1st Parliament · 1st Session
Mr. Speaker took the chair at 10.30 a.m., and read prayers.
Resolved (on motion by Mr. Barton) -
That the House at ite rising to-day doadjourn until Tuesday next.
asked the Minister representing the Postmaster-General, upon notice -
– The answer to the honorable member’s questions is as follows : -
The Postmaster-General is taking the necessary action to secure uniformity between the methods pf Western Australia and those of the other States in this and other respects, inquiry will be made as to the results of the system now in operation in Western Australia.
asked the Minister representing the Postmaster-general, upon notice -
Whether it is the practice in Western Australia to charge mileage for the delivery of telegrams to persons residing more than a mile from the receiving office, and what becomes of the money so collected ?
– The answer to the honorable member’s question is as follows : -
It is usual to charge for the delivery of telegrams beyond the distance fixed for free delivery, and to pay the money collected into the Commonwealth revenue, except in those instances where it is necessary to employ special messengers who are not in the service of the department. Inquiry is being made as to the practice in Western Australia in both respects.
In Committee of Ways and Means -
Consideration resumed from 16th January, 1902 (vide page 8920)-
Item 74. - Manufactures of metals -
N.E.I., including engines, boilers, pumps, machines and machinery, n.e.i., also screws, n.e.i., axles, springs, and plated and mixed metalware, including plated cutlery, ad valorem, 25 per cent.
– I have a proposal which I think should be token first. I move -
That, after the word “ boilers,” the words “ 25 percent., and on and after 18th January, 1902, 15 per cent.” be inserted.
As a long discussion has already token place on this item, I shall content myself with saying very few words in support of my proposal. Boilers, because of their great size and weight, give a natural protection to the local manufacturers, which in some respects is greater than they obtain in the case of engines. I am prepared to admit that the freights upon the Inter-State steamers are so high that it takes almost as much to send a boiler from Port Adelaide to Fremantle as to bring one to Fremantle from Europe ; but I hope that in the future something may be done to grapple with that anomaly. At all events,a boiler-maker at Mount Gambier would he in a much better position to supply boilers to Broken Hill than that in which any foreign manufacturer would be. I take it that the committee is not anxious to impose burdensome duties, and even the Government profess to be willing to accept a reasonable Tariff.
– A duty of 20 per cent, is rot unreasonable.
– From my stand-point a duty of 5 per cent is unreasonable, and even the high priest of protection, the honorable member for Melbourne Ports, has told us that he does not want to see duties imposed upon things that cannot be manufactured here. As regards ordinary boilers, I think that most of them could be manufactured here, whether the duty be 15, 20, or 50 per cent. ; but we must bear in mind the danger that the local manufacturers, if the duty is althogether prohibitive, may combine in order to keep up prices. That has been done in other lines on former occasions, and it is not likely that these people will be ready to cut each other’s throats. So far as I know there is no one foundry in the Commonwealth which is very much larger than its competitors. I heard with pleasure of the large foundry which they have in Queensland, but I do not know that it is very much greater than, some of our other foundries.
Mr.Watson. - The fact that . the foundries are all about the same size argues in favour of competition.
– I do not think it does. In my opinion the proprietors of foundries will either decide upon fixed prices for their machinery, or refuse to sell under certain prices, or will arrange among themselves that one will not interfere with another in certain districts. Either that will be done, or big English, American, or German companies will come here with a vast capital, put up a big plant, and thus be able to undersell all the other companies, and practically have the whole business in their hands. That will mean the stopping of local competition. If either of these things happen, the price will be put up by almost the amount of the duty.
– It is done in America, and why should it not be done here ?
– So much is it done in America that I am told, on very high authority, that the big foundries which make bridges, have agreed to a fixed price.
– And they beat the English maker of bridges in spite of their fixed price.
– The American bridge makers have agreed to a fixed price, which is a little lower than that of English or Belgium firms, plus the duty. Some time ago a big bridge was built in America, which cost its Government about £1,500,000. A bridge to connect North Shore with Sydney - almost identical in design and size - was tendered for, and of course the steel had to come from America. It was offered to the Government of New South Wales for between £600,000 and £700,000, and the tenderers stated that they were able to supply it at that price simply because of the big profit which they had been able to make on the bridge which they had put up in America.
– Were they willing to put up the bridge to North Shore at a loss ?
– Yes; because they had been able to make a profit on the other bridge. I take it that, although we may differ as to what is fair and legitimate, we are all agreed to have fair legitimate competition, and by having simply a 15 per cent, duty, I think we shall have fair competition. If I were assured that the foundries in Australia would continue legitimately to compete one with the other, I should not be at all anxious whether the duty was 15, 25, 40, or 50 per cent., because I believe that the ordinary common boilers would be made here, whether there was a duty levied or not. But, fearing that we shall not have that local competition which is anticipated by honorable members on the other side, I think it would be far safer not only for the mining industry, but for all those who use boilers, that the duty should be only 15 per cent.
– During the discussion on mining machinery wo have heard a statement very different from that which was made during the elections. At that time the Ministers and their supporters pointed out that all they required was revenue.
– Not only that.
– My honorable friend was strongly in favour of getting revenue, yet last night he voted for the imposition of a 20 per cent. duty.
– The honorable member is absolutely incorrect.
– My honorable friend did not tell his constituents that he was in favour of putting a 20 per cent, duty on mining machinery.
– More than that.
– I understood my honorable friend to say on the mining fields that he was not in favour of imposing a heavy protective duty on mining machinery.
– I never said anything of the sort.
– Let my honorable friend deal with the reports in the newspapers. He was misreported I presume.
– The reports never said so. It is most unfair for the honorable member to attribute to me statements which were never made.
– I accept the honorable member’s disclaimer, but I understood him to say that he was in favour of a moderate Tariff.
– Hear, hear.
– Does the honorable member call 20 per cent, on mining machinery a moderate duty? Does he call 100 per cent, on nails a moderate duty ?
– I have not voted for it.
– What did the honorable member do in regard to the duty on nails ?
– I voted with the honorable member, I think.
– Order ! The honorable member must not discuss the whole Tariff on this item.
– I am showing the inconsistency of some of the votes which have been given here, and the inconsistency of the Government. When they were before the people they said that they were in favour of a revenue Tariff.
– Oh, no. The leader of the Opposition does not say so.
– I have the Minister’s manifesto to the electors of Australia, in which he states that free-traders and protectionists could join together and support the Government. Does he think for a moment that free-traders are going to join the Government in imposing a highly protective Tariff? Last night he told us that the reason why he was in favour of a 20 per cent, duty was so that the manufacturers in Victoria and the other States could manufacture this machinery. He was quite prepared, however, he said, if it could be shown that it could not be produced here at 20 per cent, over the cost of the imported article, to allow it to come in free of duty.
The Government admit that this is a protectionist Tariff, notwithstanding their statements to the people at the time of the election.
– According to what the honorable member says, it will bring in £12,000,000 of revenue. “
– I think the Treasurer will find that that estimate is not very far wrong. If the Tariff had been passed in its original form it would have produced £12,000,000 revenue.
– Then it cannot be very protective.
– Whilst there are many good revenue lines in the Tariff, the duties on a number of articles are so heavy as to be practically prohibitive. I regret that the committee have not seen their way to reduce the duty on mining machinery which has been imposed, not for the purpose of raising revenue, but to protect a number of manufacturers who have been bolstered up at the expense of the community for many years. In the case I mentioned last night of the pipe contract for the Geelong water supply, the Government paid £6,500 more than they need have done on one small contract, in order to give the preference to the local manufacturer over a Sydney firm.
– The New South Wales Government have done that repeatedly, a,nd the biggest engineering company in that State lives on the Government.
– I will defy my honorable friend to contradict my statement regarding the Geelong water supply pipes, and I would ask him why it is that the local manufacturers could not manage to do the work as cheaply as Hoskins and Company, of New South Wales. The mechanics in New South Wales are paid higher wages than are those of Victoria.
– Nonsense ; they struck for Victorian wages.
– Notwithstanding the fact that Victorian manufacturers have been protected for the last 30 years, the honorable member for Melbourne Ports has admitted that they were not being paid sufficient wages, and that the wages boards had to be brought into existence in order to secure justice for the workmen.
– Not in the iron trade.
– Now, the honorable member is shifting his ground. He knows full well that if employers in one trade will not do justice to their, workmen, the manufacturers in other trades will probably be equally disinclined. We have needed no wages boards in NewSouth Wales. The workmen there have been able by the force of their own advocacy to obtain better conditions than prevail in the industrial world in Victoria. I heartily support the case put forward by the honorable member for Barrier, and I regret that, owing to the absence of a number of honorable members last night, we were defeated by two votes on the last division. I hope that when the leader of the Opposition has an opportunity, as he will have before long, of moving an amendment in favour of mining machinery being admitted free, or at a lower rate than that proposed, honorable members will not pair, but will all be in attendance and vote in accordance with their convictions. I am certain that if we had a straight-out vote on the proposal to reduce the duty by 10 per cent., those in favour of that course would be found in a majority. I believe there are sufficient friends of the miners in the House to support a fair and reasonable reduction, if we cannot succeed in securing freedom from duty. This machinery ought to be admitted free, in view of the depression in the mining industry throughout the States, as has been shown by the honorable member for the Barrier and representatives from Western Australia, who have personal and practical knowledge. In the face of these facts, the committee ought to be slow in imposing such a heavy burden on the mining industry as is involved in a 20 per cent, duty on machinery.
– I quite sympathize with, and appreciate, the desire of the honorable member for Macquarie to keep the debate going until his respected leader arrives.
– I take exception to the statement of the honorable member for Bland.
– I appreciate the attitude of the honorable member, but he is not justified in giving utterance to absolutely incorrect statements about either myself or any other honorable member. The honorable member said first that he had seen in some newspaper, or he understood, that I had made a certain statement to my constituents in regard to rnining machinery. It is absolutely untrue that any such statement was ever made by me.
– I accept the honorable member’s denial.
– What I told the people of Bland was that I was going to make the Tariff as protectionist as revenue considerations would allow, reserving to myself the right to go to any distance I thought failin regard to a protective Tariff.
– Did the honorable member tell his constituents that he would vote for a duty of 20 per cent, on mining machinery, and for duties of 100 per cent, on everything they require1?
– I have never voted for a duty of 100 per cent. The honorable member for Macquarie, instead of at once accepting my denial, had recourse to various misstatements about my attitude in regard to the duty on nails. As a matter of fact, in every division on the nail duties I voted with the honorable member.
– And the honorable member for Bland is very sorry he did so.
– I may have been wrong, of course.
– The honorable member for Bland voted for a duty of 20 per cent, last night.
– I am prepared to justify my vote. If the honorable member in his desire to prolong the debate for a few moments, had been content to accuse me of voting for a 20 per cent, duty, I should not have risen on the present occasion. With regard to the matter now at issue, I do not think there is any good to be gained by reducing the duty on boilers in the way proposed. In the first place, the honorable member for Barrier acknowledges that boilers can be made cheaply throughout the Commonwealth.
– What 1 In spite of the higher wages of Australia and “ the pauper “ wages of England. ?
– Yes; in regard to boilers.
– Did the honorable member tell his constituents that he would vote for a duty of 20 per cent, on mining machinery ?
