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is that it robs the states-or perhaps a commonwealth than anything I have come milder phrase would be that it deprives the across either in my reading or experience states—in all cases of their chief weapon during the last three months. If we settle for collecting money. It takes away from this matter satisfactorily to the states, to them that source to which they are all our people, and to Australia as a whole, looking for development, and even for the we need have no ground of alarm for payment of their way. In view of those the future of the commonwealth. For so three facts, it was inevitable that the ques- far as we can see there is no question tion of seizing the customs should, the more which will impose a greater strain upon it was looked into, constitute itself the the capacity, the good feeling, and the patmain difficulty to be solved before we could riotism of the people of the commonwealth see our way clear to establish this federa- than the financial question. I have listion. We must remember further that it is tened to nearly everything which has been also complicated by this consideration that said during this debate—I have not been we are not now engaged on the construc- absent many minutes at any time from tion of a tariff; but this financial question the sittings of the Committee-with regard is to be made part of our constitutional to the materials at our disposal for formbonds. We are not looking so much for ing a judgment in regard to this question. revenue as for conditions of union ; in I have heard statistics attacked ; I have other words, finance is to be made a part heard them defended; but the doubt has of the constitution of the commonwealth. never left my mind that we have not suffiThere is yet an additional difficulty—that cient figures in our hands to enable us to is, that there is practically no tax at the lay down hard and fast lines in regard to disposal of the commonwealth, so far as the future financial policy of the commonwe can see, excepting the customs; for it so wealth. In other words, we have no mahappens that in the forty years of nation- terials so assured and so reliable that we hood among the various Australian colonies could take it upon ourselves to crystallise they have been exploring all the fields of them into a part of the constitution. The taxation, and, so far as I know, have occu- figures which we have tell us a great deal pied them all-all that are known to us and about the past, something about the preour fellow-citizens in the United Kingdom sent, and nothing at all about the future.
- with the exception of certain special taxes We must remember that all the difficulty which are imposed on luxuries--on wbat lies in the uncertainty of the future. We are commonly called aristocratic luxuries. have nothing before us now which leads They have gone beyond that. Not only us to do anything that affords the smallest have they explored and occupied all the indication in our own fancies, the smallest fields of taxation ; but, because of various conjectures as to what will happen when exigencies-usually depression at one time we have such new factors introduced into or another-they have loaded up all the the situation as a wholly unknown tariff. colonies with as much taxation as they will So far we have been able to refer only bear. There is neither room for a new tax to the tariffs now in existence. We do nor margin to increase the present taxes. not know what would be the course of Therefore we are driven back
customs intercolonial commerce under a uniform duties, and we have to face the difficulties tariff. We cannot forget that behind all as best we may.
The spirit in which they these unknown factors there remains the have been faced to-day to my mind bodes constitution of the commonwealth, whose better for the early inauguration of the inevitable operation - I had almost said whose principal object and intention-is surplus shall be returned to the various to change the whole course of the rela- states in proportion to the amounts coltions between the states in regard to trade, lected from them, which again involves the production, and expenditure. There is a perpetual maintenance of border customgeneral feeling growing up, and once it houses, if the arrangement is to be made is started it seems to be almost inevitable effectual and satisfactory, and which stands that it should grow, that the conditions condemned for that very reason.
Conseare too great for us to master with the ma- quently, the proposal made in the Adelaide terials at hand. There is a growing feeling Convention that the surpluses should be that a federal parliament will be in a better returned to the states, per capita, in proposition to deal with these difficulties as portion to population, was adopted in the they arise, and when they arise. In fact, bill. I would ask the attention of the the question is not now whether this and Committee for one moment to the probable a number of other matters should be left operation of such a clause in regard to to the federal parliament, but how much the colony of Western Australia. It must of this and other matters is to be left to be remembered that if Western Australia the federal parliament. It seems to be comes into the union, however late she perfectly inevitable that it should be so. inay come in, she must come in under this Take one clause of the bill, for example; clause, unless it be altered in the manthe final and completing clause of the ner I have indicated, a most unlikely profinancial system worked out by the Con- ceeding, because it isevident thata majority vention at Adelaide. After making an of the states could, if they pleased, block interim arrangement for seven years, it is any attempt to alter the clause, even though there declared that
a majority of the people of the commonafter the expiration of five years from the im
wealth were determined to have it revised. position of uniform duties of customs, each state
The hon. member, Sir Philip Fysh, has shall be deemed to contribute to the revenue an calculated that, if the clause were in equal sum per head of its population, and all
operation, Western Australia would lose surplus revenue over the expenditure of the commonwealth shall be distributed month by month
£659,090 in the first few years, and that among the several states in proportion to the after the interim arrangement had exnumbers of their people as shown by the latest pired we should lose £613,894 annually. statistics of the commonwealth.
I come now to a matter I understand Probably by a slip more than anything better, the calculations made by our own else, or possibly with a view to placing it Government Statist.
