1st Parliament · 1st Session
Mr. Speaker took the chair at 2.30 p.m., and read prayers.
– I wish to know from the Prime Minister if, in view of the great demand for horses for military purposes in South Africa, and of the fact that England has spent£13,000,000 upon horses since the beginning of the war there, representations have been made to the Imperial authorities as to the wisdom of establishing a breeding station in the Northern Territory of South Australia. Mr. BARTON. - I am pretty sure that no representation has been made to the Imperial authorities with regard to the wisdom of establishing a breeding station in any of the States ; but the Government have made strong representations to the Home Government as to the desirability of dealing directly with Australian firms for supplies of frozen meat and other kinds of provisions, and of horses, required by the Admiralty or by the Army.
-It is stated in the papers which have been circulated by the Minister for Trade and Customs, that the Western Australian Tariff is estimated, on the basis of the returns between 8th October and 30th November, to yield £120,000, and I desire to ask the Treasurer if he will be good enough to state exactly what the returns have been, so that honorable members may know what this special Tariff is yielding.
– In round figures the returns for the month of October amounted to £30,000, and for November to £43,000. We telegraphed some days ago for the figures for December, but we have’ not yet obtained them.
– Has the Prime Minister considered the question of paying increments to transferred officers, with special reference to the action of the New South Wales Government in restoring the £5 yearly increments deducted under a previous regulation ? If so, what decision has been arrived at 1
– In reference to the same matter, I should like the Prime Minister to take into consideration the fact that a number of increments, due in June last to officers in the Postal Service of South Australia, have not yet been paid, and great uneasiness therefore exists among them. I should like him, when replying, to state why those increments were not paid when they became due.
– I am informed by the Treasurer that his impression from his departmental knowledge is that so far as these increments apply in South Australia they are being paid ; but the same question probably does not arise as arises in the case of New South Wales officers. That is a matter which must receive fuller consideration before I can reply. I ask honorable members to give notice of their questions for Tuesday next.
– In the absence of the Minister for Defence, I should like to know from the Prime Minister if he has taken steps to put an end to the discreditable rumours and to the statements which are constantly appearing in the press in regard to the ‘non-payment of men who have given military service to the Commonwealth 1
– The whole trouble has arisen out of the terms under which certain contingents were despatched by the States, the expense of which, so far as it fell upon anybody in Australia, fell upon the individual States. My honorable and learned friend will recollect that the arrangement was made that the winding up of all matters connected with the despatch of the original contingents sent to South Africa by the States should, remain in the hands of the State authorities, and those matters have been entirely in their hands up to the present moment. I do not know to what extent it would be advisable for the Defence department to take cognisance of those matters now, but, if the honorable and learned member will ask another question upon the subject later on, I shall endeavour to get all the information’ possible.
– What opinion have the Government formed for the purposes of administration as to the effect of section 92 of the Constitution on such provisions of the Chinese Restriction Acts as interfere with the immigration of Chinese from State to State?
– The matter is now under consideration ; but it must be recollected that the Chinese Restriction Acts are State Acts, and at the present time there is no legislation which warrants the Common: wealth in administering them. They must, therefore, be administered by the States, subject to any legal question that may arise ; but I have it in contemplation to introduce a short Bill this session placing the administration of those Acts in the hands of the Commonwealth, for the plain reason that the)’ have to be administered by the Customs officials, who are officers of the Commonwealth.
– Will the same remark apply to the State Immigration Restriction Acts 1
– Those Acts, it appears to me, are almost entirely superseded by the Commonwealth Immigration Restriction Act, which must be administered in priority to any State Act. The administration of the Commonwealth Restriction Act will prevent a vast number of questions arising which would otherwise arise under the local Acts.
” TATTERSALLS “ SWEEPS.
– I wish to ask the Prime Minister what steps the Government propose to take under the Post and Telegraph Act in connexion with “ Tattersalls “ sweeps?
– The honorable member will recognise that that is a very difficult question, and that there has been noopportunity since the recess for the Government to consider it, because of other questions which have been more pressing. It will be taken into considerationat the first opportunity, and I shall inform the honorable member1 then sothat he may repeat his inquiry.
– Can the AttorneyGeneral say when the second reading of the Judiciary Bill is likely to be moved, and how soon honorable members may be supplied with’ copies of it??
– So soon as the progress of the Tariff permits, the Bill will be laid upon the table, and its second reading moved as shortly afterwards as possible.
– I wish to ask the
Prime Minister what action the Government intendto take in connexion with the payment of income tax.It has been stated in the press that the right honorable and learned gentleman says he is not liable, and that he does not” intend to pay income tax to any of the States.It has come to my knowledge that each State is going, to claim income tax where it has been in force. We are liable to be summoned at any moment for the payment of income tax in two States, and I wish to know whether the Government intend to introduce a Bill defining which State is to have the income tax, and so prevent any possible litigation, which must surely follow if we do not pay income tax. If we pay income tax to one State we are not exempt from payment of income tax to the other under present circumstances. I ask the Prime Minister ifhe will make a statement as to the position of the Government on the subject, and whether they intend to introduce a Bill, so that honorable members will know where to pay their income tax.
– In a case of this kind a Bill would not be of any use. The question depends entirely on constitutional considerations. Whether the law passed by individual’ States’ for the collection of income tax applies to Federal incomes can only be decided under the Constitution, and any Bill we might introduce to say that it should or should not be collected would be useless; because it could not prevent the tax from being collected if it were collectable, and it could not make it a legal right if it were not a legal right already. Therefore, my honorable friend will see that there is no necessity for. a Bill. I havecome to the conclusion, founded upon decisions in other countries, particularly in America, that federal incomes are not chargeable with income tax imposed by the States. That is the position which I shall take up, but I hope that I am not going to be made a scapegoat, and to be sued, because in that case I should have individually to pay my cost of defending the action. It is a personal question for any officer of the Commonwealth, or any one who receives his income under the Commonwealth to decide whether or not he is liable to a State; and we cannot intervene for the purpose of saying that we shall pay the cost of defending such actions, or otherwise interfere, because that is no affair of the Commonwealth.
Mr. BARTON laid upon the table
Immigration Restriction Act of 1901 Regula tions.
TheCLERK laid upon the table-
Kanakas in Queensland, and crimes committed by them (Return).
– The honorable mem ber for Bland has handed to me an intimation that he desires to move the adjournment of the House to consider a definite matter of urgent public importance, namely, “ the administration of the Immigration Restriction’ Act.”
Fivehonorable membershaving risen in their places;
– I think it is necessary that the attention of the Government, and of the House, should be directed to a number of considerations in connexion with the administration of the Act which was passed a few weeks ago. It may have been noticed by honorable members; in connexion with the outbreak of smallpox on a China steamer, that amongst the quarantined people were 23 Chinese, each of whom, on one pretext or another, was eligible for admission into Victoria, so far as appearances went. Thirteenof them had permits to return to Victoria, ostensibly having at one time been domiciled here, and the others had exemption certificates. According to the newspaper accounts, the whole of them were eligible to enter Victoria, although not beings immigrants f rom any other State in the Commonwealth. If we are to recognise exemption certificates and permits that have been issued in the past by various State Governments in rather a wholesale fashion, then for, a considerable time to come, the express desire of this Parliament when passing the Immigration Restriction Bill will be very largely defeated. It is a matter of common knowledge that Chinese, beforeleaving any one of the States in the past, have always applied, whether they intended to return or not, for certificates or permits to prove that they had been domiciled here, with the object as has been proved by various people, of submitting them, in Hong Kong or some Chinese port, to, the highest bidder who wished tocome here. It has been proved that an immense traffic has been done in that way in these certificates, with the result that the whole object of the Chinese Restriction Acts has. been defeated for years past. In Queensland, too, it was proved, only very recently, that a number of certificates had been forged, and it was only by an accident almost that one or two individuals were bowled out. There was no possibility of proving how many of these had been; used in the past ; that is, how many Chinese had obtained admission to Queensland on, these forged certificates; and the methods followed by the various State Governments in regard to the identification of people who are supposed to have once resided in the States have provedaltogether ineffective. It must be apparent that, toan ordinaryEuropean, one Chinese is so essentially like another - unless they differ very materially indeed as regards age-that it is impossible to rely even upon their photographs for the identification of the persons properly entitled to hold the certificates.
-We might identify them by thumb marks.
– It has been suggested that thumb-marks might be relied upon, but there is another system known as the
Bertillon system of measurements, which, perhaps, wouldbe better even than the thumb mark method of identification, owing to its, readiness of application and reliability for purposesof detection.
– At Port Darwin we have always taken their photographs, and attached them to the certificates.
– That has been done in Queensland. also, but has proved altogether ineffective. I defy any one to identify any dozen Chinese that I may pick up in the streets of Melbourne, or any other city. Of course, Chinese who differ very materially from one another can be selected, but it is much more easy, so far as detection by European eyes is concerned, to select a dozen Chinese who have a similar appearance than to choose the same number of persons of European race. In any case it seems to me that there is. a very serious risk of leakage from this, cause, and, if certificates are to be issued under the Immigration Restriction Act, I trust that the Government will see that the method of identification relied upon. will be so complete as to place it beyond almost the possibility of doubt that the people returning are those whom they claim to be. Another matter deserving of consideration is the migration of these people from State to State - the point referred toby the honorable and learned member for South Australia, Mr. Glynn, a few minutes ago. The restrictions applied to Chinese in the various States differ very materially. In Western Australia they have no poll tax, but a restriction of one Chinese immigrant to every 500 tons, burthen of the ship bringing them to the State. In Queensland a £30 poll tax is imposed, and there is a restriction of one Chinese to every 50 tons burthen. In New South Wales the immigration is restricted to one Chinese for every 300 tons burthen, and a poll tax of £100 is imposed. In Victoria there is a restriction of one Chinese to every 500 tons, but no poll tax. In Tasmania the restriction is one Chinese to every 100 tons, and a poll tax of £10 is imposed. In South Australia the restriction is one Chinese to every 500 tons, but there is no poll tax. It will thus be seen that there is a considerable difference of method in the various States in respect to Chinese. In regard to other coloured aliens or immigrants there is an even greater variety of legislation. Several of the States have an equivalent of the Natal examination test ; that is to say, they can insist upon a language test as far as these general immigrants are concerned. That applies to New South Wales, Tasmania, and Western Australia, but in the other three States there is no such restriction. It seems to me that, while holding in view what has just been stated by the Prime Minister in answer to the honorable and learned member for South Australia, Mr. Glynn, it would be advisable, if constitutional procedure will allow, to retain the various State Immigration Restriction Acts in operation for a considerable time to come, because if they do nothing else they will prevent the undue migration of these people from one State to another. It does not seem proper that where a State has taken comparatively effective measures to prevent the influx of undesirable people, it should be suddenlysubjected to an inundation from those States where no precautions have been taken.
– How would the honorable member overcome the provision of the Constitution regarding freedom of commerce and intercourse between the States?
– I will leave the interpretation of such niceties to the professional element in the Chamber and out of it. I do not pretend to be able to interpret that delicate point as clearly as I should like, but, speaking as a layman, I do not think the term “ intercourse “ in the Constitution relates to anything more than trade and commerce - as the context seems to indicate. I do not think it would be any bar to the continuance of existing restrictions upon immigration in the various States. Whether the Constitution would allow immigration laws to be passed by the various States in addition to those already in force is a matter upon which there would probably be graver doubt, but I do not think there is anything in the Constitution Act which applies either to the disuse or the repeal of the Immigration Restriction Acts at present in force in the States.
– In the United States “ commerce “ is held to cover passengers.
– Of course, if that is so it would undermine the position I have taken up with regard to the migration of people from one State to another.
– But we are not to be bound by the United States Constitution or practice.
– No, but it is possible that the Judges of the High Court that is to be constituted will be to some extent guided in their interpretation of the Constitution by the decisions given elsewhere under somewhat similar conditions. At the same time, looking at the matter merely as a layman, I do not think that we are bound to accept that interpretation.
– In America, the freedom of intercourse between State and State depends upon an Act of Parliament, whilst here it is provided for in the Constitution.
– The question as to what the powers under the Constitution really amount to may require to be argued out before the proper tribunal. In the meantime, pending any reference to the High Court and a decision being given by high authority, it seems to me that we should put the strictest rules in force, in view of the fact that unless we do so several of the communities which constitute the Commonwealth will find themselves placed at a disadvantage from their own point of view. Wherever the Constitution will allow of it, an interpretation should be placed upon it in the direction of maintaining the condition of affairs that previously existed. I think most people will agree that we should endeavour to disarrange as little as possible the conditions existing prior to federation. Taking New South Wales as an instance, we had a very strict Chinese Exclusion Act, and our Immigration Restriction Act was also very severe, as far as its administration was concerned. What I urge is that the strictest possible interpretation should be placed upon the Constitution in regard to these Immigration Acts, and also that the greatest care should be exercised with respect to the recognition of the exemption certificates to which I have referred. Another matter to which I would like to call the attention of the Prime Minister concerns more directly Western Australia. In that State there is a law under which it is possible, or has been possible, to import coloured labour under contract, one of the conditions being that these labourers are not to be introduced south of the 27th parallel of latitude. In addition, any person importing a labourer under the Act - and, of course, all brought in under the Act are under contract - has to enter into sureties for his return, when demanded, to the country whence he came. The labourer under the Act is entitled to enter into a fresh agreement at the completion of the first one, and an agreement may be abrogated under certain conditions by a magistrate; but any labourer found in Western Australia, not under contract to any employer, is liable to be deported at the will of the Government. The expense of the deportation has, of course, to be borne by the man who originally imported the labourer, and, further, the last employer of a labourer not under contract, is liable to a fine of £50. The point to which I wish to draw attention is, as 1 am informed, that there are now 300 or 400 at least of these “ walk-about “ coloured people, as, I think, they are termed in Queensland - that is, time-expired labourers - in Western Australia who are not under any cantract, and are therefore liable to deportation. Further, a large proportion of them have, as, indeed, was inevitable, leaked southward very considerably beyond the 27th parallel of latitude, and the local authorities, it seems, will take no steps whatever to deport them, holding that the whole question of emigration and immigration is in the hands of the Federal Government. I believe that even when the power was within their purview they took no steps to carry the Act into effect, as was originally, or, at any rate, ostensibly intended. A number of these coloured labourers, I am informed, have been guilty of crimes for which alone, under the same Act, they are liable to be deported. After serving a term of imprisonment a labourer is liable to deportation, but in that respect the Act has not been carried into effect. In fact, so far as my information goes, no steps have been taken by the Western Australian Government to carry out the provisions of their own measure, and latterly the authorities have excused themselves on the ground that such, powers are within the purview of the Federal Government. The deportation of these men need cost the Federal- Government nothing, because there exists in regard to every one a bond from the original employer, undertaking to defray the cost of the passages of time-expired labourers to the place whence they came. I do not wish to go into the matter at greater length, because it seems to me that the whole question of the recognition of exemption certificates, and of the migration of these coloured people from one State to another, including those in Western Australia, of whom I have spoken, is so important as to deserve the most serious consideration the Federal Government can give to it. We all, I believe, hope that the administration of the Immigration Restriction Act, even though that Act was passed in a form of which some of us do not approve, and which we think will render it comparatively ineffective, will make up to a large extent for any defects there may be in its provisions intrinsically, That is the reason I have directed the attention of the House to a number of instances of leakages which will materially, for some time to come, affect the operation of this measure. We shall no doubt be told that these exemptions will in time run their course. I admit that these certificates will be a diminishing quantity, always providing that no more forgeries of the nature perpetrated on the Queensland Government are brought into existence. At the same time, even allowing that no more forgeries are perpetrated, I am given to understand that the number of exemption certificates and permits in existence is very considerable, and that nearly every one will be found to be of value to some one in China. In fact, we find that on several occasions these certificates have been practically offered by auction in Hong Kong to the highest bidder who came within a reasonable degree of the description set out. I am evan informed that the tonnage restriction of Victoria, instead of helping the poor Chinese by letting them off a poll tax, has resolved itself in many instances into the shipping companies imposing a good round poll tax on their own account on would-be emigrants. But I do not propose now to delay the House at greater length. I merely ask that the Government shall take these matters into consideration and make the administration of the Act as effective as we hoped it would be, and as the Government promised it should be.
– I propose to make a few remarks on this subject at once, instead of waiting for further speeches, because I take it that the remarks made by the honorable member for Bland cover a good deal of the ground, .or most of the ground that can be covered at this early stage of the operation of the Act in a speech endeavouring to elicit information. I do not regret that the honorable member has moved the adjournment of the House. It is as well that the administration of an Act of this kind should be watched with great care by all honorable members ; and that it shouldbe so watched is welcome to me. I do not share any anticipationof the Act proving ineffective to its working I can see enough already tosatisfy me that the Act can be, and, I think, will beeffectively worked. But there are certain circumstances hanging over as the result of previous legislation or administration on the part of the States and these circumstances have to be dealt with in relation to the laws under which they arose; and judgment on the effective working of the Immigration Restriction. Act must not be founded on those isolated instances. There is the case of the permits. The vessel, Eastern, arrived with, we are told, 23 Chinese, who were eligible to enter Victoria. Does the honorable member recollect on what date that; vessel arrived ?
– Within the last few days.
– Less than a week ago ; about Sunday, I think.
– It is true that some of these Chinese had permits, but whether the exact number was thirteen I cannot, on short notice, state.
– I do not bind myself to the number.
– But exemption certificates under the Victorian Act are not generally usable. The only provisioninthe Act for exemptions is the power given to the Governor in Council to exempt any person or class of persons by proclamation published in the Government Gazette, and, there were not likely to be many such persons on board the Eastern. But as to permits, it is only fair to say, that it has become necessary to recognise them uptoa certain point, for the reason that theywere legalized by State Acts which were in existence when they were issued, and which at that time conferred certain rights it was not expected subsequent legislation would altogether take away. But there is a good dealt off orce in what the honorable member for Bland has said regarding the possibility of trafficking in these permitsthrough the wantof proper identification. Upon that point I havealready taken, I think, the best step open to me. The officers have asked whether these permits are tobe recognised, and the answer given hasbeen that the presentation of a permit will be evidence upon which toexempt the applicant from the operation of the Act, if he is clearly identified as being the person to whom the permit was issued. The officers will have directions not to accept permits unless they are abundantly satisfied that the persons presenting them are the persons to whom they were originally issued, so that any attempt to commit a fraud will be dealt with, with as much scrutiny as it is possible to bestow upon such asubject. There is an additional reason for that. If honorable members turn to section 3 of the Immigration Restriction Act which we passed, they will see that among those excepted from its operation are -
Any person who satisfies an officer that he has formerly been domiciled in the Commonwealth or in any colony which has become a State.
Now a permit, if the person presenting it is identified, may be some evidence of previous domicile, so that under the administration of our own Act there is cast upon us a special care in this respect. That care is being exercised under a minute whichhas been issued, in which “domicile” is defined by a paraphrase of a judicial definition of the term. When I say a paraphrase, I mean a rendering of the definition in simpler language. The paraphrase is as follows : -
A man is domiciled in that place in which he has voluntarily fixed the habitation of himself and his family, not foramere special and temporary purpose, but with. the intention of making it his permanent home.
It seems to me thata good many permits have been issued in the past with a somewhat insufficient recognition of the value of the word “domiciled,” and the great deal that it implies as evidencingan intention, to make a permanent home in the country in which domicile is claimed. The definition, of which I have spoken, will be enforced in regard to all applications to enter the Commonwealth on the ground of having been previously domiciled there. Honorable members will see, therefore, that in these two particulars a large improvement is likely to ensue by reason, of a clearer identification of the applicant being necessary, and by insisting that domicile shall not be claimed except upon the ground of permanent habitation. It will be admitted that the object of many coloured aliens who have entered the Commonwealth in thepast has been togo back to the places where they were born, as soon as they had heaped together enough wealth to enable them to live in ease in their own cheap countries. Those who have come here with such an object are not domiciled here, because they do not intend to make this country their permanent habitation. In cases where that can be evidenced, or ascertained, no permit or exception will be made on the ground of domicile. These two matters, I think, meet the principal part of my honorable friend’s request for information. With regard to the Immigration Restriction Acts I have already made a statement to the effect that before the end of the session. I propose to ask the House to leave their administration tothe Commonwealth. It may be that a simple provision or two to that effect willbe sufficient, because, as I havepreviously pointed out, theproper administration of the educational test will generally suffice to render unnecessary the application of the tests imposed under the various Alien Immigration Restriction. Acts of the States. With regard to the educational test, I may state that steps have already been taken to ensure that it is applied in a way which is not likely to lead to any evasion by reason of parrot learning or learning by rote. In. other words, whatever test we impose will last only for a short term when it will be supplanted by another, so that there will be noopportunity for coloured immigrants comingf romabroad to learn it like a parrot. There is a third matter upon which I think the information I can give to the House will be found to be satisfactory. I do not know that there is any other point that I can refer to except the importance of the use of the word “intercourse,” which is contained in section 92 of the Constitution Act. The application of that word is involved in a question which must sooner or later arise between the States in connexion with the passage of Chinese from one State into another, whether by border or by port. It is a most important question. I do not wish to give a legal opinion now, although I think there is a good deal of warrant for the conclusion that “ intercourse,” used in the way in which it is used in the Constitution Act, must imply something additional to trade and commerce, and in that case it is hard to suppose what it can imply beyond passenger traffic. That, however, is a matter which will more properly arise between the States, and is not subject to interference on the part of the Commonwealth until the Commonwealth takes over the administration - as ithas a right to do - of the Chinese restriction laws of the various States.
– Supposing that one State says it will not allow anyinhabitant from another State to cross its borders, would that section apply?
– The section would clearly apply if the citizens of that State were British subjects. It would clearly apply there. Whether the specific provisions of the Chinese Restriction Acts which have their territorial operation, except so far as they are interfered with by our Constitution or laws, would be sufficient to give to others free intercourse, is another question which I do not think I ought to attempt to decide at the present stage. If we take over, as I hope we shall, the administration of these Acts,it will then fall to our lot to have to decide it and administer the law accordingly, and the sooner that happens the better pleased I shall be.
– Would not that involve the sweeping away of any border restrictions ?
– It would give us an opportunity of deciding a question of that kind in the courts. As to the Western Australian law; I think that is a matter which the honorable member for Bland has brought forward more by way of illustration than of complaint.
– It is a big complaint in Western Australia.
– That may be so, but I think that the honorable member for Bland was really pointingout that what happened under that law might be paralleled by similar abuses under other laws. I want to say with reference to that, that I have been, and am still, making inquiries as to the administration of similar immigration restriction and Chinese restriction laws in the other States, with a view to ascertaining what are the abuses which require remedy in the future, and to what extent we can deal with abuses which have occurred in the past.
– Will the Prime Minister say whether the administration of the Immigration Restriction Acts affects migration between. State and State?
– That is a difficult point, but the administration of the Commonwealth Restriction Act cannot affect migration between State and State. Our law, which almost entirely supersedes laws passed in the various States, relates to immigration into the Commonwealth, and no more. The difficulty confronting a person who is undesirable will be to gain admission to the Commonwealth. When he has got into the Commonwealth on the supposition that he is desirable, there will be no difficulty about his passing from State to State. That I think must be an indispensable condition of any law which deals with the Commonwealth as a whole. I hope this explanation will satisfy the desire for inquiry by honorable members, and that they will see that this matter is being dealt with in no inactive spirit.
