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Wednesday, 11 July 1906

The CHAIRMAN - Can the honorable member show me that his remarks are relevant to the clause which is under consideration ? Does he intend to connect them with it?

Mr KELLY - I did not think; it would be necessary for me to connect my remarks upon preferential trade with the question which is before the Committee.

The CHAIRMAN - I understood the honorable member to be discussing what the Prime Minister did at the last general election. That has nothing whatever to do with the question that is before the Chair.

Mr JOSEPH COOK (PARRAMATTA, NEW SOUTH WALES) - I submit to you, sir, that the honorable member is entitled to give reasons why he wishes to exempt Great Britain from the operation of the measure, and make a distinction in that respect. In support of what he alleges ought to be the action of the Government, he is quoting a pledge given to the people and the country at the last election.

The CHAIRMAN - The honorable member for Wentworth will be quite in order in using any argument to show the necessity for including the words of the amendment, but I maintain that he will not be in order in pursuing the lines which he has been following in connexion with something which the Prime Minister has. said outside the words which actually bear upon the subject.

Mr KELLY - There are, I think, about . half-a-dozen words in the amendment, and if I am not to use any other words, I shall be in rather a difficult position. I am trying to show that pledges which the Prime Minister gave upon the public platform, and which should make him support the amendment, will be broken if he fails to do so.

The CHAIRMAN - The honorable member will be in order if he follows that course.

Mr KELLY - That is what I was doing, sir. A part of the Prime Minister's platform has already been thrown overboard, and it remains for him to prove the value of his protestations, so for as " preferential trade" and "loyalty to the Empire" are concerned. We know that the cry of Australia for the Empire has recently degenerated into the cry of Australia for the Australians.

Mr Cameron - That was the cry last night.

Mr KELLY - Yes, it has now been the cry for a few months. The first plank of the Ministerial platform, I repeat, has been thrown overboard, and the other two planks - preferential trade .and loyalty to the Empire - are absolutely intrinsic points in this amendment. I ask the Government if they are going to honour their platform pledges by supporting the amendment. In any case, they will have broken their pledge of fiscal peace, because the measure is absolutely subversive of the main pledge, by which they got their seats.

Mr Chanter - The amendment has no relation to preferential trade.

Mr KELLY - No?

Mr Chanter - It relates to preferential destruction of trade.

Mr KELLY - The honorable member need not be nervous, because the amendment has nothing to do with Canadian harvesters.

Mr Isaacs - That is not fair.

Mr KELLY - What is not fair? Have I not a right to suggest that a protectionist in the Chamber might be afraid of competition from Canada?

Mr Wilks - And did he not ask a question on the same point in 1905 ?

Mr KELLY - I think that the honorable member for Riverina introduced the mattei here.

Mr Chanter - The honorable member is quite wrong.

Mr KELLY - I have the keenest recollection of a question which the honorable member asked here.

Mr Isaacs - The honorable 'member for Riverina made a fair argumentative answer, and the honorable member for Wentworth ought not to pursue the subject further.

Mr KELLY - I do not think that the honorable member for Riverina misinterprets my reply. He introduced the question of Canadian harvesters,, and I say that, as regards this amendment, at any rate, he need not be nervous of competition from that source, because it relates to imports from the mother country, where none of these alleged trusts or malpractices are in existence.

Mr Chanter - Then what is the use of the amendment?

Mr KELLY - The use of the amendment is to prevent these absolutely too extensive powers granted in the Bill from being used to the detriment of British trade with this country.

Mr Isaacs - Can there be any powers too extensive to preserve Australian industries which are beneficial to Australia?

Mr KELLY - That is all very well coming from the honorable and learned gentleman whose leader, at the last election, used so much rhetoric on behalf of. preferential trade. The amendment deals with something further. The honorable member for Riverina told me a few moments ago that he had never asked a question about Canadian harvesters.

Mr Chanter - I said nothing of the kind. The honorable member said that I was the first to introduce the subject, and I replied that he was quite wrong.

Mr KELLY - I accept the honorable gentleman's assurance on that point. He remembers that he did ask a question about harvesters.

Mr Chanter - I have not denied that.

Mr KELLY - I wish to show now that this is not a proposal which those who are so anxious about the measure need oppose.

The Bill has been introduced with a special object - to prevent the importation of harvesters. At any rate, last session the Minister of Trade and Customs told us that that was the main urgency for its introduction. Great Britain sends us no harvesters. She sends us nothing but legitimate trade. Last night the Minister in charge of the Bill told us that his object is to prevent any import trade being carried on which might in any way affect an Australian industry. Now, an import might be to the benefit of the whole community, and yet affect detrimentally a small section thereof ; to wit, the industry competing with it.

Mr Isaacs - That would not come under this part of the Bill. It must be an Australian industry which is beneficial, and maintained in the interests of all.

Mr KELLY - There is nothing in the Bill about that.

Mr Isaacs - The honorable member has not read the Bill, else he would have found it there.

Mr KELLY - I have read the Bill with extreme care.

Mr Isaacs - Then the honorable member has missed it.

Mr KELLY - We are all liable to error, and perhaps the Attorney-General is making a mistake now.

Mr Isaacs - No.

Mr KELLY - Perhaps the honorable and learned gentleman will tell me exactly where it is to be found.

Mr Isaacs - In clause 13, dealing with the industries to which unfair competition refers-

Mr KELLY - That is limited to industries which are beneficial to the producer. On another part of the Bill, we fought out that question, and the honorable and learned gentleman was not able to satisfy us as to what he entirely meant by the words "having due regard to the interests of producers, workers, and consumers."

Mr Isaacs - I only mean now that it must foe whatever that means - for the general benefit.

Mr McCay - It means what it means, the Attorney-General says.

Mr KELLY - Yes; the honorable and learned gentleman assures us that it means what it means.

Mr Isaacs - We 'all understand the meaning. I do not think that, the honorable member can put it in more precise words, but if he can I shall accept them.

Mr KELLY - I am glad to hear that. If it means only competition with industries which are in the minds and for the benefit of the Australian people as a whole, that restricts very largely the scope of the measure. But the Parliament has passed a Customs Tariff which lays down the principle that there are hundreds of industries in almost every phase of trade which are well worthy of being maintained by the Commonwealth. Surely that is the scope of the present measure? If that be so, I submit that this part of the Bill is absolutely all-embracing in its scope. However, I do not wish to labour that point. I have pointed out to honorable members who are so anxious about- the harvester question that this legislation does not affect their position, and with that remark I shall say no more about the controversial nature of the amendment. In conclusion, I only wish to remind the Committee that the Prime Minister was elected on definite pledges, which he will only honour bv accepting the amendment. I haw pointed out that the cry of Australia for the Empire bv the Prime Minister at- the last election has lately . degenerated into the cry of Australia for the Australians. I warn the Government that if they are not very careful they will find the world at large " thinking, if they resist this amendment, that they are not verv particular as to whom Australia is for, whether it be for the Empire or for Australians, provided that she keeps her offices for them.

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