefore provoke what may be called quarrelsome disputes between honorable members. The Standing Orders expressly provide that that sort of thing shall be prevented. Honorable members must know that, whether in speeches or interjections, taunting and irritating remarks are forbidden by the Standing Orders. They must be prevented, and I ask hbnorable members on both sides to refrain from them.

Mr JOSEPH COOK (PARRAMATTA, NEW SOUTH WALES) - This afternoon we had a statement from the Chairman of the Tariff Commission, that the subject of harvesters has been specially under the consideration of the Commission, and that we may expect a report the week after next on that subject by itself.

Mr Mauger - No, the honorable and learned member did not say that. He said it would be presented to the Commission the week after next.

Mr JOSEPH COOK (PARRAMATTA, NEW SOUTH WALES) - The honorable member for Melbourne Ports is wrong. I happen to know from the Chairman of the Commission that he has already presented the report to the Commission.

Sir William Lyne - Did the honorable member have a previous conference with the Chairman of the Commission ?

Mr JOSEPH COOK (PARRAMATTA, NEW SOUTH WALES) - I believe that the members of the Tariff Commission have considered the question of harvesters, and that a special report on the subject has been circulated amongst them. We were told by the. Chairman of the Commission to-day that that report will be available, that is to say, it will be completed, so far as the members of the Tariff Commission are concerned, the week after next.

Sir William Lyne - I did not understand it so.

Mr JOSEPH COOK (PARRAMATTA, NEW SOUTH WALES) - That will be before this Bill gets through Committee, though we should proceed with its consideration in Committee as early as we mav. Surely, therefore, we might as well proceed with the Committee stage of this Bill, with all the knowledge which this special investigation renders . available to us, as go blundering on with the Bill in Committee without that knowledge ? The Government are paying but a poor compliment to the Commission in ignoring it as they do in every way they can think of. They have done so ever since the Commission began its inquiry. It would appear to be the object of the Government and of their newspaper supporters from the outset to make it appear to the people of Australia that the appointment of the Tariff Commission was neither more nor less than a farce. I think that some have gone so far as to definitely say so. That, of course, cannot be said of the Minister in charge of the Bill. He was opposed to the appointment of the Commission, but other members of the Government were not, and they gave it their approval and support. Surely the passing of this measure is not of such pressing importance as to outweigh and completely set aside all the information gained by the last twelve months of assiduous inquiry by this Commission, appointed under the hand and seal of the Governor-General? I say that it is paying but a poor compliment toa Commission of the importance of the Tariff Commission, to proceed with this measure post-haste in the way Ministers are doing . at the present time. Everybody admits that this legislation is of a purely speculative and experimental character.

Sir William Lyne - No, they do not.

Mr JOSEPH COOK (PARRAMATTA, NEW SOUTH WALES) - The honorable gentleman knows it.

Sir William Lyne - No.

Mr JOSEPH COOK (PARRAMATTA, NEW SOUTH WALES) - The honorable and learned member for Northern Melbourne yesterday afternoon told us that it was a pure experiment. He said that all experience is against this Bill, so far as its anti-trust provisions are concerned. He expressed openly and candidly the doubt in his mind. that we should be able to suppress these trusts. He said that the more difficulties we put in their way, the more they will contrive to get round them'. The honorable and learned member doubted exceedingly whether we could do anything to suppress the trusts or curtail their operations. Then we have the 'honorable member for Bland 'declaring in his place, the other day, that he had! no faith in this legislation - that, so far as he was concerned, he was blindly following the Government in this matter, in the belief that this measure would not accomplish what it is intended to accomplish.

Sir William Lyne - He did not say so.

Mr JOSEPH COOK (PARRAMATTA, NEW SOUTH WALES) - The honorable gentleman said that, in his opinion, this legislation would not do what it was expected to do, that it would not regulate and control these trusts, and that there was nothing for it, in his view, but the ultimate nationalization of these huge corporations. We were left to infer from what the honorable gentleman said that this is an experiment, or, rather, I should say, that he considers it a step in the process of sociali zation which the Labour Party are pursuing with respect to these combines and corporations. Here we have two of the most prominent supporters of the Bill, speaking from the Government side, with every desire to assist Ministers to push this legislation through, declaring that, in their opinion, it is useless for the purpose for which it has been introduced, namely, the repression of destructive monopolies. One of these honorable members saidl that we cannot do what is sought to be done by this Bill because of the very nature of the operations of these trusts and the extent of their ramifications. The other says that we cannot do it because they are part of our social order, which must be changed, so as to bring these trusts entirely under the confrol and operation of the Government. Yet, despite all thi* speculative and experimental element in this Bill, the Government will not wait for the knowledge which is available to them, and which might be made available to the House, before proceeding to place it on the statute-book of the country. Then the Prime Minister told us, the other night, that this is a Bill of first-rate importance. He said that trusts in the United States must be controlled by the people of that country, or they would soon control the United States - that trusts must be mastered, or they would master the country in which they existed. Surely a Bill of this kind, aiming at the very existence of our social order, at the control and regulation of most of the capital, as well as at the control of nearly all the industrial occupations of the country, is a matter in connexion with which there should be no hurry, unless there be some over-shadowing menace i'n the industrial sky, presaging events which may speedily put an end to social order and the industrial life of the country. If that menace does exist, where is the evidence- of it? It should) be easily tabulated in figures, and presented to this House. Instead of that, we hear nothing from the Minister to show that there is any need for this legislation, or that any-: thing out of the ordinary is taking place. The Prime Minister, by way of interjection, last night asked! the honorable member for Dalley what possible effect the report pf the Tariff Commission could have upon the measure now before honorable members. The honorable and learned gentleman made it very clear that, so far as the Government are concerned, they will have nothing to do with the Tariff Commission in this regard, and will not pay attention to what the Commission may say. All I have to say in reply to the Prime Minister on that point is that, while he will not have anything to do with the Tariff Commission so far as the passing of this Bill is concerned, the Minister iti charge oi the measure has made just such use of the knowledge which has come to him from the labours of the Commission as suited his purpose, and no more. The honorable gentleman referred to the Commission several times during his speech.

