1st Parliament · 1st Session
Mr. Speaker took the chair at 10.30 a.m., and read prayers.
Motion (by Mr. Barton) proposed -
That the House at its rising to-day adjourn until Tuesday next.
Mr. SYDNEY SMITH (Macquarie).What does the Prime Minister intend to do in regard to future Mondays ?
– The right honorable member must recognise that to sit every week from Tuesday until Friday is a great tax upon honorable members. In one or two divisions only 27 members out of a House of 75were present.
– Members should all be here.
– No doubt; but the fact shows the difficulty of getting members to come here, even with the present number of sitting days.
– The Government want to get the Tariff through.
– It is no more a pleasure to the members of the Opposition to stay here and fight against some of the proposed duties than it is a pleasure to other honorable members to sit here and support those duties ; but we are prepared to do it in the interests of our constituents, however unpleasant the task may be . I suggest that, before the Prime Minister makes up his mind to resume Monday sittings, he should see if some better arrangement cannot be made. I think that most of those who come here from other States are prepared to meet every morning at halfpast ten. Practically our mornings are wasted at the present time.
– The work of administration could not be carried on under such circumstances.
– Some consideration should be paid to the convenience of honorable members who come here from other States. No doubt, morning sittings would be inconvenient to Victorian representatives.
– The Victorian representatives will be quite willing to come here.
– The arrangement which I suggest would give the Government more time than they will get by sitting on Mondays, and will be more convenient to honorable members who come from long distances.
– Why not discuss the matter when it is proposed to sit on Mondays?
– We shall have no other opportunity to discuss it, because the House has already carried a motion making Monday a sitting day.
– The general question of sitting on Mondays is not before the Chair. The question is whether we shall sit next Monday.
– Would it be in order for me to move as an amendment that the House meet at half-past ten a.m. on Tuesdays, Wednesdays, and Thursdays?
– No. The motion now before the Chair is in effect that the House do not sit on Monday next, and I cannot allow the honorable member to discuss the question of sitting on Mondays generally.
– Would it not be competent for the honorable member to move, as an amendment, that, after next Monday, we do not sit on Mondays at all? It will not be necessary for the Government to move in the matter to insure further Monday sittings, because of the motion which we have already passed, and no private member will have an opportunity to raise the question.
– Such an amendment as the honorable member suggests could not be moved. The only amendment permissible on the motion before the Chair would be an amendment fixing Tuesday or some other day as the next day of meeting, or altering the hour of meeting. The only amendment that I can accept is an amendment relating to the next sitting day. Standing Order No. 41 provides that a motion for fixing the next day of meeting may be moved at any time without notice by a Minister of the Crown; but there is nothing to prevent any other member of the House from moving a similar motion upon notice.
– But he could never reach it.
– That is not a matter which I am called upon to consider. Upon the motion now before the Chair I cannot allow more than an incidental reference to anything beyond the next day of sitting.
– The House agreed to sit on Mondays upon the understanding that the arrangement was to hold good only until Christmas time. It was thought that, by taking that course, we should be able to get through the Tariff by Christmas. In view of that fact, and as it is impossible for any private member to raise the question, I ask the Prime Minister to give the House an opportunity to come to some determination in regard to the hours of sitting for the remainder of the session. I hope that my right honorable friend will give us an opportunity to say whether we should not meet at half-past ten upon the present sitting days instead of meeting upon Mondays.
– Eleven !
– I cannot allow this discussion to proceed. The question before the Chair is whether we shall adjourn until
Tuesday next. If the motion is lost, the House will meet next Monday.
– Will it not be in order to show that by adopting another course the progress of public business will be facilitated ?
– The honorable member in doing so will not be making an incidental reference to the matter, but discussing the whole question.
– I do not wish to take up any unnecessary time, but my sole desire is to facilitate the despatch of public business. Honorable members on this side of the House are equally anxious with the Government to bring the Tariff discussion to a close, and if the Prime Minister will consider the suggestion which has been made as one way out of the difficulty, we shall be quite prepared to allow the motion to pass without further discussion.
– I desire to ask you, Mr. Speaker, whether it will be in order to move an amendment, adding to the motion the following words : - “And shall thereafter, until otherwise ordered, meet on Tuesdays, Wednesdays, Thursdays, and Fridays only.” I would urge that Standing Order No. 41 does not preclude the possibility of an amendment being moved. My sole desire is to have the matter discussed in an orderly way, and there is no suggestion of want of confidence, in the Government, or any desire to take the business out of their hands.
– On the point of order, might I suggest that this is a motion for a special adjournment, and that the sole question before the Chair is as to what shall be our next sitting day. Therefore, any mention of the other sitting days would be irrelevant to the motion.
– I am prepared to give a ruling at once, and I desire to give it forthwith, because it is practically a repetition of the ruling I have already given. Standing Order No. 41 does not preclude the moving of an amendment. I quoted Standing Order No. 4 1 in connexion with quite another point, but the whole practice of Parliament is entirely against permitting any such amendment as that suggested by the honorable member for Bland. Further, the amendment is irrelevant to the question at issue, which is whether the next sitting day shall be Tuesday. I would suggest to honorable members that, if it is the desire to ascertain the will of the House upon the general question of sitting days, there is a very easy way of doing so. If the Government discern that it is the will of the House that an opportunity should be given for discussing the question of sitting days generally, they can easily afford that opportunity next week, on an honorable member bringing forward a motion specially dealing with the matter.
– Of course, that would be entirely within the discretion of the Government ; but I now desire to know the procedure to be adopted in securing a disagreement with your ruling, because it seems to me this is a matter which ought to be discussed, and there seems no other way of enabling us to arrive at a decision.
– I would suggest that the feeling of honorable members could be tested by moving that the House should sit on Tuesday next, at twelve o’clock. The Governmentcould make their ownarrangements with regard to subsequent Tuesdays.
– I will not submit to have the control of business taken out of our hands.
– If we carry this motion, private members will have no opportunity of bringing the matter under discussion again unless the Government introduce it. I have a decided objection to sitting on Mondays. I am one of those members who attend here every sitting day, and, as I desire to go home sometimes, I do not want to be placed in the position of having to neglect my political duties in order to do so. After I come here on Tuesdays I am prepared to sit right through the day in order to transact public business.
– What about honorable members who are here all the time?
– The honorable members who are living in Melbourne and have their families here are in a much better position than are those whose families are in other States, and who have to travel backwards and forwards at the end of the week.
– We have had to make some sacrifices in order to bring our families here.
– Experience in other Parliaments and in this Parliament tends to show that public business is not expedited by increasing the number of sitting days. If the Government are prepared to say that they will afford honorable members an opportunity of considering the advisableness of commencing our sittings at eleven o’clock on Tuesdays, Wednesdays, and Thursdays, instead of sitting on Mondays, I should not object to the motion.
– On looking up May, I find, as I expected to find, that you were quite correct in the ruling you have given, Mr. Speaker, and as, in view of the standing orders, any disagreement with your ruling would be rather unfair to yourself, I do not propose to go any further in that direction. I hope, however, that the Government will consider the fact that our present sittings involve a strain upon honorable members for a large number of hours on each day, and during the week as a whole, and that when we are engaged in considering the technical details of the Tariff, it is difficult to maintain for such long hours that mental tension which is necessary in the interests of the country. I sympathize with the desire of the Government to finish the session as soon as possible, but I would urge them to consider, not the convenience of honorable members, but the extra strain which would be placed upon them if we sat on Mondays.
– There should be no question of any implied censure upon the Government in connexion with this discussion. All that is desired is that reasonable consideration should be shown for honorable members, and that an opportunity should be afforded of discussing the whole matter. I am quite sure that honorable members are already called upon to sit longer than is good for them, and that some honorable members are not able to stand the constant strain. If the Government would afford us an opportunity to consider the question of the hours and days of sitting at some future time, I should be satisfied to allow the motion to pass for the present.
– Whilst we are perhaps entitled to consider our own convenience, we should also bear in mind the position occupied by those honorable members who come from Western Australia and Queensland, and who are not able to go to and from their homes at the end of the week. Personally, I am prepared to sit on Mondays if it is considered necessary. I am in favour of morning sittings, but I recognise, that, whilst sitting here from ten o’clock in the morning until eleven o’clock at night would not put any great stress upon private members who are free to go and come as they choose, it would impose a very heavy strain upon the Minister for Trade and Customs and theTreasurer, who have to be in the chamber during the whole time the Tariff is under discussion. I favour Monday sittings for a few weeks because I think they would enable us to get through our work all the more quickly. I am not one of those who believe that the longer we sit the less work we do. It would suit my own convenience not to sit on Mondays, because I could then spend a day longer in Sydney at the end of the week ; but I am ready to consider the interests of those who are far away from their homes, and cannot visit them week by week. If the Government think it necessary to ask the House to sit in the mornings I am quite prepared to fall in with their wishes ; but some consideration must be paid to the extra work that would be thrown upon Ministers.
