1st Parliament · 1st Session
Mr. Speaker took the chair at 2.30 p.m., and rend prayers.
Resolved (on motion by SirWilliam
McMillan) with concurrence -
That leave of absence for one month be granted to the right honorable member for Tasmania, Sir Edward Braddon, on the ground of ill-health.
– In the absence of the Prime Minister, I wish to ask the AttorneyGeneral, without notice, if he has any objection to saying whether the Commonwealth Government has any knowledge of any negotiations between the Government of the State of Queensland and the agent for Japan at Townsville, relating to the admission of Japanese labourers into Queensland. Has he any objection to stating whether there is any truth in the rumour that in recent years negotiations of the character referred to have taken place ? Having regard to the importance of the question to Australia, has he any objection to laying all the correspondence relating to the matter on the table of this House at a convenient date.
– We have knowledge of negotiations between the Government of the State of Queensland and the Consul for Japan, at Townsville, relating to Japanese labourers ; that correspondence proceeded up to a comparatively late date last year; and has been published in a paper laid upon the table of the Queensland Parliament.
There will be no objection, if it is moved for, to it being republished for the. benefit of members of this House.
asked the Minister for Trade and Customs, upon notice -
Does the Customs department prevent the importation of jewellery in use, that is, old jewellery, from State to State, unless on proof that the duty chargeable on the importation into the Commonwealth of jewellery notin use has been paid thereon ? 2.Ifso-
Does the Minister insist that the burden of proof as to payment of duty under section 92 of the Commonwealth Constitution Act is on the person importing from State to State?
– The answers to the honorable and learned member’s questions are as follow : -
Not when passengers’ personal effects, but only when imported for sale, repairs, or other trade purposes. 2. (a) Section 92 of the Constitution Act applies to all goods imported before the imposition of uniform duties.
asked the Minister representing the Postmaster-General, upon notice -
Whether there is any objection to lay on the table of the House the papers in connexion with the transfer from Coolgardie to Eucla of James Strachan, telegraph operator
– The answer to the honorable member’s question is as follows : -
There is no objection to lay on the table of the House the papers in connexion with the transfer from Coolgardie to Eucla of James Strachan, telegraph operator, if desired. As they refer to other departmental matters connected with the transfer referred to, the honorable member may perhaps consider it sufficient to see them at the Postmaster-General’s office.
Consideration resumed from 31st January(vide page 9583).
Division VI. (Special exemptions).
Amendment (by SirMalcolm McEacharn) agreed to -
That the following exemption be added : - “ Translators.”
Amendment (by Mr. Phillips) agreed to-
That the following exemption be added:- “ Winnower forks (wood and steel).”
– I move -
That the following exemption be added - “ Steel fencing standards of all lengths, and pillars, patent steel droppers of all lengths, and patent wedgers f or droppers and standards.”
This motion is not quite in the terms of the notice upon the business-paper, because I have omitted the word “ Hochrin,” so that the exemption may apply to all steel fencing standards and accessories.
– But these things are made here.
– Some of the common iron standards’ are made here, I believe, but not the steel standards. These articles were upon the free list in South Australia, and they are largely used by people who, because of the country in which they live, have to put up with more hardship than many other members of the community. Nearly the whole of the Northern railway system of South Australia is enclosed with this kind of fencing, and it is used in all the subdivisional fences in the northern and north-western parts of that State.
– I hope that the Minister will accept this amendment. I would suggest to the mover that the omission of the word “ patent “ might be desirable. Steel droppers and standards are used for fencing in the arid portions of the continent where there is no timber.
– They are used largely in other places as well.
– Not to the same extent. They are used most largely, and are of the greatest importance, out on the arid plains, where the cost of fencing is already quite sufficient, and where the pastoral industry has to contendwith a great many difficulties. Items like these, which can be of very little importance to the revenue, and the duty on which only adds to the already great cost of properly working properties in the more difficult portions of the Commonwealth, should be placed on the free list. The droppers are used for stiffen i ng fences. To some extent they do away with the use of timber, reducing the quantity required by three-fourths, at any rate. Where there is no timber they are of great advantage. Although they have to be conveyed considerable distances, yet they are an enormous saving to those who have to erect fences. Under these circumstances I would press the Minister to allow the items to be exempt from duty.
– I understand that these droppers are made in Australia.
– Not the same sort.
– I am informed that just as good droppers as can be got anywhere are made in Melbourne.