Sir William Lyne - Only once or twice.

Mr JOSEPH COOK (PARRAMATTA, NEW SOUTH WALES) - The Minister had better be sure, as I shall refer to one of the occasions he alludes to. I say that the honorable gentleman in charge of the Bill does not hesitate to use any knowledge which may come to him through the medium of the Tariff Commission if it suits his purpose to do so. Yet the Prime Minister when asked to wait for the full text of the Commission's report, and the accompanying evidence, asks what possible effect it can have upon this matter.

Sir William Lyne - Neither can it have the slighest effect.

Mr JOSEPH COOK (PARRAMATTA, NEW SOUTH WALES) - Very well, if it cannot affect the measure adversely-

Sir William Lyne - It is not a question of the Tariff at all.

Mr JOSEPH COOK (PARRAMATTA, NEW SOUTH WALES) - Well, I thought it was. judging by the number of references to the Tariff in the honorable gentleman's speech. He made it appear that it was nothing else but a Tariff question. The honorable gentleman made it a Tariff matter in his speech in introducing the Bill, and said a great many things about the Tariff. He particularly referred to the question of stripper harvesters, and dragged in the names of McKay and the Massey-Harris and International Harvester Companies. The honorable gentleman made very full use of these matters in moving the second reading of the Bill.

Sir William Lyne - The honorable member seems to have a brief for the International Harvester Company and the Massey-Harris Company.,

Mr JOSEPH COOK (PARRAMATTA, NEW SOUTH WALES) - I do not know anv of them.

Sir William Lyne - Neither do I.

Mr Conroy - They have a brief for the other side, and not for those who pay the duties. A Royal Commission should be appointed.

Sir William Lyne - I do not want any impudence from the honorable and scurrilous member.

Mr SPEAKER - The conversation between the honorable and learned member for Werriwa and the Minister is quite out of place. I again remind the honorable and learned member for Werriwa that imputations upon honorable members, whether individually or collectively, are out of order.

Mr Conroy - The honorable gentleman knows that he made£1 50 a year from one company.

Sir William Lyne - The honorable and learned member is telling an untruth.

Mr Conroy - It is true, and the honorable gentleman knows that it is.

Mr SPEAKER - I ask the Minister to withdraw the statement he has made.

Sir William Lyne - The honorable and learned member for Werriwa made an interjection which is absolutely contrary to fact. I cannot sit and listen to his interjections and insinuations. The honorable and learned member made an insinuation the other night which has not the slightest foundation.

Mr Conroy - I will say it outside for the honorable gentleman if that will please him.

Sir William Lyne - I do not care where the honorable and learned member says it. I defy and challenge the honorable and learned member to prove what he has said here.

Mr SPEAKER - The Minister knows quite well that however he may regard the remarks of the honorable and learned member for Werriwa, which I prevented the honorable and learned member from persisting in last evening, he is not in order in the statement he made just now, and which I ask him- to withdraw.

Sir William Lyne - I withdraw.

Mr JOSEPH COOK (PARRAMATTA, NEW SOUTH WALES) - The Minister said, in- reply to a statement from me, that I had a brief for certain harvester combinations.

Sir William Lyne - Insinuations have been made against me which are quite unjustified. It takes me all I know to control myself when I hear them repeated.

Mr JOSEPH COOK (PARRAMATTA, NEW SOUTH WALES) - Have I made them? Why say such things of me?

Sir William Lyne - I did not refer to the honorable member.