– I told my constituents that I would vote for as high a protective Tariff as the exigencies of the financial position would allow. If the leader of the Opposition allows his mind to dwell on the practical aspect of the question he will see that the freight on a boiler is proportionately much higher than on any other kinds of machinery or adjuncts, and that consequently, it is much easier to competewith the old world in boiler-making. Admitting all that, we should be unwise if we subjected local manufacturers to too great competition, so long as the interests of . thepeople as a whole are not likely to suffer. I do not think there is any probability of aCommonwealth combine being arranged amongst manufacturers of boilers. Such a combine appears to me impracticable. It requires so small a plant to commence boilermaking that no one set of men can prevent others from coming into competition if prices are raised to an unreasonable degree. I think the only effect of the duty will beto put it beyond possibility of doubt that no large number of boilers will be imported. I do not think that the price will be increased materially, if at all, to the consumer, and, at the same time, we shall retain thework amongst our own people. There are many classes of machinery and manufactures in connexion with which I should not go to the extent of a 20 per cent, duty ; but, as the honorable member for Barrier himself admitted, the effect would be the same, even with the 40 per cent, duty, so long as a combine is not entered into. As a combine seems in the highest degree improbable, I intend to vote for the duty of 20 per cent.
– It is ratherunfortunate that if any honorable member of this Chamber happens to be a few minutes late, he should be singled out, andthat statements should be made as to someone doing something, because of his absence, and until he arrives. If that sort of treatment were meted out to honorable members besides the leader of the Opposition, thesame statements might be made in regard to the Prime Minister and other members of the Government, who are so often absent from the chamber, although they are on thepremises.
– If honorable members, attack me I shall reply.
– The honorable member has no right to bring me, as an absent member, into any little differences between himself” and the honorable member for Macquarie, because that is a sort of triangular duel which is scarcely fair to me. We all agree that when an honorable member is. attacked he must reply, and the honorablemember for Bland never abuses hisprivileges in that direction. Indeed, he is. an honorable member who conspicuously does not abuse the privilege, and I think he must have been led away a little when he brought me into this discussion in so unfair a way. I had not the slightest communication with the honorable member for Macquarie, but simply happened to be a little late as honorable members are continually, including the Prime Minister and several other Ministers.
– - I do not presume for a moment to chide the leader of the Opposition.
– At the same time, the remarks that have been made are a sort of advertisement of my late arrival, remarks which might apply to other honorable members, and prove inconvenient. For instance, when I came in the Ministerial benches were absolutely empty, the only two Ministers in attendance being those who must be here in connexion with the Tariff.
– The other Ministers happened to be here at the opening of the House.
– It is a perfect sham for honorable gentlemen to line the benches at the opening of the House, as some Ministers do, and then go away for the rest of the sitting.
– No ; they do not. Mr. REID. - I do not see why I should be singled out simply because I happened to be half-an-hour or so late on this particular occasion ; such remarks at the best are paltry. With, regard to the question of boilers, I know that the honorable member for .Bland has been a straightforward protectionist all through, and has never made a statement to his constituents that is inconsistent with the protectionist view. I have no sort of complaint against the honorable member as to any votes he may have given. He had a perfect right to give those votes ; but for a man of his . good intelligence he sometimes makes rather extraordinary statements. At the same time I admit the honorable member gives most intelligent votes - extremely liberal votes fora protectionst - in dealing with this Tariff. But with reference to the particular item of boilers, I must admit that it is practically -what we have been discussing for two sittings. We have had a thoroughly fair opportunity of considering this matter in a general way, reserving, of course, to ourselves the right to deal with any particular article upon its merits. I clearly recognise that the feeling of the committee is opposed to placing these articles upon the free list. That is a matter which has been absolutely decided, subject to certain individual propositions which may be submitted hereafter. But with reference to boilers, I wish to direct attention to the fair admission by the honorable member for Bland that the freight charges in themselves constitute a very large protection. Taking this fact into consideration, it does seem strange, after the number of years during which the engineering industry has been fostered in Victoria at the public expense, that this great natural protection is not sufficient, and that, in addition, a further protection of something like 20 per cent, must be given to it. We used to be told in the early days that if this policy were established it would be self-supporting in a few years, that the industries brought into existence under it would be so strong and self-reliant that they could cast aside all artificial aids. That used to be the statement made to the people of Victoria 30 years ago, and a large number of them believed it. Now we find a position taken up by protectionists which shows that this policy, if it is to be effectual, must be maintained for all time. Do we ever look forward to the day when wages in Australia will be below those paid in England, Germany, and Belgium ? I hope not ! We pray for a state of high wages, because it is synonymous with a state of general prosperity. Taking a broad generalization,.we may safely say that the country which can afford to pay high wages is enjoying a state of prosperity as compared with countries which cannot. We hope that our Australian wages will always be somewhere near the highest prevailing in the world. Consequently, the necessity for these artificial methods will be a perpetual necessity. In other words, protection means an eternal system of artificial shelter for certain industries. I will not dwell upon it, because I have already referred to the matter, but I cannot help alluding once more to the extraordinary fact that this protectionist Ministry are adopting a very inconsistent course in this connexion.
What is machinery 1 It is the raw material of the miner in many mines other than alluvial mines. It is the raw material of the miner, just as tools of trade are the raw material of the tradesman. In this very division I find half a page of exemptions, including “tools of trade not being machinery.” Are not machines the tools of trade of certain industries just as much as are the tools of trade which are required by the artisan ? If it is wise and beneficial to load these articles with duty in the case of the miners, why are the tools of trade of the protected industries put upon the free list ? Why is there not a solid phalanx in favour of extending to the tools of trade of those engaged in our protected industries in the large towns the undeniable benefits of the policy of protection?
– I gave the reasons last night, and very good reasons they were, too.
– No doubt they were good reasons from a Melbourne point of view. No earthly reason can justify a man in declaring it is a good thing to adopt a protective policy in regard to mining machinery, and that it will not hurt the mining industry, whilst at the same time advocating the inclusion in the free list of the tools of trade of the bootmaker and the hatmaker upon the ground that by such action those industries are being assisted. Do the Government place the tools of trade of the hatmaker and the bootmaker upon the free list in order to hurt those industries ?
– The right honorable member knows very well that we put them upon the free list because they are not produced here.
– The Treasurer generally falls into my little net when I spread it for him. The right honorable gentleman, in a perfectly ingenuous manner, absolutely gives his case away. He says that these tools of trade cannot be produced within the Commonwealth. Let us look at some of them. I find, for example, that chisels are included in the free list. What an absolutely difficult thing a chisel is to manufacture !
– I am sure that the right honorable member will see that he cannot discuss that matter.
– I am not going to discuss it. I am simply giving an illustration in reply to an interjection made by the Treasurer.
– The right honorable member is repeating his story of yesterday, to which I replied last night.
– If we are going to impose a duty upon boilers, which are the raw material of the mining industry, we should also levy a tax upon chisels, which are the raw material of the tradesmen engaged in Sydney and Melbourne. Then, again, I find such articles as files, rasps, forks, gimlets, hammers,&c., upon the free list. Indeed, the schedule contains hundreds of the simplest forms of tools which it is a libel upon the manufacturing industry of Victoria to say cannot be made locally. How is it possible to make the most advanced form of mining machinery in Victoria if this State cannot manufacture “an anchor over 10 cwt.,” which is an article contained in the list of exemptions? Is that a marvellously difficult article to make in a highly advanced industrial community ? I merely point to one or two items out of hundreds to show the absolute hollowness of the whole thing. The Treasurer, as a man of penetration and good sense, is driven into a desperate position when he affirms that these simple little articles cannot be produced in Australia, whilst highly complicated machinery can. If his statement be true, it only shows How these artificial bribes lead people into certain directions, and leave the broader paths of industry untouched ; because it is perfectly clear that if a broad and substantial colonial industry could be established for the manufacture of any article, it would be for the manufacture of the tools of trade which are used in the industries of Australia. The manufacture in itself would be a considerable one as compared with the manufactureof a smallernumberof articles. Butthere is the inconsistency put before the people of Australia - “ We will give you artisans and manufacturers of Melbourne a 20 per cent. duty. We will put 25 per cent, upon the clothingof the community, however poor they may be, but in the matter of tools of trade we will not give to the manufacturers of them the benefit of a protective policy. We shall put them on the free list. We shall permit free-trade in the machinery required for these protected industries. We shall let them scour the foreign market for cheapness. We shall let the users of these articles go by the colonial factories and turn their backs upon the colonial industries. We shall let them do that “ - and they take full advantage of it - “ but as for mining and agriculture, as for the great primary industries, we shall take care that, with a very few exceptions, the tools of trade they require shall be taxed.” I quite admit that this matter has been fully gone into before, but I wish to refer to another matter that has not been alluded to before. Take this particular case of boilers, and here is a nice complication of absurdity that this system has reduced us to. A Melbourne capitalist can go and buy a big steam-ship in London in the free-trade market of the world, and bring it through the Heads at Port Phillip and not a single Id. of duty can be levied upon that ship, its equipment, or machinery. But if a capitalist having a ship-yard here is to . employ colonial industry in the building of a ship, he has to pay a heavy duty upon all the machinery he is going to use in its construction, though the finished article can come in through the Heads duty free. To show honorable members the extraordinary contrivances which protectionists have to resort to in order to get away from this hideous absurdity I can mention a case which occurred some time ago. An enterprising firm in Williamstown wished to build a steamer and to employ their shipwrights in the work, but there was a heavy duty upon the machinery. I think it was a steam tug that was to be built, ‘and it was absolutely necessary to have the latest, best, and most powerful machinery, which was full of patents, and could not be made here. If they imported it they would have to pay a heavy duty. I do not like to mention what the rate “ was, but the duty upon the machinery alone would amount to some thousands of pounds. What were they to do? They had the choice of buying a steamer at home and bringing it in free, or of building the steamer at Williamstown and paying heavy duty upon this machinery. They went to the Customs authorities who made this arrangement. They said - “ We quite admit that it is a monstrous absurdity to deprive you of the chance of encouraging colonial industry here, and we will allow you to import -this machinery. When it comes out you can keep it in bond and can fit it into the ship in bond, and then after the ship is launched and completed you can take her for a trip to Sydney where the machinery is duty free. It will go out of Melbourne as ships’ stores in bond.” The steamer went to Sydney, and when she came back to Melbourne, there being no duty upon machinery in Sydney, the machinery, disappeared from the ship’s store list, and the steamer came into the port of Melbourne without paying Id. of duty upon, it. That is one of the absurd contrivances. which the Government had knowingly to bea party to, in order to get behind the absurdity of the Tariff.
– It seems to me to be one of the absurd arguments which are put forward here.
– Does not the honorable member admit that it is rather hard upon a. ship-builder in Williamstown that he should have to pay a heavy duty upon machinery he requires to put into a steamer he builds,, when another man can buy a steamer completely finished in London, and bring her here duty free ?
– That machinery waspatented machinery, and we propose to let such machinery in free.