– Are not the pastoralists the best judges?
– If the pastoralist is the best judge and he prefers to patronize the foreign industry he should not object to make a reasonable contribution towards the revenue. We must get revenue from somewhere. For the reasons that the articles are made here, and that it is not unfair to expect a contribution from imported articles, I ask honorable members not to agree to the amendment.
Mr. THOMSON (North Sydney). - I think the committee will agree that the answer of the Minister, in view of what was done with wire netting, is not satisfactory. Every remark he made applies to wire netting. The only difference is that the wire netting industry is a much bigger and more important one. The number of droppers made in the Commonwealth is very small indeed, and the factories cannot employ more than a few hands, if there are any devoted entirely to their manufacture. Although wire netting, much for the very reasons given - to ease the cost of fences - was placed by the Ministry on the exemption list, yet on these droppers, which are used in country still more difficult than that in which wire netting is often used - that is, in country without timber - a duty is demanded simply because a few of them may he made in Melbourne. I think that the committee would stultify itself if it now made droppers and standards dutiable.
– Although we proposed to have a duty on barbed wire, and to let wire netting come in free, honorable members will recollect that we were not prepared to put the two in the same class. The committee in its wisdom decided that the one should be dutiable and the other not, and I think for this reason - that we held that barbed wire was more used by the pastoralists who could well afford to pay, whereas wire netting was absolutely necessary to the farmer to prevent the destruction of his crops. I think, applying the same reasoning now, the pastoralists who use these droppers can afford to pay a reasonable duty on them. I venture to think, in connexion with the importation of goods of this sort which are locally produced, the strength of the reasoning is that we have not dealt with barbed wire and wire netting on the same basis. We have drawn a distinction such as now warrants us in asking the committee to treat droppers on the same basis as barbed wire, and to vote for the imposition of a reasonable duty.
Mr. POYNTON (South Australia).We understand now from the Minister that this article is looked upon as a sort of luxury, and that because it is a luxury the pastoralists are called upon to pay this extra amount of money. For many years in South Australia, while the Minister was a member of the State Government, the article was not dutiable and it was not made dutiable after he left office. All the efforts I made in connexion with barbed wire apply equally to droppers and standards, because, in hundreds of square miles of country in the northern districts, a fence could not be erected without using an iron or steel standard. Isubmit that the pastoralists are paying a very fair contribution to the revenue, considering neither the farmers nor the pastoralists in the interior can claim to be deriving any protection from the Tariff. In South Australia the Parliament, recognising that these standards were so important to the pastoralists, never attempted to impose a duty upon them. I ask honorable members to support my amendment.
– I have had considerable experience of this class of fencing. From my knowledge of colonial droppers I can say that they are of very little use indeed. They are made of some kind of soft material, and any crossbred sheep, by putting its head underneath, will bend them like a piece of whalebone. They are utterly useless for the purpose for which they were designed, and the pastoralists prefer to use imported ones, which are made of steel. I would remind the Minister that the pastoralists of Australia need help as much as any class. They have had as rough a time during the last few years as have any farmers, dairymen, or any one else, and they require to be helped as much as possible.
Question - That the following exemptions be added - “ Steel fencing standards of all lengths, and pillars patent steel droppers of all lengths; and patent wedgers for droppers and standards” - put. The committee divided -
Question so resolved in the affirmative.
Amendment agreed to.
– The next proposal is one of which notice has been given by the honor able member for Melbourne, to add to the listof exemptions a number of boot machine tools. A number of these articles, are already included among the exemptions, viz. - Inseam Trimming machines, Welt Beating machines, Turn Moulding machines, Stitch Separating machines, Gem Insolemachines, Sole Rounding machines, Channel Opening machines, Counter Mouldingmachines, Rand Splitting machines, Rand Turning machines, Rand Compressing machines, Pattern Grading machines, Pattern Cutting machines, Vamp Marking machines, Vamp Folding machines, Vamp Beading machines, Power Hammer machines, Hooking machines, Standard Screwing machines; Pegging machines, Staple Fastening machines, Upper Cleaning machines,. Treeing machines, Tying (Shoe) machines, Strap Printing and Covering machines. The other articles mentioned in the list of the honorable member we think ought to be dutiable because they are made in Australia - that is the distinction we have drawn from the beginning.
