1st Parliament · 1st Session
Mr. Speaker took the chair at 2.30 p.m., and read prayers.
Mr. A. McLEAN presented two petitions from members of the Church of England at Stratford and at Fernbank, praying that the House would reject a Bill for the regulation of Divorce and Matrimonial Causes.
– These petitions appear to relate to a measure which is not before this House, and as we have no knowledge of the business which may be before the other branch of the Legislature, I am unable to say without reading them whether their presentation would be in order or not. I therefore ask the honorable member to withdraw them until to-morrow.
– I wish to inform the House that His Excellency the GovernorGeneral received a telegram from Lord Kitchener on the 31st December last, stating that, when we send our contingent, he would be glad if Surgeon-Colonel Williams, C. B., Principal Medical Officer of New South Wales, could accompany it. Referring to this request, His Excellency, at my desire, sent on the 2nd January a cable message to the Secretary of State, asking whether a field hospital equipment, with men of the Army Medical Corps, was required in addition to the medical provision mentioned in the original telegram, namely, one medical officer to each battalion.. I have pleasure in saying that yesterday His Excellency received a telegram from the Secretary of State, dated 11th January - the delay being due probably to transmission through the Cape - so that I am inclined to think that Lord Kitchener has been consulted. That telegram intimated, that our telegram on 2nd January was not fully understood, so that it is possible that some error crept into it in transmission ; but the Secretary of State intimated that, if it was correctly read as conveying an offer of a field hospital equipment and personnel complete, His Majesty’s Government would readily accept it, and that if it is considered more convenient, the medical and surgical equipment - which I take to mean such things as drugs, bondages, and dressings - can be provided in South Africa on its arrival. I need scarcely add that this Government intend to despatch with Colonel Williams a field hospital equipment and personnel accordingly. It will be fresh in the recollection of honorable members that the field hospital equipment which, under Colonel Williams, accompanied the first contingent from New South Wales received the highest encomiums from military authorities in South Africa, both by reason of the completeness of the equipment and the activity and ability of its commander and personnel.
– In reference to the statement just made by the Prime Minister, I take the opportunity of informing honorable members how I propose to rule in connexion with the making of statements by Ministers when no question is before the House. Rule 257 of the Standing Orders temporarily adopted by the House in June last reads as follows -
A member may speak to any question before the House, or upon a motion or amendment to be proposed by himself, or upon a question or order arising out of the debate, or upon a question of privilege, but not otherwise.
The term “ member “ includes Ministers. A remark was made on Tuesday afternoon as to the advisability of following the practice of the British Parliament in regard to matters which are not provided for in our standing orders, and our first standing order provides that -
In all wises not provided for hereinafter, or by sessional or other orders, resort shall be had to the rules, forms, and practice of the Commons House of the Imperial Parliament of Great Britain and Ireland in force at the time of the adoption of those orders, which shall be followed as far as they can be applied to the proceedings of the House of Representatives.
It will be seen therefore that the practice of the British Parliament is to be followed only in cases not provided for by our own rules, and as the occasions when members, including Ministers, may speak are provided for, we are not in this instance thrown back upon that practice. The ruling which I give will not prevent the Prime Minister or any other member from making statements to the House. Such statements can always be mode by leave of the House without the necessity for any course being taken which will enable other honorable members to discuss them; or, if leave be refused, they can be made upon laying a paper upon the table, upon moving the adjournment of the House, or upon the adoption of any other proper course whichwill permit other honorable members to discuss them immediately afterwards. While the practice which I propose to follow will not limit the opportunities of Ministers to make statements, it will conserve the right of the leader of the Opposition and of othermembers of the House to debate them should they think fit. If the House unanimously gives leave for the making of a statement, no debate can follow; but if any member objects to leave being, given, the statement can be made in the manner I have indicated, the right of discussion being then reserved to honorable members.
– I wish to bring under the notice of the Minister for Trade and Customs the following letter which I have received from the secretary to the Coastal Trades and Labour Council of Western Australia -
I am directed by the above council to respectfully draw your attention to the increasing influx of Italians and other aliens into this State, and to request that you will use your influence with the Comptroller of Customs in the direction of getting the provisions of the Immigration Restriction Act enforced as early as possible in this State.
– The question properly comes within my department. The honorable member asks it at short notice, but I do not think it is difficult to answer. It was the complete understanding of the House during the debates upon the Immigration Restriction Bill, that immigrants of European race should be admitted without restriction,unless they were specifically found to be undesirable. Where people of European race, whether Italians or of other nationalities, show that they are undesirable, or are discovered to be so, upon grounds independent of colour, there will be no hesitation in applying the educational test ; but I do not think it was intended by Parliament, or desired by the country, that persons of European race should be subjected to the test, unless there be some specific reason for their exclusion.
– I desire to ask the Treasurer when he contemplates raising a loan ? As things are at present the business of some of the departments is in a complete state of paralysis from the want of money.
– I propose to deal with the Estimates and the question of constructing loan works immediately after we have dealt with the Tariff. We cannot break into the consideration of the Tariff and start the financial discussion which must necessarily take place on the loan proposals. In the meantime I am financing any very urgent works out of the Treasurer’s advance vote. Of course we have no right to proceed with any of these works unless we are quite satisfied that they are very urgently needed.
asked the Minister representing the PostmasterGeneral, upon notice : -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follow : -
asked the Minister re presenting the Postmaster-General,upon notice -
Whether, in view of the proposed alteration of telegraphic rates, he will cause a record to be taken for one day, within one week from date, of all telegrams despatched to places in New South Wales from offices in the city of Sydney and its suburbs, showing in separate divisions those at the shilling and those at the sixpenny rate, and in each division giving the total number of messages of one word, and the total for each additional word (exclusive of address and signature), and place the same on the table of this House ?
asked the Minister representing the PostmasterGeneral,upon notice, -
– The answer to the honorable member’s questions is as follows : -
Inquiry is being made, and a copy ofcircular obtained, in order to enable repliesto be given.
– In asking the Minister for Trade and Customs, upon notice -
If he will make arrangements, when machinery or goods are sent from one State to another for the purpose of repair and return only, that, when the repairs are effected, such machinery or goods shall be permitted to be returned to the sender without duty being charged, whether such machinery or goods have been imported into the Commonwealth or made in any State -
I wish to explain that before the Commonwealth was established goods and machinery could cross the border and be repaired without any duty being charged. But I understand that under section 92 of the Constitution Act a charge is being made. While the section no doubt may cover the charge, still I am sure that its framers never intended it to apply to such cases - that while enforcing it in the way they are doing the officers may be keeping the letter of the Constitution, they are certainly breaking its spirit.
– The honorable member must not argue the question.
– I trust that the Minister will be able to devise some means by which the former practice can be carried on.
– The honorable member’s explanation of his question shows that he recognises the difficulty in which we are placed. The formal answer to the question is -
Section 92 of the Constitution Act docs not appear to contemplate the arrangement suggested.
I may add that we hope that at some very early date an opportunity may be taken for more fully securing Inter-State free-trade. At present we think, as guardians of the Constitution, that the course suggested can hardly be taken. It would have the effect of allowing goods from New South Wales to be sent into Victoria for repair for the benefit of the Victorian tradesman, whilst goods from Sydney could not be sent into Victoria for sale to compete against the Victorian trader. Under the provision in the Constitution Act, I do not think it possible to make the arrangement suggested. However, if on further consideration we come to a different conclusion, we shall not hesitate to apprise the House.
– It is a very important question.
– It is to the Victorian.
In Committee of Waysand Means -
Consideration resumed from15th January (vide page8859) -
Item 74. - Manufactures of metal -
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.
Upon which Mr. Thomas had moved, by way of amendment -
That the words “and on and after l6th January, 1902, free” be added.
– This is practically the last series of items in this division, and it has caused a considerable amount of discussion. It has called forth “the criticism of the two leading gladiators on the fiscal issue - the leader of the Opposition and the Minister for Trade and Customs. In this division, whilst we are dealing specifically with a number of items, we have a peculiar conglomeration. It includes articles from engines, boilers, and pumps, down to plated cutlery. One of the reasons why so much attention has been given to this item is the very large extent to which it affects the mining industry, inasmuch as pretty well all the “ most expensive and complicated machinery required in the production and treatment of minerals is included, and it is proposed, so far as the industry is affected by the Tariff in this way, that taxation to the very large extent of 25 per cent, shall be levied. In the discussion of the preceding items I have taken the stand of endeavouring to secure what I consider reasonable and fair consideration for those of our population who are engaged in the primary industries or natural productions that are in operation here, and so far as my knowledge of the effect of the Tariff goes I am bound to confess that,whilst special privileges are given to those who are engaged in manufactures of a secondary rather than a primary nature, and those who are engaged in the manufacture of articles that can never be expected to reach the proportions of natural in- dustries, such, for instance, as the manufacture of wax vestas, so far as limiting com-, petition from outside is aimed at and’ concerned, no like consideration has been given to the great mass who are engaged in the more primary forms of production,. and in productions of a national character. This item comes under that particular category. Whilst it is proposed to levy a 25 per cent, duty on all the machinery that is the raw material of the miner, it is proposed to give that . amount of consideration to those who happen to be engaged in the manufacture of mining machinery. I hold that whilst the advantages proposed to be conferred affect but a very small section of the community, the disadvantages that will result; therefrom affect a very large section of the community, and one to which we owe perhaps more than to any other our position in thisCommonwealth from a national stand-point. If it were not for the development of the mining industry, and the natural advantages we possess through our mineral resources, we should not be the Commonwealth we are to-day. The settlement of the country would not have reached its. present large dimensions, and our progress . would not have been so marked if it had not been for our extensive mineral resources, and the large number of ourpopulation engaged in their exploitation. In support of this view, I desire to direct the attention of the House to a pamphlet, which has recently been prepared by Coghlan, giving a summary of the mineral statistics of the whole of the States of the Commonwealth from 1861 to 1890. According to table 45 on page 16, the mineral wealth of New South Wales for the period referred to amounted to £132,000,000, whilstthat of Victoria totalled £260,000,000. The mineral wealth of Queensland amounted to £60,000,000, of South Australia to- £25,000,000, of Western Australia to- £23,000,000, and of Tasmania to- 17,000,000, or a total of £519,000,000. Ofthe total production of mineral wealth in New South Wales, gold represents. £48,000,000; silver, £30,000,000, and copper £5,000,000 ; whereas in Victoria, gold represents £257,000,000 out of a total of” £260,000,000. Whilst Victoria has had to face and solve the problem of dealingwith what are known as refractory and lowgrade ores, she has not had to cope with the difficulty to the same extent as havethe other States of the Commonwealth. Itis upon those engaged in dealing with these - refractory and low-grade ores that the proposed duty on mining machinery will fall most heavily, and I hold that it will operate to the detriment of the industry generally. It is in the interest of those who are engaged in mining, and particularly in the production of wealth from refractory and low-grade ores, that I appeal to the committee to vote against the Government proposal. It does not matter from what particular source wealth comes. Whether it is produced from the bowels of the earth, or is the outcome of complicated operations in the factory, it is equally wealth, and the production of it is equally desirable.I do not wish to take any action that would in any way prevent the legitimate production of wealth by means of manufactories, but all I ask is that reasonable consideration should be shown for those who are engaged in extracting wealth from other sources. I appeal to the committee to consider the position of the mining interests so -far as the States of New South Wales, Queensland, and Western Australia are concerned, because these States have not been favoured to the same extent as Victoria with large gold deposits, capable of exploitation without the necessity of solving the problems of treatment which those engaged in mining in the other States have had to face. In that part of New South Wales which I have the honour of representing, there are large mineral deposits. In the initial stages the miners, like those in Victoria, had rich alluvial deposits to work upon, but now these have been exhausted, future mining operations must be of a more complicated and expensive character. Upon this subject I have- received communications from a number of mine managers, and practical miners of large experience, all of whom claim that the duty now under consideration, and the Tariff generally, will operate to the detriment of the mining industry. Among these letters is one from the representative of Orange in the State Legislature, who has had a life-long experience in mining, and knows what he is speaking about. He has had control of one of the largest mines in that district, and has been largely instrumental in bringing about its development. He states that he is now called upon as the manager of a mine, which is one of the deepest in New South Wales - operations are now being carried on at about 1,200 feet below the surface - to face the problem of dealing profitably with low - grade ores. In his endeavour to profitably treat these ores, he advised the large English company, which he represents, that it would be necessary to expend a considerable sum of money for the purchase of up-to-date machinery. That purchase, I understand, was practically agreed on, but when it became known what the effect of the Tariff would be in adding to the cost of this necessary machinery, it was decided to cancel the order.
– What sort of machinery wa wanted1?
– I am not in a position to say, because the manager did not give rae that information. 25 o 2
– Mines at Bendigo are worked at 3,000 feet.
– We must recollect that between Bendigo mining and Lucknow mining there may be a wide difference, and the State member for Orange, who is the manager of the mine, and a very capable man, informs me that the problem he has to deal with is presented in the low grade ores.
– There are low grade ores at Bendigo.
– It was for the purpose of treating those low grade ores that special machinery was necessary.
– Why were tenders not called for 1
– It was because of the smallness of the margin, as shown in the cost of production, that the order was cancelled. I am quite satisfied from my acquaintance with the honorable member for Orange, that if it .were possible to give preference to colonial machinery, he is the man to give that preference.
– He has not tried to get colonial machinery.
– If the honorable and learned member can show that the manufacturers of Bendigo can produce this necessary machinery quite as well, and at the same cost as that at which the manager proposed to import it, I have not the least doubt that those manufacturers will speedily have an order. I have another communication from the manager of a property in my electorate, in which is invested something like £200,000 of English capital. This manager informs me that he has to deal with the low-grade problem, and that until recently he was working at a very narrow margin. He goes on to say that, as an outcome of the increased taxation, be has been compelled to dispense with the services of 100 men, and that it is a question which will have to be determined by his company whether the mine shall be closed down or operations limited very considerably, or whether they will launch forth on the large scale which is considered necessary in order to make the mine pay. Right through the country of which I am speaking is an enormous mineral area, and whilst it is a fact that as auriferous country it has been rich, the auriferous deposit has now been worked out. The problem which has to be faced in the future is deep sinking, and the treatment of refractory or low-grade ores. For such work there is required the most up-to-date machinery that can be obtained ; and operations must be carried on at the minimum point of cost, in order to bring about development and establish the industry on a permanent basis. Further west in my electorate is another deposit of a more complicated character, carrying ores of gold, silver, and copper. For a considerable time this deposit was worked profitably, but the fall in the price of metal some years ago caused operations to be practically suspended. Owing, however, to an increase of prices, and more particularly owing to new and improved methods of treating the ores having been adopted, the properties in this area have been worked profitably for some years. They give promise of being established on a firm basis, and of opening up an immense area of country for profitable occupancy ; and but for the mining I could see no possibility of satisfactory settlement for a considerable time to come, owing to the smallness of the rainfall. As the result of recent falling prices, and the increased cost of machinery and of living, caused by the Federal Tariff, the number of hands employed on the mining properties has been reduced; and the question is now being considered whether it would not be wise for the time being to suspend operations. Task the committee whether this is not an industry of a national character. It is an industry which contains within it possibilities of infinitely greater wealth than can be looked for from the mere manufacture of mining machinery. If the mineral wealth is not here, the Government may impose a duty of 100 per cent, on mining machinery, and yet do very little towards developing the manufacture of the latter. The first thing necessary is to develop mining, and make a demand for machinery. I hold that the Government, in the method which they have adopted, are sacrificing the mining interest for the benefit of a few manufacturers, and that their conduct amounts to “ killing the goose with the golden egg.” I do not wish to labour this matter, which has been very ably dealt with by the leader of the Opposition and other honorable members. There are honorable members of the House who have practical mining knowledge gained in the different States, and who are1 in a position to lay before us valuable information. But I should like to refer honorable members to an article in the Australian Mining Standard, which is a very ably conducted journal, published specially in the interests of mining. The matter which finds expression in the columns of this journal may be regarded as different from that in the daily press, in so far as this particular publication represents the requirements of the mining industry, and is conducted by experts who thoroughly know the subjects with which they deal. The article takes the ground I have taken from the outset, namely, that the industry is natural to this country, and one to which the Commonwealth in no small degree owes its present position amongst the peoples of the world. It is contended that the mining industry forms one of the items of wealth production in the Commonwealth, and that because of its pioneer character - because of the dim- culties and disadvantages with which those engaged in it have to contend, when they are compelled to go into the wildsand deny themselves the conveniences of civilization - additional burdens should not be imposed upon it as proposed by the Government. This writer summarizes the extent to which the States at the present time are dependent upon this source of wealth. He states that Western Australia derives 60 per cent, of its total wealth from its mineral production, Tasmania 50 per cent., Queensland. 18 per cent., New South Wales 16 per cent., Victoria 12 per cent., and South Australia per cent., or an average all round of approximately 18 per cent. These figures indicate the important factor which mineral wealth represents in the general development of the States. During the course of this debate a big point has been made of the great advance which has taken place in the manufacture of mining machinery in Victoria. It is claimed that this State is capable of competing with the most up-to-date machinery manufactured in any other part of the world, and that it can produce it as cheaply. If that be so, there can be no objection to the Tariff submitted. But the writer to whom I have already referred holds quite a different view. Speaking of Victoria he says -
Its method of mining, of management, of reduction and extraction, are unfavorably criticised by every visiting expert.
– Who is the writer ?
– I am quoting the opinion of the editor of the Australian Mining Standard, who says that the opinion of -visiting experts is to the effect that Victorian mining, as far as the reduction and extraction of gold from ores is concerned, is not up to the standard which obtains in other parts of the world. He then goes on to show to what extent this Tariff will affect existing mining enterprises which are conducted upon a large scale, particularly in Western Australia. I have already shown to what degree it will affect the industry in New South Wales, and this expert authority sums up the position thus -
As we have pointed out on more than one previous occasion, however it may apply to some others, the miner is a man who derives no particle of benefit from protection either directly or indirectly. He stands in dread of no competitor. He asks for no assistance at the expense of his neighbour. His product is an article the market price of which protection is powerless to advance, and it is one that must be exported before its value can be realized. If Australasian gold could not be exported it would be a worthless drug. Silver, copper, tin, and lead are in the same ease ; yet protection anathematizes export, and concerns itself only about local manufacture. Nevertheless, the miner, though he derives no benefit from protection, must pay its full cost in the advanced price of every dutiable import he uses, and every local manufacture it affects, and he is now called upon to do this at a time when his industry is fighting against a serious depression caused by the market decline in the value of products. Silver, copper, tin, lead, zinc, all are down, and only taxes are up.
Who can gainsay that? The proposal to levy a duty of something like 25 per cent, upon the machinery that is required for the development of this particular industry may seem a very small charge to the hardcased protectionists of Victoria, but by those who come from the other States, and particularly from New South Wales and Western Australia, where the industry plays such an important part in the wealth production, and where hitherto mining machinery has been included in the free list, it must be regarded as a very serious and heavy impost indeed. As I have already stated, the mineral deposits of those States can scarcely be regarded as being in the same category as the minerals of Victoria. The Victorian miners have not been confronted with the same problems as the other States have had to face. In New South Wales the miners have had to deal with low grade and refractory ores which are not susceptible of easy treatment. I hold that it is necessary that we should encourage this form of wealth production. The miners do not ask us to favour them in any particular. They know very well that they have to- compete with the whole world. No form of taxation which the Government can impose can save them from competition with the low-paid labour of other countries, and even with the black labour of some parts of the world. If they are not prepared to compete under these conditions they must assuredly go under. All that they ask is to be left alone. They seek for no special concession, ask for no special assistance. It would be fruitless for them to do so. But they do urge that they should not. be loaded with crushing burdens for the sake of a comparative few who might be benefited by this tax. I hope that the committee will see the reasonableness of giving this great industry every consideration. Personally, I should like this Parliament to copy the example of New South Wales by placing mining machinery on the free list; but, failing that, the proposed duty should be reduced at least to 10 or 15 per cent. We have levied a duty of 15 per cent, upon the implements used by the farmer, and it appeal’s to me that the agricultural industry is upon all fours with the mining industry. It would not be just to place the large body of miners throughout the Commonwealth at an)’ greater disadvantage than that under which our farmers labour. We shall be doing only bare justice to both these great industries if we put them upon the same level as the Government have put protected industries. For example, where they have protected the manufacturer of cloth or of other articles, they have been careful in nearly every instance to exempt from duty the machinery required for their manufacture. To adopt a similar course here would be only a matter of common equity, and I will undertake to say that, by placing mining machinery upon the free list, the Commonwealth would benefit to a greater extent than it will by the imposition of any taxation of a protective character such as is proposed.
– I am fully aware of the value of time, and the necessity for bringing the debate on this item to a close as quickly as possible. I feel that there is a great deal of force in the argument urged in the interest of the miner. I know the value of the mining industry, and the calibre and character of the miner. For intelligence, force of character, and power of combination, I do notthink the miner can be excelled. But I am sure that the miner of Victoria, at any rate, and I think I know him pretty well, is quite prepared to make a sacrifice, if a sacrifice is involved - and I say there is no sacrifice involved - in order to open up other avenues of employment that will distinctly benefit himself and his family.
– In Western Australia?
– We are not discussing Western Australia just now. But my right honorable friend will admit that unless there is shortly a change in the fortunes of mining at Broken Hill, as I hope there will be, there will be as great an exodus from New South Wales to Western Australia, as there was from Victoria to Western Australia, through circumstances over which neither Victoria nor New South Wales has any control. We are not discussing that matter at the present time, but the question of opening up avenues of employment. We are asked how protection can benefit the miner. What is the miner going to do with his sons ? Every grown-up son put into the mining field in competition with his father must be detrimental to the interests of the miner.
– There are 5,000 less employed in manufactures in Victoria than there were ten years ago.
– The honorable member is altogether wrong.
– Mr. Fenton says so.
– Mr. Fenton says nothing of the kind. For the last six years, since we got over our commercial crisis, the number of hands employed in our manufactories has been gradually increasing, and in none more than in the machinery manufactories.
– Is it not a fact that Victoria has lost one-tenth of her population during the last ten years, and chiefly the young men of Victoria ?
– Is it not a fact that there are reasons for that altogether apart from the fiscal issue? Is it not a fact that New South Wales will also lose population from the district I have indicated, unless the disaster at present pending is averted.
– We have gained population.
– Simply because New South Wales has sold land, and has taken steps which Victoria did not feel justified in taking. But surely we are not going to discuss this old question over again? The honorable member who has just resumed his seat, has said that miners have never asked for assistance, that they do not want any help, and that they wish only to be left alone to go their own sweet way. Now, is that a fact? What do we find? We find that the mining industry in Victoria has been assisted by the State, by a sum amounting to £304,000. Under the Treasury Bonds Act passed in 1896, no less a sum than £101,233 was advanced to mining companies ; and we find that up to the 30th June, 1900, £41,941 had been advanced to miners to enable them to carry on their operations. That is in the State of Victoria alone, and yet the honorable member for Canobolas tells us that the miner asks for no assistance, and wants no State aid. I have mentioned that direct assistance has been given, from the State Treasury to the struggling miner, in order to enable him to carry on and develop his industry.
– The same thing is done in New South Wales.
– £20,000 a year.
– Does the honorable member say that £100,000 has been given ? It has been lent, not given.
– I say it has been spent in the development of that particular industry.
– Has it not been lent to the companies ?
– No, not any more than the protective duty is given to the manufacturer or workman when all that it does is to prevent unfair competition. The honorable member for Canobolasstated that no such aid was wanted for the miners, and yet I have shown that up to the 30th June, 1900, over £41,000 was advanced to the miners of Victoria to enable them to carry on their occupation.
– They were big syndicates, they were not miners.
– The honorable member for Maranoa knows a great deal, but he does not know what he is talking about in thisparticular instance. I can assure the honorable member that he is wrong, and that working miners have been provided with tents, tools, and provisions., and have been kept for months, and in some instances longer, at the expense of the State in order to enable them to develop their industry - working miners prospecting and doing other work in connexion with mining. The honorable member for Maranoa is quite wrong when he says that this assistance has been given only to wealthy mining companies. It is the working miner and bands off working miners who have been assisted in the way I have indicated.
– And mining companies -also. And the money was lent.
– That is so, but my honorable friend has heard the reasoning that this duty is going to press heavily upon mining companies, and that they in turn will have to reduce wages or discharge their hands. If mining companies Iia ve been given handsome support by the State, should not that act in the other way, and should they not in consequence be able to give increased employment, which would benefit the working miners ?
– The money was lent and will have to be repaid.
– Honorable members will know from the history of mining subsidies that a very great deal of the money advanced in that way is never paid back.
– Very little.
– My honorable friend is always fair, and I wish he was on my side. Surely, if Governments in the past have had to assist mining companies, and have done so readily and willingly ; surely if they have had to assist groups of working miners, and have assisted them readily and willingly, it is the duty of those mining companies and of those working miners to do all they can to increase other avenues of employment, and to spend every penny.it is possible for them to spend in Australia for the manufacture of the machinery they require ? Surely that is a reasonable proposal, which must commend itself to every patriotic citizen of Australia ?