He declares that there for discussion, this clause was made during the year 1898-9 we should lose a binding part of the constitution. If the £386,360. That is a serious loss; but in constitution were accepted, this provision the next year, 1899–1900, we should lose could only be altered by adopting the de- £411,847. signedly protracted and cumbrous course An Hon. MEMBER: That will be the of sending the proposed amendment to the first year of the operation of the uniform federal parliament, and afterwards to the tariff ! people of the states. Now it is quite .
The Hon. J. W. HACKETT : Yes. He obvious that if a provision of this kind is arrives at these figures largely by deductto be registered in the constitution, and is ing the loss of intercolonial customs. The to be made part of the Commonwealth chief loss would be due to the cessation of Bill, there are only two ways in which it the collection of customs upon intercolonial can be done. One is to declare that the imports. In the year 1900–1, the loss
pould amount to £433,975; in the
year Australia. It must not be forgotten either 1901-2, to £452,560 ; in the year 1902-3, that we have no excise, and as our customs to £466,978; in the year 1903–4, to in most cases quadruple the normal cus£621,122 ; and in the year 1904–5, to toms rates of the rest of Australia, it is £652,280.
fair to take for our excise about doublo The Hon. F. W. HOLDER : That is all
the average excise. That being about upon the assumption that the present ab- 2s. 6d., if we take it at 5s. a head, that will formal conditions continue !
be a still further contribution to the federal The Hon. A. DEAKIN : The figures are
treasury which will have to be returned ;
so that, the more you look at it, the more only hypothetical !
serious the prospect becomes, so far as The Hon. J. W. HACKETT : They are Western Australia is concerned. Let us accurately hypothetical. It is simply out of now take the other side. We have exthe question that we could join under any pended very little in defences. New South system which involves a per capita return, Wales and Victoria have expended money excepting, of course, for a limited experi- liberally in this direction. We have not mental period. Buteven these figures hardly had the means to expend, nor have we had represent the true position of Western Aus- the opportunity to expend them. No doubt, tralia with regard to federation. Those that in time to come, we shall rival the other have been laid upon the table by the Go- colonies in an extravagant expenditure in vernment Statistician of New South Wales this respect; but, as matters stand at pretake some important matters into con- sent, the defence bill in New South Wales sideration. Now, the contribution for ser- and Victoria stands at about 4s. per head vices of which we should be relieved, the of the population, while our defence bill
, parment for services rendered, is set down is only about 2s. per head. There is not at £158,000 in the papers distributed the slightest doubt that something like an among hon. members a couple of days ago equality will have to be established in that --that is, about £1 per head. It is mani- direction if Western Australia is to be fest that that is extravagant, and that satisfied and is to be defended.
In fact, later on it will have to be reduced. It is it is more than likely that the expendicut of all proportion to the amounts con- ture
head for defences will be larger tributed by the other colonies. Take, for ex. than that per capita of the other colonies ample, Tasmania, which has about the same owing to the vast extent of territory to be population that we have. The amount of defended. The coast-line virtually comexpenditure in respect of the services of mands three seas, north, west, and south. which she would be relieved would be There is another matter. Take the ocean £33,000, or about 4s. per head, as against lighthouses. New South Wales, with be£l per head in Western Australia. In the tween 700 and 800 miles of coast-line, excase of South Australia, which has just pends a sum of £16,000 a year on lightabout double our population, the amount of houses. According to the latest particulars expenditure in respect of services of which which I have been able to obtain, in our she would be relieved would be £41,500, own colony of Western Australia the sum or about 28. per head, as against £1 in the expended per annum is £3,000 upon a
2s case of Western Australia. Now, adjust coast-line 3,000 miles in length. Now, ments of that kind will have to be made these facts emphasise the importance of all along the line, if a fair view is to be us from this western colony, not only presented of the position of Western looking closely into this financial question, but doing all that we can to impress upon articles, and the year after on sixty-seren the Convention the great inequalities of articles – altogether on nearly ninety the position of that colony as compared articles. with the rest of the colonies. In view of Mr. Higgins : There has been a change all these facts, I am afraid I cannot agree within the last two years ! with my right hon, friend, Sir John For
The Hon. J. W. HACKETT: Yes. rest, that Western Australia does not need
Most of those articles are not single articles, exceptional treatment. It is unquestion- but groups of commodities. In fact, as it ably the case. Either we must compel the
stands now, out of a total import value of rest of Australia to accept the conditions £6,500,000 at the very least £2,500,000 applicable to us, and in the highest degree worth of goods come in free of duty. unjust and injurious to all or nearly all
An Hox. MEMBER: How much of these the other states, or we shall have to accept imports come from the other parts of conditions which will be absolutely ruin
Australia ? ous to ourselves. Indeed, it appears to me
The Hon. J. W.HACKETT: £3,000,000, that if a common rule is to be laid down, we shall have to stand out of the common
and I would point out that that will be wealth until we can make terms under that . very largely diminished within a very short
time, because it consists mostly of farm clause of the constitution which enables the commonwealth to bargain with a state in re
produce, and in three or four years we
shall be able to produce all we want in gard to the conditions of its admission. We
that respect. are abnormal from first to last. The hon. member, Mr. Higgins, referred to our
Mr. WALKER : Without protection ? tariff. The hon, member did not pursue
The Hon. J. W. HACKETT: Yes; we the
argument; but, if he intended to show have no protection,except small duties leried the abnormal conditions we stand in, I on food, and the Right Hon. Sir John Forwould take the opportunity of correcting rest will bear me out in saying that they are him in regard to several points, especially left as much for the purpose of revenue as as they concern the honor of those who are for protection. It is true that our cusinterested in the Government of the coun- toms revenue now is £7 153. per head. try, which has endeavoured to make the That is thoroughly anomalous, and a beburden of taxation on the people as light lief has been expressed all round the Comas possible, insomuch that at the present
mittee that that amount will diminish to time we stand in the position of the most something approaching £2 per head, which lightly - taxed colony in the Australian is the average for the whole of Australia. group.
