1st Parliament · 1st Session
Mr. Speaker took the chair at 2.30 p.m., and read prayers;
Mr. CROUCH presented two petitions from employes of the Union and the Albion Woollen Mills, Geelong, praying that the Committee of Ways and Means may review its decision in regard to the duties upon woollen piece goods.
Mr. HUME COOK presented a petition from John Robertson, of Moonee Ponds, praying that the House may inquire into the subject of legal tender and currency.
Petition received, and read.
– As much interest is taken in the matter outside, I should like to again ask the Prime Minister if the Government are prepared to make a statement as to their intentions as to the administration of what are known as the Tattersall’s sections in the Post and Telegraph Act?
– It is the intention of the Government to enforce the powers granted to them under thePost and Telegraph Act, but notice willbegiven, in order that no undue hardship may be inflicted.
asked the Minister representing the Postmaster-General, upon notice -
– I have been supplied with the following answers to the honorable member’s questions : -
asked the Minister of Defence, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follow : -
asked the Prime Minister, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable gentleman’s questions are as follow : -
– Before asking the question standing in my name I should like, with your permission, Mr. Speaker, to give ray reasons for putting the question upon the notice-paper.
– An honorable member in asking a question may state any facts that will make it clearer, but he must not do more than that.
– I wish to explain that it has been found in Western Australia that the Immigration Restriction Act, no matter how strictly administered, is ineffective to prevent a condition of things which seriously threatens the value of labour in thatState. The Prime Minister has stated in regard to this matter, that if there were some specific reason for the exclusion of people of European races, he would put the educational test provided for in the Act into effect, and I hope that he will see that the reason which I have indicated, namely, the ineffectiveness of the Act as at present administered, is sufficient justification for putting it into effect. My question to the Prime Minister is as follows : -
Whether he will give instructions that the language test shall be applied to those Italian labourers, alleged to be indigent and illiterate, who are arriving in large numbers in Western Australia ?
– The answer to the honorable member’s question is as follows : -
Those who are found to be likely to become a charge upon the public or upon any public or charitable institution will be dealt with under section 3, paragraph (6) of the Immigration Restriction Act of 1901. Those who are found to be within paragraph (g) of that section will be dealt with accordingly. These answers are, of course, subject to the exemptions provided under paragraphs(h) to (n). I wish these answers to be read in conjunction with my answers to Mr. E. Solomon’s question of 16th January. -Hansard, page 8860).
In Committee of Ways and Means -
Consideration resumed from 24th January (vide page 9263).
Division VI. - Metals and machinery.
The following exemptions were agreed to-
Metals and manufactures of metal - Aluminium, bronze, yellow metal, Britannia metal, nickel,and German silver, viz. : - Pigs, ingots, scrap, blocks, bars, strips, sheets and plates.
Anchors over 10 cwt.
– I wish to know from the Minister for Trade and Customs why anchors over 10 cwt. should be admitted free, and those under that weight should be dutiable ?
– The reason is that whilst the smaller anchoris made in Australia, Australian industry has not yet, to any known extent, undertaken the task of manufacturing anchors of larger size.
Mr. THOMSON (North Sydney). - I do not see why we ought to make a difference. Under this proposal an anchor over 10 cwt. will be free ; the chain attached to the anchor will be free ; but the shackle that holds the chain to the anchor will be dutiable. That, I think, is rather ridiculous. Surely, if anchors under 10 cwt. can be made here, it is not a serious undertaking to make larger anchors. It is a very peculiar thing that an anchor which weighs 9 cwt. 3 qrs. is dutiable, and that an anchor which weighs 10 cwt. 1 qr. is free. I move -
That the words “ over 10 cwt.” be omitted.
– This is a distinction which has been made in various State Tariffs, and, I think, may well be maintained.
– I do not know that the fact that this distinction did exist in some State Tariffs is a sufficient reason for perpetuating it. There is a larger principle involved than the matter mentioned by the honorable member for North Sydney. We can buy a ship with any number of anchors and a full equipment in London or elsewhere, and bring that ship, with anchors and equipment, in free. Under this proposal a colonial shipbuilder will have to pay a tax on his anchors, while the capitalist - who can buy ships abroad, and does not employ colonial industry in building them here - will get his anchors free of duty.
– I think for all large vessels the anchors will be over 10 cwt.
– Our shipbuilding is of just the opposite character ; it is confined to the building of ketches and other small vessels Why should there be free-trade in the finished article? Why should a ketch or a schooner be allowed to come in with all these things on board duty free, and a tax be levied on ‘ the man who builds a schooner in Australia ? Why should not his equipment be duty free too? Later on I shall ask the committee to come to a conclusion on the question whether all imported material used for shipbuilding purposes in Australia should not be placed on the free list.
– The honorable member for Melbourne has given notice of an amendment.
– I did not know that. At present, under the circumstances, I think we might safely leave all these matters connected with shipping on the free list. There exists, as we know, a keen competition.
Question - That the words “over 10 cwt.,” proposed to be omitted, stand part of the proposed exemption - put. The committee divided.
Majority … … 7
Question so resolved in the affirmative.
Exemption agreed to.
The following exemptions were agreed to-
Anodes and hooks for plating purposes.
Brass, viz. : - Scrap, bars, sheets, pipes, and tubes.
Chain in the piece.
Copper, viz. : - Scrap, bars, sheets, pipes, and tubes, prepared plates for engravers and lithographers.
Cylinders for anhydrous ammonia.
– I suggest that the exemption should embrace high-pressure cylinders which are used for conveying gases which are liquefied under high pressure, as well as those containing anhydrous ammonia.
– We are not proposing additions to the exemptions at present, but when we include gas cylinders, as we intend to do later on, it is quite possible we shall accept the honorable member’s suggestion.
– What I desire to do is to distinguish high-pressure cylinders from others.
– The term “high pressure “ may be somewhat vague, but we shall deal with the suggestion later on.
Exemption agreed to.
The following exemption was agreed to-
Discs, plough and harrow.
Electrical materials, viz, : - Accumulators or storage batteries, except glass jars, cable (covered), carbons, incandescent lamps, testing meters and instruments.
– I would point out that we cannot possibly enumerate all the various kinds of electrical material which it is desirable to exempt, as great progress is being made in electrical science, and new materials and appliances are being introduced almost daily. It is desirable that all electrical appliances and machinery should be admitted into the Commonwealth as freely as possible, and, whilst a few articles are enumerated amongst the exemptions, there may be a hundred others just as important.
– There will be an opportunity of adding to the list of exemptions later on, or of taking the power to add to the list in the future.
– Is not the honorable and learned member referring to electrical machines rather than to material?
– No. There are many machines which can be enumerated, but that is not the case with large quantities of electrical material. I, for one, am not in a position to make an enumeration, and I should like that to be done by honorable members who have special knowledge. The restriction in the item is to a few articles, most of which are 25 years old, although during recent years there have been a hundred and one developments.
– The only question under this head now is whether there is a desire on the part of the committee to admit all electrical materials free. If there is that desire this is the proper time to move, and the object could be gained by moving the omission of all the words after “ materials.” The question can scarcely be taken at a later stage, because, having affirmed that certain articles shall be free, we can only go on to add to the list by definition.
– Providing that “all others” shall be free.
– If the object can be achieved in that way, I am quite agreeable to wait, but it seems rather a round-about method to first place 50 materials on the free list, and then add “ all others.” Would it not be better to test the question now, whether we shall admit all electrical materials free ? If we do so it will save all subsequent discussion about adding special items.
– I hardly think that the course suggested by the right honorable member is the better one. Both sides are agreed that the articles enumerated shall be admitted free. Let us discuss by itself the question as to whether “ all others “ shall be admitted free.
– Will, there not have to be a preliminary amendment before we come to “ accumulators “ and so on ?
– I think not. I should prefer that we proceed as hitherto. In regard to items upon which we are agreed, let them be embodied in the exemptions, and, where we differ, let us take the decision of the committee. It would be infinitely preferable, knowing that we are agreed that some articles should be exempt, to fight out the question as to whether “ all others “ shall be exempt.
– Does the minister think that that course would save time? It seems rather illogical.
– I think it would save time.
– I should like to know what is covered by “ testing meters and instruments.”
– All testing instruments.
Exemption agreed to.
The following exemptions were agreed to:-
Eyelets. Fire extinguishers, hand.
Iron and steel tubes or pipes (except riveted or cast), under six inches internal diameter, including flexible metal tubes.
– I move-
That the exemption be omitted.
I notice that riveted tubes or pipes bear a. duty, although no riveted pipes are used, now or made, except as curios of a past age. By the Perrin process pipes are now turned out by the million in America and England, and we ought to get the benefit of them in Australia.
– Does the Minister accept the amendment?
– We want to hear some more reasons for the amendment.
– One reason is that these pipes could be manufactured in Australia under the Perrin process, and employment thus be given to hundreds. If these commodities are allowed to remain on the free list it will be impossible to establish their manufacture here, because, as I have said, they are manufactured by millions in the United States and England. I move this amendment in order to give the Government a chance of bringing these tubes and pipes under division VIa, and proclaiming them dutiable when we are prepared to manufacture them in Australia.
– I do not think the honorable member for Tasmania, Mr. O’Malley, knows what he is talking about. He has been asleep somewhere, and waking up, fancies that these pipes are being made in Australia. If the honorable member wishes a duty placed on these commodities, why does he not say where they are manufactured in Australia. This item specially applies to artesian boring pipes, and if these can be manufactured in Australia I want to know where. I hope the Government, will not accept the amendment.
– I understood the honorable member for Tasmania, Mr. O’Malley, to mean that he wished these patent pipes to be placed on the free list. I distinctly heard the honorable member say that these pipes are made in millions in America and England, and that we ought to have the advantage of them ; but by striking them out of the list of exemptions, we leave them subject to a duty under “ metals n.e.i.”
– The honorable member for Tasmania wishes these pipes to be made here.
– I want them manufactured in Australia.
– Now we know exactly where we are.
– I wish the committee to understand that I only intend to address them on this item for the purpose of giving information. It will be left entirely in the hands of honorable members to say how they will deal with the item. The only pipe-making established in Australia at the present time is under what is known as the old process, which is very costly. There has been an invention in England by a man named Perrin, who, after considerable delay such as all inventors experience, succeeded in getting his appliance brought under the notice of the British public. A trial was given, and the demonstration was such as to induce capitalists of Great Britain to launch the process and form a company who have purchased the rights of the inventor. These pipes are now being manufactured in England under royalty, and put on the market as finished articles at a price that the Australian manufacturer at present is called on to pay for the bar on which he commences operations. It would be of great advantage to the public if these pipes were manufactured in Australia at a saving of at least 30 per cent, on present prices.
– Are these pipes cast iron?
– No. They are not cast iron, they are drawn and welded ; and if honorable members, especially those who have engineering knowledge, will bear with me for a few moments, I shall have some samples brought into the Chamber. Honorable members will then be able to see whether or not it is wise that these pipes should be manufactured in Australia, and given to the public at an immensely reduced cost. One great advantage which these new pipes possess over the old pipes is that the bursting pressure of the former is at least 30 times greater, and they are equal, if not superior, to the best steel pipes. The principle on which these Perrin pipes are made can be best understood by viewing the samples which I now lay upon the table. I desire the committee to thoroughly understand the position in regard to the patent. The purchasers of the invention in England have a condition that the rights in that country cannot be sold, and the manufacture is there being conducted under royalty. But the inventor’s rights have been sold in America, a company there having paid the British company over £1,000,000 for the privilege of manufacturing tubes and pipes of all classes under this process. Rights have also been sold in France, Russia, and Austria, and people in Germany are now negotiating. The chances are that in other parts of the world people will begin to manufacture for the Australian market, and thus prevent the establishment of the industry here unless some encouragement be given to it.
– Is there not a patent ?
– The Australasian rights have been purchased by two or three gentlemen in England.
– Does the honorable member know what amount they paid for those rights ?
– I cannot tell the honorable and learned member that. I am merely stating the facts as they have been supplied to me. The price given by a company in America for the rights was over £1,000,000. The samples which are now upon the table have been examined by some of the greatest experts upon the manufacture of pipes in Australia, and I have no objection to giving their names. Danks and Sons declare that the pipes manufactured under this process will undoubtedly drive the Australian article altogether out of the market. I merely desire the committee to be seized of the circumstances of the case, as it is not my duty, occupying the high and honorable position that I do, to advise them one way or the other. I simply say that under the old method of pipe-making seven different processes have to be gone through, involving seven expensive heatings, whilst two tons of coal are consumed in the manufacture of one ton of piping. Under the new method live of these processes are dispensed with, whilst 8½ cwt. of coal only are absorbed in the manufacture of a ton of piping. The pipes are practically seamless and have a smooth internal surface. Two processes only are necessary for their manufacture. Tangye and Sons, who are admittedly great experts in this connexion, have supplied a written statement in regard to a test to which the pipes were subjected.
– Is there no corrosion?
– There is practically no corrosion. I am also informed that pipes of all kinds, from the smallest gas pipe upwards, can be made by this process at a very low cost. “Whatever our fiscal ideas may be, I take it that all honorable members are animated by a desire to see valuable industries established in Australia. Unless this industry is established in our midst, I am sure that these pipes will be sent out here, and those at present engaged in the manufacture of pipe3 will be thrown out of employment. The finished article can be put upon the Australian market at the same price as the local manufacturer pays for his raw material.
– That will be an advantage to the people who use the pipes.
– I want to see the advantage reaped by the whole community. I honestly believe that this is one of the greatest inventions of the age. The fact -that the pipes will withstand a pressure so much greater than those manufactured under the old process constitutes a great consideration from the point of view of the development of the interior, especially as the cost of carriage in connexion with mining, pastoral, and other pursuits is extremely high. What I desire the committee to do is to put all these articles upon the same level.
– I am sure that the committee are deeply indebted to the Chairman for the statement which he has made, but it does occur to me that considering the delicacy which he feels - and which I do not think is necessary - it is almost a pity those who are interested in this matter did not select some other member to produce these samples. As far as I am concerned, I see no objection to the Chairman of Committees taking an active part in our deliberations as a representative of the people, and I make no complaint of it. The honorable member for Riverina has put the matter with perfect frankness. He says that these tubes can be imported at the same price that the local manufacturer has to pay for his raw material - the bar iron. We have, therefore, to make a choice. We have a number of local manufacturers of machinery whom we desire to encourage, and a number of people who use machinery in various industries, and who are exposed to very bitter competition when they come to sell what they produce. Now the question arises, “ Are we going to impose a duty of 20 per cent, upon the raw material of our mechanicians, which is subsequently converted into a machine used by the producer?” Further, the article in question is a patent, so that the right to make it here would be in the hands of a few persons - probably of one firm or syndicate. There would thus be an Australian industry in the grip of one syndicate. From my point of view I can only pursue the course which I have always pursued when I have had to give one industry a preference over another. In such a case I always prefer the producing industries of the country to any others, because I think they lie more at the heart of our progress, and have to contend with more cruel difficulties. But, I can understand my friends opposite entertaining quite a different view.
– I should like to ask the committee whether, because a couple of men have given a fairly large sum for the purchase of patent rights, they are to be allowed to approach honorable members with the plea - “ We have spent £5,000 in the purchase of these rights, and therefore you ought to impose a tax of 20 pei- cent, upon iron pipes, so as to allow us to collect the money from other people.” In other words, we are asked to provide a guarantee that these persons shall get their capital returned to them. Is there one producer throughout Australia to whom we grant a similar concession? Does the farmer, who spends perhaps £100 in putting a crop in the ground, receive a guarantee that he will reap that crop? Not at all ! But when a man who buys the patent rights of an invention-
– And thereby closes the Australian market to every one else.
– Exactly. Let it be a man who takes pains to insure that no one else can compete with him, and the Ministry at once exclaim- - “ Where is that man ? Let us back him up. Let us give him whatever he asks, so long as it is the money of the people.” Of course they do not propose to give him their own salaries, although in that case the money would still be in the country, but they offer to give him the money of other people. They are quite willing to give him the money of the farmer, or of the pastoralist, who has to use these pipes, and who would only be too glad to see some new patent introduced into Australia which would cheapen the cost of putting down artesian bores. All who are conversant with the great cent,ral part of Australia know that over one-third df that portion which is called desert would be good pastoral land if only a supply of water could be obtained there. I will take the case of a large tract of country that occurs to my mind. Some of the South Australian members who have been across to Eucla know that, travelling north, one comes to a stretch of excellent grazing land which, if water were available would, I do not hesitate to say, keep something like 10,000,000 sheep. If that country could be developed by means of water it would mean a great amount of advantage to South Australia. But we are to be precluded from opening up such parts of the continent, and also from putting down bores in the south western part of Queensland, where artesian water could be found and utilized, except that many settlers have not got the money. I know that bores have been put down by certain individuals, but it costs a large sum. If, then, by reducing the price of pipes, we enable the landholders in those districts to construct bores for £300 or £400, is it not better to do so than to impose a duty to raise the price of pipes for the benefit of the manufacturers 1 Let honorable members look at what this means to many small townships in Australia. If cheap pipes can be obtained, we enable the smaller towns to get water more cheaply. But when an invention is introduced that, as we have been told, will enable pipes to be cheapened to the extent of something like 30 or 40 per cent., we are asked not to allow the small towns to have the advantage of it, but to give a particular firm the right to exploit the rest of Australia. I hope the Government will not assent to the proposal. If any honorable members like to support it let them be singled out for doing so, and let them go back to the townships in their constituencies, and say to the people - “ Your water supply might have been secured for £5,000, but we have imposed a duty that will make- you pay something like £10,000. That will do you just as much good as if you paid the lesser amount, because the money is still in the country.” One of the greatest needs of Australia is water, and as far as we can learn we can get it from the bowels of the earth when it is not obtainable elsewhere. If we impose a duty on the iron pipes which are necessary for the construction of bores we increase the cost of obtaining water.
– We are indebted to the honorable member for Riverina for the information which he has been good enough to convey to the committee, and which he Had previously supplied to the Government. It appears that an industry of considerable importance has been commenced in the making of these pipes, and I trust that the day will soon come when it will be firmly established in Australia. But, at the same time, I do not think that at this particular moment the industry is sufficiently established to justify the placing of a duty upon an article of such great importance, and, indeed, of absolute necessity. We will endeavour to deal with it under Division VIa., if possible, and, in the meantime, I trust that the honorable member for Tasmania, Mr. O’Malley, will see his way not to press his amendment.
– I have had the privilege of examining the pipes in question and there can be no doubt in the mind of any honorable member, even although he is not associated with pipemaking, that there is before the committee at the present moment a departure in the manufacture of such articles which is destined to prove of inestimable advantage to the users of iron pipes. There is undoubtedly very great merit in the invention which the honorable member for Riverina has been good enough to explain. At the same time, the merits of the invention are of such eminence and prominence that I believe it will be able by itself to commend itself to the community. It would be an inconsistency if this committee, considering thead vantages which the invention possesses, were at once to disorganize manufactures which are already ‘ existing by imposing a duty for the advantage of this invention, which duty would place existing manufacturers at an additional disadvantage. I am anxious to see every encouragement given for the introduction of new manufacturing processes of this kind in Australia. This invention is likely to ‘ cheapen the cost of pipes in the directions which have been pointed out, and upon the establishment of the industry, we might perhaps give to it some advantage in the way of a bonus. If anything of that kind were proposed, I for one should be prepared to assist it. But I repeat that in my opinion the invention has nothing to fear from any of the undertakings which at present exist, but will commend itself by its own inherent merits to a place upon the market. I believe that there will be a large demand as soon as the works are established here.
– I notice that there is an exception to the exemptions in the case of riveted and castiron pipes. I do not see why there should be any distinction between one class of pipe and another, because all the pipes which are imported are subject to a severe handicap in the way of freight. I will quote from a letter which I have received from an iron founder at Rockhampton, who is also an importer and merchant. He says -
The enclosed letters will show that the protective duty on cast-iron pipes simply means more profit for the maker. On 24th September this year we were quoted by our Sydney agents 3-inch cast-iron pipes at £9 per ton net. On 17th instant, the same firm, Messrs. Pope, Maher and Co. raised their price on account of the federal Tariff to £10 10s. per ton. The cast-iron meanwhile of which the pipes are made, does not cost 1s. more than it did before the federal Tariff. Without any protection this firm have made thousands of pipes, and have practically kept out the foreign made article from Sydney, the steamer freightage and oversea shipping charges being sufficient protection for them….. I may say the cost of these pipes f.o.b. English ports is £5 3s.6d. I enclose you invoice in confirmation of this.
The invoice shows that 325 screwed and flanged pipes, coated, were bought from Messrs. Walker, of Wolverhampton, at £5 3s.6d. per ton, the total cost being £122 11s. 8d. The freight to Rockhampton amounted to £65 2s. 10d., so that the actual natural protection on pipes, which, being hollow, take up so much room, is about 56 per cent. Surely no industry such as this requires protection. It is a mere burlesque to make such a proposal.
– How many tons were imported ?
– Twenty-three tons 13 cwt. 3 qrs. In view of the natural protection on these pipes, and especially as the pipe, manufacturers in Sydney have been making quite sufficient profit already, and do not require any protection, it is preposterous to propose the imposition of a duty. I propose to move -
That the words “except riveted or cast” be omitted.
– I have inspected these pipes, and certainly they are very good. If they could be manufactured locally as cheaply as it is claimed, the establishment of the industry here would certainly make a tremendous difference in the development of the country. Of course, the pipes would find their way into general use whether a duty were imposed upon them or not. The point, as I understand it, however, is that certain persons having secured the patent rights for Australia, propose to manufacture the pipes in Great Britain and send the finished article here, while, if a duty were imposed, the advantage would be given to those who are seeking to secure the patent in Australia, and to manufacture here. It is almost certain that if a duty of 20 per cent, were imposed, the pipes would be manufactured in Australia and from Australian materials.