– Is it not fair to put it the other way about ? Seeing that the Government taxes mining companies by extra taxation upon the machinery they use, ought they not therefore to subsidize them in the way the)’ do 1
– I have yet to have it proved that mining companies are taxed by duties upon machinery, because I hold that a protective duty is not a tax. If it is effective it will secure competition in the home market, and that local competition will cut down prices, and those using mining machinery will be benefited as the result of that competition. I hold in my hand a petition from a body of men; equally as deserving of support and encouragement, and who, I am sure, will command the respect of this committee quite as much as do the miners - and .1 have told honorable members my attitude towards the miners. I have here the case of the Amalgamated Society of Engineers. This society is one of the most powerful and best organized societies in the civilized world, as my honorable friends opposite know.
– Next to the lawyers : the lawyers are first.
– I am very much obliged for the interjection, because when we hear lawyers strongly advocating free-, dom of trade, knowing all the protection, they have for their own profession, I begin to think what a pity it is that we cannot have free-trade in law for a little time, so; that we may derive some benefit from it. I find that there are no less than 15,675; men employed in the various engineering and’ machine manufacturing works throughout the Commonwealth. In presenting this, statement of their case, I am acting on behalf of these men, who are unanimous in1 their desire that the Commonwealth Parliament should not take any step that would > be likely to crush out what, from every/ point of view, is one of the best industries in Australia. So far as I have heard, there: is no sweating in the engineering trade.. Engineers and ironfounders pay good wages.The men belong in the majority of instancesto trades unions, and are respectable citizens. In a statement signed by their executive officer, they say ‘their manufactures include -
Manufactures of metals, steam engines,’ machinery, agricultural implements, bicycles, portable engines, gas engines, oil engines,’ forgings and cast-iron work of all descriptions..We have here some of the ablest workmen, some, of the most skilled artisans in the world, and we: contend almost any class o£ machinery can be manufactured in the Commonwealth.
They go on to urge that if we reduce the duty - to say nothing about wiping it out; . as the honorable member for Barrier pro- , poses - the result must be disastrous ; that when, upon the revision of the old Victorian Tariff, the duty was reduced from 35 to 25 per cent., hundreds of men were thrown out of employment, and machinery manufactured previously in this State was imported from either Germany or America.
– When did that revision of the Victorian Tariff take place ?
– In 1896.
– That was about the time of the great depression in Victoria.
– No ; we were then beginning to emerge from it. It is a remarkable fact that, while every one of the industries in Victoria in connexion with which the duties were reduced in 1896, showed a decrease of employment subsequently, all those industries in relation to which the duties were increased or remained stationary showed a marked increase in the number of their employes.
– How does the honorable member account for machinery being sent from Queensland to South Australia, notwithstanding a duty of 25 per cent., and from Victoria to Queensland, where a duty of 25 per cent, had also to be paid ?
– There may have been very many reasons for it.
– Give us one reason.
– I will. As an illustration of what frequently takes place, I would point out that the Otis Engineering Company, for example, may have been slack at the time. They have in their employ some of the best skilled mechanical engineers whose services they are anxious to retain, and in times of depression they frequently build and stock a large quantity of machinery that they are very glad to sell, even at a loss, in order to continue to provide work for their workmen, and so retain their services.
– Both of the plants I refer to were made to order.
– There may have been other reasons of which I know nothing, but the honorable member may be sure that they were very good reasons. As in Victoria, so in America. Whenever there has been an undue reduction of duty, there has been a decrease in the number of hands, a reduction in wages, and a general stagnation of trade. That is a matter of history, and it is borne out by the statement of the secretary of the Engineers’ Society. We want, as far as possible, to mitigate that evil. I regret very much to say that there appears to be a tendency on the part of public bodies, as well as private citizens, to deprecate everything Australian,
Mr.- Pace. - The Government which the honorable member supports do that.
– If the Government are guilty of that sin, do not blame me.
– Why does the honorable- . member support them?
– Because I cannot find! a better one to support.
– Come over here.
– My honorable friend would not like to see the Government displaced. He has thrown up his hat times out of number for the good work they are doing. I am no apologist for them any more than I am an apologist for protectionists who occasionally vote free-trade because the industry affected does not happen to be in their own State. I hate inconsistency of any kind, and am no apologist for it.
– The honorable member does not object to a little inconsistency now and again.
– I think I have been a. consistent protectionist ever since I entered public life. There may have been a lapse occasionally, but we are all inclined to that, not excepting my honorable friend. I was. pointing out, when interrupted, that there is a strong and growing tendency on the part of mining companies, city councils, and public boards, to deprecate everything. Australian or Australian-made.
– It U quite a mistake to say that.
– I speak of that which I know. I have had frequently to head deputations to the Melbourne.and Metropolitan Board of Works, to point out to them, that Victorian manufacturers are able to build engines as good as any that can be made in any part of the world. Butfor the duty on imported machinery we should not have been able to induce them to place the orders in question locally. The duty made it imperative that, in order to. save £800 or £900, as the case might be, the members of the board should vote forhaving the machinery made in the State.
– And were not the engines,, to which the honorable .member refers,, defective in their results ?
– And why? Because Australian manufacturers and workmen were not given a fair chance. A price was. fixed, for which engines of the power and character necessary could not possibly be built.
– Is the Peacock Government/ a protectionist one ?
– They are supposed to be a very strong protectionist Government.
– Then why do they send to Germany for railway carriage springs ?
– I am not aware that they have done so. If they had done so while I was a member of the State Parliament I should have moved a motion of censure on them. It appears to me that Australians, are quite good enough to fight for the Empire, and to fight loyally, but they are not good enough, when it comes to making their own necessaries. Some people will send to Germany, Italy,France, or America, but they will not have. Australianmade goods. I am sure that if our workmen are only given fair play, they can produce machinery as good and as cheap as can be produced in any part of the world. I should like to point out that the machinery involved in this item does not relate solely to mining. Let us admit, for the sake of argument, that the proposal to place a duty of 25 per cent, on mining machinery is too high, and that it should be reduced to 15 per cent. I would remind honorable members that this item is of such a drag net character, that it includes machinery which, it is admitted on all hands, can be made in Australia just as effectively and as cheaply as in any other part of the world. Why subject that class of machinery to undue competition 1 There is electrical machinery, for instance. I have here a statement, both by employers and employes in Victoria, setting forth that -
Weare in a position to build any type of motor, dynamo, or generator in use.
– Who says that ?
– This letter is signed both by employes and employers connected with electrical works in Melbourne, and I shall be happy to escort the honorable member over the works. I am sure the honorable member is like the Presbyterian kitten ; he only wants his eyes opened.Once that is done, he will change his colour, and support the proposals of the Government. The firm whose letter I am about to quote have made direct-current dynamos and motors, alternating -current dynamos and motors, electric locomotives, and haulage plants for mining and other purposes, and electric pumps, and have already built machines up to 500 horse-power. They say that they have made about 20 per cent, of all the motors in use in Melbourne. As to the quality of their work, they say -
We have built work for some of the bast known. English makers for use in the colonies, and have, at their request, put on their name-plate only. This, we think, should be conclusive evidence as to quality.
– Why is that done?
– Because of the unfair prejudice against Australian workmanship.
– Who does it?
– Quite a number of firms. I can give the honorable member the name of my authority, and then he can. make inquiries for himself. It is well known that Australian work is continually being put upon the market and sold as. English or American work. In one of our largest distributing houses, when they run out of certain lines of paint brushes, they get unstamped brushes from a local manufacturer, and sell them as English-made brushes.
– Is not that fraudulent ?
– The honorable member is now reflecting upon the importers. I understood him at first to reflect upon the manufacturers. I do not believe that the manufacturers would do a thing of that kind.
– I am not reflecting upon either the manufacturers or the importers, I am reflecting upon the prejudice of people who will not give Australian workmen a fair chance.
– Is there not a Brands Act in Victoria ?
– I am sorry that there is not. America sets us a splendid example in this respect. I was talking to-day to a. leading merchant, who has recently come from America, and he told me that his hat, clothing, and boots were all stamped with, the legalized trades union brands. It is. the loyalty of Americans to the productions of their own workmen that has done so much to build up the industrial supremacy of their nation.
– Does the honorable member wear colonial tweed ?
– Yes. I am colonially clad from top to bottom, including umbrella and necktie. The letter continues -
Electric motors, dynamos, generators, &c., although not specially mentioned in the Victorian Tariff, were always classed as coming under machinery. We would therefore ask you, when this item comes on for discussion, to use your influence in having the same classification fixed, unless machinery is cut down below Mr. Kingston’s proposals (23 per cent.) If such reduction is made by the House we would like electric motors, dynamos, generators, &c, to be subject to 2d per cent.
Surely if this machinery can be made here, and sold as cheaply as the imported article, it is the duty of the committee to do all that is possible to foster the industry.
– How many men are employed in this industry? Are there a dozen?
– I cannot say how many are employed in it ; but the possibilities ,of electricity are unbounded, and if you ,give our electrical machinists and engineers a fair chance, an avenue of employment will be opened up which will be very advantageous to the people of the Commonwealth.
– “What does the honorable member call a fair chance - 50 per cent ?
– Were it not for the requirements of revenue, I think it would be a good thing for the people of Australia to put on a duty of 50 per cent. As to the effect of protection upon prices, the following opinion of Mr. Webb, the late Victorian Minister of Agriculture, will be of interest. Replying to a deputation, he is reported to have said that -
As far as his experience went, he found that the cost of a factory was not increased by the high dates. Two years ago he bought an engine and boiler for £160, and now they could be bought for £127, though in the meantime the duty had been raised to 33 per cent. On the other hand, a 90 gallon cream separator, which cost £47 10s. before the duty was taken off still sold at the same price. Similar effects were apparent in regard to reapers and binders.
The effect of duties may be to temporarily raise’ prices to the consumers, but when a number of factories get into full play prices are reduced again. I have evidence, and the Minister for Trade and Customs has evidence, of the fact that nearly all the machinery required for the Commonwealth could be manufactured in the country. If the honorable member for Barrier can cite instances of patented machinery which is not likely to be made here, or cannot be made here with profit to the manufacturer and advantage to the consumer, I shall be ready to join with him in getting it introduced free of duty. -
– Will the honorable member say, since he knows that the effect of protection is to make everything cheaper, whether the consumers are crying out for high duties ?
– The constitution of this committee goes to show that the consumers are in favour of reasonable duties. There can be no doubt that that is so in Victoria. Ninety- nine out of every 100 consumers in the district which I represent are in favour of duties of all kinds which will give Australian workmen a preference.
– That is because they believe that the duties make things cheaper.
– They know that they get boots, clothing, machinery, and everything else more cheaply now than before they had protection. I ask my honourable friend, in endeavouring to obtain the removal of the duty upon mining machinery, not to try to get rid of the duty upon all machinery.
– If the committee will let mining machinery come in free, they may do what they like with other machinery.
– The committtee would undoubtedly be ready to admit free mining machinery which cannot be made here, but I know as a matter of fact that within a mile of this building there are spring factories employing men at good wages which would be shut down to-morrow if the radical amendment of the honorable member were carried. I urge that the importance of the machinery - making industry, the petition presented by the society of engineeers, and the representations of the manufacturers should be regarded, and that if the committee makes a concession in the case of mining machinery, it should retain the proposed duties upon the other machinery covered by the item.
– I do not intend to refer generally to the question of machinery. I thoroughly agree with all the remarks which the honorable member for Barrier made in his excellent speech in asking that the articles included in this item should be duty free. I think that the Opposition is under a debt of gratitude to the honorable member for having during the adjournment gone to Broken Hill to make himself thoroughly conversant with the whole case from the point of view of the miner. I should like, as I may not be here when the division is taken, having to -leave, to draw attention to the item of engines. The committee will remember that oil engines have been placed on the free list. 1 do. not know wiry in the administration of the Tariff a duty of 25 per cent, is still collected on some oil engines. I know that when oil engines were removed from the earlier portion of item 74 they fell under the particular part we are now dealing with - “n.e.i.” - and so would be subject to a duty of 25 per cent.; but I could not for a moment imagine that the Government would use that drag-net, and take advantage of the fact that the committee desire to put them on the free list.
– Can the honorable And learned member give us a specific instance in which that has been done?
– I had a letter this morning which seems to be a case in point.
– If the honorable and learned member will send it to us we shall have it investigated. Certainly, a mistake has been made.
– I am not going into the particulars, but I have a case where the duty has been collected, after remonstrance, on motors which are worked by volatile oil, and they come under the trade term of oil engines. However, if the Treasurer tells me that the matter will be corrected,1 I shall send him the letter.
– We shall have it inquired into.
– Oil engines are at present on the free list, according to the declared policy of the Government.
– At present.
– The Treasurer declared that he intended to put them on the .free list, but that he might consider the policy of giving a bonus for their manufacture.
– We propose later on to ask the committee to reconsider that question.
– I hope that the committee will do nothing of the sort. I know that there is some idea of the Government recanting on the liberality they displayed in putting oil engines on the free list. As regards gas engines, which are subject to a 25 per cent, duty under this head, I am informed by men competent to judge that there is no true trade distinction between gas engines and oil engines, and that if one ought to be free the other should. Oil engines are worked by gas generated from oil ; steam engines are really worked by gas generated from water, and gas engines are worked by coal gas. As a matter of fact, some exporters can send gas engines here as oil engines, because by attaching a modern invention - a vaporizer - a gas engine can be used as an oil engine. I believe that on the Continent they are described in some of the advertisements as engines capable of being worked by coal gas or by oil gas. Under these circumstances, there really is no distinction between the two types, and there is no reason why, one having been put on the free list, the other should not also be exempt from duty. The purchasers of gas engines are entitled to equal consideration even with the farmers, who are, I believe, the chief purchasers of oil engines.
– But the oil engines were put on the free list by mistake.
– I dare say that something was found out afterwards which did not suit the local trade. However, gas engines are largely used by small men. They are used by small printers, by workers who are ambitious to become employers ; and if you put on the free list, as you have done, the. linotype machine, which dispenses to a largie extent with labour - the rich employer’s machine - I cannot see why gasengines, the machinery ‘of the poor printer, should not also be put on the free list. Then, as regards the. employment given, the honorable member for. Melbourne Ports has mentioned that if this machinery could not be manufactured here, he would not insist upon protection for the manufacturers. There has been protection to the extent of 30 per cent, on these engines for over twelve years in Victoria. There are, I am informed, only 35 persons engaged in the manufacture of gas-engines in Victoria. There are two leading manufacturers, and one has 10 employes and the other 25* In New South Wales, I believe, there is only one manufacturer. He does not work the whole week. His output for two and a quarter years has not totalled ten engines. So that the protection in Victoria indicates that the high rate of even 30 per cent, has not brought about the results anticipated by those who framed its Tariff. There is a reason why the local production of engines cannot successfully compete against importers. In America, in England, and to some extent on the Continent, the manufacturer of particular engines is a speciality. One manufacturer turns out a gas-engine of a particular class, and another manufacturer makes a gasengine of another class. But with our limited market, as has been insisted upon by the honorable member for Barrier, it does not pay manufacturers to experiment upon new types. I am informed by two or three importers, that the principal type of gasengine here - almost the only type - is the Otto ; that, in fact, the local manufacturers make from the expired patent, and in some cases the new inventions imported are able to work at an expenditure of 40 per cent, less than the engines which are locally turned out on the expired patent, a ‘matter that is of exceedingly great importance to the purchaser. Upon that point, as showing the difficulty without a large market of even old manufacturers turning out new classes of machines, I shall quote from a letter by a leading importer which I received yesterday from Adelaide -
Manufacturers have not the plant and experience necessary to build such large engines. To show the difficulty of attempting the building of such large engines without experience, we may mention that a reputable firm in England who hud been making good small engines took a contract for four 100 horse-power engines, and the behaviour of those was so erratic that after twelve months’ use they were all taken out; If mines find g:,s-engines necessary to economical working, why practically force them to the liability of a similar experience as that mentioned ?
In another paragraph of the letter he bears out what I stated as regards the manufacturing from the expired patent -
We beg to point out that all engines in Australia that we know of work on our principal’s expired patent, namely the “Otto” patent, and nothing practically has come forward in Australia to supersede it. If anything did, a patent would give ample protection.
The duty of 25 per cent, means of course 27-J- per cent., and I am informed that the import charge is 20 per cent. You have therefore got for these gas-engines a protection of 47i per cent., which seems to be monstrous. The price of the local engine, to say nothing about quality, is only 5” per cent, less than that of the imported engine, although the protection afforded is 47^ per cent. I shall give one instance which ought to be fairly conclusive, from the point of view of the miner, as to the inexpediency of imposing heavy taxation on these engines. I have a letter which shows that, before the Tariff, an importer in South Australia quoted £5,000 as the price of certain mining machinery. The Tariff, however, was introduced before the order had been carried out, and he was compelled to re-quote his price with an addition which made it £6,300, and whether this particular mining plant is taken .or not will depend upon whether the duty of 25 per cent, remains upon the Tariff. As to the incidence of the duty, I could quote from various invoices. I have an invoice here which shows that a gas engine which costs- £40 in England, and which upon being’ landed here costs, with the import chargesand the addition of 10 per cent., £48 8s.,. is subject to charges after landing amounting to £15 16s. 3d. In other words, thereis the difference between £40 and something like £60 in favour of the local manufacturer. I think these considerations will certainly justify the committee in treating gas engines with much greater liberality than is proposed. If we do not succeed in placing the whole of the engines, n.e.i., on the free list, gas engines, which are very largely purchased by miners, ought certainly to be exempted from duty.
Mr. RONALD (Southern Melbourne).I sincerely hope that the proposal of the Government will be carried, as I regard it as in the highest sense reasonable. We must not forget that in the very near future the raw material used by moulders and other workers in iron will be subject to a duty imposed with a view to promote its production within our own borders. There isno doubt that within the Commonwealth we have large iron deposits - in Tasmania, in New South Wales, and elsewhere - and we may look forward with confidence to the establishment of smelting furnaces in Australia. This, however, cannot be expected, unless a duty is placed upon the raw material. Meanwhile, the workers in iron within the Commonwealth are almost wholly dependent upon scrap iron for their raw material. At one time there was an export duty of £3 per ton on scrap- iron in Victoria, but that has now been taken off, with the result that Chinamen are gathering up the iron and shipping it out of the country. Very soon, therefore, our iron workers will be deprived of their present source of supply, and will have to fall back upon the raw material produced by the blast furnaces that we hope to see in operation here. In the initial stages of smelting operations, the price of the raw material required by moulders will undoubtedly be raised, and they will have to pay the duty of 10- per cent, imposed for the protection of the smelters. A 15 per cent, duty upon the manufactured article would reduce the protection granted to the iron worker’s to 5 per cent., which would be of no value whatever. If we are to have protection, we do not want it merely in name, and the imposition of anything less than a 25 per cent, duty would have disastrous effects upon the iron- working industry. Within a short distance of this House, I could place my hand upon 250 moulders and expert workers in iron, and of this number probably only one-fifth have been able to obtain work since the great reduction of the duties on iron in “Victoria. Therefore, unless we wish to throw more of these men into the ranks of the unemployed, I would ask the committee to very.seriously -consider the position. The iron industry is of the utmost importance to any community. We- can do without a great many things, but not without iron. The day will come, I hope, when we shall do our own ship-building and bridge-building, but unless our industries are to be stifled, in the meantime we must insist upon having something more than mere nominal protection. At the same time, it should be understood that no protectionist who is a sane man would try to impose a duty upon mining machinery which cannot be made within the Commonwealth. We have always shown the utmost indulgence to all patented articles used in the dairying and farming industry, and we are prepared to do our best to prevent those engaged in the primary industries from being unnecessarily handicapped. If it can be shown that certain machines are indispensible to miners and cannot be produced here, there is not a man in this Chamber who will not readily say that such articles -should be admitted free. If, however, we can make them here and employ our own men in preference to foreigners, we should impose the duty proposed, in order to give our local industries the necessary protection. Many parents are apprenticing their sons to become workers in iron, and this affords one of the best outlets for the energies of our young people. If, however, we afford no protection to the industry, our skilled workers will have no chance of holding their own against the cheaply-paid labour of the old world. We shall have no difficulty in competing with countries where the wages paid are equal to those received by our own artisans, but we do fear, And with good cause, the cheaply-paid labour of the continent, by means of which our markets can be flooded with material sent here at very low freights, ±o be sold at prices with which our local manufacturers could not compete. The effect of admitting these foreign goods free will be to throw our own artisans out of employment, and give work to the foreigners. I hope the present duties will be considered in view of the certainty of a duty being placed upon the raw material, which will reduce the protection afforded to our iron workers to a merely nominal amount, unless the Government proposal is adhered to.
– I find that the information which I had desired to lay before the committee is being gradually brought under the notice of members, and that very little is left for me to say. I should like to state at the outset that whilst I sit on this side of the chamber and theoretically believe in the principle of freetrade, I do not consider it my duty to go to the extreme point of that theoretical faith. I dissent from the position that the Tariff is not to be considered in the light of a compromise. I was returned to this House, not to press free-trade theories, nor to assist protected industries, but to regard first the financial necessities of the Commonwealth, and to give to industries now in existence such incidental protection as is possible. As to whether the proposal of the Government is intended to be a fair and reasonable compromise, I may, perhaps, be permitted to refer to actual figures relating to Western Australia. In 1900, Western Australia imported machinery to the value of £3,023,0S5, upon which duty, on the separate Tariff of that State, was paid to the amount of £151,155. That machinery, under the proposed Federal Tariff, would pay duty amounting to £755,750; and that, I venture to think, is not a reasonable compromise.
– That machinery would not all come under this heading.
– I am dealing with machinery on which, under the specific Tariff of Western Australia, £151,000 would have to be paid, and on which, under the Federal Tariff, as proposed, £755,000 will have to be paid.
– It would amount to £20,000 under this heading.
– If there is any difficulty about these headings, the responsibility must lie with the Government, who, in the judgment of a large number of honorable members, have not placed before the committee a sufficiently analytical statement in
I regard to the various items. I cannot take the responsibility of determining what the intentions of the Government are, and I am now dealing with the whole of the items in connexion with the amendment submitted by the honorable member for Barrier. Having seen what the effect will be in Western Australia, let us look at the position in New SouthWales. The value of the machinery imported into New South Wales in 1900 was £655,975, which, of course, was free of duty. The Government propose to add to that a fourth, which amounts to £163,000.
– But the honorable member is assuming that all that machinery will pay duty; as a fact, it will not be so.
– Iwill make that qualification, if the right honorable gentleman will allow me. I am prepared to admit that, according to the offer made by the Treasurer and the Minister for Trade and Customslast night, there will be a considerable free list. And, as I desire to be absolutely fair, I acknowledge that the conditions will be very much altered by the benefits which the Commonwealth will derive from interstate free-trade, a blessing which we have now secured. I am bound, however, with the qualifications I have admitted, to show the hardship which will fall on Western Australia and New South Wales if the Government proposals are carried out. But I feel that the Minister for Trade and Customs must have seen that the sense of the House is in favour of a considerable reduction, and I am perfectly persuaded that ultimately weshall get a just and reasonable compromise between the proposal of the honorable member for Barrier and that of the Government. The Minister for Trade and Customs last night challenged honorable members to indicate any machinery which could not be serviceably produced in the Commonwealth. I can give the right honorable gentleman a list of such machinery, beginning with certain tubular boilers. If the right honorable gentleman desires, I can give him many reasons why these boilers, which are protected by special patents, cannot be made here, and show that they are an absolute necessity where inland carriage is an important item. I can refer also to air-compressor plants and pumps, andthe Riedler valve, which mean the expenditure of large sums of money. There is a certain class of amalgamating plant which is protected by patents, and cannot be made in Australia. The parts can be made here, but the owners of the patents prefer that they should be made in their own countries. Then there are various blowers for furnaces. Every one knows that while a blower for ordinary purposes might be made here, when we want high speed and high pressure, and a large volume of air per cubic inch, we must have the highest class of blowers, which are protected by special patents in Europe and America, and cannot possibly be produced in the Commonwealth. I can also refer to crushers, briquetting plant, conveyors and elevators, and Luhrigvanners, and also to special kinds of concentrating tables, converter machinery, condensing plants with special appliances, and certain rock drills, consumers and superheaters. I would here like to refer to the prejudice which is said to existagainst locally made articles ; but in which I absolutely decline to believe. In my opinion the honorable member for Melbourne Ports is absolutely without justification in the statement he made.
– In regard to what?
– The statement that there is a prejudice in favour of aforeign article as against the local article which can be obtained at the same price and of equal quality.
– The honorable member ought to be in trade, and he would change his opinion.