– Yes ; but there is a great deal of machinery which is not patented. Patented machinery is only one item in the construction of a ship, and the honorablemember must know that there are hundredsof other items which go to the building of a. ship, and that many of them are dutiable under this Tariff. It will, I think, be almost impossible to do any good by trying tospecify individual machines which may beadmitted free, though I shall be very glad to assist as much as I can in making theseitems as free as possible. I must admitthat the committee has practically decided all these items by the divisions which havealready taken place ; but, later on, when we come to consider the exemptions, I shall do what I can to have all the machinery employed in the primary industries of Australia placed upon the free list, and all the machinery employed in ship-building alsoplaced on the free list. Because surely that is a great industry which we should desire to encourage in these southern seas of Australia1? I think that in that respect even protectionists will cooperate, because of the fact to which I havereferred, that a man may bring the finished article into Port Jackson or Port Phillipwithout paying a single penny of duty. I am quite prepared to accept the decisions of ‘ last night as governing this particular clause. I take it that they apply to all these items, but I would suggest to Ministers that the last item, plated and mixed metal-ware, should be put somewhere else.
– I always listen with very great pleasure to the right honorable member for East Sydney. Even when I cannot agree with his views, I must admit that the right honorable gentleman places them before the committee in the strongest and most intelligent light from his stand-point. My right honorable friend, I sim sure, was perfectly sincere when he expressed the hope that wages in Australia should be maintained at a high standard as compared with wages in any other portion of the world, but as the right honorable gentleman is so fond of pointing out inconsistencies, I would ask him if the expression of that hope is quite consistent with his reiterated statement that he would throw the whole of our labour puppies into the water and compel them to compete with the pauper labour of the world ? If they are compelled to sell their wares in unrestricted competition with the product of the pauper labour of the world, how is it possible for a high standard of wages to be maintained here? My right honorable friend knows as well as any person can know, that the two statements are absolutely inconsistent and cannot possibly be reconciled. AVith regard to the right honorable gentleman’s repetition of the argument that it is inconsistent to place tools of trade on the free list while larger manufactures are protected, I would point out to him that many of these tools of -trade are protected by patent rights, and, therefore, we cannot produce them her.e. En other cases, where they are not protected by patent rights, we know that the demand for them in our small community is so limited that it would not pay to establish factories for their manufacture, unless we are prepared to make the people pay an unreasonable price. No protectionist desires to do that. We desire to protect only those industries that can be established here successfully, and the products of which can be sold, at any rate, not greatly in excess of the price for which similar goods can be imported. Therefore, my honorable friend will see that there is nothing in that argument. The honorable member for Macquarie endeavoured to place the action of a Victorian Government in an unfair light. He endeavoured to show that they accepted a Victorian firm’s tender for a bridge at a higher price than that for which a New South Wales firm offered to do the work. My honorable friend will see that the Victorian Government had established a protective duty at a certain rate, and they were compelled to adhere to it, or else break faith with those who had erected factories in the belief that they would receive protection to that extent. The Government could not possibly have removed the duty without breaking faith with the Victorian firm. If the honorable member had shown that the amount of the New South Wales tender, with the duty paid, was lower than that of the Victorian firm, he might have had some case ; but without that he had none whatever. I may remind my honorable friend that I have seen at least one tender issued by a Government, of which I think he was a member - at any rate I know that the leader of the Opposition in this House was at the head of that Government - the conditions of which expressly specified that the material required must be of New South Wales manufacture. That was a prohibitive duty against the rest of the world. When the honorable member is familiar with a case of that kind, which occurred in his own State, surely he should not accuse the Victorian Government of having acted wrongly in regard to the Geelong Waterworks ?
– The tender was called by the Lyne Ministry.
– No, it was invited by a free-trade Government. It was discussed in the Victorian press at the time, and shown that a free-trade Government had taken the action to .which I have referred.
– The honorable member misses the point of my argument. I quoted the two tenders to show that owing to the duty the people of Geelong had to pay an extra price for the pipes required for the local waterworks. The Victorian contract was £32,000, while the New South Wales tender was only £26,000, showing a difference of £6,000.
– The Government had to pay the extra price, and not the people of Geelong. Surely the honorable member does not contend that protectionists assert that from the moment a duty is imposed on an article the price of that article is reduced ? They do not contend anything of the kind. We can surely afford to be fair.
– When was the duty imposed?
– I do not know. I have not looked it up. I rose only to reply to the honorable member for Macquarie. I did not know what the particular case was to which he referred. I may tell him that protectionists do not deny that when they put a duty on a commodity which they believe can be produced successfully here, the price of that commodity may be increased in the first instance. We know that it will ; but if- the duty is successful in establishing the industry upon such a basis that creates a healthy local competition, and also a healthy competition against the imported article, we believe the effect is to reduce the price. That can be proved up to the hilt by the past history of our manufactures. If this were a question as between a 15 per cent, and a “25 per cent, duty, I think I would probably be disposed to vote for the first-named duty. The Government have agreed, however, to reduce the duty to 20 per cent, and I do not think it can be denied that that is an extremely moderate one. In view of the fact that the Tariff must admittedly be a compromise one, I regret that any honorable member, whether freetrader or protectionist, should attempt to reduce this duty below, what no one can deny, is an extremely moderate protective duty, and a necessary revenue duty.
– I have been rather astonished by the remarks made by the honorable member for Gippsland, who I know never puts forward any statement that he does not firmly believe to be correct. The honorable member stated in reply to the honorable member for Macquarie that it was the Government and not the people who had to pay the increased price for the Geelong water-pipes, as the result of the existence of the duty.
– “The people of Geelong “ was the expression.
– Does not the honorable member for Gippsland know that if we allow for the wear and tear of these pipes and the interest on the loan, the people of Geelong are paying quite 5 per cent, for the extra £6,000 which the pipes cost, and that they will continue to pay that 5 per cent ?
– Does the honorable member consider that the Government would have been justified in ignoring the duty?
– How could the Government ignore the duty ? They had to allow for it, seeing that they had imposed it. But what we say is that if Victoria chose to place herself in a false position, and had to pay an enhanced price of £6,000 on a £26,000 line of pipes because of theduty, which prohibited competition from outside, Australia should not put herself in a like position. The people of Geelong arepaying now, and, until they have wiped outthe capital cost of the waterworks - if they ever do that - will continue to pay £300 per annum on the additional £6,000 which they had to give for the pipes, not fortheir own benefit, but simply for the policy of the country. What is the use of telling us that when we give this protection to themanufacturers, we are not asking thepeople to pay for it ? It is a reflection upon the energy and self-confidence of the manufacturers of Australia to say that they can produce as cheaply as their foreign competitors, but that they require nevertheless aprotective barrier to shut out those competitors.
– They can compete with them if they are guaranteed a sale in their own markets.
– Do the foreign manufacturers get that guarantee? They have to seek a market. They do not obtain any guarantee in this market. Have our manufacturers sunk so low that, notwithstanding their assertion that they can produce articles at a price as low as that for which they can be imported, they are afraid to compete with the foreign manufacturers ? What is at the bottom of all this is that in nine cases out of ten they intend to secure, and sometimes they know that they will obtain, an extra price behind the protective barrier. Is not this an instance ? The honorable member for Gippsland says it is not contended that the immediate effect of the imposition of a duty on an article is to make it possible to obtain the local article at a price as low as that for which it can be imported. But the duty on pipes, to which reference has been made, was not a new duty. It was a very old one, and yet we find that on 11th April, 1900, when a tender was sent from a neighbouring free-trade State, where they are said to be far behind in iron work, and where honorable members opposite says things cannot be done so advantageously as in a protected State, it was for an amount £6,500 lessthan the tender sent from the protected State. One of -two things happened in that case; either the manufacturer in the protected State could not produce as cheaply as his rival in the free-trade State, or else - and this is very likely - he took advantage of the fact that £3 a ton would have to be paid by any outside competitor, and added the whole of that amount, or the greater part of it, to his price. I am sorry to have had to eater into this question again, but honorable members on this side cannot be expected to sit here and listen to ridiculous imputations in regard to their motives and opinions without replying to them. We maintain that without additional protection the Victorian manufacturers will receive a great advantage under federation, and that that advantage should be sufficient in many cases to enable them to do without protection altogether. If they say that they cannot come to that at once, very low duties should be sufficient to give them all the assistance which they require. The position we take up is not determined by the desire to rob men of their work. AVe do not ask people to compete with the pauper labour of Europe ; it is the protectionists who do so. An industry is being carried on in Europe, under more advantageous circumstances than are possible here, or by cheaper labour, and the protectionists say that our men must compete in that industry ; that we should compel them to do so by putting on high duties. In doing that we divert a large part of our population to industries which do not offer the same rewards as are offered by the development of the country, and we make those who cannot be protected, because they have to send their productions to the other end of the world for sale, pay more for the articles which they are obliged to consume. If honorable members say that that is not so, let them remember the instance of the Geelong water-pipes. That is only one illustration amongst scores which could be adduced. AVe, on this side, say that the energies of the p’eople should be directed first towards the development of the resources of the country in which they d well . If a country has no resources, it is not fit for habitation. But surely the resources of Australia are numerous enough, and are in a sufficiently undeveloped condition ! We say, let the energies of the people be first directed to their development. That does not mean that manufacturing or the affording of diversity of occupations should not be considered. In the aggregations of population which must occur in the process of development, manufacturing and other industries must arise, and give opportunities for healthy employment. If there is pauper or other labour in other parts of the world which is prepared to supply our people with some of the things they want at a low rate, and which it is not profitable for our people to produce themselves, or not so profitable as the development of the resources of their own land, surely it is to our advantage to buy from them. If they produce these things at half the cost of producing them here, why should we try to compete with them, when there are bigger rewards obtainable in the development of our own resources ? If they offer their productions to us for nothing, their contributions must be regarded as a large source of wealth to us. The Treasurer said some time ago that he would not accept anything for nothing. I cannot believe, however, that the gifts of foreigners can make us poor. I do not wish to prolong the argument, because I think it is time that we finished this branch of the question, and dealt practically with the various items, of the Tariff ; but if honorable members opposite will persist in putting forward arguments which we think fallacious, or in imputing to us opinions and motives which are absurd, we must, occasionally at any rate, set forth what really are our views, and show that they are not so ridiculous as they are made to appear. AVith regard tothe item before us, the Government might very well have accepted, even from theirown stand-point, a duty of 15 per cent.. Such a duty would give all the protection that manufacturers who have been obtaining assistance in the past can require, and would wise a larger amount of revenue than will be obtained from a. higher rate. A great deal of the troublewhich has occurred in dealing with this item has been occasioned by the want of properclassification. AVe have boilers and table knives mixed up in an extraordinary fashion. Further than that, the exemptions and distinctions are extraordinary. As theleader of the Opposition has pointed out, the machinery used in one industry is exempted, for no particular reason, while themachinery used in another industry, a great deal of which cannot be made here, is not exempted. Then the barbed wire industry of Victoria is protected, while the wirenetting industry of New South Wales is. left absolutely unprotected.
– Because the one article is made here and the other is not.
– That is what I complain of. The barbed wire industry is protected, because barbed wire is made in Victoria, but the wire netting industry is not protected because wire netting is made in New South Wales. I do not think that Ministers have intentionally made that distinction, but no doubt the representations from Victoria have been stronger than the representations from New South Wales.
– We will vote for a duty on wire netting if the honorable member will ask for it.
– I am not so inconsistent as to -ask for a duty for the benefit of New South Wales manufacturers, when I do not believe in protection ; and other representatives of New South Wales, such as the honorable member for Parramatta, have shown in an earnest, self-sacrificing way that they will not abandon their principles in the interests of their constituants who happen to be manufacturers.
– There are honorable members on this side who are just as consistent.
– I would not for a moment say they were not, but I always find that they go for a protective duty for an industry which is established in their own constituency, or in their own State.