– I do not wish to appear selfish in this matter, but I think that honorable members representing the very distant portions of the Commonwealth have studied the convenience of those who are more favorably situated in every possible way. It is quite true that a number of the representatives of the more remote States have removed their families to Melbourne; but that course has been rendered compulsory owing to the prolonged nature of the session. It was impossible for honorable members to allow their wives and families to be separated from them continuously for eight or nine months.
– It is a nice thing to have to remove one’s family.
– Some honorable members have had to take that step and to sacrifice their businesses as well. I realize the difficulty which the honorable member forthe Barrier has pointed out inregard to the strain which falls upon the two Ministers in charge of the Tariff. I recognise that when the House is sitting they have to remain continuously at the table whilst other honorable members can occasionally leave the chamber for a little recreation, and I sympathize with the Ministers in the arduous position which they occupy. At the same time, I think that some effort should be made to close the session at an early date. I am willing to do my share of the work, and, if necessary, to sit night after night. But I realize that it is perhaps not a good thing for the sittings to be too protracted. I know that the strain which falls upon the New South Wales representatives in travelling to and from Sydney is very intense, and must be quite equal to that which would be imposed upon them if the House met upon an extra day in each week. I repeat that I have no desire to be selfish in this matter, but I should like to see some arrangement made by which the course of public business might be expedited.
– As a representative of Queensland, I wish to say that it is not possible for all of us to bring our families to Melbourne. In my own case six months elapsed between the time of my departure from my home and the date of my return to it. Whilst I hold that we do not expedite business by sitting for an unreasonable period on each day, I think that we will accomplish that end by sitting upon a greater number of days. If we sat upon five days of the week for a briefer period than we have been doing, I believe that more rapid progress would be made. The idea which has been promulgated ‘ by the New South Wales representatives seems to me rather a selfish one. Of course they are willing to meet upon Wednesday, Thursday and Friday mornings. Under such an arrangement they will be allowed an opportunity of returning to Melbourne on Tuesday morning, but they altogether lose sight of the fact that Queensland representatives are present in Melbourne the whole time. I think that every honorable member who has undertaken the responsibility of representing his constituents, should feel that he is compelled to transact the business of the country as expeditiously as possible, especially when such an important matter as the Tariff is under consideration. If we meet upon five days of the week for a shorter period than has been our custom, we shall secure an interval of rest which will enable us to return to our labours refreshed ; but if on the contrary we sit all night, as we have done upon several occasions, we shall come back jaded and unfitted for legislative work.
– I think with the honorable member for Kennedy that we ought not to be selfish in this matter. Honorable members ought not to overlook the fact that representatives of New South Wales and South Australia require to visit their homes occasionally in order to give some attention to their businesses. They do not go home for pleasure. To undertake such a long railway journey every week is anything but a pleasure, because they have to submit to the constant oscillation of the train, which constitutes a very great strain, upon the nervous system. For honorable members representing distant States’ to insist that because they cannot reach their homes occasionally the representatives of New South Wales and South Australia shall be denied that privilege would be very selfish indeed. I hope that the House will sit from ten or eleven o’clock in the morning until not later than ten o’clock at night. .That will give Ministers an opportunity of attending to official work.
– Does the honorable member seriously think that the business of a Minister’s department can be transacted in one day each week ?
– Under the existing practice, Ministers have a couple of days weekly in which to attend to departmental matters, and I take it that when only two of them are constantly present in the chamber, the others have an opportunity of transacting official business during the sittings of the House. Out of consideration to the New . South Wales and South Australian representatives, I hope that honorable members representing the distant States will not press for Monday sittings.
– I shall offer no objection to the proposal to sit upon another day each week. At the same time I do not imagine that the adoption of such a course will contribute to the greater despatch of public business. My experience is that the greater the strain to which honorable members are subjected,, the more discussion is provoked. If the business of the House is to be properly transacted, ample time for preparation must be given to honorable members. However, I feel that the Government are entitled to have some say in the matter of prescribing the time which shall be at their disposal .for the despatch of business. I urge the Prime Minister to consider whether the work of the session is likely to be expedited by the- House sitting an extra day weekly. My experience is quite to the contrary.
– I suppose there will be no objection to the carrying of this motion. Whilst I agree with the honorable member for Parramatta that we must always consider the Government in matters of this sort, I think that a reciprocal obligation rests upon the Government to study the convenience of honorable members generally. That spirit has been shown upon both sides, and I hope it will always be exhibited. The proposal to sit on Mondays raises a question between members who live in Melbourne and those whose homes are in the other States. For honorable members residing in this city the proposition is a most convenient one, but for those whose homes are elsewhere the practice of meeting on Monday would prove most inconvenient. I hope that the Ministry will take the matter into consideration, and see whether they cannot meet the convenience of honorable members who have occasion to visit their respective States. To attend here on Mondays would be a very severe strain upon the New South Wales representatives, whilst the practice would operate still more harshly in regard to the representatives from South Australia. Personally, I should prefer to sit later when we are here, but that would be inconvenient to honorable members who reside in Melbourne.
– It would be too great a strain.
Mr.REID. - No doubt to those who live in this city it is very important that we should adjourn at eleven p.m. I used to think that we did so on account of the sweet reasonableness of the Government, but I begin to suspect that the practice arises from other considerations. I shall be perfectly satisfied if the Government will take this matter into consideration, with a view to seeing what can be done. I think that the motion should be carried as a matter of form.
– I am as anxious as is any honorable member of the House to bring the session to an end, because, much as I like to live in Melbourne, and much as I love my fellow members, I. love my home and my State still more. I am anxious to get through the business as soon as possible, with a view to attending the coronation ceremony ; but I do not think that to add another sitting day would tend in the direction of shortening the session. The strain on honorable members would be too great, and the work would not be so well done. Unlessthe extra sitting day is added at the unanimous request of honorable members, the suggestion should not be persisted in ; and I hope the Government will not force honorable members to attend here five or six days a week unwillingly.
– It is better to sit on five days for eight hours than on four days for twelve hours.
– There is another side to the question as presented by the honorable member for Oxley. There must be some finality to the first session of the Commonwealth Parliament. I happen to differ from a great number of honorable members regarding the personal strain entailed by discussing, over a number of days, the items of the Tariff. If there is light work to be done in Parliament, it is dealing with the items in the Tariff. Those who are conversant with a particular subject are quite able to put their views before the committee, and one man can present a case much more clearly than can three or four colleagues with inferior information. Personally, I prefer sitting a number of days to sitting late at night. As the Minister for Trade and Customs says, it is better to sit five days a week for eight hours a day than four days a week for twelve hours a day. I hope the Government will adhere to the proposition to sit fi ve days a week. I have been looking over the division lists since we resumed business after the New Year, and I find that generally less than two-thirds of the members of the House have voted. Pairs have been made for nearly all the members of the House at one time or another.
– A great many of the pairs have been in the House.
– This pairing is perfectly legitimate from the point of view of honorable members from New South Wales, who might as well be in Sydney as in the divisions, if properly paired. I mention this to show that it would be no inconvenience, from a parliamentary point of view, if New South Wales members stayed at home a day longer after being properly paired. Parliament could go on, and every one would be more convenienced ; if the business of Parliament is expedited thereby, the people of the country will unanimously approve the extra sitting day.
Mr. BARTON (Hunter- Minister for External Affairs. - I do not wish to go beyond the latitude which you, sir, have very properly allowed to other honorable members, but I must say that I admire very much the suggestion of the honorable member for Wide Bay, who may be regarded as the latest authority on “pairs.” I agree with the leader of the Opposition that matters of this kind always require grave consideration on the part of the Government, who have to bear in mind not only the convenience of honorable members, but the absolute necessities of public business ; and, of course, in all the Government do they rely on the support of honorable members. Without any objection on the other side of the House, Monday was, in November, granted as an additional sitting day. To a speech which I then made I shall no further refer than to say that I gave no indication that this additional sitting day was to be granted only up to Christmas. As a matter of history we have sat only twice on the Monday, although that additional day was granted in November, so that the Government cannot be accused of pushing this matter too far. The Government wish to have this additional day during the discussion of the remainder of the Tariff ; but, when the Tariff is finished, if it be found that for the remaining business Monday is not required, then Tuesday will be reverted to as the first sitting day of the week. The Government can make no fairer offer than that ; but in the meantime we find the Monday necessary. The alternative presented to us by the honorable member for Macquarie would mean that, in order to finish the session, or, at least, the Tariff, we should have to sit during the mornings of the week. I venture to say that that course is not possible without a blocking of the public business of the country. That is not transacted in this House only, and it would be impossible for affairs, which are the outcome of Parliamentary deliberation, to be carried out under such conditions. We could not execute the mandates of Parliament, or carry resolutions into effect. We could not put Acts into operation or administer them - some require hourly vigilance - I know of one specially - unless we had some time during the day for that purpose. Honorable members ought to give some consideration to the Government, as well as to their own convenience. I am a- New South Wales member, and I am sure that my colleagues in the representation of that State all desire to go home ; but owing to the large portion of time consumed by sitting in the House, I have been from home for. ten weeks on one occasion, and for six weeks on another. Honorable members will admit that by adjourning ‘at a reasonable hour, say, eleven o’clock every night, which would give seven hours and a half of actual sitting, we shall dp better work than if we work only on four days a week and sit until half-past one in the morning. With ten or eleven hours sitting we should be so much more weary as to be less fit than if we sat on Mondays for a reasonable time. It is not convenient to sit at night until the trams and trains have ceased running, and honorable members have difficulty and expense in getting to .their homes. I hope it will be recognised that the Government at this stage are not making any undue call on honorable members. The members of the Government themselves participate in the extra labour, and it is not likely that, they would make a proposal of this kind unless prompted by the necessities of public business. I hope honorable members will look at the question in that light. If, when we have finished the Tariff, we can see our way to doing without the extra sitting day, and bring the session to a close within a reasonable time, the Government will consider the advisability of commencing the week’s sittings on the Tuesday.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
– Referring to an answer previously given by the Prime Minister, I desire to know whether it is the intention of the Government to carry out the promise made by the Premier of the State of New South Wales that a memento or medal would be presented to the Imperial troops who visited Australia on the occasion of the swearing in of the first Governor-General. This matter has been before the public for some time, and it is desirable that definite action should be taken.