– I am very glad thehonorable member for Bland brought this matter up to-day. The Chinese are a very clever, cunning, and deceptive people. If weimagine thatwe caninventany methods of restriction, or any form by which they can be kept out of this country, then we are cleverer than any other people who have lived upon this earth. They tried every sort of scheme possible for the mind of man to invent in the United States, and still the Chinese got in. We must understand that the Chinaman who comes to the country does not come to live in it or build a home in it. He comes here to get a couple of hundred pounds, with which he can return to the flowery kingdom, where he is an emperor on a small amount. Consequently he is here purely for the purpose of acquiring that couple of hundred pounds, and the certificate which he gets from the State and takes back to China which is a part of his assets. It is a part of his external income, because another Chinaman is prepared to pay a good price for it, and all his friends will subscribe enough to enable him to get out here, and become as well off as the man who came back to become an independent emperor in the community where he was once hard up. I think it would be a good plan to have a picture of every Chinaman taken; let that picture be the certificate, and on it let us have his measurements. We shall have him in the photo, and afterhe returns it will be very hard for him to find another Chinaman with all the measurements which that certificate will show. He may find one, and I say we shall want psychological experts to read their very souls if we wish to keep these Chinamen out. I do hope some means will be devised, because we do not wish to see this country overrun with these people. They come here and live upon nothing, and they can accumulate money where our race would starve. I trust the Government will lose no opportunity to carry out their pledge to the people of Australia in connexion with the Immigration Restriction Act, by seeing that these gentlemen are kept in the country God selected for them and intended they should live in.
– However much this House might desire that the various provisions of the State Acts should be put into force, we ought not to forget the 92nd section of the Constitution Act, by which it is provided that trade, commerce, and intercourse between the States shall be absolutely free. As the Prime Minister has pointed out, if the larger meaning is to be given to that word “ intercourse,” then it seems impossible for us to restrict the passage of these people from State to State. I may mention that this point was before noticed by the honorable and learned member for Indi, and as far back as the time of the Convention in 1897 he referred to the difficulty, and to what was intended by the Constitution. Though, upon looking at the report of the Convention, I do not find that he gave particular instances, still it is perfectly clear that at the time it was seen by members of the Convention that once we were federated, and a law was enacted upon the point, or even before such a law was passed, trade, commerce, and intercourse would be perfectly free, and that the word “intercourse” should have the fullest meaning possible. Really it does not seem that we can give it any other meaning than that passengers from State to State should be free. The fullest meaning must of course be given to the words “ trade “ and “ commerce,” and if we give any meaning to the word” intercourse “ at all, it must be that persons residing in the several States, no matter who or what they are, must be allowed to go from one State to another free. If we go back to precedent and look to the meaning put upon the word “ intercourse “ in America, we find that there -
A law of a State imposing a taxupon passengers arriving in the ports of such State from a foreign country, is a regulation of commerce and void.
So that, even if the word “ intercourse “ were left out, we should find that under the words “trade” and “commerce,” it would be impossible to place any barrier whatever upon any person passing from State to State.
-That is the deduction from what is known as the “ passenger cases.”
– That is the deduction from those cases, as the honorable and learned member points out, and I say that that was clearly in his mind at the time he spoke in the convention. Though I have not before me the reports of the conventions held in Melbourne and Sydney, still from the report of the Adelaide convention it is perfectly clear that some other discussion must have taken place upon the subject. The honorable and learned member for Indi at that convention very clearly referred to the “ passenger cases,” and quoted from the book to which I now refer - Baker’s Annotated Constitution of the United States. Looking into that book I find another clause here stating that -
The statute of New York imposing a tax on passengers from foreign countries landing at the ports of that State, and holding the vessels liable for such tax, is unconstitutional. Henderson v Mayor, 92 U.S., 259.
I see also here the name of another case cited, from which it appears possible that a Chinaman got into one State and wished to pass to another. There is no report of the case given here, but from the name of the case it is evident that some case such as has arisen here had arisen there. The case cited and approved is “ Chy Lung v Freeman 92 U.S. 275.” No doubt Freeman was then Secretary for Home affairs in America. So that we see that under the meaning given in America to the words “ trade “ and “ commerce “ alone it was held that the passage of a person from one State to another could not be prohibited, and in no instance could any tax be imposed upon him. How much more clear is it if the full meaning is to be given to the word “intercourse “ with us that we cannot possibly place any restriction whatever upon a man passing from one State to another. Therefore whatever action the House might wish the Prime Minister to take, it seems to me that he has been absolutely constitutional in the course he has adopted; and I for one should feel it to be very wrong if the Executive showed any desire to outstep the law in this matter. We have a law on the subject, and it ought to be followed. With regard to the fear expressed that we are likely to be inundated by Chinese because a few men may secure the exemption certificates belonging to others, I point out that even if every man who goes away obtains a certificate, and a different man comes back in his place upon it, there would still be no increase in the Chinese population in the Commonwealth. As we know that in all human probability that would not be the case, it is perfectly clear that we are only exciting needless alarm when we talk about an inundation of Chinese under such circumstances. It seems to me that the Ministry, in this case, have followed the proper course, and have not endeavoured to place any improper restriction upon the operation of the constitution.
– I am pleased that the honorable member for Bland has brought this matter forward, because, although I cannot at the moment find the reference in Hansard, I have a very distinct recollection that when the Immigration Restriction Bill was before the House, or in committee, a statement was made either by the Prime Minister or the Minister for Trade and Customs, in answer to an interjection by me, that the measure would not in any way interfere with the existing State legislation for the restriction of Chinese immigration. I appeal to the Minister for Trade and Customs for his recollection of the circumstances in which the statement was made. I have not had time since the point was raised by the honorable member for Bland to look up the matter.
– I have no recollection of such a statement.
– I have a very distinct recollection that some member of the Government, in charge of the business at the time, expressed the opinion that the Immigration Restriction Bill was not intended to interfere with Chinese immigration, but was designed to deal with a totally different class of undesirable immigrants. The statement was made that it was never intended that the educational test should be applied to Chinese immigrants coming into the Commonwealth. Iam glad that the honorable member for Bland has brought thesubject forward. TheSouth Australian Chinese Immigration Act,I think, precludes the master ofa shipfrom landing more than one Chinese for every 500 tons burthen of his vessel; but I have a distinct recollection of many instances in the Northern Territory -where we have had a very severeinflux ofChinese- in which Chinesewere introduced under certificates which did notbelong to them. No doubt you, Mr.Speaker, will recollect that attention was called to the matter by myselfand my late colleague in the State Legislature on move than one occasion. We stated that the certificates were being bartered, and thatthere was not sufficient care exercised at these northern ports in order to prevent the continued influx of Chinese to fill the places of those who left. Another very serious question, which has been raised by the honorable member for Bland’s speech, is that of whether Chinese and other undesirable immigrants, who have been introduced into the more tropical portions of Australia, should be allowed free access to the other States. If the interpretation of our Constitution is, as suggested by the honorable and learned member forWerriwa, that freeintercourse means free intercourse in passenger traffic, then our Immigration Restriction Act is certainly very faulty.If that is so, the legislation that we have already placed on our Statute book does not carry out what was intended, because we certainly did not desire thatundesirable immigrants who,owingto faulty legislation or bad administration, had gained access to the northern portions of Australia, should be permitted to overrun the otherStates. We should be grateful to the honorable member for Bland for bringing thisquestion before the House in a form that will, I hope, induce the Government to look into the Bills which we have passed, and ascertain how far they override or nullify State legislation in regard bo Chinese immigration. Either we must say that our Immigration Restriction Actoverrides the restrictive Chinese legislation ofSouth Australia, for instance - so that, instead of one Chinese for every 500 tons ship’s burthen, being allowed to land, only those who canpass the educational test may come into our ports, - or else that theState legislation is still to remain alongside that of the Commonwealth. It is a point which is ofvery grave importance, and I would call the attention oftheMinister for Tradeand Customs, who has a special knowledge of the administration of the South Australian Chinese Restriction Act, to it. It seems to memost important not only in justice tothe States themselves, but also in justice to the shipping companies now carrying passengers, under the belief that they are subject only to the State legislation in this respect,that a definite decisionshould be arrived atat a very early date as to whether the Commonwealth Act is to apply.
Question resolved in the negative.
asked the Minister representing the PostmasterGeneral, upon notice,
Mr.BARTON. - The following answer to the honorable member’s questions has been provided : -
Inquiry isbeing made, and a reply will be givenas soon as the necessary informationis obtained.
Mr.CONROY (forMr. Fuller) asked the Minister for Home Affairs, upon notice -
In regard to the employment of Mr. Victor Cohen by the Federal Government -
What are the terms of his engagement, and what is the amount of salary paid to him?
Are any allowances made to him in addition to salary ?
Does he, while in the employment of the Federal Government, draw his pay as a State officer from the Government of New South Wales?
In regard to the employment of Mr. George Lewis by the Federal Government -
What are the terms of his engagement, and whatisthe amount of salary paid to him ?
Are any allowances made to him in addition to salary?
. (a b c. ) Mr. Cohen is not now in the service of the Federal Government. He was borrowed from the State of New South Wales, the Commonwealth Government paying his salary- £500 per annum, and a travelling allowance to which he was entitled as being absent from his home. He did not draw his pay from the State while employed by the Commonwealth.
(a andb. )Mr George Lewis is temporarily engaged as Chief Electoral Officer.He is in receipt ofasalary of£235 per annum, Without allowance. His salary in the State, when occupying a similar position, was£600 per annum.
asked the Minister representing the Postmaster - General, upon notice -
-Inquiry is being made in this case also,and, as soon as possible, the necessary information will be given.
asked the Minister for Defence, upon notice -
– The answer to the honorable and learned member’s questions is as follows:-
Recommendations have been made by the military authorities, New South Wales, as to the reservationof certainsites at Port Kembla, for defence purposes, and the matter is now receiving consideration.
asked the Minister representing the PostmasterGeneral, upon notice -
Are telephone switch operators employed in the State of Victoria, outside Melbourne, not paid overtime forSunday work, the same as those on the Melbourne Exchange ; and if not, whynot?
– In that case also inquiry is taking place, and if the honorable member will renew the question a little later on, no doubt the information will be forthcoming.
Mr.CHAPMAN (for Mr.Crouch) asked the Minister for Defence -
If it has been decided to hold the military braining camps nextEaster, as usually held by the State authorities?
Whetherhe can arrange a joint Federal camp for the troops of the Commonwealth ?
– The answer to the honorable member’s questions is as follows : -
The question of Easter encampments will not be decided till after the arrival of General Hutton, whose recommendations will be considered.
asked the Minister for Defence, upon notice - 1.Whether he isaware that theState Government of New South Wales made a promise to the Imperial soldiers who visited Australia for the ceremony ofthe swearingin of the GovernorGeneral that a medal would be presented to them as a memento of the establishment of the Commonwealth of Australia ?
– The answer to the honorable member’s questions is as follows : -
In accordance with the promise given by the Minister of Defence, on Friday, 13th December, inquiry was made of the New South Wales Government on this subject, but beyond an acknowledgment of the same, no reply has been received to that inquiry.
asked the Minister representing the Postmaster-General, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follow : -
Consideration resumed from 13 th December, 1901 (vide page 8737) -
Item 74. - Manufactures of metals -
N.E.I., including engines, boilers, pumps, machines and machinery, n.e.i. ; also screws, n.e.i., axles, springs, and plated and mixed metalware, including plated cutlery, ad valorem, 25 per cent.
– I move-
That the words “and on and after 16th January, 1902, free,” be added.
A little while ago a very long debate took place in this committee upon the desirability of imposing duties upon agricultural machinery, and, as nearly every honorable member who represented a farming constituency told us that the imposition of duties upon agricultural machinery enabled the farmers to obtain better machinery at lower prices than they would otherwise have to pay, I was almost inclined to vote for the Government proposal, because if by the imposition of duties you can obtain locally-manufactured articles which will be cheaper and better than imported articles, I am in favour of their imposition. But, whatever may be the facts in regard to the effect of imposing duties upon agricultural machinery, I, as the representative of a large mining constituency, say unhesitatingly that the imposition of dutiesupon mining machinery does not allow those engaged in mining to obtain better or cheaper machinery than they could otherwise obtain. On the contrary, the imposition of duties upon mining machinery makes it more expensive to all engaged in mining work. But in Australia it is absolutely necessary that those who are engaged in mining pursuits should have the best and most up-to-date machinery, if they wish to carry on their operations at a profit. Honorable members object, and I think very rightly, to the employment of cheap Asiatic labour in our mines, and I, would go further, and say that all men working in mines should be paid a fair standard rate of wages. Now, in mining for tin, lead, silver, and copper we depend for our profits, not upon the local market, but upon the markets of the outside world. If we had to depend upon the local demand, 75 per. cent. of the men employed in such mines would be dismissed. The Broken Hill mines alone produce over 80,000 tons of lead each year, of which theysell locally onlyabout 10,000 tons. To obtain a sale for the remaining 70,000 tons, they have to compete in the markets of the world with foreign companies who employ the cheapest labour possible, and use the most up-to-date machinery. Therefore, it is absolutely necessary for Australian companies to use the most modern and best appliances. I would point out, too, that machinery differs from many other manufactured articles in this, that the cost of labour represented in its price is a great deal more than the cost of labour represented in the price of other things. During the discussion of the Tariff, reference has been made to such industries as the making of nails, and of candles ; but, in industries of that kind, the manual labour employed costs very little in comparison with the price of the manufactured product. With regard to machinery, however, the case is very different. Therefore, it is possible for countries like England and Germany, where mechanics are paid a lower wage than is paid here, to successfully compete with our manufacturers, who are attempting to produce some kinds of machinery in competition with those countries. Notwithstanding the advantage enjoyed by the Continental countries, a good deal of machinery is locally produced and supplied to the mines. Until two or three months ago, Broken Hill, as a mining centre, had the advantage of having free machinery. In face of that fact, I am very pleased to say that Gawler, in South Australia, was able successfully to compete with the world in many instances, and to send a good deal of machinery into the Broken Hill mines. But I venture to say that, notwithstanding all the protection to the foundries of Gawler, had it not been for the markets of Broken Hill and Western Australia, there would be very little work going on in Gawler. If you were to ask the manufacturers of Gawler whether they would prefer to have the duty which South Australia gave them and be prohibited from dealing with the markets of Broken Hill and Western Australia, or whether they would prefer not to have the protec tion but to have an opportunity of going to those markets, you would find that they would prefer to have the markets rather than have the protection. I am dealing now, not with ploughshares at 36s. per dozen, but with mining machinery.
– How does the honor- able member define mining machinery ?
– Anything and everything which mines use I call mining machinery.
– All engines?
– All engines which are used in the mines. There is a great deal of machinery which cannot be produced in the States. Machinery of a different sort from that which is being made, or machinery of a new design cannot be produced here unless the manufacturer has a guarantee of having at least more than two or three orders for that particular description of machinery.
– For what purpose?
– I mean a big machine, for instance an engine which would cost from £5,000 to £10,000. I am not here this afternoon to deal with ploughshares at 36s. per dozen, but with large machinery which would cost from £5,000 to 10,000. Some years ago a member of the firm of Hudson Bros. said to me - “This is our difficulty. In Australia we may get an order for a good-sized engine, but we have to sell the first one for a great deal less than cost price.” They have to get the patterns and lay down the plant for the first engine. No foundry could possibly sell the first one at anything like cost price. The second one is not sold at cost price, and the profit only begins when the manufacturer sells the third, the fourth, and the fifth.
– Nearly all these big engines have one set of patterns.
– I am dealing with machinery of a new design. In England or America, when a manufacturer gets an order for a machine of new design, there is a very strong possibility that in a short time he will get an order for a second, a third, and a fourth, and then the profits will come in. But in Australia the manufacturer cannot depend upon getting an order for a second, a third, and a fourth machine, because there is no field here for them.
– Not for mining machinery?
– Not for a new type of machine. Although we have a good deal of mining going on in Australia, we have only one Broken Hill, one Mount Morgan, one Mount Bischoff, and one Moonta. I admit there are a few large gold mines in Western Australia. I asked a person the other day what he thought it would cost him to produce a £10,000 engine if he had to lay down the plant and get the patterns. He said it would cost him from £17,000 to £18,000 to produce the engine, as the plant would cost £7,000 or £8,000.
– Does the honorable member mean to say that Australian plants cannot do that work now ?
– I do not say that they cannot make the patterns or lay down the plants, but I point out that it costs a manufacturer £7,000 or £8,000 to lay down the plant for a machine of new design. Does the honorable member mean to tell me that if a manufacturer were going to build two pumping engines with different cylinders the same pattern or plant would do ?
– Decidedly not.
– In Australia the plant for a machine of new design has necessarily to be imported. Some years ago, when I was in Gawler, Mr. F. J. Martin showed me round the works. The firm was then making 97 locomotives for the Government of South Australia. He said to me - “ Owing to our having to bring out the men and the plant, as well as the mistakes which we made, the first locomotive cost nearly as much as if it had been made of pure silver. But now of course we can produce them as good and as cheaply as they can be made in England.” If the firm had not had a guarantee from the Government to make a large number, they could not have afforded to lay down the plant to make one. Big imported machinery is not sold here every day. If a foundry could get an order for a good -sized engine, it would be a good while before it would get another.
– Does the honorable member think that these big engines are supplied from stock types at the foundries ?
– Some of them are.
– Very few ; nearly all are ordered.
– Some of them are, no doubt ; but they could not have a different plant and different appliances for turning out every engine. Every new invention and every new design must necessarily be imported into Australia in the first instance, and in such cases I suppose even protectionists will admit that the mining companies would have to pay the whole of the duty. It may be argued that if a high duty is imposed upon engines and machinery, local manufacturers will be encouraged, and that under the influence of local competition prices will come down in a few years. Against that, however, I would point out that just now, in connexion with the mining industry, new methods of dealing with ores are constantly being discovered, and five years is considered by mining men as a fair period at which to fix the life of any new appliances for the treatment of ores. It is stated, therefore, that by tlie time that local competition could commence to operate in regard to the manufacture of any particular type of machines or appliances they would become obsolete, and new machinery would have to be imported from abroad. Sometime ago I read a very interesting article regarding ‘the principles followed in America and En gland respectively in the manufacture of locomotives and engines generally. In England locomotives are built to last for almost any length of time, whilst in America they are constructed with a view to their use for a period of not’ more than fifteen years. The American engineers take the view that within fifteen years the locomotives will become obsolete, owing to the rapidity with which improvements ave introduced into the construction of engines, and they construct them accordingly. The English engineers, however, put more strength into their engines, in order to enable them to work for a much longer period. Personally, I rather favour the American idea, because science is now making such gigantic strides that machinery which is up-to-date to-day will very soon become obsolete. When I visited Western Australia about three years ago I met a number of mining managers, one of whom told me that, owing to the vast strides made by science, five years was the full life of any plant used in connexion with gold mining. During the Christmas holidays I visited Broken Hill and went through some of the mines there. I met Captain J ohn Warren, the manager of the Block 10 mine, who is well known in mining circles throughout the Commonwealth. He had just made a trip round the world, during which he visited England and America, and he told me that so far as electrical science is concerned America is streets ahead of England or Germany, and that mining people are now falling back upon electricity in order to help them. If America is streets ahead of us in electrical science it would be folly on our part not to utilize the developments which have resulted from engineering skill in America, for the purposes of developing our own resources. That the price of labour is not the chief factor in the cost of producing machinery, is shown by the fact that, although in England and Germany the mechanics engaged in the construction of machinery do not receive such high wages as those similarly employed in Australia, the American mechanics are in many respects more highly paid than our own. Yet America can still send’ machinery to us in successful competition with our local manufacturers. It 4would be unreasonable to expect small communities like ours to make such rapid developments in the manufacture of machinery as has the United States, possessing a population of over 70,000,000.
– The Americans developed their industries under a protective policy.
– I will grant that, if the honorable member likes, but what I say is that if the American machinery is going to help us, we should obtain it. If the mining industry of Broken Hill had been dependent upon the machinery of ten years ago, . and no new appliances or methods of treatment had been introduced, or if it had had to depend upon the developments in the manufacture of machinery within the Commonwealth, not a single man would be working in the mines to-day. I should like to say a word or two as to how this particular taxation will affect the people of Broken Hill. We have had long discussions with reference to the great and important industries of Victoria. We have heard of three men and one boy being engaged in making horse-shoe nails, and we have also been lIU.. of five or six people being employed in shirt factories. I am very glad to see people employed in manufacturing horse-shoe nails, or in making boots and shirts, and so on, but I desire for a little while to direct the attention of the committee to an industry which, I think, is of somewhat greater importance than these. The mining industry at Broken Hill is at present under a cloud. Twelve months ago, in 1900, there were 7,256 men employed in the Broken Hill mines, whereas in December, 1901, only 4,862 men found work there. There was thus a falling off in the number of men employed of 2,394 within twelve months. I do not for one moment say that this reduction is the outcome of the Tariff. Of course, primarily it has been caused by the fall in the price of lead. I should like to direct the attention of honorable members to some particulars taken from the reports of the principal Broken Hill mines, with a view to show the precarious condition of the industry on the Barrier. The price of* lead to-day is about £10 10s. per ton. During the halfyear ended 31st May, 1901, the profits of the Broken Hill Proprietary Company amounted to £87,000. They were able to secure an average price of £14 per ton for their lead, and during that half-year they produced 27,000 tons. Lead is now realizing £4 per ton less than the price obtained during that half-year by the Broken Hill Proprietary Company. The Block 14 Company made a loss of £8,271 during the half-year. They produced 6,000 tons of lead, for which they obtained on the average £12 per ton. The present price of lead, of course, is £2 less than that figure. The British Proprietary mine made a profit of £23,000, being able, during that time, to obtain an average price of £17 per ton for their lead. I have already pointed out that lead is now £7 per ton less than at that time. Block 10 mine made a profit of £1,330, being able to sell their lead at £12’ per ton. The Sulphide Corporation made a profit of £89,000, having sold their lead at £16 per ton. In giving these figures, I am leaving out odd pounds, shillings, and pence. The North Broken Hill Company made a loss of £916, selling their lead at £13 per ton ; the South Broken Hill made a profit of £12,000, with lead at £13 10s. per ton ; and the Broken Hill Junction North had a loss of £1,520, selling their lead at £12 pelton. During that time there was a profit made at Broken Hill of £213,000 ; but if some new methods are not discovered in order to produce lead more cheaply, and if” the price remains as at present, the turnover will be £221,995 less during the current half-year than in the previous halfyear, so that the whole profit of £213,000 will be wiped out by the fall in the price of lead. As I said just now, the price of lead is undoubtedly the main factor, but it isone that we cannot control. In the face of this fall in price, the Commonwealth Government have placed somewhere about £30,000 extra taxation on the mining companies. The Broken Hill Proprietary, under the operation of the Tariff as introduced by the Minister for Trade and Customs, will have to pay close on 20,000 extra taxation.
– That is assuming they import machinery.
– I asked the secretaries of the various companies what the taxation would mean if they had to import their machinery under the Federal Tariff instead of under free-;trade, and Mr. Dickinson, the secretary of the Proprietary Company, calculates the extra taxation, so far as’ the company is concerned, at £19,132.
– How does he arrive at that ?
– Let us suppose that a piece of machinery has to be imported from the old country, Germany, or America valued at £10,000. Last year suchmachinery would have come in free, but if 25 per cent, has to be paid on that valuein the shape of duty, the extra taxation means £2,500.
– Cannot the machinery be got in the Commonwealth ?
– Some machinery cannot possibly be obtained in the Commonwealth.
– What machinery is that?
– Any machinery that has to do with electrical science.
– All kinds of electrical machinery are being made in the Commonwealth.
– We are a population of 4,000,000 of people, and yet it issaid that we can produce anything that America can with a population of 70,000,000 or 80,000,000. The figures I have given do not refer exclusively to machinery, but embrace timber, and all requisites which are imported. Fuse, for instance, has to be imported.
