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PROTECTION V. FREETRADE., Issue 8021, 25 September 1889
PROTECTION V. FREETRADE.
This concludes Mr Pulsford's paper :
ODR MAStJi'ACTPBISG INDUSTRIES,
Perhaps on no point has the peculiar talent of our opponents for misrepresentation been more fully exercised than in relation to the comparative importance of the manufactories and works of Nov/ South Wales and Victoria. When our statistics showed that our manufacturing industry was, on the whole, developed equally to that of Victoria, it was natural that our wise men should be exceedingly perplexed, and so great was their perplexity that necessity, which is the mother of invention, drove them to take the bold measure of simply denying the accuracy of the statistics—that is, you will of course understand, the accuracy of the statistics of jfew South Wales. During tho past three years the subject of our manufacturing position has been touched on at scores and hundreds of lucetings of the restrictionists, and probably at the great majority of them the difficulty presented by our statistics lias been got over by the statement that we included in our statistics all kinds of absurd and piltry establishments which the Victorians religiously excluded from their returns, and the public wore given to understand that if our neighbors only adopted ' our system of tabulating, they would be ' able to compile a list with dimensions calculated to strike terror into Freetraders. This, of course, was very pleasant for those who were persuaded that nothing can prosper in New South Wales, and who cannot even believe the evidence of their eyes. I am not sure in which of the two colonies this method of defending the restrictionist policy was first used, but in both of them the misrepresentation has been carried to such slanderous extremes as to put certain persons almost, if not quite, within the reach of the law. Iu this slanderous misrepresentation the Melbourne 'Age' has taken a leading part. Two years ago that paper charged the Frectrade Association with publishing " deliberate falsehoods," though in no case have we ever used any other than official figures From time to time since then the ' Age' has returned to the subject, and, not content with vilifying this association, has proceeded so far as to assert that our very Statistical Department is a fraud, and that Mr Coghlan prepares statistics, not according to actual facta, but according to the exigencies of political warfare. In May last I wrote a letter to th<* ' Age,' defending our statistics and pointing out the serious character 3i some of their remarks, and concluded with the following earnest appeal for justice:—" What is the real truth in this matter? Is the 'Age'justified in making these repeated aud most serious accusations? Arc we keeping up a Statistical Department to delude and fool New South Wales as to her position ? If there is truth in the charges that have been made, surely it can be shown beyond tho shadow of a doubt. If, on the other hand, our statistics are prepared with absoluto honesty aud due care, tho public spirit and love of fair play that mark our great newspapers w,U surely lead the 'Age'to do justice totho3c who have suffered unmerited reproach." Well, one would think that an appeal like this would have been met with a determination to do justice, even if in the doing of it confession had to be made that tho charges complained of were found to be without justification. But no, the appeal was met with sneers and insult, and the additional statement that "the New South Wales statistics are compiled, not for the information of the people, but in order to hoodwink them. 1 '
Failing to obtain any reparation for the grave injustice, or any withdrawal of the toitl .slander levelled at this colony, I drew attention to the fact that tho Victorian statistics did actually include a large number of establishments employing an average of less than live hands. This statement was met by the 'Age' in the course of another leading article with the assertion that "there is nn truth whatever in Mr Pu!sford's wild statement thaUheroare included iu the Viutorlan returns hundreds of establishments ia which there is an average of !e?H than five hands employed." Von will see that the 'Age' could not well make their denial .-norc absolute. But what are the farts? Here is a <:-".py of the last issued statistics of employment in Victoria, being part li i.f th« ' Victorian Stalntieal Relator' for the year ended March ,'ll, ISSS, signed by Mr iluytcr himself. Will you believe that the'iu statistics show ninety-five rstablishinents iu which not more than three bauds are employed on the average ? In oue district you can find two brickyards, which employ just two hands. I think that is an average of one each. In all, you can count up nfi!) establishments included in these statistics whbh employ an average of iess than six hands, and there is also the certainty that the inclusion of large with small establishments prevents us sceirig the full number of really sme.ll ones. Still, 569 establishments with less than six (the bulk of them being under five hands) are there for anyone to see. Now what did the ' Age' do when I sent them the list of these small places ? They declined to publish it. What is to be said or thought of a policy that has to be supported by the bluster, the slander, and finally the cowardice which here stand revealed.
It is unnecessary to follow at greater) length the misrepresentations of the trade restrictionists. It must be admitted that our opponents are in a considerable dilemma, as to go in for strict accuracy founded on careful investigation would practically result in their retirement from business. They cannot afford to sacrifice their present stock-in-trade. Another thing we have to fight is the influence exerted by the name under which the policy of restriction is always presented by its friends. The word "protection " in the wide sense in which it is used is nothing but a fraud, a gross, unmitigated fraud. A cabman wants a pair of boots worth 10s, a hat worth ss, and a suit of clothes worth 403. How much " protection" does he get when the law makes him pay lis extra for the boots, 2s extra for the hat, and 10s extra for the clothes? The Melbourne cabby juat now knows the fraud pretty well. ile has been quiet while the patriots I beg you to note that restrictiomsts are always patriots have taxed his boots, his hat, and his clothes, and, although it is just now proposed to increase all these taxes, he would probably have continued to submit quietly to the " protection" in this form ; but the patriots are proposing to give him a little more " protection" on the oats his horse consumes. This has caused him to break into rebellion, and go to a public meeting and say nasty things about the amount of " protection " he was receiving. It is the same all round. You know how dependent the commerce and industry of to-day are upon machinery, and yet every user of machinery, and practically the -whole community -who benefit by its use, are compelled to put their hands in their pockets for the sake of the very few who make machinery. Now, where a hundred men are taxed in order that one man may be enriched, ought the scheme to be designated by its influence on the one or on the hundred ? Our opponents ignore the effects on the hundred, and take the effects on the one as that which would give a name to the whole.