– From imported materials.
– Not necessarily.
– Not necessarily, but certainly.
– The probability is that the manufactured article would not be sent out here ; it would be cheaper to import the raw material, and manufacture the pipes here, than to import them in their finished state.
– The iron used in their construction would be imported.
– It might or might not be imported. I do not mean to say it must necessarily follow that the result of the imposition of a duty would be that the pipes would be made from Australian iron ; but if the industry were established here, the probabilities are that Australian iron would be used.
– The duty would necessarily make the pipes dearer under these circumstances.
– Not necessarily.
– There would be no internal competition. The patent would be held by one firm.
– Quite so. No doubt if we imposed a duty of 20 per cent, the price of the imported finished article would be higher to that extent ; but if, on the other hand, the imposition of the duty resulted in the manufacture of the pipes being undertaken in Australia, as we have every reason to expect it would, the holders of the patent rights would not increase the price to the consumer by the full 20 per cent. duty. I should like to see the Government of New South Wales, where there are extensive deposits of coal and iron, purchase the patent, and allow the manufacture of these pipes to proceed in Australia for the benefit of the Commonwealth.
– Then the burden would be on the right shoulders.
– I think the industry is well worthy of establishment, and if the course I have suggested were followed we should be sure that the public would not be fleeced. No special advantage would be given to any particular syndicate. The question which the committee have to determine is, whether we should take a course which would favour an English syndicate or arrive at a decision which would favour an Australian syndicate. I have quite as much sympathy for a local as for a foreign syndicate.
– The syndicate would be the same whether the pipes were made in Australia or in England.
– But if the pipes were manufactured locally it would make an immense difference to those employed in the iron trade in Australia. The advantage to the community could hardly be overestimated.
– It would be a wonderful advantage to the man in the back country to be compelled to pay 20 per cent, extra for these pipes as the result of the imposition of the duty.
– We do not want another second-reading speech on the relative advantages of free-trade and protection. I have no desire to argue the general principle, but taking this special item, it seems to me the establishment of the manufacture of these pipes in the Commonwealth would result in a great deal of employment being given in the iron trade, and would lead to the permanent development of the iron industry in New South Wales.
– What about Pulton’s iron pipe industry in South Australia ?
– They only made pipes of a certain size
– We encouraged the industry there, and paid dearly for it. It is shut up now.
– It shut up only because the work had been completed.
– The bonuses did not keep it alive.
– They could not keep it alive when there was no further demand for the pipes. Surely the fact of the shutting down of the industry in South Australia cannot be urged as an argument against protection. The pipes in question were of large dimensions, and were required, for certain works. When the demand had. been satisfied the making of the pipesceased.
– We thought that Pulton s: were going to export them.
– I never heard thatan export trade was anticipated. The* making of the pipes in question at. Pulton’s works, was similar to the manufacture of 24 ia. pipes, or pipes something like that size, by Mr. Mephan Ferguson. Mr. Ferguson manufactured, locally pipes required for certain waterworks in South Australia, and subsequently manufactured similar pipes in Western Australia for the Coolgardie water supply works. When these requirements have been supplied, he certainly will not continue themaking of the pipes in either Western Australia or South Australia. The industry has been of great importance both to South Australia and Western Australia. It hasbeen of great advantage to the Government to be able to obtain the pipes just as they require them, and to stop the contract for their supply whenever necessary. They have found it advantageous to have the pipes made locally instead of being compelled to import them. I believe that the industry is well worthy of encouragement. I shall vote with the honorable member, but in the case of such an industry as this, which must necessarily be a monopoly, what I should have liked more than anything else is that it should be undertaken by one of the Governments.
Mr. PAGE (Maranoa).- I think, sir, that when you addressed the Chamber, you gave one of the best arguments for freetrade in pipes that has yet been given in this House. You told us that there were patent rights for these pipes in Great Britain and America, and you appeared to desire to bring out here the man who manufactures them in Great Britain under patent rights and put him down in Australia as a monopolist. If we have free-trade in these pipes, GreatBritain and the United States will compete against each other for the Australian market, and that is one of the bestarguments which could be used against the imposition of a duty upon these articles. The honorable member for Tasmania, Mr. O’Malley, again shows his inconsistency this afternoon by voting for a monopoly. At every opportunity the honorable . member says - “Down with the monopolist and the syndicate,” and yet in arguing in favour of this duty upon iron pipes, he is proposing to give to the company manufacturing them in the old country a monopoly of the whole of the trade in these articles in Australia. Honorable members opposite have told us that these pipes are made in different States of the Commonwealth, and yet they are prepared to inflict an injustice upon the people of those States by compelling them to pay 20 per cent, to this firm of pipemakers who have the patent right. This will affect my constituency probably more than any other constituency represented in this Chamber, for the reason that almost the whole of the country of Queensland west of the Dividing Range is practically waterless country. People there have to bore for water, and in putting a duty upon piping of this size, honorable members are putting a tax upon every selector, farmer, and squatter throughout Western Queensland. Is it equitable that honorable members should protect the monopolist against the men who are pioneering the western country, and, in fact, the whole of Australia ? Men are sinking their money in the ground in the hope of getting water, and very often the bores turn out to be dry bores. In many cases in Queensland thousands of pounds have been sunk in bores in the expectation of getting water, and they have had to be abandoned. I ask the honorable member for Tasmania if he is consistent in proposing this duty. I am sure that the honorable member will get up and withdraw this proposal after hearing the way in which I have exposed the monopoly he wishes to create.
Mr. O’MALLEY (Tasmania).- Though semi-convinced from the expressions of approval of honorable members that I could carry this proposal on a division-
– Try it.
– Still, not desiring to cause any political friction in the Chamber, I will withdraw it.
Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.
Amendment (by Mr. A. Paterson) proposed -
That the words “ except riveted or east,” after the word “ pipes,” be omitted. “
Mr. POYNTON (South Australia). - I should like to know from Ministers what is the object of the limitation as to the size of the pipes. In eoi nexion with artesian boring, it is of the greatest importance to Central Australia to know that these pipes can bemanufactured, not because of their cheapness alone, but because of the claim that is made for them that they are not subject tocorrosion. One of the greatest difficulties, with which the people have to contend, in the artesian belt of country - extending through the northern portion of South Australia and Western Queensland - is the corrosion which takes place in these pipes. I believe that the limitation of theexemption to pipes under 6 inches internal diameter will shut out pipes required forartesian boring, and that is a matter which should receive further consideration from the. Minister. There should be no limitation at all in respect of pipes used for artesian boring.
– Perhaps the Ministerwill explain that limitation ?
– Because the otherpipes are being made here.
– I think we should have some explanation from the Minister as to what will be thebearing of this proposal. I should like toknow what pipes may come in free, if this proposal is carried.
– Surely that isplain enough on the face of the Tariff.
-We do not understand it. How do we know whether this, question of riveting and joining does not cover all pipes, and that all pipes may not be subject to this 20 per cent, dutv t Ministers should at least let us know what we are voting upon.
– The exemption would not include riveted or cast-iron pipes, and would not include any pipes over 6 inches in diameter.
– What would it include under 6 inches? What other kinds of pipes are there that are not riveted or cast?
– I am not sufficiently an expert to answer that. I know that there is a large number of pipes of under 6 inches internal diameter, and we are told that the making of pipes by riveting has practically gone out of operation. The object is to allow the smaller pipes to come in free, and that the larger pipes, which can be made here, shall be subject to the duty.
– I hope that the amendment proposed by the honorable . member for Capricornia will be approved of. These pipes are used, not only in the constituency of the honorable member for Maranoa, but all over Australia in connexion with agriculture, fruit-growing, mining, and in almost all the primary industries. The great want of Australia is the want of water, and every encouragement should be given to .means for its conservation, and to anything which will assist us to put what water we have to the very best purpose. I trust that not only will the words referred to by the honorable member for Capricornia be omitted, but also -the other words - “ under 6 inches internal diameter.” It seems to me that, if these words are left in, the exemption proposed will be of a very paltry character indeed, and more apparent than real. Our great object should be, not to provide for the making of certain pipes in Australia, but to see that those who are engaged in the great industries of the Commonwealth shall be able to obtain the very best pipes, whether they be made in Australia or elsewhere, at a reasonable cost.
– So far as I am aware, the only methods of making pipes are by riveting and by casting.
– There are also such things as drawn pipes.
– It is only to such pipes that the exemption applies, because riveted and cast-iron pipes are made dutiable. I think that the exceptions to the exemption should be struck out, because if they are retained the exemption will be practically of no value.
– I hope that the committee will pause before providing for the admission of these pipes free. Under the Victorian Tariff there was a duty of £3 a ton, but this has been reduced, under the Government proposals, to a duty of 20 per cent, and I have been informed that the reduction will seriously affect the wages of those who are employed in connexion with the manufacture of pipes. Our manufacturers have in the past supplied Western Australia.
– Messrs. Hoskings Bros., of Sydney, supplied Western Australia.
– Many tons of pipes have been supplied from Melbourne as well. This industry employs a great many people at good wages, so that no complaints about sweating have been made inregard to it, and I hope that the committee will not take any action which will jeopardise it.
Mr. HENRY WILLIS (Robertson).It would appear that a duty of 20 per cent, will be chargeable upon the pipes to which reference has been made.
– As they are pipes under six inches diameter, they will be admitted free of duty.
– The honorable member for Riverina told us that they are cast in sections, in which case the exemption will not apply to them.
– They are drawn and welded.
– They are not cast.
– I understand that they are cast in sections, and are then put into the furnace, and undergo a further process. I should like to know whether they will be subject to duty ?
– We intend to admit them free of duty.
– I shall support the amendment of the honorable member for Capricornia, and I agree with the honorable member for Kalgoorlie that the six-inch limit should be omitted. It is true that, if we give sufficient inducements, pipes can be manufactured within the Commonwealth, but as pipes are used in so many important industries, and provide one of the conveniences of life in regard to the supply of water, we should be very careful not to increase their price by imposing a duty upon them. The reference which has been made to the cost of the pipes used in the Geelong water works shows that the imposition of a protective duty increases prices. In that case, the pipes required were tendered for by a Sydney firm at an amount £6,500 less than the accepted quotation from a Victorian firm, so that the people of Geelong will have to pay, so long as the loan is outstanding, £300 per annum for the privilege of using pipes manufactured in this State. To allow an industry to exact a contribution of that kind from every corporation and industry to which it supplies its productions is a very serious matter, and, considering the large extent to which pipes are used by important industries, municipal councils, other large corporations whose business it is to supply water and attend to matters of sanitation within the States, and by the State Governments, I think that we should make pipes as cheap as possible, and omit the exception in the exemption applying to riveted and cast-iron pipes. Pipes have been largely manufactured in NewSouth Wales without a duty, and New South Wales manufacturers have successfully competed in Western Australia against other manufacturers, and would no doubt have been successful in competing in Victoria against Victorian manufacturers had it not been for the Victorian duty. Under these circumstances, I see no reason why we should give any additional protection to manufacturers of pipes beyond what is afforded by the cost of bringing imported pipes to Australia. I should like to point out to the Treasurer that the honorable member for Riverina has stated that the patented pipes which have been referred to are cast-iron pipes, and, if that is so, they will be dutiable.
– We intend that they shall not be dutiable.
– It seems to me that the arguments of the honorable member for North Sydney were to some extent contradictory. He stated that the effect of imposing a protective duty would be to largely increase the price of pipes, and then he told .us that the competition between New South Wales and Victorian manufacturers in Western Australia was sufficiently keen to beat outside manufacturers.
– The pipes were made in Western Australia under a protective duty.
– Only the bending was done there.
– The iron was not manufactured there. The pipes were riveted there.
– It seems to me that the argument that, as pipes are largely used by municipalities and other public bodies to supply water, gas, and for other purposes, they should therefore be admitted free, in order to cheapen their cost, would apply to almost every article on the Tariff.
– We have proof, in the case of pipes, that protection increases their cost.
– I am prepared to admit that in regard to some pipes the extra cost would nearly approach the amount of the duty, but nevertheless I should like to see a revenue duty imposed upon these pipes. Seeing that we must obtain revenue, I should be prepared to support a lower rate than 20 per cent, as a revenue 26 a” charge. Pipes form a considerable item in our imports.
– What is the value of them 1
– I cannot recollect at the moment, but taking the gas, water, and the other kinds of pipes which are imported, it seems to me that it must be a very large item. The honorable member ought to be the first to recognise that no matter on what articles we put duties they will tax the people in some shape or other. Apparently all parties are agreed that we have to get revenue from the Customs, and if the honorable member could point out to me how he can get revenue without interfering with people materially, I should be very glad to consider the matter. If the argument is going to be used, as it has been used in regard to machinery, that we cannot do without pipes, we might go through the whole list and nothing would be left. Of course we cannot altogether fathom the reasons actuating the Ministry in the imposition of this duty, but probably it will be found in the long run that it will be a protective and revenue-producing duty. The great proportion of the pipes, even with a 20 per cent, duty, will continue to be imported. I am prepared to vote for a lesser duty than 20 per cent., but I should not feel myself justified in voting to place pipes on the free list, especially when it is considered that the large consumers of pipes, such as gas companies, are amongst the biggest monopolies in Australia, and are the most paying concerns, too.
– The great proportion of their pipes are under 6 inches in diameter.
– I can assure the honorable member that the proportion of pipes over 6 inches in diameter used by gas companies is very large indeed. I do not wish to go out of my way particularly to meet them, but I think we might make a separate item for pipes, and impose a lesser duty than 20 per cent.
Mr. HENRY WILLIS (Robertson).It would be interesting to have a statement as to the value of the pipes imported by these companies. It seems to me that it is the service pipes for water and gas which are imported, and that the great bulk of the reticulation pipes are manufactured in Australia. We are told by the honorable member for Capricornia that 50 per cent, profit is netted by the manufacturers of this class of pipe in Sydney. There is no fear of competition in that line. The cost of freight is too great, and the manufacturers being well established, and having an extensive plant, are well able to meet outside competition. But if we impose a duty on this class of pipes, we shall increase the manufacturer’s profit to the extent of the duty.
– It was stated by the last speaker that the pipes used for the reticulation of gas and water in our various municipalities are made principally in Australia. I wish to say on behalf of the Brisbane division of the State I represent, as well as the State generally, that I am unaware of a single pipe ever having been manufactured in Australia.
– Did the honorable member hear the statement made by the honorable member for Capricornia, who comes from that State 1
– Not very distinctly. It is incorrect to say that the bulk of the pipes used for the reticulation of gas and water are made in Australia. Of the many miles of pipes laid down for the supply of gas and water in Queensland I do not think that half a mile was manufactured in Australia.
– New South Wales manufactures all the water pipes she wants.
– I am speaking of only Queensland. Almost every ship brings to that State cast iron pipes, and most of them are over 6 inches in diameter. The honorable member for Bland said that the gas companies are huge monopolies and pay large profits.
– Most of them.
– PATERSON. - We ought to keep in view the fact that we are about to municipalize all these private waterworks and gasworks, and that when their incorporation is effected the profits will go into the hands of the consumers. Some of the local authorities are now moving in that direction. If we impose a big duty, and pipes for gas or water are imported by monopolistic companies, we shall not put an extra profit into their pockets, but increase the price of gas and water to the consumers. I ask the Treasurer to state on what grounds pipes above 6 inches in diameter are to be taxed, and those below that size to be duty free 1
– I have been informed by some Adelaide importers, that the six-inch pipes are very largely used at the mines, and are not manufactured here. From the protectionist point of view, I do not see why the pipesshould be put on the 20 per cent. list. The limitation is under 6 inches in. diameter, but I am told that there is a very large consumption for such pipes, which must, be imported. I had intended to- move- that the limitation be struck out..
– Of course the object in introducing the limitation Ls- to. meet the existing circumstances. The bigger pipes are made largely, satisfactorily,, and at a fairprice. As regards the smaller pipes the industry is not yet established, and there is no sufficient likelihood of it to- warrant ourimposing a protective duty.
– That also applies to 6- inch pipes I am told.
– We should be perfectly prepared to meet the honorable and learned member by using the words “ six inches or under.”
– That would shut outartesian pipes, which are 10 inches in diameter.
– I think the honorablemember wants everything to come in free. We do net intend that. What has been shown is that we are able te- make pipes of a certain description well, and at reasonableprices, and in applying the policy of protection generally, as we are now doing, wedo not think it fair to exclude the pipe makers. Honorable members know perfectly well that it was the declared policy of the Government at Maitland that we should avoid as far as- possiblethe destruction of existing industries. The Victorian pipe-makers were protected by a duty of £3 per ton, and; the ratenow proposed is a considerable reduction upon that. I trust honorable members will consider the desirability of protecting an industry which we know perfectly well is within our midst, and which was able to dofairly well with the protection previously enjoyed. It is contended by some honorable members that the price of an article is increased when a protective duty is imposed, but we hold that under certain circumstances there is not an increase, but rathera reduction. I have a letter here from thepipemakers of Victoria, who state that before the protective duty was imposed im
Victoria, pipes were sold at an average of from £9 to £10 per ton. Of course, I know that the price of pipes will vary with the price of - iron, but I give this information, which I believe to be true, for what it is worth. The manufacturers state that since the duty was imposed the price of pipes lias never exceeded the figures previously quoted, and is now from £7 to £8 per ton. The1 manufacturers proceed to say -
Why, in the face of these facts, we require a heavier protection than 10s. or 15s. per ton is well understood to those who have had experience of the battle between importers and local manufacturers. Another reason is that our pipes are all made under strict supervision and of re-melted iron, and are consequently more costlY and of a better quality than the imported ones.
It has been pointed out that in Sydney the manufacture of pipes is being carried on without the advantage of a protective duty. Protection, however, may be given in a variety of ways : and in another case I called attention to the fact that it was extended, by means of State contracts, at encouraging rates - to say the least of them. I am told that the position is very similar as regards pipes. The Victorian manufacturers contrast their conditions with those which obtain in New South Wales and South Australia. They say -
In South Australia we understand that the pipe industry is now run by the Government -
– The right honorable gentleman ran it out of existence.
– The industry “is still carried on whenever pipes are wanted, and I am pleased to know that I was associated with the movement which resulted in the establishment of the pipe-making industry in South Australia. The letter proceeds - while in New South Wales the only two pipe manufacturers have contracts with the Government to supply all the pipes used there for a period of nearly four years yet.
I can well understand how the manufacturers can dispense with the duty if they secure long State contracts at good prices. The contract that the pipe manufacturers now have is to supply all the pipes required by the State in carrying on extensive works for the development of the vast resources of that part of the Commonwealth for a period of nearly four years. That is a term which gives a certain amount of security. It is stated that the contract was let - at a better price than the hist contract let by the Melbourne and Metropolitan Board of Works here, which was only for 150 tons.
26 S 2
I venture to consider that the iron-pipe manufacturers in New South Wales are deriving much more substantial encouragement from the Government of that State than are the Victorian manufacturers from their Government. A four years’ contract for all the pipes required by the State at a price higher than that at which pipes are saleable in Victoria, gives the New South Wales manufacturers an immense advantage. The Victorian manufacturers are selling at a cheaper rate, and they have not the benefit of a fixed contract with the State Government. What more could the New South Wales manufacturers want 1 If the Federal Government were in a position to ente1-“ into contracts of this description, it might very well afford to dispense with the duty now proposed.
– There is nothing to show that the pipes supplied in Victoria are not imported.
– They are locally manufactured pipes. We should not be keeping faith with the manufacturers engaged in an important industry if we did not endeavour to extend to them a reasonable amount of protection, at least, as regards those articles which they have hitherto been producing and placing on the market at a reasonable price.
Mr. THOMSON (North Sydney).- The answer of the Minister affords an illustration of the flimsy basis on which certain arguments are built up. The Minister states that the pipe-makers of New South Wales are protected because they have been able to secure a contract to supply the State Government with all the pipes required for a period of four years - or it may have been five years altogether- - at better prices than are paid to Victorian manufacturers by the Melbourne Board of Works under the last contract. Is that not an empty piece of evidence, seeing that not one figure is quoted, and no proof is given, in support of a bare statement ? I venture to say that if the gentlemen who wrote that letter had known the prices, they would have been given, and the best evidence that they do not know them, and that they are talking at random, is the fact that these business people, seeking to influence men who ought to have common sense, have not supported their statements with actual prices. I have a recollection of the circumstances under which the pipe contract was let in New South Wales, and I know that it was stated by the Ministry that they would have no objection to pay a price, say about 10 per cent, higher than would have to be given for the imported article, for the advantage of having an inspection of the work on the spot. This would relieve them of the necessity of paying the supervising expenses for which they would otherwise become responsible to Sir John Fowler’s firm in England, and taking into account the savings that would be made in other ways, they considered that an addition of 10 per cent, would be fully compensated for. That was a perfectly reasonable and sensible way of viewing the matter, and I would ask what advantage they were giving to the local manufacturer that they did not receive an equivalent for? Will the Minister explain how it was that a year and nine months ago one of these New South Wales firms tendered to supply pipes for the Geelong waterworks at about £3 per ton less than the price quoted by the Victorian manufacturers? There was a difference of £6,500 in a contract of £26,000, and the only conclusion to be drawn is that the pipes could be more cheaply produced in New South Wales, or that the local manufacturers, knowing that they had the advantage of a protective Tariff, quoted up to the full extent of the duty. I am not prepared to say that in every case the prices quoted must be up to the full extent of the duty on protected articles. There are circumstances under which the full amount of the duty is not added to the price of the local article, but at least one instance to the contrary is afforded by the case to which I have referred. To place the communication the Minister has read, from apparently interested outsiders, who want a duty for the sake, no doubt, of their own pocket, before this committee, without one shadow of evidence, one quotation, or one comparison of prices - simply the bald, bare, statement - and to ask us to accept it, is really expecting us to be too credulous.