– I shall vote a duty for an industry in New South Wales if the honorable member can prove that it is wanted.
– We are not asking the honorable member to vote for a duty for an industry in our State. That is simply putting forward this proposition - “You scratch my back and I’ll scratch yours. Let us lobby in the matter.” We do not want these duties.
– Somebody is asking for them.
– The manufacturers ask for them.
– The manufacturer would be an extraordinary individual if he did not. When he has been producing an article in a free-trade market, presumably profitably - in some cases we know profitably for years - if he sees a chance of getting the Government to give hiin 10 or 15 or 25 per cent, more profit, would he not be an astonishing individual if he did not try to get it, especially when they were encouraging him to ask for it. As regards these items, I am quite ready, as the leader of the Opposition is, to accept last night’s division. I wish the business to go on, although the Ministers may not think so. I think it would be better now to leave alone the broad abstract arguments and keep to the points. If that were done there would not be a necessity for reply. Honorable members cannot hear opposing arguments continuously poured out without getting up to answer them.
– I think the way in which the matter has been put by some of the members of the Opposition, notably its leader and the last speaker, is perfectly fair. We discussed the principle contained in these various items for a couple of days. There was no attempt on either side to interfere with the liberty of the other in discussing an important matter, so far as was necessary. After discussion, we arrived at a time when a division was possible ; wetook the division, and although only one item was involved, honorable members generally recognised that it applied to all the items. I am sure that there would not be a wish on either side to raise practically the same question again in connexion with some other item after a principle applicable to all in this line had been determined. So I trust that there will be no attempt to push the matter to a division, and that we shall proceed generally in connexion with the Tariff on the lines on which we have previously proceeded - that when we have decided a principle we shall not endeavour to take another division on it in connexion with another item and have the discussion all over again. I think the leader of the Opposition misunderstood the spirit in which the observation of the honorable member for Bland was made. It was not intended to be in the slightest degree a reflection on the right honorable and learned member on account of his temporary absence from the committee. We all recognise that we do as much as possible for the purpose of attending the sittings as far as practicable, and if the right honorable and learned member had been present when the honorable member for Macquarie was speaking he would have seen that when that honorable member attacked the honorable member for Bland he was making an attack which was not justified in the circumstances. The honorable member for Macquarie got up and favoured us with one of his speeches in the style to which we are so much accustomed. It dealt generally with matters of principle which are not at issue in connexion with the Tariff. It contained a lot of observations which did not appear to a good many of us to be altogether pertinent to the subject under discussion. It included an attack on the honorable member for Bland, which was not justified, and which is now repudiated by the leader of the Opposition. The position . in which a good many were placed in deciding this problem was, why is the honorable member speaking, and why is he using these terms ? It puzzled a number of us. I did not hit on the solution I confess, but I thought, when it was pointed out by the honorable member for Bland, there was a good deal in it. I am sure that when honorable members reflect on the whole episode they will come to the conclusion that there was grave reason for applying our minds to the consideration why was the honorable member speaking as he did, and that it was not unnatural to attribute to him, as a faithful lieutenant, a desire in the direction which was referred to, but the reference undoubtedly conveyed no reflection on the leader of the Opposition. I was sorry, under these circumstances, to hear the remarks in which the right honorable and learned member indulged as regards members of the Government. I think all of us do whatever is necessary for the discharge of our duties ; there is no room for doubting it. A number of honorable members on the other side may have private engagements ; a number of us on this side may have both private and public engagements.(Committee counted.) I am sorry that the honorable member for Macquarie indulged in that style of comment, but I do not propose to follow up the subject, because the sooner we get on with the consideration of the particular item the better. It is admitted on all hands that the principle which is applicable to this item was decided by the vote of last night. Of course, we know perfectly well that you can get freights for boilers as cheaply from London to Fremantle as from Adelaide to Fremantle, and therefore there is no point to be made there. As regards the possibility of combination, we know that boilers are generally made here, and it would be a very difficult thing to arrange for a combination such as is suggested. I shall bring under the notice of the House in connexion with the Tariff Bill a provision which obtains in Canada. When the existence of a trust, resulting in prices altogether unfair to the consumer, is established to the satisfaction of some judicial authority, the Canadian Act gives a power for the relaxation of the protective duty in order to apply a remedy. It is a very difficult thing to deal with a matter of this sort. I think there is very much to justify the provision in the Canadian Act, and it will certainly be brought under the notice of the House. The honorable member for North Sydney put it that it is a pity to encourage these manufacturers when employment of a more profitable character can be found in the development of our natural resources. If that employment can be found the people generallymay be trusted to go where the more profitable employment is afforded, and not to accept work in factories. It is the policy of the world to protect and encourage local industries. It is true that for the last 50 or 60 years England has departed from, that policy, but only after an experience of protection extending over 200 or 300 years. When we arrive at the condition that England was in when she departed from protection, it will be time enough for us to consider the question of making a change ; but our conditions are altogether dissimilar from those which prevailed in England at the time when her fiscal policy was reversed.
– I agree that no possible advantage can be gained by calling for division after division upon this item after the feeling of the committee has been sufficiently tested upon the principle which should guide us in our decisions. At the same time it should be understood that an attempt will probably be made to recommit the whole of the item with a view to more closely testing the feeling of the committee. It must be admitted that last night several members of thecommittee,whowerepairedonthestraight out issue as to whether the duty should be removed altogether, could not,exercise their pairs on the side issues which cropped up later on, and under these circumstances it may be necessary to recommit the item. In addition to that, I desire to give notice that I shall press the committee to a division later on on the question whether mining machinery which, owing to existing patents, cannot be manufactured within the Commonwealth, should be admitted absolutely free. . The Treasurer told us yesterday that several lines of machinery coming under this head had been brought under his notice, and that the Government were inclined to admit them free. He further invited honorable members to suggest additions to: that list. I would point out, however, that it is absolutely impossible for honorable members, however conversant they may be with mining requisites, to give a list, off-hand, of the patented machines that it would be desirable to place on the free list.
– I went further than that. I stated that we proposed to insert a provision that would apply to any new matters that might arise, and that the Minister for Trade and Customs would have power to put certain machines on the free list, and submit the matter to Parliament.
– That arrangement would be a little complicated,- and would scarcely overcome the difficulty. In connexion with the lines we have already passed, complaints arising out of the administration of the Tariff and the interpretation placed upon it by the Customs -officers are being received every day, and the less we can leave to the interpretation of the Custom-house officials the better it will be for the business community.
– It is very difficult in connexion with a large new Tariff to avoid complaints of that sort.
– I admit the difficulty, and I am glad the Minister appreciates it; but I do not wish to see it extended in any way. With regard to the statement of the Treasurer, the decision as to whether certain machinery should be placed on the free list should not be left in the hands of those who may be administering the Tariff. I want the matter to be closely defined within the four corners of the Tariff, and it should be an easy matter to state in plain English that mining machinery which, owing to its being protected by patent rights, cannot be made within the Commonwealth, should be admitted free. The only question that would then arise between the Customs officials .and the importers would be as to whether the machinery was so protected by patent rights that it could, not be manufactured within the Commonwealth.
– Would the honorable member suggest that very small patent rights in connexion with a big machine should protect the whole article %
– There might be some difficulty in a case of that kind, but that would largely rest with the administration. It would be absurd, of course, if a piece of machinery worth £5,000 were to be admitted free of duty simply because it contained some part- a mere adjustment of some kind - worth £100, protected by patent rights. That would be an evasion of what we intend to provide for. The point is that machinery manufactured in Germany and America, under the protection of patent rights, which would be useful for the development of our resources, should be admitted free. It is of no use blinking the fact that the bulk of the machinery used in our mining operations can be manufactured, and is manufactured to-day, within the Commonwealth, as cheaply and of as good quality as that imported, but I shall ‘seek to absolutely exempt from duty all patented machinery that cannot be made here.
– I hoped that the Minister for Trade and Customs would have fallen in with the ideas expressed by the leader of the Opposition, with regard to ship-building material. I must in that connexion, and at the risk of being thought parochial, allude to Western Australia. That State is well situated for ship-building, and, in fact, in years past that was an industry with us. Even at the present time it is an industry there on a small scale, carried, on more particularly in connexion with vessels required for the pearling and north-west trade. The Western Australian timbers are suitable in every respect for ship-building, and a duty of 20 per cent, on machinery and chandlery will have a most prejudicial effect. In Western Australia we wish to retain the industries which are at present carried on, and, if, possible, to extend them and establish others. I hope the Minister for Trade and Customs will see his way to agree to ship-building appliances being admitted free, or at as low a rate of duty as possible.
Mr. SYDNEY SMITH (Macquarie).I never willingly misrepresent an honorable member, and I desire to make a personal explanation in regard to a statement made- by me. In referring to the votes of the honorable member for Bland, I said that he had voted in a certain direction on the item of horse-shoe nails, but I find that in looking through Hansard I mistook the somewhat similar name of the honorable member for Newcastle for that of the honorable member for Bland. It is only fair to the committee and to the honorable member for Bland that I should make this explanation.
– I regret extremely that the Ministry still see fit to impose a heavy disability on the mining industry. It has been pointed out by the leader of the Opposition that the Government go still further ; indeed, if the Government had tried to aim a blow at two industries in New South Wales, they could not have adopted a better method of accomplishing their object. It is admitted by the honorable member forGippsland that, for a time, at any rate, the effect of duties is to increase prices ; and we can never get an answer as to when the increased prices cease, The two industries of New South Wales to which I have referred are that carried on by Mort’s Dock Company in Sydney, and that which it is proposed to carry on at the Graving Dock to be constructed at Newcastle. Mort’s Company are engaged in the construction of all kinds of vessels, and it seems to me that nineteen men in Victoria simply because this is a New South Wales industry are trying, with the help of the Minister for Tradeand Customs, to stamp it out. The effect of the duty, whether intended or not, and I suppose it is intended, will be to injure the two great ports of Sydney and Newcastle ; and such a proposal could not be carried out but for the support of certain representatives of New South Wales, who seem to take a distinct pleasure in taxing the people of their own State. These representatives apparently think that the people of New South Wales, because they were generous enough to send them to Parliament, are therefore idiots, and may be treated with contempt and contumely; but when the time comes, these honorable members will find they have made a greatmistake. Icannotappeal to theMinistry on behalf of working people when we know that the representations of the one manufacturer of horse-shoe nails carried everything before them, while the Government refused to listen to the voice of the 2,000 men of Broken Hill. I do not expect consideration from the honorable member for Gippsland who counselled that kerosene should be thrown on good meat which would have been useful to poor people.
– The honorable member must see that he is altogether digressing from the question before the Chair, and bordering very closely on being personally offensive.
– From the latter opinion I must dissent, because I think that it is entirely for me to say what is personally offensive, when honorable members referred to do not object to my remarks.
– I am in charge of the conduct of the committee, and it is for me to judge. I am prepared to give every reasonable latitude to all honorable members, but is my duty to keep the debate within reasonable bounds.
– I decline to believe that a majority of this committee is in favour of the imposition of a tax of 20 per cent. upon boilers. At all events, I shall have it placed upon record that some honorable members, whilst exercising the greatest care that the manufacturer shall get all his tools of trade admitted free of duty, decline to grant a similar concession to the miner, the boatbuilder, and those engaged in the metal and machinery trades. I protest against the proposed duty, and urge that boilers should be included in the list of exemptions.