THE MANUFACTURING COMBINATION
There is a combination of considerable strength which we have to right—that of the manufacturers—a combination which, of course, ia one of pure selfishness. It is sought to obtain monopolies at the expense of the consumer. You are aware that the restrictionists talk about the importers' monopoly. There is just as much sense in this as if I were to talk about the blackness of white. The restrictionists, however, are funny fellows, and they think anything is good enough for their followers. We are rather more particular about the sort of mental food we attempt to digest, and we know that monopoly cannot exist without restriction on the liberties of other people. Monopoly implies sole power. The manufacturers desire to have the power to compel you to buy of them ; and if you grant them that power, then you grant them a monopoly. The importers have no power to compel you to buy their goods ; therefore they have no monopoly. You may remark that there are a large number of manufacturers who are not restrictionists. This is largely because they see that the obtaining of special privileges will so increase local competition that their profits might
become less instead of more, while all the time the burdens of the people were continued. \Ve have to fight the consequences of a strong sense of injustice which results from tho tariff levying duties on certain raw materials, whilst the manufactured article is let hi free. As a party we must take Illume for permitting this fiscal abburdity and grave injustice to continue so long. The effects of these duties are not so severe as they are at times represented ; but the sufficient objection to them is that they are unjust. While a man willingly pays his just debts, he naturally resents being unjustly compelled to pay even a sixpence. I think this matter is now so thoroughly understood that use will be made of the first opportunity to remove these serious blots on our tariff* No review of the in iluences we haVe to fight would be complete that omitted a reference to the bogus nationalism of the restrictionists. Patriotism was once defined by Dr Johnson as the last resort of a scoundrel, indicating, in his sarcastic way, that the lower the quality of the man the greater became his professions. Now, what is supposed to be the hasis of nationalism ? Is it not love of country ? Tell me, then, if there is not more of liate than of lovo—more of strife than of peace in this precious nationalism of the restrict iidnists ?
AUSTRALIAN INTKRCOLRSE. It is the Freetraders who have fought for peace and friendly intercourse between Australians, and it is the restrictionists who have sown the seeds of strife and separation. Here is a leaflet issued by them in Juno last, during the Central Cumberland byelection. It refers to a large arrival of fruit from Tasmania, and continues with this comment: " What is the use of your planting orchards and growing fruit whilst foreign-grown fruit is admitted free? " You will observe that these gentlemen describe Tasmania as a "foreign" country, and urge you to take immediate steps to exclude its fruit. Is that the spirit of brotherly love that is likely to bind together the Australian colonies in one common bond ? The Victorian stock tax is distinctly approved and justified, and ao also is the unfriendly duty proposed to bo levied by the Victorians en our fruit. A thrill of delight seems to run through the party when Victoria or any other colony injures our trado by legislation, simply because it is hoped that a retaliatory spirit may be aroused, ao that while evil passions are excited legislation may be permitted which in cooler momenta would be impossible. Strange to say, one of the greatest difficulties which we have to fight is found iu our own ranks. Many of our adherents whoso fidelity i 3 beyond doubt have not got a full grasp of the importance of the principles which they uphold. They do notseo that no country reaps the whole effect of its fiscal policy. New South Wales is Frectrade, Victoria is restrictionist, and there is a large amount of prosperity in both, this we all see, quite apart from the question of which colony has the greater amount. But what many of our friends do not see is that the prosperity of Victoria, as well as that of New South Wales, is promoted' by our Freetrade policy; whilst on the other hand both colonies sutler as a consequence of the restriction of trade that results from tho policy of Vic-' toria. The benefits of British Freetrade to Britain are obvious, and admitted by all reasonable men; but how often is it forgotten that tho whole world besides also benefits? The debt these colonies owe to the Freetraders of Great Britain is net easily estimated. Victoria fights the Old Country through her tariff; but all the same Victoria owes much of her marvellous progress to Britain's open markets. When therefore we invite you to uphold freedom of trade, we are primarily seeking the good of this special community, we are at the same time really working for the welfare and greatness of all Australia; and, more than this, we can claim to be working for the good, the peace, tho happiness, and the prosperity of all tho world. This ought to be enough to unite all lovers of freedom in a great and determined effort to maintain and increase the. liberties we enjoy.
PROTECTION V. FREETRADE., Issue 8021, 25 September 1889
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