– Of course I must accept the statement of the Treasurer that all the machine tools mentioned in my amendment, excepting those enumerated by him, are made within the Commonwealth, but I am informed that none of them are made here, and further that they have hitherto been admitted into all the States free of duty. I do not think, for instance, that vamp skiving machines, which are very intricate, are manufactured within the Commonwealth. If we are to admit free of duty machines, and machine tools used in various other trades on the ground that they cannot be made here, we ought to make a similar concession in regard to tools used in the bootmaking trade. I a.m pleading for an industry which has many difficulties to contend with, and which is certainly not in a very flourishing condition.
– The information we have is that all the tools which I have not enumerated are made here.
– I am sure that bobbin winding machines are not made here. If the Treasurer will state that, in the event of its being found that any of the machines enumerated in my amendment are not made here, they will be included in the free list, I shall be content.
– Of course we shall have power to deal with them under the provision that has been passed. I agree with the honorable member that if they are not made here, they should be admitted free of duty, but we are informed that they are locally manufactured.
Amendment (by Sir Malcolm McEacharn) proposed -
That the following exemptions be added : - Channellers, Combined Channelling and Bounding Machine, Welt Splitting Machine, Welt Grooving Machine, Welt Bevelling Machine, Shank Skiving Machine, Bobbin Winding Machine, Banging Machines, Sole Skiiving Machines, Upper Leather Splitting Machines, Sole Blocking Machines, Channelling and feather Edging Machines, Sole Moulding Machines, Heel Compressing Machines, Heel Building Machines, vamp Skiving Machines, Upper Leather Skiving Machines (such as the “Amazeen”), Gold Embossing Machines, Pinking Machines, Seam Boiler or Rubbing M!achine, Punching and Eyeletting Machine, Crimping Machine, Tubular Riveting Machine, Lusting Machine, Pulling-over Machine, Sole Tacking Machine, Sole Laying Machine, Sole Levelling Machine, Loose Nailing (RivetingMachine, Pneumatic Buffing Machine, Heel Burnishing Machine, Top Ironing Machine.
– Honorable members must be alarmed at the manner in which we are dealing with these exemptions. I am very anxious that we should proceed on some distinct principle, but I do not know how the Tariff is to be administered if we impose duties upon a number of articles which no ordinary man can distinguish from those included among the exemptions. For instance, welt splitting machines are dutiable, whereas welt beating- machines are exempted. Then turn moulding machines are free, whereas shank skiving machines are exempted. Unless there is evidence before us that the articles which it is now proposed to exempt are really made in Australia, and that their manufacture constitutes a veritable industry, we should admit them free of duty. It is no use speaking of these machines being made here if the work of manufacturing them gives employment to only five or six people. We have no evidence before us to support the statement of the Treasurer, and it seems contemptible to make distinctions such as he proposes.
– The plain distinction is that some people are engaged in making these tools for the bootmaking industry, which is “protected, and we ask that the toolmakers as well as the bootmakers should be protected.
– If we reject the proposal of the honorable member for Melbourne, nine-tenths of the committee will not understand what has been done, and I think the honorable member will be perfectly justified in pressing his amendment.
– I shall give my vote with the Government on this occasion. The Opposition are not going to make a tool of me in connexion with the addition of all these articles to the list of exemptions: When we asked the honorable member for Melbourne to vote in favour of exempting the tools of trade of those engaged in the pastoral industry he did not help us, and now I will not help him.
– If the honorable member thinks I was wrong that is no reason why he should commit another wrong.
– I intend to commit a wrong,, too. I do not believe in supportinghonorable members who have given little or no support to the proposals coming from the Opposition side in favour of exempting the tools of trade used in other industries. I shall vote this, time as a revenue tariffist, because if all these exemptions are agreed to, and theTariff should not yield sufficient revenue, the blame will be cast on the members of the Opposition. The Minister for Tradeand Customs took the honorable member for Kooyong to task for making proposals in which he was personally interested,, but he has not attempted to attach reproach to other honorable members who have acted similarly.
– I am not. interested in this proposal.
– How am I to know ; thehonorable member is interested in nearly everything in Australia. The object of the Treasurer is to obtain revenue, and I shall support him.