– I have given a great deal of attention to the utterances of my free-trade friends upon the issue now before the committee. There is no. doubt that though their speeches are weak in depth they are very strong in length. It seems to me that whilst the free-traders in this Chamber are powerful for evil they are powerless for good. Let us endeavour to compromise upon this question, and get to business as soon as possible.
Question - That the words “ 25 per cent., and on and after the 18th January, 1902, 15 per cent.” be inserted after the word “ boilers “ - put.
The committee divided.
Majority … … 2
Question so resolved in the negative.
Amendment (by Sir George Turner) agreed to -
That the words “25 per cent., and on and after the 18th January, 1902, 20 per cent.” be inserted after the word “boilers.”
– I move -
That the words “25 per cent, and on and after 18th January, 1902, 15 percent.,” be inserted after the word “pumps.”
The item generally has been so much discussed that I think there is no occasion to go fully into all the matters which might be touched upon in connexion with this amendment. I merely point out that this is not a matter affecting only one industry, because pumps are largely used not only in connexion with mining, but in connexion with irrigation works, the agricultural and pastoral industries, and the primary industries of Australia generally.
Question - That the words “ 25 per cent, and on and after 18th January, 1902, 15 per cent.,” be inserted after the word “pumps “ - put.
The committee divided -
Majority … … ..1
Question so resolved in the negative.
Amendment (by Sir George Turner) agreed to -
That the words “25 per cent., and on and after 18th January, 1902, 20 per cent.,” be inserted after the word ‘ ‘ pumps. “
– I move-
That the words “ not including mining ma chinery” be inserted after the word “machinery.”
– We can take that on the exemptions.
– I wish to have a straightout vote upon that proposition. Just a little preliminary vote, and we can come to the details afterwards.
-I point out to the right honorable and learned gentleman that his motion is hardly in accordance with the practice which the committee has hitherto found convenient in matters of this kind. Our practice has been to deal with exemptions afterwards, under the head of special exemptions.
– That is individual exemptions.
– No, in the fullest sense, or by the specification of any particular machine. I ask the right honorable gentleman not to attempt to introduce a new practice.
– I have no wish to vary the practice of the committee. If I have a full opportunity of dealing with the matter afterwards, I shall by leave of the committee withdraw the amendment.
Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.
Amendment (by Mr. Kirwan) proposed -
That the words “25 per cent., and on and after 18th January, 1902, 15 per cent.,” be inserted after the words “ machines and machinery, n.e.i.”
– I understand that this item includes all mining machinery, and I think it ought to be placed on the same basis as agricultural machinery. We have allowed the agriculturist to get his implements in at 15 per cent., and if we are to be honest to the various industries of the country, and are not going to discriminate between one and another, it is only fair that this item should be placed on the same basis as agricultural machinery, namely, 15 per cent. For that reason I shall vote for the amendments
Question - That the words “ 25 per cent., and on and after 18th January, 1902, 15 per cent.,” be inserted after the words “machines and machinery, n.e.i.” - put. The committee divided.
Majority … … 1
Question so resolved in the negative.
Amendment negatived. Amendment (by Sir George Turner) agreed to -
That the words, “25 per cent., and on and after 18th January, 1902, 20 per cent.,” be inserted after the words, “machines and. machinery, n.e.i.”
– I move-
That the words, “25 per cent, and on and after18th January, 1902, free,” be inserted after the words, “screws, n.e.i.”
The screws are not manufactured here, and in view of the output we require I do not think that even a duty of 20 per cent, would cause the establishment of a screw manufactory.
– What screws does the honorable member refer to ?
– Metal screws.
– I presume the honorable member refers to screws that are used by carpenters?
– I mean “screws, n.e.i.”
– Screws used in woodwork ?
– All screws.
– The honorable member does not mean to include turned screws, some of which range from 3 inches to6 inches in diameter? They are made here and are as good as any that can be imported.
I should like some explanation of the honorable member’s proposal before I vote on it.
– There are screws that have a sharp point, and are used for carpentering work, which are known technically as wood screws. We have no objection to placing them on the free list because they are not being made in the Commonwealth. There are other classes of screws - metal screws - that are made here, and we think they ought to be dutiable at the rate we propose, namely, 25 per cent. We propose to add to the exemption list all wood screws, and in doing that I think we fairly meet the difficulty. Other screws are made here, and we think they should be afforded a reasonable amount of protection.
Mr. REID (East Sydney). - I trust that the Treasurer will remember that in passing this Tariff we are building up great colonial industries. Does he mean to say that our workmen can never rise to the dignity of manufacturing the screws to which he refers? I want to draw the attention of the committee and of the country to the singular attitude which the Government have taken up in this matter, because it is both interesting and instructive. It shows to what extent our protectionist, friends are prepared to come down ; instead of asserting, as they have done for so many years, that we can establish all kinds of wonderful industries, if protective duties are imposed, the Government now draw a sharp line, and plead only for the industries that are in existence here.
– They say nothing of founding fresh industries. If it is a good thing to protect the old industries, surely we should look forward to extending the range of our manufactories ?
– If there is a fair probability of being able to do so.
– Then we have this position : that, with the marvellous possibilities of the Commonwealth, we must regard the manufacture of these particular kind of screws as being somewhat beyond the reach of the Australian nation. Little speeches like that just delivered by the Treasurer throw a flood of light upon this everlasting discussion. I will not refer to it at any length, because we have been treated very fairly in this matter. I would simply draw attention to the Treasurer’s statement. Why should the right honorable gentleman simply say that if an article is not made in the country we will draw the line of protection so far as it is concerned, and allow the foreign article to come in free ? Is that the line ? Then it is an act of charity towards existing industries, and not to encourage the development of fresh industries. I think that the explanation of my honorable friend, bad as it was from outpoint of view, will quite satisfy the honorable member for Bland, and I look forward to the withdrawal of his amendment.
– The Government proposal can best be met by accepting the amendment of the honorable member for Bland, to put “ screws, n.e.i.,” upon the free list. When that is done, such kinds of screws may specifically be made dutiable as may be thought desirable. I agree that at any rate the great bulk of the screws used should be admitted free. The leader of the Opposition has failed to accurately define the position of the protectionists.
– It is a very difficult thing to do.
– I admit that some honorable members opposite find it difficult, because, having been accustomed so long to the dim light of free-trade, they find it hard to correctly adjust their views to the true position under the full light of protection. In determining the advisability or inadvisability of imposing a duty, regard must be had to the character of the articles which it would affect, the size of the market, and the cost of establishing a local manufactory.
– That is the free-trade argument.
– It is the protectionist argument also ; but the protectionists apply it, whereas the free-traders do not. With regard, to the item under discussion, the market for the particular kind of screws which has been referred tois not likely to be large enough for a very long time to come to warrant the establishment . of a local manufactory. The whole question is largely, if not almost entirely, a question of the extent of the market. It is not because I think that an industry cannot bo established here that I am opposed to the imposition of a duty, but because I think it cannot be profitably established.
– There is a market for big screws.
– Yes; but the market for big screws, even taking the whole Commonwealth, is not a very large one. It is not fair to charge the protectionists with taking up a varying attitude on this matter. We agree on the main principle, but we adapt it to the varying circumstances of the cases under consideration.
– I agi«e with the honorable and learned member for Corinella ‘ that the protectionists take up a varying attitude in regard to their policy. They were very anxious to have a duty upon agricultural machinery, in order to protect the manufacturers of that machinery, and they wish now to place upon the free list the screws which are used in its manufacture, because they say they cannot be manufactured here. The protectionists of Victoria exhibit a singular want of confidence in the manufacturers of articles other than those which they produce themselves. Every day I sit here I become more convinced as to the onesidedness of their views. When we want to admit free the implements used by the primary producers of the country, we are met by the statement that duties should be imposed upon them, because they can be manufactured locally. But when we come te- deal with the materials that are used in the manufacture of those implements, we hear it said that they must not be taxed, because they cannot profitably be produced here, for want of a large enough market. Whenever the manufacturers are concerned, the protectionists are ready to come to their rescue. I think, however, that they should give to the primary producers of the country a little of that consideration which they are so ready to extend to the people living in the cities.
– I hope that the honorable member who has just resumed his seat appreciates the difference between those who advocate free-trade principles and those “who sit on this side of the chamber. The revenue tariffists believe in placing duties upon articles which cannot be produced here, whereas the protectionists believe in placing duties only upon articles which can be produced here.
– And which therefore will not be imported.
– The last speaker drew attention to the fact that the protectionists are not acting in accordance with their faith in allowing that there should be a certain differentiation between screws which cannot be made here and are imported, and those which are made here. But the attitude of the protectionist is perfectly consistent. He has the idea not of producing revenue, but of giving adequate protection to industries which are established, or which there is a reasonable likelihood will be established here. Under these circumstances it is only the revenue tariffist who would seek to impose a duty on wood screws which are not made here, and the probability ‘ of whose manufacture here seems rather remote, because expensive machinery is required.
– No more remote than in the case of plenty of other things.
– I should like the honorable member to specify many of the other things.
– I should like the honorable member to specify the screws which are manufactured here. ‘
– Roofing screws are made here to a very large extent. One factory in Melbourne alone turns out 3 tons of them a week, and over 40 per cent, of the money which is received from their sale is spent in labour. There is a difference in price in favour of the local manufacturer, but it is not commensurate with the advantage which is gained by the employment of our people and the possibilities of the expansion of the industry. There is a difficulty in making a comparison owing to the fact that those who makeroofing screws in other parts of the world do not galvanize them, and that they are not of exactly the same pattern as thosewhich are made. here. But the fact of the industry being established is undoubted, and it certainly had very small beginnings. I am sure, and I see no reason to doubt the statement, that if the articles from otherparts of the world, where labour is very much cheaper than it is here, are allowed to come in and compete with that industry, the result will be that roofing screws will not be made here at all. This is an item which a protectionist feels requires attention and protection.
– Are the roofing screws cheaper than the imported ones %
– The difference is very small indeed. I do not think it amounts to 10 per cent.
– How does the honorable member know that these screws would not be made here if a duty were imposed ?
– I am not a prophet, but I have the assurance of the manufacturer that they would not.
– Is there only one of them ?
– There is only one that I know of. As a matter of fact, Nettlefolds, of Birmingham, the firm of which our friend Mr. Chamberlain is the head, are the only manufacturers of screws in Great Britain. Honorable members may consider that the -number of manufacturers may have some influence on the attitude adopted by honorable members on this side. Nothing of the sort. We prefer to take into account the number of persons who are employed, and the number of manufacturers or of importers has very little to do with our opinions on the item under discussion.
– Can the honorable member give us any idea of the number employed in manufacturing building screws 1
– I could not say how many are engaged in the factory. Its output is 3 tons a week, valued at about £150, and 40 per cent, of that sum at least is paid in wages to the men.
– Is the honorable member’s ground for voting to put these screws on the free list that we cannot make them here, or is it merely that we do not 1
– It is merely that we do not, and I do not see any reasonable probability of their being made here before the next revision of the Tariff.
– The honorable member’s reason, I take it, is that they are not being made.
– They are not being made, and I do not see any probability that they will be.
– Why 1
– There is only one manufacturer of screws in Great Britain, and if one manufacturer is able not only to supply the enormous demand of the home market, but also to push trade in every part of the globe, it is not probable, in my opinion, that within the near future we shall have either one or many manufacturers of screws in Australia.