– I will tell the honorable member what my knowledge of the matter is. The honorable member has already been told that no promise was made by the Commonwealth Government, and he has learned that there was an intimation made in this connexion by the present Minister for Home Affairs when he was Premier of New South Wales. We do not know whether the New South Wales Government intend to carry out that intimation or promise ; but the matter, as it departmentally affects the Commonwealth, stands in this position. With regard to the issue, not of this medal, but of some medal to Australian soldiers, a reference was made some time ago, to the Imperial Government, and it was ascertained that it was not considered desirable by that Government that medals for special and distinctive services should be given to parts of the forces of the Empire, when such medals were inapplicable to others who had taken part in the same campaign. That is with reference to war service ; and I take it that the same principle will apply, in the opinion of the Imperial Government, to any offer of the kind made in New South Wales.I shall consider the matter with the Minister for Defence, who unfortunately, is at present confined to his bed ill, and I shall tell the honorable member for Robertson the result privately, so that he may take such action as he may deem advisable.
-I desire to ask the Minister for Trade and Customs a question which I put yesterday, and which at his request I postponed. Will the right honorable gentleman lay on the table of the House the full report received by his officers re the possibility and practicability of making electrical mining machinery in the Commonwealth?
– I shall show the honorable member all the information I have got.
– Why not lay the report on the table for the information, not only of myself, but of all other honorable members?
– That will mean printing the report.
– The fact is that I am using the notes of the information myself, and in order to lay them on the table I should have to get them either copied or printed. I shall, however, make the information available for any honorable member.
– Why not print it ?
– I am inclined to think that, when the honorable member sees the information, he will not want it printed.
Resolved (on motion by Mr. Chapman for Sir Philip Fysh) -
That leave of absence for six weeks be granted to the honorable member for Tasmania, Mr. Piesse, on the ground of ill-health.
In Committee of Ways and Means -
Consideration resumed from 30th January (vide page 9526) -
Division VI. (Special Exemptions.)
Amendment (by Mr. Sydney Smith) put -
That the following exemption be added : - “ Grain mills.”
The committee divided-
Ayes … … … … 22
Majority … … … 6
Question so resolved in the negative.
– I move -
That the following exemption be added : - “ Steam ploughs.”
In America steam ploughs are coming into general use, and greatly facilitate the economical working of the farms. I have seen a report from a New South Wales officer who recently visited America, in which attention is drawn to the wonderful strides which agriculture has made there owing to the introduction of steam ploughs, and it is pointed out that if the farmers of the Commonwealth wish to compete with foreign producers, they must use the latest and most improved machinery.
– Traction engines have already been placed upon the free list, and there is therefore no need to make steam ploughs exempt, because a plough can easily be adapted to steam traction by a local manufacturer. We have placed a duty of 15 per cent, on ploughs drawn by horses, and therefore it would be unfair to allow ploughs drawn by steam traction to be admitted free, since both horses and steam-engines are exempt.
Mr. SYDNEY SMITH (Macquarie).To save time, and, as I hope that another opportunity will be given to reconsider the whole question of agricultural machinery, I withdraw the amendment.
Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.
Amendment (by Mr. Wilkinson) proposed -
That the following exemptions be added: - “Rakes and ploughs, combined, and strawsonizers.”
– I understand that rakes and ploughs taken separately are both dutiable ; but it is now proposed to place combined rakes and ploughs on the free list. Surely the missing link between the rake and the plough could be supplied by Australian manufacturing genius. There is a duty on rakes and ploughs, because they can be made within the Commonwealth ; but there is to be no duty on combined rakes and ploughs, because they cannot be made here- cannot be connected within the Commonwealth. It seems an extraordinary position to take, but I do not mind my protectionist friends giving me as many texts as they like for future comment.
– I do not care to give a vote upon a matter of which
I am ignorant, and I should like to know what strawsonizers are.
– Spraying machines.
Mr. WATSON (Bland).- I should like the Government to consider whether they are acting rightly in consenting to combined rakes and ploughs being placed on the list of exemptions. If these machines are admitted free the local manufacturer of ploughs will have to compete at a disadvantage with the importer who brings in the combined rakes and ploughs, because a premium will be placed upon the use of the imported article. The result of passing this amendment would be to compel one to turn round and vote for all similar articles being admitted free. I trust the Government will decline to draw a distinction between articles that are intended to effect the same purpose.
– In view of the objections which have been raised, and the fact that has been mentioned that combined rakes and ploughs will probably come into competition with other implements which are being made here, we shall limit our consent to the admission of strawsonizers free of duty.
– I would suggest that the proposed exemptions should be put separately.
Amendment amended accordingly.
– The combined rake and plough is a special implement which is found to be very useful in the cultivation of maize. I do not know that they are manufactured within the Commonwealth, although I see no reason why they should not be, except that they are subject to a patent. The strawsonizer is very useful, especially to fruit-growers and others who have to deal with insect pests in the more tropical parts of the Commonwealth. Anything that we can do to minimize the difficulties of our agriculturists and horticulturists in this direction should be done.
Question - That the following exemption be added: - “Rakes and ploughs combined” - put.
The committee divided -
Ayes … … … 27
Noes … . … …. 24
Majority … … 3
Question so resolved in the affirmative.
Amendment agreed to.
Amendment (by Mr. Wilkinson) agreed to-
That the following exemption be added - “ Strawsonizers;.”
– I desire that ships’ fittings should be placed on the free list. Naturally every one knows that I am interested in this matter, but I hope I shall be able to put forward fair reasons why ships’ fittings should be exempted from duty. First, referring to propellers, bosses, and blades, I may explain that when steamers leave the hands of the builders these articles are invariably put on board in duplicate. AllI ask is that the duplicate parts which come out with the steamers should be placed on the free list, and there is no desire to diminish local employment. The articles which I have named should be admitted free, because they are part of the ship’s fittings, and as the ship herself comes in free of duty, it would be very invidious to charge a duty upon the fittings which may never be landed. These duplicate parts are almost invariably carried by the steamers from port to port in case of accident, and it is therefore not unreasonable to ask that they should be exempted. In dealing with this particular question we have to bear in mind that the provision in the Customs Act relating to the payment of duty upon ships’ stores has caused a very heavy burden to be thrown upon local shipowners. They are contributing £50,000 or £60,000 a year to the revenue as a result of that law, and some consideration ought to be extended to them by exempting from duty the small articles which I have enumerated. I therefore move -
That the following exemption be added : - “ Ships’ fittings, being propellers, bosses and blades.”
– I take this opportunity of putting upon record my protest against the way in which certain articles have been placed upon the exemption list. Already this morning we have voted in the dark upon two divisions. For example, we have had no definition of what the term “ grain mills “ includes. There are many classes of mills which might possibly come under that definition. Since that vote was taken the committee have given another in reference to a matter concerning which honorable members were equally in the dark. Now we are asked to give a third vote under somewhat similar circumstances. To my mind, it would be very much better if we were given a clearer definition of the term “ ships’ fittings “ before we are asked to vote upon this item. I should like to know what the item includes.
– I think that the committee will be acting wisely if they insist upon receiving more information before voting upon the amendment. Personally, I have no objection to an original duplicate screw or the bosses or blades of a propeller being placed upon the free list. But the amendment is comprehensive enough to permit of ships’ fittings being brought out in one steamer, and landed upon the coast, whence they could be transferred to another steamer which was in need of them. By sanctioning such a general provision, I fear that we might include some articles which the committee never intended to place upon the free list. In my judgment every article which it is desired to include in the schedule of exemptions should be specified.