– The Tariff does not increase the price of fuse.
– It does in New South Wales, where fuse was admitted free.
SirJohnQuick. - Fuse can be bought as cheaply in Victoria as the imported article.
– I venture to say that fuse is cheaper in Broken Hill than in Bendigo, where it is produced.
– I do not think so.
– We shall have a word to say on the subject of fuse when we reach that item. Oregon timber must be imported, and on that there is a duty. The Proprietarycompany, as I have shown, will have to pay extra taxation to the extent of £19,137, and the Central mine will pay £6,787. Block 10 Company during the last twelve months have made a profit of only about £1,300, and yet under the Tariff they will be charged £1,775 extra duty on timber. As may have been seen from the newspapers, the proprietors of Block10 mine have dismissed one shift of men, and are at present working with one shift only. It is necessary for them to have a newplant, because with the plant they now possess, they cannot work at anything like a profit ; and the manager has assured me, as an outcome of visits throughout Australia, England, and America, that the plant must come from the last mentioned country. He says that it does not matter what duty is put on, whether it be 25 per cent., 50 per cent., or 100 per cent., this machinery must come from America, and he knows just as much about this work as do honorable members generally.
– What is the particular machinery the manager wants ?
– It is the machinery of a new plant, and I say at once that Bendigo cannot supply it.
– It is said that Bendigo can.
– Bendigo has had exactly the same chance of sending machinery to Broken Hill that Gawler or any part of the world has had, but Bendigo has sent very little, although proprietors of Broken Hill mines are prepared to pay cash down. Horwood’s foundry has sent a little machinery to Broken Hill, and that was sent simply because one of the Horwood family became a mine manager there,and for a time machinery was sent by some of his relatives.
– That is too thin.
– That sort of thing is done every day, and what I have stated is a fact. I do not mean to say that Bendigo machinery is worse than any other ; and if I were manager of Broken Hill Proprietary, and had an interest in a foundry, I should try to get some of my machinery sold there.
– The honorable member is a model free-trader !
– Decidedly; everybody does that sort of thing. What I say is that the new machinery which is necessary for the development of Block 10 mine must be imported. The manager knows more about his work than we do surety, and, again, no manager cares to go out of the country for machinery if he can help it, for the simple reason thathe can inspect it as it is being constructed. The representative of a local foundry always enjoys an advantage over one resident at a distance in that he can personally interview the mine manager, whilst the latter in his turn can visit the foundry and inspect the machinery which he has ordered while it is in course of manufacture. Then the question of the saving of time constitutes an important element which ought not to be overlooked. If a man has to send to America or England for a plant, at least three months must elapse before the plans can reach those countries and the machinery can be brought back.
– I thought that all the machines from those countries were supplied from stock types ?
– I did not say so. I simply say that if a machine or engine of a new design is wanted it can be put up as a speculation in England or America, because there, a reasonable expectation always exists that orders for it will be forthcoming. Thus it is that a factory in England can spend £20,000 or £30,000 upon a mere speculation. But if the proprietors of any Victorian foundries were asked to spend an equal sum upon an experiment, I think they would consider the matter two or three times before acceding to the request. I do not hesitate to say that, if no taxation were imposed upon mining machinery, and the price of lead dropped much lower than it is at the present time, the mines at Broken Hill would be forced to shut down. No Government can regulate the price of lead. I wish that they could. I wish they could do so as easily as the present Government can impose a Tariff. But unfortunately they cannot. I therefore urge that the Government ought not, by irksome taxation, to hasten theruin of Broken Hill. The mines there produce from 75,000 to 80,000 tons of lead annually. The extra taxation which this Tariff will impose upon them represents from £30,000 to £40,000. That is almost equivalent to a drop in the price of lead of 10s. per ton. The price of lead is already low enough, and yet this Tariff will practically reduce it to the extent I have indicated. In the output of lead we have to compete with the prolific mines and the cheap labour of Spain, in copper with the cheap Chilian labour, in silver with the rich mines and cheap labour of Mexico, in tin with the cheap labour of the Straits Settlements. Thus it is necessary to continuously have the most uptodate plant upon these mines. I know that mining directors are very loth to order entirely new plants, even although it might be advantageous to do so at intervals of, say, five years. I believe that the Proprietary Company paid £100,000 for its amalgamating plant. I do not know whether the foundry at Bendigo could have manufactured that plant, but it would have been a very good thing if it could. When once a plant has been laid down, the shareholders and directors are not particularly anxious to substitute a new one for it,however desirable it may be to adopt that course. If we increase the cost of mining plants by 25 per cent. we shall offer an additional inducement to directors and shareholders to continue operations with old machinery instead of securing the most up-to-date machinery obtainable. The latest appliances throughout the world are those dealing with low-grade ores, and I venture to affirmthat the backbone of the mining industry of New South Wales, South Australia, and even of Western Australia is to found in the low-grade ores. During the six months ended the 31st May last, the Broken Hill mining companies disbursed £1,250,000 in wages and expenses. It will be seen, therefore, that this is an industry which we should be careful not to hamper byunnecessary taxation. I would also point out that it is not Broken Hill only which has to be considered in this connexion. There are 1,250 men employed in the iron flux and smelting works at Port Pirie. If the Broken Hill Proprietary Mine were to close down to-morrow, those men would be dismissed the next day. At Cockle Creek, in New South Wales, 600 men are employed in smelting ore for the sulphide corporation of Broken Hill. If the Central Mine were to close down these employes would also be dismissed. Then, in connexion with these mines there are from 200 to 300 men employed at Dapto, New South Wales, and 350 men at Port Adelaide. I ask the Minister for Trade and Customs, when dealing with this question, to think of South Australia, even if he does not think of Broken Hill, and to recollect that there are 1,250 men directly employed by the Broken Hill mines at Port Pirie, and an additional 350 at Port Adelaide.
– We have an equal duty to think of all the States.
– This industry is a much bigger one than that of the horse nail industry. The railway revenue of South Australia represents approximately £1,200,000 annually, of which sum Broken Hill alone contributes £400,000. During the last Christmas season the Barrier mines gave their employés a week’s holiday, the result of which was that the South Australian railway receipts fell off to the extent of £8,000 in that brief period.
– I am sorry to think that that fact is not entirely owing to the holidays.
– I am merely showing that if the mines of Broken Hill suspend operations for a day or two, the result is felt in South Australia. It would be a very serious matter to that State, indeed, if she could not obtain her £400,000 of railway revenue yearly from Broken Hill. Last year the railway revenue derived by
South Australia from the carriage of wool was £22,663, whilst during the same period the freight on timber alone to Broken Hill aggregated £28,000. So that really the revenue from the little item of timber alone to Broken Hill is more important to South Australia than is the railway revenue from the whole of the wool industry of that State.
– What timber is used there?
– Oregon timber, and it is proposed to put a duty upon it equal to 50 per cent. upon the original cost at Puget Sound. So far as the South Australian freights are concerneditmustnotbe forgotten also that most of the garden produce of South Australia goes to Broken Hill. I remember that some time ago, when the New South Wales State Parliament passed an Act prohibiting the importation of grapes into New South Wales from any of the other colonies, because of. a disease in some grapes that were imported, I think, from Victoria, it was proved that in South Australia there was no such disease in the grapes, and we had some very urgent wires from the market gardeners of that State seeking to have the restriction removed, becauseif they were unable to supply the Broken Hill market that season it would mean ruin for them in respect to that particular industry. I may add that the New South Wales Government did remove the embargo, and the South Australian grapes came into New South Wales. I do not wish to throw the mining engineer out of work in order to give the miner work. There is no particular advantage in throwing one man out of work in order to find work for another, but I tell the Minister for Trade and Customs that if the miner is not working the mining engineer cannot be at work. You may have a man working as an engineer in connexion with agriculture ; he may be making ploughshares or horse-nails, but he cannot be employed in a mine unless the miner is at work. So it is not only for the sake of the miner that I desire he should be at work, but also for the sake of the mining engineer, because if the miner is at work the mining engineer must necessarily be at work, working the engines, and, if at nothing else, making repairs. I should like to see them making the engines here if possible, but they must be employed in some way or other if the miner is at work. I, therefore, ask that the miner may be considered, not merely for his own sake, but that the mining engineer and other people may also find work. I am not pleading for the removal of this duty for the sake of Broken Hill only, or for the sake of South Australia only, but for the sake of every mining camp in Australia. I plead for it for the sake of the struggling prospecting companies. I believe that to-day from a mineral stand-point we do not really know what the vast resources of Australia are, and we do not wish to penalize the men who go right into the backblocks prospecting, or to penalize those companies who are prepared to run a certain amount of risk in mining development. I do not say that they do so from philanthropic motives ; I quite admit that they dc not.
– No one does.
– But we do not wish to penalize them in their efforts to develop any new field, because the advantage that comes to them is our advantage, and the advantage of the community generally. It is really laughable when we hear the talk of the little industries we have here making umbrellas, or making shirts, and that kind of thing, when really one good mine would give more employment than would all the duties we could possibly put on in order to assist these small industries. To show honorable members how important the matter isI may mention that by this day’s postI received a letter from Mr. Courtney, the manager of the Central Mine, and who until a month or so ago was president of the Mine Managers’ Association at Broken Hill. I did not ask for the letter and did not know it was coming, but I am very pleased to have received it. Mr. Courtney says -
I regret that I was away from Broken Hill when you were recently here, as I wanted to have a brief conversation with you in reference to the utilization of the zinc-blende, which, as you know, we are all over-stocked with ; but which is of no value, as sales cannot be negotiated for any large quantities, the abundance of this ore in various parts of the world tending always to regulate a low price. It therefore becomes advisable to manufacture metallic zinc in Australia, and by the establishment of this industry not only supply the Australian requirements, but export to other parts of the world rather than ship the ore, the condition of which is not so good as can be obtained by buyers in other countries. We propose, therefore, shortly making some test runs on spelter producing, which, if as successful as we anticipate, may develop into an important industry. I need hardly point out, however, that the plant is most costly, and innumerable difficulties must at first be experienced as the whole of the staff and workmen will have to be trained to the work, and whilst the requirements of spelters in Australia are very small, the product will have to compete with American and European producers. As the founding of iron, zinc, and other industries is of great importance to the Commonwealth, is there no possibility of the Government offering a bonus per ton of metal produced for at least a few years, thereby assisting and encouraging the establishment of metal industries whilst in their infancy ?
SirJohnQuick. - A protectionist letter.
– I do not say it is not. Mr. Courtney adds -
It has so often been done in growing countries with beneficial results that no apology is required from me for mentioning the matter to you. An encouragement of this kind would greatly assist andstrengthen the Broken Hill position.
I do not ask the Minister for Trade and Customs to give any bonus for the production of zinc. If he proposes to give a bonus for the production of iron ore I shall oppose the proposition, but if it is carried I think we shall then have a legitimate reason for asking for a bonus for the production of metallic zinc. I am against the bonus system as I am against protective duties. I am not here as a member asking that the Government should give a bonus, unless it is given for the production of iron ore, when I say it would be only fair that it should be given in connexion with this industry. But I do ask that we should not handicap that company in their efforts to get the best machinery possible to develop an industry which may become a very important one. These people are prepared to spend a certain amount of money in trying an experiment, and while I do not ask for a bonus for them, I do ask that instead of handicapping them and taxing them for making this experiment, we shall leave them alone, and rather give them every facility to get this electrical machinery which they require. I say let them get it at Bendigo, if they can. I would much rather that they should get. it from Bendigo than from America or Germany, and especially Germany ; but, I say, if they cannot get it at Bendigo, then in the name of heaven let them get it where they can, if their operations will find employment for a number of men. I ask the committee to omit the duty upon mining machinery, because I believe the omission will be the means of finding work not only for the miners, but for all classes of the community, and the more we can have at work in this way the better it will be for the Commonwealth.
-The honorable member for Barrier, as one of the sturdy, consistent free-traders of the House, necessarily commands the respect of every protectionist, and the views which he has presented to the committee are certainly well worthy of consideration. As the representative of a mining constituency, I have no hesitation in saying that if I thought the proposed duties would in any way hamper or penalize the mining industry I should not give a vote in favour of them. It is a matter of evidence and opinion as to what will be the effect of these duties. I should not venture to come to this House and advocate a duty, which would be calculated to prejudice the great mining industry in which I am interested, not only personally, but as the representative of a mining district. I point out in the first instance that my honorable friend in referring to this item of engines, boilers, and machinery, seems to implythat it specially refers to mining machinery, but the item refers to boilers, engines, and machinery generally. He has not specified any particular article in the item which specially affects the mining industry, because the machinery in the item affects industries generally.
– If the miner can obtain what he wants free,I do not care a jot about anything else.
– If the honorable member had proposed that any particular article in this item which is used specially in connexion with the mining industry should be placed on the free list, and had shown that it could not be reasonably, fairly, or successfully manufactured in this country, he would have had the support of the committee. I am sure that, as a protectionist, I should have supported him. But he has not done so. He has proposed that the whole ofthis bunch, which comprehends machinery, engines, and boilers generally, should be placed on the free list. That is impracticable.
– I will exclude plated ware from my proposal if the honorable and learned member desires it.
– The honorable member’s proposal would affect the employment of over 7,000 men.
– This is one of the most important items in the Tariff, and if the honorable member’s proposal were carried we might as well shut up shop, so far as protection is concerned. If the honorable member succeeds in placing this item, which affords reasonable protection to tlie iron foundries and the engineering industry, on the free list, he Will inflict a deadly blow to the protectionist policy. I challenge him again to enumerate any particular article of machinery which is required in connexion with mining, and to show that it cannot be produced at a reasonable price in Australia. If he can do that I will support him. Let us take boilers and machinery generally. There is in Victoria a large number of iron foundries. The result of some twenty or ‘ 30 years’ expenditure of capital, tlie training of employes, and the acquirement of special knowledge has been the building up of an industry of which not only Victoria but the whole of Australia ought to be proud. Instead of a proposal being made, which is calculated to inflict a fatal blow on the industry, it should receive the sympathetic support of every Australian. These foundries, as I have been reminded, employ upwards of 8,000 hands, and certainly ought not to receive a knock on the head, on an occasion such as this, merely to suit a particular cry which has been raised in favour of free-trade.
– Kill the mining industry and what will happen ?
– That is a cry which is always raised by extreme freetraders. Protection has not killed the mining industry in Victoria. That industry has grown up alongside the engineering and metal-working industries here, and this duty will not kill the industry in Australia generally. Let us take Bendigo - the district which I represent - or Ballarat, or Castlemaine. In each of those places the mining industry and iron foundries and engineering works have grown up side by side. There has been no antagonism inconsistency between the two industries. On the contrary, the mining companies have enjoyed the convenience of having foundries carrying on operations alongside their mines. When a mining company requires machinery for a particular purpose it is able to go to the engineering workshops and foundries next door, where the mining managers may supervise the manufacture of the machinery they require. Hie honorable member admits that it is a convenience to the companies to be able to do that, instead of having to send the plans and specifications to America, England, or Germany. The establishment of these works has been adistinct advantage to the mining industry in Victoria, just as it has been an advantage to the agricultural industry to have agricultural implement makers carrying on their operations in factories not far from the fields. The conjunction of field and factory is a necessary part of our industrial life. We should not have the field in one country and the factory in another. The approximation of these two agencies in the great work of production is a great convenience, and in the common interests of progress. I contend that the proximity of the foundries to the mines has resulted also in the invention of machinery for use in the mines. It has resulted in the invention of gold-saving and power appliances, and in appliances generally calculated to promote the interests of the mines. Then, again, we have in the proprietors of these foundries, and the work-people engaged in them, a population growing up with an interest in the mines, and among whom we find, very frequently, call-payers who have helped to maintain the mines. It would be a very poor district indeed which had to depend upon mining alone, and which had no diversity of occupation. It would have a very doubtful future before it. It is desirable, therefore, that every mining district in which there is a population clustered should endeavour to promote the growth of manufactories and other industries in addition to mining, so that, if the latter should fail, there would be other industries to act as a prop and a stay in a time of distress. Since this question has been brought up, I have given my serious attention to it, in order to ascertain how the duty would affect my district and Australia generally. I have sought information in every available quarter, and I have arrived at the conclusion that the protective duties which have ruled in Victoria hitherto have resulted in the firm establishment of manufactories and of manufacturing interests, which have not in any way increased the price of the articles required by mining companies. I was asked by one body to support a reduction of the duties on mining materials. In reply I invited the body to specif y the articles which were considered to be affected by these protective duties, but I have not received a reply up to the present time. It was not able to specify any particular article used in connexion with mining the price of which had been increased in consequence of protection. I challengethe honorable member for Barrier to name any machinery used in his own district which cannot be produced in Australia at a price as reasonable as that at which it can be imported.
Mr.Reid. - Then there is no need for protection.
– But if we once remove the duty, we invite the swamping of the Australian market by the productions of foreign countries. We do not want that.
Mr.Reid. - Swamped with abundance.
– This duty acts as a steadying factor to prevent countries in which labour conditions are inferior to our own from sending ship-loads of machinery here to swamp our manufactories and kill our markets. In this case.While protection has resulted in the creation of a valuable industry, it has not increased the prices which have to be paid by the users of boilers, engines, and other mining machinery. I challenge any member of the committee to produce a list of price’s which will show that there has been an increase. I have not advocated the imposition of protective duties to benefit the capitalist. It is primarily and principally to benefit labour that I have supported the doctrine of protection. If honorable members compare the labour conditions of other countries with those of this country, they will see the main object of the imposition of protective duties. I have had prepared for me this morning, in the office of the Victorian Statist, a return showing the wages paid in various countries to boiler-makers, pattern-makers, fitters, and foundry and machine-shop hands - the trades which come within the item now under consideration. In Germany, in 1897, boilermakers were receiving from 2s. to 4s. l½d. per day.
Mr.Reid. - How many hours a day do they work?
– Ten. In Italy the wages of boiler-makers varied from 3s. 2½d. to 3s. 7½d., in France from 3s. 7½d. to 6s. 5d., and in England from 5s. 5d. to 6s.1d. per day; but in New York their wages ranged from 6s. 3d. to 10s. 2½d., and in Australia from 9s.1½d. to11s. 2d. per day.I ask the honorable member for Barrier, as a labour representative, why should the boiler-makers of Victoria and Australia generally be compelled to compete with labourers who are being paid the starvation wages which are current in Germany,. France, Italy, and even in England?
– In return, I ask the honorable and learned member why should the miners of Broken Hill be compelled to compete under unfair conditions with the cheaply paid labour of Spain ?
– They are protected.
– In what way ?
– By labour covenants.
-Why not protect the boiler-makers in the same way?
– Does the honorable member for Barrier contend that Australian gold has to compete with Spanish gold ? Mr. Thomas. - I spoke of lead.
Mr.Reid. - And only the other day lead was put on the free list.
– The average wage for pattern-makers, between 1898 and 1900, in Germany, was 3s. l1½d. per day, in England 6s. 2d., in Australia 10s.8d., in Massachusetts11s. 3d., and in New York in some cases as much as 13s.½d.
Mr.Reid. - What do the tributers of Bendigo get a week ?
– That has nothing to do with the question. The machinery they use costs no more than imported machinery. On that I have the testimony of iron founders all over the State, and I defy the right honorable member to produce evidencewhich will rebut it. If I thought that the tributers of Bendigo suffered under protection I should not advocate it. But there are in Bendigo, Castlemaine, Ballarat, and Melbourne a large number of persons who are dependent for employment upon the continuation of this industry, and if our factories are shut down through the importation of cheap machinery from other countries the labouring classes of Australia will be the first to suffer.
– It was free-trade and capital that sweated the tributers.
– But what drove 100,000 men out of Victoria during the last ten years ?
– The wages paid to fitters and to foundry and machine shop hands between 1896 and 1899 were about 4s. per day in France, 6s. in England,8s. 2d. in Australia, 8s. 4d. in Connecticut, and 9s. 4¼d. in New York. I desire to protect only machinery which can be produced locally.
– We can produce anything locally if we like to pay for it.
SirJOHN QUICK. - I mean produced at substantially the same cost as it would take to import similar machinery. If the honorable member can specify any kind of machinery which cannot be produced here, and for which mining managers have to send to foreign countries, I shall be willing to consider a proposal for putting it upon the free list. I should be prepared to consider a proposition for putting patented machinery on the free list. That would be quite consistent with the protective policy, because such machinerycannot be made here. Of course, if the patentees like to come here, that will remove the difficulty; and why should they claim the monopoly to manufacture their patented machinery in foreign countries?
– Now the honorable and learned member is backing out. Will he vote for the admission of patented machinery free ?
– If the honorable member will specify what machinery he wishes to admit free, I shall be prepared to consider the proposal.
– There is, of course, the danger that a slight patent alteration in a machine may be put forward as an excuse for entirely removing the duty upon it.
– Formerly, in Astoriathere was a difference in the duty on patent axles and common nut axles. A difficulty of definition arose, and a difficulty of definition will arise in this case. If a proper definition can be formulated I shall be quite prepared to support a proposition in that direction, subject to the condition that it is not a class of article manufactured here.
– A small alteration in some patent of a small article might destroy the whole benefit of the protection of the general article.
– No doubt it would have to be surrounded with safeguards. At one stage, in considering the Tariff, I felt inclined to support a proposition for the placing of electrical machinery on the free list; but, on making inquiries, I found that certain firms in Victoria had started establishments for the production of electrical machinery. One firm alone has already spent £5,000 in the development of electrical machinery under the Victorian Tariff, and they say that they are quite prepared and quite able to produce all the ordinary articles required in such machinery. Consequently, it might be very unfair indeed to them to place electrical machinery on the free list. Not only in their interest, but in the interest of the development of electrical machinery generally it is highly desirable to encourage the development of a number of artisans in Australia who are acquainted with the manufacture of such machinery. We wish to cultivate the growth ofspecialists in electrical machinery. We do not wish to be dependent on foreign countries for it. It is impossible to over estimate the importance of this industry?
– And Bendigo miners at 30s. a week to do it.
– There is no electrical machinery used in connexion with the mines at Bendigo that I am aware of, but there is electrical machinery used in connexion with other mines in Australia, on which Idare say heavy duties had to be paid, and which they had to import men to work. Is it not desirable to cultivate as much as possible the production of electrical machinery in Australia, so that we shall have a great number of specialists who are able to supply the wants of Victoria and Australia generally, in this important class of productive industry?
– Do not do it at the expense of the miner.
– Of course the miner has to be trotted out by the free-traders. Formerly it was the farmer with them, and now it is the miner. I should like to know what the free-traders have ever done for the miner. Free-traders are primarily interested in importation. Very few of them are engaged in the great work of call-paying. How much have they paid for the development of the great mines at Ballarat, Bendigo, and Broken Hill ?
– How much have the protectionists paid?
– The protectionists are dependent upon the mines. The iron founders of Victoria are concerned in the growth and prosperity of the mining industry, because if it went down they would go down. They are more interested in the growth of mining than are the importers. What do the importers care about the development of our mining industry ? Therefore it ill becomes those who are so hysterica] about the interests of the foreign trader to talk about the poor miner and the poor farmer. Little do they care about the poor miner and the poor farmer, except to trot him out occasionally for the support of their free-trade arguments. On these grounds I strongly object to the proposition for sweeping away these industries. At the same time if the Minister, yielding to any information which is placed before him, can see his way to place any particular item on the free list, I shall be quite prepared to favorably consider a proposal of that kind.