We have no direct taxation what- But we have always been abnormal in that ever, excepting death duties on a limited respect. What the reason is I cannot say. scale. We have no property, income, or
It may be that in a thinly-peopled country, land tax ; and, if you measure our tariff possessing large productive resources, there by the rest of the Australian tariffs in suc
is a smaller number of unproductive incession we come out at the bottom, New
habitants than in the more densely-popuSouth Wales only excepted. With regard lated colonies. Ever since I have known to the number of articles, the hon. member the colony, since 1886, the customs revenue will find that we stand lower, with the per head has never fallen below £4, and it single exception of New South Wales, than has exceeded £5 even in years when gold all the other colonies. The year before was never heard or dreamt of. last we reinitted taxation on twenty-one Mr. Solomon : Under a higher tariff!
[7 SEPT., 1897.] Federation of the Railways. 155
The Hon. J. W. HACKETT: Under I have the most implicit confidence that a higher tariff than we have now, butunder when the time comes, even if we stand out a lower tariff than we have had.
for a time, the terms that an Australian Mr. SOLOMON: The male adults in West- state will ask will be fair ones, and that ern Australia are seven-tenths of the
popu. the terms that an Australian parliament lation, and they earn £4 per week as offers will not be less fair. against £2 per week in other colonies. Progress reported.
The Hon. J. W. HACKETT: That is the case.
LEAVE OF ABSENCE. An Hox. MEMBER: But it will not last!
Motion (by Hon. E. BARTON) agreed to: The Hon. J.W.HACKETT: It has lasted
That leave of absence for one week be granted
to Mr. George Leake on account of urgent private for ten years, but it will not last for ever.
affairs. What is to be done under these circum
Convention adjourned at 5.9 p.m. stances? I entirely agree with the Right Hon. Sir John Forrest that we should revert to the provisions of the bill of 1891.
WEDNESDAY, 8 SEPTEMBER, 1897. In common with the great majority of the nembers of this Committee, I earnestly
Petition-Federation of the Railways-Commonwealth of hope that the policy indicated of trusting an Australian parliament will be pursued. It seems to me that nothing is more cheer
The PRESIDENT took the chair at 10:30 ing than the different spirit of this Convention now compared with its spirit when we
PETITION. met a few months ago. This Convention
Mr. McMillan presented a petition has reverted to the spirit of the Convention
from the responsible officers of the New of 1891, when we were all for trusting to South Wales Local Option League, praythe federal parliament. For some reason
ing that a provision be introduced into doubts seem to have come across the minds
the constitution to prevent the forcing of of many of the new members of the Con
alcohol and opium into any state against vention, if I may say so without offence,
its wish. and they are unwilling to accord those large powers to the federal parliament which FEDERATION OF THE RAILWAYS. the Convention of 1891 liad most willingly Mr. WISE: I wish to ask you, sir, and unreservedly given. In fact, we are whether you have received a communicanow beginning to trust the federal par- tion from the Wagga Farmers' Conference,
' liament. At the same time there is a great presenting a resolution to the effect that deal of force in what the hon. member, Mr. federation will not be acceptable to the Symon, has urged, that, after all, we are producers, unless it provides for the federasked to go into this union blindfold. ation of the railways; and if so, by what What I would ask the Convention and means such resolution can be laid on the the Finance Committee to bear in mind is table of the Convention ? that if we do take this leap in the dark The PRESIDENT: I have received such a they will at all events let us know how communication, and have consulted with far we shall have to fall, so that there may the leader of the Convention on the subject; be some limitation to our descent. I shall but it was thought that as the represennot be behind any one in trusting a par- tation was not in the form of a petition, liament of our fellow-citizens of Australia. which is the proper mode of addressing this