– I hopeother honorable members will not follow the example of the honorable member for Maranoa. Honorable members on this side of the chamber have consistently followed free trade principles throughout the tariff discussion, and although it may seem rather hard that we should be utilized for the purpose of securing the exemption of ‘certain. articles in which honorable members supporting the Government are interested I would remind the honorable member for Maranoa that we are here to carry out a certain line of policy which we should pursue to the end. If other honorable members choose to be inconsistent that is no reason why we should act similarly. The metal workers who are engaged in the manufacture of these machine tools of trade are to have their tools of trade admitted free of duty, and it will be consistent on our part to extend the same advantage to those employed in other occupations. We have no information before us as to the extent of the industries to which the Treasurer has referred, and it would be more satisfactory if we were told where these machine tools are made, and how many men are engaged in making them. It is desirable, in the interests of the whole community, that boots should be obtainable as good as possible, and therefore we should not place those engaged in their manufacture at any disadvantage.
– I hope the honorable member for Maranoa will not pursue the course he has indicated. I am sure that his present feeling is due to momentary irritation, which I hope will vanish when he remembers that we are here to act according to free-trade principles, and that we should not be influenced by the inconsistency displayed by others. These articles should certainly be on the free list, and I hope the honorable member for Maranoa will support the amendment.
Sir MALCOLM MCEACHARN (Melbourne). - I should like to explain that whilst I submitted the amendment in favour of exempting the machines enumerated, I must, in order to be consistent, accept the assurance of the Government that a number of them are being manufactured locally. I do not interpret that assurance as meaning that one or two men only are employed in the manufacture of such machines, but rather that in this connexion there is an established industry. My desire is to be consistent. Quite recently I withdrew an amendment which I had moved, because I found that two people only were engaged in the industry concerned. In view of the assurance of the Government that, if they discover they have made an error in believing that these articles are manufactured within the States, they will place them upon the free list, I shall vote against the amendment. I recognise that honorable members are frequently placed in a very difficult position. They have to study the interests of their constituents and are bound to accept their statements that specific articles are being locally manufactured. As a result they sometimes make assertions which are incorrect, although they do so in all good faith and after their best efforts have been directed to ascertaining that the information supplied to them is authentic.
Sir WILLIAM MCMILLAN (Wentworth). - I am surprised at the attitude of the honorable member for Melbourne. Before he submitted his amendment he should have carefully considered the whole matter, and instituted his own inquiries. If what he says is to be accepted as a principle which should guide the actions of honorable members, then all we want is the assurance of the Ministry that such a thing does or does not exist, and we shall vote accordingly. There is no doubt that that is a very good party spirit to exhibit, but I appeal to the committee whether a word has been uttered by any Minister to show that any real substantial industry exists in Australia in connexion with the manufacture of these particular articles.
– Ministers have said so.
– That is not sufficient for this committee. We expect to have facts stated to us, and proofs submitted in support of those facts. Otherwise deliberation and criticism are unnecessary. Seeing that the desire of the Government is to make tools of trade free when it is clear that the manufacture of those tools is not an established industry in Australia, they ought by greater force of argument, when it is not clear that there is an established industry, to be exempted from duty. Therefore I appeal to the committee to carry the amendment despite the fact that the honorable member for Melbourne has abandoned it.
– The question of supplying information to honorable members is certainly not a party one so far as the Government are concerned. I believe that the committee generally are satisfied of our intention to act fairly. We go to our officers to secure the fullest information obtainable upon any subject. We have no desire to misrepresent facts. The services of the officers of the whole department are freely at the disposal of honorable members’ in order to secure the fullest information upon any particular matter.
– Have those officers special commercial knowledge?
– They have special knowledge as to where these industries are likely to be found, and the sources from which they can derive information. We are only too delighted to give any information that is sought by honorable members. When we are told that we ought to prove this, that, and the other, I ask how are we to do it, except by such researches as we make? However severe may be the criticism to which we are subjected from certain quarters, I believe that honorable members generally are satisfied we are doing what we can to lay the simple facts before them to enable them to act as their consciences may dictate.
Mr. CONROY (Werriwa). - I would point out to the committee that the number of men employed in the bootmaking industry throughout the Commonwealth totals 11,000, whereas the number engaged in the manufacture of the articles enumerated would probably not exceed 25 or 30. Yet the honorable member for Melbourne, after mature consideration, has the temerity to ask the committee to place these articles upon the free list. I was surprised to find that he fully justified everything which the honorable member for Maranoa said of him. He now urges, simply because the Minister has stated that these articles may be manufactured locally - and thus provide employment to 25 or 30 men at the outside - that we should impose a tax upon tools of trade which are used by 11,000 individuals. Even from the point of view of sane protectionists, there surely ought not to be a tax imposed upon 11,000 individuals, in order that 25 or 30 others may be benefited.