– After the very admirable speech from the honorable member for Barrier, showing how the mining industry is affected by this duty, I was rather surprised to hear the representative of the mining district of Bendigo talk as if the miners were not to be considered at all. If there was one thing more clearly shown than another by the honorable member for Barrier, it was not that one individual, but that many thousands of individuals, would be affected by this duty. But we have the honorable and learned member for Bendigo, in effect, saying - “You may talkabout your thousands of miners ; you may talk about your workmen employed here and there, but what is their voice compared with the voice of the iron founder at Bendigo, or the iron founder somewhere else.” We have this sort of thing going on here until one wonders what the rest of the people of Australia are thinking about, that they do not rise up and protest. I am quite sure that so soon as an opportunity is afforded to them, they will rise up and protest. We have honorable members getting up and saying that a large number of men such as the miners are not to be considered at all, in effect that thousands and thousands of men engaged in these industries are’ not to be considered, and asking what are they for except to pay taxes. Of course, if these people are going to submit to all this taxation in the interests of one or two manufacturers, there is no more to be said. It is in the power of honorable members to deprive the manufacturers of the opportunity of levying duties upon the men. I suppose there is nothing whicli more fills any man with indignation than does this taxation. In the case of the horse-shoe nails we had the honorable member for Bourke stating that, although there was only one manufacturer of such nails in all Australia, all the rest of the people must not be considered ; that simply and solely because a man calls himself a manufacturer he is the only one in Australia to be considered. We had a majority of the committee saying that that was a very sound doctrine to lay down, and that although there was only one manufacturer of horse-shoe nails they ought to support him, and give him an opportunity of levying a tax on the people of Australia, as the)7 did, although it was shown that we could afford to give the man the money a dozen times over, and otherwise employ from 20 to 25 times the number of men that were employed ih his factory. Now, the honorable member for Barrier has shown that in one mining district alone some thousands of men are affected by this duty, and that if they are affected, men all over Australia, certainly in New South Wales and South Australia, are affected. The honorable and learned member for Bendigo does not consider those men for -a single moment. While he was speaking I did expect to hear from him this argument - “ Do you not know that putting a duty on mining machinery puts ore into the ground ? c It enables the miner to discover where the ore is. It enables him to locate a particular portion of it. The miner at Bendigo, by getting a 25 per cent, tax on his machinery, his shafts, his pulleys, and everything else which goes into the mine, is able to discover the amount of gold there is in a particular place ; in fact, if it were not there before, it would put it there “ - because surely that is ohe only ground on which he can ‘defend the extraordinary assertion made by him. Whilst we are told that the men employed in the Victorian foundries will be affected if the duty is abolished, no explanation is given of the fact that the number of men engaged in metal and machinery works in New South Wales is greater than in Victoria.
– If the honorable and learned member excludes those engaged in smelting, there are less men engaged in the metal industries in New South Wales than in Victoria.
– I include those who are engaged in smelting, because they are just as dependent upon the mining industry as are the men employed in foundries. The contention of the honorable member for Melbourne Ports appears to be that we should only consider the men who are engaged in a particular industry, but I declaim against any such doctrine. We are here to legislate for the benefit of the whole of the people of Australia, and not for the advantage of any particular class, however good that class may be. It is clear that there are engaged in industries connected with metals and machinery in New South Wales 12,000 men, as against 9,400 men similarly employed* in Victoria.
– That is not the case. If the honorable and learned member includes in his statement the men engaged in smelting operations, he should also embrace the men engaged in mining in Victoria.
– I am quite content to do that, and to also include all the rest of the men engaged in mining throughout Australia. Then it will be seen how very injurious it would be to impose this duty.
– Would the honorable and learned member include coal miners also ?
– Certainly I would.
– Does tlie honorable and learned member contend that the amount of co.-d produced depends upon tlie fiscal question ?
– I am content to leave out the coal miners, and still show a very large number of men - seven or eight times the number in Victoria - who are dependent upon the mining industry. The honorable member for Melbourne Ports apparently argues that if a tax is imposed upon tlie miners, it will enable . them to discover where the gold is.
– A protective duty is not a tax.
– According to that, when a manufacturer asks that a duty shall be placed upon the goods produced by him - and we have seen lobbying carried on here to a disgraceful extent - we are to understand that the imposition of the duty will not benefit him. When a man shows us that he has derived £16,000 from duties in the course* of four years, are we to understand that, although he was enabled to take that money out of the pockets of the poor people, he was conferring a benefit upon them ? It has been reserved for the honorable and learned member for Indi to tell < the farmers, in connexion with the bonuses, that although it was true that £1 had been taken from them in the shape of duties, they had received back 4d. in the form of bonuses, and consequently ought to bc satisfied. They were told that it was wrong for them to cry out, because four pennies were larger than a . sovereign. When a worker comes along, no matter what he is, his views and interests are regarded with the greatest contempt by honorable members on the other side of the Chamber. 4,800 miners have had to leave Broken Hill during the last six months, but not a single attempt has been made by Ministerialists to help them in any way. On the other hand, tlie miners have had taxes imposed on them to still further depress their condition, and hurry them into other work so that wages may be forced down. Why is this ? Because they are poor ordinary miners. If a manufacturer comes along–
– In his drag.
– Yes, or as a member of a club, the Ministerialists at once doff their hats and bow down to him. They inquire how many men he employs, and on being told that he finds employment for ten men - or, as in the case of the manufacturer of horse-shoe nails, seventeen men - they say - “ Dear me, we must see to that, and at once impose a duty which will allow you to collect £30,000 from the public.” Because 4,800 miners at Broken Hill are not able to combine, and are not represented by a manufacturer, they are to be snuffed out of existence, and treated with the contempt and contumely that the protectionist and legal Ministry always shows towards tlie worker.
– Which division does the importer belong to?
– I do not care how the importer is dealt with, provided equal disabilities are inflicted upon the rest of the community. Because the working man cannot make representations to the Government in the same way as do the manufacturers, that is no reason why they should be utterly ignored. The case made out by the honorable member for the Barrier is so clear that no attempt has been made to refute his statements. The honorable member for the Barrier has dealt with only the one big mining centre of Broken Hill ; but other places, such as Kalgoorlie, might be cited. I have no doubt, however, that Western Australian members will deal with this question from their own point of view. I know that protectionists do not like discussions upon these matters, because if the truth get abroad, the chance of allowing manufacturers to extract money out of the pockets of the people is gone. The honorable member for the Barrier has made out so clear a case, that it is incumbent on us to sweep away all duties which press on industries ; and I shall give my hearty support to any proposal to place on the free list such necessaries as have been mentioned. Protectionist members say that they desire to see those articles manufactured in the Commonwealth ; but they must know that patent articles cannot be manufactured here, and that we must, in this connexion, always be fourteen or 28 years behind the times. That may be a very estimable idea on the part of gentlemen who have just risen to the political economy of the 17th century.
– Cannot the honorable member conceive the possibility of a patentee coming here to manufacture ?
– If the name of any such patentee, with information as to what and how much he was going to manufacture, were given, a case might be made out on his behalf. But, even then, why should a patentee with £30,000 or £40,000 in his pocket be given the privilege of extracting money out of the pockets of the people when we deny a similar privilege to the working man or the farmer? Why should the representatives of wealth always be listened to, and those of labour ignored ? I do not ask the committee to give consideration to the workers, except on the simple ground of justice. I ask for them no benefit I would not ask for all. The utmost that is claimed is “a fair field and no favour.” The Ministry readily assent to give the wealthy manufacturer the privilege of imposing taxes upon others, while every day workmen have to compete with their fellows for wages which are regulated by the law of supply and demand.
– That is only in New South Wales.
– Wages are regulated by the law of supply and demand throughout the world. A manufacturer under protection is given practically a State guarantee that he will get so much return for his money, but no such guarantee is given to the farmer against storm or drought, or to miners or tributaries at Bendigo that they will not “ bottom a duffer.”
– Tributaries “ bottom a duffer “ ! That is very good !
– No guarantee is given in such cases, simply because no guarantee can be given. What a miserable admission that is of the weakness of the policy of protection. Is it that honorable members are misled, and cannot see that we have no right to call on the bulk of the people to pay taxes in order to keep one individual going? It has been shown that taxes on the mining industry decrease employment and artificially lower the price of lead to the extent of 10s. per ton; and why such a policy should be persisted in requires some clearer explanation than we have yet received.
– I assume that we are now going to a division, and I want to say only one word, although I intend at a later stage to deal with the subject somewhat more fully. I find myself unable to support the amendment. I am anxious there should be a considerable reduction in the rate which is proposed by the Government, and I hope that a reduction will be secured; but I regret that at the present time I am not able, in view of the condition of the industries in this State, to support the absolutely free introduction of machinery.
– I think that the item of machinery should be placed on the free list. I cannot altogether agree with the honorable and learned member for Bendigo in his assertion that the miners will benefit by the extra cost of machinery. The honorable and learned member has told us a good deal about Bendigo ; and probably the conditions there are different from those in the northern parts of Queensland and Western Australia, where I do not see how the miner can benefit in any shape or form by a tax on machinery. I do not say that miners individually are going to benefit directly from a tax being put on or taken off machinery, but I know that in many cases a very small-margin of cost will pre- vent a mining property being developed. I have known a mine lie idle simply for the want of a few hundred pounds.
– Is there an instance in Victoria where that has occurred ?
– The honorable and learned member may be able to talk about Victoria.
– That is where we had the duties.
– I am speaking of Queensland, and I know of one claim there which has recently been developed, and has proved such a magnificent investment as to bring the shareholders something like £1,400 per month for the last two or three years. Twentyfive years ago that claim was worked, but because the men who held it at the time could not find a certain sum of money - I think the difference between the amount which they required and that which they possessed represented only about £30 or £40 - the mine was abandoned. As a result, it was lying idle for 20 or 25 years. But to-day the conditions which exist have not only led to the development of that particular property, but they have also been the means of developing a field which at the present time employs 500 or 600 men. Honorable members should recollect when it is proposed to tax mining machinery - especially in regard to those portions of the country where machinery is very expensive - that every additional increase in its cost renders it more difficult to develop the mineral industry. The honorable and learned member for Bendigo says that we require protection to prevent huge shiploads of mining machinery coming into Australia. Surely he must know that such a statement is absurd. He must be aware that big manufacturers do not ship complete batteries, for example, to Australia. They wait until they are ordered.
– Could they not send out a shipload of boilers?
– I could understand the honorable and learned member if he said that they might send out a shipload of plates, but they would certainly not send out a shipload of boilers, for the reason that boilers take up so much room.
– They can pack goods in them.
– Occasionally goods are put in the boilers, but very rarely, because there is always a danger that the placing of heavy goods in boilers might damage them. The honorable and learned member said that we can produce this machinery in Australia just as cheaply as it can be imported. If that be so, where is the need for protection? The honorable and learned member says that by the imposition of a protective duty we shall prevent the flooding of our markets with machinery. I presume he admits that the flooding of our markets would result in lessening the cost of machinery, and would permit of it being sold at a price for which it could not be manufactured in Australia. His idea evidently is to prevent the price of mining machinery being reduced in Australia.
– Foreign manufacturers may make a temporary sacrifice in order to kill the local industry.
– But it should always be remembered that we must deal with these matters under normal and not under abnormal conditions. I certainly think that we should make every effort to cheapen the machinery which is necessary to develop the mining industry. One honorable member declared this afternoon that in Australia we have merely touched the fringe of this great industry. I quite agree with that statement. With the exception of Western Australia, have travelled over most of the back country of the different States, and I know - especially in regard to Northern Queensland - that our mineral resources are practically untouched. All the competent authorities who visit North Queensland are unanimous in admitting its great possibilities. To my mind, it should be our aim to develop the mining industry. If it had not been for that industry in Victoria, honorable members would not now be sitting here as representatives of the first Federal Parliament. I quite agree that the secondary industries must be developed sooner or later, but they should be developed upon natural and not upon artificial lines. Otherwise they will always require the stimulus of artificial aid. We have an evidence of that in Victoria.
– They are crying out in England, where they cannot get it.
– The manufacturer and the importer are not the only people to be considered. When I favour the exemption of some particular article from duty, I have no notion of merely assisting the importers, and I do not believe that protectionists haveany desire to speciallyfurther the interests of the manufacturers. But this is a question of what is best for the great bulk of the people who have to live under the Tariff which we frame. No doubt we shall be told that it is only in a protected country that we can secure the establishment of wages boards. The honorable member for Melbourne Ports will probably tell us that, and he will tell us of the 26 industries which come within the purview of the wages boards in Victoria.
We all recognise that the rate of wages in Australia is probably higher than in any other country.
– Except America.
– I do not even except America. But that cannot last. Such a state of affairs can only arise in a new country, and we must gradually come to the normal conditions existing in other countries. It is impossible that in any one country the rate of wages and the standard of living can remain for any length of time higher than in other countries. What I desire to point out particularly is that, while endeavouring to protect one industry, we must guard against injuring another, the injury of which may mean the throwing of thousands of people out of employment, as was instanced in the case of Broken Hill this afternoon. It must be remembered that those people in such cases are thrown upon the unskilled labour market, which is not protected by any wages board. That seems to me to be the difficulty with which we have to contend. We make special efforts by means of wages boards and other systems to protect the skilled trades, but we are making no attempt to do anything for the protection of unskilled labour. The introduction of machinery into the various trades to cheapen production has thrown thousands of skilled workmen upon the unskilled labour market. That is where the great competition arises, and where we find the lowest wages. It is there also that the bulk of the people are employed.
– Surely it is not correct to say that the bulk of the people are employed in unskilled and unorganized labour?
– I did not say unorganized, but unskilled labour ; and when I speak of the bulk of the people being engaged in unskilled labour, I mean that they have not been brought up to any trade or served an apprenticeship to any trade. I know that in many of what were originally skilled trades the labour is now performed by unskilled workmen. Take, for instance, the highly complicated trade of the compositor. A compositor required to serve an apprenticeship to learn the picking-up of type, while to-day a man without having served any apprenticeship at all, goes to a linotype, and in three or four days can perform the work.
– They are binding them to that trade now in Victoria for seven years.
– Well, there is no need for it. Honorable members will agree with me that any ordinary intelligent lad can pick up the operation of type-setting by the linotype in three or four days.
– It requires skilled knowledge.
– Does the honorable member know anything of it from personal experience ?
– There may be a little technical knowledge of use in some instances, just as one man may shovel mud better than another. But we know that where these linotype machines are in use, a mechanical engineer is kept to look after them.It would be madness on the part of any firm to allow the mere operator of a linotype machine to attempt to repair it if it got out of order. I do not wish to go into that matter, but I desire to impress upon the committee that the mining industry at the present time wants a good deal of watching. While in some portions of Australia the mining industry is being largely extended, I notice for instance that Victoria, which once occupied the premier position amongst the States in the matter of the production of gold, is now only third or fourth upon the list. I do not attribute that to protection, but what I wish to show from it is that we should be very careful in imposing duties, not to hamper this industry in any way. I believe that for many years in Australia the mining industry will be one of the most important in the country, and we should make every effort to lighten the burdens upon people engaged in it. If we allow them to get machinery in free, they will have so much more money to spend upon the development of the mines. It is possible that large mining centres may spring up in different parts of Australia which will give employment to thousands of men. If the machinery required can be produced as cheaply and as well here as in other parts of the world, those interested in mining are not going to be stupid enough to send elsewhere for it. Where it is necessary to import machinery for carrying on the industry, we should make every effort to have that machinery admitted into the Commonwealth free, and if it is not possible to admit it free, the duty should certainly be fixed at a much lower rate than is proposed in this Tariff.
– Before I speak upon this question, I should like to know just what the item means, “n.e.i., including engines, boilers, pumps, machines and machinery, n.e.i.”
– It means those which have not been previously specified, less those which are declared to be exempt.
– Then a number of honorable members who have been speaking upon this duty have really not known what they “were talking about. I, for one, until the Minister made that explanation, thought it referred only to mining machinery.
– It refers to all kinds of machinery.
– It refers not only to machinery, but to other things. There is piping, which is not elsewhere included, and this item must cover that. I am not inclined to vote that it should come in free. ‘ So far as mining machinery ‘ is concerned, I think it. should be admitted at the same rate as agricultural machinery, namely, 15 per cent. That is as far as I would go. The honorable and learned member for Indi has said that we could cite no specific or concrete case to show that free-trade has led to machinery being imported any cheaper. I will give the honorable and learned member two instances which have come under my own observation. One is a case in which machinery was brought into Queensland from Victoria, and the other a case in which machinery was sent from Queensland into South Australia. The Moonta Mines Company, South Australia, called for tenders for a winding plant, the contract being open to manufacturers in the old country as well as in the different States of the Commonwealth. The result was that a Queensland firm was successful, notwithstanding that it had to pay a duty of 25 per cent, on the machinery which it sent into South Australia, and also to pay wages on a higher scale than those ruling in the southern States. If chat is not a sufficient argument in favour of allowing mining machinery to come into the Commonwealth free I do not know what is.
-Did not that contract relate to machinery which could be made by only the particular factory in Queensland 1
– Is it not possible to make winding plants in Victoria or in South Australia, where, according to the boasts of certain honorable members, the finest foundry in Australia is to be found ?
– No winding plant has been imported into Victoria for years.
– -I am referring only to South Australia. The machinery supplied by the Queensland firm was so good that the Moonta Company has repeated the order, and the factory is now making-up, to its order, a plant of the same kind.
– Does the honorable member refer to Walker’s, of Maryborough 1
– Yes, Walker’s Limited.
– They want protection, too.
– The second case to which I refer is that in which a boiling-down works, established at Barcaldine, in Central Queensland, distant some 460 miles by rail from the coast, called for tenders for a boiling-down plant. A Victorian firm, in competition with the Queensland firms, including those of Rockampton, which had only to send the machinery 460 miles by rail, secured, the contract, although it had to forward the plant to Queensland and pay a duty of something like 25 per cent. If that is not another argument in favour pf free-trade in machinery I do not know what is. If the manufacturers in the different States have been able to compete against one another, and send their machinery from one State to another, notwithstanding the border duties, is that not one of the strongest arguments for free-trade that could be given ? I can vouch for every word which the honorable member for Kennedy has said in regard to mines being shut down for the sake of a few pounds. I am sorry to say that I have had an interest in some such mines myself, and I know it is a fact. In one particular instance up north, we required machinery to work a mine, but we had spent so much money on the mine that we would not pay any more, and it was shut down. Some one else came along and erected the necessary machinery, with the result that the mine Ls paying to-day. If mining machinery had been allowed to come in free at the time no doubt that mine, instead of proving a duffer so far as some of us were concerned, would have been a source of wealth to us.
– Were operations suspended at the mine owing to the duty on mining machinery 1 .
– The honorable and learned member knows what calls are. No - doubt he has dabbled in mining a bit, and he is not such a flat as not to know what it is to be paying calls. Surely the honorable and learned member does not think he is going to draw me like that 1 The machinery was to cost something like £800, and,it we could have had the 25 per cent, duty knocked off no doubt we would have made an effort to secure it. We had lost so much money in the mine, however, that we would not go in for the plant owing to the excessive duty. If the manufacturers of one State have been able to compete against those of another in the open market, notwithstanding the border duties, surely with Inter-State free-trade and a larger market they can now carry on successfully without this duty? As the honorable member for Kennedy has suggested, however, Walkers’ Limited still want protection. These firms say they cannot do without it. We have had an. instance of this in the telegram received by the Minister for Trade and Customs from the Clyde Engineering Works, setting forth that they cannot carry on without protection. I inquired about the truth of that statement when I was going through Sydney recently, and one of the local ironfounders said to me - “ Do you not think we should be fools if we refused to accept a 10 per cent, or 25 per cent, protective duty when we could get it 1” That is the line they go upon. If the Minister for Trade and Customs desires to add £15 to every £100 that a manufacturer makes, a man would be fit only for a lunatic asylum if he refused to accept it. If I refused to take £15 per month on top of my “screw,” when offered to me, honorable members would _ think “ there was some- . thing gone wrong with the works.” If the Minister for Trade and Customs wired to me in Queensland, as he wired to the Clyde Engineering Company, - and asked whether I could carry on without a 20 per cent, addition to my “ screw,” and I replied that I could do it very well, honorable members would say of me - “ He is a bigger fool than we took him to be.”
– I did not communicate with the Clyde Engineering Company.
– But the honorable member read a telegram from the company.
– It was sent to me unsolicited. 25 ai
– Then some one else asked for it?
– It was evidently sent upon perusal of a report of the debate.
– That is practically the same thing. The sender of the telegram read the report of the debate which had taken place in this committee, and immediately wired to the Minister that the company could not go on without the duty. It is a peculiar thing that although manufacturers have sent circulars to us saying that they cannot carry on unless they are given a certain amount of protection, their works have not been shut down when the committee has reduced the duties proposed by the Government. No doubt, if we . admit mining machinery free, the local manufacturers of mining machinery will . still continue in existence. If they have” been able to compete in the past, notwithstanding the existence of the State Tariffs, surely they will be able to carry on now if they have Inter-State free-trade and a certain amount of protection against the outside world. I maintain that an industry can be over protected, and I recently saw a very good illustration of that in a book by Curtis, entitled Protection and Prosperity. In America, they have protected many things so highly that people have had to do without them. If mining machinery is cheapened, there will be a great development in mining in Northern Queensland, but if its price is raised to a prohibitive amount, people will not go in for mining speculations. The honorable member for Barrier spoke very highly about the wonderful plants which are imported from the old country, but at Mount Morgan I have seen Australian manufactured machinery which compares favorably with the imported machinery standing alongside it, and people there have told me that, even if it cost a little more, they would prefer to use locally made machinery, because then they can get any alterations made which may be necessary. I do not believe in decrying our local manufactures. I should like to see factories, especially iron foundries and machinery shops, established in every town in Australia.
– There is no female labour employed in iron works, and the hands get good wages.
– I should like to see mining machinery admitted free, but I do not think “ that all machinery “ not elsewhere included” should be admitted free. No doubt the honorable member for the Barrier is anxious to have mining machinery admitted free, just as I should like to have admitted free many things which are used by my constituents-
– -If agricultural machinery can pay a duty of 15 per cent., why should not mining machinery do so ?
– I am sorry that there is a duty of 1 5 per cent, on agricultural machinery, because it falls upon the hardest workers in tlie country. But the fact that there is a duty on agricultural machinery affords no reason for imposing a duty upon mining machinery. The duty upon mining machinery falls upon those engaged in one of our primary industries. Everything that the miner eats, wears, and uses is taxed. The very rope employed to haul the ore from the bowels of the earth is taxed. It may be said that a duty upon mining machinery will not fall directly upon the miners ; but if it does not affect, them directly it affects them indirectly. At Broken Hill as soon as the price of lead and silver went down miners wages were reduced. The miners, however, cannot be protected as other workers are protected in Victoria by the operation of wages boards. Victorian representatives want protection for everything that their people produce,- but when the representatives of other States want protection for their productions, Victorians cry out that these productions are their raw material, and should be admitted free.
– Has not Queensland got white labour by entering federation ?
– Queensland has to pay folic, and is willing to do so, but if that is all she is to get for entering federation the sooner she leaves it again- the better. The natural result of things would be to make Queensland white, but Victoria will never be white, because she has a system of permits which enables aliens to return here, and she is breeding aliens here. In Little Bourke-street there is a bigger canker spot than the black labour in Queensland. Every industry in Victoria employing two men and a boy must be protected, but Victorians are not so ready to. protect the industries of other States. Every Victorian whom I have heard speak in this chamber is a protectionist for sentimental, not for economic reasons. The lord high priest of protection, the honorable member for Melbourne Ports, is a protectionist for sentimental reasons.