– I think that the duplicates of articles used in the working of a ship would come under the heading of “ships’ stores,” and that no duty would be collected upon them unless they were landed and taken out of bond. A ship’s propeller could certainly be landed in bond, and would not be dutiable when it was taken out so long as it was again placed on board the same ship. The amendment, however, would not only admit free the propellers required for a particular ship, but would have the effect of placing all ship’s propellers which are imported upon the free list. The argument advanced by the honorable member for Melbourne in favour of the amendment is that the local ship-owners compete with ship-owners who are not liable to the duties imposed by the Commonwealth. I think that is a perfectly sound reason for asking that these articles should be included in the free list. But, strange to say, the proposal comes from an honorable member who has repeatedly refused to accord similar treatment to other people in other industries. Cannot Ave say, in reference to the farmer, that he competes in an open market with people who are thousands of miles away 1
– I voted in favour of exempting “ wire netting.”
– I talk about a menagerie, and the honorable member interjects - “I voted for the monkey.”
– I never voted for the right honorable member.
– No, I should think I was more of the elephantine ‘ species. The honorable member develops the cunning characteristic of the monkey in his conduct in this committee, because he is always looking after his own tail. He is largely interested in shipping, and consequently expresses the most statesmanlike views with reference to his own breeches pocket. That is my answer to the monkeyish interjection of the honorable member, whose term of political existence in Melbourne will be brought to an abrupt conclusion at the first opportunity, because even the protectionists look at my honorable friend with great suspicion as one of the marvellous converts of recent date. But where his ships are concerned he- sticks to his free-trade principles like a man. I am perfectly in favour of the distinction which he draws, because it isa fair one. I am not prepared to deny consideration to the ship-owners simply because the honorable member for Melbourneis inconsistent. But I would point out that when other large classes - such as the farmers in the wheat market - are exposed to foreign competition, and an endeavour ismade to put the fittings of a farm, namely, agricultural machinery, upon the free list,, the honorable member asks - “ Can this machinery be made in the Commonwealth ? “’ He changed his vote only yesterday upon that very question. The honorable and learned member for Darling Downs assured -him that a certain agricultural implementcould be made in Australia, and he immediately changed his attitude, and instead of voting in favour of placing that implement upon the free list, he turned round and voted to impose a duty upon it. Coming from a man of the admitted intelligence of the honorable member, these facts are really worth pointing out. In a matter concerning the class to which the honorable member belongs, namely, the ship-owners,, does he ask - “ Can propellers be made in Australia?” “We have some of the largest works in the southern hemisphere, which can manufacture these articles. Cannot Mort’s Dock turn out a propeller ?
– Some of the small places, in Sydney turn them out.
– I should think so. Prom the size of the establishment and of the plant at Mort’s Dock, I am perfectly sure that that company could manufacture propellers for the steamers in which the honorable member for Melbourne is interested. Yet, although he possesses the knowledge that these great industries can manufacture them, he coolly asks protectionists to ignore industrial establishments like Mort’s Dock. I shall have to vote with the honorable member, but, from the inconsistency of his position, I feel that we are killed. The very association with the honorable member in a matter of this sort kills us dead. I am extremely sorry that I am in such bad hands.
– The form in which the honorable member for Melbourne has put the amendment is, as he himself admits, altogether too large.
– Not for him.
– Yes ; I understand, from the list with which my honorable friend has supplied me, that he does not desire all ships’ fittings to be admitted free of duty. He wishes that certain fittings - such as propellers, bosses, and blades - which are brought out in a ship, and constitute duplicate parts, shall be exempt from duty. But I would point out to the honorable member that these articles could either be kept on the ship or landed and bonded. Therefore I do not think it is necessary to make the exemption which is proposed. If we adopted the amendment the articles in question could be brought out by one ship, placed in bond, and subsequently taken out and used in a ship other than that in which they were imported. I would much prefer to see a provision inserted whereby these particular ships’ fittings are to be admitted free only so long as they, form duplicate parts of, and are used in connexion with, the ship in which they were imported. I wish to guard against their being landed here and used in connexion with another ship.
– I should like to alter my amendment so as to make it read - “ Ships’ fittings, being propellers, bosses, and blades, original or duplicate, supplied with any ship and to be used thereon.”
– But they will be free without any exemption.
– I am not so sure of that. Difficulties have arisen in the past, and I think it would be wise to make the matter quite clear.
– I think we are only wasting time in trying to make distinctions in which there is no principle. If these articles come out- as ships’ stores, and are admitted free so long as they are used on the vessel, what more is required 1 Why should a ship - according to the protectionist theory - if these articles can be made here, be encouraged to bring them out 1 Why should these foreign vessels be put in a different position from that of vessels on the coast, which have no duplicates, and have to obtain new propellers and blades in the Commonwealth t
– If the articles are not landed, we cannot charge duty 1
– Then where is the need for this amendment 1 The exemption is there without the amendment.
– I see no need for it myself.
– The amendment will unjustly affect the competition between Inter-State boats and foreigngoing boats. An Inter-State boat, which originally comes from home, may trade from twelve to twenty years on the coast, and during that time may require duplicate shafts or propellers many times over. If another shaft is wanted, the local boat is placed at a disadvantage as compared with a boat belonging to the Norddeutscher Lloyd or any other foreign line, which may bring duplicates from Bremen or America and have them fitted here. If the propeller of a foreign boat be broken she may refit here with her own duplicate propeller and pay no duty. On the other hand, a boat which has been trading here for some years cannot replace the first duplicate without paying duty. If we are to have ships’ fittings free, they should be free all round, because it is desirable in this great maritime community that we should have the very best and latest of these appliances. I was rather astonished at the suggestion that there should be a difference made. The coastal boats already suffer from distinctly unfair competition from the foreign boats, seeing that the former have to pay wages of £7 to £9 per month, as against £3 10s. to £4 paid by the latter ; and the amendment proposes to still further handicap the local vessels.
– One cannot help noticing the spark of intelligence, in regard to fiscal matters, which the agricultural and mining interests could not strike from the honorable member for Melbourne, but which has been struck from him by the interests of a particular shipping firm.
An Honorable Member. - By the interests of the shipping trade.
– I shall say the interests of the shipping trade generally, with which the honorable member, is connected or conversant.
– Yet there is complaint, when I point out such things, on the other side.
– Why does the Minister for Trade and Customs not tell the honorable member for Melbourne what he told the honorable member for Kooyong ?
– Why doss the honorable member for Melbourne not see that agricultural and mining requisites ought to go on the free list? I suppose it is because these latter are used by people in the country, who have to struggle for their daily bread, and are not worth the consideration of the distinguished member for Melbourne.
– I should like some information from the Minister for Trade and Customs, first as to whether these articles, according to the law at present, are free or taxable ? Is it necessary to put in any special, exemptions to secure their immunity from taxation, if they are brought out on a ship and intended to be used on that ship and not landed 1 I want the Minister for Trade and Customs to answer that question. A second question is - Can these articles be made in Australia 1 I have heard the leader of the Opposition tell the House this morning that these propeller blades and bosses can be made in Australia, and the right honorable gentleman mentioned Mort’s dock as the place where they are made. I want the Minister for Trade and Customs to apply to these articles the same test which he has applied in other cases, because we ought to have something like uniformity and consistency. We are bound to apply the same principle to these articles which we applied to mining and agricultural machinery, and we can claim from the Minister information on this branch of the question. If these articles can be made here at reasonable rates, why should there be any discrimination in their favour?
– There is a great deal of force in what the honorable and learned member for Bendigo has said ; but there is another A’ery important consideration in connexion with this matter with which the Minister ought to deal. When a ship is built in some other part of the world, and receives its fittings, there is no guarantee that there is not some latent defect in the original propeller, or that some accident may not occur. From knowledge gained in my profession, I know it is usual to furnish ships with a duplicate propeller as necessary for the safety of the passengers and the progress of the ship. If an accident occurs the second propeller may have to be fitted before a vessel reaches the Commonwealth.
An Honorable Member. - That propeller would not be dutiable.
– But there is introduced an element which it seems to me is in the nature of an exception. If all goes well, asis usually the case, the duplicate propeller is brought out here, and must either be carried on the ship, or landed and placed in bond. So far as I can gather, theMinister for Trade and Customs and the Treasurer say that such propellers are notdutiable.
– If the ship kept trading on our coasts, the propeller mightbecome dutiable, not being exported.
– At all events, it is for the Minister to say what he thinks on this, question.
– We say that itmust be used in the same ship.
– It is reasonable that consideration should be given to thecircumstance that this additional propeller is not a matter of choice but a. matter of absolute necessity for the safety of the passengers. It is not at every portof call that propellors can be had, and duplicates must consequently be carried. I do not extend this consideration further than the duplicate, but this point is undoubtedly of great importance, introducing an element which gives much reason and force to the argument of the honorable member for Melbourne. This is not thecase, of a machine, which, if required, can be obtained in the Commonwealth at once, and in regard to which there should be norelaxation of the general rule. The whole facts disclose exceptional circumstances.
– The question put by the honorable and learned member for Bendigo, I understand tobe, is whether the fittings of a ship, which are brought out in use or in duplicate, are dutiable unless landed. My answer to that is - certainly not. I say further, that it is possible to place them in bond, and if they are intended to be drawn from bond for use elsewhere they may be considered as exported goods, and,, therefore, clear of the payment of any duty,, not being entered for home consumption. As regards a good many of the articles mentioned, they can be produced in Australia ; and one of the difficulties is that,, if these goods are drawn from bond, not for export but for use in a ship trading here, the duty will be payable, as the goods will be practically entered for consumption within the Commonwealth.