– I am prepared to show that the companies with which I am associated purchase, possibly, more mining machinery and more mining plant than any other similar companies in Australia. I desire, as one interested in this question, to show the Treasurer and the Minister for Trade and Customs that there are at the present time being introduced into this country what are known as heat economizers and super-heaters, which, owing to the patent protection, no one dare make in Australia. These appliances cost £5,000 to land in Tasmania, and the saving to be effected in heat is equal to 25 per cent., so that the outlay is repaid in four years. I refer to this matter in order to show from a practical stand-point what essential factors of success in mining enterprise in Australasia lie in the economies to be effected in the treatment of low-grade and complex ores. Then there are the Abt engines, and Abt rack rails for steep grades. Last night the Minister for Trade and Customs very fairly agreed that every opportunity should be given for placing such articles upon the free list, or, at any rate, allowing such a reduction to be made upon them as would materially assist the industry. But had the intention of the framers of the Tariff been carried into effect, most of these articles, which it is absolutely impossible to manufacture locally, would have been compelled to bear the burden of this enormous duty of 25 per cent. ‘ Recently I got one of the best authorities upon metallurgical and mining matters to favour me with his opinion in regard to the economies which might be effected in mining machinery. I do not wish to advertise that gentleman in any way, and, therefore, I refrain from giving publicity to his name, but certainly ho stands acknowledged as probably the best authority upon the subject in Australasia. I shall, however, be very happy to supply his name privately to the two Ministers at the table. He says -
The economy in mining machinery may he said to have two distinct features, first the economy of maintenance, and secondly the economy in a machine having a larger capacity over one of a less.
The greatest expense in maintaining machinery to accomplish* the work is the amount of fuel expended to do this work.- It is a well-known fact that the latest types of engines, pumps, and compressors show a saving in fuel from 10 percent, to’ 15 per cent, and, in some cases, even more. This saving is accomplished by a first class design, and in a good many cases by patented features of such machinery. A further saving in fuel is accomplished by machinery and appliances invented in the last years, viz. : Superheaters, economizers, &c. Where in the past it was not considered necessary to make use of every unit of waste heat, it has now become a practice with economical maintenance to use such patented appliances, even at the great first cost.
As is well known, from year to year it is the striving of the mines to increase the capacities of their output at the same cost of running.-
In Western Australia that very feature is most prominent. It is clear that the rate of the returns in that great mineral country must decline. The average yield per ton of ore will have to be reduced, and, in future, the profits to be derived must be secured by increasing the quantity of ore put through the various processes of reduction and treatment. The authority whom T have quoted continues -
This is, to a very great extent, accomplished by machinery which is improved from time to time. I may mention here the fact that eight years ago the capacity of a 20-inch steam stamp was at the average of about 250 tons per day ; while- at the present time a steam stamp of the same size, and - working under the same conditions, and with the same kind of ore, has a. capacity of about 350 tons. This increased capacity is due to several novel features in the design of the mortar, screen surface, and foundation. Also, the ordinary stamp mill of to-day has. approximately 20 per cent, to 30 per cent, morecapacity than that of six or eight years ago. Thisis also the case with most of the mining machinery,, and has enabled mines being opened up and. worked at a profit, which heretofore could not. have been thought of.
I refer to this fact because the mines atBendigo are using the same class of crushing stamp as they used 10 or 20 years ago. They are denying themselves the benefitthat would accrue from the employment of a higher class of machinery which would give better and more effective results. I donot wish to be misunderstood. My desire isto see every piece of machinery that is used upon our mines manufactured within theborders of the Commonwealth. I say thatunhesitatingly. It would be to the advantage of the country if the machinery could, be manufactured locally, but the character of the various articles which I have: enumerated suggests that we are going in an entirely wrong direction when we suppose that we are benefiting themining industry in Australia by endeavouring at the present stage of ourhistory to maintain a number of manufactories within the States at an extremerate of duty. It has been said that themachinery which is locally manufactured isequal to any that can be imported. In support of this statement, I may mention that the total expenditure upon plant and! machinery by the Broken Hill Proprietary Company up to the 30th May, 1901, was- £1,213,114. I have been at considerable pains to ascertain how much of thatamount was expended upon imported machinery, and I find that, speaking roughly, it represents one-fourth. That was for machinery which cannot be efficiently and properly made here. So faras that company is concerned, the honorable1 member must confess that there was noleaning in favour of the importer, as against the local manufacturer.
– Is the honorable member contending that the local price must be quite as low as the imported price ? Would, he not give a preference to the local manufacturer, . even if his price were a littlehigher.
– No, I do not think that would be a business proposition
– The honorable member would be prepared to concede something to the local manufacturer, even at a slightly higher price ?
– I think that as a pure matter of business, we are entitled to consider only what will do the work most effectively at the cheapest price at which we «an secure it.
– That is the free-trade (doctrine.
– It is the other doctrine too.
– That is the doctrine held “by every business man, who sits on the opposite side of the House, and it is the law of supply and demand which” controls the whole world, and which no legislation will ever upset.
– It is being upset every day. . .
– I am dealing at the present moment with the suggestion that there is a prejudice in favour of the foreign manufacturer. I have stated what Broken Hill has spent upon machinery, and the Mount Lyell Company has spent up to -date £664,206 purely in plant and mining machinery. Of that sum, less than one-fourth was spent upon imported machinery. I wish to show where the prejudice comes in. Mount Lyell to-day would not be in existence if it had not been for a special class of machinery, which had to be imported from America. I refer to the Bessemer converters, the hot stoves, and the special material which I went to America to secure for the purpose of treating the Mount Lyell ores. The patent rights for this machinery have expired, and we freely gave to the local manufacturers the plans of the machinery which were brought here by the metallurgical expert who came here to take charge of the works. Any manufacturer in Australia had the right to view these plans, and they have now been able to make these big converter vessels and -special class of stoves, and they can make them successfully. If we had imposed a prohibitive duty upon the various special machines brought here, probably Mount Lyell would never have been opened up to-day, and the various manufactories throughout the State that have benefited by the lessons learnt from the plans placed at their disposal would have lost all that work.
– Nobody suggests prohibition.
– - Does the, honorable member say that the difference between 4s. and 5s. is prohibition ?
– So far as the Tariff is concerned, the Government are asking for os. We want 4s., and I hope it will be less than 4s. before the discussion is completed. Another company . has spent £72,000 in machinery. I have tried to work out the proportion, and I find there is no foreign prejudice in this case, inasmuch as only £15,000 of that sum was spent upon machinery imported from a foreign market. I wish at this stage to deal with a reference made by my honorable and learned friend, the member for Corinella. He and I, as old schoolfellows, understand each other, and I know that the honorable and learned member would not make a statement to this House which he knew to be inaccurate. I wish to show, however, that he was misinformed. What the honorable and learned member stated was that a manufacturing firm with whom the companies with which I am connected do a large business, and from whom we obtain most satisfactOry results, tendered for certain machinery,- and that a higher tender was accepted from a large firm in the United States. This morning I asked permission from the company, to secure the facts. I find that the tender of the firm to whom the honorable and learned member for Corinella alluded was for £4,925, but they were not prepared to supply an entirely new .plant. They offered to adapt and make certain alterations to old engines to connect with it. Another very prominent manufacturing firm tendered at a higher rate on the same modified conditions. The only Australian manufacturers who tendered for a straight-out new plant were the Otis Engineering Company - a company which does splendid and effective work. Their tender was for £6,801. The American tender was for £5,900 for a completely new perfect plant, without any question of doubt as to the various patents attached to the machinery. The rejection of the tender of the Castlemaine firm was because it was for an adapted plant with special, patents added to the old machinery. The general manager of the mining company, who stands I believe prominent in his profession, was brought to Melbourne purposely to advise with regard to this matter, and I have today seen the minute of the board in which they indicate distinctly that the manager recommends, in the interests of the company, in the interests and effective working of the mine, that the American tender should be accepted.
– Were both prices for delivery at the mine?
– No. Both prices were for delivery at the ship’s slings at Port Pirie, I believe.
– The honorable member does not mean to say that the machinery offered to be supplied by the Australian firm was secondhand machinery ?
– Oh no; the firm offered to go to Broken Hill to adapt the machinery there, to attach these various new appliances, and they represented that for the amount at which they tendered, they would make the old machinery as effective as a new plant.
An Honorable Member. - Then it was old machinery.
– Well it was old machinery in a sense, but I do not wish to make any point out of that. The question was, whether we should adapt the old plant, or have a completely new plant ; and the recommendation given to the company was strongly in favour of a completely new plant. I wish to add that the only other tender from a local manufacturing company, tendering under the same conditions, was nearly £1,000 above the tender accepted. I hope therefore that my honorable friend is prepared to recognise that he has been misinformed.
– I will make further inquiries.
– If I can do so, I shall be very happy to assist, the honorable and learned member in his inquiries. My wish has been to deal with this subject from a broad stand-point, rather than from the point of view of how it will affect Broken Hill, Mount Lyell, or any particular mining town in northern Queensland, Western Australia, or the other States, where cities have grown round these great undertakings. The honorable member for Tasmania, Mr. O’Malley, has had the advantage of going to the West Coast of Tasmania, and he has seen there the primeval forest converted into magnificent towns, totalling some 20,000 inhabitants. What is the population of Queenstown ?
– 5,000 or 6,000, while Zeehan has a population of about 3,000. There are 30,000 people on the West Coast.
– There are over 20,000 people on the west coast of Tasmania, where the primeval forest has been converted into healthy towns. The same change has taken place at Broken Hill, and also at Kalgoorlie and other large mining cities in Western Australia. It is estimated that for every one person employed in mining enterprises there are at least five, and probably seven, other persons who benefit by the industry. I intended originally to deal with this question from a general point of view, and I collected some figures which I may be permitted probably to quote in part, although I do not propose to give the committee half the details which I should have given had I spoken yesterday. To-day, statistics show that the mining industry has benefited the Commonwealth to the extent of nearly £600,000,000.
– The West Coast mining fields saved Tasmania.
– Yes ; and but for the converter plants to which I have referred, Mount Lyell would not have been a payable field today. The honorable member for Canobolas has quoted a great many statistics relating to the relative proportion of the total wealth production of mining in each of the States, and I do not propose to repeat them. I am suffering, however, from the disadvantage that, although I have prepared statistics on the point, my honorable friend has got in before me. This is a most unfortunate time at which to propose these high duties, because the mining industry was never more depressed than at present. There is not a man or a woman in Australia who is not directly or indirectly affected by the tremendous depression which has come upon this industry throughout the whole world.
– Surely the falling-off in mining is the strongest reason why the honorable member should assist in maintaining other industries ?
– I am not able to follow my honorable friend in his sophistries, although I always try to see a thing fairly. No doubt he is a magician. I would impress upon the committee the serious condition of the industry at the present time. In December, 1900, lead was £16 13s. 9d. per ton. ; to-day it is £10 6s. 3d. per ton; copper was £72 5s. per ton ; to-day it is £45 15s. per ton ; tin was £127 2s. 6d. per ton; to-day it is £101 per ton. Spelter, that is to say, zinc, was £18 16s. 3d. per ton ; now it is ‘£16 10s. per ton ; pig iron was £3 8s. per ton ; to-day it is £2 14s. 9d. per ton. Silver was 2s. 5 13-16d. per oz. std.j now it is 2s. 1 ll-16d. Every one of these essentials to success in the mining industry shows a tremendous reduction in value. I would ask the committee to notice this important point, that these losses in values come out of the profits, and affect the possibilities of working a mine. If we are going to add increased responsibilities to those who direct mining companies we shall take away their ability to carry on. I claim that I have always had a desire to see the industry flourish, because of its commercial benefit to Australia, and the fact that it is most beneficial to an immense number of men. In my -association with various mining companies I have derived more satisfaction from the knowledge of the large ‘field of employment which they created, than from any monetary advantage which I have gained from them. I have referred already to lower grade and complex ores, and I have told the committee how the States will be affected. The profits can only be made out of economies. Lead ores are now almost unpayable. Copper ores are becoming unpayable, and if there is any attempt to impose fresh obligations upon those engaged in this industry, I am satisfied, from the knowledge I possess, that the industry must fail. I intended, when I referred to the quantity of machinery employed in the industry, to show that T could speak with some authority on this question, inasmuch as my firm is the Australian representative of the largest combination of manufacturers in the United States, until recently known as Fraser Chalmers and Company, but now known as Aliss Chalmers and Company. I have brought out these facts in order to show that the interests which I assist in carrying on, and my own financial interests, are concerned in securing cheap and effective machinery. I am interested in getting effective and satisfactory machinery at a fair price rather than in using foreign machinery. If one is honest in dealing with this matter, one cannot ignore the fact that at the present time we are -not getting the same results from the labour employed as we formerly obtained. All who are interested in large mining undertakings must recognise that. -So many capable men have gone to South Africa that there are not the same class of men as were formerly employed entering upon the work.
– Men are very wise to keep away from it.
– My honorable friend holds some extraordinary views, but that is the most extraordinary I have heard him express.
– Men who engage in mining risk their health, and lives, and limbs.
– The Chambers of Mines of Victoria and of Western Australia have desired me to Jay before the committee the. resolutions which they have passed, and which affirm their opinion that if high duties are imposed upon mining machinery the mining industry will seriously suffer, particularly in New South Wales and Western Australia, ‘Where the artificial conditions which exist in Victoria have hitherto not been adopted. I wish now to deal shortly with another aspect of the question, the employment of electrical plant. With water power we can get tremendous energy out of electrical plants. I think that the Minister for Trade and Customs was right in refusing to receive personally, before the framing of the Tariff, a deputation from the importers of electrical appliances in Australasia, but their representations to the Comptroller of Customs, who received them, were carefully taken down, and I believe were read by the Minister. Those who composed that deputation represented capital amounting to £20,000,000, and they gave a number of reasons why a reduction should be made in the duty upon electrical machinery. As I do not wish the debate to be unduly prolonged, I shall not- go into those reasons, except to indicate what all who have given attention to the matter must realize that the economic force of the future must be electricity. I should like to -see works of a sufficiently large character to manufacture ‘all our electrical requirements started in Australia, but as I have seen most of the electrical works in Germany, England, and the United States, I can assure honorable members that those -who enter upon such undertakings must , embark a very large sum of money in their enterprise if it is to be effective and complete. As it is to the economies effected that we must nowadays look for our profits, one company that I know of is proposing to expend £24,666 upon an tlectricalplant, which will save £18,000 a year, and another company has it under consideration to expend £35,000 upon a plant, the use of which will result in an annual saving of £20,000. Those companies employ a large number of men, and the future of the men will be jeopardized if we impose such high duties upon this machinery as will not permit of it being used. I am persuaded, however, by the temper of the committee, that a fair compromise will be secured. I accept the offer of the Minister to freely consider all representations in regard to patented, appliances, and his promise to place them upon the free list. I ask honorable members generally to consider the benefits conferred by the mining industry upon the whole community. Large numbers of splendid men are employed in the mines of Broken Hill, Western Australia, Tasmania, and Queensland, and these men have families to support. At the present time there is , a very small margin between profit and loss in the case of many companies, and if they have to shut down their mines thousands of men will be turned out of work.Only this morning I attended a meeting of a company employing a large number of men. Their profits are so small that soon the mine may not pay at all ; but it was the unanimous decision of the directors to continue for another month, to see what course events will take. The men engaged in mining pursuits deserve as much consideration as do those who are employed in factories. I claim to have given a great deal of time and attention to mining interests. These enterprises are honorably and honestly conducted, and have done great service to the community, and they deserve the most liberal treatment at the hands of the Commonwealth.
– I thank the honorable member for Kooyong for the information which he has given to, the committee. I recognise that where machinery, whether required for mining, agricultural, or other purposes, cannot be made locally, every facility should be given for importing it, because it is necessary for the development of our resources ; but having protectionist tendencies, I should like to see our workmen given every opportunity to prove their capability to supply our requirements. I do not suppose that . there is any one who takes more interest inthemining industry in my ownState than I do. I feel very great interest in its development throughout the Commonwealth. I am one of those who come here with the view of getting a fair Tariff. I have felt right through that we are not bound to adhere to free-trade or protectionist lines, and that we are at liberty to record votes which we think are in the bestinterests of the Commonwealth and will tend to secure a good Tariff. For that reason I have paid very great attention to all the speeches on this item. I have practically made up my mind to vote for a 15 per cent. duty. If it can be shown - and on that point some very good evidence was submitted by the last speaker - that there are articles of mining machinery which should be put on the free list, I should like to see them put on the same footing as certain articles of agricultural machinery. A quantity of agricultural machinery, which we thought could not very well be manufactured here, was put on the free list, and in that respect I wish to put the mining industry on the same footing as the farming industry.
– The honorable member is willing to allow the manufacturers’ machinery tocome in free. Why not also allow certainmachinery for the miner to come in free ?
– If it can be shown that any description of mining machinery cannot be made in the Commonwealth, I am prepared to allow it to come in free. When the honorable member for Barrier was moving his amendment, I expected to hear arguments such as we have just heard from the honorable member for Kooyong. I expected him to indicate the machinery used in the great mines of Broken Hill, and Western Australia, which cannot be made in the Commonwealth. Over and over again the Minister for Trade and Customs challenged both thehonorable member for Barrier, and the honorable member for Kalgoorlie, to state what machinery cannot be made within the Commonwealth.
– I mentioned several instances of machinery which cannot be made at the same cost.
– I suppose that if weimposed duties high enough we could make almost any machinery?
– Yes, if cost be no object.
– Why cannot we make the machinery for manufacturing ? Why does the honorable member agree to put that machinery on the free list?
– Because in a young country like this we are not far enough advanced in our mechanics, and we have not the capital which is available in older and more thickly populated countries.
– It is more a question of patents.
– I fully realize that. When I was going over one of the big factories in Dublin, a gentleman told me that it would be impossible for us to manufacture the article in Australia, because one of the patents he was using was so very expensive. I fully realize that there is a quantity of machinery which can be made within the Commonwealth, and which should be subject to a moderate duty. It has been argued that mining machinery should be allowed to come in free, and that unless it was, the miner would have to pay some taxation. To a great extent the duty on this machinery will be paid by the large mining companies. The prospecting and the working miner will not be in a position to purchase expensive machinery, no matter what duty may be imposed.
– Unless the companies are able to proceed the workmen will not find any employment.
– With regard to the outside mining companies which invest their money in the Commonwealth, I think that the duty would be a very small consideration with them if they found it necessary to import any machinery for the development of their properties.
– How has mining been developed in Victoria ?
– By machinery made in Victoria.
– There is no scientific mining in Victoria. Mining here is very different from what it is elsewhere.
– In Western Australia they have advanced mining very much under a very high Tariff.
– Five per cent.
– I thoughtitwas rather a high duty they had. With a 25 per cent, duty the Government propose to raise a revenue of about £280,000. If we reduce the duty to 15 per cent, and place on the free list machinery which we know cannot reasonably be made here, the revenue will probably fall to about £150,000. Is that a very large contribution by the mining industry of Australia towards the cost of Government ?
– In the present state of the industry, certainly.
– We might apply the same argument to the pastoral industry, in the western district, where the sheep are dying in every direction, seeing that the price of wool has fallen from1s. to 5d. per lb.
– The honorable member voted for sheep-shearing machines to be placed on the free list.
– Probably I did, because honorable members could not show me that those machines could be made here at a reasonable cost. I feel that there are many honorable members like myself, who are not particularly bound to any lines. We are ready to vote as we think best. From the earlier speakers I did not get sufficient information with regard to the complaints made by those who work in the mines. We have not been shown, by those who have had practical experience, that the machinery which is used in the mines cannot be made in the Commonwealth. I was very glad to hear the Minister for Trade and Customs state that he would be prepared to meet the honorable member for Barrier, and to put on the free list any machinery which he thought couldnot reasonably be made here. I take exactly the same view. I intend to support a 15 per cent, duty, but I am willing to consider any suggestion to place on the free list any machinery which it can be shown cannot be made here.
– I have listened attentively to this debate, and I have not heard a single reason which holds weight for one moment why the mining industry should be singled out for exceptionally heavy taxation. Every other industry affected by this division of the Tariff has been treated with moderation, but immediately we come to mining machinery we find a 25 per cent, duty imposed. What was in the minds of the Ministry to lead them to make this heavy impost upon an industry which has been shown by the figures quoted by the honorable member for Kooyong to be in a very bad way indeed ? There can be no doubt that just now mining is at a very low ebb, and that many of the mining companies scattered throughout Australia are in a critical condition. We have heard from the honorable member foi Barrier that at Broken Hill the industry is very depressed, and that if the present unfavorable conditions are continued much longer, many thousands of men will be thrown out of employment. The same thing applies to mining operations in other parts of New South Wales. Owing to the low price of copper, the Great Cobar Company are about to close down two of their smelting furnaces, and discharge a large number of their hands. I could go on multiplying instances to show that the mining industry is perhaps at us low an ebb as it has been for many years past, and yet, strange to say, whilst the industry is in the midst of this keen struggle for existence, the Ministry propose to place a heavy impost upon the raw material for mining, which, I think, ought to be absolutely free of duty.
– Are these copper mining companies likely to require new machinery immediately?”
– I will come to that in a moment. We have had the usual statements made to-day to the effect that the mining industry receives encouragement from the State, and I wish to call attention to the disingenuousness of the honorable member for Melbourne Ports, when he stated that £’100, 000 had been paid over to mining companies by the Government of Victoria. He would not tell the committee - although I invited him to do so, and received an insulting retort for my pains - that this money was loaned to these companies, to be repaid as soon as their operations would permit of it.
– Supposing they are not successful 1
– What has that to do with the point ? The supposition is that they are going to be successful, otherwise the money would not be voted. If, when the grants were being asked for, it was made clear that they were required to carry on purely speculative work, they would not be voted. Every amount is granted on the supposition that it will enable the company to achieve success, and that therefore the money with interest added will be refunded. I understand that £40,000 has been granted for prospecting purposes by the Government of Victoria.
In New South Wales £20,000 per year is so expended ; but every penny of the money is supposed to be repaid out of the proceeds of any industry that may be brought into existence through its outlay. I do not know what occurs in Victoria; but in New South Wales not one penny is granted for prospecting purposes except on the understanding that it is to be repaid with interest, and therefore the grants made to mining in this way afford no parallel to protective duties imposed under a Tariff such as this for the benefit of a particular class of mechanics.
– Has any large proportion of the prospecting money been refunded?
– No ; because the money is as a rule expended to very little purpose. I regret to say that no very good results have followed from these grants.
– They have been swallowed up by picnic parties, in most ins ,tan c6s
– I am not prepared to say that. In some cases good results have followed, and there is always a possibility of valuable finds being made. Every penny of this money has been voted to enable men, not so much to develop industries that have already been brought into existence, but for the purpose of prospecting with a view to the discovery of new leads of gold. When money has been applied for to develop a mine, it has always been refused on the ground that it was not intended to be spent in that way.
– How is the prospecting carried out - by Government or private parties ?
– By private parties ; and, as I have said, I regret that the money is not expended to much advantage to the State under present conditions.
– It is practically wasted.
– The money is not spent in the development of the industry, but in seeking for something which may never be found, and if a profitable discovery is made as the result of the’ expenditure, every penny is supposed to be refunded to the State. Are honorable members on the opposite side prepared to treat manufacturers in the same way as they deal with the miners ? Are they prepared to ask those people, into whose pockets they are putting money by means of these duties, to make a refund when their industries have assumed paying proportions ?If not, it is idle to endeavour to institute a parallel between these duties and the prospecting grant.
– To whom does the honorable member suggest that the money should be refunded ?
– To the Treasury.
– What does the Treasury pay them ?
– The Treasury pays them nothing; but the people of the country are being asked to pay 25 per cent. I expect the honorable and learned member from Indi to poo-pooh the idea and say that a protective duty is not a tax. Unfortunately, however, we know only too well that it is a tax and a very heavy tax indeed, as they have found out in New South Wales. I take exception altogether to this species of argumentation, and I deny the right of the honorable and learned member forIndi to make for himself a definition of’ protection. He is entirely ignoring the definition’s of protection that have been given by all the economists of the world and is bolstering up his own theories and humbugging the miners of Victoria by making his own definition and then seeking to find proof of its accuracy. I deny the right of the honorable member to do that. He cannottell me of any economist who has argued that it is protection, in the economic sense in which the question has always been reasoned, to make roads and bridges and give aid to prospectors. It is nouse arguing the point, because I altogether deny the right honorable member’s right to make such a definition at this time of day. What are the facts as to mining machinery ? Here are one or two facts to which I ask the honorable member to direct his attention if he wants to reason upon the matter. The Great Cobar Copper SmeltingCompanyareimportingmachinery, and as the principal directors arc protectionists, I take it they wouldnot send abroad if they could get machinery as good manufactured in Victoria or any other State. The fact is, however, that this company are importing machinery, and they have just paid duty amounting to £400; and, further, a large cement manuacturing company in the same neighbourhood have paid over £1,000 as duty on machinery. Instances of that kind could be multiplied as occurring every day in New South Wales. I do not understand how it is that the Victorian people can never see that machinery of any kind is raised in price by these duties, when our experience is that we are continually paying over the counter cheques for considerable amounts in the shape of duty. It is the greatest puzzle to be told, as we are constantly told in this Chamber, that a protective duty isnot a tax, seeing that every day we find such duties to be a tax which we very much resent.
