PROTECTION V. FREETRADE.
At the same meeting at Sydney at which the Hon. Dr Garran’a paper was read, Mr Palsford, the secretary of the New South Wales Freetrade Association, made a capital speech, from which we cull the following extracts; —
I d, ink Ido not iu the slightest degree, strain tin; truth when 1 say that tae agitation Miat has been earned on in our niu,,a for the past three or tour years has been conspicuous for its defiance of all statesmanlike qualities. The statesman who is •worthy of the name does his best to can forth every noble instinct in the hearts ot the people, and is always ready to give reasons clear as daylight for every proposal he puts forward. But we have seen those who would pass for statesmen trading upon the passions and prejudices of the ignoiant, and ever adding fuel to the flames of discontent. It is a most extraordinary tiling that gentlemen who for years had been accustomed to denounce the policy of trade restriction should all at once become its devoted adherents without offering to the public some clear and earnest, not to say elaborate, statement of the reasons leading to this complete change of front, \\ho caii imagine a Pitt, a Cobden, or a Gladstone renouncing the professions of a lifetime without most full and painstaking explanations of the reasons that had ied up to such a result. To-day, after three or four years of agitation, we still look in vam for any careful and earnest attempt to satisfy the just requirements of the public on this point.
kerosene oil. We will go to that well-known illuminating agent, kerosene oil, for light on this subject. During the last twenty years enormous supplies of this oil have been discovered in the United States and in Southern Russia, with the natural result that prices have fallen immensely ; what formerly cost shillings can now be bought for pence, ine oil comes bubbling up just as water does in some of the successful bores in the west or this colony, and tho fortunate owners of these oil springs have merely to put the oil through a simple refining process and secure it in tins or barrels to suit their customers. Millions upon millions of gallons have been sold in England and in other markets at od, and less than 5d per gallon. In this colony, with a view to raise revenue, a duty of 6d * gallon was imposed in 1871. We have, therefore, never had kerosene oil sold at anything like the American or English price. When the English dealer was paying 5d the New South Wales dealer was generally paying nearer la 6d a gallon, the duty, the more expensive packages, and tho cost of the long carriage making up the difference. Now note what has taken place m New South Wales. We found some deposits of kerosene shale, and by a more or less costly process have been able to extract the oil. Of course those who had the oil to sell always obtained as much for it as they could, and while the owners of oil springs in the States were content to sell for a few pence a gallon they have obtained on the average an extra shilling a gallon—that is. they have obtained the American price, with the addition of 6d duty, and the addition of the heavy freight charges, etc. Observe what happens. Our wise men-our vary wise men-go on public platforms, and, while kerosene ia selling at od in America and at Is 5d in Sydney, they say : “See faow cheap this duty has made kerosene oil ; it used to be several shillings a gallon, and now you can get it at Is sd, \on must not take off this duty, because if you do the price uill go up again.’’ According to the rules of arithmetic, if 6d be taken off Is 5d we have only lid to pay ; but according to our wise men, if 6d be taken pff Isoave shall have to pay more than Is od. The fun of it is that some of their hearers loudly extol these deliverances, and with joy in their hearts go home delighted to pay three times as much for kerosene as the British are paying, and quite prepared to do battle against those who wish to take off the duty. —(Hear, hear.) Kerosene oil, it must be observed, is largely used in Victoria, and the duty levied has only been 3d, or half the New South Wales rate, yet, our wise men notwithstanding, the price has actually been lower by about 3d than m New South Wales. In Victoria they don b happen to have a supply of shale of which they could make dear oil, so this year it has been proposed to abolish the duty altogether, and the ‘Age/ which you know is the exponent of the aced policy of restriction, actually says the proposal to take off the duty on kerosene oil will be welcomed, as it practicaHy means a reduction of taxation of L 15,000, and adds that Parliament cannot do better than accept the proposal and satisfy the cry tor a cheaper light which makes itself heard to travellers in remote and sparsely settled parts of the colony.” Now, what are we to think of this? Take off the duty of 3d in Victoria and the oil becomes cheaper; take off the duty of (id in New South l/alea and the oil becomes dearer. This is the sort of logic we have to fight every day of tne weeu. Certainly it does not look vory formidable, but then some people are fond of being gulled. Of course, lam well aware what it the Victorians had any kerosene shale they would, with the facility that comes from practice, be able to prove Victoria ought to cut herself off from access to tho oil that flows so freely and may be had so cheap in America, ia order to make oil in the colony regardless of cost. The faemg-both-ways logic, it must he admitted, meets with more success than might be expected. Out wise men have another argument which is much relished, and may generally be relied on to .bring the house down.