Mr JOSEPH COOK (PARRAMATTA, NEW SOUTH WALES) - I do not know any of these people. I do not know Mr. McKay ; I met him only once in the train. The Minister says that I have a brief for these companies. I reply that the Minister himself dragged all these matters into his speech, and made them the basis for asking the House to deal with this measure, and to deal with it now. What statements did the Minister make? First of all, he quoted clause 14 of the Bill, which says that the measure has to do with all matters of trade and commerce, as they affect Australia from the outside ; and therefore have to do exactly and precisely with what the Commission has been set to inquire into - that and nothing more. How else can the foreign trusts express themselves if not by means of the things which they send to Australia, if not by means of the trade and industry carried on between them and the buyers of their articles here? The Minister says that this Bill is to control foreign trusts. Very well then; it means that it is intended' to control the operations of foreign trusts ; and those operations can only express themselves in the trade that goes on between them and Australia. That is the very thing that the Commission has been set to inquire into. It has been charged, for instance, with the duty of finding out how far harvestermakers here are being hit by foreign trusts, and bv the competition which they set up. It has been set to inquire how far our agricultural implement-makers are affected by competition from oversea. Therefore this Bill purports to deal with a matter which the Commission has been specially set to inquire into. Yet the Government has endeavoured to rush it through in this post-haste fashion, before the Commission has had time to report, and' is seeking ;o give effect to the measure before the knowledge collected by the Commission can be made available. There is no fairness in doing that kind of thing. It is not fair to this House. It is not fair to the people outside who will be chiefly concerned. It is not fair to the farmers of Australia. It is not fair to the firms interested. It is not fair to Mr. McKay. It is not fair to anybody that this Bill should be rushed' through, and finally and completely dealt with, until the Royal Commission has had time to' make its report. And here is an example of the unfairness, Mr. Speaker. The Minister, during the course of his speech, referred to a statement which had been made before the Tariff 'Commission on this question of the competition of outside companies with Mr. McKay, and' he went on to quote a declaration, and to embody it in Hansard, which shows that some traveller must have said somewhere that these gentlemen, the American manufacturers, were going to try to drive Mr. McKay right out of the harvester trade in Australia. I ask the Minister whether he thinks it is a fait treatment of this subject to quote something which has been said on behalf of Mr. McKay to that Commission, and not to wait for the other side to be put before this House? Is there any fair play in that conduct ?

Mr Kennedy - The document quoted' was what was written by the head of the American firm to an agent of Mr. McKay.

Mr JOSEPH COOK (PARRAMATTA, NEW SOUTH WALES) - If such a document was written, is it not fair, before condemning the firm in question, to hear them ? Is not that the first principle of British justice ?

Mr Kennedy - Both sides have been heard before the Commission.

Mr JOSEPH COOK (PARRAMATTA, NEW SOUTH WALES) - Exactly ; but both sides have not been heard here. The. Minister makes use of the statement of one of the parties, and is deliberately shutting out the possibility of the other side being heard.

Sir William Lyne - I made use of a statement made on oath.

Mr JOSEPH COOK (PARRAMATTA, NEW SOUTH WALES) - All statements before the Commission are made on oath.

Sir William Lyne - But this was a special statutory declaration.

Mr JOSEPH COOK (PARRAMATTA, NEW SOUTH WALES) - It may be so, but no contrary statement has been made public by the Commission. Does the Minister think that the Commission could specialize its reports as it has done if it did not on all occasions hear the other side? This question of harvesters is receiving no scintilla of fair play in the way this Bill is being dragged before the House. It is quite true that the case on behalf of Mr. .McKay has been presented to us. But the Minister would not permit anything to be heard on the other side in "this House. He deals with this Bill as if there were no other side to be heard. I want to secure fair play, and I therefore say that that is a reason why this Bill should not be rushed through in this way, until all the information available to the Commission . is placed in the possession of honorable members for use m this House. If the reports of the Commission were here, other honorable members might have something to say in reply to statements made on behalf of the Government. But the Minister is taking a course which absolutely prevents that from being done. That is one great reason, as I think, why there ought to be no haste in connexion with a Bill of this description. The Minister went on to tell us that he knew a great deal about this matter of harvesters. I do not know where he got his information from, but he knows what profits are made by the harvester companies; he knows what commissions are paid; he knows what it costs to make the machines. He knows all the minutiae of the business. But, strange to say, Ke knows only one side, and that is the side of Mr. McKay. He, apparently, knows nothing about the other side. Mr. McKay's own case is prejudiced by a Minister who will be so one-sided. It is not more fair to Mr. McKay than to others ; because no one would expect any fairminded man to make up his own judgment on this matter from an ex parte statement such as that presented by the Minister of Trade and Customs in introducing this Bill. In the course of his speech, the Minister made allusions to the Tobacco Trust and the Oil Trust of America. That is a further reason why we should hear from the Royal Commission concerning these matters. Both oil and tobacco are peculiarly Tariff matters. The price of oil concerns nearly every man throughout the length and breadth of Australia, and particularly does it affect those people who are remotest from the great centres of population, and who are not enjoying the communal advantages of our town and suburban life. > A matter affecting them ought to be legislated upon with all the information available to us, so that we may know what experts on either side have said, and particularly so that we may know what the Commission has said. The Minister gave to every point of his. speech what I might call a Tariff- twist; and, whale he told us generally that this measure does not affect the Tariff, and has nothing to do with protection and free-trade, he made nothing more nor less than a protectionist appeal. His speech was that of a militant protectionist from beginning to end.

Mr Mauger - That is a good phrase - " militant protectionist."


Mr Mauger - It will be " triumphant " next.