– The Victorian DeepLeads Milling Company, near Maldon; a little over twelve months ago paid £6, 000 duty on miningmachinery.
– With facts like these staring us in the face, it is idle twaddle to say that a protective duty is not a tax. Here we have the Great Cobar Copper Mining Company; with copper at a price lower than ithas been for many years, and when the industry is threatened with total collapse if something is not done to raise prices, paying duties amounting to £400; and cement works in the same district paying over £1,000. Yet honorable members like the honorable member for Melbourne Ports, with effrontery which is little less than brazen,tell us that with a duty machinery costs no more; and that a protective duty is not a tax. How can the payment over the counter of these amounts in solidcash contribute in any way to the raising or the maintenance of the wage fund out of which copper-smelters and others have to be paid ? It is of no use to tell me that the employment of these men will help peoplein other industries, or to advance any of the similar absurd arguments we have heard.
– Surely the honorable member does not believe in such a thing as a “wage fund”?
– Of course I believe in a wage fund. I believe also that labour has to create that fund before it can be available. Does the honorable member think that wages drop down from the skies?
– I should like to know what the honorable member means by “wage fund.”?
– I mean the balance at the bank out of which wages are paid as pay-day comes round. I do not mean “ wage fund” in the same sense as I believe the honorable member means it.
Ml-. Mauger. - I understand the honorable member now.
– I am not talking abstract economics now, but citing hard facts; and I ask how the payment of these large amounts as duty is going to provide any more wages for the workmen in the employ of the companies I have mentioned. The Only effect of these impositions can be to decrease the amount available for the’ payment of labour. Of course, honorable members may go off at a tangent, and say that these duties create a diversity of employment and multiply opportunities foi- labour. But these are bald statements which do not avail anything. They cannot be brought to a focus which will enable protectionists to show that the copper smelters and cement makers at Cobar will have more money available out of which to pay wages. That is the hard, immediate, practical question to be faced in connexion with the industries of which I have spoken. Every pound of taxation put on- the mining industry must tend to decrease wages ; it cannot by any possibility tend to more employment. Above all times in the- history of the Common wealth, this is an inopportune time at which to make the heavy imposition on the mining industry proposed- by the Government. Last night we were told that all this was being done in. the interests of labour. We1 are told, for instance* - by, I think, the honorable and learned member for Bendigo - that he advocated this duty for the sake of- labour, and he quoted f rom the Government Statist, I presume of Victoria^ as to the wages of boiler-makers and patternmakers in various countries of the world. Of course, it was shown that wages are lowest where protective duties have been longest in existence - in such places as France, Italy, and Germany - and that ire young countries the wages are highest. But these figures are entirely useless and’ misleading. The comparison was made, not between Australia, France, England, and the United States; but in each case one State of America is singled out, and the wages paid’ there quoted’. In one case, Connecticut was singled-out, and in another case Massachusetts. Why these two States should be singled out, instead of taking the whole of the United States, I am at a loss to know.
– There is no return available giving those particulars.
– Iti my opinion there is a, return, had the Government Statist cared- to a.vail himself of it. I undertake to say that the return for Pennsylvania, is at least as available as the return for Connecticut or Massachusetts.
– I saw the original returns as given in the. reports of the Commissioner of Labour to Congress, and I checked them.
– Does the honorable and learned member tell me that the return, for -Pennsylvania is not available ?
– Not in the official returns.
– But in some other return?
– I did not see it, at any rate.
– I distrust any figures emanating from the “Victorian departments. I will tell the honorable member why. Since coming here I have found that the officers- of the ViCtorian Government departments are so imbued with protectionist ideas that they actually colour all their reports accordingly. For instance, only the other day Ministers presented reports from their officials* pointing out how this impost and that was going to affect Victorian industries from a protectionist stand-point. I submit that that is a matter which the officers of the department have no right to take into’ consideration when- furnishing information to the Minister for Trade and Customs. Yet more than once we have had statements- quoted from officials in the Minister’s department in which they incidentally point out- how1 the figures which they present bear upon the protectionist theory as applied to the industries in question. When I find this sort of thing obtaining in regard to Victorian statistics, and when I discover this environment about the protectionist officers of Victoria, I distrust the figures which come from them. I make no reflection upon the veracity of these’ officials. I believe that they ace as veracious as any body of officials. I merely say that these problems are- put to- them with, perhaps; a little party bias- in the framing of them-, with the result that there is a strong bias in. the information which the officers supply.
– I suppose’ the honorable member’s argument would not apply to other States in an opposite direction ?
– I can tell the honorable member that in all my political life I never remember a case in which an officer of a Government department in New South Wales made any reference whatever to the policy of the country, unless specifically asked to do so.
– I can show the honorable member a report by a Government officer in New South Wales in which the free-trade policy of that country was challenged.
– I dare say, but the honorable member cannot show me first of all that the opinion of that officer upon the matter in question was not invited per medium of the Minister. The honorable member cannot show me a single case where of his own volition an officer has attempted to discuss the policy of free-trade verms protection.
– I have the report, and I can show it to the honorable member.
– Very likely. What must be the effect of the imposition of this duty upon the mining industry ? Clearly that the expenses of the industry will be increased ; and where such an increase occurs there is less money available for the payment of wages and interest than would otherwise be the case. There is no escape from that conclusion. Some noted economists in Victoria have made the position very clear from time to time. For instance, I notice that Mr. David Syme makes this point very clear in the book which he has published. He says that whenever the cost of a commodity is enhanced, there is invariably a decrease in wages. Of course this opinion is a very curious one when we remember that it emanates from a man whose object to-day seems to be to boom the protectionist doctrine in the State of Victoria. It is to be regretted that, at a time when the mining industry is at its lowest ebb, the Ministry should go out of their way to visit it with this extraordinary and totally unnecessary impost.
– I do not propose to deal at any length with this question, and it is only in order to test a few of the statements which have been put forward that I rise at all. It is admitted by all sections of the committee that it would be injudicious to do anything that would injuriously affect the mining industry. We are all striving to do what is best for the industries of Australia. Our only difference is as to the means by which this can be accomplished. Protectionists andfreetraders alike are also anxious to do whatever is possible for the establishment of any ‘ industry of a wealth-producing character in Australia, and here again the difference which exists is only one as to method. Where we appear to diverge is upon the question of whether the mining industry will be materially affected by the imposition of a duty upon some machinery which is used in that industry. I say at the outset that I am not prepared to impose a duty upon any machine or part of a machine that cannot be manufactured in Australia, because I fully realize that the price of that machine, or part thereof, will be increased by the amount of the duty. We can reduce our differences somewhat by understanding some of the lines upon which we can test the question at issue. We have heard the oft-repeated statement by those who hold free-trade views, that protective duties increase the cost of any article. They now appear, however, to run away from that statement, and to be content with having made the bald assertion. Upon this particular item we have had that statement frequently repeated. It is suggested that there is to be an imposition of a tax of an enormous amount upon the mining industry, to the extent of the whole rate of duty proposed to be levied upon this particular line. I was rather astonished at the statement made by the honorable member for Kooyong, when I interjected that the amount of revenue expected to be collected under the item now under consideration was in Western Australia only £24,000. The honorable member ‘ was attempting to show that through these duties the cost to users of machinery was going to be increased to the extent of £150,000. The figures of anticipated revenue from these duties, as prepared and circulated, show that in Western Australia, on the whole of the items included in this particular line, the revenue expected to be collected - and upon which so much stress was laid by the honorable member for Kooyong - amounts to only £24,000. The honorable member stated, in reply to my interjection, that he would come back to that and explain the position with respect to it. Unwittingly or otherwise, he failed to do so, and it is for that reason I desire to direct special attention to it. On page 3 of the return of estimated revenue, it will be found that) excepting screws and axles, the total revenue anticipated from the duties on articles included in this item, including engines, boilers, and machinery, plated and mixed metalware, and manufactures of metals, n.e.i., amounts for all the States of the Commonwealth to £280,000, and in Western Australia the estimated amount is only £24,000. As included in this classification, there must be considered the amount of duty to be collected upon plated and mixed metalware and manufactures of metals, n.e.i. It is therefore as well for us to understand at the outset what the taxation involved really amounts to.
– It is not a question of the duty, it is a question of the enchanced cost of the machinery to the consumer.
– That is just the point . I am coming to. The honorable member for Kooyong gave away his whole position in some later explanations he made, because what he had to say with respect to Broken Hill and Mount Lyell applies with equal force to Western Australia. What did the honorable member tell us with respect to Broken Hill ? He told us that with respect to a particular mine there, £1,300,000 had been expended in machinery alone, but that machinery to the amount only of one-fourth of the sum was imported from abroad, showing that although they had the whole world to range over - because they had no duty whatever to pay upon that machinery - three-fourths of it was supplied from the other States of the Commonwealth.
– Because certain classes of machinery can be just as well manufactured in the States as in any other place.
– In the words of the honorable and learned member for South Australia, there is ample proof that there is no justification for doing anything which will injure the manufactories in which that machinery is being made. It is also a proof that the cost of the machinery is not increased.
– Who wishes to injure them?
– I venture to say that the abolition of the duty on that particular class of machinery will certainly abolish those manufactories.
An Honorable Member. - It could not affect Broken Hill, where they have had no duty so far.
– It is not going to affect Broken Hill in the future, inasmuch as, notwithstanding the fact that there was no duty upon machinery imported into Broken Hill in the past, three-fourths of the machinery, costing £1,300,000, was made in the States of the Commonwealth. A peculiar feature of the case is that that machinery was being made in States in which a duty was imposed upon machinery.
– That shows that we do not need a protective Tariff to enable us to compete.
– That is a very old yarn.
– And n very true one.
– It does prove that with a protective Tariff in order to establish the manufacture of machinery here, we can make machinery and supply it to the users of machinery as cheaply as they can get it from elsewhere. Then, with respect to Mount Lyell, the honorable member for Kooyong told us that out of £664,000 worth of machinery erected there, less than one-fourth was imported from outside the Commonwealth - another proof that the major portion of mining machinery can be made within the Commonwealth. The honorable member then went on to particularize some patented mechanical appliances in the shape of economizers in one direction or another, that were of a special kind, and were a material factor in developing Mount Lyell, and he mentioned super-heaters amongst others. Any one who is conversant with boilers or engine furnaces knows the value of super-heaters, and knows the proportion of cost of a super -heater - or fuel economizer in other words - to the boiler and furnace. What does it amount to? To not onetwentieth of the cost of the machine. These super-heaters are patented appliances, and have not been manufactured in Australia up to the present time, so far as I am aware. Indeed, they have only recently been applied to machines here, and I know of some instances where agents here are asking to have trials given to them at the present time. Yet, because they are included in this classification, the honorable member for Kooyong, and a great many other honorable members, wish to have placed on the free list the whole of the machinery, boiler, and everything pertaining to them, and all the appliances to utilize the motive power and work all parts of the machinery. Is there any justification for that? I am prepared to go all the way with any honorable member in putting, upon the free list all these patent appliances whichcannot be manufactured here, or which are only in limited use. Even where they have been fully proved it may be a considerable number of years before they would be used on a very large scale, and we know it is only when we can manufacture in quantity that thereis a justification for any one embarking in a manufacturing enterprise. We know that boilers are used for many other purposes besides driving mining machinery , and certain engines and parts attached to boilers connected with mining plants may be used forthe same class of work, in pumping or driving machines for other purposes. It is because a considerable field is open for that class of manufactures thatmanufacturers in Australia are able to manufacture that class of machinery. Another peculiar fct is that in Victoria, Queensland, and South Australia the duties in the past upon this particular class of machinery have been practically on a pan. In Queensland they have been 20per cent., in Victoria from 25 to 30 per cent., and in South Australia 25, 20, and 15 percent., according to the classification of the machinery.
– In some portions of South Australia only. Inthe Northern Territory machinery has been absolutely, free, and that is where the largest portion of mining, machinerywas imported.
– There may be a special reason for that South Australia has the cheap Jap and the Chow there, and many other cheapthings prevail, there, which wouldnot be allowedin other parts of the State.
– We wished to encourageindustries there.
– I do not know that it was altogether to encourage industry there. There may be many other reasons for it.
-That iswhat Parliament said.
– When we come to inquire closely into the facts, we find that there is only a very limited quantity of the appliances included in this section which there is any necessity to have placed onthe free list in order, not to enhance the cost to the users of those appliances. The honorable member for Kooyong has proved, that in his own statement.He has shown that it represents less than one-fourth of the machinery used at BrokenHill, and less than one-fourth of the quantity erected at Mounte Lyell - proof positive thatthreefourthsof the machinery used there could be made in the Commonwealth at a priceas low as that for which it could be imported from abroad. Therefore there is no justification whatever for contending that the whole of the articles in this item should be placed on the free list. They can be made not only in Victoria, but in Queensland. We have the statement made last night by the honorable member for Maranoa, that a firm in Maryborough, Queensland, competed successfully in the open market for the supply of a winding plant for a South Australian mine, notwithstanding that it had to pay a duty of 20 per cent, on the plant. The honorable member referred also to machinery being, sent from Victoria intoQueensland, notwithstanding the ability of the Queensland manufacturersto make it. There must have been special circumstances appertaining to each case; enabling the firms mentioned to compete successfully with those of the States in which the machinery was required. That is the case at times in Victoria. A manufacturing firm may chance to be exceedingly busy, or may be overhauling its plant, at a time when certain work is required, and therefore it is not able to submit a tender for it, although at another time it would be able to compete successfully. I am not arguing now as to what the duty should be to enable our manufacturers to got on competing successfully with the outside world, but we know that in many instances, where ports are open to the world, the surplus, stocks of large- manufacturing, centres elsewhere come in and. crush the local manufacturer out of the market. We have had experience, of that in Victoria and in some of the other States. As soon as local competition is defeated what is the result ? The indent agents or importers fix a price to suit themselves. We have had repeated illustrations of that. That is why I shall always support a duty which will, in the first instance; enable our manufacturers to compete successfully with the surplus productsof other portions of the world, and eventually create sufficient competition amongst themselves to prevent the consumer of the articles they produce being charged enhanced prices. We have had many diverse opinions expressed upon this question. I wish it to beclearly and distinctly understood that, as I have said right through the discussion on the Tariff, my vote will not be given for the imposition of a duty on any particular machine that may be required to develop our industries and which cannot be successfully manufactured in Australia; or for a duty that would materially and continuously increase the cost of the machine to the users. I wants to make a clear-cut distinction in this particular instance. I shall support a rate of duty on boilers and all the machinery and appliances used to convey motive power that will be sufficient to enable our manufacturers to go on as they have been doing in the past. But iff there is an effectual patent appliance of material use to those engaged in the development of the mining industry, I venture to say that the Government and those sitting behind them would have no hesitation in putting it on the free lists. To say that we should place everything that has been patented on the free list is; however, simply an absurdity. I would not go to thelength of giving a patentee on the other side of the world theadvantage of our market for such time as he might think fit, allowing him to manufacture where he liked; and send his manufactures here ; but every special appliance that will assist in the material development of our mining industry should be placed on the free list, and a proposal to that effect will havemy support. Let us take this list as it is stated in the Tariff -
N.e.i., including engines, boilers, pumps, machines, and machinery, n.e:i.
Practically every one of theengines referred to can be made in Australia, and it will nob lie questioned that we can make boilers of all kinds here, with the exception of tubular boilers.
– Except the Babcock- Wilcox.
– Yes, that is the only exception. We stand second to none in the manufacture of primps and all the appliances appertaining to them, while with the exception of one or two special appliances mentioned by the honorable member forKooyong, we canmake all the machines and machinery required by us. Even in regard to some of these special appliances the honorable member admitted that it was only necessary to show the plans and specifications to some of our engineers, when they were able to put a machine together that was equal to any that could be imported from abroad. The other articles in the list do not affect the mining industry. I do nob see any justification for those directly interested in mining, seeking to have the remaining articles in the item placed on the free list, namely : -
Screws, n.e:i., axles, springs, and plated and mixed metalware, including, plated cutlery.
Those articles are not specially required for mining purposes;their use is common, to all people no matter in what industry they may be engaged.. Notwithstanding that the rates of duty formerly imposed in relation’ to the major portion of the machinery included in this item ranged from 20 to 25 per cent, in Victoria, South Australia, and Queensland; it cannot be denied that the mining industry has not been, retarded to any considerable extent by them. Special reference has been made to the peculiar condition of the mining industry at the present time. I have nowish to reflect in theslightest degree on those engaged in the mining industry, because there are men connected with the industry who are as honorable and as reputable as those engagein any calling. Nevertheless among mining speculators there are men whose ways are peculiar and who discredit the whole business to a very great extent. Reference has been made to the condition of the lead and copper mines. It was stated by the honorable member for Barrier, that altogetherapart from the duty, if the price of lead gets a little lower some of the BrokenHill mines will be closed. Is the honorable memberprepared to say that the imposition of the duty will be a material factorin closing anymine in Australia?
– It will have the effect of throwing a large number of men out of work.
– That is playing to the gallery. To what extent will this Tariffaffect any particular mine?
Mr.Conroy. - It makes a difference of from 7s. 6d. to l0s. a ton atBroken Hill.
– The honorable member for Werriwa always says that the amount of a duty is added to the price of the article upon which it is imposed.
– Not if the articleis exported.
– The honorable member for Kooyong said, that of £1,300,000 worth of machinery in use at Broken Hill, only one-fourth was imported. “Why was so much locally-made machinery used if the amount of a duty is always added to the price of the article upon which it is imposed 1
– Duties only put up prices inside the country where they are imposed.
– That machinery was the same price to miners in Victoria, Queensland, South Africa, and in the Straits Settlements, an ample proof that the amount of the duty was not added to the price.
– There was no duty in New South Wales.
– I am not prepared to say, in view of the extended market which has been given to our manufacturers by federation, that a 25 per cent, duty is absolutely necessary. I have, from the outset, taken the stand that as, with free-trade between the States, the manufacturers have a larger field to operate upon, they should be prepared in some instances to accept lower duties, and I am prepared to go in the direction of supporting lower duties in this case ; but I shall not support a proposal for placing the whole of the machinery coming under this item upon the free list.
– It has always surprised me that protectionists who are consistent whenever manufacturers are mentioned throw over their faith when mining is spoken of. That has occurred very markedly during the present debate. Why the miner should not receive the benefits of protection when they are given to men following other occupations is a puzzle to me. The only reason that will account for the attitude of some honorable members is that they lay it down as a principle that those who manufacture for export should not receive the benefits of protection; that protection is only for men who are making things for sale within the Commonwealth. Some good has been done by the discussion, because we have the admission of the leading protectionists in the committee that they are prepared to admit dutyfree machinery which cannot be manufactured within the Commonwealth. That the Government was not prepared to do at first. I hope that the committee will act upon that principle throughout the consideration of the Tariff. I cannot understand why the representatives of mining constituencies should oppose the granting of assistance to the mining industry, but I can understand the honorable and learned member for Bendigo doing so, since new machinery is never introduced into the district which he represents. There they have rich mines, and all they have to do is to sink deeper and deeper into the bowels of the earth. They do not require the complex and costly machinery which is necessary elsewhere. The honorable member for Melbourne Ports wishes to tax all machinery, so that it may be manufactured within the Commonwealth, and to compensate the miners by granting prospecting bonuses. I would point out, however, that it is not within the power of the Federal Parliament to grant such bonuses.
– By this Tariff we shall supply the States with sufficient revenue to enable them to grant them.
– That is a misleading statement, which will not be fulfilled unless the Governments of the States make a verV decided departure from the practice which they have hitherto been following. I represent a back country district whose undeveloped riches are enormous. The Cobar mining centre is seriously affected by this Tariff, and will be still more seriously affected by it in the future.
– It is affected not so much by the Tariff as by the low price of metals.
– That district is quite different from the Victorian mining districts. I have been a practical miner from boyhood, having filled most of the positions connected with mining operations. The Cobar district is one which it is very difficult to prospect, and its resources cannot be worked without the investment of a large amount of capital in up-to-date machinery, because of the refractory and low grade ores which have to be dealt with. In places such as where they quarry out the stone and crush the sandstone and slate you would not look for gold in Victoria. The State has given some little aid in the shape of small votes for prospecting to miners. But it is very difficult country to prospect. It can only be prospected on scientific lines. After they find anything no one will put down any money until it is opened up. Some money has to be spent - it may be by a syndicate - to develop the mine. Then comes the purchase of machinery, and the question whether they will put machinery on the ground will depend on its cost and the results they are likely to get. It would be better if the States were to adopt a different policy, and give a bonus to every company which would put up a plant. To speak about the money being given to the mining industry from the prospecting vote is beside the mark. Mining development, I unhesitatingly assert, will be retarded if you increase the cost of the necessary machinery : and as a great deal of machinery has been invented and made in other countries where they have been ahead of us in dealing with refractory ores, and the patent rights are protected, it ought to be admitted duty free. Otherwise, mining as an industry will be thrown back. Take the mines which are in existence. The Cobar copper mine, which alone employs over 700 men, has already shortened hands owing to the low price of copper, and the directors threaten that they may have to discontinue operations. Previous to the low price of copper forcing the shortening of hands, the company had under consideration the question of putting up improved appliances in Cobar itself to do all the smelting, and extending its operations. Several adjoining mines have only quite recently added to their plant most uptodate appliances. As raining goes on there, the country changes until you get down to the sulphide ores, and they are constantly introducing new machinery of the latest type. This talk about the duty not adding to the cost of the machinery amuses me very much. The honorable member for Mel bourne Ports asserted that’ if a duty is imposed, it cheapens the cost of the article, and in the very next sentence he said that when the duty is lowered it causes the factories to discharge hands. If he can explain the contradiction, I shall be very glad. The honorable member for Moira has offered an explanation. I know that, as a rule, you can produce locally an article as cheaply as it can be imported, but the question of efficiency counts. Take the manufacture of railway engines here. I think the original cost of the local article was higher than that of the imported article, but it turned out to be cheaper, taking into account its life-time, and the fact that it required less repairs. The honorable member for Moira said that if we strike off the duty in relation to those factories which are established in the Commonwealth, then the importers will swamp the market. It reminds me of another occasion when the honorable and learned member for Bendigo was very much worried with the mental picture of ships loaded with mining machinery waiting for an opportunity to run the blockade and dump it all down on the wharfs. He forgot a fact which is known to every man connected with mining or any other industry that requires large machinery - and that is that it is not made and kept in stock to any large extent. The importers will not swamp the country with large machinery, because it is only made when it is ordered. A mining company, if they want a first-class machine, very often have it made according to their own plans and design, and their own engineer superintends its manufacture. They prefer to take the colonial-made article if it can be made at anything like a similar price, because of the saving of time in getting it and the greater certainty of its being up to their standard. But to put a duty on those things which cannot be made here because of the existence of patent rights is manifestly to levy a heavy tax on mining, and to retard the industry is not in keeping with a protectionist policy. I claim that the mining industry should get as much consideration as any other, that we should not say to these machinery manufacturers, “You are going to have all the protection and other people none. Miners are as much entitled to protection as are men working in the foundry. The idea that by merely imposing a duty you will make a foundry pay is ridiculous, if at the same time you close up the outlet for the machinery they are going to make. What we really want to do is to assimilate the mining industry, which makes a big call on the manufacturer of mining machinery, and other tilings which are made in foundries, for then you provide employment in the two industries. But if you so tax mining as to throw it back or retard its progress, then you injure all the industries which depend on its success. That is very clear, I think, to any one. Hence I contend that this item should be carefully reconsidered by the Government, in view of the information which has been submitted here. From what I have heard from most ardent protectionists, it is evident that we do not require to impose this high duty. It is evident from their own arguments that they do not require any duty to keep the industries going. If the local .article can be supplied as cheaply as the imported article, they >do ‘not require to bolster up the manufacturers by a duty. They have got on to their feet, and .are able to compete. The idea of ships coming along .with loads of -machinery, .and dumping it on the market, is ridiculous. .1 support the .amendment to put mining .machinery on the free list. I recognise -that there are ;a number of items which might be left out. I trust that the duty will be reduced on the whole of the items, even if the amendment is defeated. At any rate, all those lines .which admittedly are patented and made in .other countries should be put on the free list.
.- I have not much to say on this question, because I think that most honorable members .have made up their minds. I am somewhat in a difficulty regarding the attitude of some members of the Opposition on account of a statement made here by the honorable and learned member for Parkes during the want of confidence debate. At page 6553 of Mansard, after saying that -he -was present at a meeting in the Sydney Town -Hall, when the free-trade party were telling .the electors of New South Wales what they purposed doing, he is reported to have said -
I was prepared, moreover, though I was a freetrader, to continue .something like Id per cent, towards the industries of Victoria. I knew very well that die natural protection which every industry in Australia obtains by the great distance of this country from Europe means in itself 15 per cent, in some cases, and even more in others, and that therefore when duties of 15 per cent, were imposed it. meant 30 per cent.