When I referred to the iron foundries he could* not refrain from interjecting about the non-employment of women, and if it is not tlie ladies with him it is the poor’ downtrodden factory hands. The Victorian system of protection requires the passing of special Acts to protect the workers.
– They have to protect the workers from protection.
– Yes, God save the workers from protection ! The Victorian protectionist would like to see all Victorian industries pro,tected but he is a most ardent free-trad er in regard to things that he has to consume himself. When the timber merchants of. Queensland were down here it was very funny indeed to observe their movements. In Queensland they are rabid protectionists, and I am very pleased that they are to get a dose of their own physic. They looked upon the Victorian protectionists as brothers in arms, but what are they to get from them ? They know what they will get when the timber duties are reached. Timber is the raw material of our butter boxes, and on top of a duty on timber we have a duty on mining machinery. The Tariff is stifling one of the principal industries of Queensland, and that is mining. There are no gold mines in my electorate. The miners there are opal miners, and as they use the old windlass,’ their machinery is taxed. Everything they use is taxed ; even the oil drums they use for bucketing up the stuff are taxed. Although this paragraph is not quite the smallest in the Tariff, I think it includes more items than does any other. I should like to know from the honorable member for. Barrier if he really means to admit free the whole of the items in the paragraph. , I think he is anxious to get only mining machinery admitted free. I am with the honorable member for Newcastle to this extent,, that if we cannot get mining machinery admitted free I should like to see the 25 per cent, duty kept on. I should like the Minister to tell us whether he is going to make any difference, or whether he intends to stick to the cast-iron 25 per cent, duty all through., There is only one course open to me. I have either to vote with the Government for the 25 per cent, duty, or to vote with my own party for the free admission of the items. I shall just leave the Minister to think for a moment what he should do.
– I admit that the honorable member foc
Barrier might have undertaken some classification before he moved his amendment, but I would point out that the Government have not attempted to classify the items under this heading as they should have been if they were to be dealt with in any intelligible manner. How can such terribly inclusive letters as “n.e.i.” be expected to operate with judgmentor discretionin respect of items covering such a range of trades and businesses as the manufactures of metal ? There ought to have been some more enlightened attempt at classification of the items by the Ministry. Failing such attempt on their part, we can hardly expect an honorable member to undertake the task. I have no doubt that the honorable member for Barrier felt that, as mining machinery might include items which are equally useful in other industries, from the way in which the items had been grouped in the Tariff, his only course was to propose the removal of the duty from all the items. I was rather astonished at some remarks that fell from the honorable and learned member for Bendigo. He, quite unnecessarily I think, introduced the old fiscal argument, but whilst I cannot compliment him on his argument, I must compliment him on his splendid audacity. I would not for a moment impugn his acuteness by saying that he did not see the contradictoriness of his own facts, but, in spite of that contradictoriness, he brought forward figures as to the wages in protectionist countries in support of his argument that primarily protection was for the assistance of the labourer, and not of the manufacturer.
– What he said was that he supported protection in the interest of the labourer here, and not of the capitalist.
– But, in addition to that, he said that if he did not think that protection primarily assisted the worker he would not support it. I am not objecting to that statement. What I am objecting to are the illustrations brought forward in support of it. The honorable and learned member gave the wages of boiler-makers in five or six countries, and he said that it was against those wages that the workers of Australia had to compete. Every one of the countries in which the wages were below those in Great Britain, a free-trade country, was a protectionist country. There was one protectionist country above Great Britain, and that was the United States of
America. In making the comparison with England he omitted to allow for the longer hours worked per day by the American worker, for the wages he gave were per day. The American boiler-maker works ten hours. Even if the wages that have to be competed against be as low as those of Italy or Germany, as regards boilers, there is a natural protection that overcomes all that difference. Yet the honorable and learned member, whose astuteness I would not for a moment question, coolly put these figures and facts before the committee as an argument in favour of protection. He intimated that a cargo of boilers might arrive if this duty were not put on, but such a cargo is a thing I have never heard of. The honorable member for Melbourne Ports questions the correctness of the statements made by the honorable and learned member for Werriwa regarding the number of hands employed in the iron trade in New South Wales as compared with Victoria. According to the returns furnished by Coghlan, if we take the iron trades as including iron works, engineering works and foundries, and railway carriage and rolling-stock manufacture and repairing works - and you cannot separate the iron work in the railway shops, which is very considerable, from other work, because the figures are not given separately - we find that 6,800 hands are employed in New South Wales as against 6,500 in Victoria. Abandoning that basis, however, and adopting another, we find that by taking the engineering and boilermaking, brass and copper and dock operatives in New South Wales, and comparing their numbers with the brass and copper workers, engine and machinery and iron industry employes of Victoria, as detailed in the return laid upon the table of the House, there are 5,528 hands employed in Victoria, as compared with 5,166 in New South Wales.
– I bring out an altogether different result.
-The return from which I obtained my figures is that furnished by the Ministry and laid before the House.
– That is the return upon which I have relied. Compare those engaged in engineering works in New South Wales with those employed in Victoria, and see what the result is.
– That would not be fair, because the engineering workers are divided into a greater number of classes in New South Wales than in Victoria.
– Why mention the dock employes ? What have they to do with engineering ?
– Does not the honorable member know that Mort’s Dock and Engineering Company in Sydney carry on one of the largest ironworks in Australia?
– They obtain more State assistance than any industry within the Commonwealth.
– I am not speaking about State assistance. Mort’s Dock and Engineering Works is one of the largest in the Commonwealth, and the men who are employed on ships should not be excluded from consideration, because nearly all ships are now constructed of iron. If the policy of the honorable member for Port Melbourne excludes ships and encourages the people who make what the ships carry, is he to get the credit for the labour employed in the making of the articles whilst his opponent is not to be credited with the labour employed in repairing the ships which bring them ?
– I only want like to be compared with like.
– The honorable member wants a comparison that will suit his own view. The honorable and learned member for Bendigo stated that the Australian ironworks could supply machinery as cheaply as it could be imported. If that statement is correct why do the local manufacturers need protection ?
– To steady the market.
– Surely the cost of conveying machinery and boilers from England to Melbourne and from Melbourne to Bendigo is a sufficient steadier for the Bendigo market.
– Boilers are conveyed from England to Australia as cheaply as from Sydney to Fremantle.
– They are not conveyed from England to Bendigo as cheaply as plates manufactured in England can be made into boilers in Bendigo. The honorable member stated that the Bendigo works could make machinery as cheaply as the English manufacturers, and if they can, they should not need protection. The aspect from which the honorable and learned member views this matter is shown when he states that the mining industry grows up beside the iron works. Now, I say it is the iron works which grow up beside the mining industry. The whole tendency of those who support the protectionist policy is to place the secondary industry in the more important position, although it could not exist without the primary industry. I would ask whether this duty is proposed for revenue or protectionist purposes. Those honorable members who have spoken in its support have advocated it as a protective duty, although it covers a large class of articles, and it can only be protective in regard to those articles which can be produced here. This protection gives to the manufacturer the power of levying duties which the Custom-house ought to collect. The duty cannot be protective in regard to that large class of articles which are patented - which can only be produced by plants out of all keeping with the requirements of Australia., and involving the use of patented machines. All this numerous class of articles will have to pay a heavy duty in order to gain admission to Australia.
– To what particular class of articles does the honorable member refer ?
– I have already told the honorable member, and I cannot be expected to go through a list which would be yards long for his enlightenment. There are such articles as Ihave referred to, and many of them, and if duty is charged upon them it will add to the cost of conducting certain industries. Now, does this seem reasonable ? It is proposed to protect certain industries, and to encourage new manufactures, and in order that these industries may be kept abreast of the times, and production may be cheapened so as to allow of competition with the world all the newest processes will have to be adopted, and the best appliances employed. Yet the first thing that is done when an attempt is made to bring new industries into existence or to extend their usefulness is to impose a tax of 25 per cent. upon the machinery required. Under all the circumstances, I think it would be infinitely better to abolish the duty than to retain it in its present form.
– A great deal of time to-day has been devoted to the question of the admissionof mining machinery, which the honorable member for the Barrier has moved shall be absolutely free. But while he and many others are anxious to see mining machinery admitted free, I do not think that such a course is desirable.
At the same time, I amsatisfied that we shall not be able to carry a duty of 25 per cent., and recognising that without machinery it is impossible to develop this great primary industry of Australasia, I desire to move as an amendment on the amendment that the duty on machinery be 15 per cent. I do not wish to occupy the time of the committee, but to get to business at once ; and I ask my free-trade friends to accept my suggestion as a compromise, without further debate.
– Sub mit the further amendment after the div on has been taken on the amendment be re us.
– If there is going to be a division on the question of free-trade, I am not so sure that I shall propose that the duty be 15 per cent.
– Think of the West Coast miners.
– I hope the honorable member for the Barrier will recognise that all laws are the result of compromise with stipulations. Reason must govern the world, because reason is, or ought to be, the basis of Christian civilization ; and when we refuse to reason, we return to savagery. I therefore ask the honorable member for the Barrier to withdraw hisfree-tradeamendment, and accept my amendment as a compromise, which will be fair all round. It will enable our great mining industry to be developed, and the difference, as shown in the cost of carriage for America and England, will help to make up the loss the local manufacturers will have to sustain.
– Might I ask that the course which has hitherto been adopted in discussing the Tariff be adhered to, and that there be a vote taken on the amendment which I have proposed. If we lose - which I hope and believe we shall not - then the amendment now suggested may be submitted, while if we win, nothing further need be done.
– The practice pointed out by the honorable member for Barrier has been adopted by the committee in the past, and I see no reason to make any alteration.
– Very well.
– I rise to point out the difficulties which inexperienced members, and those not expert on the Tariff question, have in ascertaining really what is covered by this item. The item may be described as covering a multitude of sins of the Tariff. To my surprise, I find that the item covers a lot of fencing material in the shape of standards, which hitherto, in some of the States at any rate, have been admitted free, and which are an actual necessity in places where timber is very scarce. In South Australia these standards and their fixings are largely used on all pastoral runs, and will be more extensively used in the future than in the past, because of sub-divisions and the necessity for vermin-proof fencing. And yet, under “ n.e.i.,” this fencing material will pay a duty of 25 per cent. On the northern system of the South Australian railway’s the large bulk of the fencing material for the support of the wires is formed of this very material, and I would ask the Minister whether he cannot see his way to admit it free. The standard to which I particularly refer is a patent, which in any case will have to be imported, so that there is no question of any local industry.
– There will be nothing to prevent the honorable member subsequently moving that this material be placed on the list of exemptions.
– There certainly ought to be a very considerable reduction in the proposedduty on mining machinery. In South Australia, and at Broken Hill and various other places, too much of the necessary raw material cannot be placed on the free list. I admit that this is a big item, having regard to the whole list. That, however, is more the fault of the Ministry, because it is not fair to honorable members to submit a proposition of this kind, which covers, perhaps, hundreds of lines under “n.e.i.” Honorable members, who would probably be prepared to support a duty on a number of the items for revenue purposes, are forced into the position of voting against the whole, which represents some £80,000 of supposed revenue.
– More than that.
– At any rate that much is represented. The honorable and learned member for Bendigo suggested that honorable members should discriminate as to the lines they want on the free list, and Ihave instanced fencing material as showing the difficulty of knowing what is really covered. In connexion with mining machinery, improvements are taking place every day, and a new invention may in a very short time put a machine out of date in the work of development.
I think it was the honorable member for the Barrier who referred to the fact that some machinery which was imported for the Broken Hill mines about a month prior to the introduction of the Tariff - machinery which was not obtainable in any part of Australia - would have to pay £2,500 in duty under the special circumstances which exist to-day.If we had a schedule of the various kindsof machinery covered by this item, we should be in a much better position to deal with it. In this connexion, I would ask. the Minister for Trade and Customs if it is not possible to furnish honorable members with a detailed list of the lines thus included, so that we may know exactly upon what articles this duty is to be imposed. I am satisfied that the item must cover over 100 different lines which are dutiable at 25 per cent. and I am convinced that a number of honorable members opposite would not be prepared to vote for the imposition of such a heavy rate if they knew exactly the articles upon which it was to be levied. I hope that the Minister, if he will notconsent to the inclusion of mining machinery’ in the free list, will agree to a substantial reduction of the duty proposed. If any State in the group has been benefited by the mining industry, it is South Australia, which has been rescued from an apparently hopeless position on three or four occasions by this great industry.
– In some of those cases the mines were within its own bounds.
– Exactly. I might, for instance, refer to Moonta and Kapunda. South Australia has also derived great benefit from the Broken Hill trade. There are millions of tons of low-grade ore in Broken Hill which can be treated by uptodate machinery with a small margin of profit, but for a considerable time, at any rate, that machinery must be imported from abroad, probably from America, where the manufacture of mining machinery has reached a very advanced stage. I cannot understand the terrible dread which some honorable members entertain that our local foundries will be closed, especially when we come to consider that the wages paid to the operatives in such establishments in America are in some instances higher than those which obtain in Australia, and that an enormous natural protection is represented by the freightage on foreign importations. The exceedingly heavy rates charged upon our railways for the carriage of machinery to miningfields, and the costly nature of its transit, where no railways exist - representing in some cases as much as £30 and £40 per ton - constitute a tremendous tax in themselves. Anything, therefore that we can possibly do to encourage the mining industry in Australia we ought cheerfully to undertake. There is an extensive tract of country in the Commonwealth which would be valueless were it not for its mineral deposits. I agree that mining upon this continent is merely in its infancy. I believe that in many parts of Australia the opening up in the future of a single mine will provide an amount of employment equal to that which is at present furnished by half the factories in Victoria, despite all the artificial encouragement which the latter have received. No industry gives a greater fillip to other industries than does that of mining. It has a special claim upon this House, because of the enormous cost involvedin the opening up of miningfields. The honorable and learned member for Bendigo has said that the foreign trader does not help the mines, but I have yet to learn that the manufacturer is any more of a philanthropist than is the importer.
– Is he not?
– Not in the slightest. The manufacturer does not put one cent into anything from philanthropic motives. He invests his money for the purpose of deriving some material benefit, exactly as the importer does. I venture to say that if we could get the share list of the mines throughout Australia, we should find that a very large number of importers contribute quite as much to the call-paying roll as do the manufacturers. We have seen from the returns which have been quoted to-day that the Broken Hill mines are almost upon the verge of closing down. I wish also to point out the different attitude taken up by protectionists in regard to their own pet industries. If honorable members look at the list of proposed amendments upon their files, they will see that the demand is that every fine of raw material required for the manufacturer shall be placed upon the free list. When we look down the schedule, it is evident that protectionists have no confidence in any man who is manufacturing machinery in Australia of the particular class they want ; because every line of such machinery is on the free list. The moment we put itto them that the made-up article of the primary producer is the manufactured article of the secondary producer or manufacturer, they say - “ We can make those in Australia.” But it is a singular fact, which that list will show, that there is hardly an implement or tool of trade used in their industries which they do not want to have on the free list. They care not a rap about an industry alongside of them. If that industry is struggling to turn out the very class of manufactured article which they require in connexion with their own industry, they say - “ We want this on the free list,” or they say that there is not a sufficient number of those articles used in the country to warrant the establishment of an industry for their manufacture. We have found the same thing in connexion with deputations waiting upon Ministers to get certain lines of goods on the free list. I say the whole thing is wrapped up in. selfishness. Alt kinds of articles which they require in connexion with their manufactures they want on the free list, and in addition they want to have the raw material they use also placed on the free list. I say at least let us have a few things, which mean life and death to the mining centres, on the free list, and if they are not to be placed on the free list do not put a duty of 25 per cent. on them, which really means over 100 per cent. when we come to consider the natural protection they have in the cost of bringing them here. Imagine a duty of 25 per cent. on boilers. An honorable member said we might bring out a cargo of boilers. Imagine a cargo of boilers coming out, and what would the freight on it be? Taking machinery as a whole, it will be found that, with the exception of furniture and bulky articles, there is no line of goods on which freight is higher. On our railwaysthe freight on mining machinery is reckoned in the same way, and there is a sufficiently heavy tax upon mining machinery - which may be required to develop resources a thousand miles from the sea-board - in the cost of bringing it from the sea-board. The least we can do is to puta moderate duty upon such machinery, and therecannot be two minds amongst honorable members that wherever it is possible we should put on the free list every line which is going to be of advantage in the production of minerals.
– The honorable member for South Australia has made a comparison between the manufacturer and the importer. He says that one is as much a philanthropist as the other. Possibly, they both act from motives of self-interest and, so far as that goes, their starting ground is the same. But the effect of the two classes upon the country is very different indeed. The importer buys in a foreign land, and covers his risk by insurance. He has always, either at sea or on shore, 20s. in the pound, less wear and tear perhaps. He has always that in hand, and is in a comparatively safe position. As a rule he can get the cost value for the article he imports when he cannot get his profit upon it. But in the case of the manufacturer in a new country, such as this, starting a new industry, he is in an entirely different position. He has. to put up his buildings, secure his plant, get his workmen, and provide them with their weekly wages ; then he has to purchase the raw material for his manufacture. When all that is done, he has to search out and compete for his market. So far as regards benefit to the country, there can be no comparison whatever between the importer and the manufacturer. To say that if we were a nation entirely of importers, it would be the same as if we were producing all we require for ourselves is simply arrant nonsense.
– If we did not produce we could not import, surely ?
– Of course not; and thereforethe more we encourage production the more we shall be able to import.
– We wish to encourage it by removing taxation upon it.
– We wish to encourage production by giving the work to our own’ people, and by increasing the wages fund of the country we shall have more money to spend on things we cannot produce ourselves. The honorable member for South Australia says that we desire to have on the free list every tool of trade used in connexion with our manufactures. I challenge that statement. It is not correct. What we desire to have admitted free are special or patented articles that are not made here, or articles one or two of which only are required to supply the wants of the whole country. Those are the only things we wish to have admitted free. They arenot things which can be made here at all, but, used in manufacture here, they will provide work for our own people;
I agree with the honorable member in his complaint about the vague and general way in which this item is drawn. If we consider what is included in this one item as stated here, we shall find that it covers scores of items upon which there were different duties under the Victorian Tariff. In the case of axles we had duties running from1s. an arm to 25 per cent., engines from 30 per cent. to free. In this item we have boilers along with screws ; engines along with cutlery ; and things which have no relation to each other are put under the same duty. It is very awkward, therefore, to come to a definite understanding as to what the duty should be in this case.I believe there are covered by this item some hundreds if not thousands ofdifferent articles. On many of those articles the duty should be 25 per cent., on some 20 per cent., on many 15 per cent., and a very great many of them should be free. Screws, for instance, should be free; we are not making them here. Another article largely used by the public is hollow- ware, which was free under the Victorian Tariff. We do not make hollowware, and we probably will not do so for a generation in this country, and I think it should also be admitted free. The main ground upon which the honorable member for Barrier has submitted his amendment, which I think he cannot have the remotest idea of carrying, because the committee will not be so unfair or prejudiced as to carry such a proposal, is that mining machinery ought to come in free. The honorable member, in advocating that mining machinery should be admitted free, took the opportunity of having a tilt at our colonial mining machinery. I ventureto say, and the honorable member’s speech discloses it, that he knows very little indeed of the subject upon which he was talking. He may know what machinery they have at Broken Hill, but he certainly does not know what machinery is made in theState of Victoria, or he would not have spoken as he did. In Bendigo, which is a much more important mining district than Broken Hill, which has been in existance for over 50 years, and where for the last 30 years there has been yielded a weekly average of from 3,000 to 4,000 ozs. of gold, we have seen the mining industry profitably carried on. and we have seen growing up enormous workshops employing a great number of hands, with the result that during thelast sixteen or twenty years there has not been a single new imported engine brought into the district. We have some hundreds of engines there, and there is scarcely one that is imported. Some may have been brought from other districts of Victoria, but nearly every plant we have in the district is of Ballarat, Castleraaine, or Bendigo manufacture. The honorable member comes now with a light heart and says we should have all this machinery admitted free. I am surprised that labour men should study only the particular labour that sends them here, and should be prepared to do what would throw out of employment 7,000 or 8,000 men engaged in these industries.
– Surely as many would be employed as in New South Wales.
– No, nothing like it. The honorable member for Maranoa has said that this is all for Victoria, but if we help manufactures here we shall be helping them in the same way in all of the States. With regard to mining machinery, the honorable member for Barrier spoke generally, and gave us no details. He did not mention one particular machine that is required, but dealt with mining machinery as a whole. This is a very general item, and covers not only mining machinery, but machinery which is used in other occupations. The honorable member spoke of a particular engine being worth £10,000. There is not one engine in Australia which by itself is worth that amount, or half of it. A great deal has been made of the protection afforded by the high freights from the old country. Iron work has been brought out from Great Britain to this country for as low as 7s. 6d. per ton freight. I admit that that was an exceptional case ; but a great deal of iron work is brought out here at a freight as low as 10s. per ton. To convey machinery from Bendigo to Broken Hill, or Western Australia, costs more than it does to bring it from America to this country. I was speaking recently to one of our oldest and most experienced mining inspectors, whom I met at the starting of some mining machinery, and questioned him particularly in regard to mining machinery. He has travelled in most of the States, and returned only recently from Broken Hill. I inquired how mining machinery made in Victoria compared with that in the other States, and especially with imported machinery. He replied, that there was no comparison whatever between them, and that we had nothing to learn from any country in this respect. He said - “I except, of course, special makes, but ordinary mining machinery manufactured elsewhere is not to be compared with that made in Victoria.” In Broken ‘Hill they have enormous plants, ill-constructed and badly designed, possessing weight where it is not required, and weakness where strength is necessary.
– The inspector knows nothing about silver mines.
– No doubt he does not know half as much about them as does the right honorable gentleman.
– Has he ever been in a silver mine 1
– He had just returned from Broken Hill when I saw him, and he spoke of what he had seen himself. It has been said during this debate that wire rope used for mining purposes is dutiable under this Tariff. As a matter of fact it is not.
– But Manilla ropes, which are used by the poor miners, are dutiable.
– I quite agree that patent machinery s’hould come in free, provided that care is taken to discriminate between such machines when they are passing through the Customs. Where a new patent is introduced, either in mining or agricultural machinery, there should be no bar to its entry into the country, so that our mechanics may learn to copy it and the public be benefited. But a machine that has simply a small patent attached to it should not- be allowed to come in free. We know that the country which has been pointed to so frequently during this debate - America - has long been the home of patent- machinery, and that the greatest improvements in machinery are made there. We know that the invention and construction of machinery there have been stimulated by the establishment of workshops all over the country, and by the freedom of the patent laws. By reason of these facilities young men have been enabled to use their brains, and they have been encouraged especially by means of direct rewards. In that way, and by the imposition of protective duties, the manufacture of machinery has increased there until its completeness has become the wonder of the world. If we are not to follow on the same lines, how are we going to stimulate our people to invent and to construct the machinery required in all our productions ? What we have done already in this direction may be seen in our agricultural implements. The manufacture of agricultural machinery here has been stimulated, and our manufacturers have been encouraged, with the result that we have harvesting machinery superior to any to be found. That would not have been possible but for our workshops. With regard to this duty, I am sorry, as the honorable member for South Australia, Mr. Poynton, has said, that we have not a schedule of the machines in this item, even if it were only a rough one, because it is most difficult to discriminate between them. There are a number of articles in the item which should come in free. On others there should be a duty of 25 per cent., but I think that a great many should come in at 15 per cent. I do not agree with the honorable member for Tasmania, Mi-. O’Malley, that a sweeping reduction should be made all round, but I think we ought to have a schedule so that we may impose a duty which will be “fair. I would ask honorable members to consider that we must have a compromise Tariff. We find that in the various States the duties on the articles under this heading have run from 30 per cent, down to the free list. We do not wish to be discussing this Tariff for ever. I presume we want to get away, and I would say, therefore, that as we have adopted certain lines in other cases we should go upon them again, and by means of fair compromise come to a speedy conclusion of this debate. I would’ ask the Minister to say whether he cannot differentiate between a number of articles included in this item, so that we may be able to put a fair duty on those that require a duty, and allow a large number of articles to come in free which should be free.