Mr JOSEPH COOK (PARRAMATTA, NEW SOUTH WALES) - I hope, since the honorable member is quite certain of his cause being triumphant, that at least he will not shut out a little light upon this matter - that at least he will have his triumph in the full blaze of all the knowledge that is available. That is all we are asking for at the present time. Do not sneak this thing through in the dark. Do not sneak this thing through behind the backs of the people, and without the .knowledge which the people ought to have before them. That is the claim which we are setting up for a little delay. We say that the matters involved in this Bill are of first-class importance, although they are not so regarded by a section of this House ; and that, therefore, the fullest possible knowledge that we can .gather from any and every quarter should be brought to bear in the final and satisfactory settlement of this issue. The Minister, when speaking with regard to harvesters-, told the House in a fine burst of frankness and candour that he had been asked to take action under the Customs Act to keep out the harvesters of foreign trusts. I wonder who it was that approached him in that way. He said -

As honorable members know, the Customs Act gives the Minister great power, and I have been told by legal authorities that he has now sufficient power if he likes to exercise it, to prohibit the importation of harvesters or any other machinery.

Then why this Bill, I wonder?

Sir William Lyne - I do not think that it was intended by Parliament that that power should be exercised, and I will not do it. I believe that technically I have the power, but that it was not intended.

Mr JOSEPH COOK (PARRAMATTA, NEW SOUTH WALES) - The Minister says that he has. the technical power.

Mr Lonsdale - Was it Mr. McKay who suggested that?

Sir William Lyne - It was not Mr. McKay who saw me. I never saw him more than once in my life.

Mr Lonsdale - Was it Mr. McKay's lawyer ?


Sir William Lyne - I am not going to say.

Mr Lonsdale - It was some one connected with him.

Sir William Lyne - It was no one connected with the business at all. I give the honorable member my word as to that.

Mr JOSEPH COOK (PARRAMATTA, NEW SOUTH WALES) - The Minister said in the course of his speech -

I do not think that it was intended that the Minister should exercise that power; I shall decline to exercise it until I am clothed with the powers provided for in the Bill now before the House.

Thereupon the honorable member for Corinella interjected -

Has the honorable gentleman been asked to act under the section of the Customs Act to which he refers?

Well, now, I think that as the Minister has told the House so much, he ought to tell the source whence this suggestion came. Who is it that has been approaching the Minister and trying to induce him to exercise this power?

Sir William Lyne - No one in the business.

Mr JOSEPH COOK (PARRAMATTA, NEW SOUTH WALES) - That makes it all the more peculiar. If it is no one in the business, and no one interested in it, who oh earth would try to induce him to introduce a Bill of this kind for the purpose of keeping these importations out of Australia? The matter only becomes the more mysterious from these interjections of the Minister. If it was not Mr. McKay, if it was not any one in the business, who had the effrontery to approach the Minister to ask. him to put into operation this plenary and absolute power which he declares that he possesses, I should like to know who it was.

Sir William Lyne - What I say is that I think that, technically, I have the power, but that I think it was not intended that I should have it, and that I will not use it.

Mr JOSEPH COOK (PARRAMATTA, NEW SOUTH WALES) - It is a pity that the honorable gentleman mentioned the matter, if he was not prepared to tell us who tried to " pull his leg " on the occasion referred to.

Sir William Lyne - I told the honorable member a good deal.

Mr JOSEPH COOK (PARRAMATTA, NEW SOUTH WALES) - Speaking of' the Standard Oil Trust, the Minister said that, to a large extent, it was beyond our control, because it had been organized in the United States. How do the operations of the Standard Oil Company have injurious effects upon Australia? The Minister does not know, he could not tell us. All he has heard is that there is a company organized here wilh£600,000 or £700,000, which is going to make oil.

Sir William Lyne - This morning I received a letter saying that the capital is £800,000 nominal.

Mr JOSEPH COOK (PARRAMATTA, NEW SOUTH WALES) - Does the honorable member act in this way upon the statements of interested parties?

Sir William Lyne - It is not the statement of interested parties, but a fact.

Mr JOSEPH COOK (PARRAMATTA, NEW SOUTH WALES) - I know that it is a fact.

Sir William Lyne -i think that the honorable member knows all about it.

Mr JOSEPH COOK (PARRAMATTA, NEW SOUTH WALES) - I know- in fact, every one knows that there is such a company ; but I have yet to learn that the honorable gentleman is supposed to act in this way atthe instance of an interested party, and at the same time decline to take any advice which an impartial Commission might give him.

Sir William Lyne - That company has never mentoned to me the subject of the Tariff or anything else. I saw the manager only once, and he was brought to me by another person.

Mr JOSEPH COOK (PARRAMATTA, NEW SOUTH WALES) - I suggest nothing wrong. The point I was going to make was that foreign trusts can only affect us by their exports to Australia. I hope that we are not setting up the idea that we can chase them out of America as well as Australia. I know that this Government, like the empirical political quacks that they are, have- already taken a hand in the government of the whole world. For instance, they have had a try in the government of Ireland and Natal, and are proceeding to take a hand in the government of the United States. ' I suppose they are going to fix matters up over there.

Sir William Lyne - What has this to do with the Bill?