– Supposing, as is a common case, a ship trades on the coast for two years under charter, and has drawn these articles out of bond for use within the Commonwealth ?
– Then they would be dutiable.
– Although the vessel was going out of the jurisdiction of the Commonwealth at the end of the charter ?
– She was not going out of the jurisdiction if she traded here for a couple of years. What strikes me is that, to a very great extent, the provision now proposed is not wanted, but that everything desired will arise from the ordinary condition of affairs. We must be careful not to insert a provision which will give the foreign ship an advantage over the Australian coaster. Under all the circumstances, it seems desirable that the amendment should be withdrawn, for the reason, amongst others’, that it is unnecessary, and, secondly, that it possibly goes too far in giving a preference of the character to which I refer.
– I can understand the last words of the Minister as coming from a protectionist, but I’ cannot understand the position of protectionists who are fighting to have ships’ fittings placed upon the free list. It is remarkable that ships fittings are very largely manufactured in New South Wales. It is a daily occurrence for propellers to be fitted with new blades’ at Mort’s Dock. I point to that establishment as an illustration to Victorians of what may be done to build up an industry without the imposition of protective duties. At the present time they have almost perfected there a process for fluxing brass and iron together, which will enable more durable and lighter propellers to be produced, and this will almost revolutionize matters in that line. But, although so much shipbuilding is carried on in New South Wales, and particularly in my electorate, I am not going cap in hand to the committee to ask for assistance to the industry by the imposition of taxes upon the whole community. The progress of shipbuilding in New South Wales has been so great that within a short period that State is likely to become a powerful competitor with other parts of the world.
Mr. REID (East Sydney).- I am inclined to think there is something in the case put by the honorable member for Melbourne. If an English steamer is chartered for the Inter-State trade, and brings out a duplicate propeller, she may put it into bond, but if on the way from Adelaide to Melbourne she loses her own propeller in a storm, she must take the spare propeller out of bond, and pay duty upon it before- she can use it.
– But the wordswhich I asked the honorable member to- insert would get rid of that difficulty.
– If an Australianbuiltvessel was being fitted out, the builderwould have to pay duty upon the propeller,, and why should we put Australian manufacturers at a disadvantage 1
– That is a verv strongpoint, but, on the other hand, we- do not want to cause large vessels to go outside theCommonwealth to be docked in order tosave expense. The local ship-builder will, have to pay duty upon everything he uses,, whereas a ship can be imported from theold country properly equipped without it being necessary to pay a penny of duty upon her. There would be no difficulty- under time policy of which I am in favor; becausethe colonial builder would be able- to- importhis materials free, but, as the policy of my right honorable friend is to prevail, somespecial treatment should be devised which,, while not handicapping our shipbuildingindustry, will meet the case which I haveput. Though, at the present time, only comparatively small vessels and an occasional steamer are built within the Commonwealth, the industry will, in the future,, become a very important one.
– When a steameris built out here is the machinery locally made ?
– Not if the vessel is a largeone, and no builder could afford to pay a duty of 25 per cent, upon a vessel’s machinery.
– Could not much of the machinery be made here ?
– As a rule, it is all made bythe one firm as one job.
– We desire to- encourage both the smaller industry of shipfitting and the larger industry of shipbuilding, and we have no desire to cause large vessels to go out of Australia to be docked. I am inclined to think that thebest plan would be for the honorable member to withdraw the amendment, and to deal with the matter when we are considering a number of exemptions which are arranged, not according to the particular class of their manufacture, but according- to the purposes for which the articles are used. The Government have been by no means forgetful of this important matter. It has been brought under our notice in a variety of ways, and 1 trust that we shall be able to devise some satisfactory solution of the difficulty.
Mr. HUGHES (West Sydney). - I think it would be best for the honorable member to withdraw the amendment. The fittings which have been referred to by the honorable member for Melbourne fall very naturally under two heads - those which can be and are made in the States, and those which cannot be made here. Why should we not treat propellers as we have treated anchors ? Propellers up to a certain weight are cast in the States, but it does not pay to cast manganese propellers beyond a certain weight, because the plant required is too expensive, and the demand too erratic and inconstant to make the industry a profitable one. In the same way, it does not pay to manufacture shafting of more than a certain diameter. Of course, there are very few cases where a break cannot be repaired in our docks by welding or making a band, but in the case of a big vessel like a man-of-war, or the Grosser Kurfust, probably nothing could be done until new shafting had been obtained. The idea of stimulating an industry which cannot be expected to make much progress for thenext50 years is absurd. Therefore, if the Government bring down a list they should group the articles in divisions, distinguishing those made of metal from those made of wood. Ships’ fittings include a hundred things. Cabin furniture would be included amongst ships’ fittings ; stanchions are ships’ fittings, and smoke stacks and ventilator funnels are also fittings. Ventilator funnels, and perhaps smoke stacks, are made here, and ships’ compasses, which are also fittings, may be made here. These things, however, are not what the honorable member for Melbourne has in hismind, and the list of articles which he desires to have exempted should be brought down and dealt with seriatim, on their merits.
– That is the reason why we asked to be supplied with a list.
– The committee might refuse to adopt a general amendment, because of its vagueness, whereas if the articles were submitted in detail the greater number of them might be exempted. If the Government bring down a list showing which of these ships’ fittings can reasonably be made within the Commonwealth, and which should be exempted, we shall have an opportunity of judging whether or not they should be admitted free.
Mr. WILKS (Dalley).- Steam-ships nowadays are a net- work of machinery - of hydraulic, electrical and steam machinery - and all engines and appliances would come within the category of ships’ fittings. The ship building industry, which has assumed very large proportions in the State of New South Wales, should not be placed at a disadvantage in having the articles which go to make up ships subject to duty, whilst the ships themselves are allowed to come in free. Duplicate propellers are generally sent out with new ships, but shafts are almost invariably stored at the docks or ship building yards, such as Mort’s Dock and Engineering Works, and the Government Dock Yards in Sydney. I do not wish to see our industries taxed to the advantage of the foreigner, and upon this matter free-traders and protectionists should be able to stand upon common ground.
Sir MALCOLM McEACHARN (Melbourne). - In deference to the wish of the Government I shall withdraw my amendment, trusting to their promise that the matter shall receive consideration at a later period. As to the attack made upon me by the leader of the Opposition, I am quite sure that he would prefer that I should propose any amendment in which I am interested, rather than ask some other honorable member to move it. I know that the right honorable gentleman intended to move in this matter, but if I think a thing is right, I have the courage to stand here and advocate it on my own behalf. I have no fear of the threats of the right honorable gentleman as to the effects of my action upon any future election.
– I was only replying to a somewhat offensive objection made by the honorable member.
– I admit I sometimes interrupt the right honorable gentleman.
– I do not object to that, so long as I have an opportunity of replying.
– I realize that my interjections rather help than interfere with the right honorable gentleman. I have taken a straightforward course in this matter ; but I have noticed that, on occasions when there has been a desire on the part of members of the Opposition that a duty should be imposed, their object has been effected in an indirect way.
– Name one instance.
– I can name an instance in which the honorable member himself is concerned. I do not blame him at all, because he, no doubt, considered he was doing quite right in looking after the interests of his constituents. I refer to his action in connexion with the duty on iron rails.
The ACTING CHAIRMAN (Mr. V. L. Solomon). - I must ask the honorable member not to digress from the question before the chair.
– I desire to withdraw my amendment.
– I wish to say a few words in reply to the honorable member for Melbourne. He has stated that I have moved the imposition of a duty affecting my constituents ; but the only thing I did was to move for the reduction of the duty referred to.
The ACTING CHAIRMAN.- I must ask the honorable member to confine his remarks to the question of adding propellers, bosses, and blades to the list of special exemptions.
– In regard to galvanized iron, which is very largely manufactured in my electorate, I would remind the honorable member that I voted against the imposition of a duty.
The ACTING CHAIRMAN.- I must ask the honorable member to confine his remarks to the subject before the chair. The honorable member for Melbourne has asked leave to withdraw his amendment. Is it the pleasure of the committee that the amendment be withdrawn ?
– I object to the amendment being withdrawn for the present. The honorable member for Melbourne has pursued a consistent course in so far as he has always been prepared to vote for a duty that would advance his own interests.
– I have been looking after my constituents.
– No doubt ; and the honorable member has also been looking after himself.
The ACTING CHAIRMAN.- I really must ask the honorable member to confine himself to the question before the chair.
– The honorable member for Melbourne urged that the shipowners were entitled to some consideration on the ground that they contributed something like £50,000 per annum to the revenue. Last night we were pleading on precisely the same grounds for the remission of some of the duties which miners and farmers have to pay, but we failed to make any impression upon the committee. When it was proposed to place dairy refrigerators on the free list, the honorable member wished to put a duty on the refrigerators used by small farmers, and to exempt the larger machines used by the big exporters with whom he is associated.
– That is wrong ; I am not associated with them.