He said, further, that even if the freetraders were .returned in a majority, he would still be prepared to give 15 per cent, protection to the established industries of Victoria. I would ask, where is the consistency of an honorable member stating at the elections that he was prepared to do a certain thing, and then, after coming here, supporting a proposal in a directly opposite direction T So far as I am concerned I do not intend to follow any such course. I have no hesitation in saying- that I am a free-trader in principle, but I ask whether, during the federal elections, it was competent for: any straightforward, sensible man to declare wholly and solely for free-trade. Did not the leader of the Government state that it would be impossible to impose high protective duties, or, on the other hand, to ‘ carry out the free-trade principle in its entirety 1 Is it not true, .also, that the leader .of the Opposition .made practically the same statement, and have not both these right honorable gentlemen declared themselves to be opposed to direct taxation, which I personally favour. How will it be possible -either to cut down the duties in order to bring them into accord with. free- trade principles, .or to adopt such high protective duties as will reduce the revenue down .below the requirements .of the Commonwealth 1 I stated at the elections that I was in favour of a revenue Tariff, and that the industries .already established within the Commonwealth would have my cheerful support. I have no objection to a revenue Tariff with a .protective .incidence, especially in the direction of protecting engineering work. Among my constituents there are a .large number-of miners who gave me their support, and knew exactly my position in this matter. It would be extremely regrettable if any action of this Federal Parliament were to have the . effect of reducing the number of people engaged in iron -working. No country can be great unless it has a large number of skilled arti-sans working in iron, and for that reason Lorn surprised at the statements of some honorable members who profess protectionist principles. Of all the industries that I should feel disposed to.protect, the iron industry stands first. I go further and .say that I am at one with the leader of the Opposition, when he states that if the iron industry is to be established in Australia it should be done by the State or the Commonwealth, so that the cost involved will not have to be paid by the purchaser, of the articles in the shape of higher prices, but by the general community in the form of taxation. If the iron industry is destroyed by any action of this Federal Parliament, it will be the duty of the Federal and State Governments to reestablish it for the benefit of our own people. This is no Utopian idea, but its fulfilment will come. We have heard a great deal about the formation of manufacturing and speculative rings, and I ,know some very shrewd business men who think it possible for rings to control the production of any commodity. If this is true, it will be necessary for this great country to form a national ring for the protection of its own interests. I was surprised to see some honorable members supporting a duty of 30 per cent, for the protection of caudle making, and other comparatively minor industries, and yet showing ^difference as to whether an industry employing about 15,000 skilled artisans is swept out of existence or not. I do not view this matter from the same stand-point as the protectionists. I do not believe that protective duties have ta tendency to cheapen goods, and I .would not tell my constituents that prices would be cheapened by putting a 25 percent, duty on mining machinery. I have, however, told them that the effect of a protective duty has been to establish foundries in every part of Australia, including one at Maryborough, in my own electorate, which is able to compete with any foundry in Australia. One would think, from the discussion we have heard, that there are only two States in the Commonwealth, namely, Victoria and New South “Wales, but I. may inform honorable members that in Queensland we produce a very large quantity of the very best of machinery.
– The ironworkers there have been protected by a 25 per cent, duty.
– Yes : for some eight years we have had a 25 per cent, duty, and very few complaints have been made with regard to machinery that can be made in the State. Some exception has, however, been taken to the duty, so far as it applies to machinery that cannot be made in the State.
– -The duty,* then, becomes one of a revenue character.
– Yes, and the 25 per cent, duty now proposed by the Government is a revenue duty. It cannot be regarded as a prohibitive duty in any -way, because it is estimated to bring in something like £285,000.
– We do not know what the item includes.
– That is one of my own difficulties. I have been somewhat surprised that the whole of this discussion should have raged round mining machinery, and should have been directed particularly to the effect that the duty will have upon the mining industry of Broken Hill. I regret very much the condition of affairs at Broken Hill, but I am quite sure that if this Tariff had been proposed whilst Broken Hill was at the height of its prosperity the discussion would not have turned so much upon the condition of the industry there. Coghlan in his statistics gives the number .of men employed in iron working, engineering, foundries, &c, as follows - New South Wales, 3,950; Victoria, 4,855 ; Queensland, 3,862 ; South Australia, 2,696 ; Western Australia, 7S3 ; Tasmania, 316; and New Zealand, 1,642. It will be seen that Queensland occupiesno unimportant position intheiron workingindustry. The establishment of foundries in the particular district of Queensland to which I have referred has enabled us to get the very kind of machinery we require on the gold-fields. The machinery may not have been got exactly as cheaply as under absolute free-trade, but, taking into consideration the convenience of having men on the spot to do repairs, the loss altogether is not very great. I admit that the same set of circumstances do not apply to every district within the Commonwealth, but I justify the course I have taken .on the ground that the views I am expressing now I expressed clearly to the electors who sent me here. Then there is the further ground that both the leader of the Government and the leader of the Opposition have declared against direct taxation ; and as we must have revenue, I am firmly of the belief that it is desirable to get it from those commodities which are being produced by industrious and trained mechanics within the Commonwealth. As to whether these engineering enterprises could possibly continue without protection, I am inclined to think that they could not to the extent to which they are being carried on at the present time ; and to deprive them of protection would be to do an injustice and a wrong, seeing that the Commonwealth, if it was formed on anything, was formed on a compromise which should be religiously observed. As I have already pointed out, a prominent free-trader like the honorable and learned member for Parkes stated in the Town Hall, Sydney, prior to the elections, that he was prepared to see a minimum duty of 15 per. cent. Afterwards, I understand that honorable and learned member associated himself with those who desire to place all these commodities on the free list, and that certainlyis very inconsistent onhis part.
– Did the honorable and learned member say a .minimum or an average duty of 15 per cent. ?
– The exact words used by the honorable and learned .member for
Parkes, in speaking on the motion of censure on the 29th October last, in this House, were: -
I will tell the honorable member what I said, and I am not ashamed of it. I think on this question, whatever honorable members may think of my opinions, I can show a perfectly consistent record. What I said was this. I was one of four speakers who addressed a great free-trade meeting held at the Town-hall, Sydney. The speakers were the leader of the Opposition, the honorable member for Wentworth, myself, and another. I then told the people of Sydney that even if the free-trade party of New South Wales had a majority in the Federal Parliament, I personally would be no party to suddenly sweeping away the whole of the Victorian Tariff’, because I said I should prefer to emulate the statesmanlike attitude taken up by the leader of the Opposition towards the sugar industry of that State in gradually reducing the duty .-£1 by £1 over a series of years. And I say that now. I knew at the time that the financial requirements of the Commonwealth would prevent us, even if “ we had such a majority, from sweeping out of existence altogether the duties in Victoria and elsewhere. I was prepared, moreover, though I was a free-trader, to continue something like .15 per cent, towards the industries of Victoria.
– I only wanted to make the point clear, and did not interject in any spirit of hostility, It seemed an extraordinary attitude for the honorable member for Parkes to assume.
– I do not quarrel with interjections, which are sometimes useful in bringing out points. I complain that some 6 honorable members seem to think that this is a Victorian industry only, though I have shown that Queensland has nearly as many mechanics employed as the former State. It would not be possible for these foundries and engineering works to pay the same standard of wages without protection as they do now, and I am not, at the very outset of the Commonwealth, going to break a compact or compromise which, unwritten though it be, I regard as being as binding as if drawn out on parchment. I hope and believe that the larger market which the Australian Commonwealth affords will enable manufacturing firms to do better in the future than they have done in the past. Later on, when these firms, by the extent of the market within the Commonwealth, are able to meet outside competition on comparatively fair terms, will be the time to attack protectionist principles on a true basis. While we are bound to have revenue duties, and while I am strongly in favour of such duties in the absence of direct taxation, I cannot consistently vote for the free admissionof thecommodities under discussion. Direct taxation is debarred by both the great parties in this House, and there is no option, if we wish to be just to the engineering industries of the Commonwealth, but to give at least revenue duties, if we do not give them protection. I am prepared, on the grounds I have stated, to impose revenue duties which will have a protective incidence.
Mr. FOWLER (Perth).- -Although this debate has already, perhaps, exceeded the limits it ought to have occupied, still I feel I should be lacking in the performance of my duty if, as the representative of the metropolis of a State which is keenly interested in this particular item, I did not take a little time to appeal to the Government and their - supporters, to reconsider the attitude they have adopted on this item, more particularly in connexion with mining machinery. I can put all the earnestness of which I am capable into an appeal of this kind, which virtually concerns not only my electorate, but the whole of the State of Western Australia, and in a lesser degree, but, at the same time, in a not unimportant degree, concerns the welfare of the whole of the Commonwealth. In this connexion I may be allowed to say, though, perhaps, I am not strictly in order, that Western Australia is somewhat at a disadvantage even in a House of this kind, which I feel sure intends to do its duty impartially to all the various States. Western Australia is in the position of being legislated for by a large number of representatives who have never seen that State. I would ask the Government, when they deal with the question of travelling expenses, to take into serious consideration the advisability of putting aside some small portion of the money allotted for that purpose, to .enable honorable members to take the sea voyage to Western Australia, in order that they may realize for themselves something of the tremendous possibilities which undoubtedly lie before that State. Although honorable members are perfectly willing to recognise the claims of Western Australia, and to do justice all round, I feel that if they possessed a personal knowledge of the requirements of that State they would probably be induced to regard with even more consideration the requests of its representatives. I have travelled over a very large extent of the gold-bearing country of Western Australia. I have been
associated in my travels with perhaps the most experienced miners and prospectors who ever set foot upon Australia, and I can say from my own knowledge, and from the opinions expressed by them, that there is no country in the world which possesses such an enormous area of promising auriferous country as does the State of Western Australia. We have there a belt of gold-bearing country which is, roughly speaking, 1,000 miles long by a breadth in some places of 300 miles, almost any part of which is capable of being exploited with advantage. People who merely have a knowledge of the gold-fields of the eastern States would be overwhelmed with surprise could they be transported by some Arabian Nights magic into the middle of some of the districts which I have visited in Western Australia. In the eastern States one has sometimes to look very hard for indications of gold. At the very best we get what miners call a “ blow “ here, and an “outcrop” there. But in Western Australia there are districts extending for many miles which no one can traverse without continually crossing reefs carrying gold which are constantly cropping out on the surface, and which only await the enterprising capitalist. The Murchison district, speaking of it generally - because it is now subdivided into many others - is remarkable in this respect. I have stood upon a large “ blow “ of quartz, 30 feet wide, and perhaps 30 or -40 feet high, rising up from the plain like a great natural wall, and from the top of that elevation I have been able to look across the country for miles, both before and behind me, and to trace that reef, which, as it stood up, looked for all the world like some of the pictures which 1 have seen of the ruined sections of the Great Wall of China. I do not say that the whole of such a reef as that will pay. But I do say - and I know from personal experience - that mining machinery has been dumped down upon certain sections of a reef like that, and in spite of all the disadvantages which are associated with the opening up of a new country, the quartz has been shovelled into the batteries, and it has been made to pay handsomely. We are already producing a large quantity of gold in Western Australia. We have many Bonanza mines, but these are only those which have been able to carry on on account of the unusual richness of the -stone. There is an enormous and 2.;q incalculable quantity of quartz in sight in Western Australia which is only waiting for some reduction in the cost of working it to enable people to make handsome fortunes. The great difficulty which has faced us, and which will confront us for many years to come, is - as the honorable member for Kooyong has pointed out - the problem of the profitable treatment of low grade ores. As soon as that can be overcome, I feel sure that whatever prosperity we may have enjoyed in Western Australia as the result of our gold-mining operations, and whatever prosperity the rest of Australia may have shared on account of the industry in that State, will be a mere figment when, compared with that which will ultimately accrue to the whole of the Commonwealth.. I do not think I need dwell at any length, upon the benefits to be derived from opening up and developing this large area of”” auriferous country in Western Australia^. Even to- the extent to which we have developed it already, we have all reaped an immense advantage. I do not care what portion of the community is referred to,, whether it be the wives of the miners employed in Western Australia, who reside in the eastern States, and to whom large sums . are monthly transmitted, or the shipping .- firms which have made handsome profits in* the past on account of the enormous InterState traffic which they have carried,, or the farmer who grows produce, or the artisan who makes machinery, because all. have benefited in some degree. I contend, therefore, that it is to the interest of the whole of Australia to give Western Australia every consideration in connexion with an industry of this kind. I have no hesitation whatever in urging what I am about, to say upon the attention of the com- . .mittee from the stand-point of my own . electorate. In Perth and the suburbs - comprised in that electorate we havea good many protectionists, and I am, very proud to say that I received the support of many protectionists who realized ‘ that, after all, a good labour man, who. intended to do his best to carry out radical reforms, could be sent into this Parliament, with greater advantage than a man who saw nothing in politics except the rival policies of free-trade and protection. So far as the electors of Perth are concerned, I wish to say that protectionists and freetraders alike realize that their welfare is bound up in the welfare of the gold-fields ; that their progress and the development of the coastal districts must depend upon the development of those fields. That being so, it is easy to understand how anxious they are, not only in regard to this particular duty, but in regard to many other duties which we have already considered, and which tend to increase the cost of living upon the fields, and in some degree to make their development more difficult. In this connexion it is rather amusing to hear the cry which is so often repeated by honorable members upon the other side of the House, that it is necessary to protect the workers in Australia against the poorly-paid workers in other parts of the world. I took an active part in the federal campaign in “Western Australia, when some protectionists were loudly declaiming against union. What was their reason? In and around Perth those who- were fighting hardest against federation were doing so- because they objected to being brought into competition with the cheap labour of Victoria. I had artisans coming to me, time and again, and protesting against this federal agitation.
– They were protectionists. ,
– They were protectionists. They protested on the ground, as they said, that they were paying their men high wages under a Tariff, which was no protective Tariff to speak of - an ordinary revenue Tariff was all the protection any artisan had over there - and they were afraid that if we federated the cheap wage-earners of Victoria would do them some injury.
– How could that be if they had no protective Tariff ?
– I say we had a protective Tariff in Western Australia of the nature of a revenue Tariff. The principal protectionist cry in the federal campaign was a ring fence round Australia, and freetrade between the States, but the protectionists of my own colony were afraid that that free-trade between the States was going to be very injurious to the artisans of Western Australia. This is but another evidence of the hollowness of the cry we are continually hearing, that the question of wages is bound up with the question’ of protection. I again reiterate that Western Australia, as far as the general artisan was concerned, had simply a revenue Tariff. What I am about to say may astonish some honorable members on the other side, but it is a fact that under that revenue Tariff, without any particular stimulus whatever, it was the case during the federal campaign, and I presume at the present moment, that the proportion of hands engaged in what are called the secondary industries in Western Australia, was as high as the proportion in Victoria, proving conclusively that the development of primary industries means the development of secondary industries, which follow as naturally as night follows day.
– That is contradicted by members on the other side.
– The time of the gold fever in Victoria was the most prosperous time we ever had.
– That was the position with regard to the people of Western Australia. I am not going to repeat the freetrade argument, which has been heard so often from this side during this debate. I feel sure that enough has been said already to convince most reasonable persons of the justice of the demand for a reduced tariff upon mining machinery. I am not going to repeat the request on those grounds. For the sake of putting this case as strongly as I possibly can, I am willing to concede a very great deal for the sake of argument. I am willing to concede that every mining expert in Western Australia, highly paid and highly trained in his profession, is absolutely in error in saying that this particular Tariff is going to injure his industry. I am going to concede that much for the sake of argument. I am going to concede that the people of Western Australia, as a whole, are equally in error in thinking that the policy of .the Government will do their great mining industry any injury at all. For the sake of argument I concede even that. But, conceding so much, I wish to ask this committee to recollect how easy it is for capital to be scared out of any industry. I want honorable members on the . other side, especially Victorian members, to recollect the result of the financial collapse in Victoria not so very many years ago. It was impossible for some time to get money invested in Victoria, even in the most promising industries. Capital was scared out Of the country. Rightly or wrongly - I believe rightly, and members on the other other side believe wrongly - but rightly or wrongly the effect of the Government proposal will undoubtedly be to scare capital to some extent Out of the mining industry in Western Australia. The proposals of the Government undoubtedly will have that effect, even if, as I am willing to admit for the sake of argument, the people interested in that industry are altogether wrong in their deductions. But if capital is going to be scared out of that industry by the proposal of the Government, surely the industry is of sufficient importance, not only to my own State, but to the people of Australia as a whole, to demand consideration on the grounds that I have stated. The people of Victoria, when they realized that, through the lack of faith in their State, capital was being refused to its industries, considered that they were justified in taking very extraordinary steps to overcome that prejudice. Now, presuming that this Tariff means the creation of prejudice against our mining industry in Western Australia, have I not as much right to ask the serious consideration of Victorian members for mining in Western Australia which they gave to their own State in the time of its trouble? I feel that this is a claim which I can urge upon the Government, and upon the more reasonable protectionists on the other side, with a good deal of hopefulness. I can assure honorable members that there is nothing that lies so seriously on the minds of the people of Western Australia at the present time, nor has there been for many years past, as this proposed duty upon mining machinery. It is something that they never calculated upon. It is something which, had they known of it before we took the federal referendum, I feel certain the knowledge would have brought about a very different result from what actually transpired. Realizing that such is the position, I feel that I cannot too earnestly urge members of this committee to give our position, whether our view of it may arise from mere prejudice or may be well founded, their most serious consideration, feeling as I do that I am asking this, not only for the people of my own State, but for the people of the whole of the Commonwealth.
– I have no desire to prolong this debate, which has already occupied a considerable portion of the time of the committee. But, as one deeply interested in the mining industry of my own State,and notably of the Northern Territory, one of the most important parts of that State in the matter of gold-mining, I feel that this duty if carried will tend to a great extent to retard the development of that portion of the country. It is very much to be regretted that this item inthe Tariff is notsufficiently definite. We have included in this line, not only pumps, engines, boilers, and machinery, but a host of other things. In view of the fact that the £280,000 which it is anticipated will be received as revenue under this item will be derived from a host of articles numbering nearly 100, and that mining machinery will be responsible at the outside for not more than one-half of it, it is a pity that the committee have not had an opportunity of dealing with that portion of the item separately. So far the whole of this debate has turned upon the question of the duty upon mining machinery, and what its effect will be upon the mining industry of the Barrier district, in New South Wales, and the mining industry in Western Australia and other portions of the Commonwealth. Of course we have heard a good deal of the old free-trade and protectionist arguments, but the mining industry has occupied a somewhat prominent position in the debate. When we consider the facts that have been placed before us by the honorable member for Barrier, the honorable member for Perth, and the honorable member for Kalgoorlie, honorable members who represent districts in Australia which are contributing the very largest portion of the mineral wealth of the continent at the present time, we must be impressed by their importance. When we consider the thousands of men who are employed in this industry, and the millions of pounds which it returns annually to the Commonwealth, I think we may say that the debate, lengthy as it has been, is well warranted. The mineral output of the Commonwealth for the year 1900, which is the latest year for which we have a complete record, amounted in value to £22,201,000 sterling, or equal to something like18 per cent, of the aggregate wealth produced in the whole Commonwealth in pastoral, agricultural, and all other pursuits during the same period. This return shows a proportion of 23 per cent, of the primary production of the whole of Australia. We were told last night by the honorable member for Kalgoorlie that over 10,000 men are employed by 66 mining companies in Western Australia. We know from the returnsof the Customs department that £7,225,000 worth of gold was produced iti Western Australia- during the last twelve months. Less than ten years ago, I think, the gold output of that State was under £10,000 in value per annum. Its annual export of gold has gone up by leaps and bounds, until the year before last it amounted to a little over £6,000,000, whilst last year it represented £7,250,000. And it bids fair, under reasonable conditions, to continue to’ increase in the same ratio. I am not speaking entirely in ignorance of the facts when I refer to the Barrier mining fields or to those of Western Australia. I have visited both ; I have been interested in both very closely, and for many years I have been largely interested also in the development of tin, copper, and gold mines in the northern portion of this continent. Although honorable members may sneer at the small difference which they say this duty will make in the cost of mining development, I know that the difference which it will make in the cost of mining machinery, small apparently as it appears to be to some of us, will be a very large one to men who are straining every nerve to develop property which hitherto has not paid. I know that that difference will in very many instances prevent the development of many valuable mines, just as it has done in the past. It is all very well to say that 20 per cent, or 25 per cent, duty on the value of mining machinery does not make much difference ; but when a mine has to purchase compressors and rock drills at an original cost of from £1,500 to £2,000, an addition of 25 per cent, represents the cost of the em . ploy,tent of a good many hands for a good many months in the development of the underground workings of the mine. When a mine comes to purchase winding, and pumping gear at a cost of £4,000 or £5,000 the addition of a 25 per cent, duty upon that amount or portion of it means a difference, so far as shareholders are concerned, which often leads many of them to throw up the sponge and refuse to support further expenditure. I had an instance of the effect of the Tariff brought under my notice only a few weeks ago by the late president of the South Australian Chamber of Commerce, who pointed to a South Australian company, which had recently erected works for the manufacture of coke in New South Wales. An expensive piece of machinery, costing approximately about £1,500, and used to empty the ovens, had been ordered by the company from Scotland. This machinery appears to be the special production of certain manufacturers, and the unexpected duty upon the cost of £1,500 is undoubtedly a severe blow to this small company.
– The honorable member refers to an hydraulic ram.
– I do not know what the machinery is, but a gentleman on whom I can rely, drew my attention to the case. He also brought under my notice the case of the Stannary Hills Company, which owns a tin property in Northern Queensland. The following sentence appears in the last report issued by this company :–
The Federal Tariff will involve the company in an unexpected expense of about £1,500, as it imposes heavy duties on rails and locomotives, which under the Queensland Tariff were admitted free.
It is absurd for honorable members to say in the face of facts like these, that the duty which is proposed to be imposed upon mining machinery, will not in any way affect the development of our mining resources. During the last few years, a large amount of capital has been introduced by English companies for the development of mining enterprises in the Northern Territory of South Australia. Within the last few years, at least £100,000 has been invested in mining machinery, and the development of mining there. Every penny of this was subscribed in London, and naturally the bulk of the machinery was shipped from London. The companies secured the latest machinery that could be obtained from England and America, and sent it out by way of Singapore and Port Darwin. A good deal of this machinery could not be manufactured in Australia, owing to the fact that it is protected by patents. It is just as -well to particularize some portions of machinery necessary for mining purposes, which are thus protected. There are the Frue-vanner concentrating tables, the Wilfley concentrating tables, and a host of other intricate machines, specially designed in Germany and other places, for the saving of fine gold, and the treatment of refractory ores. It is all very well for honorable members like the honorable and learned member for Bendigo to refer to Victoria as the hub of the mining industry, or, at any rate, as one of those places the experience of which should hold good in every part of Australia. I have been over several of the mining districts of Victoria, and I have employed managers from Bendigo and from Ballarat. From all I have seen and heard, the treatment of gold-bearing ore in those places, and on most of the Victorian fields, is of the simplest nature. There’ is hardly a case in which the ore is not of the - perfectly free milling type, requiring only treatment by ordinary stamping and concentration, and, in the few instances where pyrites occur in rather large quantities, by roasting or by amalgamating in Wheeler or Berdan pans. To compare the machinery required for treatment of that kind with the complex patented machinery of all kinds required for concentration and other purposes in places like Broken Hill, or in dealing with the difficulties which are now being experienced in Western Australia - where, having passed through the oxidized portions of their lodes, which were easily treated by primitive and simple methods, they have come to the sulphide and telluride ores - is to show an entire ignorance of the whole subject. The difficulties which are met with in Western Australia to-day are altogether due to the character of the ore which has to be treated. I could name a dozen mines in the Kalgoorlie district where it has been proved to demonstration that there are millions of tons of ore in sight, capable of yielding from 7 to 14 dwt. to the ton ; but at present it is as useless as if there were no gold there at all, for the simple reason that a profitable method of treating these ores by concentration or smelting has not yet been discovered. But if encouragement is given, the time will soon como when experiments in this direction will prove successful. Tens of thousands of pounds have been expended by companies like the Lake View Consols, the Associated Mines, and the Perseverance, on new patented machinery, which is now only so much scrap iron ; and are honorable members willing to increase the losses of these companies by requiring them to pay a heavy rate of duty upon all further importations of machinery ? There is at least £100,000 worth of machinery on the Kalgoorlie field which was imported for experimental reasons, and has proved a failure ; and are we going to make it more difficult to import machinery of the latest type from America, Germany, and other countries in the endeavour to overcome difficulties, the overcoming of which will mean the production of millions of pounds’ worth of wealth to the community t
– If the imposition of a duty will put miners out of work, the protectionist will vote for it.
– Putting on one side the question of the advisability of imposing duties upon mining machinery generally, it seems to me that there cannot be two opinions upon the subject of imposing duties upon patented machinery required for the development of our resources. Such machinery cannot be made in Australia, and should undoubtedly be admitted free.
– Honorable members opposite should let us know what machinery they think should be admitted free.
– Machinery such ‘ as the Frue-vanner and Whiney tables, and a host of concentrating machines which are being invented and improved upon in Germany and America almost every month of our lives.
– They never heard of such machines in Victoria.