– Tons of the same screws are made in New South Wales now.
– The leader of the Opposition drew attention to the attitude taken up by honorable members sitting on this side, and also by the Government, with regard to this item. But I would point out to him, and to those who hold with him, that this is not a protectionist Tariff. It has never been stated except by members of the Opposition that this is a protectionist Tariff.
– The Minister for Trade and Customs said it was.
– I have heard honorable members discuss some of the items as having a protectionist incidence, but I have never heard any Minister say that this was a protectionist Tariff. It has been described by Ministers as a compromise Tariff, and, therefore, it does not lie with the Opposition to carp at the conduct of honorable members on this side of the Chamber when they show their willingness to admit free of duty articles which cannot be manufactured here. I hope the Government will see their way to differentiate between screws used for roofing purposes and wood screws.
– The intention of the Government has been to exempt wood screws from duty. Prom what I had learnt before to-day, we do not make wood screws in Australia. I had also learnt that the wood screws constitute nine-tenths of the articles which would come under the definition of screws. It is very difficult for any one of us to have a precise knowledge of the extent of the industries carried on in the different States, and the result of the discussion on the Tariff will at least be to extend the knowledge of each of us very considerably. I have been altogether delighted to find that industries of which many of us were not aware have been in existence within the Commonwealth for some time. We have also made some discoveries with regard to the natural resources of the States, particularly in regard to Queensland, the conditions of which State are rather different from those obtaining throughout the rest of Australia. We now learn also that in New South Wales one manufacturer at least has been producing wood screws, though not at a profit. I do not think, however, that that knowledge will justify us in imposing a duty on wood screws, because the screw and nail industry is of such a character that it stands apart from almost every other. There is only one screw factory in Great Britain - Nettlefolds, with which the name of Mr. Chamberlain has been so long associated - and the extent of the business done by that great firm is such that they can turn out screws at prices with which it is impossible to compete in a more limited market. Therefore, no reasonable duty would, so far as I can ascertain, secure the profitable establishment of the wood screw industry in Australia, and honorable members will agree that we are abundantly justified in regarding the wood screw industry as in some respects standing on a different basis from others. In regard to other screws, which form about one-tenth of the total - those used mainly in connexion with metals - there is no doubt that, as has been shown in Victoria, these screws are capable of profitable manufacture to a considerable extent under a reasonable system of protection. We think, therefore, that we should be making a mistake if we departed from the general principle we have laid down that where a manufacture can be profitably undertaken in Australia with the encouragement of a reasonable protective duty, the necessary encouragement should be given. I trust therefore that honorable members will be prepared to give us the benefit of the duty we propose with regard to screws other than wood screws. Perhaps it would be better to discuss this matter in connexion with the exemptions.
– Why go over it all again ?
– I am not going to press the matter, but one of the reasons for the suggestion is that otherwise these articles will come under the definition of manufactures of metal not enumerated, and we shall have to have a specification.
– We should have to pass the article at 25 per cent., and then exempt it afterwards.
– My idea was to strike screws out altogether.
– We have had the debate.
– The desire of the Government is to get on with the business, and not have a duplication of debates. If the duty is carried as proposed, the Government will know what to do in regard to the administration of the Act, and there will be a subsequent alteration in the exemption clause. I trust, however, that honorable members will see the reasonableness of encouraging an industry of this character, and allow the duty to stand.
– I find that the definition of “ wood screws “ is capable of a different construction. I learn now that if the definition as set out by the Minister is carried into effect-
– I am not proposing that.
– This point can be decided when we are dealing with exemptions.
– The proposal now made, if carried, will exempt all screws. I am anxious to point out that the screws made in New South Wales are not the kind we propose to exempt under the definition of “ wood screws.”
Mr. WATSON (Bland).- I feel, of course, that the main objection is met by the Minister’s proposal in regard to the metal screws used mostly in wood-work. I understand that the Minister is prepared to let that class of screw in free, but I am at a loss to quite gather how the import of the balance of the screws is made up.
– The balance is very considerable.
-Screws for railway trucks and that kind of work are made here.
– Under the Tariff, and, I am afraid, under the Constitution, there is no chance of taxing any articles required for governmental purposes.
– But with a duty there will be a chance of making these articles here.
– If there be a duty, it is almost certain the work will not go to the local producer, because if the State Government, or Railways Commissioners, have to choose between paying 20 per cent, extra to the local tenderer and importing directly from Great Britain or America, they will buy at the lower rate. So far as this class of work is concerned, the better chance for the local tenderer lies in admitting the articles free. If we are constrained by the Constitution to allow State Government requirements to come in duty free, a duty will place the local man at a disadvantage.
– There is a great deal of doubt as to whether, under the Constitution, such articles are free.
– There is considerable doubt as to the Constitution in this respect, but there is no doubt so far as the Minister’s proposal is concerned. There is a doubt as to whether “ property “ means more than real property.
– This is a matter which requires to be very carefully considered.
– That is why I mention it here. As I say, I am not particular as to the balance of the screws, and I do not know that I would object to a small revenue duty on all screws. It does seem improper, however, to attempt to impose a duty of 20 per cent, on articles which there is no likelihood of producing here ; and before withdrawing the amendment I would like to be assured as to what the one-tenth referred to by the Minister consists of. If it only refers to such articles as railway draw-bars, which include screws, I do not see that it is wise to impose a duty.
– I have in my hand Nettlefolds’ price list, which deals with a great variety of screws, and I shall be happy to show honorable members what is there referred to as wood screws - patent, pointed, iron, wood screws. The list distinctly shows the divisions between the various screws ; and those on which I asked that a duty should be imposed can profitably be made here under reasonable encouragement. The division that I ask shall be made means the exemption from taxation of wood screws, which cannot be made here.
– Who says that these screws cannot be made here?
– In such screws we cannot, with a reasonable duty, compete with Nettlefold. No firm in Great Britain can compete with Nettlefold, and manufacturers here certainly cannot do so.
– Is the Minister going to allow Chamberlain’s screws in free ? That would be another jingoistic outrage.
– We do not propose to allow all Nettlefolds’ goods to come in free, but where we cannot compete we acknowledge the fact, and do not attempt to burden those who use the screws. Where we can compete we subject the British competitor to a slight duty, with a view to encouraging local industry which will supply local wants at a price that is not oppressive.
– The Minister for Trade and Customs is trying to draw a distinction without any solid grounds for doing so. These screws can be made in Australia, and have been made here, and, in view of that fact, there seems no reason for singling them out in the way suggested. There should be a duty on screws without distinction, or there should be no duty. Perhaps the most curious piece of reasoning we have had to-day came from the Government side of the House regarding the time when a protective duty should be imposed on a commodity. We were told by the honorable member for Laanecooriethatthese screws cannot be made here because they have not been made here, and that so soon as it is demonstrated that they can be made locally we should impose a duty. That is to say, the moment an industry has been established without the aid of a duty, we should straightway impose a tax upon it. Having shown its capacity to compete with the whole world without artificial aid, the argument advanced is, that we should immediately proceed to levy a duty upon it. That is a curious course of reasoning. I always understood that protectionists favoured the imposition of duties in order to enable the industries to compete with the outside world. Now, however, we are told that the position is reversed. This sort of reasoning upsets all the old-time theories to which we have been accustomed, and it is no wonder that the Opposition are a little bit dazzled when they behold the effulgent rays of the light of protection. It appears to me that we are getting more mixed the more this question is argued. To my mind, no reason exists for making the distinction which it is now sought to make in connexion with such an article as screws.
Question - That the words “ 25 per cent., and on and after18th January, 1902, free “ be inserted after the words “screws, n.e.i.” - put. The committee divided.
Majority … … 4
Question so resolved in theaffirmative.
Amendment agreed to.
Mr. McDONALD (Kennedy).- I think the Government might agreeto placetherest of these items at the same duty as that fixed upon those which have been passed - namely, 20 per cent. I should like to ask the Treasurer if the Government are prepared to do that?
That the words “25 per cent., and on and after1 8th January, 1902, 20 per cent.” be inserted after the word “axles.”
Mr. REID (East Sydney).- I must certainly support this suggestion not only because of the arrangement which the Government have carried out in connexion with the other items in this list, but in fairness to the manufacturers themselves. These axles are the raw material of a number of colonial industries, and I cannot conceive why there should be this disposition to put a duty of only 20 per cent, on finished articles, and a duty of 25 per cent, on the raw material used by local manufacturers. It is clear that axles will only be imported in order to beused in the manufacture of certain vehicles locally. This Tariff will get into a most extraordinary position presently if a duty of 25 per cent, is placed upon axles.
– I hope that the Ministry will see their way to reduce the duties upon axles to 20 per cent.
– As there seems to be a general feeling in that direction, I have no objection.
– Hear, hear ; the right honorable gentleman has come down ‘ without a shot.
– Coachmakers throughout the country are looking for a reduction of the duty upon axles, and I think it would be only fair to reduce it to 20 per cent.
Mr. WINTER COOKE (Wannon).I think that the duty upon axles should be considerably lower than 20 per cent., but from the protectionist point of view the 25 per cent, should be retained, because these articles are to be used in the construction of carriages and buggies, and as the protective duty is to make axles cheaper the higher the duty is the better coachmakers should like it. I shall be surprised if the honorable and learned member for Corinella, who believes that protection cheapens an article, does not support the 25 per cent, duty or even something higher. The honorable and learned member’s argument over and over again has been that, when a duty is put upon an article for protective purposes, and the article is made here, its price becomes cheaper.
– I never said “ the higher the duty the lower the price.”
– That is the argument of the honorable and learned member - that when the duty is sufficiently high to be protective, and the article is made here, then it becomes cheaper. On that reasoning buggy and coach makers should hail this duty upon axles with much joy, but we never find a manufacturer asking for a high duty upon his raw material. It is only a part of the inconsistency of the wonderf ul protectionist arguments which are continually put forward. When we are asked to lower a duty for the benefit of a manufacturer they welcome it, and say that it is a duty on the raw material, while on their own principle they ought to retain the high duty or even make it higher, on the ground that that will cheapen the article. The honorable and learned member for Corinella has said that we on this side do not understand the protective principle, but we have had so many inconsistent views put forward - the infant industry argument, the cheap argument, and the home market argument - that there is good reason to appreciate the fact that honorable members on this side do not yet understand the protective principle.
– We have no desire to place any disabilities upon carriage manufacturers and others using these articles, and I would therefore suggest to the honorable member for Kennedy that he should withdraw his amendment, in order that we may make an effort to get these articles placed on the free list.
– I draw attention to the fact that four of the States have hitherto admitted axles free, while in Victoria and South Australia the duty has been 25 per cent. If there is to be any justice in the framing of this Tariff, regard should be had to the interests of all of the States. As two States charge a duty of 25 per cent, we might divide the 50 per cent, between the six States, which would give a duty of 8½ per cent., and I think that 10 per cent, as a duty upon axles would be just to all the States.
Mr. McDONALD (Kennedy).- With the permission of the committee I will withdraw my amendment. My reason for proposing it was that I did not believe we could get these articles on the free list, and I desired to prevent them going through at 25 per cent.
Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.