– The honorable member has frankly told the committee that he is interested, and that he wants the duty taken off this thing, and that thing, and the other. But what I am troubled about is the inconsistency of the Minister for Trade and Customs. The right honorable gentleman taunted one honorable member, who sits on this side of the Chamber, with being interested as an agent in certain articles which he suggested should be placed on the free list; but he does not taunt the honorable member for Melbourne, who, in making certain suggestions, is acting in his own interests. The honorable member says that the ship-owners pay £50,000 a year towards the revenue.
– That is from one particular source.
– And that, therefore, they, are entitled to have these duties remitted. The honorable member freely acknowledges his interest in the matter, and no word of reproach has been uttered regarding him by the Minister for Trade and Customs, who, after inviting another honorable member to furnish a list of articles which he desired to be placed on the free list, taunted him and insulted him most grossly. Our point all through has been that the primary producers who contribute such large sums towards the revenue should have the duty upon some of the articles they use remitted, but our appeals have not met with any sympathy from the Minister.
– The honorable member will get the sympathy and support of the committee if he can show that the farmers will get their goods cheaper if they are admitted free.
Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.
Amendment (by Sir Malcolm McEacharn) proposed -
That the following exemptions be added - “Felt bobs, calico mops, and polishing lathes.”
– I would point out to the honorable member that “ felt bobs “ and “ calico mops “ are already upon the free list as tools of trade. With regard to polishing lathes, they are the only machine’ tools used by jewellers of which we know. They are not manufactured locally, and if the honorable member’s proposal is limited to jewellers’ polishing lathes, we have no objection to it.
Sir MALCOLM McEACHARN (Melbourne). - My intention was simply to deal with those lathes which are used by jewellers, and I shall be very glad to limit my amendment in the direction suggested. With regard to “ felt bobs “ and “ calico mops,” I am prepared to accept the statement of the Treasurer that they are already upon the free list, and can, therefore, be omitted here. I ask leave to amend my amendment in the way I have suggested.
Amendment amended accordingly, and agreed to.
Amendment (by Sir MalcolmMcEacharn) proposed -
That the following exemptions be added : - Bronzing Machines, Coating Machines, Cutting Corners, Labels, &c, Machines, Damping Machines, Embossing Presses, Dies, and Machines, Envelope Making Machines, Eyeletting Machines, Finishing (Binders’) Machines, Folding Machines, Gluing Machines, Glazing and Hot Rolling Machines, Label Cutting Machines, Litho. Stone Grinding Machines, Mitring and Bending Machines, Newspaper Wrapper Addressing Machines, Numbering Machines, Paging Machines, Perforating Machines, Paper Bag Making Machines, Paper Box Making Machines, Paper Cutting (Guillotine and Lever) Machines, Paper Cutting (Knives and Cutting Dies) Machines, Paper Ruling Machines, Type Casting and ApparatusMachines, Slitting and Rewinding Machines, Scoring Machines, Varnishing Machines, Binders’ Sewing Presses, Binders’ Cutting and Laying Presses, Card Cutters, Finishing Presses and Stoves, Inking Tables, Ink Mills, Lead and Brass Cutters, Marbling Apparatus, Mill-board Cutters, Screw and Hydraulic Standing Presses for use in the Printing and Bookbinding Trades, Bookbinders’ Burnishers, Rolls and Fillets, Brass Type, Typeholders, Rules, Curves, Circles, Clumps, and Furniture, Book Edge Locks, Clasps and Corners (Binders’), Chases, Metal Quoins and Locking-up Apparatus, Composing Sticks, Shooting Sticks, and Galleys, Knives (Palette, Paper, Gold, and Paring), Litho. Hand
Rollers, Leads, Clumps, and Metal Furniture, Roller Frames and Stocks, Pen Slides and Pens for Ruling Machines, Printers’ Metal Type
– I merely wish to point out that nearly the whole of the articles included in the amendment have already been placed upon the free list. The items which we dp not consent to being placed in the schedule of exemptions are “ stoves, inking tables, ink mills, and lead and brass cutters.” “ Rules, curves,, circles, and clumps “ are practically identical with type, and we agree to their being placed upon the free list. Neither do we raise any objection to the inclusion in that list of “paring knives.” But “metal paper knives” are used in nearly all business offices, and we see no reason why we should not obtain some revenue from those articles. “ Leads and clumps “ also go along with type, so that we consent to their addition to the free list. The discussion of the amendment can therefore be limited to the articles which the Government cannot agree to exempt.
– I am under the impression that “ lead and brass cutters “ come under the head of “ cutters,” but I think it would be ungracious on my part to press for the inclusion of these articles, seeing that the Government have met the requirements of this particular trade so generously.
– Has the honorable member abandoned his proposal to exempt “ lead and brass cutters “ ?
– No ; but I take it that they are exempt under the heading of “ cutters.”
– “Lead and brass cut-, ters “ are special machines which I think require to be specified as free. Otherwise, some excuse may be found to class them as. something other than cutters and so render them dutiable.
– The expert officer says that he would consider them as free, but of course somebody else might give a. different decision, and therefore we have no objection to allowing them to be added to the free list.
Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.
Amendment (by Sir Malcolm McEacharn). proposed -
That the following exemptions be added : - “Lead and brass cutters, rules, curves, circles, clumps, and paring knives.”
– I do not see any necessity for placing “ clumps “ on the free list. They are made by boys in every newspaper office out of old type.
– Do I understand that with the exception of the articles mentioned by the Treasurer, all the rest are upon the free list?
– All the rest are provided for under the free list of machine tool exemptions.
Mr. MAHON (Coolgardie).- Do the Government insist upon charging duty upon “inking tables”?
– If a duty is to be levied upon inking tables, why is the same course not pursued in respect to imposing surfaces ? It is not consistent to charge a duty upon one and allow the other in without duty. The manufacture of “ leads and clumps “ is much more simple than is the manufacture of ink tables. The former can be turned out in any type foundry, whilst the manufacture of the latter is much more complicated and difficult. I cannot see that there is any principle involved in this matter.
Amendment agreed to.
– In deference to the wish of the honorable member for Barrier I must request that the consideration of the exemptions in connexion with electrical machinery, of which I have given notice, be allowed to stand over till Tuesday next. I understand that the honorable member has received a promise that certain information will be supplied to him.
– I think it would be wise to adjourn the consideration of the proposed exemptions. Last evening I asked the Minister for Trade and Customs to secure a return of all the persons employed in the manufacture of electrical appliances.
– I minuted the matter so as to secure the information from all the States.
– It will no doubt take some little time to get the information, which might have a very valuable effect on the discussion, as showing the number of men employed, and indicating whether the duties should be of a protective character, or merely revenue producing. The remainder of this sitting, which represents about an hour and three-quarters, might be occupied with the consideration of other items, such as three-legged glue pots. I take it that while the honorable member for Kooyong is prepared to take all that the Ministry may be willing to place on the free list, he and other honorable members may desire to move further items. In my opinion this matter of electrical appliances and machinery is the most important we have to deal with ; at any rate, it is infinitely more important than three-legged glue pots.
– Perhaps the honorable member will allow me to make a suggestion. Later on we shall have to reconsider the rate of duty with regard to these particular appliances, as connected with mining machinery, and perhaps it would be better to allow the question of the exemptions to remain over, and discuss the whole matter at one time.
Mr. KNOX (Kooyong). - No one is more anxious than myself to see the consideration of the Tariff completed as soon as possible, and any suggestion made in that direction I shall support. Knowing that the Treasurer has given an undertaking that the whole question of mining and electrical machinery will receive consideration, I am prepared to allow the exemptions to stand over.
Mr. THOMAS (Barrier).- Whilst that arrangement may be suitable in a way, there ought to be a distinct discussion on electrical appliances, as distinguished from steam appliances, the two being absolutely distinct. It would be unfair or unwise to have one discussion on machinery embracing that worked by steam power and also that worked by electricity. It is possible that on account of the larger number of people employed in steam engineering works we might be prepared to give a different duty in that connexion ; and I should like to see the discussions kept quite distinct.
– There is nothing to prevent that. We wish to consider the bonus question on Tuesday.
Mr. KNOX (Kooyong). - I agree with the honorable member for Barrier that the two matters are quite distinct, and we ought to have an opportunity of expressing an opinion as to electrical machinery as a whole. The Treasurer will permit me to point out an error that has crept into the printing of this notice of exemptions. Amongst the exemptions there appear “ dynamos, motors, commutators, generators or parts thereof, rock drills (electrical), ventilating fans.” I have to say that it was not the intention of the electrical firms to ask that these appliances should be free, because they felt that these items should justly contribute to the revenue, their suggestion being that- the duty should be 15 per cent.
– The only question is whether the duty shall be 15 per cent, or 20 per cent.
– That is from their standpoint ; but not from the standpoint of the consumer.
– On the clear understanding that the Treasurer will afford an opportunity of discussing these items separately, I have no objection to a postponement.