– No; because they do not require it in most places. Then machinery like the German filter presses, which are protected by patents, Dr. Zeitz’s patents forovercomingthe sulphide difficulty and other machinery which is imported at the cost of the shareholders for experimental purposes, should be admitted free. It has been shown that a great deal of the machinery used at Broken Hill was made, not in ‘ foreign countries, but within the Commonwealth. In South Australia firms like Martin and Co., Hawke and Co., May Bros., Fulton’s, and other large foundries are capable of turning out excellent machinery, and mining companies of which I have been a director have spent tens of thousands of pounds in machinery in the States. I have been interested in orders for winding plants carried out by Thompson, of Castlemaine, where they can make winding plants better than they can. be made in South Australia. Boilers, ordinary stamper batteries for small mines, winding plants, air compressors, and machinery of that kind can be, and are being, satisfactorily made in all the States. I have been interested in the shipment of thousands of pounds’ worth of such machinery to the various mines in the Kalgoorlie district. I do not suppose one could find a better equipped winding plant than that provided by Hawke and Co. for the Boulder Central mine, or a better pumping plant than that mine possesses.
The tremendous natural protection which manufacturers here have in the cost of freight from other countries ought to enable them to compete against foreign manufacturers without any duties at all. Who will say that a 2 6 -feet boiler can be brought from London to compete with a boiler manufactured in a State in Australia?
– The boilermakers say so.
– The evidence is utterly against them. The bulk of the boilers on the Western Australian and other Australian fields have come from Australian foundries in competition with the world. But the fourth or the third of the machinery, which hitherto has had to be imported owing to the existence of patent rights, should be admitted absolutely free of duty. The importance of the mining industry to the future of the Commonwealth cannot be over-estimated. We know - and South Australia has had a bitter experience of it - that to rely to a very great extent on wheat growing and sheep growing is to trust to a very poor reed. Had it not been for the mineral wealth of the Barrier, and, later on, the lucky stroke of the finding of the Western Australian goldfields, the position of South Australia, financially, would have been a long way worse than it is. I have to consider the importance of the Barrier, nob only to New South Wales, but to South Australia. The working of the Barrier mines means some hundreds of thousands of pounds a year in railway freights to that State. It very courageously opened up the Barrier by a railway. The largest portion of its railway income has come from the Barrier traffic. The carriage of goods to and from the Barrier has meant salvation to our railway system. When I hear from the honorable member for Barrier, who knows more about its mining than I, a casual visitor can do, thatthis duty is going to have such a bad effect onthe mines, which owing to the low price of lead and silver are in a semi-moribund state, are discharging hands daily and weekly, the thought arises in my mind how is it going to affect my own State, already involved in a considerable sum as her portion of the Commonwealth expenditure. When I know it is likely, unless the price of lead rises and there are more men employed on the Barrier mines, that South Australia will have a deficiency of at least £200,000 in the present financial year, I feel that this duty on mining machinery has an importance to every man, woman, and child I have the honour to represent. There are many other lines included in this drag-net proposal with which I should like to deal, such as steel droppers, standards, and steel fencing, but as my honorable friend and colleague, Mr. Poynton, has given notice of his intention to deal with them later on, I shall reserve my remarks. The Chamber of Commerce of South Australia, feeling equally the importance of these duties on its trade, have addressed to the Prime Minister a memorial, in which they point out -
That whereas the metalliferous mines of this State provide employment for a large number of miners, and also provide a market for the produce of numerous State industries ; and whereas the produce of the said mines cannot benefit by any Federal Tariff, this branch of industry deserves the special consideration of the Federal Government and the Federal Legislature. Your petitioner therefore earnestly prays that provision may be made in the Federal Tariff Bill that all mining machinery, mining requisites, including timber and mining appliances which cannot be made or produced within the Commonwealth shall, when actually placed upon a mine for use thereon, be entitled to a rebate of the duties paid thereon.
They advocate that at least all goods of that class which cannot be made here because they are protected by patent rights shouldbe duty free. Whatevermay become of this amendment, it is my intention to moveinthatdirectionbeforethisitemisfinally dealt with. When the honorable member for Moira was speaking, I interjected that, although there was a duty on machinery in the main portion of South Australia, there was no duty on any -machinery in the Northern Territory. It does not appear to be soin the Tariff, but. the resolution of the House of Assembly, which I was enabled to get passed some few years ago, provided that all machinery for the development of the natural resources of the northern portion of the colony should be admitted free of duty. It would be a very good thing if it were enacted by this Parliament that all machinery necessary for the development of the natural resources of the Commonwealth should be admitted free.Ican see that the Government and their supportersintend to make a big struggle to retain the whole of this duty, but I do not think they have much hope of being successful. What I would suggest to honorable members on this side is that, failing to carry the present amendment to free all the items under this head,, we should endeavour to deal with the items separately.
– The Minister suggested that we should deal with “ n.e.i.” to begin with, and then take each word or each .Une.
– I fancy that that would very much lengthen the proceedings. So far the bulk of the debate lias been on the question of boilers, engines, pumps, machines, and machinery. It lias had special reference, I admit, to mining machinery. I think w,e should first try to place the whole of these goods on the free list, and, failing in that attempt, endeavour to reduce the duty to 10 per cent., which would be quite sufficient.
– Why not try 15 per cent?
– That would be a very heavy duty on some classes of goods.
– What about iron pipes ?
– Iron pipes of a certain size, which are used as pump columns, are just as necessary in mining development as winding plant or anything else.
– We exempt from duty iron pipes of a certain size - up to 6 inches.
– That is rather small, and the size ought to be increased to at least 12 inches. In several mines, where they have to lift 30,00.0 or 40,000 gallons of water per day, they have 8-in. or 9-in. pump columns put in. I would suggest that we should first deal with the item down to “ machinery, n.e.i.” I shall support the proposal of the honorable member for Kalgoorlie to reduce the duty to 10 per cent. Subsequently, I shall certainly seek to put on the free list all machinery for mining purposes, which, owing to existing patents, cannot be manufactured within the boundaries of the Commonwealth.
– I think we must all agree that nothing has taken place in our debates up to the present time which is more calculated to impress upon us the magnitude of the task and the .responsibilities now being cast upon the .Federal Parliament - I do not think anything has brought it home more strongly to my mind than the debate upon mining machinery - because practically the debate has been confined to that phase of the question, and the various aspects of mining throughout the Commonw’ealth, We have now to consider what effect the Tariff, as far as it relates to mining operations, is going to to have on mining operations, not only in our own respective “ States, but in other States with which we are comparatively unacquainted. Whilst- with the reservation I shall state presently - I should have had no hesitation whatever, supposing my own State only were involved, I havefelt it my duty to listen attentively to the speeches of honorable members from other States, and I am very glad to say that I have received information that has thrown a considerable light upon the subject. It is perfectly true that in Victoria we stand, in regard to mining operations, in a position vastly different from that occupied by Western Australia. It is further true; as was interposed a few moments ago by the honorable member for Kalgoorlie - to whose speech last night I listened with great pleasure - that the problem of treating the rebellious ores of Western Australia has not yet been solved ; and I think he was perfectly correct when he also said last night that, with the exception of the ores obtained at Cripple Creek in Colorado, there are none, so far as we know, in the world, so difficult of treatment as those of Western Australia.
– In some parts.
-I am speaking now of those ores to which allusion has been made. As far as I understand, the Western Australian ores are even more difficult of treatment than .are those at Cripple Creek, because at the latter place the chlorination is .able to deal with the tellurides and the sulphides, whilst in Western Australia the presence of calcite is an additional factor of difficulty. In dealing with these matters, therefore, we have to bear in mind considerations which have never presented themselves to us in Victoria, and we are brought into contact with this phase of the question, namely,- what machinery; as far as science has yet progressed, is necessary to cope with the difficulties of the position ? Now, I must confess that as far as regards that class of machinery for which patents have been granted, and which, therefore, for legal reasons cannot be made in Australia except by permission .of the patentee, and which the patentee cannot be 1 reasonably expected to come here and manufacture, I do not see my way to argue that any duty should be imposed. We have granted a monopoly by way of patent to the individuals who have the right to manufacture this class of machinery, and having granted that right we must loyally stand by what we have done. We ought not therefore to impose upon any industry requiring these machines, to enable them to overcome natural difficulties or to keep abreast of the progress of the arts and sciences in other parts of the world, any duty which must, under any circumstances, mean to them an absolute tax. I may say, by way of parenthesis, that when the Government come to deal with our patent laws, it will be worth their while to bear this matter in mind. I can see very -strong reasons for encouraging the exercise -of the inventive faculties of our own -citizens, and protecting the outcome of their ingenuity, and invention, and thought, by giving them a monopoly which will in the initial stages benefit them, and eventually operate for the benefit of the Commonwealth as a whole. But I see very strong reasons for considering whether we should continue to grant monopolies to foreigners who merely pay a comparatively small fee - and I hope the fee for patents will continue to be small - which gives them the right, not to come here- and manufacture the article, but to say that they will not only not come here, but that they will manufacture it elsewhere, and levy. a toll as high as they please upon those who have to use it. This is a matter for very grave consideration. We are now confronted with a most important point which presents difficulties in the way of our Tariff regulation, and leaves us on the horns of a dilemma. Either we can obtain revenue from the imposition of a duty, or encourage manufacturers in our midst if we legally can ; or, on the other hand, expose our industrial population to a tax that they cannot possibly avoid paying.
– The cyanide patents ought to have taught us that lesson.
– That is another instance, and the honorable member is quite right. It will be a matter for very serious consideration, when dealing with the patent laws, whether we are to perpetuate a very great and serious difficulty.
– We should not have any knowledge of improvements unless the articles were patented here ?
– I do not know that. I am quite sure we keep abreast of all the inventions of the world, and that we do not require for the purpose of obtaining knowledge of the progress of science to have documents lodged in the Patents-office.
– America itself tried that plan and gave it up.
– I believe that America did not try the plan in the way I suggest. However, that is a matter for hereafter, and when we deal with it we shall have an interesting and important problem to consider. I concede that where inventions stand in Australia patented and protected, and we have no reasonable ground for asking the inventors to come here and manufacture in our midst, we have no right to put a tax on those who desire and who are necessitated to use them for the purpose of advancing the industrial progress of the country. If it is possible to specify the particular articles, and if the Ministry see their way to acknowledge the correctness of the specification, there ought not to be, and, I believe, will not be, any difficulty in acceding to the request which has been made all round to exempt from taxation such machinery as that to which I have referred. Passing from that class of machinery, we come to ordinary machinery which, is not protected by patent, and which can be made here, not in the abstruse sense that has been referred to by some honorable members - that is, made at any cost and obtainable at some out-of-the-way price - but made under such reasonable conditions that there will be fair competition in our midst to prevent any monopoly and any outrageous prices being put on local manufactures, and under conditions which, as put by a higher authority than I can ever hope to be, will counterbalance the differences of labour conditions in other parts of the world, and, I should add, the differences presented in the enormous power of capitalization elsewhere, which can enable importers to sell at a loss in order to capture a market. As- to this class of machinery, I do not know why the same ordinary considerations should not apply as apply to agricultural machinery. I know of no reason why Australia, with her splendid coal measures and her limestone and iron ore, should not at no distant date be one of the greatest iron manufacturing countries in the world. I hope and believe she will, if she gets the encouragement that a reasonable protective policy can give her. New South Wales, I regret to say, has not made that advance in regard to iron production and manufacture which she ought to have made, having regard to her splendid natural resources.
– Because Victoria has always shut her markets against New South Wales.
– Surely New South Wales is not altogether dependent on Victoria 1 On’ the other hand, New South Wales has shown that she has been dependent to a large extent on Victoria for some of her machinery. Victoria has laboured in this department under natural disadvantages as compared with New South- Wales, but the former State presents a better show for her efforts. However, none of us want to do anything more than enter into honest and friendly rivalry amongst ourselves, not State against State, but individual against individual all over Australia. It is about time we stopped pitting State against State, and weshould endeavour to obliterate all State lines in ma tters of this kind. With her splendid natural opportunities New South Wales ought to, and, I believe, will, with a reasonable and moderate protection in regard to iron manufacture, occupy a very high position in the industrial world. This is just ohe of the departments the importance of which I should like to press on my honorable friends from New South Wales. There is scarcely an article of production, or of commerce, that is so improved by mere labour as iron. Compare the value of the rough iron ore taken from the earth, with the value of it as steel, in the delicate mechanisms into which that material is converted. In regard to inventive genius and the employment of brain and muscle, such magnificent opportunities are scarcely presented in any direction as in the development of theironindustry As to the amendment of the honorable member for Barrier, whatever else we may say of it, it may at least be claimed that it is thorough. The honorable member admits that .lie only wants to gain his end to some small extent, which he is unable to properly define. Although what he wishes is included in the area embraced by his amendment, he finds that that area is immensely larger than the ground he intends to cover. There can only be one fate awaiting this amendment. Surely honorable members on the other side, who, apart from this question of patent machinery, desire revenue duties, cannot support the amendment.
– We are not framing a Tariff.
– I believe that if the honorable member foi” Werriwa had his way he would have no Tariff.
– We shall frame a Tariff when the present Government go out of power.
– At all events, the honorable and learned member will or will not vote for the amendment, as he may see right and proper. I cannot see, from the arguments adduced, and the stand taken by my honorable friends opposite, how any of them can consistently vote for the amendment.
– Let the Government compromise, and we will meet them. The Government compel us to fight. .
– I am not the Government, .and I am merely expressing my own views. This is a proposal that, regardless of all consequences, except to make sure that there shall be no possibility of any burden falling on the mining industry of Western Australia, all items covered by this particular list shall be made free. We cannot possibly accede to that. It is much more reasonable, as suggested, and as acceded to by the Government, that we should deal with the items seriatim. We cannot reasonably deal with them en bloc. It is difficult enough to deal with them seriatim, and they cannot be disposed of with any degree of satisfaction «* bloc. I listened with a very great deal of attention to what was said bv mv honorable friends from Western Australia in regard to the belief entertained by the people in that State, and especially by its Parliament. I do not think for a moment that in Western Australia it is believed that this Tariff is going to do the unmitigated damage which has been suggested. Let me state the evidence upon which I found my opinion. I have taken the trouble to read what the Colonial Treasurer of that State said on the 9th October, 1901, when delivering his Budget speech.
– That was before he knew what the items in the Tariff were.
– The honorable and learned member is quite mistaken, because the
Colonial Treasurer refers to the item of machinery, and points out that the duty upon it has been raised from 5 per cent, to 25 per cent. In discussing this matter he is reported in the Western Australian Hansard, page 1474, to have said -
Machinery is raised from 5 per cent., which is our duty, to 25 per cent. At the outset this seems to strike heavily at our mining industry, and also at our agricultural industry. However that may be, when we come to think it over carefully, and bear in mind that we import machinery very largely from the eastern States-
Mr. Higham. No ; we do not.
The Colonial Treasurer. - Excuse me; we do.
Mr. Higham. Excuse me ; we do not.
The Colonial Treasurer. - I will not discuss the question with the honorable member.
Mr. Higham. I am stating what I know.
Mr. Gardiner. That is a novelty, anyhow.
The Colonial Treasurer. - I know we import a large quantity of mining machinery. I am expressing my opinion, and other members can express theirslater. My opinion isthat we import a large quantity of mining and agricultural machinery from the eastern States. I have great hope that competition will moderate prices. If this hope be not realized, then of course machinery from the eastern States will tend to rise to something near the margin of the importing prices. I think, however, that competition between the different StatesWill tend to keep prices down. At the same time it is quite certainthattheagricultural and the mining industries will both be considerably burdened by the operation of a Federal Tariff; but, while the Tariff will have that effect, 1 think it should lead in the near futureto a growth of local industry. My friend, the member for the Swan Foundry might take a note of this.
Mr. George. I object to any reference to the Swan Foundry from the honorable member.
The Colonial Treasurer. - I admit that the reference was quite unnecessary, as the honorable member himself makes a sufficiency of references to that foundry. I am expressing my opinion on the point, although 1 have very few words to say upon it. I express my opinion that in the very near future the effect of the 25 per cent, duty on machinery will he to cause local industries to spring up.
Mr.Higham and Mr. George. - Where?
The Colonial Treasurer. - In Western Australia
He also makes further observations. He thinks that though the mining industry will at first have an additional burden tobear, the Tariff will eventually tend to create local industries, and altogether he does not appear totake the pessimistic view which some honorable members have taken.
– I will tell my honorable friend what Iam aware of, and perhaps I am aware of a littlemore than be thinks. I have here the resolution of which he speaks. I have taken the trouble to look at this matter fairly and squarely, and I find from the West Australian of the 24th October, 1901, that that resolution was carried upon the voices, and that both protectionists and free-traders ‘condemned the Tariff. I find that there were a number of members who condemned it because it was of a protectionist character, and a number of others who condemned it because it was of a free-trade character. But I wish to point out to my honorable friend that it was not condemned unanimously on.account of these duties.
Mr.Conroy. - They did not even divide upon the resolution. No protectionist even dared to assert that it was a good Tariff.
– My honorable and learned friend did not hear what I said. This is what was said in the Western Australian Parliament, according to the report contained in the West Australian of 24th October last year -
Mr. Daglish did not think that the motion was. aimed at the protective nature of the Federal Tariff. What he objected to in the Tariff was that itwas not a protective one which would encourage young industries, but that it contained to a large extent the worst features of a f ree-trade Tariff in its revenue duties on the necessaries of every-day life. He supported the motion.
I will also read what the Minister of Mines said -
The Ministerof Mines supportedthe motion. At the same time he felt that Mr. Morgans had exaggerated the injury that was likely to result to the mining industry from the proposed duty. It would, no doubt, deal a bigblow to our lowgrade mines ; but the mining industry as a whole was in such a position now that even a higher duty would nob injure it to the extent feared by Mr. Morgans. He was convinced that the people would not put up with a high Federal Tariff and the sliding scale as well. He had hoped that the motion would be carried unanimously, and he deprecated the amendment.
Then anotherhonorable member’s views are summarized thus -
Mr.Reside also felt that Mr. Morgans had exaggerated the injurythat would result from the Federal Tariff. He would, have been glad to see a small tax on mining machinery, and the duties on such machinery classified, giving adequate protection tothe machinery that could be made here. The time would newer come when they could afford a free-trade policy.
I do not wish to read the whole of the debate, but I want to convince honorable members, in reply to the question of the honorable member for Perth, that I was aware of the fact that in the Western Australian Parliament a resolution has been carried condemning the Tariff, and that I was also aware of some of the reasons which actuated members in voting as they did. That is the position of affairs in Western Australia, .and I was induced to read the report which I have quoted by the excellent speeches delivered by the representatives of Western Australia, which certainly imposed upon honorable members not acquainted with that State the task of ascertaining from the best materials at hand the state of public feeling there. ‘
– So a resolution condemning the Tariff must be interpreted as an approval of it?
– I leave that observation to the judgment of the House. I think that, so for as we can judge, the opinion expressed in the Western Australian Parliament coincides to a large extent with the opinion already held in Victoria - namely, that free-trade is not a policy which will suit the Commonwealth as a whole. If there is no .reason why we should differentiate regarding our fiscal policy between Western Australia and other portions of the Commonwealth,. and if, in addition to that, we remember that a very great concession has been made by way of a sliding scale to Western Australia - a very great concession, indeed, which will enable that State to raise revenue to support its gold mining and other industries in a degree not permitted to the other States of the Commonwealth - we should be less hesitant in pursuing the course we,have been pursuing. so,far. Except in the exceptional instances of machinery under patent rights, to which I have referred, there is no reason why we should not deal with this question of mining machinery in the same way as any other question .arising under the Tariff
– In the same way as agricultural machinery.
– On ‘the same principle. It is all a question of evidence as to what is the proper amount .of -duty to fix. That will be a question for consideration, I suppose, on a subsequent motion, but it should be dealt with on the same principle. My honorable friend, the member for
Parramatta, to-day said he disputed my right to give a definition of protection. I do not know that I claim any more right than any other honorable member.
– To make one of your - own.
– I do not know that the honorable member is in a position to dispute my right to make one for myself, if I choose to do so. I do not know why every one should not be able to frame a definition to his own satisfaction, and which according to his reasoning he thinks will fairly meet the circumstances, but when he comes to place it before honorable members it is for them to say whether they will agree with it or not. As I shall point out diirectly, it is not so much a definition of protection which the honorable member will have to quarrel with as a definition of free-trade. I shall place before him in a few moments a definition of free-trade, not by one member of ‘ this committee, but by an authorized representative association, which the honorable member will find it very difficult to square with the principles of a most liberal nature, which I say, without presumption, I know my honorable friend holds. The honorable member said that protection was a matter that had to be dealt with according to the economists. He pinned his faith to the ordinary economists, and I suppose he referred to Adam Smith, Herbert Spencer; and John Stuart Mill. If he pins his faith to the doctrines of those writers, he will take up this position - that the function of the State is confined practically to police.
– I assure the honorable and learned member that I do not believe in any such .nonsense.
– Then, of course, my honorable friend mu’st part company with the economists. He cannot ride on both horses at the same time. If he says - “ Yes, I will find revenue for judges, police, military, and Custom officers for revenue purposes only, and so on, but I shall .go no further,” I can understand his position, .but I am perfectly sure the honorable member does not pin his .actual practice of politics to any such doctrine. I am sure he would be one of .the last to say that the functions of government to-day should be confined within any such narrow limits. He will say that it is the function, and even the bounden duty, of government to encourage public enterprise, to assist the advancement and development of the country, and not to confine that assistance and encouragement to any particular industry. I am sure the honorable member will say that, and when he goes so far in consideration for the mining industry and for the agricultural industry, he would doubtless support a proposal made here to establish a means of assisting agriculture throughout Australia, when he would probably, as I am sure he has done in the past as a Minister, assist the mining industry by what he may call “ advances,” if he likes, though he knows that it is a case of nulla vestigia retrorsum. The honorable member knows that those advances are never retrogressions, that they are practically gifts that are made, and he knows it is the same in Victoria. The honorable member knows that the money from which these advances come is taken from the general purse, but he will not say - “ I am going to stop short of any such encouragement and assistance to these particular industries.”He will agree that we should treat the whole of them alike, and when we come to consider the artisans engaged in manufactures, I am sure the honorable member will say - “ Well, how can I assist you? ” Now, I wish to put it to my honorable friend that when he says, and truly says, that protection in the narrow restrictive sense in which it is sometimes used, and in which it is used by some of the economists, means putting a duty on articles coming into the country, he knows perfectly well that, although we cannot put a penny a bushel upon the farmer’s wheat in London to give him a higher price, we can, by measures of encouragement in our own country, reduce the cost of production to the farmer by a penny and by a great many pennies, and it conies to the same tiling. Therefore I say to my honorable friend that he takes a much narrower view at the present moment than, possibly, upon reflection he will take a little while hence upon this question of the functions and duties of the State. The honorable member will see that protection comes to the assistance of a particular industry at the point where unfair competition touches that industry. If it touches a manufacturing industry in the Commonwealth he will deal with it by means of a Tariff. If it touches the farmer’s exports in London, he will deal with it by assisting the farmer to get his produce to London at a lower cost to himself.
An Honorable Member. - In what way ?
– By spending the State money in teaching him agriculture ;in showing him the best and latest methods of cultivation ; by not leaving him to his own unaided resources in regard to carriage, but by giving him special facilities in the matter of freight and transport in everyway.
– That is free-trade - the development of trade.
– At the public expense ?
– No, certainly not.
– How are we going to do it if not at the public expense?
– Then it cannot be done ; the farmer has to pay everything.
– That is not so ; he has to pay a share, but everybody else has to pay also. I wish to draw my honorable friends’ attention to the fact that the difficulty they have to contend with is not a definition of protection, it is a definition of free-trade. When I look at the authorized programme of the Free-trade Association and I see that famous fourth plank of the free-trade platform, I wonder how my honorable friends can stand upon that platform with any consistency. I shall read it, because it is worth while putting into Hansard -
That customs and excise duties imposed by the Commonwealth should be imposed only with a view to provide for the needs of the Treasury and in no way to give support to any special industry at the expense of the general community.
– That is right, no special class.
– “ Any special industry.” Do not alter the words please. Now, therefore, the farming and mining industries, being each of them a special industry, are never, according to this fourth plank of the free-trade platform, to look for assistance at any time out of the general purse - in no way, not by bonus, grants in aid, ad vances, agricultural departments, or by any other means.
– It is the freetraders who have always formed those departments.
– Of course, my honorable friend is right when he says free-traders have helped in this direction. The Australian Governments have always done it, but they have only done it to the extent that they have departed from the free-trade principle. So far as they have not been consistent with free-trade views, they have assisted these industries, and more power to them for it. I thoroughly agree with them. But I want to know how, when ‘they do that, they can in the next breath say - “ We are not assisting any special industry at all.” We know perfectly well that hundreds of thousands of pounds are readily spent every year to assist the farming and mining industries, and I say, as the representative of a large mining constituency, though one in which there is not a single machinery factory, except a blacksmith’s shop or something of that kind, no factory such as there is at Bendigo or Ballarat, that I have no special interest in this matter.