– I think the committee generally will consider that the item before us is one of considerable importance, and that there is no waste of time involved ‘ in the discussion which has taken place, or may take place, upon it. The matter was put from both sides very vividly at the beginning of the debate by the honorable member why moved the omission of these duties, and bv the honorable and learned member for Bendigo who took up the opposite position, and seemed to be perfectly convinced of the accuracy of his views. It is rather puzzling,
I must say, to find in the presence of so strong a faith in the wonderful advantages of these protective duties, such a disposition to compromise. Is it fair to the people of Australia that a system which will impose no burdens upon the people, which will, on the contrary., without imposing any burdens upon a single human being or upon a single great industry, assure to the people in all our industries these vital blessings - cheapness, the best of quality, the best of suitability, and, upon the top of all that, the development of Australian industry - should be abandoned?. A policy which will, without placing a burden upon anything in the country, assure cheaper, better, and more suitable goods than we can’ obtain elsewhere, and at the same time found a large number of national industries, is one about which there should be no compromise because there is nothing to lose.
– The right honorable member ought to come over here.
– I am trying to represent the views of my honorable friends on the other side. These are not my views. I wish my honorable friends, who speak so eloquently and earnestly, to give some assurance of the faith which is in them in moulding this Tariff, because a policy which will do all the things which have been urged in favour of this duty of 25 per cent, on mining machinery, is one which should be pushed to the point of prohibition for the benefit and protection of the people all round. If my belief were the same as that of honorable members opposite, I think I should stand a little more strongly by such a grand national policy. It must be a source of deep regret to some honorable members that the Tariff is being steadily improved in accordance with the views of His Majesty’s Opposition, if it be possible to improve a thing of this kind. Improvement is very difficult because, of course, we are working upon opposite lines. The Government brought in a tolerably sound protective Tariff. Putting the Maitland speech aside, the Tariff is a very cleverly constructed protective Tariff, and conveys the appearance at certain points of an anxiety for the public .revenue. But instead of standing up for the Tariff as introduced, a number of honorable members opposite have helped as to make great alterations. From a selfish point of view, the more incomplete, defective, unjust, and irritating the Tariff as finally settled may be, the better it will be foi- those who opposed it. But, of course, we have no rightto put such contemptible considerations before our duty to the public. We, on this side, who consider that the Tariff has been moulded upon absolutely wrong principles, have a very difficult task in endeavouring to alter it : but it must be understood that ‘ we in no sense recognise the Tariff when altered as being founded upon sound principles. It is impossible to create a hybrid production such as this Tariff will be without having a number of striking anomalies and hardships which will make it a source of oppression and hardship, and something which must be radically altered at the earliest opportunity possible. At the same time it is clearly the duty of the members of the Opposition, if we cannot get our own way entirely, to strive to bring the rates imposed on every important item down as nearly as possible towards a point at which we could consider them fair. My line of action here will be this - I shall endeavour to carry out my views in their entirety, and, if that is impossible, I shall try to give as much effect to them as I can by voting for the reduction of duties which I cannot get rid of altogether. But under no circumstances will the Opposition consider themselves responsible for this Tariff. If we clear awa)’ some of the misunderstandings which have arisen, it will be found that there are not so many grievous gaps between f ree-traders and protectionists as some people think, though there are many. For instance, we free-traders have no sort of animosity against manufacturing industries, or against any policy which will tend to develop in the country as many industries as possible. In no sense -do we desire to retard the development of inventive skill or of the higher forms of industry. But we think that’ it is extremely difficult to act fairly by all in endeavouring to legislate in favour of any particular class or of any particular industry. If this policy could work all round, its absurdity would become more obvious. Tt is not reduced to an utter absurdity, because it is not pressed to it fullest extent. But when the honorable and learned member for Bendigo pleads the cause of the engineers and boiler-makers of that town, as a class who ought not to be exposed to the cruel brunt of unrestricted competition, does it occur to him that nine- tenths of the working people of Australia cannot be rescued from such competition? Take the industry of the miner, or of the farmer, for example. Do we not know that their whole prospects, I do not say of a fortune or of a large return,but of merely making a bare living, depend upon the fluctuations of prices in markets thousands of miles beyond the limits of our legislative power ? That is one of the hard facts which we must take into account. Coming from the country to the great cities of the continent, withtheir buildings full of clerks and shopman, and their streets crowded with drivers of vehicles, do we not know that there is no law in the country which will prevent any man from taking the first empty shop and exposing the adjoining shopkeeper, who has built up a business by perhaps twenty years of honest industry to all the cruelty and unfairness of competition ? The law of competition presses upon every man, and if we are to have regard to its incidental evils and hardships we should make an effort to screen the whole community from them. It is a strong departure to select only particular classes for protection. Should we not all rejoice if the honorable and learned member for Bendigo could tell us that the great body of working men in Melbourne earn from 9s. to11 s. a day, and should we not be prepared to vote solidly for any legislative enactment which would ensure to the workers of Australia as a body a similar wage ? Our indictment against protection is that, whilst it may incidentally favour a few, and give them high wages, the benefits which they obtain come out of the pockets of persons who receive very much less. Some of us cannot look with unalloyed pleasure at the factories in Bendigo, where men may earn 11s. a day, when we know that they are being supported by thousands of miners in this country who, as tributors, earn only 25s. or 30s. a week.
– And some of them much less.
– Is it not time that we thought also of the great mass of labourers who enjoy none of the advantages of protection, and upon whom we are asked to place such heavy burdens? It may be right that my honorable and learned friend should see that Bendigo is looked after, but we have to see that Australia is looked after, and we, in dealing withthe mining industry, are on very broad Australian ground. In no sense is it a Victorian or New South Wales industry. It is a thorough Australian industry, which is one of the strongest ‘elements, nob only in the present strengthof each and every State, but in the prospects of the whole continent. If there is an industry which should command earnest attention at our hands it is the mining industry. But, as I have said, my honorable friends opposite assure us that theseduties will entail no sorb of burden or injustice on the mining community. One does look for some sort of consistency in dealing with these vital matters. Some of those honorable members who have made that statement have notices on this paper asking that certain forms of machinery used in agriculture shall be put on the free list. Why should we have the free list filled with selected forms of machinery used in any particular industry if there is no hardship to be remedied, ifthe fact of putting them on the free list will expose Australia to all the dreadful evils to which my honorable friends have referred ? We Shall have shoddy machinery ; we shall have dearer machinery ; we shall have an article which will be an injury to all and an advantage to none. The public have a right to expect at least this sort of consistency, that if honorable members assert as a fact that these duties do insure greater cheapness and better quality, they should be applied for the benefit of the farmers and every one else, as well as the miners of Australia. I take up this notice-paper, and I find the honorable member for Echuca intimating that he intends to move that traction-engines, cast-steel shares known as Hornsby’s, and reaper and hay knives be placed on the free list. Does he mean to tell us that the industrial wonders of Victoria have not yet reached the level of making a hay knife, or a reaping knife, or a traction-engine - that this cannot be done by men who are equal to transmuting into mechanical shape all the most difficult contrivances known throughout the world, and which are requiredin developing our mining industries at the present time? How is it that traction-engines must be dragged out of this industrial paradise for the benefit of the hated, greedy, unscrupulous importer? Why should the curse of an imported traction-engine, or hay knife, or reaper, he inflicted on Australia ‘i Then the honorable member for Wimmera goes further. He insists that seed drills, plough and trace chains, and type - a curious mixture - shall be placed on the free list. Surely the marvellous industrial development which can solve the difficulties of constructing mining machinery, is equal to the construction of seed drills, or plough chains, or type ! The young and amiable member for Darling Downs wants a number of agricultural implements and machines to be placed on the free list, and he names them as follows : -
Acme harrows, cane shavers, cane shredders, circular coulters, cultivators, dairy refrigerators, drill wheel hoe cultivator, fertilizer and drill combined, grain mills, hushers and shelters, horse rakes, milking machine, mowers, potato raisers, root cutters, scufflers, steam ploughs, sulky ploughs, straw stackers, threshers, tractionengines.
The honorable and learned member considers that these are things beyond the industrial skill of Australia, beyond . the circle within which people can get things so cheap and so good. In one breath, certain honorable members say that the importer is a hated, unscrupulous person, but in the next breath they say that he is philanthropic enough to pay the whole of the duty. It is rather a puzzling sort of picture which at one time represents the importer as that widely benevolent individual who pays the duties on goods imported. and does not pass them on to the customer, and in another depicts him as the most selfish of his class. These attacks upon classes of men engaged in different industries are entirely unworthy of us.
– Hear, hear.
– On our side I admit we have got occasionally into the trick of using the term “ manufacturer “ in the way of reproach. We are not quite perfect yet, and one proof of it is that we occasionally speak of manufacturers as if they were to be singled out from the other classes of the community for reprobation.
– And we have never called them robbers !
– Even for the sake of freetrade, I cannot say that we have not. At this time of day, on both sides, we might try to avoid these attacks on different classes, whether manufacturers or importers. If tlie country think it well to impose protective duties, we have no right to complain of any man of capital and enterprise putting his money into the industries which it invites him to establish. For even broader reasons we have no light to look on a man who is engaged in commerce as if he were to be singled out by some moral obliquity from the rest of his species. He has a useful office to fill, too, and probably he is quite as respectable and just as is any other class in the community. We shall get rid of a number of embarrassing personalties if we try to look at the question quite away from the individuals who may happen to be engaged in these respective industries. But that is not all, sir. I have before me what the Government have already done, perhaps in some cases not so rauch by their own initiative as from the force of some division.
– Always that.
– I do not wish to put the Government in any unfair position, but I take up the item which is before the committee. The honorable member for Barrier proposes that engines, boilers, pumps, machines, and machinery n.e.i., also screws n.e.i., axles, springs, and plated and mixed metal-ware, including plated cutlery, shall be placed on the free list. What an extraordinary assortment of articles is contained in this item. Surely the skill of my distinguised friend, the Minister for Trade and Customs, should have been equal to placing plated cutlery somewhere away from engines and boilers, but I suppose the magic .letters, n.e.i., are responsible for a number of these ill-assorted families. It is admitted that tlie mines, upon which the bread of thousands of families depend to-day, are in a position of great trial and difficult)’, and that within a short period thousands of men engaged in the mining industry in one part of Australia have had to leave work, owing to the low price “of their products in the markets of the world. This is the fact which the honorable member for Barrier has brought before us. Without being offensive to anyone, I say. that the largeness and tenderness of heart which made my Victorian friends gather as one phalanx round the two or three men and boys who are making horse-shoe nails in Melbourne, and around those who are making starch and blue and a hundred other things in Melbourne, should be shown on behalf of some of the people who do not live in Melbourne. When I appeal to this committee for some sort of kindness towards the embarrassed mining industry, I am speaking not only for my own colony, but for South Australia, the prosperity of which I think the Minister for Trade and Customs will admit is affected in a most substantial way by the continuance of the mining industry at Broken Hill. Thus we see that we are speaking on a broader basis in dealing with this particular set of mines than in connexion with some other matters to which 1 have referred. Now, what does this mean ? It is said that this is a proper duty - this 25 per cent, duty, which is 10 per cent, more than the rate imposed upon agricultural machinery, and that in itself is a monstrous distinction. It is said that this 25 per cent, duty is necessary for the benefit of the miners at Broken Hill. Was not a duty on machinery necessary for the benefit of those who have embarked their capital in woollen manufactures and in the various trades connected with clothing ? I find that even the small tools used in the hat factories, and shirt factories, and slop factories are all on the free list. Surely the giant development of industrial skill and enterprise, to which allusion has been made, has- overtaken the problem of making machines and tools of the description to which I am about to refer. I find that five engines, for instance, are on the free list. Is there any marvellous patent or mystery involved in the making or construction of a fire engine ? Is not that one of the engines which these great Victorian manufacturers could make ? I should think so. Why should fire engines be placed on the free list ? Were they not placed there so that those who were engaged in the laudable task of keeping down fires might be enabled to get their fire engines at a cheaper price? For what other purpose would our friends put fire engines on the free list? Out of the thousand engines used in the various industries of Australia, why should this particular engine be placed upon the free list? Was it in order to make it dearer and to allow the foreign manufacturer to supply us with rotten engines, that would not last? Was the competition thrown open to the whole world, so that we should be able to obtain an inferior article ? There is a certain amount of inconsistency about this. Why did not .my honorable and learned friend, who does not wish to see property given to the flames in Victoria, insist that the placing of fire engines on the free list would expose us to the foreign shoddy that is sent to us from abroad? Why should not the giant arm of Victorian enterprise embrace fire engines as well as other engines ? Why should fire engines be taken out of the clutch, of the Victorian manufacturer ? We must assume, with the present administration in power, that they were placed on the free list with a very good object. Now, coming a little lower down, we find machinery for scouring, washing, carding, spinning, weaving, and finishing the manufacture of fibrous materials placed on the free list. Surely the industry for the manufacture of woollen goods, which has the advantage of a protective duty, might be left within the sphere of the taxed machinery ? If men who have to sell their lead in Europe and London at ruination prices, in competition with the coloured labour of the world, are left out in the cold ; or if it is unfair to them to “leave them out in the cold, why are some honorable members so industrious, and so particular, and so precise, as to add to the protection given to other industries the benefits of free - trade in machinery at the same time ? What greater degree of free-trade could there be than free-trade in the machinery necessary for making woollen goods? If a duty on machinery, is good enough for the struggling miners throughout Australia, is it not good enough for the woollen companies of Ballarat and Melbourne f These are things regarding which we should like some explanation. Then, whilst linotypes and machines of that sort are open to special observations as highly complicated and patented articles, printing machines and presses are also on the free list. Sewing machine heads, stitching machines, and typewriters are also on the free list. Now we come to something else.
– It would be better to cometo the item under discussion.
– Most intelligent men, in dealing with a complicated matter of this sort, would derive some light from the way in which other articles, falling under another heading, are dealt with. In the country I come from a certain amount of respect was paid to that method of treatment. Now we come to a much lower grade of articles than the complex mining machinery which is used for dealing with the treasures of the earth. In the free list is included -
Machine tools used in the following industries and specified in departmental by-laws : - Apparel and attire making, bookbinding, bootmaking, brushmaking, glossmaking and working, hatmaking, indiarubber working, leather dressing, metal working, paper cutting, finishing, and folding, stone working, tile, pipe, and brick making.
Why should all these industries, which are covered by a protective duty on the articles they make, have their tools of trade placed on the free list, whilst the mining industry, whose product gets not a shred of protection, is called upon to pay a duty of 25 per cent. Is not this adding a little grease to the pig - to the fatted calf. These are considerations which do not occur to gentlemen . whose eyes for so many years have been steadily fixed on the industries of Melbourne. But this is an Australian Parliament, and we are dealing with a system of taxation that will affect every mining field in Australia. We must try to do something for the miners after the fashion of what we have done for the benefit of the slopmakers and the bootmakers, who are all worthy men, following worthy industries. All I say is that if the industries which have been given duties have the benefit of machines and tools on the free list, then those who get no benefit from protective duties ought to have the same privilege. If it is not to the benefit of industries that this treatment should be given them, we had better put all these tools and machines back on the dutiable list, in order to be consistent. Then I see that amongst the special exemptions is copper in bars, sheets, pipes, and so on. Well, we have copper in the Commonwealth, which has to be sold in competition in the markets of the whole world, and we have tin, which is subject to the same conditions. We have lead, which comes from the very mines which are in the difficult position that has been indicated. Each one of these three raw materials is on the free list; there is no protection for the Australian copper miner, tin miner, or lead miner. Lead was subject to a duty of £2 per ton, but by some marvellous piece of consideration that little shred of benefit, if there be any benefit, was taken away. What sort of consistency is there in the work we are doing at the present time? If there is a principle involved in doing nothing for miners in the way of putting mining machines on the free list, ought we not for the same reason to put other machines on the dutiable list ? But, of course, one feels discouraged by the fact that no matter what one says - and I make this remark in all fairness - many of my honorable friends are in such a position, from their public principles and statements to the electors, that one cannot expect them to go as far as we go. I quite admit that men must be consistent with their publicprinciples and professions to the electors, and, therefore, I cannot fairly ask a protectionist, or I suppose I cannot -
– Make the duty 15 percent.
– I am speaking of putting the whole of this machinery on the free list. I admit that a protectionist member may fairly say - “I came in as a protectionist, and cannot vote for admitting these goods free ;I may, in view of the whole of the circumstances we are dealing with now, go down to a 10 per cent. or 15 per cent. duty, but I cannot vote for a free list.” I do not wish or expect any man to act dishonourably by the electors, and I have a feeling that, as the House is constituted, there is a fair majority of gentlemen in the chamber whose pledges prevent their doing what we ask. But still honorable members will see that although that is so,we, from our point of view, have to do our duty to our electors before whom we expressed different principles. I do not want to take up an unfair amount of time in dealing with this matter, unless there is any attempt to drive ; and if there is any such attempt, we know what the results are. I would much rather that our time should always be devoted to a profitable discussion of the items, and, therefore, I shall curtail my remarks to a great extent on the present occasion, feeling that so far as generalities are concerned they have been sufficiently dealt with. But before I sit down, I may be pardoned if I make one or two further observations. The honorable and learned member for Bendigo seems to think that the whole matter is settled, when he states that there is a certain number of men at Bendigo earning certain wages. Every intelligent free-trader admits that this is only a matter of money. We can produce in any country any conceivable article at once if we have money enough to do so, and are willing to spend that money. The expression is often used, on both sides of the House, though not so much on the opposition as the Government side - “ I am in favour of protecting anything that can be produced in the country.” It is a loose expression, and the more accurate sense, and probably the sense in -which it is generally intended is - “ Anything -which can be profitably produced.” ‘The introduction of that one word “ profitably” throws a flood of light on the whole question. The moment we come to the question of profitable labour, we see the distinction - a most valuable and vital distinction - between finding work for men to do which is a loss to the community, and finding work which is a profit to the community. I suppose there is more labour involved in attempting to climb a greasy pole than in any honest, profitable occupation. Would it follow, if we set the whole of the working men of Victoria attempting to climb a greasy pole for eight hours a day at 10s. - and they would fully earn it - that that industry was in a flourishing condition in this State? Protectionists have only solved half the industrial question when they point to any particular development of an industry. There is another question - did that development of industry cost the people more than a development in another direction ? Is it not at least possible that the energies of a whole community who are left alone to develop the broad, obvious, natural wealth of the country, may produce a greater degree of abundance and prosperity than the energies of men who have tasks set them by Acts of Parliament ? Do not let any one think that, because we are free-traders, we believe in idleness, or do not believe in Australian industry. Instead of taking up the time of the committee with long lists of details, it ought to be seen that there is the one simple fact standing out. According to protectionists, if there are two countries in the world which should be going downhill, or which should be buffeted about at the mercy of all the other countries, those two are Great Britain and New South Wales. Great Britain has stood a good deal of buffeting amongst the nations of the world, and is at the head of them all to-day. As for New South Wales, as she stood two years ago, without this elaborate system of throwing a mesh of taxation over the industrial community, so she stands to-day with as many men employed in her factories as are employed in the factories of Victoria. When my honorable friend spoke of the mines springing up beside the factories he rather reversed the operations under which nations grow. If there is one truth obvious in the history of the development of all countries, it is that at first the pastoral industry and then the agricultural industry springs into existence, and when these have established themselves, villages and towns grow of themselves. When men tell me that if Australia does not impose these heavy duties she will never have manufacturing industries, they speak in a way which strikes me as being a trill e extravagant Why with the very growth of a town a number of industries must spring up. If we were all afflicted with a mania to buy everything we require in England, we should still have to depend upon Australian industries for a number of things in our daily work and wants. Out of that nucleus of absolute necessity, and without any fostering or artificial stimulus, as the country grows the riper forms of industry- will begin to develop. That was the process in a sister State, where the wages are at least as high as they are in Victoria, and where the comforts of life are indulged in at least as freely. There were two processes going on. Those processes have now been arrested, so that we are denied a chance of seeing any further phase in the development of these interesting- problems. I’ der sire to be understood as taking so strong a stand in connexion with this matter, because I honestly believe that the policy which I am advocating is the best for all our industries. But if we depart from the broad path which deals with matters of first principles, and if we listen to the voice of humanity and tenderness and consideration, then I say that, out of the hearts which can open so freely to the artisans of Melbourne, we want some little gush of sympathy for the pioneers of Australia.
– I must congratulate the right honorable member upon having spoken for a considerable time in regard to the item before the Chair, and upon having said very little about it. At least, he accomplished, the feat of sitting down without telling the committee what he intended to do. He told us that he did not intend to. do this, that, and the other, without giving, us the slightest idea as to what he did intend. I venture to say that a great many of his remarks were rather wide of the subject under discussion, but probably the truth is that, in his absence - which we all regret - he has accumulated a number of observations which he was bound to fire off at the earliest opportunity. Now that he has got rid of them I hope that he will respect parliamentary procedure and practice, and not occupy valuable time with irrelevant matter. I was delighted more particularly by the indignant way in which he repudiated the suggestion of one of his lieutenants, that at no time had the charge of robbery been levelled against manufacturers. I felt sure that his regard for fact would induce that refutation, which I was delighted to hear. I take this opportunity of saying that I hope I have never used any words which reflected unfairly upon importers. Had I done so, I should have been very sorry, but I feel that my conduct in the past in this respect has been so irreproachable that no stigma can possibly attach to me. The importer and the manufacturer are both out for business. Both are made of the same clay. They want to make money, and that is the reason they embark in trade. We have no right to institute comparisons to the disadvantage of one, Or to the particular advantage of the other. But I do say - and 1 hold this view most strongly - that the operations of the manufacturer are far and away more to the advantage of the State in which he conducts his business than are those of the importer.
– If they do not cost too much.
– If they do not cost the country too much. What we know is that in the case of the employer there is capital available for the purchase of the goods. The goods come out here. They may be, as stated by the chief lieutenant of the Opposition, “the sweepings of the world.” They are got as cheap as cheap can be. Not one penny of their cost goes in tlie employment of a single Australian hand. They come here and are sold under circumstances in which they compete very harshly with the products of the Australian manufacturer, who spends his capital in the employment of men, and who has to pay higher wages. In the one case all the money goes out of the country, whilst in tlie other it is spent locally in the employment of men, whose wages find their way into other channels, so that it is not only of direct advantage to themselves but to others dependent upon them, and is, indeed, for the good of all. What does the manufacturer do ? He builds or rents his factory - either are equally good for the land-holder - spends his money in the employment of men and the purchase of machinery which may be “locally produced, which is a most distinct gain to all in the State. But I feel that I am likely to imitate the example of the leader of the Opposition, by indulging in a general discussion when I have not the same excuse for so doing. I have not been absent from this chamber for the time that he has, and, therefore, I shall proceed to deal more closely with the matter immediately before us. The right honorable member for East Sydney said that he was against compromise. He scoffed at anything in the shape of compromise being entertained in connexion with this matter. I want to define precisely the position of the Government in this respect. We desire to carry this Tariff subject to any necessary amendments. During the past few weeks of the debate . nothing has been more constant than the cry of the Opposition, “ Meet us half-way ; compromise, compromise !”
– No, No.