Mr JOSEPH COOK (PARRAMATTA, NEW SOUTH WALES) - All this is in answer to the Minister's chief, who declared that we have nothing to do with the inquiries of the Tariff Commission so far as this Bill is concerned. How can-, the operations of foreign trusts affect us. except through the Customs, exceptthrough the trading and industrial channelsof the community? Anything which has; to do with imports or exports is, I hold, 'a. matter peculiarly within the province of the Tariff Commission, and, therefore, weOught to await their report before wepush this Bill through. Then, with re- gard to that Massey-Harris combine, the Minister makes this statement -

The trust, which is at present trying to grasp our trade and destroy our manufactures, sent us agricultural machinery valued at upwards of ^250,000.

Ought not these trusts to be heard in their own defence, and by a properly constituted and impartial tribunal? We do not ask that they should come here before the bar of the House. We have set up a tribunal, and invited them to go there, where both, sides may be heard. If these trusts are destroying our trade and beating out of Australia these important industries of ours, the Minister, if he could prove that, would come here with an overwhelming and triumphant position, which, instead of being open to challenge, would point to a grave national emergency, calling at once for treatment at the hands of the whole Chamber. But why does he not wait until he gets the report of the Tariff Commission? Why does he not wait until both sides of the question have been heard ? And when both parties to the issue have presented all the facts which are already within their knowledge and purview, then let us decide impartially between them here, as we have a right to do, and as we would be in a position to dd. But no ; one side only must be heard in justification of this Bill. It is to be pushed through the House just when the impartial Tariff Commission is to present its report. A more outrageous proceeding could scarcely be imagined. But that is all of a piece with what this Government has been trying to do ever since they got into power. What I complain of is that the Minister of Trade and Customs quotes only so much of the information which the Tariff Commission has gathered as suits his purpose; that being a purely protective purpose, and not bearing specifically on the question of the repression of destructive monopolies. From another consideration there is no particular hurry in this matter. All the information available to us in the public prints is of the rosiest possible character. For instance, we were told by the Premier of Victoria the other day that there never was such a tide of shining prosperity as exists just now in this State. Ever since he took office, he tells us that Providence has been smiling upon him, that even' industry is flourishing, that the revenue chest is full to overflowing, and' that his great trouble is to know what to do with his sur plus. In corroboration of that statement, I should like to refer to a leaderette which appeared in the Age of Friday last, and which is most interesting reading. It contains some statements which I should like to place on record in Hansard, because they throw a very curious light upon the fierce fiscal propaganda which that newspaper is constantly waging with so much, effect, at any rate in Victoria. In one breath the Age tells us that unless we can get some relief from the Tariff Commission, the industrial 'life of Victoria is threatened' with collapse, with all the dire consequences of the evils which this Bill is designed to prevent. But on Friday last - in a burst of candour, and in connexion with quite another matter - the Age throws a curious side-light on all these doleful and4 baleful prophecies which it has uttered so many times recently. Writing on Friday last, in reply to Messrs. Mann and Fleming, who had alleged that " there were no fewer than 5,000 men in this city able and willing to work who cannot find employment " - a deplorable condition of things, if true - the. Age goes on to say -

That is a most serious statement. . If it were capable of being .substantiated, the prosperity on which we have been priding ourselves of late would be proved a hollow sham, and we should then have occasion to doubt the accuracy of the statistics recently published concerning our expanding trade. The Customs returns show that for the first five "months of this year our oversea agricultural exports have increased by 159,000, compared with the corresponding period of 1905.

I suppose that this will be called dumping by the Minister. If so, it is dumping of the kind which the farmer of Victoria certainly is fond of. It means that he is prospering. His crops are growing, therefore he must purchase more machinery with which to reap and garner them.

The wheat yield for the past season -has been estimated at 24,000,000 bushels - an average of more than twelve bushels to the acre.

Here I pause to make one comment only. When conducting his vigorous protectionist campaign in Sydney the other day, the Prime Minister referred to the great prosperity which had come over Australia just now, and, his " eye in a fine frenzy rolling," said, "if the Tariff, so far, has done all this for you, what will an increase do for you?"

Mr Mauger - Hear, hear ! that is right.

Mr JOSEPH COOK (PARRAMATTA, NEW SOUTH WALES) - Is the honorable member so far lost in the fogs of economic doubt and prejudice as to really make the statement that because the skies are kindly and the rains descend' in plenitude, that is the result of protection ?

Mr Mauger - No; my honorable friend is doing that.

Mr JOSEPH COOK (PARRAMATTA, NEW SOUTH WALES) - No ; that is the statement of the honorable member, because he is claiming all the credit of our good seasons for this protectionist Tariff.

Mr Mauger - No; it is the Age article which is doing that, and the honorable member is misinterpreting it.

Mr JOSEPH COOK (PARRAMATTA, NEW SOUTH WALES) - The article proceeds as follows: -

And at the same time, notwithstanding our steadily increasing population -

I do not know where the population of Vic: toria is steadily increasing.

Mr Mauger - Yes, it is.