– I understand that the honorable member for Kooyong desires that the discussion with regard to machinery, the motive power of which is steam, the discussion with regard to machinery the motive power of which is electricity, and the discussion with regard to what are known as electrical appliances, shall be taken separately. I do not know that we can keep the subjects absolutely separate. There is no difficulty in making three separate proposals, but when discussing one I am afraid, from past experience, that honorable members will be inclined to bring in the others by way of gentle illustration. It will rest with honorable members to keep entirely to the particular proposal before the committee.
– I have no objection to the consideration of this matter being postponed, but I would point out that many of these articles are used, not only in mining, but in many other industries. I do not want it to be understood that this question affects only miners.
– I was about to make a similar observation. I have mentioned to the Minister an item connected with photographic electrical work, and so long as I understand that the discussion will not be confined to mining, machinery, I-have no objection to the postponement.
– My suggestion was that there should be a line in the exemptions for vermin traps, and that afterwards rabbit traps and dog traps might be dealt with.
– We have already dealt with dog traps.
– Then I shall put the line “ vermin traps “ as a generic term to cover all kind of traps.
– I object to “ vermin traps.”
– I cannot see any objection. If it is advisable to allow rabbit traps in free in the interests of that deserving class, the squatters, it is equally advisable to let in other kinds’ of traps free for the destruction of vermin. I do not admit the proposition that the placing of articles on the free list should be governed by the fact that they are or are not locally manufactured. I go on broader grounds, with a view to helping the pastoral industry, and, therefore, I move -
That the following exemption be added : - Vermin traps.”
– I hope the amendment will be accepted by the Government, it would be curious to provide that rabbit traps shall be free, but that mouse traps shall PaY a duty. The catching of rats is an industry which has apparently sprung up in connexion with the bubonic plague, and I can hardly suppose that the Minister for Trade and Customs wants to see rats or mice given a free hand.
– The committee have agreed to make rabbit and dog traps free, but there are a large number qf other traps which are made in the Commonwealth, and I think that therefore a fair duty should be placed on imported traps.
– Many rabbit-trappers make their own traps.
– Some of the rabbit-trappers make their own traps. I do not ask for the duty in order to obtain revenue, but to protect a local industry.
– I do not see why vermin traps should not be admitted free. The Treasurer has admitted that he is not seeking for revenue, but that he wishes to protect a local industry. But as these traps were made in Victoria and in other States of the Commonwealth before there was a duty on traps, I do not see that the industry needs any protection. There is no doubt now that bubonic plague is transmitted by rats, and I think that traps should be on the free list if only to encourage the destruction of rats.
Question - That the following exemption be added : - “ Vermin traps “ - put. The committee divided -
Ayes … … … 24
Majority … … … 2
Question so resolved in the affirmative.
Amendment agreed to.
– I move-
That the following exemptions be added : - “Bone crushers, freezing machinery used in meat works, tinsmiths’ and canning machines, centrifugals used in sugar mills, multiple effects used in sugar mills, Yaryan evaporators used in sugar mills, manure drying apparatus, mincing machines, oil expressing machines, hydroextractors.”
I have been informed with regard to the “ multiple effects used in sugar works,” that contracts have been let in Maryborough for the supplying of them; but I believe that a sufficient number are furnished for each mill, and that they are imported only with the mills. With regard to the freezing machinery used in large works, that cannot be made here. It is impossible to make even the piping here, because it is manufactured by a special process.
– I believe that the honorable member for Herbert has some sugar mills in his constituency, and while we, on this side, must be in cordial agreement with him in his desire to obtain the free admission of machinery requisite for the economic extraction of sugar, it is a remarkable thing that the honorable member voted against any reduction in the enormous duty upon mining machinery, although it is quite as necessary in the interests of a very large number of workers in the Commonwealth that mining machinery shall be admitted free, or subject to only a moderate duty, as it is that sugar-malting machinery should be admitted free.
– We are not discussing mining machinery now.
– I am not going to make more than an incidental reference to it, in order to show the inconsistency of the honorable member who has interjected, and of other honorable members opposite. The honorable member for Herbert–
– The honorable member will not be in order in reflecting upon another honorable member.
– I had no intention to reflect, and did not, upon any honorable member. I do not dispute the fact that the honorable member for Herbert has a perfect right to give such a vote as he thinks will be to the best interests of his constituents and of the Commonwealth. I am not imputing any improper motive to the honorable member, and I am quite in order in pointing out that he did not give to those engaged in mining the same Tariff advantages that he now claims for the industry in which he is specially interested. The machinery embraced by the amendment is, I believe, essential to the successful management of the sugar industry ; and that being so, and as we all wish to see the primary producers placed under as few disadvantages as possible, I shall not oppose the exemptions.
– I shall be quite prepared to vote with the honorable member for Herbert, but I would remind him, as the honorable member for Coolgardie has done, that he did not give the same consideration to the mining and other industries that he now claims for the sugar industry, which he specially represents. Last night, when it was proposed toexempt the refrigerating machinery used in connexion with one of the largest industries of the country, namely, dairy farming, the honorable member, and others who are now supporting him, gave us a very short shrift indeed. We shall have to vote with the honorable member, but we are entitled to look for more consideration at his hands for those engaged in other important industries.
– I shall support the amendment; but when we see honorable members voting against exemptions asked for in the interests of those engaged in other industries, and afterwards claiming special advantages for the industries carried on in their own constituencies, it puts rather a heavystrain upon one’s loyalty to his principles. If any machinery should bear a duty it is that employed in industries like sugar growing, which are assisted by a heavy protective duty. I have been asking for free-trade in machinery used in industries which are not in any way protected. This has been refused, and I feel so strongly upon the matter, that whilst I shall not vote against the exemptions now asked for, I shall certainly not give them my support.
– I should not be at all surprised or alarmed if the honorable member for Barrier were to abstain from voting for the exemption of machinery used in the sugar industry. I think a fair revenue duty should be imposed upon machinery used in sugar mills, and also upon the freezing machinery which forms part of the equipment of the big meat works.
– Is 25 per cent, a fair revenue duty to levy on mining machinery ?
– So far as mining machinery is concerned, 25 per cent, is a revenue duty with a protective incidence. Iunderstand that the object of pure protection is to prevent articles from being imported, and how is it possible to speak of the duty on mining machinery being purely protective when the Government expect to derive £280,000 from it ?
– What duty does the honorable member think should be imposed upon the machinery now under discussion ?
– I think a 15 per cent, duty would be fair. The sugar mill machinery that is not now made within the
Commonwealth will very soon be included amongst our manufactures, and I am quite prepared to vote in favour of subjecting it to a duty. I cannot possibly vote in favour of exempting from duty the refrigerating machines used in meat works after we have decided to tax dairy refrigerators.
– I think the point taken by the honorable member for Wide Bay should carry conviction to the minds of the committee. We should be practically going back on our determination of yesterday in referenceto refrigerating machinery, if we adopted the proposal of the honorable member for Herbert. Why should we make a distinction in favour of refrigerating machinery used in connexion with meat works? Last night, it was first proposed that all refrigerating machinery should be admitted free, but we rejected the amendment. Then we rejected a proposal that the larger kinds of refrigerators should be exempted, and afterwards came to a similar conclusion with regard to dairy refrigerators. Now the proposal is that we should apply to freezing machinery used in meat works a principle differing from that which we have already followed in connexion with shipping and dairying machinery. We cannot consistently do what is now asked of us. I think honorable members will at least agree that meat-freezing machinery should be no more liberally treated than are other kinds of machinery. We are assured by a Victorian manufacturer that he has made this machinery on various occasions, and that there is no difficulty in making it. Moreover, we have the testimony of Messrs. Walker Limited, of Maryborough, that they have supplied six Government sugar mills with triple effect evaporators. I should like the honorable member to withdraw his amendment. If he cannot see his way clear to do so, we shall be compelled to oppose it.
Mr. BAMFORD (Herbert).- I am very sorry that I cannot comply with the suggestion of the Minister. Referring to the multiple effects used in sugar mills, I would point out that the telegram to which the Minister for Trade and Customs has referred states that Messrs. Walker Limited have supplied the machines. They do not say that they make them, and they do not make them, but they are imported and supplied with the mills.
– The telegram states - “We have manufactured and equipped six Government mills with triple effect evaporators.”
– In any case I cannot withdraw my amendment, but I shall adopt the suggestion of the honorable member for Wide Bay and submit the articles seriatim. The freezing machinery used in meat works is of a special type, and I do not think that any portion of the equipment of the Northern meat works was made in Australia. The remarks of the honorable member for Illawarra, the honorable member for Coolgardie, and the honorable member for Barrier, are extremely unjust, and show the basest ingratitude after the manner in which I supported them in connexion with the exemption of vermin killers.
Mr. SYDNEY SMITH (Macquarie).The honorable member for Herbert, with other honorable members, was, to a large extent, responsible for refrigerating machinery of all kinds being retained on the dutiable list. I do not know whether the honorable member voted against the proposal, but if he were in favour of it, it was unfortunate that he was not present in order to support us on the division. In view of the importance of placing all refrigerating machines on the free list, the honorable member for Herbert would do well to press his amendment to a vote. If we secure the exemptions contemplated by him, there will be no just reason why we should not againtest the feeling of the committee on the question of placing all refrigerating machines on the free list. I believe that on reconsideration of that matter we shall secure a majority of votes.