– I can assure the committee that these machines are being made locally, and I am in a position to give the names of the firms who manufacture them. I admire the newborn zeal which is exhibited by honorable members opposite on behalf of the manufacturers. All along it has been urged that the latter should pay their share of taxation. Now, however, a different cry is raised, and honorable members who entertain free-trade views ask us to exempt their tools of trade.
– How can they pay their share of duty upon machines which are made locally ?
– If they want to import their machines, by all means let them pay for them. If, however, these tools can be made locally, the manufacturers can evade the payment of duty. I hope the committee will support the proposal of the Government to exempt those machine tools which are being manufactured within the Commonwealth.
Mr. JOSEPH COOK (Parramatta).The honorable member who has just resumed his seat bluffs the point which was raised by the honorable member for North Sydney. What the latter wanted to know was how the manufacturers paid their share of duty on machines which are madelocally. We are continually being told that tools of trade can be manufactured in Australia cheaper than they can be imported. But in contradistinction to that almost worn-out theory, the honorable member for Melbourne Ports tells us that this tax is to be imposed upon the manufacturers for the purpose of making them pay their share of duty.
– I did not say so.
– The honorable member did say so. Otherwise his retort that we are anxious to make these people pay their share of taxation does not hold good. What, then, becomes of the honorable member’s attempt at logic? In one breath he tells the committee that tools of trade can be manufactured cheaper within the Commonwealth than they can be imported, and in the next he wants to know why the manufacturers should not pay duty upon them. Every speech which the honorable member makes contains two or three of these absurdities. He studiously avoided the point raised by the honorable and learned member for Werriwa, who asked why the 11,000 persons engaged in the bootmaking industry should be subjected to an additional impost for the purpose of providing employment to 25 or 30 men who are occupied in the manufacture of these machines.
– That is pure guesswork.
– I am quoting the statement of the honorable and learned member for Werriwa. If it is not correct, the honorable member for Melbourne Ports, as the secretary of the Protectionists’ Association, ought to be able to controvert it. We plead that these tools of trade should be admitted free for the reason that we believe their products should also be so admitted. That is a reasonable position to take up. I claim that the tools of trade and all the raw materials which enter into the making of boots should be exempt from duty, to enable the manufacturers to work to the best possible advantage.
Question - That the exemptions proposed by Sir Malcolm McEacharn be added - put. The committee divided -
In division -
– The honorable member for Melbourne is at liberty to vote as he thinks fit upon the amendment.
Question so resolved in the negative.
– On behalf of the honorable member for Echuca, I move -
That the following exemptions be added : - “ Hollow- ware iron, being oval boilers, camp ovens, digesters, kettles ; brazing, fry, maslin, preserving, sauce, and stew pans ; Danish, French, glue, oval, plumbers’ stock, and three-legged pots; tea kitcheners or fountains, and gridirons. “
– On a point of order, Mr. Chairman, I submit that the honorable member for Wimmera cannot move this amendment, unless he has been requested to do so by the honorable member for Echuca, in whose name it stands. .
– The honorable member for Echuca, who is unable to be present, sent a message requesting that the amendment standing in his name should be moved in his absence. In these circumstances I suggested that it should be moved by the honorable member for Wimmera, who has a similar amendment lower down in the list.
– I think the honorable member for Wimmera should give us an explanation in regard to some of these articles. For instance we have “ three-legged pots “ figuring in this list of proposed exemptions. What have four-legged pots done that they should not also be exempted 1 We cannot be expected to know everything, and I should like to learn what are the “ digesters,” which it is proposed to exempt ?
Mr. PHILLIPS (Wimmera).- I understand that there is no hollowware iron manufactured in the Commonwealth. The Minister for Trade and Customs said, when the matter was brought under his notice, that the item embraced a large number of articles ; this list has been handed to the honorable member for Echuca by the Hardware Association, as covering all articles which come under this heading.
– Our information is that some of these articles are being made in South Australia ; but whether they are being manufactured within the Commonwealth or not, they are fair subjects upon which to impose some duty in order to assist the revenue. They are not like ordinary tools of trade with which people have to earn their living, and which the committee have very wisely determined shall be nondutiable if they are not made here, the desire of honorable members being that our industries may be assisted as much as possible. The articles comprised in the amendment, however, are used by all classes of the community. Some of them are very valuable, while others are of a poorer kind. I see no reason why they should not bear some duty in any event, and as they are being manufactured within the Commonwealth, the Government consider that a duty of 20 per cent, is not unreasonable.