#UB DAIRYING INDUSTRIES. Itfc that our dairying industry owes its auccess to the existence of Customs duties. But for these duties the making of butter and cheese and the curing of bacon would have been impossible, and to remove these duties would be to bring ruin and desolation to the Illawarra district, so say our wise men. If, however, we make inquiry on the subject, we find that from 1874 to 1886 Gutter has been absolutely free of duty, and ithat the production of this article has made great strides. On cheese since 1871 a duty of 2d per lb has been levied, but this industry has shown comparatively little growth. On bacon a duty, also of 2d per lb, gas been levied since 1871, and yet the production of bacon has remained stationary in fact* we produce less bacon in proportion to the population to-day than we did before the doty was imposed. In 1871 we_ bad 3,100 sheep and 41 pigs to every 100 of the population ; in 1887 we had 4,500 sheep and only 25 pigs to every 100 of the population, ft might have been expected that seeing there was no duty on cither mutton or wool that sheep would by this time have become as extinct: aa the dodo, and tha# the land would have been so blessed with the raw material that is used in the production of I bacon that every poor man would have had his rasher for breakfast when inclination dictated. But this is by m means the case, for mutton is more plentiful ever, and bacon is scarcer. But notwithstanding these facts, any of you mty bet your last dollar fchat the farmers will atm fee asked to believe that a duty on butter has been levied for many years, and that to it is duo the progress made by the industry, there having really been no duty at all except for a short time. i
THE PRINCIPLE OF EXCHANGE, Xhe great central force of_ the world s commerce is exchange. Nations buy because they sell, and if they will not buy they cannot sell. This means in connection with •very country an inflow and an outflow of commodities. These facts are as clear as that two and two mate four, yet our reatrictiouists deliberately and persistently ignore the fact that the inflow would not take place but for the outflow; they hide the fact that the ootflow represents employ ment . . . We send yearly to British and other markets a vast quantity of wool, and it is not too much to say that the prosperity of New South Wales depends largely on the price at which we fell the wool. But note what we hwa to fight as a consequence. The restrictionist fcflls the people that the wealth which we receive for the wool means wealth taken from us. If our wool sells for 1,6,000,000, when the wealth representing £h,e sales arrives the people are told they are L 6 000,000 poorer. If the wool sells for L 10,000,000, then the people are told they «r« L 10,000,000 poorer, because goods of that value arrive. And if for a season wool rose to Ss a lb, so that m obtained
1L50,000,000 for our wool, you may be certain that the unprecedented arrival of L 50,000,000 worth of wealth in the form of commodities would result in prophecies of impending ruin. To fight such gross misrepresentations of simple facts is part of our daily work. Let me ask which is the market where the higher prices rule. Is it the one where supplies are in excess of consumption, or the one where supplies are deficient ? Naturally everyone would say l-hat In the market that had to buy must of necessity be higher than m the market that had to sell. Yet, certain as this fact is, our restriotiouists actually go about the country asserting the contrary. BRITISH TRADE. Undoubtedly one of the greatest features of the nineteenth century is the expansion of British trade, the growth of British wealth, and the great improvement in the general position of the British people. There never was a time when Great Britain occupied a stronger if as strong a mercantile and manufacturing position as she occupies today. This year has seen such a general improvement in the demand for labor that it is found very difficult to obtain recruits for either the army or navy. And yet, go where we will to meetings of the traderestrietionists, we shall be told that British trade is falling off; that Britain is being beaten in neutral markets, and also in her own; that her Lt.ects are full of unemployed ; and that a strong feeling is rising in favor of trade restriction as the only hope of an otherwise ruined country. How dare they say such things '! How dare any man use such gross and unpardonable misrepresentations ? Undoubtedly Britain has her dark spots, which her best and noblest sons are doing their best to remove. There are paupers descended from paupers, and themselves leaving pauper children who will grow up pauper men and women. There are tens of thousands sunk in drunkenness and vice, a burden to themselves and a curse to their country. But are wo to take these dark spots and say they describe the condition of Britain ! There would be just as much sense in calling a dog a black dog because it had a few black spots on an otherwise white skin. Besides, it ill becomes those who in our midst are daily declaring that Britain is suffering severely from lack of trade and employment to be constantly doing their best—and their worst—to destroy a trade which at present certainly affords employment to thousands of British artisans. Let me point you to another matter. OUR IMPORTS AND EXPORTS. Of our imports last year nearly 90 per cent, were from Great Britain and her colonies and possessions, and only a little over 10 per cent, from all the rest of the world, and of this latter nearly one-half was from the United States, The representations of our opponents, however, point to something very different, indeed ; all their cry is about foreign trade, and it is the competition of the countries from which we import very little that is spoken of. Why is this done ? Simply because it would not arouse enough bitterness to admit the truth, and to say that 94 per cent, of our trade is with our own kith and kin and only 6 per cent, with foreigners. The words “foreign” and “ foreigners " have a ring about them calculated to awaken in some minds a feeling of alarm, and therefore they are used—intentionally used—to aid the effort to bring about a public sentiment which would permit of legislation being carried into effect that would strike our own race more than fifteen times as heavily as jt would strike foreigners. Allied with this misrepresentation is another quite as gross. Last year this little colony, this handful of people, sold to the rest of the world at least LI 5,000,000 worth of its own productions. That is an average of Ll4 per head for every man, woman, child, and infant in New South Wales equal to L7O for an average family of five persons. Where, I ask, in the whole world can a similar result be shown by a community of a million people ? It is in vain I ask, for in no quarter of the globe has similar success ever been achieved. In face, then, of the absolutely indisputable fact that we are doing more business in the markets of the world than any other country, the public are told at every meeting the reatrictionista hold that we cannot compete with other countries because of their low wages. That is, we ara asked to be such fools as to believe that wo cannot do this verv thing that we are doing with most signal success. ( To he continued,)
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PROTECTION V. FREETRADE., Evening Star, Issue 8019, 23 September 1889