– Undoubtedly. It would have been a great deal better if the leader of the Opposition had made himself acquainted with what has taken place in this chamber, and had endeavoured to steer a consistent course. The cry of honorable members opposite time and again has been “ Compromise, compromise !” We do not wish to compromise unnecessarily. We should like to get what we believe in, and to get it to the fullest extent, but if we cannot get all that we want we will get all that we can.
– We have had to fight for everything that we have got.
– In some cases we have met honorable members. In a variety of instances arrangements h«,ve been made upon the floor of the House between the Opposition and the Government, as well as between other sections of it, which have resulted in compromises that are satisfactory to all.
– It is not absolutely “ satisfactory to all, but when we could not get the best, we went for the next best.
– A compromise is not generally absolutely satisfactory to either of the parties to it, but it is a fair and proper thing under the circumstances, and I venture to hold that itwill be a mistake if, upon matters of detail at least, a spirit of compromise is altogether rejected, and we are to refuse to listen to strong arguments in favour of a medium course. One matter has been brought under our notice by the honorable member for the Barrier, and I would ask honorable members to consider this item as regards what is proposed and what the amendment is. The item which we have before us deals with manufactures of metals n.e.i. and with expressed inclusions of certain goods. It includes a variety of articles, but mining machinery is the chief article included, and under the item it is estimated that a total revenue of £280,000 will be received. When honorable members consider that the proposition of the honorable member for Barrier is practically to strike out all these items, and transfer them to the free list, with a resulting loss of over £250,000, I am sure that they will not be long in coining to the conclusion that an amendment of that sort cannot be entertained for a moment.
Mr.Reid. - Then the right honorable gentleman does expect them to be imported, and the duty paid upon them ? We were told there would not be a penny of duty paid.
– The interjection of the leader of the Opposition amuses me. I told the committee time andagain what was expected. I am only too delighted to hear the right honorable gentleman, but I like the laugh best that is genuine, and that mirthless giggle, which we sometimes hear, is not so happy in its results as some people may imagine. What we stated at the very earliest moment was that the Tariff was designed for the double purpose of revenue and protection. In connexion with this item we expect revenue from the importations which will take place, and we expect also protection as regards the items which may be affected by the protective incidence of revenue duties. All revenue duties to some extent operate protectively incidentally. We explained our proposals in connexion with this item, and gave honorable members details as to what was expected from it at the earliest possible moment. They have the figures before them, which show that we expect under this item a matter of £280,000 revenue. Do honorable members really wish to strike out that item? I think not.
– I do.
– The honorable member for the Barrier is a type of the extreme party. I believe he is one of the most genuine free-traders in this House. We have proposed this line in this form, and honorable members in discussing it have selected simply mining machinery while, of course, a number of other items are also under consideration. What I wish honorable members to do is to recognise the matter from this point of view : Let us take a division, say on the n.e.i., at first, for the purpose of ascertaining the highest rate at which any of the residue should be taxed. Then let us proceed with the discussion of the various lines in detail to determine what items should be included in that residue. Of course, we can put any item, mining machinery it may be, on the free list or at a reduced rate, but unless we determine that no item whatever shall be subjected to a taxation of 25 per cent. we must reject the proposal of the honorable member for Barrier. I would put it to the honorable member that, free-trader as he undoubtedly is, he must recognise our revenue necessities, and 1 do not think that on the fullest consideration he would wish to wipe out this line, lock, stock, and barrel. I venture to consider, therefore, that it would be for the far greater convenience of the committee if he accepted my suggestion not to take a division upon his present proposal, but to deal first with the n.e.i. - come to a decision as to whether the duty there shall be 25 per cent. or 20 per cent. and then proceed in accordance with the practice we have adopted in all other cases in connexion with this Tariff, of considering the details, and distributing them here and there wherever we think they ought to go, according to the wishes of the majority of the committee. I am sure honorable members will be sorry to depart from the practice that has hitherto obtained, and which I believe has worked with advantage. The intention of the Government is to give the committee the fullest opportunity of dealing with the matter in detail as they please. We have no intention of springing anything upon the committee in the shape of a block vote, or of supporting anything in the shape of a block vote, to induce the committee to come toa conclusion which we could not support, without the fullest consideration. Our wish, I believe, is in accordance with that of a large majority of the committee. The right honorable the leader of the Opposition has said that he does not believe there is as much difference between protectionists and free-traders as might appear at first sight, and the position the Government take is the same as that which they took in connexion with agricultural machinery. We wish to protect, but we do not wish, where there is no reasonable probability of the goods being manufactured here, to put on a protective duty. In such cases a revenue duty will at least be sufficient if, indeed, those goods are not admitted free. There is nothing I should like more strongly to repudiate than the suggestion that we wish to tax goods at protective rates when they are not likely to be manufactured in Australia, or are not properly the subject of protective taxation. I cannot put it too strongly in that respect, and if I repeat myself in this connexion I ask the indulgence of tlie committee for the reason that I should be sorry that, where we are so nearly agreed, there should, in the absence of a full explanation on the part of the Government, be any misunderstanding between! those who I believe can for the good of Australia be led to act in cooperation in this important matter.. We do not wish to protect that which cannot be reasonably made here. When from the nature of the instrument, and the rareness with which it would be wanted in Australia, or from any other cause, we cannot by a reasonable protective duty enable it to be manufactured here, so as to compete with the imported article, then I say away with the protective duty, and we have only the right to ask for a revenue tax, if indeed such articles might not fairly, in the interests of industry, be allowed to come in free.
– That is all we are asking for.
– I believe that is all , honorable members generally are asking for. And in that spirit let us reason together, and, so far as we can, adopt the practice we adopted in dealing with agricultural machinery, of exempting all which we cannot satisfactorily make here. I venture to consider that in connexion with agricultural machinery the subject was very fairly discussed, and very reasonable conclusions come to in all tlie circumstances. We have only to apply bur minds to the various items in connexion with this line to arrive at, probably, similarly happy results.
– What is the proposition as regards mining machinery ?
– The proposition as regards mining machinery is 25 per cent. duty. I believe there is little, if any, mining machinery which cannot reasonably be made here. Let me take the committee further into my confidence. When we rose, but a month ago, I felt that the committee would desire information, so far as it was obtainable, as to what machinery we could produce, and what we could not produce. To that end I gave instructions to my officers to make the fullest inquiry into the subject. The information which I have received from them is that there is little, if any, mining machinery which we cannot produce.
– Did they make their inquiries from the persons who were making the machinery, or from those who were buying the machinery 1
– I suppose they made inquiries from both. They are intelligent men. They were given earle blanche. No Minister requiring information of the character to which I refer would for a moment limit the sources from which his officers should obtain it.
– Was it an open inquiry by an officer 2
– This is the first we have heard of it. We have seen nothing about it in the newspapers.
– The honorable member has some new ideas of the way in which an officer conducts his inquiries. An officer goes out and obtains his information as best he can.
– Did the officer go to Broken Hill and make inquiries from the men working there ?
– I do not know that he did.
– Then it is a very valuable report.
– The information which I have received in this respect is confirmed by one fact which is patent to-day. Time after time the challenge has been thrown out to honorable members to state what mining machinery cannot be produced here. There is the honorable member for Barrier - a good member too, and a friend of mine. Can he specify any machine which cannot be produced locally ?
– Fire engines cannot be manufactured here.
– We will come to that in one moment. If the honorable member for Barrier can specify any machine which cannot be produced in Australia, I promise him the fullest inquiry into the subject. I will place an officer at his disposal to assist him in exploring all sources of information. I venture to suggest that in matters of this sort, honorable members should freely accept the statement of the Government of what their wishes are, and the means which they have taken to ascertain the facts. Then they should assist us in regard to the facts. Those honorable members who say we cannot manufacture some of these machines, should tell us what they are. If they can show that a machine cannot be made here, then we will put it on the free list.
– All patented machinery.
– Patented machinery ? I cannot be caught with chaff of that sort ! If we were to accept a broad definition of that kind, we might, by the patenting of some small matter in connexion with mining machinery, have to permit the free admission of all the mining machinery in the world into Australia, and destroy the benefits which are intended to be conveyed by protection in connexion with these manufactures. I venture to think I have made a fair offer. Can any honorable member suggest a fairer one? Are we agreed that it is a reasonable thing to protect machinery which can be manufactured here at a reasonable price ?
– So far as regards those honorable members - there may not be many - who hold that it is unfair to give reasonable protection, I cannot argue with them. We believe in incidental protection in connexion with this particular matter. We propose it and we hope that the committee will proceed to discuss the item on the basis to which I have referred. Let us decide what the general rates for all these residuary manufactures of metal are, and then let us, as in previous cases, proceed to the discussion of a definition of articles which we intend to include, or which any honorable member can show good cause for excluding from this list.
– How can we do that when they are not placed before us ?
– Are honorable members grumbling about something of which they know nothing ?
– There are over 100 articles in the list.
– Are those the things which ought not to be protected ?
– A number of them should not be protected.
-The honorable member knows that ?
– Then he should tell us what they are.
– Even clips on penholders are included in this list.
– Will the honorable member move to exclude them ? Are they the nearest approach to mining machinery to which the honorable member can get in one effort ?
– Then there is the patent fencing to which I have referred.
– I think I have said enough to show what is the position taken up by the Government.I do not want to go over all the points which have been put, but a great deal has been said about Broken Hill. I dare say I was interested in Broken Hill before the honorable member for Barrier was, and I think that I have many good friends there. I should be sorry to do anything to the disadvantage of Broken Hill, or to the disadvantage of any section of the community. I should be sorry to do an injustice to any section. We do a good deal for the workers. At the least, we do the best that we can for them. Of course, in connexion with our mining resources the wealth is the produce of the mine. It has to be obtained. There is the labour in digging it out. . Machinery and men are employed. Then there are the men who make the machinery, who are capable of employment, and the men who use the machinery to dig out the wealth. The position is this : Everything that we could possibly do, or that we have thought of yet, has been done for the men. What was the chief work of the session last year? Additional precautions for the protection of our white workers from unfair competition, for their protection against workers under contractand black men, and further, steps for the deportation of certain coloured workers who are here already. We did all that and did it properly.
– For the sake of the miner alone?
– For the sake of the miner and all Australia. To save the workers from competition to which they ought not to be exposed. Is the miner simply going to say - “Protect me, and so long as my wages are right I do not care if the man who makes the machinery I use is sweated”? That is really the attitude of a miner or of. any one else who, crying out for a white Australia and for the exclusion of the black people in the interests of labour, would yet compel the factory operative in Australia to compete with the cheap and pauper labour of the world. I speak strongly, because I feel strongly. It is a shame that men are not taught by their leaders to recognise the false position in which they are placed when they are induced to follow such a selfish policy as that. I am getting tired of hearing speeches about the success which is seen to have attended the policy of one State when its progress is compared with that of another. We have heard a great deal about the larger number of operatives in one State than in another, and of the number of people who have gone from one State to another to seek employment : but, with regard to machinery, I find that New South Wales exported only £48,605 worth, whereas South Australia has exported £127,997 worth, and Victoria £230,456 worth. It would be strange, indeed, if a State three times as large and four times as old as another had not greater resources and a larger development. But the effects of protection can be estimated only in connexion with industries where the imports compete with the exports. Has New South Wales, with a population one-eighth greater than that of Victoria, more people employed in her industries ? No. The number of persons employed in protected industries in New South Wales is only 22,000, while the number employed, in Victoria is 24,000. If one faces the contrast between the two policies fairly, he must be forced to the conclusion that the Victorian policy has all the best of it. Exception has been taken to the imposition of a duty of 25 per cent, upon mining machinery, because the duty on agricultural machinery is only 15 per cent., but the reason for the difference is plain. The initial cost of, and the expense of -setting up plant to make mining machinery is undoubtedly far greater than the expense of a plant to make agricultural machinery, while the output of mining machinery cannot be so large as the output of agricultural machinery. I invite honorable members to discuss the item upon the lines which have been previously followed- during the consideration of the Tariff. Let us settle the general rate first, and then deal with exemptions, putting such articles as the committee may think good upon the free list, and reducing the duties upon others.
– The Minister has made a number of interesting speeches during the last hour. I have followed them all, and I have failed utterly to see why he has taken the trouble to speak so frequently upon subjects so widely divergent from, and at times altogether unconnected with, the question before the Chair. He deprecated the action df honorable members in wandering all over the place ; but what has he been doing ? He made a proposition of a most touching character to the honorable member for Barrier, asking him, as a loyal and consistent free-trader, not to press his amendment, but to deal with the matter in a spirit of compromise. When the Minister was asked what was his idea of compromise, he said a duty of 25 percent. He tells us that his idea of the Tariff is to bolster up industries and to get revenue. When he cannot get revenue he bolsters up industries, and when he cannot bolster up industries, he gets revenue. Having arrived at this rather confusing position, he told us that he was quite prepared, when an article could not be produced here, to allow it to be imported upon the payment of a reasonable revenue duty. But can he mention any article, unless it is a patented invention, which cannot be produced here.? There are skilled mechanics in the country, and there are capitalists who are ready and willing, if they are given sufficient incentive, to embark their money upon the enterprise. This question should be faced fairly and squarely, and we should deal with the item either from the stand-point of revenue or from the stand-point of protection. So far as I can see, with the exception of patented machinery, such as linotypes, all that the Government propose to admit free is machinery in the nature of tools of trade for the textile and other industries of
Victoria. It is useless for the Minister to say, however, that every kind of machinery can be made here at a profit.
– I did not say that.
– Does the Minister think that any one would try to make things . here if he knew that he could not carry on his operations at a profit ? Or does he think that the country should be taxed to provide manufacturers with profits? Although he affects to regard the interests of the miners and other primary producers, there seems to run through his remarks the idea that the manufacturer is a divine personage, sent here to provide work for the people. But the manufacturer does not provide work for the people ; it is the people who provide ft profit for the manufacturer. If the manufacturers have been sent here to provide work for the people, why do they not do so? How is it that in tlie protected State of Victoria this celebrated system was quite inadequate to keep the rate of wages up to the civilized standard ? How is it that they had to get a wages board and one thing and another to keep up the rate of wages ? If the Minister will approach this question from the stand-point of revenue he will find honorable members on this side quite ready to meet him. He says that this class of machinery must have very heavy protection, because it takes a lot of money to lay down the plant to make it. One good factory, such as exists in America and England, could make quite readily all the machinery which is used for the 4,000,000 people in Australia. I.do not deny that there are a number of factories in Australia. But it is physically impossible that with 4,000,000 people you can ever get men to invest sufficient capital to produce expensive machinery with profit to the country and to themselves. If the Minister will offer a compromise on which we can discuss the matter, it will be possible for us to consider one ! of the attitudes which he assumed during his speech. But if he is still of the opinion that 25 per cent, is the right duty to impose, I do not see that there is much room for discussion. The mining industries of this country strike a blow at centralization. If there is a danger to civilization, especially to Australian civilization, it is this tendency to crowd into the cities. The policy of the Minister is simply to bolster up the cities at the expense of the country. The country is being denuded ; we have huge cities and sparsely settled districts. Let the Minister do what he can to foster the basic and primary industries, and the others will look after themselves.
– Any one not familiar with the course of events in the Chamber during the past few months, who had listened to the debate during the last two or three hours, would have little suspected that we were discussing a sub-item, important as it may be, half way through the Tariff. The honorable member for Barrier has urged the placing of mining machinery on the free list for two reasons. In the first place, he assumes that the existence of a duty will inevitably increase the price of the machinery to the consumer in Broken Hill - -the place with which he was chiefly concerned - by at least the amount of the duty ; and he gave us the figures which had been worked out for him by certain mine managers, amounting to between £30,000 and £40,000 on the various articles which are used in the mines - not, of course, the mining machinery exclusively ; and he then went on to suggest, although he did not say so, that that increase in the burden upon production might lead to the closing up practically of Broken Hill. I am sure that the honorable member, if he paused to seriously consider that latter statement, would not be convinced of its accuracy. He would not for one moment suggest that an alteration of £40,000 a year, even in the cost of production, in the various mines there, could make the difference between prosperity and failure to that large and important centre.
– Three or four times I emphasized the fact that the chief thing was the price of lead.
– The honorable member emphasized one thing, and then proceeded to argue about another.
– I said that this duty might hasten the closing of the mines.
– It is very simple for the honorable member to emphasize one thing, and to draw all his conclusions from the thing which he did not emphasize. When he assumes that the price of the machinery will be increased by the amount of the duty, he is assuming the whole question which is in dispute between those who think as he does, and those who think as I do.
– The honorable and learned member agrees . that the price will be increased if there is no local competition. That is all I said.
– I agree that if there is no local competition the price will inevitably be increased ; but in the case of mining machinery there is a large local competition which is effective.
– I referred to machinery of new design and to new machinery.
– There is a local competition, and it has produced in a most marked and notable degree the very results which protectionists always claimed that it would produce. That is the point that is always overlooked, or is treated in such a way as to favour the free-trader as against the protectionist. The honorable member referred to the place of origin of some of the machinery at Broken Hill, and I may mention that some two years ago one of the companies at Broken Hill called for tenders for an air compressor and adjuncts, of which the price was approximately £3,000. Tenders were sent in ; one from Victoria, and one from Chicago. The plans and specifications, and general conditions, were drawn up by the company’s engineers, and the machine was not such an article as could be supplied from stock. Although the Victorian tenderer would have had to comply fully with the conditions laid down by the company, the American tender, which was the higher one, was accepted. The Victorian tenderer was a firm of good repute and standing, which had successfully carried out contracts larger than the one mentioned, but, notwithstanding this, its tender was rejected.
– Will the honorable and learned member give me the particulars.
– I may tell the honorable member that the name of the Chicago firm was Frazer and Chalmers, and that of the Victorian firm Thompson andCo.
An Honorable Member. - The American machine must have been infinitely better.
– I cannot understand how it could be so, as it was supplied to the company’s specification, and if the Victorian tender had been accepted the same conditions would have had to be complied with. The machine was not one that could be kept in stock,and I may say that the great bulk of this kind of machinery is made according to specifications prepared by the company’s engineers, or by consulting engineers, and practically for every important piece of machinery fresh patterns are required.
– Not for every new machine.
– I do not say that, but I contend that the bulk of this machinery is not supplied from stock either by the local maker or by the foreign manufacturer. I would remind the honorable member for Barrier that the machines of which he spoke were exceptional.
– I said they were.
– Assuming that what the honorable member said was correct, we must not, from the consideration of exceptional cases, draw general conclusions regarding the bulk of the machinery. If we do so, we shall disregard the old maxim that hard cases make bad law, and we shall be legislating for isolated eases and neglecting hundreds of others which we ought to consider. I understand that the desire of the honorable member for Barrier is to have mining machinery placed on the free list.
– My proposal is to abolish the duty on the whole item, but so long as mining machinery is placed on the free list I do not care about the rest, although I should prefer to see the duty removed altogether.
– The honorable member is apparently concerned only about that which directly affects his own constituency. My constituents largely consist of miners and those who are directly dependent upon the mining industry for their livelihood, and a very small proportion are interested in manufactures. I have no hesitation in saying that the duty on machinery, and especially on mining machinery, in Victoria, has been of the greatest service to the mining industry, and my support of a duty on machinery is not based merely upon the benefits that accrue to the engineers or boiler-makers, or other mechanics who find employment in the engineering shops, but upon the fact that it has been proved by practical experience that the purchaser of these articles has been benefited by the duty, as well as has the maker. The effect of a protective duty is not necessarily to give a better article, or a cheaper article, but if it leaves the article of the same quality and at the same price as before the duty was imposed, and changes the place of origin from foreign parts to Australia,the purpose of the local manufacturer and his employe will be served without injuring any one else. Experience has shown that Australian-made machinery is just as serviceable as is the imported article and apparently the importing States take that view. We may fairly say that as regards mining machinery, Western Australia is chiefly an importing State. It is only recently that she has begun the manufacture of machinery, and tlie local industry has not yet attained any great proportions. In the year 1900, Western Australia imported electrical machinery, steam engines, flour-milling engines, ice-making machinery, locomotives, mining machinery, engineering parts, and printing machinery, of a total value of £438,000. Of this, £204,000 worth was Australian made, and £224,000 worth came from beyond the seas. If we take mining machinery - as regards the Australian production, of which some honorable members have chosen to use terms of disparagement, in comparing it with the imported article - we find that Western Australia imported in 1900 a total of £322,000 worth, of which £152,000 worth was Australian made, and £169,000 worth was imported from abroad, the bulk of the latter coming from Great Britain.1 We all know of the relations which exist” between the Western Australian mining companies and Great Britain, and there must inevitably be a tendency in. favour of buying the articles required for the mines in the place where the bulk of the shares are held. But in spite of that, half the imports in Western Australia are Australian products.
– The honorable and learned member is quite wrong ; I have more recent figures.
– I give tlie figures for 1 900 as taken from the Statistical Register of Western Australia. The bulk of these imports were then from Victoria and South Australia, the only two States which have endeavoured to give practical protection, to those industries.
– And which have the least natural advantages.
– Exactly ; that shows how much the industries .cost.
– We are told that New South Wales has more, or as many, or nearly as many hands engaged in foundries and kindred works as Victoria, but I am astounded that there are not a great many more, in spite of the different fiscal policy, having regard to the considerable coal and iron deposits in the adjoining State. We have nothing in Victoria to compare with New South Wales in that respect. Again taking the figures for the year 1900, we find, whatever may be the number of hands employed, that Victoria, with nearly one-sixth less population, apparently worked something like 15 per cent, more iron and steel than did New South Wales, although New South Wales worked all the iron ore raised within her border. It is true that the latter was not a large amount, if the New South Wales Statistical Register is to be trusted. As I said, the great bulk of the imports into Western Australia from the rest of the Commonwealth were from Victoria and South Australia ; and some honorable members contend that that fact shows that no duty is wanted.
– It was free-trade in New South Wales that made the manufactures in South Australia.
– Possibly so, and it is freetrade between the States that will make the manufactures of all the States. I have always advocated free-trade between the States, believing that within the one legislative area we should have as much freedom of trade as possible. In that area we can control the relations between employer and employed, buyer and seller, and the various interests concerned ; but when we go beyond the legislative area we must set up a barrier, large or small. We cannot control operations beyond the Commonwealth, and it is at the limits that we have to establish any barriers which it may be decided shall exist. The fact that the bulk of the imports into Western Australia were from Victoria and South Australia does not in the least degree show that no duty is required. This export trade has been successfully established under a fiscal system. As I have already pointed out, the effect of a duty frequently is merely to change the place of origin of the article supplied, and to secure that it shall be in the community in which we live, and not some foreign country. I do not desire to weary the committee by dealing elaborately with this question. I only rose to say that experience has proved the correctness, in this particular instance at any rate, of the views held by protectionists, and the incorrect-, ness of the views held by free-traders. There is no use in our discussing any number of theories when we have facts to guide us. It seems to me that there is only one inference to be drawn from those facts, and that inference I have ventured to draw. In conclusion, I wish tosay that my voting for any particular duty under the head of “ n.e.i.” must not be taken to mean that I believe that every article at present included should remain at 25 per cent. There are articles on which the duty should be reduced, and other articles which should be placed on the free list. I discriminate as to articles there is a chance of producing locally in sufficient quantities to satisfy the demand, and to create such competition as will keep prices within reason. I hold myself free, in regard to a number of items under this general heading, to vote for placing articles on the free list because they can be locally produced, or for reducing the duty on other articles because, under the circumstances, I consider the duty too high.