Mr. JOSEPH COOK (Parramatta).- It is quite true that in New South Wales some strange things have been done whenever the present Minister for Home Affairs has been in office there, and this is one of them. He told us the other night that his Government imposed a duty on iron in New South Wales -an absolutely incorrect statement. The Minister and his Government never did give a duty to any of the manufacturers of New South Wales, but instead tried to gull them. with private subsidies, for we can call them nothing else.
– The Minister for Home Affairs is not in the chamber just now, but he will be presently.
-If the Minister is not here, I cannot help it; and the right honorable gentleman who interjects does not hesitate to quote statements of the Minister for Home Affairs when the latter is not present.
– I was not quoting him.
– All these wonderful things that take place in the State of New South Wales are quoted from time to time when it is thought they will help the case of the Minister for Trade and Customs. If this is the kind of encouragement by protection in which the Minister for Home Affairs believes, let him hold his tongue about protectionist duties cheapening goods. In this instance, as the Minister for Home Affairs knows, the price was 12 or 12½ per cent, higher than that of the imported goods.
– Is the honorable members referring to New South Wales ?
– Of course, I am; I am alluding to the quotation made by the Minister for Trade and Customs, in order to show that there was given a guarantee for a certain number of pipes extending over four years, at a higher price than pipes could be imported at. What does that mean ? Let me give a concrete case, which is better than argument. The Minister for Home Affairs, when Premier of New South Wales, gave an order to a firm in Sydney for the manufacture of some pipes for the Lithgow water supply. These pipes were manufactured and sent up to Lithgow, where they lay on the ground for twelve months before the were wanted or used.
– That shows the expedition of the local manufacturer.
– It shows something else. It shows that the municipal council had not only to pay a higher price, but had to pay interest for twelve months on the cost of the pipes which were lying on the ground, and which they did not want to use. There is a continuing obligation on the part of that council to pay for the protectionwhich was given to the firm of Hoskings Brothers in connection with this particular contract. Not only was there an item which had to be paid for in cash over the counter, but there is a continual obligation represented by interest which the council has to pay year after year. Protection has to be .paid for by somebody somewhere, and we never arrive at the point when prices come below those of the imported article. Particular instances may be quoted, but they do not prove the universal rule. Protection does put prices up, as the people throughout the States are feeling now to their great cost and chagrin. The case cited by the Minister is one in point ; and he gloats over the fact that prices were put up for New South Wales. That was the encouragement given by the Government over and above that which it is now proposed to give under this Tariff. This is cited as a triumphant fact, to establish the correctness of the protectionist theory; but if the Minister insists upon that kind of encouragement as a proof of the beneficent results of protection, let him at once cease talking the twaddle we hear from him so often to the effect that the imposition of duties brings down prices. We are given to-day the strange doctrine that because a man has a patent, and, therefore, the exclusive right- of making pipes he should have, in addition, a duty. Just as if patent rights were not sufficient protection. There are very few duties in the schedule that will press more harshly on the people in the interior of the country than will the one. under consideration. Pipes are used everywhere for almost every conceivable kind of work, and, as the raw material of many of the industries in the back parts of the country, they ought to be free if anything in the world should be.
Mr. HENRY WILLIS (Robertson).- I hope the Government will give consideration to the remarks of the honorable member for Parramatta. Throughout the State of New South Wales the municipalities, which have been supplied with pipes by the local Government, have hitherto had to pay interest on the sum invested, and this has proved a very great burden, owing to the cost of the material. Immense concessions have had to be made by the State Government to such municipalities as Manly, because of the cost of laying on the water supply ; and the same remark applies to several large towns of the ‘interior. If Ministers were well acquainted with the conditions which prevailed throughout the State of New South Wales, and knew the pecuniary embarrassments of municipalities where grants have been made and pipes supplied by the Government at a much higher price than the local bodies should have been called on to’ pay, they would see the necessity of making water as cheap as possible. The honorable member for Brisbane pointed out that ere long we should have the municipalization of all these services in the cities and boroughs of the country. If that be so, to place a duty on pipes will increase the capital value of the gas and water services and make the amount of money required for their purchase much greater than would otherwise be the case. It has been contended by the Royal commission which sat in Victoria and reported on the effects of high duties on prices that, in connexion with manufactures in’ which immense sums of money are required to lay down plant, there is practically a monopoly of trade, and that if a high duty be placed on articles so manufactured, the consumer is undoubtedly taxed. The Royal commission in their report made a statement which, I think, bears very pointedly on an argument that is often repeated in this chamber as to the cheapening of cost by the imposition of protective duties. The report states -
Where the duties are practically prohibitive, and the local market affords scope for the operations of only a few manufacturers, the evidence points to the fact that the result is high prices to the public.
– Certainly, if there is a monopoly.
– And this practically gives a monopoly. The report continues -
The formation of rings is not confined to importers. They occur generally when the capital required for a manufactory is great, and less often when the business is in the hands of a large number of persons in a small way of business.
Thus, on the evidence of this board, which was appointed by the Governor of Victoria in Council, we have it that the imposition of a protective duty upon any article produced in such an industry as this means increased taxation to the consumer.
– Not if there are several competitors for the work.
– But in this particular case so much capital is required to lay down the necessary plant that the competition is merely nominal. Where two or three men only are engaged in an industry they are easily able to arrange amongst themselves for the maintenance of a certain price.
– We shall have the competition of New South Wales if too high a price is charged in Victoria.
– The manufacturer in New South Wales does not require any protection whatever. He has been able to amass wealth in that State without any such artificial aid.
– If he can manufacture his goods so cheaply he will be able to send them here and compete with the Victorian manufacturers.
– Whilst the Sydney manufacturers will be able to successfully compete with the Victorian manufacturers, the latter will be able to compete with Pope and Maher in Melbourne quite as successfully.
– New South Wales has better advantages.
– The advantages are very great ; but when a foundry is well established, as in Victoria, it is able to manufacture articles at a lower price than it can manufacture them for in the initial stages of its existence. The selling price, however is regulated by the cost of the imported article.
– That will keep down the prices.
– I perceive that the freight between the States will be such as to enable the manufacturers in each State to gather in just the amount of duty which we are now levying, because they will arrange between themselves not to cut into each other’s markets. That practice is quite a common one amongst business people, and no doubt it will be adopted here as it is in other parts of Australia.
Mr. MAUGER (Melbourne Ports).- As the report from which the honorable member has quoted has been alluded to several times, and is perhaps calculated to influence some honorable members, I should like to “remind the committee that the Tariff which imposed a duty of £3 per ton upon imported pipes was framed by the Victorian Parliament after the commission in question had presented their report to the Government. From this fact it is abundantly clear that the Parliament of Victoria attached no importance whatever to the document in question. I would also point out that there are no less than five factories in this State which are engaged in the manufacture of castiron pipes under 6 inches in diameter.
They are manufacturing them cheaply and well, under proper supervision, and are competing with one another. How is it possible, I would ask, for five firms to compete with one another, and for the prices to approximate anything like monopoly prices 1 Surely the iron industry is of such immense importance to the wage-earners of Australia, and to the development of the community, that the committee will not be so mad as to carry the proposal of my honorable friend ? The honorable member has alluded to a Sydney firm. But I direct attention to the fact that that firm has been given a preference by the New South Wales Government to an extent which, according to the admission of the honorable member for Parramatta, amounts to 10 per cent.
– They do a large trade with Northern Queensland.
– Yet we are told that there is not a single Queensland pipe which is not imported. Who is right? I understand that the firm in question has contracts from the New South Wales Government for four years ahead. . Let me remind the honorable member that, when once an industry becomes established, the result inevitably is that it is able to supply its manufactures not only to the State in which it is established, but to neighbouring States, at a cheaper rate than that at which they were formerly obtainable. Had Mephan Ferguson’s industry not been established under a protective duty, Western Australia would have had to pay considerably more for her iron pipes than she has done. That is one of the beneficial effects of protection. My only reason for rising was to draw attention to the fact that the report quoted by the honorable member for Robertson is an obsolete one, and that there is a minority report attached to it. That minority report is signed by the representatives of labour who were members of the commission, which is an incontestable proof that in the main the working men did not believe the document in question.
Mr. BATCHELOR (South Australia).I wish to assure the honorable member for Robertson that in connexion with the manufacture of pipes there is not the slightest danger of monopoly prices being established. In nearly all the States - certainly in’ New South Wales, Victoria, and South Australia - the pipe-making industry has assumed considerable proportions, and, consequently, the number of persons who enter into competition one with another for the work of the Commonwealth would be fairly large. Several firms in each of the States have laid down extensive plants, and the competition amongst them will be very keen. Hitherto the trouble in the various States has been that the demand has been insufficient to keep any one of these firms continuously employed.
– Pipes are not imported into South Australia.
– Certainly not. The South Australian Government gave a contract at a particular price to Fulton’s in order to have the pipes made in that State, and employ our own labour. But Fulton’s have not been making pipes there for some years. Later on, the contract for making certain large pipes was given to Mr. Mephan Ferguson, on condition that they were made in South Australia. That was done in order to have the pipes made according to a particular method, as well as to have them made in that State. But there is another reason why there cannot be any monopoly in the making of pipes, and that is that the Government of South Australia are large and successful pipe-makers themselves. They have for a number of years been making all the pipes they require, except the very large ones. They have a large plant at Port Adelaide. I can assure the honorable member for Robertson that the South Australian Government, to prevent any thinglike monopoly, would undertake orders for the Government of New South Wales, or for private persons. They have made pipes cheaper than they could be imported. The making of castiron pipes was formerly a huge monopoly, but since the South Australian Government have undertaken the work, notwithstanding that they have paid higher wages, and were subject, as are all Government concerns, to little disadvantages from which private employers do not suffer, the business has been a success. There is not going to be any monoply in this business, and I am certain that pipe-making in the case of all but wrought-iron welded pipes under 6 inches in diameter, will be carried on within the States. We certainly ought to encourage the industry as far as we can, because it means a large employment of labour.
Mr. HENRY WILLIS (Robertson).The honorable member for South Australia, Mr. Batchelor, has successfully proved that the pipe-making industry has no need of protection. It is easy to say that a certain manufacturer is losing money, but we now have it on the authority of an ex-Minister of the Crown, in South Australia that the Government of that State has been able to produce pipes at a lower price than that at which they could be imported. That being the case, the industry cannot require any protection whatever. If a duty is imposed the only tendency will be to increase the price of the article to those persons who require it. The private user of pipes will not be able to purchase from the South Australian Government, but will have to buy his pipes from the local manufacturers in the States. I hope the committee will notice what has been said by the honorable member for South Australia, Mr. Batchelor, because he is an authority upon this question, was in the counsels of the South Australian Government, and knows that the pipe works there were conducted at a profit.
Question - That the words “except riveted or cast” proposed to be omitted, stand part of the proposed exemption - put.
The committee divided.
Majority … … 3
Question so resolved in the affirmative.
Mr. GLYNN (SouthAustralia). - I move -
That the word “under” be omitted, with a view to insert in lieu thereof the words “ not more than.”
The object of my amendment is to provide that the limitation shall be in respect of pipes of not more than 6 inches internal diameter, instead of those under 6 inches internal diameter. I understand the Government have no objection to my proposal.
Mr. KNOX (Kooyong). - At what stage will it.be competent for an honorable member to propose a reduction of duty?
Mr. POYNTON (South Australia). - I am sorry that the honorable and learned member for South Australia, Mr. Glynn, has proposed this amendment, because if there is any State in which it is desirable that iron and steel pipes should be obtainable as cheaply as possible it is South Australia. These pipes are very largely used in irrigation and all waterworks ; and why the honorable and learned member should propose to limit the exemption to those not more than 6 inches in diameter I fail to understand.
That the words “under 6 inches internal diameter” be omitted.
Mr. GLYNN (South Australia). - I am with the honorable member for South Australia, Mr. Poynton, in his desire that there should be no limitation to the exemption, but I think it is better to amend it in a way to which the Government have no objection, and then to deal with it further. My desire is to cut down the limitation as much as possible.
That the words “ 6 inches internal diameter” be omitted.
That would destroy the sense of the limitation, and the whole of it would have to be struck out.
Amendment agreed to.
Amendment (by Mr. Poynton) proposed -
That the words “6inches internal diameter” be omitted.
Mr. CONROY (Werriwa).- The amendment, if carried, would not make all pipes free, because riveted and cast-iron and steel pipes would still be subject to the duty of 20 per cent. The amendment seeks to provide that, to the small number of pipes which at present come in free, a slightly larger number shall be added by doing away with the 6 inches limitation.
Question - That the words “ six inches internal diameter,” proposed to be omitted, stand part of the proposed exemption - put The committee divided.
Majority … … 3.
Question so resolved in the affirmative.
Exemption, as amended, agreed to.
Lamps, Miners’ safety.
– I should like to know why the miner’s safety lamp and nothing else which he uses should be included in the free list. The miner’s safety lamp is the one lamp which is found for him by his employer, and the little lamp which is used where safety lamps are not necessary, and which the miner has to buy for himself, is not on the free list. The little lamp which he wears upon his hat, and which has a naked light, is not free.
An Honorable Member. - How much does it cost?
– It costs about a shilling, but as a miner may use four or five of them in a year, the cost of these small lamps may in the long run be as much to him as the cost of the safety lamp to his employer. Here is the distinction of the
Tariff : Because the big capitalist in the one case has to buy the safety lamp and furnish it to the miner it is free, while the lamp which the miner has to buy has a duty imposed upon it. I move -
That the word “ safety” be omitted.
With that amendment the exemption will include all miners’ lamps. The safety lamp, which is patented and made abroad, is used only where gases are plentiful and dangerous, while the other lamps to which I have referred are used in the majority of mines. Safety lamps are used in only two or three mines in the whole of Australia, where dangerous gases are known to exist. In all the rest open lights are used, and those lamps are not on the free list. I should imagine this proposal is an inadvertence on the part of Ministers, but it is only another of the incongruities of this Tariff. While the safety lamp is put on the free list, Ministers take care that the oil which the miner uses in it is taxed considerably.
– The honorable member will not be in order in discussing oil.
– I only refer to it incidentally for the purpose of showing the anomalies of the Tariff when the miner comes to be considered. A lamp which is used by miners in only two or three mines in Australia is placed on the free list. That is the totality of the concession to the miners of the continent. Their hammers, drills, wedges, blasting, tools, and explosives with the exception of powder, are all taxed to the uttermost, and it is certainly a strange anomaly that this one lamp, which is used in only two or three gaseous mines in Australia, and is paid for by the proprietors of the mines should be placed upon the free list. I move the amendment in order that all miners’ lamps should be placed upon the same footing.
– The miner’s safety lamp is not made in any quantity in Australia, and under these circumstances we venture to think that it is fair to let it in free. But the lamps to which the honorable member for Parramatta has referred are small tin lamps, which can be made in any part of Australia where they are wanted. I venture to suggest that we cannot properly, except under the special circumstances to which I have referred, select a particular class, and say that although the lamps which they use can be made here as well as lamps used by another class, they shall be admitted free, while the lamps used by another class shall be subject to a duty. I think we can only make the selection to which I have referred, and admit free only those which are not made here. I ask honorable members not to make this a class exemption by making it apply only to lamps used by those who work underground. I think the committee should accept the proposal made by the Government.
Question. - That the word “safety,” proposed to be omitted, stand part of the proposed exemption - put. The committee divided.
Majority … … 7
Question so resolved in the affirmative.
Exemption agreed to.
Last thimbles and block fasteners.
Exemption agreed to.
The following exemption was agreed to : -
Leaf and foil.
Locks, door, including knobs, keys, and escutcheons.
Amendment (by Mr. Kingston) agreed to-
That the word “door” be omitted.
– I wish to suggest to the Government that when we are dealing with the question of additions to the list of exemptions the words “ lock staples “ should be added to this item.
– I will make a note of the honorable member’s suggestion.
Exemption, as amended, agreed to.
The following exemptions were agreed to : -
Pins, viz., gimp, solid-headed short toilet, plain wire hair, plain safety.
Platinum, viz., bars, strips, sheets, plates, retorts, pans, condensers, tubing, or pipes.
– I desire to strike out the word “ rabbits,” so that all vermin traps may be admitted free.
– We make a large number of wire traps in the Commonwealth.
– It seems to me that all vermin traps, from fly-traps and cockroachtraps up to native clog traps, ought to be admitted free. I therefore move -
That the word “ rabbit “ be omitted, with the view to insert the word “ vermin.”
– It would be much better to deal with the item once and for all fully when we come to consider the question of additions and alterations. I suggest to the honorable member that if he will withdraw the amendment he will then have the fullest opportunity of dealing with the whole question.
Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.
– I rise to ask the Minister to explain why rabbittraps are to be exempt from duty. Are we to understand that not one of the manufacturers in Australia can make rabbittraps ?
– We do not know of any traps being made here - that is the reason.
– What amount of protection is the honorable member proposing ?
– I wish to know why it is not possible to make rabbit-traps in Australia, and why rabbiters should be placed at the mercy of importers. We have been told over and’ over again that if anything can be made here it is always cheaper in price than the imported article. A man who goes out to catch rabbits should be able to get his tools of trade as cheaply as possible. With the manufacturers at Bendigo, Castlemaine, Gawler, and Mort’s Dock, and all the other foundries, we ought to be able to make a rabbit-trap. If we cannot make rabbittraps at the present moment, and if, by means of a small duty they could be made here and supplied more cheaply to the rabbiter, I would strongly favour its imposition. I do not know much about a rabbit-trap. It may be a very delicate, intricate article requiring the employment of skilled labour.
– We should not have exempted rabbit-traps if they were made in Australia.
Exemption agreed to.
The following exemptions were agreed to:-
Scales, viz., chemical, analytical, and assay. Scrap iron and steel - to continue only until the coming into force of “ Division VIa, metals.”
The following exemption was negatived : -
Screws, table and music stool.
The following exemptions were agreed to
Steel, band or ribbon for making handsaws or band-knives. Steel, rough-shaped, for chaffcutter and other knives. Tin plates, plain.
Tools of Trade, not being Machines, viz. : - Adzes, Axes, Hatchets, Tomahawks and Cleavers, Augers an Auger Bits, Awls and Awl Hafts, Bevels, Braces and Bits, Braces (ratchet), Bruzzers, Bung Borers, Cards (file and wool), Chisels (except cold and plugging) and Gouges, Clamps, Combs (graining), Compasses, viz., carpenters’, coopers’, and engineers’, Cutters (bolt, glass, mitre, and pipe), Diamonds (glaziers’), Drills, Files, and Rasps, Forks (digging, hay, stable, and tanners’), Gauges (carpenters’ and millwrights’), Gimlets, Hammers (except napping, spalling, quartz, coal, brick, and sledge), Hoes (garden and plantation), Irons, Platters’, ltalian, Smoothing, Cloth Manufacturers’, and Tailors’, Jewellers’ Tools, Knives (hay), Needles and Bodkins, Pincers and Nippers (end ‘cutting), Planes, Pliers, Punches, Rakes (hand), Routers (Wheelwrights’), Rules, Tapes, and Chains (measuring), Saddlers’ Tools, viz. - Rein Rounders, Claw, Carving, French edge, and Patent Leather Tools, Wheels and Rosette Cutters ; Saws, Screwdrivers, Scythes, Sets (Rivet and Saw), Shears, viz. - Brushmakers’, Garden, Printers’, Sheep, and Tinsmiths’ ; Shovels and Spades, Sickles, Snips (Tinsmiths’), Spatulas, Spirit Levels, Spoke-shaves, Shaves, and Spoke Trimmers, Squares, Stocks and Dies, and taps for same, Trowels,Vices, Wrenches - Screw (except cycle).
– I would ask the Government to insert the words “ and harness-makers “ after the words “ saddlers.” The idea is to exempt all tools of trade, but I am informed by some harnessmakers that unless those words are inserted a number of the tools they use will not be exempt. I have a list of them in print.
– We specify the ones which are to be free.
– Yes; but the Government do not specify all that ought to be free.
– If the honorable and learned member can suggest any others we shall consider them.
– I have a list of them covering a page and a half, which I do not wish to read now.
– That is abandoning the practice we have been following - of taking no additions just at present.
– I mention the matter so that it may be considered, and the Minister cannot say that he did not get proper notice. I ask the Government to consider whether they mean to exempt all tools of trade for saddlers and harness-makers.
– No; only certain specified tools.
– I shall have to move an addition to the line afterwards.
– In the middle of this long series of specially defined tools I see an expression which seems to me to include all the tools used in one trade. Is the term “ jewellers’ tools “ intended to be so comprehensive that it includes everything a jeweller uses? Because, if so, it is a departure from the treatment adopted in the case of all other industries, even in protected industries.
– Where we intend to exempt we specify.
– This expression will cover all the tools which a jeweller uses. I am at presentdrawing attention to the “matter because I think, if it is a good thing in this case, it is a much better thing in case of other industries in Australia.
– We should be glad to consider any exemptions pointed out to us.
– Miners, farmers - small industries like those?
– That is too thin.
M r. WATSON (Bland).- Amongst these items I find -
Hammers (except napping, spalling, quartz, coal, brick, and sledge).