– I think it is only fair that the information upon which the Treasurer bases his statement that some of these articles can be manufactured in South Australia, should be laid upon the table so that the committee may understand the position. Night after night, when a proposal is made for the exemption of some articles, one of the Ministers looks through his papers and makes the statement, “ I have information here showing that this article can be manufactured in Australia.” The committee know nothing about the matter, and as the Minister practically decides the question upon the information to which he refers, he should place that information before us. I do not say that that course should be followed in regard to this particular item, but it is only fair that Ministers should place before the committee any information in their possession relating to an industry affected by any item under discussion. They should show the number of people employed in the industry, and the prices of the local product as compared with the imported article.
– It would be impossible to do that.
– A few evenings ago thehonorable member for Darling Downs mentioned that certain articles could be manufactured in Queensland. The honorable member for Melbourne said immediately - “ If that is so I will not persist in moving my amendment to place the articles referred to upon the free list.” If the information in the possession of a Minister is of sufficient importance to influence his decision, we who are here to vote on the question should be placed in full possession of the facts. Ministers never tell us from whom their information is derived, or who the manufacturers are. I trust that in relation to the larger items’ more particularly, Ministers will place before the committee any information upon which they rely, so that we may be able to decide the matter for ourselves.
– I think this is an occasion upon which free-traders may well hesitate. We have had no statement from the honorablemember for Wimmer a showing why these particular articles should be placed on the free list. I regret that the honorable member for Echuca, in whose name this amendment stands on the printed list, is not here to defend it. We know that he has had Ministerial experience, and that he is a protectionist of repute. The question of the way in, which I should cast my vote upon this proposal gives me great concern, and I consider that we are well in order in asking for more information. The acting leader of the Opposition has referred to the three-legged pots which it is proposed to exempt. I desire to know why braziers - members of a time-honoured craft - should receive no consideration? The fiery harangues of the Minister for Trade and Customs have not divorced me from my free-trade principles, but I hesitate in regard to some of these proposals. It would be a good idea for revenue purposes alone to place some of these items under duty. I have noticed the right honorable Treasurer anxiously watching the course pursued by his colleague, the Minister for Trade and Customs, in an endeavour to impose a well-thought-out protectionist policy upon Australia, because the right honorable gentleman is afraid that he may not receive the necessary revenue. It has been the custom here for honorable members, in discussing an item on the Tariff, to supply the committee with technical information concerning it. I am unable to offer much technical information on this subject, but I have some historical information which may supply a reason why the honorable members for Echuca and Wimmera are advocating that three-legged gluepots should be placed upon the free list. I find that the gluepot is second in importance to the peacock’s feather, as an ancient religious symbol in China. It is therefore clear that the denizens of Little Bourke-street may be expected to be specially interested in this symbolic glue-pot, and I would like to understand whether the proposal that it should be placed on the free list is made in the interests of those who use gluepots, or in the interests of those who manufacture them. The freetraders of New South Wales are extremely anxious that no industry shall be ruthlessly destroyed, and I have been astonished that a protectionist of high repute like the honorable member for Echuca, who carries with him ex-Ministerial authority, should at this stage sell himself to the Philistines. A graduated scale of duty has been Suggested, and I make a similar suggestion for the purpose of dealing with this matter. I suggest that gluepots without legs might be admitted free ; those with, one leg might have a duty of 10 per cent, imposed upon them, those with two legs 15 per cent., and those with three legs 20 per cent. This suggestion will be an encouragement to local industry, and the graduated scale’ is in keeping with the principles of scientific protection. If it is right that ironworkers, brassfinishers, and persons belonging to other crafts, should be assisted in this way, what has the brazier done that he should not receive some consideration ? There may be twenty persons employed in this industry, -and the honorable member for Melbourne told us that so long as he received information that there was an industry in existence in the Commonwealth, he was prepared to support it. It may be considered straining a point that I, as a free-trader, should take a stand on behalf of the braziers, who apparently have no representative here,no powerful union or association, and no attentive secretary to look after their welfare in the settlement of this Tariff. I think, however, that I may, as a free-trader, sacrifice a little of my principles for the sake of revenue, and try to prevent three-legged gluepots from being placed on the free list. The craftsmen who manufacture these pots ought to be protected as well as those engaged in other , industries in the Commonwealth. If that is not so, are we to understand that the intention of the honorable member for Echuca is- to assist only the user and the religious believer in the gluepot ? Honorable members will see that if that argument is pressed, it may be suggested that such a proposal will give rise to racial strife. I should ‘like to ask if I should be in order when we come to the consideration of this item to move that one of the legs be struck off?
