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Wednesday, 11 July 1906

Mr LONSDALE (New England) . - I support the amendment, because I am a free-trader. The honorable member for Echuca has tried to be funny at the expense of free-traders in this Chamber, and has said that we are giving up our principles in supporting this amendment. I am afraid I am unable to give the honorable member credit for very much intelligence if he believes that. The honorable member spoke as a preferential trader. We are not preferential traders of his kind, or like those who are responsible for the introduction of this Bill. We are prepared to admit the goods of other countries to Australia free. If we are unable to do so, then we are prepared, if possible, to admit British manufactures free. The honorable member for Echuca referred to the way in which he spoke to an immense crowd somewhere in England. He told them about our love for the old country, and that we were prepared to assist them by some kind of preference. What kind of preference? The honorable member said, " We will not let your goods come in free. We shall keep our Tariff up against the goods you send us, but we desire that you shall impose a duty upon goods coming from other countries similar to those which we send you, and let ours in free, and thus make it harder for your poor to live, so that we may pocket something atyour expense." That is the preferential trade of the honorable member for Echuca, and of honorable members opposite.

Mr McColl - That is not what I said this afternoon.

Sir William Lyne - Surely the honorable member for Echuca did not tell English people that?

Mr LONSDALE - Of course, the honorable member did not; but it is just the kind of thing which the selfish protectionists proclaim. They never desire to help themselves, but some other fellow,, and' yet all the time they are seeking to get their arms up to the elbows in other people's pockets. The honorable member for Echuca, the Prime Minister, and otherprotectionists desire that the British people shall impose duties upon the goods sent to them by other nations, and not upon the goods we send. They desire that our advantage shall be considered, even at an increased cost to the poor of England, that our farmers may pocket something at the expense of the British poor. The honorable member for Echuca calls that love for the old country. If honorable members can point to anything more mean and more despicable than that kind of preferential trade, I should like to know what it is. If I appear to have spoken strongly, it is because the honorable member for Echuca sought to sneer at free-trade and free-traders in this Chamber who, in supporting this amendment, show that they are prepared to give an honest and not a pretended preference to the old country. The Canadians in their Tariff gave a preference to Great Britain without asking for anything in return. They did not ask that the people of the old land should penalize themselves for their benefit. They simply said, " We will give you a preference against all the other nations of the world." That is what we are asking for by this amendment, that an absolute preference should be given to England. We will know who the true preferential traders are, and who are the bogus and hypocritical preferential traders when the vote on this amendment is taken. We have heard a great deal about preference to Great Britain from the present Prime Minister. The honorable and learned member has talked about the Empire, the necessity for all its parts standing together, and for having freer trade between them. To-day, honorable members opposite are not talking of preference to the old land. They are talking of Australia for the Australians. Last night we had an honorable and learned gentleman opposite rebuking a member of this House because he stated that he was prepared to let British goods come into Australia., even though they injured Australian industries. He stated that he was no Australian if he did so. This rebuke was by a preferentialist who claims to be a lover of the old land. I am an Australian born, and I have a family of Australians, but I love the old land better 1 than to desire to obtain any advantage for Australia at her expense. No vote of mine will ever be given _to place any disability upon men of British origin. I shall never adopt the policy that because a man is an Australian, and only because he is an Australian, he must be preferred for any position to a man of British origin who is not Australian born. I say that the honorable and learned gentleman who made the statement to which I have referred, shows what little love he possesses for the old land. England has been the home of the outcast. The British people have ever had a friendly feeling for those who have been tyrannized over in their own lands. The honorable and learned gentleman to whom I refer is a descendant of two great races. He is a descendant of the great and noble Jewish race, and the country that has stood by the Jewish people, protected them, and given them equal rights with other men, is the grand little land yonder. Time and again she has opened her doors to provide an asylum for people of the race from whom, the honorable and learned gentleman has come. Yet he dares to say here that the man who would give a preference to the land that has offered an asylum to his race is a traitor to Australia.

Mr Storrer - The honorable and learned gentleman did not say that.

Mr LONSDALE - He did not say that. But what did he mean ? What the honorable and learned gentleman said was that such a man was " no Australian." What did that mean but that he was a traitor to this land, if he would give a preference to the little land yonder, the land of freedom, that has ever been an asylum for the oppressed. I believe that the honorable and learned gentleman's parents were of the Polish race, a noble race of people, who in times gone by have given their lives for freedom. They have laid down their lives in order to preserve the freedom of their own country. Yet this honorable and learned gentleman dares to make the remarks he did about the country that has helped that oppressed race, and has found an asylum for them. I say to his shame be it, that he should make such statements here, and in the way he did. I say that such statements were beneath the contempt of honorable members who listened to the honorable and learned gentleman's remarks. I admit that I am here to give a preference to Great Britain. The butter, fruit, frozen meat and tinned meat which we send to

England by competing in that country with the home products, keep the prices of those products down, and lower the remuneration of the people who are engaged in producing; them there. If the British people applied the principle of this Bill, they would seek to impose Customs duties upon the goods which we send them, and to prevent their importation. They are produced here under much more favorable circumstances than they can be produced ir> England, and for that reason, if the people of England adopted the principle of this Bill, they would be justified in protecting themselves from the competition of those goods. But England opens her ports freely to us and to all the world, and if Australia would but take a lesson from the grand old country, instead of developing the narrow close selfishness of protection as she is doing, it would be better for her, and better for her people, in the days that are to come. I shall always be found upon the side of the country from which we have sprung. We were told this afternoon, in an interjection, that " We made this country, not Great Britain." I wonder where on earth we should have been if Great Britain had not been behind us. I wonder what would have become of this country had it not been for the force and prestige of the old land. Yet in our little simplicity and in our puny selfishness, in our arrogance and pride - though I do not know what we have to be proud of - we say, " We made this great country." We have done all we could to destroy it. The legislation of this Parliament, it appears to me, instead of assisting to elevate and develop the country, is calculated to bring us into contempt everywhere. It is calculated, instead of making us a great and noble people, to do us just the reverse. Those who talk of our having made this country ought to hide their heads in shame, for Australia would have belonged to some other people had it not been for the power of England. I believe that the principles of freedom are best for us all, and that what we want in this country is not more restriction, but less of it. The Government just lately placed before us a new mail contract that has been referred to in high terms. The effect of it is to be to shorten the journey to the old country. But the Government, if they are to be consistent, ought to block our ports. The legislation which we are dealing with should lead us, not to have fast steam-ships, but to go back to the old sailing boats of the last century. Why should we pretend that we want faster steam-ship communication, whilst at the same time, by the legislation they propose, this Ministry seeks to restrict and destroy trade with every country? These restrictions are "for the benefit of the few, not of the many. They are calculated to mate men rich at the expense of the community. And that is all any restrictive legislation ever did or can do - to rob the multitude, to put wealth into the pockets of a few. The Minister who is in charge of this Bill would not allow the matter to remain in abeyance until the reports of the Tariff Commission were, before us. He knew that once those reports were in our hands this Bill would be doomed. There is no evidence in favour of it. It is a Bill to benefit about two firms in the State of Victoria. One of those firms is British. If I had my way I would exempt Canada, as a part of the British Empire, from the operation of this measure. I would allow the products of that country to come in without restriction. We are justified in the strong opposition we are making to the Bill. If honorable members wish to give Great Britain a true preference, there is no other way than that proposed by the honorable member for North Sydney. Until we stand out for greater freedom we shall never develop a spirit that will give us strength to compete with the world1 in every department, but -shall remain a weak and spineless nation.

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