Will the Minister kindly explain why any distinction is made between those and carpenters’ hammers ?
– I think the answer is that the ones which are excepted from exemption are largely manufactured here.
– Several of them are very similar. I did not know that they were manufactured here.
– That is the principle of the exemptions.
Mr. GLYNN (South Australia). - I should like to test the feeling of the committee as to whether all saddlers’ and harness makers’ tools should not be exempted.
– If the honorable member looks at the further list of exemptions which we have circulated, he will find that all saddlers’ and harness makers’ tools, including knives, are to be exempt.
Exemption agreed to.
The following exemption was agreed to : -
Washers and rivets.
Wire, n.e.i., wire netting, wire cloth, wire gauze.
– I desire to know whether wire rope is included amongst the exemptions ?
– That is dealt with under the description of “ Metal cordage,” on page 20.
Exemption agreed to.
Zinc, scrap and sheet, and circles and ingots, bored or unbored, for cyanide gold process.
Mr. HENRY WILLIS (Robertson).Does “ bored “ zinc refer to perforated zinc?
– No. Perforated zinc is dutiable ; the zinc referred to in this exemption refers only to that which is used in connexion with the cyanide gold process.
Exemption agreed to.
– Honorable members have before them the list showing the additions which the Government propose to make to the exemptions under this division. The principle on which we have prepared the list is that we have not included those tools, which are manufactured here to a fairly large extent, and which can be obtained at reasonable prices.
-The Minister will define all the tools under those circumstances
– We have done it to a considerable extent.
– What does the Minister consider a reasonable price ?
– That all depends on circumstances.
– Who is to be the judge?
– This honorable House.
– The Government give us no opportunity of judging.
– We have made as full inquiries as possible, and I believe the list is fairly complete. I move -
That the following special exemptions be added to the exemptions of tools of trade : -
Bookbinders’ tools, including knives ; Bootmakers’ tools, including knives ; Borers - angular; Boxes and pins for vices; Buffers - farriers’ ; Burnishers ; Callipers ; Carvers’ tools : Coopers’ tools ; Diggers - post- hole ; Drills for machine use ; Drills, machine, for hand use ; Engravers’ tools ; Expanders - tube ; Forks - coal, coke, sluice, stone, and miners’; Froes - shingle; Fencing crimpers ; Gauges ; Glaziers’ tools, including knives ; Grafting tools ; Holdfasts - bench ; Hooks - bush, fern, furze, hop, reap, sail, slashers, spud, and weed; Irons - bick, charcoal, creasing, crimping, croze, flagging, goffering, pinching, pinking, plane, saddlers’, shaving, and spokeshave ; Jiggers ; Jointers ; Lithographic tools ; Mattocks ; Masons’ tools ; Mill bills ; Mortars and pestles : Moulders’ tools : Nail-drawers - hand; Painters’ tools (metal), including knives ; Piano tuners’ tools ; Pickers - fruit ; Pillrounders ; Pipes - blow (for use by mouth only); Plasterers’ tools ; Plates - draw and screw ; Presses - capsule, for bottling by hand ; Printers’ tools, viz., blocks for mitreing, chases, gauge and laying-on pins, galleys, gold knives, imposing surfaces, keys, levigators, metal furniture, moulds for making rollers, palette knives, quoins (metal)and locking-up apparatus, quotations, roller frames and stocks, rolls and fillets, sticks (composing, side and foot, shooting), tweezers, typeholders ; Reamers ; Ring sizes and sticks (metal); Rippers - slaters’; Rollers - grainers’ and paperhangers’ ; Saddlers’ andharnessmakers’ tools, including knives; Scrapers - cabinet, deck, dough, horse, pig, plumbers’ and tube ; Screws - bench; Shears - pruning; Scribes; Smelting tools, viz., ladles, slag scrapers and rable heads ; Spanners ; Squeezers - cork, hand ; Standards - bench ; Stereo tools ; Stops - bench ; Strainers - wire ; Stretchers - carpet and hat ; Suppository moulds; Tanners’ and curriers’ tools, including knives ; Tinsmiths’ tools ; Trammel heads or points ; Turnscrews ; Vehicle makers’ tools, viz.. countersinks, cutters (plug and washer), draw knives, drill holders, reamers and tire measurers ; Watchmakers’ and jewellers’ tools ; Wrenches, including pipe wrenches.
– I desire to strike out the word “metal” where it appears after the word “ quoins “ in the list of printers’ tools. There are quoins of wood as well as of metal, and I wish to have them included in the exemptions.
– Wooden quoins would not come under this division, which relates to metals and machinery, but under Division X.
– I also desire to include printers’ furniture of wood amongst the exemptions.
– That would also come under Division X, and it would be well for the honorable member to give us a note of what he desires, so that if we agree to his suggestion we can make the necessary provision under the proper heading.
Amendment agreed to.
Amendment (by Mr. Kingston) proposed -
That the following special exemptions be added to the exemptions of machine tools : -
Bookbinding - Backing, Bench Presses, Bevelling, Binding, Blocking, Book Rolling, Book Rounding, Case Rolling, Case Cleaning, Case Making, Cutting, Eyeletting, Embossing, Finishing Press and Stand, Folding, Glueing, Indexing, Laying Presses, Nipping Presses, Numbering, Paging, Paring, Perforating, Punching, Ruling, Scoring, Stand Presses, Stapling, Trimming, Wire Stitching Machines. Bootmaking - Accessories to Stitching Machines, being - Gem Insole, Inseam, Trimming, Stitch Separating, Turn Moulding, Welt Beating, Button Fastening, Channel Openers, Counter Moulders, Hooking, Pattern Cutting and. Grading, Pegging, Power Hammer, Pricker (four-stitch), Rand Compressing,
Rand Splitting, Rand Turning, Sole Rounding, Standard Screwing, Staple Fasteners ; Strap, Printing and Covering ; Treeing, Tying (Shoe), Upper Blocking and Cleaning ; Vamp Beading, Folding and Marking. Brushmaking - Boring, Cutting, Filling, Flue or Bottle Brush Machine, Shaping, Trimming. Glass Making and Working - Patent Presses, Roughing Mills ; Sandblasting. Hatmaking - Hydraulic Blocking Press for making Straw Hats. India Rubber Working - Hose Machines, Steel Stamps, Steel Tire Mandrels, Spreading Tread Drums, Washer Cutting. Metal Working - Arbor or Mandrel Presses, Cutter Making ; Machine Tools for Electrotyping, Stereotyping, and Photo Engraving, viz. : - Backing Presses. Bevelling, Casting Moulds, Curved Cutting off Cylinder, Curved Finishing Cylinder, Curving for Electroplate, Electrotype, Hydraulic Moulding Presses, Matrix Rolling, PlateThinning, Shaving, Squaring, Trimming; Facing, Flanging, Horse-shoe, Mitreing, Nail Making, Measuring Machines, Profiting, Riveting, Rivet Making, Straightening, Typecasting and Finishing Machines, Washer Making, Welding, Wire Netting. Paper Finishing, Cutting, and Folding - Bending and Creasing; Cutting, viz. -: - Card, Guillotine, Label, Lever, Millboard, Rotary Cutting and Grooving, Rotary Cutting and Scoring ; Damping, Envelope making, Glazing and Hot Rolling, Labelling, Machines for Coating and Finishing, Paper Bag and Paper Box Making, Varnishing Paper, Wrapping. Stone Working - Litho. Stone Grinding. Tile, Pipe, and Brickmaking - Blungers, Filter Presses ; Grinding Mills for Enamels, Colours, Glazes, and Flint ; Magnetizer, Moulding Machines, Press Stamps, Sifters; Stilt, Spur, and Thimble Presses.
– I suggested a number of articles which I considered should be placed on the free list. A great many of these suggestions were accepted by the Government, but a number of others were not. Is it proposed to deal with this list before any amendments can be moved?
– We propose to finish the Government list and then deal with private members’ amendments.
– Is it not possible for grinding mills to be imported and used for some purposes other than those specified under the heading of tile, pipe, and brickmaking? Then I should like to know whether the press stamps are those which are used in the ordinary brickyards, and many of which are made in Australia?
– Grinding mills will be free only in those specified cases. At present it is proposed that the press stamps used in connexion with tile, pipe, and brickmaking shall be free. We made all inquiries we could in this matter, and the conclusion we have come to is that these stamps are not being made under circumstances which justify their being subject to a dutv.
– Perhaps I may be permitted to say a word or two, seeing that there are many pottery establishments in the district I represent. As a matter of fact, most of the articles mentioned under this head of tile, pipe, and brick making are made in the Common-, wealth ; and so far as the potters are concerned, seeing that they ask for certain protection on earthenware, they do not grudge protection to those who make their machines. If the Government knew all the facts, I think they would find that most of these machines are made in the Commonwealth.
– Will the honorable member specify those which are made in the Commonwealth 1
– Blungers ; filter presses ; grinding mills for enamel-colours ; glazes; and flint; magnetisers; sifters;- and press stamps. These are all to my knowledge made in the Commonwealth.
– Did the potters commission the honorable member to say that they did not grudge protection to the makers of these machine tools ?
– I would impress on the honorable member that, in the future, it would be more satisfactory to ourselves and the public, if the honorable member would make statements of that sort in fuller terms. Most of us, I think, understood that the honorable member had special authority from the potters in his district to make so generous and straightforward an announcement. We now find, however, that it is a statement which the honorable member makes on his own account, without any authority from the potters. I received the statement with great pleasure, thinking it came straight from the potters ; but coming from an honorable member who is not a potter, I do not think it is worth anything. It is not the potter who makes the statement ; it is the potterer. With respect to this particular schedule, I wish to point out that certain distinctions are made as to bookbinders, bootmakers, brushmarkers, hatmakers, indiarubber makers, metal-workers, paperworkers, stoneworkers, and brickmakers. All these represent trades of a very important character, but their toolsare not admitted free, except certain specified articles which, I suppose, bear a very small proportion to the total number. In the other schedule that we have just passed, there is absolute immunity for all tools used by certain trades ; not only all the tools that are known now, but all tools that may become known during thecurrency of this Tariff.
– One refers to tools. of trade, and the other to machine tools.
– But I could make the sameobservations about a number of others, such as miners’ tools of trade ; it is merely a change of illustration. But there is an important difference between the principleadopted in making all the tools of trade of an industry free by a general phrase, and the principle of specifying certain tools. In some trades the general definition has notbeen followed, and the committee have, I think, sanctioned that line of action, though I do not view it with any favour. My object would be to place all tools of trade of all trades on the free list, as a matter of principle.
– There is a difference between tools of trade and machine tools.
– I quite agree that there isa most important difference, but not in the ultimate result. A tool of trade, in one sense, is not a machine, and in another sense, it is ; and those who work only with machines, have machines as their tools of trade. By-and-bye, when we get rid of all these separate proposals, I intend to test the committee - only by one or two divisions - on the broad question whether all tools used in all our industries should not be free.
Mr. HUME COOK (Bourke).- The leader of the Opposition has slightly misunderstood me. I said that so far as the manufacturers and potters were concerned, they did not care whether these articles under discussion were or were not taken out of the dutiable list. I repeat that statement. I was asked whether I made it upon the authority of the potters. I like to be as accurate as possible in making statements in this committee, and in reply to the leader of the Opposition, I wish to say that I was not authorized in the sense that I had the statement in writing. But I had it verbally from those who represent the manufacturers as well as from the men. Both the Potters’ Association of Manufacturers, and the Association of Brick, Tile, and Pottery Makers have informed me that they do not care whether these articles are omitted from the free list or not. As a matter of fact, they are made here, and manufacturers are prepared to buy the locally-made machines.
– If I had known what the honorable member has just told the committee, I should never have made a single observation upon the subject, because I consider he had a sufficient authority to justify him in making the statement he did.
Mr. MAHON (Coolgardie). - I wish to ask if the whole of the free list is now subject to the review of the committee 1 Mr. Kingston. - As to striking out.
– I did not notice that the Chairman read out the line - “ Paper finishing, cutting, and folding.” Under this heading, there are one or two machines mentioned which are being used, throughout Australia, by a handful of manufacturers. I refer to the operations of envelope-making, glazing and hot rolling, labelling, and varnishing paper. I understand that the gentlemen engaged in these businesses expect that a very considerable duty will, by-and-by, be imposed upon the manufactured articles. But if theY are to be benefited in that way, and we also admit their machines free of duty, we shall be assisting them to establish a monopoly. These machines are being used by only a very few manufacturers.
– They are big businesses too, are they not 1
– Yes ; it is absolutely impossible for a small man to start in that line. The omission of a duty, enabling these manufacturers to import their machinery free, and the imposition of a high. duty upon the manufactured article, will assist them to establish a very profitable monopoly. I take it that the committee have no desire to assist them to do that.
– Honorable members will recollect that when we were dealing with the question of machine tools, a general discussion took place. We had specified various trades in connexion with which machine tools were to be exempt. These words’ were omitted, and we have now the words “machine tools, as follows.”
We had included in the list all the articles, so far as we had been able to ascertain, which are not manufactured within the Commonwealth. It was pointed out then that we had not specified all the machine tools which ought to be specified, and that some new machine tools might be invented, which would thus be liable to a duty. Our desire is to exempt as many of these particular tools as t e possibly can. Therefore we now suggest for the consideration of the committee a very important addition. Itis not the one headed “Special exemptions,”’ but it is upon exactly the same lines, although it is limited to the item with which we are now dealing - namely, “ machine tools.” In this connexion we have specified all the tools with which we are acquainted, and we now propose to takea general power to deal with any articles, which may have been omitted, or which may be invented hereafter, and which, in the opinion of the Minister, should beadmitted free. We propose, therefore, toadd the following words, which deserve very careful consideration at the hands of” the committee, because they affirm very important principles. I move -
That the following words be added : - “ Any machine tool, or port thereof which shall be prescribed to be free by regulation under the Tariff Act, because it is certified by the Minister that it cannot reasonably be made within the Commonwealth, and that it ought, in the opinion of the Minister, to be prescribed to be free.”’
With the general principle enunciated in these words I think al) will be in accord. If an article cannot reasonably be madewithin the Commonwealth, and if it is used in our manufacturing industries, it ought to be included in the free list.
– Did the right honorable gentleman say “ The Tariff” Act “ ?
– The pro1 posal as printed uses the words “ Customs Act.”
– That is amistake which we shall have to alter. The question which honorable members have to decide is whether we are prepared to give to the Ministry of the day the power proposed to be conferred by this particular clause. These regulations will be somewhat different from the Customs regulations, because the latter would come into operation assoon as they were gazetted, and might be- annulled by the House within fifteen sitting days. In the meantime, however, a very large importation of some particular article might take place, so that those who could show that the regulation was an unreasonable one might be seriously injured in the interim. Therefore we propose that these regulations shall not become operative until they have been laid before Parliament for a certain length of time - say fifteen or 30 days - so that no injury can be inflicted upon any manufacturers who might possibly be making the particular tools which the Government were exempting.
– For what period are the regulations to lie before Parliament ?
– For fifteen or 30 days, perhaps - at any rate for some reasonable time. Of course the matter might be dealt with in another way, and further exemptions might be provided for by Act of Parliament. The Government, however, think that there should be an easier mode of accomplishing our object, and of carrying out the principle which we enunciate in the list which we have specified. We believe there need be no fear of conferring the power which is sought upon the Ministry of the day, irrespective of whether it be a freetrade Government or a protectionist Government. I think that all will credit Ministries with at least attempting to honestly administer Acts in the spirit in which Parliament intended them to be administered, altogether apart from the consideration of whether they believe in them or not. Until a Government which did not believe in an Act could secure its repeal, they would administer it honestly. There is little risk, therefore, in conferring upon the Government the power which is sought, especially as they are subject tq the control of Parliament, in that if they commit any improper act those honorable members interested can take an early opportunity of bringing it under the notice of the House. It has been urged that such an opportunity would perhaps not be afforded them. In this connexion, however, I repeat that no Government would attempt to burk the desire of any honorable member to have a regulation of this kind considered and voted upon by the House. No Ministry would refuse the fullest opportunity for discussing it, so that the opinion of honorable members might be registered upon it. It has been suggested that the Government might interpret any such action on the part of an honorable, member sis a motion of censure. I do not think there is much likelihood of that. On the whole, we think that it is wise to adopt this course. It will be of advantage in enabling articles to be put upon the free list. Honorable members, with great force, objected to any proposal to give the Minister power to make an article dutiable ; and I myself think that Parliament alone should have the right to impose a duty, and to levy a tax. Our proposal, however, is to give the Minister the power only to make exemptions. These exemptions will be made with the full knowledge of Parliament, and the Minister will be careful in what he does, because he will know that his actions will be checked by Parliament. We therefore ask the committee to give this proposal their earnest consideration. While the amendment which we are now proposing deals only with machine tools, the principle which it embodies will, if it is agreed to, be applied also to mining machinery, and perhaps to other machinery. Therefore, the matter is one of considerable importance. My colleague and I have tried all we can to obtain the best means of dealing with this very difficult question, and we have been unable to get any better method than that which we now propose. In Victoria for many years past the Minister had power to place minor articles on the free list, and a large number of minor articles were so disposed of. I never heard of the power being abused, though both protectionists and freetrade Ministers were in office during the period in which it was in force. The proposal which I have brought before the committee will give the Government the fullest power, subject to ,the control of Parliament. If any honorable member can suggest an improvement upon our proposal, we shall be very glad to consider it.
– Does the right honorable gentleman intend that this power shall be exercised in regard to articles upon which a duty has been placed by Act of Parliament, or only in regard to articles which are not specified in the Tariff?
– Where an article had specifically been made subject to a duty, I do not think that duty could be taken off by a Minister. The power of the Minister will be exercised merely in regard to articles “ not elsewhere included.” It is in regard to such articles that the question would arise, whether any particular machine tool which had been newly invented should be placed upon the free list or remain dutiable.
– I think that the proposal of the Minister should be accepted by the committee. It is not open to the objection which was taken to the original proposal, that it gives a power of legislation to the Minister. What in effect it says is that machine, tools of a certain description, that is, machine tools which cannot reasonably, in the opinion of the Minister, be made within the Commonwealth, may be defined to be free. Those are words of description’ and words of limitation. They do not give to the Minister a general power to say that all machine tools used in connexion with certain industries shall be admitted free, as was given by the words originally in the Tariff, and which I think were objectionable because they conferred upon him a power-of legislation. He is given merely ,a declaratory power, or a power of definition. I have considered the matter carefully, and I think that it is necessary that some such general declaratory power as is now pro.posed to be given should be conferred upon the Minister. I think, however, that the use of the word “ prescribed “ is objectionable, and I suggest the substitution for it of the word “declared.”
– Are we to understand that the regulation does not come into operation until fifteen days after the meeting of Parliament 1
– We propose that the regulation shall not come into force until it has been before Parliament for a certain number of days.
– The Ministerial declaration will not come into force until Parliament has had an opportunity to review it, and, if necessary, to stay the Minister’s hand. I hope the amendment will be accepted, as affording the best means available for dealing with the difficulty.
Mr. REID (East Sydney). - I am surprised that the honorable and learned member for Bendigo should” be able to satisfy himself so easily as to the soundness of his proposal. While I consider it far less objectionable than the original proposal, I still find in it some serious objections, and to my mind it opens up large questions of principle. The amendment does not refer to articles which “cannot be made here,” it refers to articles which “ cannot reasonably be made here.” The determination of the question whether an article can be made here is a comparatively simple matter, but the determination of the question whether an article can reasonably be made here, opens up a vista of innumerable differences of opinion, according to the judgment of various Ministers. A rabid free-trader would come to one determination, a moderate free-trader1 to another, a rabid protectionist to a third, and a moderate protectionist to a fourth. If a Minister like the Minister for Trade ‘and Customs, who makes no secret of the fiscal faith that is in him, had to settle the question, his decision would be absolutely different from that of a Minister holding views similar to mine, though I believe both would do their duty as conscientiously as any other men. The radical objection to the proposal seems to me to be this : We have all observed a tendency to allow legislative power to pass away from Parliament into the hands of Ministers, commisioners, and boards, and in many cases it has been a wise departure from the principles of parliamentary government to allow that to happen. But the last power to leave the hands of Parliament should be the power to levy and remit taxation. I admit that the proposal before us does not give the Minister the power to make dutiable articles which were hitherto free ; but it enables him to make free an article which previously was subject to perhaps a very heavy duty. There are thousands of articles of trade, some of them of large importance, upon which duties of 10, 15, and even 20 per cent, are imposed, although they are not specifically referred to, and come under the heading of “not elsewhere included.” I do not wish to see these large business interests - the interests -of the importer and of the n-anu-f actum* - ‘fighting at the Ministerial door over what is practically a legis lative power. We are a very young Commonwealth, and at present we’ have every reason to believe that our- destinies are in most honorable hands. But we know that the United States was a young Commonwealth in the noblest of hands, but that as time has gone on dark spots of corruption have stained that great Republic. Great as it is, and sound as it is in itself, there are notoriously dark spots of corruption on the working of its Constitution.