Mr JOSEPH COOK (PARRAMATTA, NEW SOUTH WALES) - That the population is increasing from the Australian point of view, I know. If the tide has turned' in Victoria, I for one am delighted to hear it -

And at the same time, notwithstanding our steadily increasing population, our general imports from abroad have notably diminished. These figures testify that in every department of our industrial life we are forging ahead. Our agriculturists are thriving, and our manufacturers, despite the handicaps they have at present to fight in the shape of ineffective protection, foreign trust competition, and many lamentable holes in our tariff fence, are beginning to overtake and supply the wants of the people with the products of Australian labour.

I believe that the figures this year show that the increase in Victorian Inter-State trade amounts to no less than , £2,000,000 sterling. This is in the State which is supposed to be " hit" by this Tariff, and to be clamouring; night and day for fiscal measures to prevent industrial collapse. Yet the Melbourne Age goes on to say that the manufactures of Australia, and particularly of Victoria, for that is the State of which the newspaper is speaking- are beginning to overtake and supply the wants of the people with the products of Australian labour. All this means, if it means anything at all, that our labour market is in a flourishing condition.

We shall perhaps hear to-morrow or a week hence of people starving for the want of a more effective Tariff -

Crops do not plant nor gather themselves; neither do the boots we wear, and the various articles we use in our daily life, shape themselves of their..own volition.

The newspaper article proceeds - .

Yet, although we are now producing at a rate -

I ask attention to this -

Yet, although we are now producing at a rate in excess of all past precedent, we are asked to believe that we have more unemployed in the city to-day than ever. Public prosperity does not reveal itself only in statistics. It is quite apparent that we are a prosperous people. In many parts of the country there is a call for unskilled labour, which halts to be satisfied. Almost all our trades are flourishing, and the demand for skilled workmen is at least equal to the available supply.

This is a most important statement, as coming from the great protectionist panjandrum

Mr Kennedy - It is not evidence of ruin from past legislation in Victoria.

Mr JOSEPH COOK (PARRAMATTA, NEW SOUTH WALES) - It is not evidence of ruin from the present so-called imperfect Tariff, as the honorable member has very often called it in this Chamber.

Mrt Kennedy. - I have never said so.

Sir William Lyne - We desire a better Tariff.

Mr JOSEPH COOK (PARRAMATTA, NEW SOUTH WALES) - In view of the statements of the Premier of Victoria, and of this great protectionist newspaper, and in view of Victorian statistics, which show a trade expanding to the extent of £2,000,000 in manufactures, we ought not to have this prohibitive protection sprung upon us without inquiry, and without the knowledge which the report of the Tariff Commission will make available to us. That, I think, is a fair attitude to take up, whether a man be a free-trader or a protectionist. A protectionist, in my judgment, should be the first to welcome the report of the Commission, which was appointed' specially to inquire into Tariff matters. But it seems as if the protectionists in this House, or some of them at any rate, only desired the Commission when they could not get anything more effective or more drastic, sudden and peremptory, at the hands of the Minister who presides over this- important Department. All we are asking for at the present time is postponement, and I venture to say that one speech alone, which we heard in this House last Friday, is sufficient warranty for delaying the matter to some extent. I refer to the honorable member for Mernda, who, in the course of a two hours' address, presented, in myjudgment, an unanswerable argument for delay and further inquiry. First of all, the honorable member for Mernda went into the historicity of the question.

Sir William Lyne - Where did the honorable member get that word?

Mr JOSEPH COOK (PARRAMATTA, NEW SOUTH WALES) - The Minister of Trade and Customs laughs at a common word. I shall be glad to substitute another, in order to accommodate the honorable gentleman if he does not understand the word " historicity," and say that the honorable member for Mernda went into the history of this matter, and showed that there are conditions 'operating as buttresses to those foreign trusts, which conditions could not operate in Australia for the simple reason that those buttresses in Australia are in the control and ownership of the people as a whole. If, therefore, the means of transportation in America supply the chief buttresses of the trusts, such results are not possible in Australia, because all our means of transportation were nationalized long ago. Moreover, the honorable member for Mernda, as a trader and manufacturer, spoke from the inside of this matter, and was able to present an argument showing that, so far as the Bill is concerned, we ought to wait for further enlightenment - for further knowledge such as the Tariff Commission can present to us. There ought to be some reply from the Government bench to a speech of that kind from a man who owes the Government allegiance, who, while telling Ministers that he speaks in the most friendly way, at the same time delivered one of the most crushing indictments against a Government measure that has been heard formany a long day within this Parliament. There were some attempts at interjection on the part of the Attorney-General when the honorable member for Mernda was speaking, but these did not in way affect the solidity and force of the argument which was presented by that honorable member.

Mr Henry Willis - And by many other honorable members.

Mr JOSEPH COOK (PARRAMATTA, NEW SOUTH WALES) - I am referring to the honorable member for Mernda because he declared himself to be a supporter of the Government. I am not singling the honorable member out as on this side of the House ; because he took special pains to make it clear that he spoke in a friendly way and as a supporter of the Government.

Mr Wilks - And as a protectionist a.s well.