– The honorable member cannot discuss refrigerating machinery in connexion with this amendment.
– “ Freezing machinery used in meat works,” is included in the amendment now before the committee.
– The committee have already decided that refrigerating machinery should not be placed on the list of exemptions, and I am therefore of opinion that the honorable member for Herbert cannot include freezing machinery used in meat works in his amendment.
-When the committee were considering the question of placing refrigerating machinery on the free list, you decided that it would be competent for honorable members to propose the exemption of any special refrigerators after the committee had declared against the general exemption. The exemption of dairying machinery was then proposed, and it would have been quite competent for any honorable member to afterwards move that meat freezing machinery be placed on the free list. To my mind, it is remarkable, in view of the decision given last evening, that any exception should now be taken to the course proposed by the honorable member for Herbert.
– I should not have risen but for a remark which fell from the Minister for Trade and Customs. The right honorable gentleman asked whether the meat industry should be treated better than are other industries. I wish to point out to him that in relieving these machines from taxation he is not benefiting those who are engaged in the meat industry - the canners or suppliers of frozen meat- but he is benefiting the whole community. This industry has to compete in the markets of the world. It is threatened with extinction by the Argentine producers, and we know that recently in South Africa a difference of a very small sum turned the balance in regard to a contract for a considerable quantity of meat against Australia. It is one of the most important industries in the community, and it benefits the whole of the continent. I know that some Australian meat works are not conducted upon strictly commercial principles. The Sydney Meat Works are an example of this. Those interested in that venture are concerned in the large producing interests of Australia, and their desire is to retain a market for their surplus stock, which otherwise would not be absorbed. They recognise that by securing such a market a benefit is conferred upon Australia and those engaged in our large producing interests, even though a loss is sometimes suffered. Consequently we should give that industry every opportunity for competing with the rest of the world. Under these circumstances, I hope that any honorable member who entertains the view that the action of the mover of this amendment is an inconsistent one, will not pause to consider that, but will support his proposal.
Mr. FULLER (Illawarra). - I desire to move to add after the words “freezing machinery “ the words “ used in primary industries.”
– I rise to a point of order. The committee have already decided that dairy refrigerators shall - he taxable, and under such circumstances I desire to know if the amendment is in order, seeing that dairying constitutes one of our primary industries.
– I would point out that the word “ dairying “ does not cover all the primary industries of this country. I am sure there is no honorable member who does not recognise that meat-freezing machinery
– Upon the point of order, may I be permitted to say that the committee have already decided the question of whether refrigerating machinery generally shall be subject to a duty. The honorable and learned member for Illawarra is therefore seeking, by the words he has suggested, to raise a debate upon a matter which has already been decided.
– The whole question turns upon whether dairying is a primary industry.
– +Last night the committee decided the question of whether refrigerating machinery should be included in the schedule of special exemptions. The honorable and learned member for Illawarra now wishes to add to “ freezing machinery “ the words “ used in primary industries.” I consider that freezing machinery and refrigerating machinery are practically the same thing, and, except some clear distinction can be drawn between them, I must rule the honorable and’ learned member out of order.
Mr. SYDNEY SMITH (Macquarie).The best course for the honorable member for Herbert to take would be to propose his amendment in its original form. After that has been disposed of the whole question can be reviewed. I do not want to take this matter out of the hands of the honorable member, but a motion of this kind should be submitted. If the honorable member desires a clear vote on the question, in which I shall be glad to support him, it would be better to submit the amendment as originally drafted, dealing with freezing machinery used in meat works.
– It was the words “used in meat works,” referring to canning machines, which I omitted from my amendment.
– The Chairman informed me that it would be out of order to insert refrigerating machinery, because there had been a decision on that matter. I understood, and I think the Chairman understood, that the honorable member had withdrawn the words referring to refrigerating machinery used in meat works, and there has clearly been a mistake. If that is so, it is quite competent for the committee to discuss the question whether freezing machinery used in meat works shall be put on the free list. This is a matter which is most important, and should receive further consideration, in view of the fact of the many difficulties that have to be contended with in the export of meat and dairy produce. The honorable member for Melbourne last night said that he was strongly in favour of the free admission of refrigerating machines connected with larger works, while he proposed that similar machines used for dairy purposes shall pay a duty, because the latter are being made by a few manufacturers in Melbourne. This is a question which affects all the primary producers of the Commonwealth. The honorable member for Melbourne was induced to alter his opinion only because of a telegram from some firm in Queensland to the effect that they were not manufacturing these articles, but only supplying them.
– That is not so ; I showed it was the other way.
– There are more rapid strides in improvements in connexion with this class of machinery than in connexion with any other ; and I am surprised at the attitude of the honorable member for Melbourne. In many cases the machinery is patented, and cannot be manufactured here without permission, and to impose a duty would be to do an injury to that class on which we depend more than any other for the success of the Commonwealth. I shall vote for this amendment, in the hope that reconsideration will be given to other rejected proposals, and that we shall have the satisfaction, in view of the closeness of the division last night, of placing all refrigerating machinery on the free list.
– There is some difference between refrigerating machinery and freezing machinery. A chamber at 40 to 35 degrees would be called a refrigerator, but could not be called a freezing chamber, and the machinery and chemicals used in the processes must, I think, be different. Whether the distinction goes so far as to require any grave difference in the machinery, such as to justify separate names, I cannot altogether determine, but I think that there must be a great deal of difference in construction. Many firms in Australia can construct refrigerating machinery, but not many can construct the better classes of freezing machinery, because the demand for the latter is not sufficiently large.
– There is not the slightest distinction; they both have the same trade name.
– But surely there is a great difference between a freezing chamber and a refrigerating chamber? We know that some shipments of refrigerated meat were altogether lost owing to the lowness of the temperature, which had to be altered ; and it is likely that there must be some considerable difference in the machinery used for this purpose.
– I have already given my decision in regard to the question as to the similarity between freezing machines and refrigerating machines. The amendment of the honorable member for Herbert was read from the chair in exactly the same form as he submitted it to the committee, but if the honorable member assures me a mistake has been made, and that he desires that the word “used in meat works” in the third line shall be omitted, the amendment can be put in that form.
– That is so.
Question - That the following exemption be added : - “ Bone crashers “ - put. The committee divided -
Ayes … … … 23
Noes … … … 26
Majority … … 3
Question so resolved in the negative.
Question - That the following exemption be added : - “ Freezing machinery used in meat works “ - put. The committee divided -
Ayes … … … 22
Noes … … … 27
Majority … … 5
Question so resolved in the negative.
Question - That the following exemptions be added: - “Tinsmiths’ and canning machines “ - put. The committee divided -
Ayes … … … 24
Noes……. … 25
Majority … … . .1
Question so resolved in the negative.
Question - That the following exemption be added : - “ Centrifugals used in sugar mills “ - put. The committee divided -
Ayes … … … 24
Noes … … … 27
Majority … … 3
Question so resolved in the negative.
Amendment (by Mr. Bamford) proposed -
That this following exemption be added : - “ Multiple effects used in sugar mills.”
Mr. JOSEPH COOK (Parramatta).It occurs to me that some of the representatives of Queensland might reciprocate a little in connexion with some of the votes in which free-traders are interested.
– That sounds like logrolling.
– Some of these honorable members are consistent protectionists so far as their own electorates are concerned,but do not extend their consideration towards other parts of the Common wealth.
– The honorable member is not in order in entering upona general discussion on the rights and privileges and actions of honorable members.
– I have a right to ask the honorable member for Herbert to have some regard for his own fiscal beliefs and principles, and to apply them generally. I hope the honorable member who has received the assistance of the free-traders in his attempts to remove duties on various articles used in Queensland industries will show soma regard for the users of sugar all over the continent when we come to the discussion of items seriously affecting them.
– Order I The honorable member is distinctly out of order. He is practically seeking to make an arrangement with the honorable member for Herbert in reference to some matters which may come before the committee at a later date.
– I am doing nothing of the kind.
– That is my opinion.
– I must decline to allow you, Mr. Chairman, to put words that I did not utter into my mouth, or to suggest opinions that are not in my mind. I am not trying to make any arrangement with the honorable member, and I am not suggesting anything of the kind ; I am merely criticising his action in proposing this motion. I hope that the honorable member will assist us a little in our efforts to secure for those whom we represent benefits similar to those for which he has been asking on behalf of his constituents.
-I must plead with the honorable member to consider whether ho is not absolutely digressing from the subject before the chair.
Motion (by Mr. Barton) proposed -
That the House do now adjourn.
– I desire to intimate to honorable members that in connexion with the Tariff it is proposed to finish Division VI. and then deal with the excise duties. This is proposed on account of the necessity of defining as early as we can what is intended to be done with reference to sugar.
– What about tea.
– We are not ready for that yet.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
House adjourned at 3.57 p.m.
Cite as: Australia, House of Representatives, Debates, 31 January 1902, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/hofreps/1902/19020131_reps_1_7/>.