In no respect has that been greater than . in regard to Tariff questions, and I layit down as almost one of th( fundamental rules of our Constitution - as one of the duties which have been placed upon us by the Constitution, of which we cannot very easily divest ourselves - that it is our duty to make up our minds as a Parliament as to what articles shall be taxed and what shall not. It is quite true that in some States there has been a power resembling this in connexion with minor articles. But this proposal involves not only minor articles. It involves enormous industries and interests as well as small and insignificant affairs. It is entirely a different thing from what is covered by the phrase “ minor articles.” There is no expression of that sort limiting this proposal. If there were there would still be the objection of principle- In this case it is still stronger. No doubt it is an inconvenience that Parliament should have the trouble of imposing a Tariff. It would save us a great deal of trouble if we could allow the Ministry the framing of the Tariff, to be laid upon the table for a certain number of days. What an expeditious way of doing business that would be ! Instead of that we are going on month by month with this gigantic task in regard to matters which sometimes are not of very great importance ; but in doing that we are performing one of the most important duties for which we sit here. It seems to me that whilst we may relax the principles of the Constitution in various ways, the last way in which to relax them is to take a step which sanctions the exercise of the legislative power of taxing by way of exempting certain things from taxation. To do that is one of the most dangerous things in the world. The power to tax is one thing, but sometimes the power to exempt is an infinitely more dangerous power. The Ministry seem to me in no sense - in principle at any rate - to have met the situation of affairs by the method now’ proposed. We are told that there are to be regulations under the Tariff Act which are not to come into force until a certain number of days have elapsed, and that no Government would refuse to allow a member an opportunity of taking the opinion of the House upon them, and would not take the decision as a vote of censure. But these are all a series of “ifs.” If this power should be given at all, it should be given under very different and very stringent conditions. If the old-fashioned method of passing an Act of Parliament before a person can get a benefit out of the public purse, or be exposed to a tax, has become too cumbrous for us, at any rate let there be some method of preserving the principle that Parliament has an active share in determining who shall be exempt and who shall be taxed. If the Ministry prefer that there should be a simple resolution submitted in both Houses, that would relieve us from a- very great deal of the delay which attends the passing of a Bill. If they had proposed that there should be a power to come down by resolution, we should at any rate preserve an independent and proper control over all these matters. If we are to relax the old rule, we ought not to go further than giving the Government a power of that sort. I suppose that would be a more expeditious method than our usual method of proceeding by Bill. It would escape a number of stages and their attendant difficulties.
– We might as well pass a Bill.
– Then let us pass a Bill. I think the honorable member makes that statement simply because he is in favour of the Ministerial proposal. But, as a man of parliamentary experience, he must know that he has made a mistaken interjection when he says that it is as easy to go through the machinery of going into committee to consider a resolution, then afterwards bringing up a Bill founded on the resolution, which Bill must be read three times. If the honorable member says that that is as easy and expeditious as submitting a certain resolution, I differ from him.
– Practically it is.
– Then the honorable member does not look at the matter very carefully. He must be in a delightfully free and easy state of mind about it. I am not. I think it would be a thoroughly bad beginning for this Commonwealth that any such power should be given. In the case proposed, the Government throws a Ministerial edict upon the table, and this House has to take the opportunity of discussing it by what leave?- - by the favour of the Ministry - that is, by the sense Ministers have that it would only be fair to allow the matter to be ventilated. That is not a proper basis upon which to put a matter of this sort. Whilst in our present state I can say - and I say it without any trace of sarcasm - that I feel absolutely sure that what the Ministry says would be done - and I have great pleasure in feeling that - yet, we must be careful to avoid dangers that experience has shown arise in other countries. It is no answer to my argument to say that a virtuous Ministry happens to sit on the Treasury bench to-day, and that a, highminded Ministry would probably sit there to-morrow. It is no answer to say that if the question in dispute was a vexatious one and feeling ran high, the Government of the day would give the House an opportunity of - doing what ? An opportunity of exercising its power with regard to the taxation of the country. What a revolution that is in the spirit of parliamentary government ! To-day it is a matter of n.e.i. ; to-morrow it may be a matter of much greater importance. To leave it to the will of Ministers to determine whether or not time shall be given for the matter to be dealt with by this Chamber, is to place Parliament in an absolutely false and degrading position. On that point I think the proposition is objectionable. The course which has been taken by the Ministry in this matter seems to me to have created the trouble which this objectionable expedient is designed to remove. Would it not have been much simpler, and infinitely more straightforward if, in lieu of these long schedules enumerating various machine tools and tools of trade-because these apply generally - all tools of trade and machine tools had been exempted with the exception of those specially named to be taxed? That would have entirely removed the necessity for this doubtful proposal. Parliament would then have to decide the matter which itis proposed shall be left to Ministerial discretion. That is the line on which the matter ought to go. I think that protectionists and free-traders move very much together upon that line - that unless there is a special reason to impose a tax on a machine tool, public policy suggests that it should be as free of the Tariff as possible. That is the cure for the difficulty. Under the present proposal, there are some tools picked out and placed in this list ; but we, ignorant as many of us are of these matters in detail, know that the letters “ n.e.i.” cover hundreds of tools other than those specified. I believe this proposal would leave it to the Minister to determine in the case of a greater number of articles than we shall pass in this Tariff by special names, whether they should be free or liable to pay duty. Any one who knows the vast number of articles which are within the operation of every - day commerce must be aware that the 50 or 100 lines defined in the Tariff do not cover the thousands of articles included within the term “ n.e.i.,” so that we are practically handing over to the Ministry the bulk of the subjects of trade for the exercise of this discretion. I have no hesitation in saying that this standard of “cannot reasonably be made, in Australia “ is in itself one which is ‘absolutely novel in an Act of Parliament. It is a queer way to legislate on so many different and conflicting views. What “ cannot reasonably be made “ here? Anything Can reasonably be made in Australia if we are prepared to pay for it.
– To pay the price.
Mr.REID. - If we are prepared to pay the price for it. Some of uscarry our views so far in this matter that if wo thought any burden wouldbe placed upon our great producing industries we would decline to impose it if it could possibly be avoided. The people who follow these industries must be subject to a certain measure of taxation ; but take the honorable member for Melbourne Ports. I am sure that, with the most honest and honorable views in the world, he would place hundreds of thousands of articles on the taxation list, and not on the exemption list, because of a belief that they could be made here, and ought to be made here, and that it would be a grand thing for the country if they were made in Australia. Surely if a man thinks that it would be a great benefit to the country to have a certain machine tool made here he has gone a long way on the road towards the belief that it can be made here? This is no definition. We are told that there is a kind of principle embedded in this proposal which removes the nebulous nature of the previous suggestion ;. but it is not so. There is nothing more nebulous than opinion upon the question as to what can and cannot reasonably be made here. This is a matter of the greatest possible importance. I should have preferred it to be dealt with,not in isolated cases, but as aclauseasa Customs
Bill, when we could deal with it generally once and for all. Dealing with it now, I feel that it is of such importance that, in whatever way we may decide the question at present, those who are defeated - whoever they may be - will probably test the matter at a subsequent stage, when the Bill is before us. Prom my point of view it is too important to be allowed to go through by a committee division. There must be a clause in a Bill afterwards, as regulations are to be framed in connexion with it, and, in order to avoid a long debate in the middle of the Tariff, I should have been glad if the matter could have been delayed. . Ministers, however, think it better that it should be dealt with at the present time. I would not object so strongly to a resolution of the House affirming .any lists which Ministers submitted, because, in that case, Parliament would have some hold upon this power. In carrying out public business in such delicate affairs as these the mere fact that they have to be submitted specifically to Parliament for discussion and approval is really, although perhaps unconsciously, one of the best safeguards that the Minister himself could have. This is a power which would expose the Minister to responsibilities which I, as a Minister, should shrink from. I should feel that it imposed upon me a very serious task, that of deciding a great industrial question - which some of these may involve - as to whether the time had arrived when a certain industry might reasonably be established in the country. If it is to be established at public expense or by a favour in the Tariff it ought to be established by the authority of Parliament. When we reduce Parliament to such an insignificant situation that the Government decide, and Parliament may have an opportunity, if possible, of expressing an opinion upon that decision, we reverse the position, which these two great . powers should occupy. We place Parliament at the feet of the Ministry. That ought never to be done. What does the laying of a paper on the table mean ? We have shoals of regulations laid upon the table every day, and they are so much waste paper. It is necessary, of course, that we- should be informed of the detailed administration of Acts, and of Ministerial decisions under them : but whilst I hope I am not reactionary in my ideas, there are one or two points upon which I have always felt I strongly. I feel strongly in regard to the preservation of the executive power in Parliament to mould the public burdens, to define what they shall be, and in defining a public burden to define those exempt from it.
– As distinctly laid down by the Constitution.
– Exactly. The principle which would apply to a land tax or to an income tax as a measure of direct taxation applies with greater force to all the tangled intricacies of a Customs Tariff. I hope the committee will excuse me for having taken up a little of their time upon this proposal, but I feel strongly upon it, and it is one which the committee will have to consider very seriously before it decides to adopt it.
– I take it that this power to exempt carries with it also the power to tax. It should do, and l am not prepared to give Ministers this far-reaching power to make, unmake, and modify Tariffs in a back parlour, at their own sweet will, or at the will of interested people whispering in their ears. I believe this Ministry is thoroughly honest, as I believe all Ministries are nowadays. But it is not a matter of integrity or honesty we have to deal with. It is a question of the limitations of ‘ Ministers, as to their knowledge of Tariffs, and Tariff proceedings. This proposal is to be subject to the opinion of the Minister. He is to determine what in his opinion ought to be free, and what in his opinion can reasonably be made within the Commonwealth. During the past fortnight we have had several instances of the extensive knowledge of the industries of the Commonwealth possessed by members of the present Ministry. The Minister who has to take this onerous duty upon himself of prescribing what can or cannot be made within the Commonwealth did not know the other night that steel rails were made within the Commonwealth. He had to be told it in this chamber, and being told it it caused him to change his mind momentarily, and to propose a duty upon that particular article. Other instances have come under the notice of the committee in which Ministers did not know anything about the matters put down ‘ in their own Tariff schedule. That is not a reflection upon Ministers; it only shows that it is unfortunate that no one Minister, and no one man, can pretend I to know all the ramifications of industry throughout the length and breadth of the Commonwealth. It is therefore absurd to place this large discretionary power in the hands of a Minister who may not know enough about a subject to be able to deal with it effectively. Apart from that aspect, there is the other question to be considered of whether a Tariff ought to be framed or modified without the fullest scrutiny on the part of Parliament. Look at it how we will, this proposal means a limitation of the power of Parliament in its right to tax the people. This constitutional aspect of the question is by far its most serious aspect. No power is so carefully hedged round under the Constitution as the power of imposing taxes upon the people. What will happen, supposing the proposal of the Ministry be carried? Exemptions are to be made by regulation, and the regulations are to be submitted to Parliament. To which House of Parliament, or to both Houses ? If to both Houses, then the concurrent power is given to both Houses with regard to this very aspect of Tariff modification, and yet under the Constitution it is prescribed very definitely that every proposal to tax the people of the country must originate in this House.
– This is a proposal only to prescribe articles to be free from taxation.
– I know it is ; but does not the honorable member see that the exercise of this power may result in the complete modification of a Tariff at the sweet will of the Minister ? I venture to say that this is a power of taxation of the people which no House should willingly surrender. Before we can do anything of the kind now, a message from the Governor has to make its appearance in this Chamber, and there are all sorts of checks and counter-checks interposed by our parliamentary rules, so as to insure the fullest discussion of every proposal, and the expression of every possible objection to it at every stage in its passage through the House. Accordingly we have to go into committee to pass certain resolutions, providing a possible check at two or three intervals in the discussion of the resolutions, and after the committee has decided, we have to come back to the House, and upon the authority of the resolutions arrived at by the committee, a distinct proposal is formulated and brought before the House. There, again, there are numberless checks interposed by our rules to insure the fullest and freest criticism of every proposal. Here every precaution of that kind will be thrown to the winds. A proposal will simply be submitted to Parliament in the ordinary way, and as the parliamentary business is within the discretion of Ministers, we shall have this state of things brought about : that a Tariff may be modified by a Minister in his office, and brought down here without “ any chance whatever of discussing or rejecting it within the prescribed time specified in the regulation. Thus we shall, surrender thewhole power of this House over theprinciple of taxation which has been so judiciously guarded, not merely in the Constitution under which we are working now, but in parliamentary practice sinceparliamentary government began to exist. This is a power which I think we ought not lightly to loose our hold upon. Look at these powers as we may, they are really the safeguards of the people, for in them is their control of the power of taxation and of their own liberties. We ought to jealously guard this power of control, and oppose any proposal by any Minister to take this large discretionary power upon himself. I think it is too great a power to put into the hands of any Minister, to permit him to determine what are machine tools and what are not ; which tools can be reasonably made in the Commonwealth ; which ought to befree, and which ought to be taxed. Surely it is too great a power to give to Ministers who have shown themselves, as these Ministers have repeatedly throughout the- discussion of this Tariff, to be absolutely ignorant concerning a whole circle of industrial enterprises scattered throughout this Commonwealth. I have alluded to the fact that Ministers did not know that steel rails were being made in the Commonwealth. They did not know that screws were being made in the Commonwealth, or that wire-netting was being made in New South Wales. Therefore, under this proposal, the man on the spot who happens to have the ear of the Minister, or who is most influential in his persuasive powers, will stand the ‘ best chance of getting tools of trade put upon the free list at his own sweet will. We cannot stop at this negative proposal of the Minister. If you give him the power to exempt from taxation, logically you must go further and give him the power to impose taxation at his own sweet will,, and in the privacy of certain individuals. We ought to resist any attempt at outside pressure in that respect. As things are carried on nowadays, I have no particular quarrel with the man who comes here and in a straightforward way tells us what he wants regarding his own industry. But I have a very grave objection to any proposal which invites men to go to the , Ministry not in the open light of day, but in privacy and behind the back of Parliament, so to speak, to formulate their proposals, subject only to the condition that they shall be laid before Parliament. We all know that papers are laid on the table sometimes without the House being made aware of their existence. Very often they are tabled in the midst of a great noise, or in the buzz of conversation ; and a large number are never heard of until the musty pages of Hansard are being perused. Regulations of this all important and far-reaching character, affecting the pockets and the industrial life of the people, might be tabled without any notice being taken of them until some little time after their production. What would be the action of Parliament, supposing that it dissented from any proposals of Ministers ? Under outstanding orders, except on notice given, or except we chose to create some special opportunity, we should have no chance to discuss such proposals. It might be that action would require to be taken by a private member. What chance would a private member have to raise a question as important as that, supposing Ministers and members to be against his doing so at the moment ? We shall surrender our right of criticism and discussion, particularly outright to mould the financial proposals of the Government, if we consent to whittle away our powers in this direction. It is very difficult to know what arc machine tools and what are not, or what are tools of trade and what are not. For instance, we have a kind of theory that tools of trade, as far as possible, should be free. We let a shovel come in free. Surely that is a tool of trade. But is it any more a tool of trade’ than is a ploughshare ? The one is just as much a tool of trade as is the other. We let forks come in free. What is the difference between a scarifier and a fork? Yet we are told that all these differences must be subject under this proposal to the sweet will of the Minister. It must be his judgment that determines the difference between the various tools of our handicrafts. This is a proposal which a Minister ought to shrink from rather than court, as it will inevitably bring him more trouble than he is at present aware of. I hope that the committee will not consent to whittle away the powers which the House has over the taxation of the people, and whichare so sedulously guarded in the Constitution. All sorts of trouble would result if we gave this power to the Minister. We should cease to have any control over him. I believe that the tighter the control of Parliament over Ministers, the better it is for our constitutional practice, and for the purity of our public life.
– To my mind there is a very clear distinction between vesting in the Minister the power to impose taxation, and giving him the right to prescribe by regulation items which may be placed on the free list.
– It gives the Minister the right to say what taxes shall be imposed.
– Notwithstanding the information in the possession of the Ministers at the table, combined with the collective wisdom of the committee, my impression is that there may be articles which we may unwittingly subject to duties. We have not in the Chamber specialists in all the trades. It is not the intention of the committee, as I understand, to impose duties on machinery or tools of trade which cannot be satisfactorily made here. Some machine not thought of or not manufactured at the present time may replace a machine now in use. U nder the Tariff as proposed that article may be subject to a duty, and this proposal, as I understand it, will permit of it being placed on the free list without passing an Act of Parliament. I admit that the means proposed to attain that end give cause for honest difference of opinion. Seeing that the regulations would have to be submitted to Parliament before they could acquire the force of law, I do not place much reliance on the statement that honorable members would not have an opportunity of discussing the propriety of placing any articles on the free list in that way, because my experience in Parliament has been that honorable members can always make an opportunity for discussing a question.
– In that case they could discuss it once at the outside. Here we can discuss it a dozen times.
– It is to be hoped that we shall not have a Tariff brought flown every session.. A regulation could not acquire the authority of law without the possibility of a discussion taking place in Parliament. The very same end can be achieved by aresolution as by an Act of Parliament. Therefore, it cannot be said that we are whittling away the rights or the powers of the House in the slightest degree. I should prefer, however, to have articles placed on the free list by means of a resolution of the House rather than by the method embodied in the Minister’s proposal, fully believing that the former would occupy no more time than the latter.
– If the suggestion made by the leader of the Opposition were adopted it would save the Ministry a great deal of trouble and confusion. If every class of mining machinery not specified in the Tariff were free of duty there would be no trouble whatever, but according to the proposal of the Government all those articles which are not specified on the free list would come under the head of n.e.i., and be subject to a duty of 20 or 25 per cent. It is proposed to practically give a power of legislation to the Minister, and to enable him to collect a high rate of duty on certain unspecified articles. That would be an improper thing to do, as it would deprive Parliament of one of the rights which should be most jealously conserved. It would enable the Minister to practically frame a Tariff, because during the first twelve or eighteen months of Tariff administration he will have to deal with probably as many articles as are enumerated in the Tariff itself. The discretion of the Minister as to what should be free of duty cannot be equal to the judgment of this committee, and influential party men would be able to exercise more influence over the Minister in private than they could exercise if they had to deal with the Opposition party in this Chamber. The anomalies which appear in the Victorian Tariff as the result of the exercise by the Minister of powers such as those now sought are very striking. Window fittings were free, and ladder fittings for making venetian blinds were free under this heading, but the blind-cordwas dutiable. Castors were free if made of brass, but dutiable if made of iron. Door rollers were free, but the shafts for making them were dutiable. Screw-eyes and cup-hooks were free if made of brass, but dutiable if of iron. In fishing tackle there were also anomalies, and I could name a number of other instances. These anomalies arose through Ministers not having a technical knowledge of every branch of industry. Parliament should be consulted on all these questions. Although the Treasurer has said that it would not be taken as a vote of want of confidence if the House disagreed with the proposals brought down by the Ministry, I think that if the House disagreed repeatedly with the Government proposals, the influence of the Ministry would be weakened, and such disagreements would mark at least one step towards the dissolution of the Government. It would be better, in the interests of all concerned, if the dutiable goods were specified, and those not specified were admitted free.
– I desire to direct the attention of the Minister to the fact that the amendment would not only permit machinery which might be invented hereafter to be placed on the free list, but allow of anything that is now dutiable being transferred to the free list subject to the approval of Parliament. Although I should like to afford every opportunity for placing articles on the free list, I think the method proposed is a vicious one, and ought not to be approved of by the committee. I do not agree with the honorable and learned member for Bendigo, who, on Friday last, said that he doubted the right of Parliament to delegate to a Minister the power to place articles either on the dutiable or the free list by proclamation or regulation. As a matter of fact that point has been decided in two cases which have been referred to the Privy Council. In one of these, the Queen versus Burah - a case from India - the Indian Legislative Council conferred part of its powers, that of imposing customs duties, upon the Executive, the power to be exercised by proclamation. The principle having been condemned, an appeal was made to the Privy Council against the alleged usurpation by the Executive of powers which properly belonged to Parliament. The Privy Council decided that wherever a colonial body was given plenary powers in respect of certain subjects, the gift of those plenary powers conferred on that body the right to exercise them whether absolutely or conditionally. They held that the Parliament assumed all the sovereign powers that were vested in the Imperial body.
– That they did not exercise delegated powers.
– No. .They exercised sovereign powers within the limits of the powers vested in them. They could not be called a body which had delegated powers because they had absolute powers con”ferred upon them in relation to particular things, and these powers were not exercised as agents for the Imperial body, but absolutely by virtue of the surrender of those powers by the Imperial body. This point was also decided in a subsequent case from New South Wales.
– In the case of Powell versus the Apollo Candle Company.
– Yes. That case had reference to the power to make dutiable by proclamation a commodity on the rated list, because it was found to be substituted for an article which was not on the rated list, and might therefore be introduced with a view to evading duty. An appeal was made against the principle, because it was regarded as a vicious one, but, nevertheless, it was upheld. I do not think such a power should be exercised, for the reasons already given. We have had before us a list of articles on which it is proposed to impose duties, and also a list of exemptions, and there is scarcely one of these proposals which has not been open to debate. Yet we are asked to grant, subject to the ipse dixit of a Minister, the power of placing articles upon the dutiable or the free list. We may also, under this precedent, be asked to give power to the Minister to transfer articles from the free to the dutiable list. If the Minister had desired to be clear and concise he might have presented the proposal to us in a much better form. It seems to have been copied from the clumsy method followed in the Victorian Act. It is undoubtedly a Victorian suggestion, as the same principle is embodied in one of the Victorian Customs Acts in a more ample form than it here appears. The qualification that the Minister must decide as to the reasonableness of exempting certain goods from duty does not affect the regulation, for the regulation would be absolutely valid if it were made ; and, so long as the Minister had certified .as provided for, the question of whether his action was reasonable or not would not be open to the review of Parliament. If Parliament is to be expected to give an opinion as to the reasonableness or otherwise of the exemptions, the fact ought to be expressed in the terms of the regulation, from which it would then appear that it was only upon the judgment of Parliament as to the reasonable possibility of local manufacture that the regulation was passed. I regard the principle of delegating our powers of taxation, either by widening or rendering more restrictive the list of taxed articles, as exceedingly vicious, and for that reason I oppose the suggested amendment.