Mr.JOSEPH COOK.- I am not trying to emphasize the protectionist aspect of the matter. The protectionists in this House ought in my opinion to be the loudest in their demand for the production of the report of the Tariff Commission. If they believe that the report will be fair and impartial, surely they of all other people ought not to be impatient to rush a measure of this kind. Surely they can wait a fortnight for valuable evidence with which to buttress their case. I do not understand this red-hot haste on the part of the Government, and of some of their protectionist supporters, to rush this legislation before the Tariff Commission has had time to make its report. I ask again, is this matter more urgent than the Tariff report itself? Admittedly our industries are flourishing, and are not being menaced by foreign depredations.

Mr Mauger - Does the honorable member say that our iron industries are flourishing ?

SirWilliam Lyne. - No, they are not.

Mr Mauger - There are hundreds of men out of employment in those industries.

Mr JOSEPH COOK (PARRAMATTA, NEW SOUTH WALES) - All I have to say is that, if our iron industries are not flourishing, the Tariff Commission will show that to be the case in a fortnight's, time. If there are hundreds of men out of employment in the iron trades, we shall1 have proof of the fact shortly from an authoritative quarter. The Tariff Commission has inquired all over Australia into, the iron industry, and has collected and collated every fact' connected with its. operations. Therefore, if the honorable member for Melbourne Ports believes that there is a case for further dealing withthe iron industry, he ought to be the very first to hail this knowledge, and wait itsadvent in this House, rather than rush themeasure through in its absence.

Mr Mauger - I want this Bill, plus the highest Tariff I can get.

Mr JOSEPH COOK (PARRAMATTA, NEW SOUTH WALES) - I should imagine that the man who desires ultraprotection - who wants prohibitive protection, to put it plainly - or the highest Tariff hecan get-

Mr Mauger - We will not get that, of course.

Mr JOSEPH COOK (PARRAMATTA, NEW SOUTH WALES) - I do not know that the honorable member will not get it. If one may judge from the empty benches, and. the interest taken in the matter on theGovernment side of the Chamber. I am not sure that the honorable member will not get what he desires - indeed, I am perfectly- certain- he will get it - that is, if this Bill goes through unaltered.

Mr Mauger - I hope so.

Mr JOSEPH COOK (PARRAMATTA, NEW SOUTH WALES) - This Bill means possible prohibitive protection, so far as the iron and many other trades are concerned. Therefore, I say that even honorable members who wish to prohibit trade outside, except in some matters concerning our primary products - who desire to put a wall entirely around Australia, so far as our manufacturing is concerned - surely ought to be the first to await the result of the inquiry of the Tariff Commission, seeing that on that Commission there are ultraprotectionists who will supply all the knowledge which protectionists require to enable them to proceed with fairness, security, and industry in their quest for prohibitive duties.

Mr Mauger - There are no ultraprotectionists on the Tariff Commission.

Mr JOSEPH COOK (PARRAMATTA, NEW SOUTH WALES) - I fancy there are one or two, judging from the reports of the evidence from time to time. At any rate, we have often been told, in this House and out of it, that the great outstanding need of Victoria at the present moment is a rectification of Tariff anomalies. Reports concerning these anomalies have already lain on the table of the House for three weeks, and vet no move has been made concerning them. There are other reports in course of presentation; but all the reports, it seems& are to be set aside for use at some future date. This is trifling with the people outside, who believe that the Government are in earnest in the matter, a«nd that, having the power. Ministers will deal with anomalies at the earliest possible moment. The Government have the power, and they have the reports, but instead of proceeding in a matter as to which thev have knowledge, thev insist on thrusting in front this Bill, which does not affect our industries at the moment - which does not affect any industry that is supposed to be in a state of collapse because of inefficient and ineffective protection, but which has to do with some menace that mav arise at some future time to some of our industries. The Government are playing a politically dishonest part to the people, to whom they have preached on every platform that at the very earliest moment thev will deal, and, if possible, rectify Tariff anomalies. What is to be said of such conduct in the light of the pledges given by the members of the Government to their constituents at the last election? This is, after all, the final tribunal to which all these matters must be referred. The Government and their supporters have a responsibility to their constituents, to whom they gave the solemn pledge at the last election that they would not in this Parliament enter upon any drastic Tariff legislation. Fiscal peace was their election cry- "peace for the trades that had already been so much upset by the Tariff.

Mr Mauger - That was three years ago.

Mr JOSEPH COOK (PARRAMATTA, NEW SOUTH WALES) - Does a pledge become any the less a pledge because it is a year or so old ? May honorable members break pledges at the end of one or two years? The honorable member for Melbourne Ports, I know, laid down that strange doctrine in the House last year, when he said that those promises were better broken. Nothing can absolve a Ministry, which controls the .situation, and the electoral machinery, from keeping their solemn pledge to the people of Australia at the last election that they would not indulge in the Tariff tinkering in which we now see them actively engaged. This is not so much a matter of the Tariff as a matter of public honesty - a matter of public pledge, and of public statement by those who are supposed to set an example to the rest of the people of Australia. What has happened during the last eighteen months? After telling the people that there would be a rest from Tariff interference the Government have ever since been actively engaged, both administratively and by indirect legislation, iri re-opening the matter. Their object is to get further power into' their own hands, to be twisted for fiscal purposes and ends. That is going behind the backs of the people, and sneaking in a Tariff.