Mr. McDONALD (Kennedy).- To test the feeling of the committee, I move -
That the words “ 25 per cent. , and on and after 18th January, 1902, 10 per cent.,” be inserted after the word” axles. “
– I suggest for the consideration of the committee that we should leave axles out, and should deal with particular parts which are not made here. Collin’s axles, patent Mail axles, and the common axle are not made here, and they should, I think, be placed on the free list, while a duty should be placed upon other axles. If that suggestion is not agreed to, I think the duty might very well be lower than 20 per cent.
– I should like to know, in regard to the patent axles which have been referred to, whether they are not in the same position as mining machinery, which is patented, and cannot be made here. I should like the Minister to explain why they should be taxed, if they cannot reasonably be made here, and are necessary in the manufacture of vehicles and for general use.
– With regard to the remarks of the honorable and learned member for Indi, there was a general feeling in the committee that the greatest possible exception should be made in favour of the mining industry, but I have never agreed to any proposition that, because an article happens to be patented, it is to be admitted into these States free. I am sure my honorable and learned friend, upon consideration, will see that that would not be a proper course to adopt, because the result would be that we should lose a considerable amount of revenue which we might very well get, and in addition we cannot allow patented articles to be admitted free while other articles used for similar purposes have to pay a duty.
– No one has made such a proposition, but there are other industries besides the mining industry, and these articles are largely used in coachmaking.
– If we concede this privilege to the coachmaking industry, we cannot stop there. Because we made such a concession in the case of the mining industry, that is no reason why it should be extended to all other industries. I cannot agree that merely because an article is patented it should be admitted free.
Question - That the words “ 25 per cent., and on and after 18th January, 1902, 10 per cent.,” be inserted after the word “axles,” - put. The committee divided.
Majority … … 2
Question so resolved in the negative.
Amendment (by Mr. O’Malley) proposed -
That the words “ 25 per cent., and on and after 18th January. 1902, 15 per cent.” be inserted after the word “ axles.”
Sir JOHN QUICK (Bendigo).- I hope the Ministry will accept this amendment.
Amendment agreed to.
Amendment (by Mr. McDonald) proposed -
That the words “ 25 per cent, and on and after 18th January, 1902, 15 per cent.” be inserted after the word “ springs.”
– I hope this amendment will not be carried. The industry of spring making is a fairly extensive one which is established in at least three States ; certainly in two of them. Speaking from memory, and subject to correction, I believe that in Victoria there are no less than five factories engaged in the making of springs of various kinds. It is within my own knowledge that only recently, in view of the Tariff, German spring makers have been endeavouring to capture our market by selling their manufactures at actually less than the cost of the material used in them. One tender given in this State for the supply of what are called volute springs, was at the rate of 4s. 3d. a spring, although the material itself costs 5s. 2d. There is an attempt to capture the local market, to run the local manufacturers out of existence, and when that has been done, no doubt prices will beraised again.
– It is the same old story.
– It is true if it is old or not, and it is a story the correctness of which has been admitted by honorable members who are fighting with the right honorable gentleman on the other side in regard to other matters.’ As the result of the duty under the old Victorian Tariff, the competition between the local manufacturer and the importers has led to springs being sold here at lower rates than they would have been otherwise. I think, therefore, that the only way in which the consumer is to be benefited is by retaining a fair duty which will be sufficient to maintain that competition. I know it is hopeless to expect the committee to carry the proposed duty of 25 per cent., but I think that a duty of 20 per cent, at least should be agreed to.
Mr. REID (East Sydney).- I would ask the honorable member for Bourke to consider what he is urging the committee to do. Just a minute ago, the committee unanimously fixed the duty on axles at 15 per cent., and how can he ask us now to fight for a 20 per cent, duty on springs?
Mr. MAUGER (Melbourne Ports). - I certainly did not vote for the reduction of the duty on axles to 15 per cent.
– There was no division.
– That was only because we did not wish to waste time. I feel very strongly, however, that the committee did wrong in reducing the duty on axles, and I am sure that if the duty on springs is reduced, it will bring disaster upon a number of local factories. One manufacturer in Victoria writes to me to say -
I employ three times as many hands as the Pioneer Company in Sydney, who have not placed their products on the market, but merely manufacture them for the Government.
That is the case with quite a number of industries in New South Wales. They are kept going almost entirely by the Government. They cannot place their wares in competition with those of manufacturers elsewhere, because hitherto they have not been protected. I appeal to honorable members not to annihilate an industry which pays good wages, and which does injury to no one.
– Springs were made in New South Wales before there was any duty upon them there.
– Yes; for the Government.
– They were made for vehicles constructed in New South Wales, and not used by the Government at all.
– They make no standard sizes.
– Honorable members are shifting their ground now. The honorable member for Melbourne Ports says that they were made only for the Government.
– Mainly for the Government.
– Even if we accept that statement as correct I would point out that under this Tariff the Government can import anything they want free of duty.
– That matter has to be thrashed out yet.
– At any rate, that is the provision in the Tariff now. Surely, since springs were made in New South Wales under free-trade, a duty of 15 per cent, is sufficiently high for the Victorian manufacturers, seeing that under federation they will have a much larger market.
– There is a difference of more than 50 per cent, between the wages paid by foreign makers and those paid within the Commonwealth.
– The honorable member for Bourke has stated that screws have been made more cheaply in Victoria than imported screws could be supplied, even if there were no duty. Under these circumstances I do not see why the duty should not be reduced.
– Accepting the statement of the honorable member for Melbourne Ports about springs being made in New South Wales for the Government alone, I would ask which has been the more patriotic, the protectionist Government of Victoria, which has sent to Germany for the springs used for its railway rollingstock, or the New South Wales Government, which has had its requirements made locally. Surely, before asking the Commonwealth for consideration, the Victorian manufacturers should get their own Government to do something for them.
– If the New South Wales Government had not given the industry protection in that form it would have ceased to exist.
– The New South Wales industry has not been reared under a system of spoon feeding.
– Then it has been reared under a system of ladle feeding.
– If they had had a little more of that feeding in Victoria they would be in a better position. How can the honorable member ask for a duty of 25 per cent, on springs when the committee has just reduced the duty on axles to 15 per cent. When the honorable member for Melbourne Ports cannot find fair and square arguments for retaining a duty, he falls back on sentimental reasons, and tells us of the number of men and women who will be thrown out of employment if any reduction is made. Are there no consumers in Victoria? Are all the people manufacturers ? If they are, let them protect one another as much as they like. I should be ready to vote for the placing of springs on the free list.
Mr. MAUGER (Melbourne Ports).- A sample order of 30,000 springs to be supplied to the Victorian Government was placed outside the State, and the representative of the firm which executed it is at present within hearing.
– How is it these gentlemen always go to the honorable member, and never come to me?
– Because they know that it is no use going to the right honorable member. The New South Wales industry has been kept up in the main by supplying springs to the Government. There are only one or two factories of this nature in New South Wales, and in one Victorian factory we employ three times as many men as are employed in that line in New South Wales.
Sir MALCOLM McEACHARN (Melbourne). - I consider that springs are entirely different things from axles. We import a number of springs which are the raw material of the coachbuilder. In this case, by reducing the duty, you would do an injury to those who have establishments here. I shall vote for a duty of 20 per cent.
Mr. POYNTON (South Australia). - I also consider that springs are entirely different from axles, but the difference is that while the axle causes the concussion the springs prevent it.
Mr. REID (East Sydney). - It is perfectly astounding to me to hear the honorable member for Melbourne say that springs are utterly different things from axles. One would think that springs have a great deal to do with the construction of vehicles, and I believe that axles have, too. I cannot understand this fine distinction which he makes.We were delighted to have his vote in the division on the item of axles, and we know that it was not because there are a number of coach-making establishments in his electorate that he voted in that way.
– Thatwas just the reason.
– I am very much obliged to the honorable member. I ask him to think for a moment of the thousands who have to use vehicles all over this continent, men who have not the advantages of city life, but who are doing really hard work, not for eight hours a day, but sometimes for twelve or eighteen hours a day on very bad roads.
– They can all be supplied here.
– Of course, they can all be built here with great advantage and without any trouble. I hope that the committee will show some sort of common sense in these matters. Since the Government accepted a 15 per cent, duty on axles, I cannot see how they can disfigure their Tariff by opposing a 15 per cent, duty on springs. Would it not look extraordinary to have a 15 per cent, duty on axles and a 20 per cent duty on springs ? I should like to hear the Minister for Trade and Customs on this point, because I know that he has no sympathy with these local influences which affect votes on matters of national policy. I fancy that, since a 15 per cent, duty has been imposed on axles, he has no keen feeling one way or the other about the duty on springs.
– I should have been perfectly prepared to vote for a 20 per cent, duty on both axles and springs, but as a 15 per cent, duty has been imposed on the axles, and as I do not see much difference in the two industries, I think that the Government might make the duty on the two articles the same. I do not think it would be wise to make a distinction between them.
Sir MALCOLM McEACHARN (Melbourne). - A difference between axles and springs was clearly recognised in Queensland and Western Australia, where axles were admitted free and springs taxed 20 per cent. I do not see that we are doing much harm in having a duty of 15 per cent, on axles and of 20 per cent, on springs.
Mr. ISAACS (Indi).- In this particular Tariff the two items were classed together, and if axles are to pay 15 per cent, duty, I think that springs ought to do the same.
– Of course there is something, in a matter of this sort, in deciding the principle and applying it to all items, without any further division. I thought that this morning, and was content to act on it. I thought it was a principle which commended itself to the leader of the Opposition, and which applied to about six items which we had under discussion this morning, and which were decided - so he admitted - by the division of last night. Notwithstanding the admission of that principle, we find honorable members on the Opposition side dividing on every one of the remaining items, and utterly repudiating in practice the principle to which they gave such eloquent expression on the floor of the Chamber.
– The Minister is wrong there, for there is no principle in it.
– The Treasurer asked for 25 per cent, on axles.
– I am speaking as regards engines, boilers, and pumps.
– That is past.
– The right honorable and learned member has forgotten why he departed from the principle which he laid down. It reminds me of the individual who happened to be in gaol. He got into some awful trouble, and was also being closely criticised in the press. Somehow or other he got inserted in the newspapers a letter in which he begged of his friends to postpone their judgment until the facts of the case had been forgotten. My right honorable and learned friend wishes us to forget his delinquencies of this morning, and totake him as one who really practices the principles which he preaches.
– Now, after that anecdote, will the Minister come back to this 25 per cent, duty on axles which the Treasurer insisted upon?
– The other point taken by the leader of the Opposition is that the duty on axles was unanimously accepted at 15 per cent. Nothing of the sort. So far from the committee being unanimous on the subject it was a very close thing.
– There was no division.
– We ventured to consider that it was more fitting to let the matter go than to trouble the committee to divide. As regards the question of springs, we venture to think that the case presents features of difference. In view of the various points which have been pressed, we think it is desirable that the committee should divide for the purpose of seeing how honorable members range themselves. They cannot complain that the Government have been needlessly provoking divisions. We hope that the result of the division will justify us in the conclusion at which we have arrived - that there is a distinction between springs and axles.
Question - That the words “25 per cent, and on and after 18th January, 1902, 15 per cent. “ be inserted after the word “ springs “ - put. The committee divided.
Majority … … 17
Question so resolved in the affirmative.
Amendment agreed to.
Mr. JOSEPH COOK (Parramatta).- I desire to point out an anomaly in connexion with plated and mixed metalware. I understand that wire ropes are being classified as mixed metalware, and are being charged duty accordingly.