– Honorable members will recognise that in proposing the alteration to the amendment the Government simply desired to meet the general wishes of the House and the public convenience in connexion with new inventions, which are not capable of being produced in Australia, and which ought tobe admitted free. Time and again the importance of the matter has been pointed out, and time and again we have promised to do what we can. That we have been doing, and we propose to do still more in the way of submitting complete specifications of those articles which we recognise ought to be admitted free, and by taking power in the future to declare other exemptions in cases where it is deemed necessary, applying the very same principle which has hitherto guided us.
– On whose recommendation will the exemptions be made.
– On the same recommendation as that on which the Tariff was introduced - namely, “ the recommendation of the Minister in charge of the department.
– But it is sought to give this Minister power to make exemptions.
– I want the Minister to have power to meet public convenience on the points to which attention has been called in connexion with new matters.
– If the Crown does not want the money, why should the Minister not have power to say so 1
– To remit taxation?
– To remit taxation.
– No, no.
– To remit taxation on” a certain specified ground, which lias been urged pretty forcibly by honorable members on the other side - that if the, machinery is of such a character that it cannot reasonably be produced in Australia, it ought to be admitted free.
– Why not specify what it is desired to protect?
– That would be a most highly objectionable and troublesome course, by which, in a very short time, we might have altogether omitted from the Tariff anything in the shape of incidental protection. This is a Tariff for revenue purposes, but it is intended to give incidental protection, and particularly to protect existing industries ; and, on the basis on which it is framed, honorable members will recognise that it is right to provide for future cases by regulation.
– No power is given to the Minister to impose taxation, but only to take taxation, off’.
– I agree that it would be inexpedient, though it would be constitutional, to give the Minister power, without something -more than the tacit consent of Parliament, to provide for the taxation- of the people. Nothing of the sort is suggested. The proposed relaxation is in favour of free admission - freetrade, nothing more or less. The objection which might have been made and strongly supported, if we had proposed anything in the shape of the executive levying taxation, does not apply when it is a case of the remission of taxation in a certain event, in which we all recognise it should be remitted, and where there will be the approval of both Houses. The power is not one likely to be lightly exercised ; and the safeguard which we propose - namely, that the regulation must run the gauntlet for a certain number of days during which there will be opportunity for parliamentary consideration in each House, and that it is not to come into force until those days have elapsed - seems to me to entirely preclude the possibility of abuse. Something has been said about the honesty of Governments. We all know that Australian Governments are, and I trust and believe always will be, honest. I go further than has been gone on this point. It has been pointed out that if it were left to a protectionist Minister to construe a Tariff, it would be construed in one way, and if left to a free-trade Minister, it would be construed in another. I do not believe anything of the sort. I believe that any Minister, whether protectionist or free-trade, would deem it his duty to administer a Tariff according to the spirit in which it had been passed, whether that were a free-trade or a protective spirit, and would not attempt by executive or administrative act to defeat the intention of Parliament. We know perfectly well’ what the intention of Parliament is likely to be at the present moment. I am not claiming this honesty of administration as a virtue on either one side or the other. I have seen in another State the administration of a protective Tariff in no way altered, simply because an undoubtedly free-trade Minister happened to be called on to administer it. The freetrade Minister recognised, as I am sure a protectionist Minister would recognise in the case of a free-trade Tariff, that he had no right to allow his particular opinions to warp the effect of legislation, but that it was his duty to give effect to the Tariff, until altered, in the spirit in which it was passed. These considerations remove another difficulty which has been suggested. ‘
– Suppose the resolution disallowing a regulation were carried in only one House, would it be effective ?
– If the present proposal of the Government is carried, and the regulation is laid on the table, then I venture to say that if either House disapproves the regulation cannot come into effect. The Act which imposes a duty is the Act of both Houses of the Legislature, and the relaxation by the Executive is intended to be effectual only in cases when the Government can presume the tacit consent of both Houses. Under the procedure which wo propose to adopt, if one House by resolution declares its dissent, the effect will be that the alteration cannot take place. And the alteration ought not to take place, because the principle on which we propose to proceed is that the assent of both Houses of the Legislature is presumed in the absence of a declaration to the contrary. We do that because we consider that, in all probability, in nine cases out of ten there will be no difference of opinion on the matter, and when it is brought before Parliament, nobody will move and time will not be wasted, because the proposal will be of a character that both Houses will be disposed to assent to. There will be the old Act imposing the duty, and there will be opportunity for either House to declare its dissent, the Minister and Executive having declared their opinion in favour of the proposal by the certificate, and the making of the regulation. Do not honorable members think with me that this is an easy but not too easy a way of declaring further exemptions? I believe that honorable members on the other side are in favour of further exemptions, and we on this side are prepared to give a power which can only be exercised in the direction of further exemptions, and which at the same time preserves parliamentary control. We think that under the circumstances we are doing a fair thing, and one to which it is hardly necessary for honorable members on the opposition benches to take exception. I ask honorable members once for all - and I am only asking for information - what reason have they particularly for objecting to this proposal, which is not one for the imposition of taxation ?
– Delegating our power is a bad principle.
– There are cases in which that objection might apply, but here it is simply a question of relaxation. At the present time there is power in the Customs Act for the Minister to declare dutiable certain goods which are not exactly dutiable, but which might be substituted for dutiable goods.
– There are far greater powers under the Customs Act than the power now proposed.
– There are quite a number of other cases in which far greater powers are exercisable.
– But there must be those powers to prevent fraud.
– And we ought to have this power for the purpose of meeting public convenience ; at any rate, that has been the argument on the other side. In view of the combination of circumstances necessary to secure relaxation - firstly the Minister’s certificate, secondly the executive regulation, and, thirdly, the laying of the regulation before both Houses of Parliament for a specified period which will be long or short as honorable members choose to make it, and either House having the power to disallow - do honorable members think there is anything likely to occur in the shape of abuse ? I do not. The Government have asked for the power in this form because they believe that it offers a means of giving effect to the desire of the committee generally to admit articles of the character to which I refer duty free, and it can have no other effect. Something has been said about what will happen if we repeal a regulation. Of course the same preliminaries would be necessary to a repeal as were necessary to the original making of the regulation. But even under those circumstances we should not be imposing taxation by regulation, because we should simply go back to the state of things which existed under the Act which imposed the duty.
– The Government would then be imposing taxation by regulation.
– Nothing of the sort. We have not the power to impose a halfpenny tax, and we do not ask for it.We merely seek for the power to relax taxation, and if both Houses of Parliament tacitly agree to the temporary suspension of the relaxation, what happens? No tax is imposed by the repeal of a regulation, but the old Act comes into force again, and the tax is collected under thestatute which Parliament itself has passed through all its stages.
– But Parliament may be of an entirely different mind then.
– When Parliament is of a different mind I suppose it will make something in the nature of a new Act. At any rate, honorable members will see that it is impossible, to seriously contend that the power for which we ask gives to the Executive a power to levy taxation. We have a very sincere desire to meet the wish of the committee in framing something reasonable and something under which the circumstances of the time can be met. We do not wish to arrogate power to ourselves. We recognise that Ministers are simply the creatures of the day - that they come and go. We think that what we propose is a simple and fair way of meeting the difficulty. But I tell honorable members that our proposal can be amended if so desired by giving the Executive power either to make regulations or to issue proclamations declaring exemptions and providing that such regulations or proclamations shall issue only on condition that sanctioning resolutions have previously been passed by both Houses of the Legislature.
– Why not have it in black and white in an Act of Parliament?
– To introduce a Bill for every relaxation which we might propose in connexion with these matters would be simply impossible and intolerable.
– Could not the Government propose resolutions embodying these relaxations ?
– But the Ministry are, not doing that. They propose to throw upon the House the onus of voting against them.
– I have satisfied myself, so far as it is possible to do so, that at the present moment we are proposing all that we could properly propose for inclusion in the free list. But it is quite possible that in the future conditions may arise under which it may be desirable to add to the exemptions. In these circumstances the Treasurer has proposed that the necessary power shall be given in a certain way. Objection has been taken to the course proposed, particularly on the ground that the express sanction of Parliament is not given, and that we rely more on the tacit approval of honorable members by the absence of any exception to a regulation being taken during a specified number of days. If an argument of that sort is to prevail we are prepared to meet it. Let us provide that a proclamation is not to issue, and a regulation is not to be declared until sanctioning resolutions, by both Houses of Parliament, have been passed.
Several. Honorable Members. - Hear, hear.
– I am very pleased to hear honorable members assent to that suggestion. I can assure them that in this connexion the action of the Government was not intended to arrogate power to themselves. There is quite enough trouble in connexion with the office of Minister for Trade and Customs without anything of that sort. We do not want anything in the shape of large discretions, and we are perfectly willing to provide that previous sanctioning resolutions shall have been passed. Understanding that that course meets with the approval of the committee, I shall moveaccordingly.
Mr. GLYNN (South Australia). - I do not wish to further debate this matter, but I have always objected to the hiding of our laws in regulations. The outside public are concerned in our Customs laws quite as much as are the people within the Commonwealth, and in order to find out what is contained in the free list they will have not only to look at Acts of Parliament, but to examine regulations which are buried in the not-very-much-read pages of the Government Gazette.
Amendment (by Mr. Kingston) proposed -
That the amendment be amended to read iis follows: - “Any mining machinery or machine tool or part thereof specified in any proclamation issued by the Governor-General in pursuance of addresses passed by both Houses of Parliament.”
-! wish to point out that it was only because of the understanding on the part of several honorable members that a number of articles of mining machinery would be placed upon the free list, and some such resolution as this passed, that the Government succeeded in obtaining a majority in favour of the ‘imposition of a duty of 20 per cent, upon mining machinery. Otherwise the amendment in favour of 15 per cent, would have been carried. I know that mining men generally would very much prefer to see an all-round duty of 15 per cent, operating. I wish to say that, inasmuch as this resolution is intended to include mining machinery.
Mr. JOSEPH COOK (Parramatta).- I take it that the proposal now is to exempt machinery from duty by proclamation pursuant to resolutions passed by both Houses of the Federal Legislature. Is not that giving the Senate a power which it has not now ‘! The Senate cannot now make an exemption of any kind, except by way of suggestion. We are extending that negative power of mere suggestion ‘to a specific power. We are practically inviting the Senate to exercise by resolution a power equal to our own of determining what shall be the Tariff.
– While I am in favour of the amendment and am prepared to support it, I should like something to be done to meet a case such as I will mention. Suppose Parliament were not sitting for six months - and I am sure none of us want Parliament to sit all the year round - and that a mining company were introducing mining machinery, as to which there was a strong chance of Parliament passing a resolution enabling it to be admitted free. During the six months nothing could be done. I cannot exactly suggest the words which would have to be added to the amendment to meet such a case, but could not something be done to give the company a refund if Parliament passed the necessary resolution when it met ‘t
– There are a variety i of ways in which what the honorable member desires can be done. It would depend upon the will of the Government whether it would be done or not ; but we cannot exactly define what is to be done in a matter which is only to be disposed of after consulting Parliament. It might be Arranged to create the mine a bond so as to allow the machinery to be put up in bond ; or it might be arranged that the company importing the machinery should give the Government something by way of security.
– Could not we secure the object by amending the amendment?
– I think it would be impossible to do that.
Mr. THOMAS (Barrier). - It seems a pity that the committee cannot have something more definite than what has been suggested by the Minister for Trade and Customs. Mining companies sometimes import machinery of the value of hundreds of thousands of pounds. I know of a company which, the other day, introduced a small piece of machinery upon which they had to pay £200 duty. The Broken Hill Block 10 Company is obliged to introduce new electrical machinery. It cannot be made in the country, and the company would have to pay £4,000 or £5,000 duty upon it. If Parliament were sitting when the machinery was introduced, in all probability a resolution would be passed exempting the machinery from payment of duty; but if Parliament were not sitting could not the duty be paid on the understanding that there would be a refund if the necessary resolution were afterwards passed,?
– If the mine were made a bond, the company would not pay the duty.
– If there were a distinct understanding to that effect it would be satisfactory.
– We cannot promise it in so many words, but any Government that intended to submit the necessary resolution to Parliament would be willing to make the mine a bond. .
– I wish to assist the Government in this matter, and have no objection to their transferring to the free list any articles of machinery which they may consider it desirable to exempt so long as the revenue does not suffer to any extent. The Government have been very frank with the committee, both in the explanation made by the
Treasurer and the further statement by the Minister for Trade and Customs. It is clear that they have extended their original idea, which the committee indorsed so thoroughly when the Minister was addressing us. I do not for a moment object to the extension of the concession to mining machinery, as well as to tools, but I do not see why the same privilege should not be secured for agricultural machinery also. The Ministry had a very narrow majority on the vote by which they secured a duty of 20 per cent. on mining machinery, and several honorable members voted with the Government on that occasion on the distinct understanding that there would be a fuller free list, and that the articles would be specifically stated. Consequently I hope that the Minister will not regard this as binding in anyway upon those honorable members who ha ve already supported the Government, and whose feeling is distinctly in favour of a duty of 15 per cent.or a very liberal exemption list. The point raised by the honorable member fox the Barrier is one that I should be very glad to see overcome. It seems to me to be surrounded by considerable difficulties, but I am sure that the ingenuity of the Customs-house authorities will get over them. So far as mining machinery is concerned, it is certainly very important that the erection of large plants should not be delayed by doubt or hesitancy as to what the subsequent duty is to be.While I am certainly prepared to support the amendment as now submitted to the committee, I see no reason why agricultural machinery should not also have been included in it. I wish to distinctly indicate my intentionof securing an opportunity for the committee to consider whether the duty should not be reduced to 15 per cent. at least, and to express my opinion that this amendment, which I trust will now be carried, does not interfere with the reservations which three honorable members had in their own minds when they supported the Government upon the resolution in question.
– I should like to have the opinion of the Minister for Trade and Customs upon the point raised by the honorable member for Parramatta. I think it is a very serious constitutional question whether the Minister by this motion is not “ side-tracking “ the
Constitution. I take it that yon, Mr. Chairman, will consider the terms of this amendment very seriously before you decide to put it. You have to guard the rights of this House just as the Speaker has to do, and it is a moot point whether you should not refuse to accept this amendment, inas much as it practically proposes to give the Senate power to initiate taxation. In, the first place the Minister would give the Senate power to initiate taxation, and that is contrary to the intention of the Constitution. All measures relating to the public purse have to be initiated in this House.
– It is the GovernorGeneral in Council who will deal with this matter.
– It may be argued that exemption from taxation does not relate to the imposition of taxation. But if the executive of the day felt disposed to exempt certain articles from duty, the Senate, according to this amendment, would be able to refuse to consent to that exemption, and in so far as it refused to exempt an article from duty, it would impose taxation.
– The honorable member is joking.
– I would ask the Minister not to regard this matter in a jocular way. I should like to have the opinion of a constitutional authority like the honorable and learned member for Northern Melbourne upon the point. This is not a question of blocking business, but we should not like the Minister to surrender any of the powers, rights, and privileges of this House.
– This proposal was suggested by the honorable member’s own leader.
– There is more in the suggestion than meets the eye. In his desire to expedite, public business the leader of the Opposition may not have considered the constitutional aspect, and sufficient doubt has been raised upon the point to call for an interpretation of the Constitution by the Minister.
– As I understand the position, we have now provided for machine tools and mining machinery.
– Or any part.
– Or any part of mining machinery. I desire to know why all imported agricultural machinery which cannot be made in Australia, is to be placed on a footing different from that of other machinery. If it is not being manufactured here, and if there is no reasonable prospect of its being manufactured locally, why should we make any distinction? To my mind the position is untenable. The Ministry may think fit during the recess to place these particular lines in a schedule for the purpose of laying them before Parliament, and they will be able to do so, without opening up the whole question of the Tariff. It will be impossible, however, to deal with a particular piece of dutiable agricultural machinery which comes under notice, without opening up the whole Tariff. If the course proposed by the Ministry is a proper one, so far as mining machinery and the tools of secondary producers are concerned, why should there be any objection to agricultural machinery being treated in the same way ? If the Government will agree to my suggestion, there will be no , occasion for me to proceed further in the matter, but if they do not, I shall certainty divide the committee. I shall not allow it to be said, as it will be said, unless my proposal is adopted, that agriculturists have been placed on a footing different from that of other trades. I should like to have a statement from the Minister as to whether he is prepared to treat agricultural machinery in the same way as mining machinery and machine tools.
– I desire the committee to consider its position in this matter, and I am sure we ought to receive the assistance of all protectionists who are constitutionalists, in dealing with the objection we have taken. The amendment brought forward by the Minister can be looked at in two ways, but whether we regard it from a free-trade or a protectionist point of view, it seems to me to be objectionable. In the first place, does it mean anything ? We are asked now to say that only a particular part of mining machinery shall be dealt with in this way. I shall not deal with that question now, but wait until I see whether an amendment is moved on the lines just foreshadowed by the honorable member for South Australia, Mr. Poynton. In matters of taxation we should be more careful than in anything else. This House, according to the Constitution, is the one that can impose taxation.
– It is next to a waste of time to consider the rights of the House upon this matter.
– I am sorry to find that there are some honorable members whose minds are so constituted that they are unable to understand any argument that is addressed to them. A resolution may originate in either House, and I ask the protectionists of the committee to consider the position in which they may be put. It is not supposed that the present Government will continue in office for the rest of the three years ; it is admitted upon all hands that as soon as the Tariff is disposed of, the present Government will go out.
– Is a resolution a law 1
– I think it is in this case, and that is the point. If it is not, and there is to be no discussion upon the matter, the House will have no opportunity of saying whether a proposal made should be adopted or not. In ease of a change of Ministry, as I have suggested, we know that there will be no desire to interfere with the Tariff if that can possibly be helped. But there will be nothing to prevent a Minister holding free-trade views from submitting a resolution, placing all the newer kinds of machinery upon the free list. He would be within his rights in doing so, but if the protectionists do not support the resolution brought forward by the Ministry, they will throw the Government out. We may have a large number, of protectionists called upon to vote again upon a matter upon which they have already passed judgment, and if they do not support the Ministry, they will stultify themselves.
– We shall be in no worse position then than we are in now.
– Why not leave it to be settled by a Bill to be brought in and passed ?
– Because the one method is more rapid than the other.
– That means that in the consideration of a resolution, we are not going to be given the full time for the discussion of these .matters which we should have. Supposing the present Ministry remain in power, and that machinery to the value of £10,000 and upon which there is a duty cf 2 per cent, is being introduced. If the Ministry bring forward a resolution to place this machinery upon the free list, we may have this resolution, remitting duty to the extent of £2,000, allowed to go through without discussion.
– It would not get through without discussion if the honorable and learned member were here.
– Then if it is not to be put through without discussion, why not bring it forward in the proper way by a Bill, which would have to be passed through committee, and properly considered, and upon which amendments might be moved upon amendments. If the whole matter is proposed in the form of a resolution, it must be practically accepted or rejected, and there can be only one amendment moved upon a resolution. Members of the House may be willing to agree to half of what is proposed in such a resolution, and though they may not be willing to agree to the other half, they will not be able to deal with it. If the contention is that a resolution can be rushed through in an easy manner, then this is a power which no Ministry should have. What would be said in the case I have referred to of a proposal to remit duty to the extent of £2,000 upon certain machinery 1 It would be said that Ministers were working in favour of particular people, and that because a wealthy company proposed to introduce certain machinery, Ministers were prepared to exempt them from the payment of £2,000 in duty. With such a possibility as that, I could quite understand a Minister absolutely declining to exercise the power which this proposal would give him, because by doing so he would put himself into such- a position that it could reasonably be said that he was showing favouritism to particular people. I do trust that honorable members are not going to adopt a proposal which allows the Senate equal rights with the House of Representatives in this matter. The Senate could initiate resolutions, or amend them in any way- they pleased. If honorable members ure going to argue that the other House is more fitted to undertake these duties, and will devote more attention to the work I can understand it ; but I do not understand representatives of the people in this House, acting under the Constitution, adopting a course that will certainly allow the Senate to initiate or amend a resolution of this kind. This may appear to be a small matter to a House which does not seem prepared to do any work, and when we see that honorable members are not prepared to consider a constitutional point of this importance, it is perfectly clear that the session has already continued far too long. A body of men who are willing to surrender power in this way are not fit to be intrusted with it. If under this proposal, a matter to be submitted is not to be open to the fullest discussion, I say it should be dealt with in the ordinary way by a Bill.
– That would take time.
– That would take time, and there is a very good reason why it should, because , all matters affecting taxation should be fully considered from every point of view. The committee, by adopting a proposal of this kind, will stultify itself, and will put Ministers in the unfortunate position that every time they bring forward a resolution of this kind, they will lay themselves open to charges of favoritism. I object to being mixed up with anything that may get the name of appearing shady, much less being shady. Why should honorable members put themselves in such a position when there is no necessity for it ? That is a question which I should like honorable members to consider, even if they utterly ignore the constitutional question. Honorable members have assented much too readily to this proposal. The forms adopted by the House have only grown up after very long experience in various Parliaments, and they have been adopted because they have been found to be the bestmeansof safeguarding theinterestsof the people. It is now proposed that we should ride rough-shod over them as if they were of no account at all. It has always been found that any departure from them is inimical to the best interests of Parliament itself, and that is why I take exception to what I believe to be a departure from sound principles upon this occasion. I much regret that we have not had support from members of this committee who could aid us with a knowledge of the subject. I cannot understand whyprotectionistsshould nottake exactly the same objection, as weare taking to handing over this power to another House. I hope the committee will prevent any proposal being carried which will allow an alteration of the Tariff to be made without the fullest discussion by Parliament. To put off until a future day what can be done to-day is unworthy of honorable members.