– Do we not speak of England as a free-trade country?
– And has she not done the same thing?
– Can the honorable member point to any grant made for agricultural purposes by the English Government ?
– Money has been voted in England, out of the public Treasury, for local purposes.
– I should like the honorable member to point out an instance of assistance given to agriculture by the English Central Government in the way we are doing it here.
– Have they not a Secretary for Agriculture in England ?
– They have a Board of Agriculture, but when in England I took the trouble to go to that Board, and so far as I could discover there was nothing done by it approaching assistance to agriculture in the sense that we have it here. I am speaking now from recollection, and should not like to make the statement definitely, but with the exception of some £7,500 given by the English Government for, agricultural education, I do not think there is any money granted by the central Government for the assistance of agriculture.
– I did not say that money was granted by the Government for the assistance of agriculture, but that money was granted out of the public purse for local purposes.
– I do not know what that means. The honorable member may refer to a grant for water supply.
– Is not that the same thing?
– Certainly not ; and I am not sure that it is the case. I am not sure that the money is not lent by the county councils ; but that is beside the question. I think that something like £800,000 is levied by local bodies, and falls on the ratepayers for various educational purposes ; but I believe I am correct in saying that £7,500 is all that the central Government of England gives out of the general taxpayer’s pockets for the assistance of agriculture, and that that is only given in the shape of small subsidies for certain educational establishments.
– What they spend in that way is simply in the shape of State socialism, but they will not admit it.
– Yes. I had a conversation with some officers of the Board on the subject, and I believe my statement is correct ; but if the honorable member for Wannon knows of any grant of the kind referred to, I cannot say that my memory is better than his own. Here the State has stepped forward, and will continue to step forward, I hope, to help the agricultural and mining branches of our industries. I am sure there are many instances of that in Western Australia, although I speakwith bated breath of what is done in that State. I have heard that there is some £80,000 or £90,000 a year spent there in these directions.
– State socialism.
– They have public batteries there. They have various public tanks and works of that kind, to which some £20,000 or £30,000 is specially devoted every year. That money is paid out of the pocket of the general taxpayer, whether he is living in Perth or anywhere else, and rightly so, because it helps to develop the whole country and benefits the whole community. This Tariff, encouraging manufacturers in our midst, will benefit the whole of this community just as will the expenditure of public money on mining and agriculture. I do not think that honorable members can bear in mind too strongly the fact that Adam Smith wrote in a state of society which knew nothing of our present factory laws, or of our present humanitarian laws as we know them. The nations were not standing in the relation to each other that they do now. He was dealing with the state of affairs in the18th century, when individual rights alone were fought for; when it was a fight of individual against individual. To-day it is a fight of country against country, in commercialism as well as in militarism. Each country must fit itself for the struggle: It must fit itself, not only by its muscle, but by its brains, and, to a certain extent, make itself self-sufficient. Why should we be dependent on other countries for the secondary products of our wool ? Why should we send our wool abroad to be returned to us in its manufactured state? Why do the same with our iron ? Why should we raise that iron to the surface and yet be dependent on other countries to give it to us in its finished state? Surely we have territory enough, and brains enough, and we will have population enough to do that for ourselves if we only act in the right way. If we are going to fit ourselves for the struggle which this nation will have to meet, not only in the immediate, but in the distant future ; if we are going to render a good account of ourselves among the nations of the earth, I say, as an honorable member in the State Parliament of Western Australia has said, that we cannot afford to adopt a free-trade policy.
Mr. SYDNEY SMITH (Macquarie).I have listened with attention to the speech delivered by the honorable and learned member for Indi. He has had a good deal to say with regard to the rnining industry, but I think his recollection must be very deficient. I remember reading a very important speech delivered by him on the disadvantages of a Tariff to the miner. In order to show how different is the statement which he now makes to us, it may be advisable for me to read what my honorable and learned friend then said to -the miners, when he told them that heavy duties were going to oppress them.
– From what does the honorable member propose to quote 1
– From the Victorian Hansard of 1 892.
– Is that the same old flam which I have exposed already ?
– My honorable and learned friend compels me to refer to his inconsistency in now taking a course different from that which he advocated in 1892. If these duties were going to oppress the miner in 1892, they are likely to oppress him to-day.
– Which duties ?
– The duties on mining machinery.
– Do not let us have a post-mortem.
– I notice that my honorable friends opposite are ready enough to make long speeches, but when they are challenged by the production of their earlier speeches as reported in Hansard, they wish that Hansard was burned. They do not like to hear a little historical account of their proceedings of a few years ago. I do not think the honorable and learned member for Indi will admit that he has been compelled to change his opinions’ since 1892, owing to the prosperity brought to Victoria by heavy duties on machinery and other articles required by the miner; I do not think he can show that the miners are better off to-day because of those duties.
– I have told my honorable friend already that the speech to which he refers was made on the Berry Budget which I opposed, and that when I joined the Turner Government I succeeded in reducing those duties by 10 per cent.
– If duties press heavily on the miner, it is only a matter of degree, whether they are 10, 15, or 20 per cent. The principle is the same, as I will show from the honorable and learned member’s speech.
– Did not the honorable member vote for a duty on hay and chaff?
– We -will produce proof that he did.
– My honorable friends on the other side are always telling me that they will produce something of the kind, but they do not do so.
– Was the honorable member a member of a New South Wales Government which made a contract for the supply of 160,000 tons of steel rails ?
– We never made any such contract.
– But the Cabinet wanted to do so.
– My honorable friends ‘ ought to state the conditions of the contract.
– A guarantee of government patronage for seven years.
– My honorable friend will have quite enough to do when he gets back to Newcastle, to explain his action in supporting the Tariff. He did not tell, his electors that he would support a heavy protectionist Tariff. He told them that the Tariff would be a revenue Tariff, and that such duties as were proposed would be duties that would be voted for by free-traders.
– The electors of Newcastle, if they were polled on the subject, would vote against the Tariff by a majority of three to one.
– The honorable and learned member for Indi, speaking in this Chamber on a former occasion, said -
And the miner ; how is he on a level with the worker in the town 1 He has a weight around his neck. We are told that the miners patriotically Stood by protection in the past. Ato we to whip the willing horse to death ? Is protection to go on for ever to an unlimited extent - right on, as we are told, to prohibition ? Are we never to stop taxing the miner ? He is the man who goes through the most arduous labour, and most dangerous pursuits, tb win the wealth of the country : and what does he get in return for it? A promise that more burdens will be laid upon him. His pick is weighted with taxation. Every article he wears is weighted with taxation, and when he goes home every article in the house, even his knife and fork, is taxed.
– Is the honorable member quoting the report of my speech in the Victorian Hansard, or a garbled extract appearing in our own Hansard 1
– Every word that I have read appears in the Victorian Hansard.
– Has the honorable member omitted anything?
– The honorable and learned member’s speech occupies six or seven columns of Hansard, and I have not time to read the whole of it.
– Will the honorable member undertake to say that he has hot omitted some of the intermediate passages ?
– If the honorable and learned member will show e how I have misrepresented him, I shall be only too glad to set matters right. I leave it to the committee to say whether the opinions which I have just read are consistent with those expressed by the honorable and learned member himself to-night; His idea appears to be that inasmuch as it is impossible to raise the price of wheat for the benefit of our farmers, we should give our attention to the question of reducing freights to the old country. I am as strong an advocate for the reduction of freights in order to assist our primary producers as any one could be, but we cannot expect to get freights as low as the freights which are paid by some of our strongest competitors in the British markets, because they are so much nearer than we are. The honorable and learned member advocates the placing upon the free list of all machinery required by the Victorian manufacturers. For instance, all the machinery required in connexion with the woollen industry is on the free list, and the honorable and learned member supports the policy of placing manufacturers’ tools of trade on the free list, although their productions are protected by duties of 15 and 25 per cent.
– I would put the tools of trade of the manufacturer, the farmer, and the miner upon the free list.
– The Government go further than that. The honorable member will find a long list of the different tools of trade and machines that are necessary in connexion with the various industries in Victoria on the free list. If it is fair, as he believes, to put on the free list articles of machinery required by clothing manufacturers and others in Victoria, is it not equally fair to place on the free list the machinery of the farmer arid the miner? Does he not know that our farmers and miners have to depend on outside markets? We. have to send abroad our surplus of farm and dairy produce, and our lead, copper, and tin. Our woollen manufacturers have a natural protection in the distance from London to Australia. In addition to having all their machinery placed on the free list they have a protection of 15 per cent, on woollen pieces, and of 25 per cent, on made-up goods. Although the farmers have to depend on the markets of the world to obtain a fair price for their surplus products, yet we offer them no reasonable facilities to enable them to compete in those markets. Speaking on the 2nd December, the Minister for Trade and Customs made a rather important admission. He said -
The honorable member may look it up as much as he likes, but he will find that the figures are as 1 have given, showing the importation from Germany, France, and Belgium, and I say that as regards these three countries, protection and cheap labour reign supreme.
If protection has been such a splendid thing for those countries, how is it that they have cheap labour there? How is it that the
Minister has to admit that in those three countries cheap labour and protection reign supreme 1
– What is it in America, though ?
– I shall come to that presently. In the debate on agricultural machinery the Minister referred to the disastrous effects of free-trade in New South Wales. He was cheered by the protectionist side of the Chamber when he pointed out that Hudson Brothers lost all their trade owing to a free-trade policy. He will not deny that he said that.
– I did not say that.
– This is what the right honorable gentleman said -
As a matter of fact they struggled on until the Reid Tariff came into force in 1895. * That was the last straw upon the camel’s back, and they did close on that account in 1895.
– Did I say “on that account f
– Yes. What are the facts in regard to Hudson Brothers ? Up to 2nd December, 1891, we had a freetrade Tariff in New South Wales. On the 31st December, 1891, the balance-sheet of Hudson Bros, showed a profit of £16,000. They declared a dividend of 5 per cent.; put £4,000 to the reserve fund, and carried forward £4,600. In 1892 a protective Tariff was introduced, and at the end of that year the firm had a loss of £8,443 ; in 1893 a loss of £11,000 ; and in 1894 a loss of £ 10,000. In the course of three years a credit balance was turned into a loss of £29,000, and the whole of their reserve fund was swallowed up. That is very different from the statement of the Minister that Hudson Bros, lost their position as a large manufacturing firm owing to the free-trade Tariff of the Reid administration.
– How much had they lost before that time ?
– I have taken the balance-sheets for three years ; I have not gone back. My right honorable and learned friend wished to make out that the firm lost all their money under free-trade, but I have shown that in the last year of our free-trade policy they made a profit of £16,000, and it was only when protection came into existence that they began to lose money.
– Does the honorable member seriously say that they only began to lose when the protective Tariff was established 1
– I am only stating what their balance-sheets show.
– The honorable member knows better.
– It is all very well for my right honorable friend to say that. He wanted honorable members to believe that the company had made all their losses under free-trade, and he now complains because I show that they made profits under freetrade. It was not free-trade that killed Messrs. Hudson Brothers. The Minister for Trade and Customs tried to persuade the committee that the miners would not pay an increased price for their machinery because of the duty, but I have some facts which prove quite the contrary. In April, 1900, tenders were called for cast-iron pipes, required in connexion with the Geelong water supply, and three tenders were received. One from the Austral Otis Company amounted to £32,660 7s. 6d., but the tender of a firm in free-trade New South Wales was £26,133 without the duty. When, however, the duty of £3 per ton was added, it was shown that it would be more expensive to buy the pipes in Sydney than to accept the offer of the local tenderer. But had it not been for the duty the pipes would have been obtainable for £6,500 less. That shows conclusively that under protect tion the purchaser has to pay an increased price for his goods ; and i could quote many other instances to show the fallacies of the views put forward by the Minister for Trade and Customs. The right honorable gentleman made some reference to America, but I should like to direct attention to the statements made by Mr. Hoskins, a well-known Sydney contractor, who returned in August last year from a visit to America. He was interviewed by representatives of the Sydney press as to the conditions under which American workmen were employed, and referring to some of the large steel works in America, notably Carnegie’s, he pointed out that the workmen were called upon to work for eleven hours per day, and for thirteen hours on the night shifts, and that they received no more wages for the night shift. We treat our New South Wales workmen differently from that. He stated also that American employers took more out of their men in other ways. He pointed out that ten hours was in most cases a working- day, and that it was never less than nine. At the Homestead works the hours were eleven in the day-time and thirteen at night, and the wages were extremely low, although the directors of the gangs were very well paid. The majority of the employes’ were not American workmen, but Russians. He said it might interest New South Wales workmen to know that no more money was paid for the long hours of the night than for the eleven hours of the day. The idea of an eight-hours system, with its time for relaxation and improvement, seemed never to have been within the reach of these men, or even to have entered into their dreams. In spite of this, we have some honorable members pointing out the great advantages that would accrue to Australia from the imposition of heavy duties on machinery and the consequent raising up of great industries, in which highly-paid employes would be engaged. The people in Victoriahave had some experience upon this point, and they have had to protect their workmen against the employers by means of wages boards. They could not get the large manufacturers to pay a fair rate of wage until they established wages boards to compel them to do what was fair and just ; whereas in New South Wales the workmen have been able to insist on shorter hours and better pay without the assistance of any boards, and the conditions of labour generally are better than those prevailing in Victoria. I could not allow the statements of the honorable and learned member for Indi to go uncontradicted, because I believe that a great injustice is being done to the mining community. It cannot be shown that the miners are to be benefited by any system of protection. Their clothing and food, and all the necessaries of life, are to be taxed; and now it is proposed to levy a heavy duty upon the machinery necessary for carrying on their operations. There was never a time in our history when the mining industry deserved greater encouragement than at present. Owing to the fall in the price of metals the industry is very much depressed, and I ask honorable members if we are to run the risk of closing down a number of mines, and throwing out of employment thousands of workmen, in order to help a few manufacturers. There can be no doubt that a 25 per cent, duty on mining machinery will seriously interfere with the industry, because apart from the machinery that can be made here, and the influence which local competition may have upon the prices of such articles, large quantities of machinery required for mining purposes cannot possibly be made within the Commonwealth. If we had all the protection possible, even up to 50 per cent., we could not induce manufacturers to establish works in the Commonwealth, because the articles in question are protected by patent laws, and any duty imposed must increase the cost, and seriously hamper a great industry. I trust the Government will see the reasonableness of the proposal to put mining machinery on the free list. A great injustice has been done to the farming community by the imposition of 15 per cent, on agricultural machinery, and a still greater injustice will be done to another great industry if the proposed duty of 25 per cent, on mining machinery be adhered to. The Government do not seem to give the same amount of consideration to miners as has been shown in connexion, for instance, with the nail industry, in which only a few men and boys are employed. The woollen and other industries are heavily protected, in order to bolster up a few manufacturers, and at the same time the machinery used in those industries is allowed to come in free. Yet it is proposed to heavily tax mining machinery, although everything the miner uses, even to the necessaries of life, is dutiable. This matter has been well discussed, and representatives of mining constituencies have afforded a lot of valuable information, which should be sufficient to induce the Government to make some alteration in their proposal. I cannot understand why a Government, which has shown such concern for other Victorian industries, should pay so little attention to the strong objections which have been urged against the proposed tax on mining. I can speak with regard to the mining interest with some authority, because I represent a large mining constituency. I know that these duties will press very heavily, and be the means of throwing a large number of men out of employment. We have heard that at Orange some 60 or 70 men have been dispensed with because of the heavy duties which are proposed. Milling machinery comes under this item ; and only a few weeks ago, after a mill was burnt down in Sydney, the proprietor had to importmachinery,whichcannotbe manufactured in the Commonwealth owing to most of the parts being patented, and he was called on to pay a large amount of duty, under protest. That must be a heavy tax on the miller for all time to come, because interest has to be paid on the capital invested in the undertaking. In my district the Portland Cement Company had to import a large amount of machinery, the duty on which amounted to about £920. The Government say they are desirous of establishing the cement industry, but I do not see how any assistance can be rendered by placing a heavy duty on the machinery that is required, especially when that machinery cannot be produced in the Commonwealth. The proposal will largely interfere with what I hope and believe will be a very successful industry, employing a large number of men. In New South Wales this industry has been established without any protection, and Messrs. Goodlet and Smith were the lowest tenderers and .obtained a contract from the New South Wales Government, thus showing that they can produce as good an article as that imported, and at as low or a lower price. The honorable member for Barrier in his interesting speech gave a lot of useful information in regard to Broken Hill, about which he can speak with authority. He pointed out that with heavy taxes on clothing and all the necessaries of life, and the proposed duties on machinery, the industry at Broken Hill will be crippled, and .that it may even be necessary to cease operations. It will take very little to cause a stoppage of the works with silver and lead at their present low prices ; and unless the . industry is dealt with in a fair and reasonable way, the result may be that no silver or lead will be produced, and a large number of miners may be thrown out of employment, together with men engaged in dependent industries at Dapto, Cockle Creek, and Port Pirie. The honorable member for Barrier said with authority, having received reliable information from men who understand the position of affairs, that the increased cost of production caused by this iniquitious Tariff will probably result in the mines being closed down, and in disaster to the mining .industry. And what occurs at Broken Hill will, no doubt, occur in other places. One argument which has been put forward is that a large amount of machinery has already been imported, and now. only new parts are coming in. It must be remembered, however, that new machinery is being invented every day, and unless we are up-to-date in mining and agriculture, we cannot hold our own in the markets of the world. We hope that there will be developments in mining and agriculture, and if that be so, it will be necessary to obtain new plants. It is asserted that all the machinery that is required can be produced in Victoria at a less cost than that imported. But importers and those who control mines are the best judges on that point. When machinery is locally produced, purchasers have not to wait until orders are fulfilled from England, but can watch the progress of manufacture. With all these advantages it is evident that if they could obtain machinery locally at anything like the cost of the imported article, they would not incur the trouble, expense, and delay which must result from sending to foreign countries for it. I speak warmly upon this question because I feel that the interests of a great body of men depend upon the course which this Parliament adopts in regard to the matter under discussion. Other items in the Tariff of infinitely less importance have been debated for several days. We do not find women taking the place of men upon mining fields. Only the real breadwinners of the family are employed upon those fields, whereas in most of the industries referred to by honorable members opposite women are chiefly employed. If a heavy protective duty has been the means of helping the various industries in Victoria, how is it that during the last decade this State has lost 10 per cent, of her population chiefly consisting of young and vigorous men ? It is impossible for honorable members opposite to justify the imposition of such heavy burdens upon the miners and agriculturists of the Commonwealth. It seems to me that the great industries upon which the Commonwealth must depend for its success are receiving the least attention at the hands of the Government and of Parliament. I cordially support the amendment to place mining machinery upon the free list, and failing to carry that I shall endeavour to secure a substantial reduction in the rate of duty proposed.
– We have had a very long discussion concerning this particular line in the Tariff,, but I do not complain of that, because I think a large amount of useful information has been disseminated by honorable members who hare a practical knowledge of many of the facts relating to the articles .covered by the item. I am free to confess that, listening to the very interesting speeches which have been delivered, I have learned many things. I do not propose to follow the example of the honorable member for Macquarie by indulging in a disquisition upon the relative merits of protection and free-trade. ‘ I think that honorable members should confine their attention to the articles included in this line, and endeavour to do what is fair and just to the industries concerned. We must not be led away by a desire to help the mining industry only. We must recollect that there are other large industries which have been established, and which I am certain none of us desire either to ruin or injure. It appears to me that the honorable member for the Barrier has gone a long way further than he intended. This particular item embraces a large number of articles, and is estimated to yield a revenue amounting to nearly £300,000. If the proposal of the honorable member were carried all that revenue would be sacrificed, and we should run the risk of ruining some industries, besides seriously injuring others. I am perfectly certain that very few honorable members intend to vote in favour of exempting all these articles from duty. The task which, we have to perform is to determine what is a fair amount of protection to bestow upon articles which can be manufactured here, what is a reasonable revenue duty to impose upon those which cannot be manufactured here, and what articles should be placed upon the free list, on the ground that they are used in the mining industry, to which we desire to give substantial assistance. We are told that we have n<5 right to ask for a higher duty upon mining machinery than that which has been levied upon agricultural machinery. That argument has been used several times, but it seems to me that there is a very great difference between the manufacture of agricultural machinery and the manufacture of mining machinery. In the former case, the plant required is not so extensive as it must necessarily be in the latter, in addition to which a large number of articles of a particular class are unquestionably required in the case of agricultural machinery, whereas in the case of mining machinery it often happens that only a very few articles of a particular stamp arerequired Under these circumstances there is some justification for imposing a higher duty upon mining machinery than the committee have approved in. regard to agricultural machinery. We have been challenged because we have exempted from taxation a large number of machines which are used in various industries. But we do that on the ground which has been rightly urged by many honorable members with regard to other articles, that where these particular machines used in trades are not now made and are not likely to be made in the Commonwealth for a number. of years, it is hardly fair to handicap the various industries by putting heavy duties upon the machinery which they use, unless we can see that there is a likelihood of that machinery being made here. Until I heard certain statements made here tonight I was under the impression that practically the whole of the machinery used in connexion with our mining industries was made in one or other of the States. No doubt nearly all of the States are interested in the manufacture of machinery. We find that in most of the States it is being manufactured, and I join with the Treasurer of Western Australia in the hope he has expressed that before many years are past the people of Western Australia will be manufacturing a very large quantity of the machinery used in that State. It is perfectly certain that the greater part of the mining machinery being used in Australia is being manufactured within the Commonwealth. We have had specified today for the first time certain parte of various machines which are patented and which are not made here, but while that would be a very good ground for admitting those particular portions of machines free, I hardly think that my honorable friend who brought the matter before us so prominently, and gave us such full information, will go the length of saying that we should also admit free other portions of machinery which can be made here at a fair cost and of good workmanship. It has been said that some of the machinery manufactured in these States is not as good as it ought to be, but I think it will be generally admitted with regard to machinery, and especially with regard to mining machinery, that in the various States of the Commonwealth as good machinery is made as any that can be imported. We may not be able to get the latest patents, but the bulk of the machinery made in the different States is well spoken of by those who have to use it, and is looked upon as working well, and as being beneficial to the mining and manufacturing industries.
– And is being sold against the competition of the world in some of the other States.
– We have exported some, and I suppose my honorable friend opposite bases the old argument upon that, that therefore we do not require any duty, and we should allow ourselves to be open to the competition of the “ sweepings “ of different parts of the world. I think the fallacy of that argument has been shown over and over again, and I am not to ‘ be led aside to deal with it on this occasion. We must all be anxious to assist the mining industry so far as we possibly can, always bearing in mind, as I have mentioned before, that there are other industries which we must not seriously injure. That being so, we have to see to what extent we can meet the wishes of honorable members who have brought forward certain facts for our consideration. But we must not assume, as some honorable members apparently do, that the whole of the machinery used in the mines of Western Australia will be imported from over seas. I think the greater portion of it will be made in one or other of the States as soon as the sliding scale now in existence is abolished, and that the only articles which will be imported are those which we cannot make within the Commonwealth That is a fact which we must bear in mind. I cannot agree with honorable members who have spoken so strongly about the duties here proposed ruining the industry and shutting up our mines. We have been told that the Barrier mines are going to be so seriously injured by the imposition of a duty upon machinery that they probably will not be able to carry on, and thousands of men will consequently be thrown out of work. I think that is an altogether overdrawn picture: Unfortunately at the present time many of our mines are not in as good a position as we should like, and some of us feel it .hard that we should have to contribute towards the cost »f carrying on those mines. But it is not every day that mines buy a large amount of machinery. Machinery once bought will last a mine for four or five years, and if we were to divide even the amount here spoken of in duty over a period of years, it would not appear a very large item. If even the full duty proposed of 25 per cent, were imposed, what would it come to in a place like Western Australia 1 The imports, we are told, are about equal in an ordinary year, and if the whole amount collected in duties was spread over the great output of that State, it would come to a very small amount per ton. But we are free to admit that we have now heard facts with regard to a comparatively small portion of the machinery used which would induce us to fall in with the wishes of honorable members with regard to some of the items. The statement was made last night that the price of machinery in Western Australia was raised immediately the Tariff was announced. That statement has been made on two or three occasions, but we have never been able to obtain any satisfactory evidence of it. We have never been able to obtain any details, or the mention of any special case in which it has actually occurred, while persons who are manufacturing machinery in the different States tell us that there is no foundation at all for the statement made.
– No, but we have to pay the extra duty, five times as much as we had to pay before.
– My honorable friend must realize that one of the great reasons why the Australian States federated was because we hoped to become customers of each other. We never believed that when we were federated each State was going to get as much as it possibly could from outside the Commonwealth. We did hope that the various States would become customers of each other for different commodities, and in that way would render each other great assistance. I venture to say that a large quantity of the class of machinery, which during the last few years has been imported, into Western Australia from abroad, will in future be obtained within the Commonwealth. In that way those using the machinery will not have to pay the duty which our friends profess so much to fear. .
– Our duty was only 5 per cent.