– If the honorable member does, he would knock a hole in the pot.
– That is the true principle of protection. The honorable member suggests that I should knock a hole in the pot in order to give more employment in connexion with this industry. That is the idea of protectionists - that so long as an industry exists, it must be kept going at whatever cost to the Commonwealth. The protectionist theory is that industries which can command support and political power should be assisted at the expense of the community, while small and struggling industries receive very little assistance. That has been the history of protection from its earliest stage until the present time. I have tried to show what I believe bo be the hollowness of this proposal, and, in the absence of the honorable member for Echuca, I should like the honorable member for Wimmera to stand up and defend the three-legged gluepot, and say whether the object is to encourage native industry or to allow these articles to come in free simply because they are mainly used by Chinese.
– I might congratulate the honorable member who has just sat down on a piece of very excellent fooling ; but at this period of the session - the ninth month of the first session of the Federal Parliament - I prefer to ask : - “ Is this a time for airy persiflage, and would it not be better for us to get 071 with our work ?”
– The fooling is due to the person who placed it in the list.
– I did not place it there. I am not an advocate of the three-legged gluepot or the four-legged gluepot : I advocate the imposition of a duty upon it. I should like to say, in answer to the honorable member for Macquarie, that while I do not think that in every instance we are called upon to produce She results of the various inquiries we have made, I may cite an example. We were told that hollowware was manufactured in South Australia. We desired to make perfectly sure of the fact, and we sent a wire to ascertain whether it was imported, and a later wire making further inquiries. On 20th January we got this information from the Collector of Customs in that State : - He refers ‘to Simpson and Son, a firm well known all over Australia, as amongst the largest tin manufacturers in the Commonwealth -
Simpson and Son do not import the hollowware, they enamel them. Only import the raw material. All kinds of household hollowware are made by them ; also enamelled advertising matter.
This further information was also received : -
Simpson’s have eastings, pots, kettles, &c, done locally. Most of their hollowware is made from sheet steel locally.
Honorable members will see the pains to which we go in order to get reliable information regarding even so small a matter as that.
– Particularly from South Australia.
– That is not a fair observation. I can assure honorable members that we inquire into a matter with equal minuteness, whether it affects South Australia, Western Australia, or any other State of the Commonwealth.
Sir WILLIAM MCMILLAN (Wentworth). - There seems to be a very voluminous list of exemptions, and I should like to know whether it is a question of exemption or a 20 per cent, duty?
– It is now. We have dealt with all the duties, and we are dealing now with exemptions. It is not possible now to (jay that the duty upon an article shall be 10 or 12 or 15 per cent.
– That seems to me to put us in a rather awkward position.
– Honorable members have already had an opportunity of proposing various duties upon these articles. We have dealt with the proposals for duties, and are now dealing with exemptions only.
– I can draw a very clear distinction between this proposal by the honorable member for Echuca with respect to a definite ‘article and a general proposal covering “ tools of trade.” It seems to me a pity that there was not an opportunity of dealing more minutely with some articles which come under the general denomination of “tools of trade.” I shall never be found to .vote for the imposition of a 20 per cent, ad valorem duty upon anything, and while I might be willing to agree to an ordinary revenue duty, which would be much better for the Treasury, and perfectly sufficient for articles of this kind, I am” unfortunately bound under the circumstances to vote to place them upon the free list.
– In the amendments of which notice has been given, proposed exemptions are mixed up in a most incongruous way. In the case before us, we have hollowware and gridirons dealt with in the one amendment. The mover of the amendment also proposes to place digesters upon the free list. In the ordinary acceptance of the term, a digester is simply a large pot, made of boiler plate, used in connexion with boiling-down works, and holding the carcasses of from eight to twelve bullocks. It is heated by steampipes, and has a pipe to draw off the contents. I see no reason why such a thing should be placed upon the free list.