Mr. McCOLL (Echuca). - I made an inquiry some little time ago as to whether wire ropes were dutiable or not, and I was told that they would come in free under the head of metal cordage.
Mr. ISAACS (Indi). - Necessarily there is a good deal of confusion in the minds of honorable members as to the trade terms and the designations of a variety of articles, and a number of us would like to be free to move additions to the list of special exemptions, or, at any rate, to have such amendments discussed.
Mr. REID (East Sydney). - It seems to me that this item is entirely out of place, bracketed, as it is, with engines, boilers, screws, and so forth.
Mr. THOMSON (North Sydney). There seems to be a considerable want of knowledge as to what the term “ mixed metal ware “ covers. I was recently advised by an agent who had imported a hoisting gear for mining purposes, that in Sydney he was charged duty upon it under this heading at the rate of 25 per cent.
Mixed metal wares are known in the trade as small wares sold by plated ware dealers and in imitation of the latter.
If, upon further consideration, it is found necessary to specify them more clearly, I can assure the honorable member that we will not hesitate to do so. I think, however, that this interpretation must remove any doubts which honorable members may have entertained in voting in this connexion.
Mr. THOMSON (North Sydney).- In Customs administration the usual practice is for the officer to turn up the Tariff, and say to the importer - “ There is the article described which you are importing, and you must pay duty upon it.” It is useless for the importer to declare - “ Oh, but the duty could not apply to that.” If honorable members knew some of the decisions which have recently been given by the Customs authorities they would recognise the necessity for clearly defining what we mean. I admit that, in the early stages of the operation of the Tariff, it is impossible to be too severe upon officers who make errors in interpreting it in different ports. But the fact remains that we ought not to put such a responsibility upon officers. If we mean that duty shall be paid upon a certain article we should describe that article, so that no doubt shall exist in reference to the matter.
Question - That the words “and plated and mixed metalware, including plated cutlery, ad valorem,. 25 per cent.” stand part of the item - put. The committee divided.
Majority … … … 1
– The item under the consideration of the committee is “Plated and mixed metal-ware, including plated cutlery, ad valorem, 25 per cent.,” and the question before the Chair is that the words stand as printed. If that is rejected by the committee; it will be competent for any honorable member to move that a lower duty be fixed.
– I should like to ask the Minister for Trade and Customs to better define this motion, so that honorable members may know what they are voting for.
– I ask whether we are to understand that the question is that the rest of the item is to stand as printed ?
Question resolved in the negative.
– Under the circumstances now arising, I move -
That the words “and plated and mixed metalware, including plated cutlery, ad valorem, 25 per cent., and on and after 18th January, 1902, 20 per cent.,” be added.
– I am not at all opposing this motion, but I wish it to be distinctly understood that it will form a precedent, and that after a division such as that which has just taken place, it will be competent for any honorable member to move a lower duty.
– I desire to submit a point of order. The committee has decided the question as put in the negative, with the result that we have struck out, not merely the 25 per cent., but the words “ and plated and. mixed metalware, including plated cutlery.”
– Nonsense !
– The right honorable gentleman who leads the Opposition never allows me to speak without interruption, and his interjection “ Nonsense ! “ is not ordinarily courteous. It is not nonsense that I am submitting to the committee now. While the committee was in division I endeavoured to draw attention to this matter. I submit that the committee cannot proceed now to insert the very words which we have just determined shall be struck out. This result has been brought about, I submit, by the fact that the division has been taken in a manner differing from the practice pursued from the beginning of the consideration of the Tariff. The practice adopted up to the present time has been to allow the words of the item to stand, and to submit as an amendment the insertion of words that on and after the following day the duty shal be at a certain amount. The committee has now struck out absolutely from this Tariff, not only the duty of 25 per cent., but the words in the item, “and plated and mixed metal-ware, including plated cutlery.” I believe in duties upon luxuries in preference to duties on necessaries.
– I rise to order. Are we discussing a point of order, or the item before the committee ? If we are discussing the item, the honorable member is quite in order in expressing his belief in the taxation of luxuries, rather than of necessaries1. That is a proper belief, and its expression would be perfectly relevant to a discussion on the item; but I ask, as a point of order, that the honorable member shall confine his remarks to the point of order he is raising.
– I did not interrupt any honorable member in his speech, butI rose after another honorable member had resumed his seat, and stated that I intended to submit a point of order, and I am at liberty to discuss other questions as well as the point of order. I do not see why we should break through our rules to get us out of the difficulty into which the adoption of a different practice has placed the committee.
– It is no difficulty for us.
– We have deliberately struck out of this Tariff items which should produce revenue, and. that seems to me a most undesirable thing ; butI think we cannot get over the difficulty by breaking the rules.
I voted against the omission of these words, and I contend that we cannot proceed immediately to re-insert them with the addition of any other words. If the Tariff is to be recommitted, or fresh proposals submitted, that is another matter; but in the meantime we cannot insert words that we have just struck out.
– The division proceeded on the Chairman’s assurance that if the motion were negatived in the way in which it was put we should have an opportunity of going over the matter again. In those circumstances, I know it will be the unanimous wish of the committee that the Chairman should be supported. It is said that we have made a mistake in departing from what is the usual rule, but what we have just done was done on the understanding that we had certain rights, which I propose to exercise.
– I think it must be evident to the committee that if we have made a mistake in voting on the amendment in the way in which it was put by the Chairman, we should not make it a precedent, although the leader of the Opposition suggested that it should be so regarded.
– On the point of order taken by the honorable and learned member for Corinella I would refer the committee to Standing Order 132, which provides -
When the proposed amendment is to leave out certain words, the Speaker shall put a question - “That the words proposed to be left out stand part of the question.”
I submitted the question to the committee in this form -
That division 6, item 74, “plated and mixed metalware, including plated cutlery, ad valorem, 25 per cent.,” stand as printed.
The committee have decided that those words shall not stand as printed, but honorable members are perfectly in order in deciding that a lesser duty than that which is in the printed item shall be included.
Mr. REID (East Sydney). - I am very glad, Mr. Chairman, that you have ruled in that way. I had no intention of placing honorable members in any dilemma in connexion with this item. I explained that I could not approve of a 25 per cent, duty on this line, and then, as no other honorable member would move for a lesser duty, I said I could not vote for the duty, and therefore I would have a division upon it. I had no intention of bringing about a difficulty so far as other honorable members are concerned.
– I have not the least doubt that many other honorable members hold the view just expressed by the leader of the Opposition. So far as I am concerned I am prepared to vote for a fair revenue duty on these articles, but certainly not for a duty of 25 per cent.
– In proposing amendments of the Tariff, the rule that we have followed hitherto has been to start from the bottom and go upwards ; to move that the duty be 10 or 15 per cent., and if that were lost to go a step higher. It appears, however, that we are now going to reverse that system and work downwards. I would ask the Minister to withdraw his amendment in order that I may move that the duty be reduced to 15 per cent.
– I have not the slightest objection to facilitate a decision in any way. By leave I will withdraw my amendment in order to allow the honorable member for Kennedy to move his proposal. So far as the amount of duty is concerned I would point out that these articles are quasi luxuries. The duty proposed by the Government is not simply a revenue one, but affords a certain amount of protection.
Mr. McDONALD (Kennedy).- I do not wish it to go forth that we are not prepared to tax luxuries and make those who use them contribute a fair amount to the revenue. The difficulty seems to be that there are a number of things included in this item which may be luxuries, while there are others which may be in common use in every household. The only way in which we can overcome the difficulty is to strike what we believe to be a fair average duty. If the Ministry had prepared the item in such a way as to enable us to see at once what were luxuries and what were not, no trouble would have been experienced. In the circumstances, I think that a 15 per cent, duty would be a fair one.
– I desire to know how we stand. A short time ago I had to vote on a proposal that certain goods be allowed to come in free, although I wished to impose a duty upon them. Now we are to vote on a proposal to reduce this duty to 15 per cent., and subsequently perhaps we shall be called upon to vote on a further proposal that the duty be 20 per cent., although it was decided a short time ago that in making proposals for reductions we should work downwards.If the system is again changed great inconvenience will be caused.
– The Chair will follow the usual course. The Minister for Trade and Customs has moved the addition of certain words to the item, which, if carried, will have the effect of reducing the duty from 25 to 20 per cent.
– But the Minister has withdrawn that proposal.
– If he does so it willbe competent for any honorable member to move that the duty be 15 per cent.
Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.
Amendment (by Mr. McDonald) proposed -
That the words “ and plated and mixed metalware, including plated cutlery, ad valorem, 25 per cent., and on and after 18th January, 1902, 15 per cent.,” be added.
– I wish the committee to clearly understand that in case of the proposal to reduce the duty to1 5 per cent, being rejected the right honorable the Minister will have an opportunity to move that the duty be 20 per cent.
– As there seems to be so great a difference of opinion as to what articles are included in this item
I would suggest that we pass it with a duty of 20 per cent., on the understanding that it will be recommitted, and that in the meantime Ministers in charge of the Tariff will differentiate between the articles included in the item, and show us what it covers.
– We could not do that.
Mr. REID (East Sydney).- That suggestion would be rather an inconvenient way of dealing with this matter. Ministers see clearly the difficult position in which the committee find themselves. All through this Tariff honorable members will draw a distinct line between articles of common use and luxuries. I think honorable members on both sides will cheerfully do that, whether they be revenue tarriffists or protectionists. The difficulty that the honorable member has expressed is a very reasonable one and ought to be respected. We ought to know what we are doing. No one would haggle very much about imposing a duty of 20 per cent, on the more expensive forms of silver or plated cutlery, but honorable members would not deal with cutlery in common use in the same way. Some of the commonest articles in use in every household are included in the words “plated and mixed metalware.”
I think that the Ministry will admit that there are a number of articles used by the poorest people in the community upon which we do not wish to put a high duty, and I suggest that, as the Government have experts who are in a position to inform them on this subject, we should pass the item now, on the understanding that that part of it affecting mixed metalware shall be recommitted if it is found to include such articles.
– I think that we can get out of the difficulty by imposing a duty of 20 per cent, on plated metalware, and of 15 per cent, oil mixed metal ware.
Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.
Amendment (by Mr. Kingston) proposed -
That the following words be added, “and plated and mixed metalware, including plated cutlery, ad valorem 25 per cent. ; and on and after 18th January, 1902, mixed metalware, 15 per cent, and plated cutlery 20 per cent.”
– I wish to point out that there are many kinds of plated ware which are not silver or gold plated ware, and upon which it is not desirable to charge a high rate of duty. I think that the words “gold or silver” should be inserted.
Amendment agreed to.
Motion (by Sir George Turner) proposed -
That the House do now adjourn.
– I wish to draw the attention of the Minister for Trade and Customs to the fact that, although he promised some time back that infants’ and invalids’ foods should be placed upon the free list, duty is now being charged upon five brands of such food coming into the port of Sydney. These brands are Harlick’s food, Nestle’s food, Murdock’s food, Robinson’s patent barley, and sugar of milk.
– Invalids food properly coming within the meaning of the term will be admitted free. My acquaintance with the foodsenumerated by my honorable friend is not sufficiently recent to enable me to say on the spur of the moment whether they come within that category, but I will make inquiries.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
House adjourned at 4.18 p.m.
Cite as: Australia, House of Representatives, Debates, 17 January 1902, viewed 6 July 2017, <http://historichansard.net/hofreps/1902/19020117_reps_1_7/>.