– I feel all the more ready to support the amendment, because I returned only to-day from a visit to Western Australia, where the feeling is one of consternation concerning the proposed duty of 25 per cent on mining machinery. In Western Australia no less than86 per cent. of the total production of the State comes from mining. The State generally is absolutely dependent upon mining, and if the progress of that industry be retarded, as no doubt it will be by this duty, the State must suffer very considerably. I trust that the officer who has been appointed by the Government to make inquiries concerning mining machinery, has been through the same experience as myself during the last few weeks. Wherever I went I heard nothing but bitter complaints about the proposed high duty of 25 per cent. I discussed the matter with a good many mining men, and they all agreed that the duty would do very considerable injury, not only to the big companies, whose money is invested in Western Australia, but also to the small prospectors.
– What is the present Western Australian Tariff on mining machinery?
– Five per cent. It is most singular that although I have been to see most of the mining men in that State, and have interviewed the Chamber of Mines and other similar bodies, whom one would imagine any officer appointed by the
Federal Government would consult, I did not get the slightest information of any such inquiries having been made. If inquiries of such a nature had been made I should have heard of them, and it would surely be very strange for an officer to enter upon an investigation of the kind and not direct his attention to the State to which the mining industry is of more importance than it is to any other State of the Commonwealth.
– Do those people say that mining machinery cannot be made in the Commonwealth at a reasonable rate ?
– I will tell the right honorable gentleman exactly what they did say on that point. The Minister for Trade and Customs said, as I understood him, that he would be in favour of putting on the free list mining machinery which cannot be made in Australia. There was not much, however, in that statement, when we consider that just previously the leader of the Opposition had admitted that there was nothing which could not be made in Australia. The Minister for Trade and Customs should take into consideration the cost of production ; and I should like to read, in reply to the question just asked, what the Chamber of Mines of Western Australia says on this particular point. In reply to a telegram which I sent to that body some time ago I received the following : -
We admit all machinery can be made in Australia if cost be no object ; but, when quality is considered, high-class steam engines, electrical plants, and crushing mills can be imported 15 per cent. cheaperunder old Tariff.
That means that machinery imported from the old country or elsewhere could be sold in Australia at 20 per cent. less than it is being sold at present. The communication proceeded : -
The higher quality required the greater is the saving. Owing to the natural conditions here, only best quality should be used.
There is one point in connexion with the speech delivered by the honorable and learned member for Bendigo which has not been sufficiently noticed. It is that whilst machinery suitable for the free milling ores which are found at Ballarat and Bendigo can be manufactured in Australia, the mining at those places is as different from the operations which are carried on at Broken Hill and. Kalgoorlie as mining itself is from agriculture. At Kalgoorlie there are refractory ores which require most scientific treatment. Indeed the mining operations carried on there are the most scientific in the world, with the exception of those conducted -at Cripple Creek in America. It is imperative, therefore, that the different mining companies shall secure the most costly machinery. But the demand for that class of machinery in Australia is not sufficient to justify the establishment of the extensive foundries which would be necessary for its manufacture. The Minister for Trade and Customs spoke as if he were an authority upon the question of mining machinery. In this connexion I should like to quote tlie opinions of a few men who are recognised, not only in Australia, but throughout the world, as authorities upon this subject. I will first refer to a speech by the ex-Premier of Western Australia, Mr. A. E. Morgans, who is a well-known mining man. He has had experience in all parts of the world, and is considered an authority upon this matter. The speech in question was delivered in the Parliament of Western Australia when that body unanimously carried a resolution having reference to the Tariff. Surely that Parliament ought to know something concerning the effect which the Tariff will have upon Western Australia. Some time ago the Prime Minister suggested that the representatives of the smaller States did not understand the position in which their respective States stood- I think, however, that what has since been said by the Treasurer in regard to Western Australia shows that those who were mistaken in the views which they held upon the financial position of that State are to be found upon the Ministerial benches.
– It is not often that the honorable member quotes with delight the resolutions of the Western Australian Parliament.
– I quote tins resolution to show that all parties are agreed upon the question.
– The honorable member tells us that that State Parliament does not represent the people.
-In this particular instance I tell the Minister for Trade and Customs that it does represent the people. The resolution is as follows -
That this House views with consternation the Federal Tariff, which has been promulgated in view of the serious consequences that must result to the. trade and commerce of this State as well as to the mining industry, which is one of the principal elements of prosperity, and this House enters its protest against the imposition of the proposed Tariff in its present form.
In discussing that resolution, Mr. Morgans gave a lot of valuable information in regard to the relationship of the Tariff to the mining industry in Western Australia. Concerning what can be done by the manufacturers of machinery in the eastern States, he said -
What advantage would it be to the mining industry whether they paid 25 per cent, to Fraser and Chalmers or to the Otis Engineering Company in Melbourne ? What was the effect of the creation of a ring, but to create a price, and what was the Federal Tariff but a ring for the purpose of protecting the manufactories of the other States ? He had the facts in his possession showing that since the promulgation of the Tariff the manufactories in Victoria had withdrawn their original quotations for the purpose of raising the prices. It was true that it would stop the importation of machinery from England and the United States, but they would not get as good machinery from Victoria, and they would have to pay 22£ per cent, more for a vastly inferior article. He had bought immense quantities of it, and he knew its value and its merits. He did not deny that the manufactories in the eastern States made fairly good batteries, and engine and boilers which would answer the purpose, but they could not make them to compare with the English or the United States article.
This is the opinion of a man who does not speak hastily, and who is an admitted authority upon this question.
– Has the honorable member got the facts about raising the prices ?
– Surely Mr. Morgans is an honorable man and his word can be taken.
– He has been applied to for particulars, but so far they have not been forthcoming.
– If it be a slander it can easily be refuted.
– We should like to know the names.
– We asked Mr. Morgans for particulars, and he has failed to supply them to this day.
– I wish also to- quote the opinion of Mr. G. W. Hall, who is another mining authority, upon this question. He thinks that it is not the large mining companies which will be chiefly affected by this duty. Many of those companies have already secured their plants, and their principal trouble will arise in connexion with the importation of different parts of their machinery. But the tax proposed will fall very heavily upon prospectors who are endeavoring to open up new country. Mr. Hall speaks for these men, as he is very much interested in the
North Coolgardie district, which lacks the advantage of railway communication. The cost of cartage there is considerable, and the scarcity of water constitutes a very great difficulty. All these things tend to seriously hamper the work of the prospector. Mr. Hall says -
Most of the miners in the back blocks will be seriously affected by this increase in the Tariff, for the reason that right through the northern field, from Lake Way toErlistoun, the bulk of the mines are dealing with low grade ore. Consequently, although large numbers of men are employed, the profits are necessarily Smaller than on mines of higher grade. The margin of profit being small, large quantities of ore must be treated. Being so far from machinery centres, any break down is very disastrous, and, consequently, the mines are forced to go in for the very highest classof machinery - and that conies from the old country. My experience of colonial batteries is that for the first twelve months they will run all right, but after that you very soon spend as much in repairs as would make up the cost of a first-classFraser and Chalmers, or Sandicroft, battery. The charge for cartage - which is such a tremendous item - is no greater on a first-class battery than on a cheaper one, and altogether, the out back miners recognise that the first cost is the best. For these reasons the machinery tax will press very heavily on those who are opening up the mines in the back country.
– He admits that the Australian machinery is cheaper.
– He does not say it is cheaper. He says the imported machinery is undoubtedly cheaper in the end, because it will last longer, and it is machinery which is particularly useful in that country. A good deal has been said here about what can be done by the local manufacturers. I know of a particular instance of a rock drill which I may mention here, the Ingersoll-Sergeant Rock Drill. We can get Ingersoll drills made in Australia; but what are those drills ? The Ingersoll Drill Company some considerable time ago patented a certain class of drill. Since then they have been continually improving it, and they allowed the patents they had taken out for the older class of drill to lapse, and now the Ingersoll drills we can get in the Australian States are much inferior to the new IngersollSergeant drill which can begot from America. That is an instance of the kind of thing carried on in connexion with the manufacture of machinery in Australia. Many of these rock crushers, diamond drills, and other mining machinery are patented machines that cannot possibly be produced in Australia. I certainly hope that at least as regards these patented machines, the Government will see their way to place them on the free list. Just by accident I managed to get this extract from, I think, the Mining Standard, to show how this Tariff is affecting one of our mines in New South Wales, which is referred to as - “ the oldest, deepest, and best mine in this State “ - namely, the Lucknow mine, at Orange. This is what the manager of that mine says concerning the Tariff -
Mr. Newman tells us that he will have to leave thousands of tons of low grade ore (containing no fine gold whatever, but which entails a concentrating and smelting process) below, as it cannot now be raised unless under a considerable loss to the company - which, of course, means a reduction of hands. To treat this vast body of low-grade ore Mr. Newman has discovered, and winch is said to be of a different class ever obtained on this field before, the present crushing plant of 20 head will have to be increased to 50, while the latest and best concentrators will have to be sent from London to replace those at present in use ; but, owing to the ruinous Tariff proposals, this important discovery is rendered valueless, and consequently all the machinery has been countermanded, and a host of men promised work will now be thrown upon the State.
Another instance of the kind which I quoted before, is so much to the point that I think it will bear quotation again. There are three important mines on the Kalgoorlie field, and they do not speak of a few men being employed there or a few thousands of pounds being spent. Those three mines, the Associated Northern, the Oroya, and the Golden Link, intended to introduce a sulphide plant to cost £200,000, but as soon as they found that this plant would have to pay a duty of 25 per cent., which would be equal to £50,000 added to the cost, they abandoned their idea. That plant, if introduced, would have given employment to 400 men, who, of course, will not now be employed, and yet the Government argue that this Tariff will give employment to a number of men.
– The profits they were going to make could not be very large if they could not afford to pay the duty.
– The right honorable gentleman must remember that many of these mines are worked at a very low profit.. The difference between profit and loss in the working of mines is often very small, and there are quite a number of mines in Western Australia, as there are in every mining camp in the world, that are being worked at a loss in the hope of some development taking place which will repay the investors. I could mention a number of mines on Kalgoorlie that are just paying expenses, but those who are working them are perfectly satisfied to go on, in the hope of something good turning up. If, however, we put a duty of 25 per cent. upon the machinery they use, they may not be disposed to continue to work their mines.
– What do we put the 25 per cent. duty upon ? Not upon the machinery with which they are working.
– No, but there are parts of machinery which they require. Some of thesemines are often working with an insufficient plant, and mining explosives and other mining supplies are also taxed. The honorable and learned member for Corinella quoted accurately the importations of machinery from the Statistical Register, but I have here a return which shows the value of machinery and mining supplies imported from the Australian States and abroad for the year ended 30th September, 1901. The returnrefers only to 44 of the Western Australian mining companies, but they are 44 of the best known companies. I shall be very happy to hand the return to the Minister for Trade and Customs, so that he may give it to the officer who is in search of information, but whom nobody seems to know anything at all about. This return shows exactly the importations of machinery into Western Australia by those 44 companies. I find from it that the imports ofmining machinery from Australiaamountedin value to £96,941, and that is 33 per cent. of the whole of the machinery imported into Western Australia. The machinery imported from abroad amounted in value to £197,246, and that is, roughly, 67 per cent. of the total. That makes a total importation of machinery to the value of £294,187. There is another item here of equal importance, and that is the importation of mining supplies. The total value of the mining supplies imported from Australia amounted to £125,430, which is 25 per cent. of the total importations, while the importations of mining supplies from Great Britain and foreign countries amounted in value to £369,666.
– Does the return distinguish between Great Britain and other countries?
– No, the figures I have given are simply under the heading “ foreign,” and the value of the importations of mining supplies from foreign countries, as. stated here, amounts to 75 per cent. of the total mining supplies imported into Western Australia. That is the return for 44 companies.
– Are those foreignowned companies?
– I may explain that there are some 96 Western Australian companies represeted in the Chamber of Mines of Western Australia, and the Chamber sent out circulars asking for particulars to be supplied. The figures I have given are taken from the particulars they have received up to date. Several of these mines are held by Western Australian companies. The honorable and learned member for Corinella said that mining directors of British companies would naturally exhibit some sympathy for British firms.
– I said there was a natural tendency which I did not consider improper.
– It amounts to very much the same thing. So far as the natural tendency is concerned, if the honorable and learned member knows anything about mining men, he must be aware that they are not likely to be influenced by matters of that kind. They will go where they can obtain machinery at the cheapest rates, and of the best quality. If, as has been contended by some honorable members, mining machinery can be produced in Australia equal to any that is imported, and at the same cost, honorable members will find that mining managers will always give the preference to the Australian article. It must be rememberedthat the cost of carriage of machinery from the eastern States to Western Australia is very much less than the freights from the old world. Mining men will simply go where they can obtain the best value for their money. There are some other returns which have also been supplied by the Western Australian Chamber of Mines, and the details of which I shall be glad to supply to the Minister in order to show their accuracy. They show exactly what has been done by 66 mining companies who are operating inWestern Australia. These companies employ 10,474 men and their disbursement in wages for the year ending 31st August, 1901, was £1,933,000. If we divide the total sum paid in wages by the number of workmen, we find that the average wage earner there is not receiving a sweated wage. He is not receiving the wage of a factory hand in Melbourne, but practically an average of £200 per annum. Honorable members will see what a great gain this is to the whole Commonwealth, and what a large number of hands this industry employs. The amount of money which is spent annually in Western Australia in connexion with the mining industry - including the expenditure upon fuel, water, stores, drainage, duty on profits, import and export duties, lease rents and other Government fees - is £3,463,849. That represents the disbursements of 66 mining companies in Western Australia, whilst the value of the plants employed by them is £2,577,000. We hear a great deal about the harm that may be done to the sugar industry of Queensland by the abolition of kanaka labour. I claim that the mining industry of Western Australia is of far greater importance to the Commonwealth than is the sugar industry to Queensland. The number of hands employed in connexion with the Queensland sugar industry is far below the number engaged in connexion with the mining industry of Western Australia. The annual value of the products of the Queensland sugar industry is something like £2,000,000, but the output of gold from Western Australian mines for the year just closed amounted in round figures to 1,800,000 ozs., or, roughly speaking, to over £7,000,000 in value.
– £7,200,000 odd.
– Surely this industry is worthy of consideration, and the Government ought not to place upon it the very heavy impost proposed by them - an impost which will undoubtedly hamper the industry.
Mr. L. E. GROOM (Darling Downs).I do not intend to take up much of the time of the committee upon this item, but I desire to point out the fact that this is not a matter which affects only Victoria. Honorable members of the Opposition have referred to this matter as if it chiefly affected Bendigo and one or two other towns in this State. As a matter of fact, however, Queensland will be very seriously affected if the articles included in this item, and especially mining machinery, are placed on the free list. I gather from the official statistics that as regards metal works of all kinds there are no less than 329 factories in Queensland, employing 3,931 hands. When I say that industries in Queensland having reference to metal working have grown up under a protective Tariff of 25 per cent., which has been imposed for a dozen years, honorable members will see what the position is. Certain honorable members coming from a free-trade State are desirous of doing what they call justice by reducing immediately all the industries of the Commonwealth to the position of the industries, if any, which exist in their own State. I understand from an honorable member that there are none there. Probably that is due to the fact that it is a free-trade State. I believe that the honorable member for Barrier, who has proposed that the articles included in this item should be placed on the free list, is desirous of doing what is fair and just. I would ask him, however, whether it is fair and just to the States which have industries that have grown up under protective Tariffs - in which capital has been invested, and where on the strength of these duties wages have been gradually raised, until by reason of the protective duties, they have been brought to a level of 10s. a day - that the whole of this economic and industrial fabric should be wiped out by his proposal.
– Why does the honorable and learned member want all the other things in the list of exemptions to come in free?
– Because none of them will affect the industries to which I refer in the same way as would the placing of the articles in this item on the free list. The factories I refer to are factories which have grown up under a protective Tariff. We are framing a Tariff for Australia, and that being so, we have to consider the conditions of the various States. Where we find in existence industries that have grown up under a protective Tariff, we must give them fair and proper consideration. In Maryborough, Queensland, there is one factory - Walker’s Ltd. - where, I am informed, nearly all the mining machinery that is required in Queensland can be and is manufactured. That is only a single instance ; there are other factories doing the same work in Brisbane and elsewhere. Therefore I submit that even a desire to be fair and just to all the States could not lead us to amend this item to the extent of putting all such articles upon the free l ist. I trust that the honorable member for Barrier will seriously consider his position, and withdraw his motion to make this item free.
– The honorable and learned member for Darling Downs has told us that this matter does not affect Victoria alone, as some honorable members on this side of the Chamber seem to think. I agree with him there; it is a matter which affects tens of thousands of pioneers who are engaged in developing one of the chief primary industries of the country. We, on this side of the Chamber, are considering, not the interests of the manufacturers of Victoria, whose claims have been put forward so strongly to-night by the honorable and learned member for Bendigo, but the interests of the thousands of hard-working men who, at Broken Hill and in other parts of Australia, are earning their bread by the sweat of their brow in the development of our mineral resources. The honorable and learned member for Darling Downs has told us that under a 25 per cent. duty Queensland manufacturers have been able to produce mining machinery. I agree with him that they are entitled to consideration, but have we not, by the. act of federation, thrown open the whole of the Australian market to them and to other manufacturers, and, by doing so, have we not given them all the consideration to which they are entitled after their many years of protection? I am entirely in accord with the amendment of the honorable member for Barrier. I understand that he said that the proposed duty on mining machinery would have a disastrous effect upon the mining operations at Broken Hill. But if the mining operations at Broken Hill are interfered with, it is not only the Broken Hill miners who will suffer. At Cockle Creek, near Newcastle, and at Dapto, on the shores of Lake Illawarra, there are very large smelting works, and if the Broken Hill and other mines throughout the country are shut down because of the high duties upon mining machinery, many men connected with those smelting works will be thrown out of employment. Then, again, the coal-raining industry employs more than 10,000 men in New South Wales, and a great many more people are employed by it indirectly. In what is known as the South Coast district of New South Wales, between Clifton and
Lake Illawarra, there are hundreds of coke ovens. The mines at Broken Hill and other places provide a market for the coke that is made in that district, and if the mines are shut down, the coke-making industry will suffer. Thus, to benefit the comparatively few men who are engaged in the manufacture of mining machinery in Ballarat and other parts of Victoria, tens of thousands of men elsewhere will be thrown out of employment. Under the Tariff, everything a miner uses and consumes is taxed, and on behalf of the coal-miners of my electorate, who number fully one-half of my constituents, I again raise my protest against it. The Minister for Trade and Customs was very pronounced in his statement to-night that the Government did not wish to tax articles which could not be produced here, or which were only very rarely used in Australia. He said that if a single case of that sort were brought under his notice, he would give instructions to have it inquired into, so that the articles might be admitted duty free, or allowed tocome in under a revenue duty. Now, among the coke-making companies in the South Coast district in New South Wales, there is the Federal Coke Company Limited, whose head office is at 3 Gresham-street, Sydney, and this afternoon I received a letter from the secretary to the company, calling my attention to a machine which is used in connexion with the manufacture of coke, under new principles recently applied in America and Wales. The letter is as follows: -
I have been instructed to bring under your notice, as the member for the district in which our works are situated - viz., Wollongong - the following facts in connexion with a coke ram, or pusher, ordered many months ago, and on which, owing to its arrival shortly after the imposition of the Federal Tariff, a heavy duty is demanded - our desire being to get this admitted free. About fifteen months ago a new company was formed, known us the Federal Coke Company Limited, with a capital of £13,000, which has since erected its works at Wollongong. These works were designed after a principle much used in America and Wales. In order to curry out this design it was necessary to got a coke ram, or pusher, to discharge the ovens. Tenders were called in thecolony, but as it had never been used out here, we were unable to get a satisfactory tender, so we had to send to Liverpool. England, for the necessary machinery, the cost of which is about£1 , 500, and its erection will cost about another £250. This machinery should have arrived before the dutieswere put on, but owing to delay, it did not reach here until some few weeks after, and it is now in bond. As this coke ram is entirely new to the colonies, and is to assist a local industry on which £13,000 has already been expended, we think that in justice to the company the duty should not be insisted upon in connexion with this particular case. It is entirely new, and nothing like it has ever been used in the colonies.
Taking the Minister on his very strong statement here this evening - considering that the article has never been produced in the State, and that it is absolutely necessary in order to carry on the industry on the most approved principles, I ask him to send a despatch tohis officer without the slightest delay, and see that these men get this important article duty free. We hear a lot about the encouragement of native industries by the Government. Here is a native industry to which no encouragement could be given by way of duty, but every obstacle is thrown in its way by the Government, which can possibly be done. I sincerely trust that in the interests of all classes of miners throughout Australia - not only the gold miner, but also the coal miner and all the others - the Government will see its way to come to a compromise with regard to this item, if we are not able to get the articles in duty free.
– I am not revolting in any way. The Minister talked a lot about compromise here this evening; he told us that we ought to deal with the Tariff in a spirit of compromise, as we had been doing for the last two months ; and then all the compromise he offers us is that he will stick to the 25 per cent. duty in his Tariff.I shall stick to the position put forward by the leader of the Opposition tonight, that if we cannot get all we want to carry out free-trade principles, we must try and bring the duty as closely as possible into harmony with those principles which we believe should be adopted in the best interests of the country.
– I should like some of my honorable friends opposite to explain one or two little matters, which, I shall state as mildly as possible. Of course we all understand that, according to the free-trade argument, a pipe extends directly from the producer to the consumer, and therefore, when you buy in a free-trade market, you get the goods at the lowest possible price. I mentioned in the House before a significant fact. In Sydney I bought a pump, for which I paid 63 in that free-trade port. I imagined that I was getting the pump at a free-trade price. Subsequently I found that the English price was £40. The indent agent in Sydney had placed 50 per cent. on the pump in a freetrade market. With regard to almost everything which is bought in connexion with mining machinery, exactly the same thing happens. If to-night we were discussing the question of a 50 per cent. duty, honorable members opposite would be horrified. In a freetrade country I paid 50 per cent. extra, and am anxious to obtain an explanation. A little while ago I was connected with the purchase of an extremely good American engine. One of the parts went wrong, and it was impossible without very great delay to get a similar part. We discovered that it was much better to pay for a colonially made engine, for which we could get the parts readily, rather than buy an article from another part of the world. I should also like honorable members to explain why iron castings in Sydney are dearer than steel castings in Melbourne. If you wish to obtain anything good in connexion with miningmachinery it has to be steel or something better. In Melbourne you can buy steel castings that will do their work thoroughly. But if you buy in Sydneyyou will have to give more for iron castings. The New South Wales manufacturer has not had a fair chance. Victoria may have had to pay a considerable amount to establish her industries, but they are established. In several places in Victoria you can get steel castings, but I do not think that any one will contend that you are likely to obtain first class steel castings in Sydney. There is just one other point I wish to mention. I know an instance of tenders being called for machinery from selected Melbourne and Sydney firms. The lowest Sydney tender was £16,000; the lowest Melbourne tender was £1 1,000 ; and of course the Melbourne man got the contract. In a matter of £16,000, free-trade Sydney was £5000 over protectionist Melbourne. I can prove the accuracy of every statement I have made. I know perfectly well that it may benecessary to import engines in connexion with intricate mining work, but for the small article for the small industry, it is better, if necessary, to pay 50 per cent. more - it is better to have it made at home, I have already shown that in some instances the protected market is the cheaper. Every honorable member knows that, in common with any industry, if he can buy his goods just on the other side of the fence it is better to buy them there than to import them from a distance,because he saves in time, and he gets a good article under his eye. These are a few facts which have come under my own notice, and I defy any honorable member to disprove them.
House adjourned at10.49 p.m.
Cite as: Australia, House of Representatives, Debates, 15 January 1902, viewed 7 November 2016, <http://historichansard.net/hofreps/1902/19020115_reps_1_7/>.