– I see a very considerable difference between the first proposal of the Ministry for making exemptions by regulation and the present proposal, which is that of the leader of the Opposition. The danger under the first proposal was that the regulations might be laid before Parliament at the end of the session, when no opportunity could be obtained for their discussion, and they would therefore come into force, although there had been no real consideration of them by Parliament.
– The proposal of the Ministry was that before becoming law they should lie upon the table of the House for a certain number of sitting days.
– Yes ; but the danger of that proposal was that they might be laid upon the table at a period of the session when time could not be found for their consideration. The proposal now before us is that the regulations shall come into force only after they have been approved by resolutions of the two Houses. I am inclined to accept that way out of the difficulty ; but I think there is something in the constitutional question which it raises. I am inclined to fear that by adopting that arrangement we may be yielding some of our rights in regard to the imposition of taxation. Under the Constitution, the Senate may not amend any proposed law so as to increase any proposed charge or burden upon the people. The only right it has in regard to such matters is the right of suggestion. But may not the Senate, if the proposal before the committee is carried, obtain what will be virtually the right of deciding what exemptions shall be made and what shall not be made? Suppose, for instance, that a resolution is carried by the House of Representatives affirming the desirability of placing six articles upon the free list, and that the Senate strikes out two of those articles, and affirms the desirability of placing only four of them upon the free list ?
– Then it will be within the power of the Governor-General to issue a proclamation exempting from duty the four articles which have been agreed to by both Houses.
– In that case only the articles which are passed by both Houses will become exempt. Those which are not passed by the Senate will still remain dutiable.
– But in that case the Senate will not be imposing fresh taxation ; it will only be refusing to remit taxation. . .
– If the Government proposed to remit a land and income tax, and the Senate agreed to tie remission of the laud tax only, it could not be said to be imposing taxation.
– No ; but in that case the position would be different, because the Bill would have to come back to this House after it had been dealt with by the Senate, and we could then either pass it or reject it ; whereas, in the case of the proposed exemption of duties, once this House passed a resolution exempting certain articles it would have nothing, more to do in the matter, and the Senate would be the dominant House, because only the articles- which it agreed to exempt would be exempted.
– They would not be exempted; but the Executive would be able to issue a proclamation exempting them, and the House of Representatives could’ control the action of the Executive.
– The Executive might issue its proclamation without reference to the House of Representatives. I should like the Ministry to consider whether, in agreeing to the proposal now before us, we may not be yielding some of our power to another Chamber, or, at best, to another Chamber and the Executive.
– If we provide for a joint address, that will get over the difficulty.
– “Whatever is necessary should be done ; but the proposal now before us is to have two separate resolutions. I do not think we should deliberately cut down -our powers.
Mr. HENRY WILLIS (Robertson).The question which has provoked so much discussion is one regarding which the Minister for Trade and Customs has had more experience than any other- member of this committee, because a provision similar to that which we have been considering is embodied in the -Constitution of- South Australia, and has been in operation there for some years. The Minister tells us that if the House of Representatives is willing to exempt six articles, and the Senate approves of the exemption in regard to only four of them, we must accept the decision of the Senate ; but I do not think that that was the intention of the framers of our Constitution. However, I am sure that the matter will be righted when the position is thoroughly realized. I desire to say a word or two to supplement what has been said by tlie honorable member for South Australia, Mr. Poynton, as to the necessity, if we are going to make a concession in regard to mining machinery, for placing agricultural machinery upon the same footing, because it is of the utmost importance that agriculturists all over Australia should obtain their implements at the lowest possible cost. The proposal of the Minister applies only to mining machinery and to tools of trade. I hope that he will make it more comprehensive, so as to give the same relief to the agricultural industry as it is ‘ proposed to give to the mining industry.
Mr. REID (East Sydney).- I am highly satisfied that the Government have abandoned the proposal which they first made, and have accepted that which I suggested. Under those circumstances I have no further opposition to offer. I think it is a very good thing in the interests of the Commonwealth that that course is being taken.
Mr. POYNTON (South Australia).If we were to strike out the word “ mining “ lt would apply to any piece of machinery which it was thought advisable to let in free. I intend to move -
That the amendment be amended by the omission of the word “mining” before “machinery.”
– We think that the principle embodied in this amendment is one that is particularly applicable to machinery, and although possibly it is more applicable to mining machinery than to any other, still we do not see any special ground for differentiating between the two, and we are prepared to allow the principle to extend to all machinery. Of course we do not intend to transfer the whole of the Tariff discussion to resolutions which might be proposed day after day, irrespective of the question as to whether or not this particular principle which we have in our mind at this moment applies. I am perfectly willing to provide for a joint address, if that will meet the objection of tlie honorable member for North Sydney, but there ought to be some principle on which it should issue-. I take it that what we are agreed on is that it is to meet “the case of new machinery which is- not manufactured, or cannot reasonably be manufactured, in the Commonwealth. It is not intended to leave every Tariff question open for debate. So I propose to ask the committee to add that the address shall state that such machinery cannot reasonably be manufactured within the Commonwealth. Otherwise we might renew the discussion of the question of protection or free-trade day after day, year after year, as regards all the matter. All we seek to do is to limit the area of debate on the passing of an address to the question as to whether or not it is a case such as that which we are contemplating - where the machinery is of a character which is not made here, and so ought to be admitted free. I will therefore, by leave, further amend my amendment by omitting the word “ mining,” and by adding the words - “stating that such machinery, machine tool, or part thereof cannot reasonably be manufactured in the Commonwealth.”
Mr. REID (East Sydney).- That raises again what might be a very serious practical difficulty. A joint address can only be something which emanates from the responsible Ministry of the day. It is impossible to conceive of a joint addressin a matter of taxation to which the Ministry are not parties. They could not live for a day if they allowed a private member to take out of their hands the administration of the Customs department in matters of taxation exemption. Practically, it resolves itself into something done on Ministerial responsibility.
– Can we get these words in?
– The Ministry do not need to put in the words. A joint address of both Houses, considering the subject-matter - the management of the Customs - could only emanate from the responsible Ministry.
– The difficulty is this - that motions might not be carried. A large number might be brought forward, which could never be carried, and the Government could not refuse to allow time for their discussion.
– But only on some proposal of the Government.
– No ; it ought to be only on a proposal of the Government.
– I should understand from the procedure that the whole subject-matter, first of all, would appear in the proposal for a joint address, which could not emanate from any other source than the Executive Government in a matter of this sort.
– Any private member could move for a joint address.
– There might be on the business-paper a proposal that the House should take over the administration of one of the departments from the Minister ; but it is inconceivable that any Ministry would stand it.
– We do not want any principles of the Tariff raised on an address of this sort.
– The difficulty is that you try to make as a matter of law and conscience a thing which can only be a . matter of difference of opinion to different minds and different consciences. It is attempting to put an honorable obligation on something which really is only mischievous, because it varies in application, , and the way of carrying it would vary according to the individual and his judgment . of these things.
– I think we ought to have something to indicate what class of cases we intend to meet.
– Some such expression as “ it is expedient in the public interests “ might be used.
– You might raise the question of the whole Tariff then.
– This will do that; you cannot prevent it. In these Tariff debates we have seen an endless cleavage on that very expression “ which cannot reasonably be made in the Commonwealth “ between two sets of political views.
– What I mean to say is that, if you have a majority who affirm that, it will be a guarantee that they have considered it.
– May I say that it is rather objectionable to propose to put in a joint address something in the nature of a challenge to political parties ? Instead of avoiding a fiscal controversy the insertion of such words would challenge one. What is the thing intended to be put in ? That a certain article shall be exempted from taxation on the ground that it cannot reasonably be made inthe Commonwealth. That carries two challenges to a great political party. The first is that taxation should be made to rest on that principle which we deny absolutely; and the second is a loose fiscal debate as to what is a reasonable state of things for the application of a system of favoritism.
– Would it work out in that way in practice ?
– Whilst I do not mind being bound by a protectionist majority so long as it is in the Chamber, I object, when I am in office, to being compelled to talk like a .protectionist and issue proclamations like a protectionist. I wish to point out that under these words I could honorably give, according to my judgment and conscience, an interpretation of my own, because the word “ reasonably “ leaves the matter absolutely open. In the course of this debate we have had many instances of differences of opinion as to what is reasonable or otherwise in the working out of the Tariff problem, and I do not think that we ought to allow anything to appear on our statute-book that would admit of different interpretations according to the varying shades of .fiscal opinion. It must not be forgotten that the Ministry must be the moving party in bringing the matter before the House, and that they will be responsible to the Parliament of the day. It is not desirable that we should go on altering these Acts more than we can help. Our desire should be to make the inducements and reasons for political conflict as few as possible, and it will help to diminish them if we abstain from placing our propositions in an objectionable and challenging form. We should not ask certain persons to say that a certain thing is reasonable, when in their heart and conscience they think it is not. Moreover, to submit such propositions would be to raise false issues. Supposing the Government brought down a direct proposal to remove an article from the dutiable to the free list, they would not challenge political differences of opinion in the acute form in which they would invite them by obtruding the word “ reasonably “ into the resolution. This is a sort of fighting expression in fiscal matters, and we should free our fiscal legislation from any such terms as far as possible, and trust that the administration will be in harmony with the will of the people. It will be best to leave it to each Parliament to work out the will of the people. Although fiscal matters have been the subject of party fights for years past, none of the fiscal shibboleths have been embodied in legislation; they have been reserved for fighting purposes.
This word “reasonably” is a sort of fighting expression, which would be out of place in a Customs Act.
Mr. CONROY (Werriwa).- I am very glad to have heard the statement of the leader of the Opposition, because he has placed very clearly before the committee what I had attempted to explain, namely, that although from the free-trade point of view I can look with great satisfaction to the placing of anything on the free list, I object, on constitutional grounds, to its being done in this form. If we have fiscal fights let them be straightforward, and not brought about at all sorts of inconvenient periods and under circumstances which might have seriously disturbing effects upon the work of legislation. It would be a very great mistake to give any Ministry the power .now sought, or to depart from the sound practice which has been found so necessary for safeguarding legislative rights and privileges in the past.
Mr. REID (East Sydney). - I have just seen the amendment proposed by the Government, and I desire to point out how strongly the wording of this amendment supports what I have said -
Any machinery or machine tool or part thereof specified in any proclamation issued by the Governor-General in pursuance of addresses passed by both Houses of Parliament.
Surely if the amendment stops there it will be sufficient. The further words “stating that such machinery or machine tool or part thereof cannot be reasonably manufactured within -the Commonwealth” raise an element of contest and difficulty. So long as the Government can frame the address as they think fit, according ito the wisdom of tlie particular time, why should they be bound to any certain form of words? It is altogether foreign to the sovereignty of Parliament to stipulate what they should say in an address.
– It is done frequently in connexion with provisions for the removal of Railways Commissioners and so on.
– That is altogether different from the assertion of a fiscal principle in an address of both Houses of Parliament. I strongly suggest to the Government that they should leave the matter open. The Government would have control over the form of address, and there would be nothing -to prevent them from bringing it down in any form they might desire. They would have exactly the same power as their original proposal would confer ; but it would not be compulsory perhaps upon other people to take a certain course.
– I much regret that the phraseology of the amendment has been altered, and I am not disposed to allow this sort of thing to go any further. If it does go further, 1 shall feel in duty bound to vote against the amendment, about which, in its later phraseology in connexion with the constitutional aspect, there is a precipitancy which I do not like. This is a case in which we ought to “ hasten slowly.” If the Ministry are desirous that we should be made au fait with the new aspect of the amendment, why should the Government Printer not have been called an hour or two ago to reprint the amendment, and have it distributed amongst honorable members. After a quarter of a century’s experience of parliamentary customs and Ministerial treatments of matters of much less importance than this, my political mind and heart rebel against this procedure. I respectfully suggestthat this particular matter be deferred until to-morrow when we can have the later amendment printed in larger type and distributed. We are asked to depart from constitutional practice, and assign the authorities and powers of this House to a Minister’s opinion and judgment, leaving him to declare what item shall be placed on the free list.
– I do not quite understand the honorable member’s point.
– The resolution has to be carried by both Houses.
– PATERSON. - But the matter will be promulgated in the country before it comes before this House.
– This is a power to relax at the request of Parliament.
– There will practically be a Customs Amendment Bill every time.
– A colleague of mine from Southern Queensland, who I know speaks for others, desires me to say that he would like the amendment distributed, and opportunity given for a few hours consideration.
– I do not wish to deal with the constitutional aspect ofthe question, but there is a practical aspect which is worth the consideration of the Minister. The scope of this proposal is now very wide, as it simply says “ any machinery, machine tool, or part thereof prescribed,” and so forth. Keeping that in view, what is likely to be the result of this legislation ? New ideas in agricultural, mining, and other machinery are being brought forward almost every other day in the year, and, naturally, people who introduce those new ideas, will not wait until someone in the Commonwealth wishes to import the particular article, but will realize that an excellent opportunity is offered for a good advertisement. They will approach the Minister, asking that their particular article shall be exempted from duty ; and, if we have hundreds of such articles produced every year, we can imagine what a state of affairs will be introduced into the department of the Minister for Trade and Customs. It will almost necessarily mean a new department to consider each invention on its merits, and even if they do get due consideration, what other trouble will naturally arise 1 Some no doubt will be rejected, and then we shall probably have private members approached, and the matter brought up in the House, with the result that the whole question will be discussed. Looking at the proposal in this matteroffact practical way, I am afraid the result of this legislation will be to land the Minister, and even Parliament, in such a hornet’s nest of work, which is really outside the scope either of the department or of Parliament, that I hope honorable members will hesitate very seriously before they initiate such a procedure.
– According to the honorable member there should be no provision for relaxation.
Sir JOHN QUICK (Bendigo).- Two hours ago the Ministry submitted the mature proposal of the Government. That proposal is in print, and is to be found under the heading of special exemptions, relating to mining machinery, the principle in relation to the exemption of which was to be extended to machine tools generally. Having had that proposal before me since Friday last, I had no hesitation, after some consideration, and after hearing the Minister’s explanation, in expressing my acquiescence, and my readiness to support it. That proposal, as it stood, did not confer legislative power on the Minister, but merely gave him, sitting as a juror, power to declare, as a matter of fact, whether certain articles came within the general words of description in the paragraph. If I am right in my opinion that would not be a legislative power,, but merely a sort of Ministerial semi-judicial power, to decide whether certain articles, being tools of trade, ‘ were not capable of being manufactured in Australia, and should, therefore, be certified as being free within the meaning of the paragraph. I can understand that that could be regarded either as a Ministerial or a semi-judicial act, but not a legislative act, and it was coupled with the safeguard that it was not to come into operation until after the expiration of a certain time, during which either House of Parliament would have an opportunity of passing “a resolution practically vetoing the proposed declaration. That was a practical scheme, to which I regret the Ministry have not adhered. Surely we must have some finality in this matter. The Ministry are responsible for the proposals they submit, and they owe some obligation to the House and to their supporters. I, as a supporter of the Government, declared my adherence to the proposal then made.
– Others declared against it.
– And I object to be
Called upon to submit later on to another proposal which comes from the other side of the House involving a new departure altogether, and the consideration of very grave and important constitutional questions. There is in the new proposal involved the question of the co-ordination Of the two Houses - whether modifications of the Tariff are to originate in the Senate or whether they are, as according to the Constitution, to be confined to the House of Representatives. We had that point raised some time ago, and the inherent difficulty of it was perceived ; and I regret that it has been raised on the present occasion when it was hardly necessary to raise it. The question as to whether any machine tools or machinery can be manufactured in Australia ought to be dealt with as a declaratory act on the part of the Minister, and not as a legislative act. In order to decide the question of whether any particular class of tools or machinery can reasonably be made in Australia, he has under the amended proposal of the Government to call into requisition the whole machinery of the Commonwealth. That is a question of fact. It is not a legislative question, but is practically a Ministerial or judicial question. I say that, the Minister ought to take power to himself in the form in which he launched his proposal two or three hours ago, and not grasp at every suggestion which emanates from different quarters of the House. We must have something like Ministerial responsibility and Ministerial finality. Ministers should consider their proposals very carefully before submitting them to the committee, and should then accept full responsibility for their actions and submit them to the test.
– I think that we should all prefer to carry the Tariff in such a fashion that it would not be necessary to make any special exemptions. Of course, it is impossible to define all the various classes of machinery which are likely to be invented, and which, in the national interests, ought perhaps to be expeditiously and cheaply placed in the hands of the producers. But if we admit that, we must adopt some such proposal as is here outlined, with a view of providing for a speedy alteration of the existing law. The honorable and learned member for Bendigo seems to be in a peculiar state of mind to-night, seeing that he protests against the awful constitutional outrage which we are about to perpetrate, and at the same time thinks that the declaration by a Minister of what can reasonably be made within the Commonwealth is not a legislative act. He says it is a mere declaration of fact. . Surely the honorable and learned member’s recollection of the debates of the Federal Convention will be sufficient to recall to him the fact that the interpretation of the word “reasonable,” in regard to the use of the waters of the inland rivers was one of the points which gave rise to an immense amount of disputation. I cannot conceive how any person can say it is a matter of fact that machines cannot reasonably be made within the Commonwealth. I do not suppose there is any machine manufactured, which cannot be made in Australia. If it can be made elsewhere it can - given the necessary expenditure - be manufactured within the Commonwealth. Therefore, I cannot understand the attitude of the honorable and learned member for Bendigo, when he declares that he is prepared to assent to the original proposal of the Government whilst finding fault with the amended proposal. I think that probably the Ministry will be acting wisely if they do not emphasize too much the demand for the addition of the words “cannot reasonably be made within the Commonwealth.”
– It points what should be the ground of the address.
– I quite agree that it would be well indeed if we could lay it down that this power is not to be availed of in any light fashion. I can quite understand the desire to make it appear that it is in important cases only that the machinery of Parliament is to be called into requisition. But my contention is that whatever form of words is used, the practical effect will be the same. If a free-trade Ministry came into power immediately after the Tariff had passed, they would not move for any special exemptions in connexion with mining machinery unless it were proved that the importation of thatparticular machinery under the existing law was unduly expensive, because if they were going to make a general alteration of the Tariff from their own fiscal stand-point they would introduce a Bill affecting it as a whole. Any special exemption proposed to be granted in the case of mining machinery, even by a free-trade Ministry, would have to be justified on the ground that the articles in question could not be made within the Commonwealth without undue cost. Therefore, it seems to me that the practical result, with or without the addition of the words last proposed by the Minister, will be the same. In each case the Minister primarily will have to be satisfied that there is good ground for complaint before he brings forward his motion. I do not think it is likely that any private member will submit a motion of this sort. At any rate, it is very improbable that he would be afforded an opportunity in each House of having the matter discussed and carried to a division. Personally I am prepared to assent to the proposal that only a member of the Executive shall be able to move such a motion. I do not think that we need apprehend any grave constitutional crisis from the passage of the amendment. I agree with the honorable member for Perth that itislikely to be a source of worry to the Minister for Trade and Customs in connexion with applications to bring the resolution into operation. But against that we have to balance the fact that if we do not provide for some such resolution it will not be possible to admit free any class of machinery made dutiable, irrespective of whether it has been recently introduced, whether it is patented all over the world, or whether an extreme royalty is demanded upon the locally manufactured article.
– It would be just as well to have a short Bill introduced,
– I do not think so. A resolution can be carried in both Houses in a much shorter period than would be occupied by the passage of a Bill, which has to go through at least three stages in each Chamber. Honorable members will recollect that in the Customs Actwe made a somewhat similar provision in respect of regulations which become inoperative upon the vote of one House.
– That is a veto.
– This is in the nature of a veto in that it compels the cessation of the collection of revenue. I do not see a great deal of difference between the course adopted in regard to the Customs Act, and that which is now proposed, whilst I believe a certain amount of expedition will result from the adoption of this method as compared with that of passing a short Bill.
– I do not think it is true that the Government are too willing to accept amendments. At the same time, we are always ready to consider them, and if we are satisfied that a proposed amendment is an improvement, are willing to accept it, notwithstanding that it may not happen to be proposed from our own side of the Chamber. I think that when the honorable and learned member for Bendigo looks at the matter more closely he will arrive at the conclusion that it would have been better if some of his remarks had been left unsaid, He put it that the Government were to blame for accepting the suggestions which they are now incorporating in their proposal, and that he was prepared to support the original proposition which we made. What was the position? Simply this - we wanted to provide a way for certain relaxations to be made in regard to machinery which could not be manufactured within the Commonwealth. We originally proposed that that might be done by the making of a regulation not to come into force until it had been laid before Parliament for a certain time, and no exception had been taken to it. We proposed, in fact, to proceed by Executive act, and with the tacit consent of both Houses of Parliament. The position was put that the matter was of such importance that the Government ought not to rely on the tacit consent, but should secure the active approval of Parliament. The position was stated by, amongst others, an honorable member who spoke from the Government side of the chamber. Of course, I could have well understood an objection proceeding from the Opposition that not sufficient facilities were given for relaxations to be made ; but when they asked for greater stringency as regards the power of making relaxations, we were content that it should be so. We have now altered our proposal to the extent that instead of relying on the tacit assent of Parliament, and instead of the regulation coming into force at once, it shall not come into force until after the expiration of a certain period, and then we take tlie power, upon the request of both Houses, to issue a proclamation which will come into force at once. I venture to think that there is not much difference, but at the same time the alteration does undoubtedly secure greater parliamentary control over an Executive act, and we are perfectly content that that should be’ so., in the direction indicated. We have no desire whatever to assume any degree of responsibility which ought not to attach to us.