– Western Australia will in future, I hope, have a. better duty, and will not be called upon to import, but will make a large quantity of this machinery within the State itself.
– And if they do not, it will be made for them in Victoria.
– Well I hope we shall make some in Victoria, and that we shall get some from New South Wales. I hope we shall forget these little differences between the States, and that we shall not get our goods from different parts of the world, but as far as possible from within Australia. There is one example which I can quote in connexion with this question of mining plant. I know of it because the gentleman interested is the present Premier of Victoria, who gave me the facts in connexion with it at the time, some twelve or eighteen months ago. There is a very large mine, the Victoria Gold Estates, at Moolort. It is an English company with English directors, and naturally - and I do not blame them for it - they preferred to obtain British machinery. They imported the plant for the first shaft from abroad, but they found that several alterations had to be made, and several ‘things had to be done to it, and, when they came to get a second plant of a similar description, I am glad to say they got it in Victoria. That plant has been working for a considerable time, has given every satisfaction, and it did not cost the company as much as the plant which they imported previously. There are other mines with regard to which I have been supplied with information. There is the Grand Duke Company, for example, which, in the first instance, imported certain machinery, but upon requiring further plant of the same description, obtained it in Victoria. The company is perfectly satisfied with the work done by that machinery, and with the price which it paid for it. I have no doubt whatever that plant can be turned out within the Commonwealth as good as any that can be imported from abroad.
– Where does the Grand Duke Mine carry on operations 1
– In Victoria. It is to have four shafts. It has one down already, and is sinking another.
– But that is free milling ore.
– I admit that there are exceptional cases in which dutiable machinery would be required in Western Australia that probably would not be requisite in this State. We are prepared to give every consideration to the statements made by honorable members in this regard, and to meet these difficulties as far as possible. The great difficulty is that this item deals with a large number of articles. Undoubtedly some of them should be dutiable at the rate we mention. What we desire to do is to deal with the N.E.I. item, which would include all things that we do not specifically mention, and which we think should remain subject to a duty of 25 per cent. That is a protective duty to a considerable extent, and to a considerable extent it is also a revenue duty. My honorable friends of the Opposition must realize that we cannot afford to throw away all the revenue that we expect to derive from this item. We must secure -a reasonable amount.
– If the duty were reduced a larger revenue would be obtained.
– That is what some of my honorable friends say. It is plain that we ‘would not get as much as we expect to receive under the Tariff if we wiped the duty out altogether, and that is what certain honorable members of the Opposition desire to do. In regard to the machinery in this particular item, “Engines, boilers, pumps, machines, and machinery,” we think that we might fairly meet the wishes of the committee by placing a duty of 20 per cent, on all that is manufactured here.
– It takes some screwing to get a “ fiver “ out of the Government.
– The honorable member ought to be glad to get anything. I think that with a duty of 20 or 25 per cent, the greater portion of the machinery required for mining purposes will undoubtedly be made within the Commonwealth. All that will be imported will be those portions that cannot be manufactured here. We are at one with the committee that such machines or portions of machinery should be made absolutely free. The difficulty is to know how to do that in a fair and equitable manner, while at the same time preventing the possibility of frauds being committed. We have been considering several methods which have suggested themselves to us, and we think the safest course to adopt will be to specify, as far as we possibly can at the present time, all the articles which are not made here, and, therefore, ought to be on the free list.
– Does that proposal relate to mining machinery alone, or to machinery generally ?
– To mining machinery, in regard to which we desire to give the greatest assistance. We are prepared to give up any revenue in order to help the industry, and if any other machinery is brought under our notice which should be treated in the same way, we may be prepared to give up whatever revenue we expect to receive from that source.
– There are many other important branches of business employing patented machinery.
– Without having further information as to how it would affect the revenue, I am not prepared to say that we will give up the whole of the revenue to be derived by means of a duty on patented machinery. I am dealing now with the matters relating to mining machinery, which have been prominently brought before us during the debate. Seeing the difficulties which the mining industry has to contend with, we are prepared to go with the committee to the full extent of making the articles relating to it absolutely free, provided that they cannot be made within the Commonwealth. What we propose to do is to specify as far as we can in the exemption list all those articles which should be exempted from duty, a number of which have been mentioned. No doubt honorable members who have a knowledge of what is required will give us further information. We shall be glad to investigate such information, and see whether the articles mentioned should be placed on the free list.
– That is almost impossible. The Government change their opinions every week.
– Will my honorable friends of the Opposition have a little patience? I have not said that my proposal necessarily includes all machinery. I am just as well aware as they are that it would be impossible to specify everything. When interrupted, I was about to say that we propose to have a clause which will give to the Minister power to exempt any other items of a similar kindwhich are not included in the list,taking care that all exemptions are placed before Parliament at the earliest possible date, in order that
Parliament may know what has been done, and express an opinionwith regard to the correctness or otherwise of the action of the Minister, if it desires to do so. We think that we have met the committee as far as we possibly can with regard to these items in proposing the course I have indicated. It is utterly unreasonable to expect us to exempt all mining machinery. As I have pointed out already, nearly the whole of that machinery can be made in the Commonwealth, and if that be the case, we ought to assist our iron trade in its manufacture, which gives employment to a very large number of men. We have heard of the large number of men employed in our mines. We know that they do good work, and that we derive great benefit from them. We must remember also that a large number of men, with a great many persons dependent upon them, are employed in manufacturing machinery and other requisites for mining, and we cannot be expected to consent to make absolutely free those articles which can be produced here. We are prepared to reduce the duty on those articles that are imported, and to go the length of making patented portions and all patented machines which cannot be made here absolutely free. Having agreed to do that, I think we have met the committee in a fair spirit. We have gained information which we did riot possess at the outset, and it is our wish to do what is fair and right, and not to crush the mining or any other industry. I trust that the committee will allow us to proceed with the item N.E.I., which will cover all that we do not specify. Then we will call on the committee to deal with engines, boilers, and pumps. We can deal with those separately or together. It will then be competent for honorable members to suggest any other articles that they think ought to be subjected to the lower duty. I would appeal to the committee not to think of making these articles absolutely free, or of placing on them 10 or 15 per cent, duties - which right through our campaign have been regarded as mere revenue duties - but to support the proposals to which the Government are prepared to agree, and make mining and other machinery which can be manufactured here dutiable at 20 per cent.
– What is the question before the Chair?
– The question before the Chair is the proposal of the honorable member for Barrier to add certain words to the duty.
– I suggest that we should follow the practice which we have adopted hitherto. It was suggested to us, and we accepted it in order that the committee might have the fullest opportunity to vote upon every line of the Tariff if necessary. A number of articles are set down at 26 per cent., and it will be competent for the committee to reduce the duty in cases where they think a reduction desirable. Honorable members will also be able to have articles which are not now specified inserted, and the rate of 25 per cent, for articles “ not elsewhere included “ will apply only to articles which are not dealt with specifically.
Mr. HENRY WILLIS (Robertson).The Treasurer has admitted that this debate has been a most valuable one, but the arguments advanced seem to have been thrown away upon him. The honorable and learned member for Indi pointed out that a very large quantity of the machinery in use in Western Australia was manufactured in Australia - a proof that the local manufacturers are able to successfully compete against foreign manufacturers in the supply of machinery which is not patented. As a matter of fact, the natural protection given to the local manufacturer is equal to something like 15 per cent., and that should be quite enough. The honorable and learned member for Indi is willing that patented machinery, which cannot be made here, should be admitted free, but apparently the Treasurer will not agree to that.
– If the Government are satisfied that machinery cannot be made here, they are prepared to place it upon the free list.
– Are we to understand that machinery which cannot be manufactured here owing to its being patented will be placed on the free list?
– I do not say that all machinery will be placed on the free list.
– If the patentees do not allow local manufacturers to make their machinery, will it be placed on the free list?
– We shall get as complete a list as possible of the machinery which it is desired to place on the free list, and we shall have it investigated.
– The Treasurer would not make the exemption general ?
– I cannot do that.
– The honorable member for Perth has referred to the vast deposits of ore in Western Australia. The existence of this ore was pointed to many years ago by that great geologist, the Rev. J. E. Tenison Wood, who has also stated that there are similar deposits in the Northern Territory and elsewhere. Mr. Wood was a geologist of European reputation, and he has pointed out that there is untold mineral wealth in Australia. I suppose that honorable members would like to see our mineral resources developed, and that wealth won from the soil ; but how can that come about unless we foster the mining industry? Honorable members who claim to be protectionists, and who are always speaking of fostering native industries, have an opportunity here. We can foster the mining industry by making it possible for those engaged in it to obtain their machinery and other requirements at as low a price as possible. But in spite of the heavy decline in the selling price of metals, the Government propose to place a duty of 25 per cent, upon mining machinery. The honorable member for Barrier has told us that this duty is equal to increasing the cost of the output of the Barrier district by from 7s. 6d. to 10s. a ton. In Western Australia, where the output of gold has been even a little larger than that of New South Wales, there are mines which have been shut down altogether, because the companies cannot afford to pay for machinery the high prices created by this duty. The Mining Standard of 16th January makes a statement of the utmost importance as to the decline in the value of metals. In 1900 tin was selling at £153 per ton ; to-day its value is £104 per ton. Copper has come down from £79 per ton to £45 10s ; lead from £18 per ton to £10 8s 9d ; spelter from £22 per ton to £16 8s. 9d.; and silver from 30 3-16d. to 2511-16d. per oz.
Ever since the framing of the Tariff, assuming that to have taken place nine months ago, there has been a decline of £20 per ton in tin, of £27 in copper, of £2 in lead, of £2 in spelter, and of 2d. per ounce in silver. Stated in percentage, the fall is in copper, 34 per cent ; in lead, 17¼ per cent; in tin, 14.3per cent; in silver, 7.3 per cent; and in spelter, 3 per cent. In three out of the four gold-producing continental States the output shows an aggregate falling-off of 239,982 oz.’, namely, in Queensland 14,721 oz. ; in New South Wales, 74,926 oz. ; and in Victoria 17,845 oz.
The article winds up with these most significant words, to which I have been requested by an honorable member who has spoken to direct the attention of the committee -
The most important Australian manufactories of mining machinery are not those established under the upas shadow of the rigid 25 per cent. Victorian duties, but are represented by the great firms of Walker’s Limited, Maryborough, Queensland, and James Martin and Company Limited, Gawler, South Australia, in both of which States the duties are more elastic. In Queensland air compressors, ball mills for crushing quartz, rock drills, roller mills for crushing quartz, steel rings for quartz mills, screens, gratings, and vanners are on the exempt list ; while machines and machinery, and parts thereof required for mining purposes, which are not specified, and are of new invention, may be exempted from time to time by the Governor in Council. In South Australia, also, there is a long exempt list, and a still larger introduction, at less than the Victorian rate. With a 10 per cent, duty, and the natural duty represented by freights, charges, &c, equal to at least the other 15 percent., the Australian manufacturer would have all the advantage he can reasonably desire ; while to increase this by yet an additional 15 per cent., with the assurance that all but the margin to keep the market will go on to the price of the article, and so burden the mining industry, is a proposal which should be resisted to the uttermost as impolitic, inopportune, and absolutely ruinous.
Those honorable members who have listened to me may, at their leisure, look through these extracts, but I suppose that they have made up their minds to support the proposal of the Government.
– We read it some time ago.
– The honorable member proposes to support the proposal of the Government He is not using his own judgment in the matter, because, if he did, I take it that he would desire to develop the mining industry. If he has that desire, then he should make the machinery essential for its development as cheap as possible. That seems to be the common sense of it. The Minister for Trade and Customs, who wishes to see the Northern Territory developed, should exert his influence with his colleague and see that the duty on mining machinery is placed at most on a 5 per cent, basis as a compromise.
– I think I have done as much mining as any honorable member on that side, and the duties never bothered me.
– In South Australia a very great deal of mining machinery is manufactured. It can be found all over Australia. The South Australian manufacturers” can compete successfully in the making of stampers, engines, and boilers. They require no protection. The cost of bringing out thearticles from the old world - 15 per cent. - is sufficient protection to them. I cannot understand any man of common sense who desires to see the mining industry developed supporting a Government who would propose to levy a duty up to 25 per cent, on the articles that are required for its development, with the assurance at the back that many mines are shut down because they cannot afford to pay the money for the machinery. The Minister smiles, but the duty would increase the cost of the machinery by 25 per cent. Only by to-day’s mail from Queensland I received a letter in which it is stated that on an island off the coast they have a deposit of wolfram equal to anything in the world, which they are unable to develop because of the increased cost of the machinery that would be required. The amount of money at their disposal is not sufficient to enable them to procure the machinery. The policy of the Government is a means of retarding the development of various mineral deposits in all parts of Austrafia. On behalf of the mining industry of Australia I make an urgent appeal that the cost of production shall not be increased by increasing the cost of machinery that is absolutely necessary for its development. I bring honorable members once more to the argument in that lengthy speech of the honorable and learned member for Indi, who quoted from Hansard a statement made by a Minister of the Crown in the Legislative Assembly of Western Australia, that under a 5 per cent, duty most of the machinery used in the development of its mining industry was brought from the adjoining States, and not from Great Britain or any other part of the world. The Minister for Defence has confirmed the statement that most of the machinery which is used in Western Australia is made in Australia. I urge the committee to support the amendment of the honorable member for Barrier and thus do something for the mining industry of Australia.
– I wish to say a few words before we go to a division, because I think that the imposition of this duty is of the greatest importance to the whole of the Commonwealth. The honorable and learned member for Indi said that those who were senthereto representWestern Australia were sent as free-traders.I deny positively that we were sent to support the bare free-trade principle. We were sent with the idea of keeping the Tariff as low as we possibly could, and it was merely mentioned by the Free-trade Association of Australia that we were sent here in their name. We were sent with the understanding that we should have what was called a revenue Tariff. It was understood there that it would be an impossibility under the circumstances to get free-trade, as it has been known in New South Wales. I make this explanation because the honorable and learned member seemed to lay great stress upon his statement with regard to the free-traders. We are not bound to free-trade in respect of all items. There are certain items in respect of which we have had the benefit of free-trade for some years in Western Australia. The consequence is that with an increase of population the revenue has increased. However, that is beside the question at issue. I feel sure that after what has been said, and the information which hasbeen afforded as to the resources of WesternAustralia in regard to mining, the eyes of many will be opened as to the condition of affairs in that State. I am sure that everything will be done that is possible to foster an industry which, from the production of some hundred ounces of gold a few years ago, has been so developed as to produce millions of ounces, the output representing last year £7,000,000. In addition to gold-mining, we have tin-mining, coal-mining, and leadmining in Western Australia, and a good many of these mines are, so to speak, worked from hand to mouth. The machinery they use is somewhat old, and will have to be renewed in a very short time, and it will be a great hardship if five times the present duty has to be paid. I have heard of one case where, a few months ago, £1,000 in duty was paid, and only recently five times that amount had to be paid in connexion with an exactly similar importation. Many enterpriseshave been undertaken in Western Australia which will be stopped if the Government proposals are carried. Contracts for the construction of tramways have been entered into on the understanding that the 5 per cent. duty would continue, and now there has been a stoppage of the work. Similar circumstances will arise in connexion with the Coolgardie water scheme, contracts for the construction of eight sections of which have been entered into, so as to carry water 360 miles to the gold-fields. These contracts were entered into on the basis of a 5 per cent, duty on machinery, and it can well be imagined, how the work may be effected by an imposition of a duty five times as great on the huge appliances which are required. If the proposed duty be imposed disputes will, no doubt, arise between the contractors and the Government. These are not the only instances of the kind, and in a young country like Western Australia a heavy duty on articles of machinery will seriously affect the whole of the community. The shipping interest also will be affected. A few years ago the shipping which traded to Western Australia was represented by a few hundred tons, whereas now it is represented by millions of tons ; and taking all these facts into consideration, I ask the committee to seriously consider the position. The fact that Western Australia is isolated from the rest of the States is a reason why she should have every consideration, and be dealt with liberally.
– I understand that if the amendment, as I have submitted it, goes to a division and is lost, the Government will not have an opportunity of dealing with the separate items, but will have to deal with them in globo. I am prepared, therefore, in order to treat the Government fairly and courteously, to withdraw my amendment, and submit another to the effect that, after “ N.E.I.,” the word “free” be inserted. This will give the Government an opportunity of subsequently dealing with the separate items.
– I was going to make a similar suggestion, and I have every reason to acknowledge the courtesy of the honorable member for Barrier. We have been discussing to a great extent mining machines, engines, and pumps, and I think that if we postpone the consideration of the words - “ N.E.I., including,” that will bring us at once to the question of “engines, boilers, pumps, machines, and machinery,” and will give the honorable member for
Barrier an opportunity of submitting any proposal he desires.
– Do I understand that the vote will be taken on the question of whether “ engines, boilers, pumps, machines, and machinery, N.E.I.,” shall be free.
– Or, if any honorable member likes, a vote can be taken on any constituent portion.
Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.
– I beg to move-
That the consideration of the words “ n.e.i. including “ be postponed until after all the words down to and including “cutlery” have been considered.
– With the concurrence of the committee, I submit the proposal of the Minister, which is rather irregular, but suits the convenience of the committee for the time being.
Motion agreed to.
Amendment (by Mr. Thomas) proposed -
That the words “ 25 per cent, and on and after the 17th January, 1902, free.” be inserted after the words “engines, boilers, pumps, machines, and machinery, n.e.i.”
– There is an aspect of this matter to which I suppose I shall have an opportunity of referring when we deal with the special exemptions. I desire to direct the attention of the committee to what seems to be a serious matter, namely, that of machinery as applied to the construction of ships. It would be anomalous, even from a protectionist point of view, to allow ships, machinery and all, to be built abroad and to enter the Commonwealth free of duty, whilst charging a duty on ships’ engines required to be embodied in ships constructed here by these who desire to give employment to our own workmen. That is a matter which both sides of the Chamber will no doubt be prepared to consider, and I shall bring it up at a later stage.
Mr. ISAACS (Indi).- If the committee reject the amendment, shall we have an opportunity of dealing with any one of the articles enumerated, and possibly placing them on the free list? If we once decide that none of these goods shall be admitted free we. shall not be in a position to reverse that vote.
– Perhaps it will be best to deal with one item at a time.
Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.
Amendment (by Mr. Thomas) put -
That the words, “25 per cent., and on and after 17th January, 1902, free,” be inserted after the word “ engines.”
The committee divided.
Majority … … 11
Question so resolved in the negative.
Amendment (by Mr. Kirwan) put -
That the words, “25 per cent, and on and after 17th January, 1902, 10 per cent.,” be inserted after the word “ engines.”
The committee divided.
Majority … … 8
Question so resolved in the negative.
– I move -
That the words” steam, gas, and oil, 25 per cent., and on and after the 17th January, 1902, 15 per cent.” be inserted after the word “engines.”
I refrained from speaking upon the amendment submitted by the honorable member for Barrier simply because the views which I held had been so ably expressed by other honorable members, and I wished to avoid unnecessary waste of time. But I think that the period has now arrived when we should settle what is to be the rate of duty imposed upon the various motive powers in use. To my mind, that duty should be a uniform one. The difference between an oil engine and a gas engine is confined to the valve, and if we make a difference in the duty imposed upon the two classes of engines the revenue will be defrauded, because an engine which is intended for a certain purpose can, with a very slight expenditure, be altered so as to serve another purpose. I would further point out that the prosperity of many of those industries, which it has been our aim to foster, is determined, to a very large extent, by the price at which these engines can be obtained. I might instance the boot industry and the biscuit industry, besides a variety of others which we have already protected.
– I find, upon reference to the amended Tariff, that oil engines were made free on and after the 13th of December.
– May I suggest that we are now dealing with engines generally, and that the matter to which the honorable member refers can be dealt with under exemptions.
– That is all very well, but the Minister for Trade and Customs must know that with a very trifling expenditure oil engines can be converted into gas engines. Therefore if he exempts oil engines from duty he should also place gas engines upon the free list, otherwise the revenue will be defrauded. However, I shall be content to move in the direction of placing gas engines upon the free list at a later stage. I think that course should be adopted, seeing that oil engines have already been included in the list of exemptions, and that they are practically identical with gas engines.
Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.
Amendment (by Mr. O’Malley) put -
That the words “25 per cent., and on and after 17th January, 1902, 15 per cent., be inserted after the word “ engines.”
The committee divided.
Question so resolved in the negative.
That the words “25 per cent., and on and after 17th January, 1902,’ 20 per cent.” beinserted after the word “engines.”
– I suppose that in moving that the duty be 20 per cent, it is understood that the views expressed by many speakers, that patented machinery should be placed on the free list, will be carried out?
– The Government will bring down a list, and it will be competent for honorable members to add to that list if the committee- so desires.
Mr. REID (East Sydney).- I wish to make only one remark, and it is this : When the proper time comes, I shall strongly object to any attempt to “deal with this matter in piecemeal fashion by putting the machines of individual makers or patents on the free list. It would be a most pernicious and misleading thing to do.
An Honorable Member. - It is not proposed to do that.
– It has been most broadly stated, “and honorable members were invited last night to name particular machines made by particular makers.
– A particular maker was never mentioned ; all I said was that the name of a particular machine or portion of a machine must be stated, if honorable members intend that it should be admitted free.
– A particular machine 1 It will be an endless business, and I propose at the proper time to get a straight vote on a simple proposition - mining machinery. I intend to put that straight in one line, and if the committee refuses that we shall know the worth of these wonderful suggestions.
Mr. G. B. EDWARDS (South Sydney).A great deal ‘has been made of mining machinery, and there is, no doubt, a great deal in it, because the prosperity of the Commonwealth will depend very largely upon the results of mining enterprise. But when we are dealing with machinery I should like to offer the suggestion to the committee that, while mining machinery runs into very big figures, there are many other industries which depend largely upon patented machinery which must be considered.
– The honorable member cannot discuss that matter at this stage.
– I am discussing it because the Treasurer has stated that patented machinery is to be admitted free. I mention that there is patented machinery other than mining machinery, and it cannot be described. The Treasurer has said that if it is suggested that it shall be admitted free this machinery must be described, but it is utterly impossible to describe patented machinery.
– The honorable member will not be in order in discussing that matter at this stage. There will be an opportunity to discuss it later on.
Amendment agreed to.
– In moving; -
That the House do now adjourn,
I should like to report to honorable members that in answer to a cablegram which I requested the Governor-General ‘ to send to Mr. Chamberlain, reporting the resolutions at which we had arrived on Tuesday, and our gratification that we were able to report those resolutions, His Excellency has received and transmitted tome the following cablegram addressed by Mr. Chamberlain to him : -
Your telegram of to-day. - The people and Government of the mother country gratefully appreciate the patriotic and sympathetic terms of the resolutions passed by the House of Representatives, and they welcome this public repudiation by the Commonwealth of Australia of the calumnious charges which have been brought against British soldiers, and -
There is a word missing, which, I think, is “ humane “ - conduct of the war. The resolutions, coupled with the splendid way in which the Commonwealth has shared the sacrifices and efforts of the mother land during the contest forced upon her in South Africa, are heartily valued throughout His Majesty’s dominions, and afford fresh evidence of the unity of the Empire and the spirit and determination of its sons.
I do not wish to add fuel to a fire, but there has been placed in my hands a Berlin publication entitled the BloodyBook of the Transvaal, with 24 illustrations, by some artist named JeanVeber. From end to end it is a series of absolute atrocities, so defaming our nation, our soldiers, and our dead Queen, that the most inflamed proBoer must denounce it. I do not wish to say anything about this, that is not absolutely necessary and in reason, but I wish to refer to two of the cartoons - not the worst, but perhaps the most illustrative. One depicts the “ Glorious Britannia,” as she is called, in the flames of hell, amidst the torments and jeers of the damned, with Mrs. Kruger amongst the angels deploring Britannia’s fate; while the other depicts the General in command of the British forces in South Africa in a most devilishly suspicious attitude. I wish to say no more except this : we were told that some of these things wanted verification. I hold the verification in my hands, and I am sorry that that verification exists. I turn to the more pleasurable aspect of the matter, which is that there is evidence in the cablegram which I have read, not of any insane or unkind desire to triumph ungenerously, but evidence of welcome in the feeling that we all belong to one nation and to one Empire, meaning that we are one great aggregated nation, and that our works in our nation, while we hold together, arc not only for the common honour, but for the common safety.
– I desire to ask the Prime Minister whether certain rumours which I have heard this evening in regard to the appointment of a High Commissioner for the Commonwealth are correct. I have been informed this evening that the Executive have considered to-day the names of certain persons for appointment as High Commissioner, and that they intend to confirm an appointment at their next meeting. I should like to ask the Prime Minister if that is true, and if so, will he name the lucky one?
– I am happy in assuring my honorable friend that neither at the Executive nor Cabinetmeeting has there been any such discussion, nor has there been the mention of any name.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
House adjourned at 11.36 p.m.
Cite as: Australia, House of Representatives, Debates, 16 January 1902, viewed 7 November 2016, <http://historichansard.net/hofreps/1902/19020116_reps_1_7/>.