Sir William Lyne - Who has been doing what the honorable member complains of?

Mr JOSEPH COOK (PARRAMATTA, NEW SOUTH WALES) - The honorable gentleman, for one. Ever since he has been in office he has been trying to twist its control for fiscal purposes, both by his administration and by the legislation which he has attempted to put through Parliament.

Sir William Lyne - I have not twisted the control of the Department, so far as administration is concerned, and the intra- duction of legislation cannot properly be termed twisting.

Mr JOSEPH COOK (PARRAMATTA, NEW SOUTH WALES) - The honorable member has dealt with many matters from the fiscal point of view, instead of impartially. If the Bill is passed into law, another Tariff will not be needed, because the Government will have a means of enforcing prohibitive protection.

Mr Hutchison - Yet the honorable member is going to vote for the measure.

Mr JOSEPH COOK (PARRAMATTA, NEW SOUTH WALES) - Am I? The honorable member will know all about that when we come to deal with the Bill. As the Tariff does not concern him, he need not go to. the trouble of making interjections. The party to which he belongs thinks so little of a prohibitive Tariff that its members are" never in the Chamber, and take not the slightest interest in this legislation. That is what comes of solidarity - of being tied down to certain planks of a platform, and -caring nothing about anything else.

Mr Hutchison - The members of the Labour Party have a free hand in dealing with the fiscal question.

Mr JOSEPH COOK (PARRAMATTA, NEW SOUTH WALES) - A free hand to let it alone, and ignore it.

Mr Hutchison - We shall not let it alone.

Mr JOSEPH COOK (PARRAMATTA, NEW SOUTH WALES) - I am at a loss to understand how the Prime Minister will be able to go back to his constituents after this Bill becomes law, seeing that he definitely pledged himself to a policy of fiscal peace, and the measure makes all further Tariff legislation unnecessary. I am afraid, however, that he long ago learned to regard! his electioneering pledges lightly. We have had too much evidence of that during the past eighteen months. Many of the provisions of the Bill permit of prohibitive protection.

Mr Deakin - Nonsense !

Mr JOSEPH COOK (PARRAMATTA, NEW SOUTH WALES) - The secretary to the Protectionist Association has just admitted that it has a great protectionist incidence.

Mr Mauger - It ought to have.

Mr Wilks - The honorable member said that it has.

Mr JOSEPH COOK (PARRAMATTA, NEW SOUTH WALES) - Its introduction, is a violation of the solemn pledges of certain honorable members to their constituents.

Mr Deakin - The honorable member does not believe that.

Mr JOSEPH COOK (PARRAMATTA, NEW SOUTH WALES) -I should not say it if I did not mean it. Will not the Prime Minister admit that theB ill provides for the equivalent of a prohibitive Tariff in respect to many of the articles which are now imported into Australia?

Mr Deakin - No.

Mr KING O'MALLEY (DARWIN, TASMANIA) - It applies only to imported articles made by sweated labour.

Mr JOSEPH COOK (PARRAMATTA, NEW SOUTH WALES) - The argument of protectionists always is that protection is necessary to prevent the competition of sweated labour in other protectionist countries. The Bill provides specially against such importations, and does so in an abrupt' and personal, rather than in a legislative way. Its true Object is being admitted now. It gives the Minister power to impose protection. Instead of the Government submitting a schedule of duties to foe dealt with by Parliament one by one beneath the public gaze, we are asked' to allow the Minister of Trade and Customs to deal with this matter according to his personal whim and wish. The introduction of a measure, many of the clauses of which provide for prohibition, 'throws a very curious light upon the manner in which the Ministry regard the solemn pledges which they have made to the people of Australia, and show how indecent is the haste with which this measure is being, pushed through. We were told' by the . Chairman of the Tariff Commission today that its reports will be here in a fortnight's time.

Mr Deakin - No. He said that the reports would be before the Commission then.

Mr JOSEPH COOK (PARRAMATTA, NEW SOUTH WALES) - He said that the reports on harvesters and agricultural implements have been circulated, and that the Commission expect to be able to report finally the week after next'.

Mr Fuller - He said that the reports will be considered the week after next, and that he could not say definitely when they will be presented to the Governor-General.

Mr JOSEPH COOK (PARRAMATTA, NEW SOUTH WALES) - At the most, I take it that the consideration of the reports will consume only a week more.

Mr Fuller - I do not know about that.

Mr JOSEPH COOK (PARRAMATTA, NEW SOUTH WALES) - I assume that the Commissioners will deal with this matter in a business-like way, and I think that they should be able to settle the harvester question w.ithin a week. Indecent haste is being shown bv the Government in pushing this measure through, when, within a fortnight or three weeks, we shall have an authoritative report on the whole harvester question. I ask the Minister to delay the consideration of this measure until we can deal with it in the light of the full knowledge that will then be available - knowledge taken upon oath, under a Commission issued by the Governor-General himself. If the consideration of the measure is delayed until that knowledge is available to us, we shall be able to deal with the measure with all the facts before us, and will arrive at the best solution suggesting itself under the circumstances.

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