– Could such a resolution originate in tlie Senate ?
– We propose a joint address ; and also that it shall originate with Ministers. I put it to honorable members that there would be great trouble if, on the action of any private member, the subject of remitting the duty on any article might be brought up for discussion in either House. The control of the Customs generally should be in the hands of the Executive. We are not proposing to alter that. We have never proposed to alter it. As regards the remissions we proposed in the first instance that power should be given directly to the Minister. Now we say, carrying out the principle upon which we first acted - “Let the Minister act ; but let him first get parliamentary sanction, and let the obtaining of that sanction be the duty and responsibility of Ministers.” We propose to further alter the amendment so as to make it read as follows.: -
Any machinery, machine tool, or part thereof, specified in any proclamation issued by the Governor-General in pursuance of a joint address passed on the motion of Ministers by both Houses of the Parliament stating that such machinery, machine tool, or part thereof, cannot reasonably be manfactured within the Commonwealth.
If we put it in that shape, a difficulty that might confront some honorable members would be obviated. Under this proposal the initiative is to rest with the Executive and the final act with Parliament. Consequently there would be np danger as regards interference with the responsibilities which properly attach to the House of Representatives. Further, as regards the addition which we propose, and which we ask the committee to consider very closely - “ stating that such machinery cannot reasonably be made within the Commonwealth “ - the point we intended to meet - and the only point - was, in regard to new machinery, ike, and we did not intend to have the whole question of free-trade and protection opened up on a matter of this sort. I do not believe that any honorable member, wishes to create a power which would enable any private member to move in this matter from time to time. When the Executive refuses to take up a question of an amendment of the Tariff, we can well understand that if this power were not confined to Ministers, the manufacturer affected would at once go to the member for his district, who would be troubled - though no doubt in the majority of instances he would rise superior to the tribulation - to the extent in many cases of being induced to bring in a motion which would provea fertile subject for debate without achieving any useful result, and would occupy time and attention which might be spent to better purpose. We therefore ask leave to amend the amendment in the manner I have indicated. .
Amendment, by leave, amended accordingly.
Mr. CONROY (Werriwa).- The more I look at sections 53, 54, 55, and 56 of the Constitution, the more I am convinced that this committee ought not to allow any amendment of the sort proposed to pass. By so doing we at once allow the Senate to amend any motion that may be passed by us under this proposal in any way it may think fit. The motion may include perhaps 50 articles which the Government wish to place upon the free list. I presume that the Government would not bring them in singly. They would propose them when a sufficient number of articles was desired to be placed upon the free list. A motion would go up to the Senate, specifying those articles, and the Senate would have power to amend or alter it in any way it thought fit. The duty upon the articles in question might be 20 per cent. The Senate might knock out half of them, and place the remainder of them at a, lower rate, say 10 per cent. In fact, the Senate would be amending and altering laws relating to taxation ; because, although such a motion could not in the technical sense, perhaps, be called a law, still the effect of it would be to bring about a change in the law. Consequently, the committee ought to take very great care indeed that no laws which deal with taxation, in the direction either of increasing or lightening it, should be dealt with in any way except as the Constitution provides.
– It means a surrender of the powers of the House of Representatives.
– I think it does. Although I am anxious to see as many articles as possible placed upon the free list, I cannot give my consent to the proposal of the Government. I am glad to see that they have made certain alterations, providing that the motions should only be proposed by Ministers, because that is the proper method of acting under all circumstances when a joint resolution is to be passed. The more I look at sections 54, 55, and 56 of the Constitution the more convinced I am that the committee should not send up anything to the Senate in a form which would enable that House to depart from the Constitution. It might be very convenient for us to adopt the course suggested in one or two particularcases, but we should be establishing a precedent. We have to remember that we are dealing with a House elected on a wider basis than that on which any second Chamber has ever been elected, and we ought to be particularly careful. It seems to me that the Senate has power to amend a matter in any way it pleases if placed before it in the shape of a joint resolution, while on a proposed law it can only suggest amendments which this House may accept or reject.
– The honorable and learned member does not want any exemptions other than those made in theBill.
– AlthoughIam a sound free-trader, and desire toafford every proper opportunity for the placing of articles on the free list, I cannot assent to this proposal. This matter can only be dealt with properly in a Bill. The Bill would go before the Senate, which would only have power to suggest amendments, and if we saw fit we should be able to adopt those amendments. Looking at the spirit of sections 54, 55, and 56 of the Constitution, I think the Senate could not amend a measure exempting taxation. The Constitutionprovides that laws imposing duties of Customs shall relate to duties of Customs only. A measure imposing or remitting duties, if it is a matter of Customs, must relate only to that matter. This is a matter of Customs, and the committee will be safeguarding its own rights by dealing with it in a Bill instead of sending it up to the Senate in the shape of a resolution. There is only one way in which the proposal can be carried out properly, and if we depart from it we shall land ourselves in difficulties and create precedents.
– The fact that the Senate can amend a resolution is the whole point.
– Is it not the practical result of such a course with which we are most concerned?
– I wish I could think that that was the only consideration. I consider, however, that there is something, more. Under the Constitution -
The Senate may not amend any proposed law so as to increase any proposed charge or burden on the people.
– Is a resolution a law?
– I think not, and that is the point, because the Senate can deal with a resolution.
– If the Senate has power to deal with a resolution, in what way is this proposal unconstitutional?
– I do not say that it is unconstitutional, but I contend that we are giving up a certain part of our rights, which we ought to be very careful to preserve, because the Senate is a very strong body.
– It could not amend a Bill dealing with the matter.
– No ; but it could amend a resolution. We have to remember also that a resolution could be introduced there first, whereas, if the matter were dealt with in a Bill, that measure would have to be introduced first in this House.
– I suggested that the proper way in which to deal with this matter was by Bill, but the leader of the Opposition would not agree that that was so.
– I think the honorable member for Mernda was quite right. I trust that I have shown the committee the difference between a mere motion which can be introduced in either House - and altered by the Senate - and a Bill which must originate here, which cannot be amended by the Senate, and in regard to which that Chamber can only suggest amendments.
– I think there is something in the point raised by the honorable and learned member for Werriwa regarding the powers of both Houses of the Parliament ; but, in my opinion, it is undesirable for Parliament to deal with these matters. It is recognised that in every Tariff a certain power is given to the Minister. I am conservative enough upon the point to say that I shall be prepared to give considerable power to the Minister in this instance. I do not fear that he will do anything likely to be unconstitutional. This House has always the power to deal with the Minister if he does anything wrong, and I am somewhat surprised that honorable members who profess free-trade principles should be so anxious to tie the hands of the Minister, and to prevent him from allowing any machine tools to come in free.
– But surely there is something in my point?
– I am of opinion that the honorable and learned member’s objection is fatal from a constitutional point of view. If, upon a motion brought down by the Government, this House decided that certain tools should be admitted free, that would be remitting taxation which would be imposed if the motion were not adopted by the House. The Senate would have power to alter such a motion, and it would practically be imposing taxation if it struck out any of the tools referred to in it. That is perfectly clear to me, but
I shall leave that point to the constitutional lawyers. I prefer on the broad principle to give Ministers power as an executive to declare that certain tools shall be admitted free.
– They have that power now by the introduction of a Bill.
– Then why seek this power as well ? They cannot secure greater power by passing two measures to give them the same power.
– They can exercise that power now only by the passing of a Bill.
– I know that they have no powers but such as are delegated to them by this Parliament. I am prepared to give them the fullest power which they have under the Constitution, or which they may be given by Acts of this Parliament, and I should then make them responsible for their executive acts. That seems to me to be preferable to the method here proposed by the Minister, and I shall hesitate before voting for a proposal requiring Ministers to bring a motion down to this House, and get it passed by both Houses of Parliament, before the most paltry tools can be admitted free. That is straining parliamentary government too much. Ministers must have some responsibility, and the vigilance of the Opposition will always prevent them overstepping constitutional bounds.
Mr. KIRWAN (Kalgoorlie).- It seems to me that there is something in the point raised by the honorable and learned member for Werriwa. I know it is a dangerous thing for any layman to say anything about the interpretation of the Constitution, but reading it in a common sense way, it seems to me that there is a sentence in section 53, which forbids the course of action here proposed. There is one line in section 53, which says -
The Senate may not amend proposed laws imposing taxation.
This proposal will virtually give the Senate power to amend a law which has already been passed, imposing taxation. I think those honorable and learned members of the committee who are regarded as authorities upon the Constitution, might take notice of that point, because the sentence I have read appears to me to be prohibitive of a resolution of this sort. The amendment in its present form is undoubtedly an improvement upon the amendment as originally introduced, but still I think the whole proposition is objectionable. It is objectionable, because of the use of the expression “cannot reasonably be made within the Commonwealth.” That leaves room for a very wide interpretation, and almost every Minister would put a different interpretation upon that expression. I chiefly object to the amendment, because I think it is probable that it will never be given effect to, and being brought forward, it is a kind of delusion. It has made some honorable members believe that certain concessions are to be made to so-ne industries requiring exemptions, and though the concessions may be merely in form, it was on the promise of these concessions that the Government were victorious in carrying certain proposals. I am afraid it will be found that there will be very little done under this amendment, and because of it the duties upon some articles will probably be higher than they > would have been if it had not been brought forward at all. Therefore, while I consider this an improvement upon the amendment as first submitted, I think it would be better that even as amended it should be negatived, and that there should be nothing done in this direction.
Mr. JOSEPH COOK (Parramatta).There are two difficulties in the way. The constitutional difficulty in my opinion is a very real one. I do not think that at the beginning of the history of this Parliament we should so readily assent to these joint powers of the two Houses upon questions of taxation. That matter has been sufficiently argued, and I shall not proceed further with it. There is further the practical difficulty that under the terms of the amendment the Minister bringing forward a motion of this kind has to determine what tools can or cannot be reasonably made within the Commonwealth. In bringing the amendment forward in this form they seek to exclude the discussion of the fiscal question per se. I venture to say that by trying to eliminate the fiscal question in its broad aspects they put the whole matter upon a false basis so far as we on this side are concerned. What have we to do with the question whether a thing can be manufactured reasonably in the Commonwealth or not? Surely we do not pretend to base our fiscal theories upon that consideration. We are prepared to admit at once that these tools can be made in the Commonwealth, and -that almost anything under the sun can be made here, which can be made anywhere else. It is altogether a question of whether it is in the public interest that these things should be made here under the conditions proposed by Ministers. We on this side, for instance, say that some things are made here which it would be greatly to the interests of the Commonwealth to have made elsewhere. We say it would be better if our people were engaged in making something else which they could make more effectively, and if the making of these things were left to people elsewhere who have a special aptitude for the work. We say that things are reasonably made within the Commonwealth when they can be made here under such conditions as do not require constant bolstering on the part of the Government, and, on the other hand, we say that things are made here unreasonably if they can be made only when artificial aids are given to their manufacture by the Parliament of the country. So that this question of what can be reasonably made here covers the whole ground of fiscal theory in its wider application, and in seeking to insert this amendment, in the way Ministers are doing, I venture to submit that they are trying to limit the debate, and are placing the discussion upon an entirely false basis. We do not discuss these questions, involving taxation upon the people, from that narrow point of view, and I decline to be bound by any such proposals for a modification of the Tariff, as may from time to time be submitted under such an amendment as this. We must consider the whole question of whether these things should be free or should be taxed. If that is done, there is a fair deal between parties in the House. Under the amendment, as now proposed; these resolutions will assume that the whole House is a protectionist House, that it has so declared itself, and that its only further function after passing the Tariff is to modify it in accordance with purely protectionist principles. Any proposal for exemptions, therefore, will be upon a false basis for argument when it comes before the Chamber, and upon that ground alone, as well as because of the constitutional difficulties I see ahead, I think we should pause before agreeing to the proposal of the Minister.
– I was very much struck with the reply of the Minister for Trade and Customs to an interjection from the opposition side of the chamber, as to the position of a private member who desired that an article should be placed upon the free list. The Minister stated that he intended to keep the power to place articles on the free list in the hands of the Executive. But when, some weeks ago, the question was raised whether private members had the right to propose additions to the Tariff, and thus to increase taxation, the Minister argued that they had that right, and his contention was upheld by Mr. Speaker. His present attitude in objecting to honorable members being allowed to take steps to reduce taxation is, therefore, a most inconsistent one. At the present time honorable members can propose amendments in the Tariff which will have the effect of largely increasing the burdens of the people, and may carry them even against the wishes of the Government, and I think, therefore, they should have the right to propose amendments in any resolutions that may be submitted, with a view to relieving the people of taxation, and even the right to propose such resolutions. I do not think that the decision of Mr. Speaker, that honorable members have the right to add to the Tariff, is a right one, but, as the House accepted the ruling, and honorable members have been permitted to exercise the right in committee, it seems inconsistent to deny them the right to endeavour to reduce the burdens of the people. “With regard to the constitutional aspect of the question, the Senate, it is well known, is given the power only to make suggestions in regard to laws for levying taxation.
– The Constitution says nothing about laws remitting taxation.
– If the House of Representatives passed a resolution affirming the desirability of placing 50 articles upon the free list, and- the Senate agreed to place only 40 of those articles upon the free list, its action would be equivalent to imposing taxation upon the people.
– No. All they would do would be to refuse to remit taxation. The articles which they refused to place upon the free list would be articles that were already dutiable.
– If the Senate agreed to place some articles upon the free list, and refused to place other articles there, they would be imposing taxation contrary to the wish of the House of Representatives. The point seems worthy of consideration. I am anxious that the free list should be made as large as possible, and while I hope that an opportunity will be given to place tools of trade and machinery on the free list, while dealing with the Tariff itself, I hope that those connected with the primary industries of the country will be placed upon the same footing as those connected with the. manufacturing industries, and be accorded similar treatment.
Mr. CONROY (Werriwa). - I wish to record my vote against this proposal. The more I have reflected on it the more difficulties have I seen. The more it is examined the more clearly will it be seen that it will be far better to deal with a proposed exemption by Bill. I do not think the Government can say that their method will lead to much saving of time. If a Bill is to be introduced, the responsibility for its introduction, will rest with the Ministry. There is a proper way of doing these tilings, and it ought to be adopted. I do not think that under any circumstances the committee ought to give its sanction to a change of this nature.
Mr. SYDNEY SMITH (Macquarie). - I think it would be far better to take a vote on an amendment I” propose to move, and after it is disposed of it will be quite competent for my honorable and learned friend to vote against the proposal of the Government, even if it has been amended.
Mr. CONROY (Werriwa).- The desire of a good many honorable members is to express then- dissent from this- proposal on constitutional grounds. Even supposing that the amendment of my honorable friend were carried I should still object to the proposal in the form in which it would stand.
Mr. SYDNEY SMITH (Macquarie).The reason for leaving out the latter words has been stated very fully by several, honorable members. I submit .that there will be very great difficulty in determining what articles “ cannot reasonably be manufactured within the Commonwealth.” What may be reasonable to my honorable friends opposite may be unreasonable to other honorable members. If the view of the Minister is carried out it will be impossible for any honorable members to make any proposals to the House, because he says he is going to reserve that power for the Executive Government. That is a responsibility which ought to rest with Parliament. I move -
That the amendment be amended by the omission of the words “stating that such machinery, machine tool, or part thereof cannot reasonably be manufactured within the Commonwealth.”
Question - That the words proposed to be omitted stand part of the amendment - put. The committee divided.
Majority … … 9
Question so resolved in the affirmative.
Amendment of the amendment negatived.
Mr. POYNTON (South Australia).Before a vote is taken on the proposal of the Government I wish one point to be cleared up. Am I to understand that if it is carried it will take away the right of an honorable member to give notice in the ordinary way from time to time for an exemption to be made ?
Mr. SYDNEY SMITH (Macquarie).- I understood that the Minister was taking to himself the sole right to make proposals for exemption from duty, and that no private member would be permitted to move in that direction. I pointed out the inconsistency of the right honorable gentleman in upholding the action of the Speaker a few weeks ago, in deciding that any honorable member might propose an increase of taxation under the Tariff, and now proposing to reserve to himself the right of relieving the people, from taxation. The amendment provides that the address shall be passed by both Houses of Parliament “ on the motion of Ministers.” Therefore the power of taking the initiative in placing articles on the free list is restricted to Ministers. If the Government bring down certain proposals it will be competent for the House to amend them, but no matter how strongly honorable members may feel, or how reasonable their wishes may be, they can do nothing to place goods on the free list unless they can induce the Government to submit a proposal.
– It seems that what we have now done will prevent us from making any additions to the machine tools now on the free list, unless we succeed in getting an address passed through both Houses of Parliament. That will be equivalent to securing the passing of an Act of Parliament. I understood that there were to be additions made to the list of exempted machine tools.
– The honorable member will be at perfect liberty to propose additions.
– Yes; but what I desire is that the committee shall have the right to say whether such tools can reasonably be made within the Commonwealth, and not that the decision of that question shall rest with the Ministry.
Mr. CONROY (Werriwa).- I wish to place on record my constitutional objection to the course now being adopted. By sending forward a resolution in the way now decided upon, this House will in fact allow the Senate to make amendments or alterations in what are virtually taxation proposals, whereas if a Bill embodying such proposals were forwarded to the Senate the measure could not be amended, and the Senate could only express its dissent from our proposals by way of suggestion. I cannot impress too strongly upon honorable members the fact that the Senate is an elective body, and that the less we yield to them the better. Under these circumstances we ought to be especially jealous of our rights. I object to the course which it is proposed to take, and ask that the whole amendment be negatived.
Mr. JOSEPH COOK (Parramatta).- My reason for voting against the proposal which is now before the Chamber is that the committee have already decided that when we come to argue this matter we can only do so upon a protectionist basis. It has been determined that we can no longer discuss whether these articles ought to be admitted free, per se, but can only debate it from the point of view of whether they can be reasonably made within the Commonwealth. For that reason I shall vote against the amendment.
Mr. REID (East Sydney).- I should like to point out that the passage of these words will in no sense bind any free-trade Administration which may come into power, because its members will interpret them according to their consciences, and they cannot reasonably act as free-traders if they put burdens upon the people in order to favour any particular class. To do so is contrary to our creed, and if such a power is put into the Tariff we are not likely to hold that articles can “ reasonably “ be made within the Commonwealth when they have to be manufactured under artificial conditions which rob one man to advantage another. Personally, I could never be brought to do things under these words which I would not do without them. At the same time I cannot vote with the honorable and learned member for Werriwa. The proposition made by the Government was, I thought, highly objectionable. I made a suggestion which the Ministry have adopted, and which, I think, is a vast improvement upon their original proposal. Under these circumstances I do not propose to vote against them. At the same time I cannot vote for the inclusion of words to which I know my honorable friends opposite attach a certain meaning, and, therefore, I do not propose to vote at all.
Question - That the words proposed to be inserted (Mr. Kingston’s amendment) be so inserted - put. The committee divided.
Majority … … 9
Question so resolved in the affirmative.
Amendment agreed to.
That the following articles be added to the list of exemptions : - Monoline and other typecomposing machines, pasteurizers,cylinders for gas, plough and buck chains, electrical materials - (wire-covered dry cells), wroughtiron fittings for wrought - iron pipes, lock staples, dog-traps, brass strips, copper strips, steam road-rollers, rods for nail-making, steel knives for tobacco-cutters, and tin openers.
Mr. THOMSON (North Sydney). - I only desire to point out that there were some exemptions intended to be made by striking out certain items of the duties. These items must be placed in the list of exemptions if they are to escape duty.
Amendment agreed to.
– I move -
That the House do now adjourn.
As the sessional orders now stand they provide for Monday sittings, but we have hitherto asked the House to adjourn from the Friday until the Tuesday, pending the opportunity of observing to what extent progress is made. We do not propose next Friday that the House shall adjourn until the Tuesday, but I make this statement tonight in order that honorable members may have the fullest notice. The time has, I think, arrived when it is the opinion of all honorable members that we should devote a little more time to the carryingout of our duties, so as to conclude the session within a reasonable period.
– I would ask the Prime Minister to adjourn over Monday at least this week, because many honorable members from South Australia and New South Wales, who found it impossible to do any private business owing to the public holiday last week, desire to visit their homes at the end of this week, and the notice is too short to allow of existing arrangements being altered. For my part, I think that the House sits much too often, and I do not know how Ministers find time to go about their business. Individual members have scarcely time to deal with the matters before them, much less to devote themselves to any constructive legislation. It is a question whether anything is really gained” by sitting every day in the week, because there are evidences now that honorable members are becoming tired. I should be glad, if I thought my duty to the people of New South Wales allowed it, to keep silent, but I do not think it does ; andI shall continue to fight until the end of the session. Last week, from observations I made, I found that honorable members were not able to stand the strain of attending the House constantly, and I can well believe it when it is said that Ministers find the work almost too much for them. While I do not think that the efforts of the Government have been in the right direction, I feel that the House is sitting too often, and that such a plan can only result in the passing of haphazard legislation. As a Parliament we sit more hours than any court of justice, school, university, or any other body who do mental work.
– I join with the honorable and learned member for Werriwa in suggesting that the Government should postpone the extra sitting for another week. I feel that
– If no honorable member will say another word I will consent to postpone the extra sitting day. I have been asked so prettily by my honorable friend to make this concession that I make it on the clear understanding that we shall all be at one in the matter of proceeding under the sessional orders after this week.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
House adjourned at 10.57 p.m.
Cite as: Australia, House of Representatives, Debates, 28 January 1902, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/hofreps/1902/19020128_reps_1_7/>.