– With regard to the tanners’ and curriers’ tools of trade, for the exemption of which the honorable member for Parramatta has given noticeof motion, I should like to point out that, fleshing knives, working or scudding knives, curriers’ shaving knives and blades, curriers’ steels, curriers’ steel whitening sleekers, curriers’ steel setting sleekers, and moon knives, are already upon the free list. Tanners’ and curriers’ rub and clearingstones are not manufactures of metals, and therefore cannot properly be dealt with at the present time. Rounding knives arefree, while lignum vitae beam-faces or beamboards are not manufactures of metals. Tanners’ bark forks are free, while tanners’ scouring stones and tanners’ scudding stones are not manufactures of metals. With regard to the remaining items- bark disintegrators and mills - they are made here, and therefore we propose to keep them dutiable. With regard to the honorable member’s proposals in reference to leather-working machines and machine tools, I am informed that a man named Pullan, of Fitzroy, makes all these machines, and therefore we cannot agree to allow them, to be free.
Mr. JOSEPH COOK (Parramatta).My principal object is to induce the committee to place leather-working machines and machine tools upon the free list. The Treasurer tells us that there is one man here who makes all these machines ; but my information is that a number of them - such as fleshing, shaving, scouring, whitening, and blacking machines - are not made here. With the permission of the committee
I intend to add to my proposed list of exemptions measuring machines and parts, which I believe are made here, and staking machines and parts and squeezing machines and parts, which are patented machines; and are not made here. If there is any industry in Australia to which facilities should be granted for importing machinery at the lowest price, it is the tanning and leather-curing industry. That is a native industry in the truest sense of the word, since the beasts from which the hides are procured are bred here. The cost of buying machines is a very considerable item in the manufacture of leather, and any one who knows anything about the condition of the trade knows that during the last six or seven years those engaged in it have had to struggle very hard, to get along at all, the manufacturers having to be content in many cases with a small margin of profit, and in some cases with no profit at all. There was a duty upon leather under the Victorian Tariff, but it was not of much assistance to the local manufacturers.
– They were very anxious to retain it, and so were those in New South Wales as well.
– Not many of the New South Wales manufacturers wanted it. Although there was a duty of 6d. per lb. upon leather in Victoria, more leather was imported into this State than was imported into New South Wales, where leather was free.
– Because we make more boots than they make in New South Wales.
– That is not so. I believe we make very many more pairs of boots during the year than are made in Victoria.
– New South Wales imports more boots than Victoria imports.
– That is so, and perhaps the right honorable gentleman can explain the anomaly. Two-thirds of the leather manufactured in Australia is exported to be sold in foreign markets. In 1900, Victoria sent away £330,000 worth of leather, and New South Wales £423,000 worth.
– The question of leather is not before the committee.
– I am trying to show why leather-working machines and machine tools should be admitted free, and
I do not know how I can argue the matter unless I am allowed to refer to the conditions of the leather trade.
– The honorable member will be permitted to refer to it, but not to debate the matter.
– I am not debating the matter.- The leather industry, like the dairying industry, is a free-trade industry. By that I mean that the prices obtained for its productions are ruled by the prices obtainable in foreign markets, inasmuch as the greater part of the finished product has to be exported. That being so, it is of the utmost consequence to those engaged in the industry that their machines and machine tools should be procurable at the lowest prices. I am informed that to equip an up-to-date first-class tannery requires an expenditure of nearly £4,000 upon machines and tools of trade. I therefore ask the committee to assist this industry, and to help it to compete under the best conditions with the productions of other parts of the world. There is only one man, I believe, who makes these machines. Mr. Pullan, who was named by the Treasurer, and he is in Victoria. The natural consequence is that people who use his machines over here have to pay more for them than is paid in other parts of the Commonwealth where the machines are not made. The machines are of a very expensive character. Some of them cost, I am told, £400 or £500 each, and others £200. Leather-making is not a gigantic industry like steel-making. It seems to be more of a domestic industry as regards its size, volume, and capacity ; therefore, the price of these machines is high relatively to the state of the industry. Under these circumstances I hope that honorable members will consent to place the machines on the free list. I move -
That the following exemptions be added : - “ Bark Disintegrators and Mills. Machines and Machine Tools used in the manufacture of Leather including: - Hide Unhairing, Fleshing and Scudding Machines and parts, Sole Leather Boiling Machines and parts, Scouring and Settingout Machines and parts. Splitting Machines and parts, Glassing, Graining, and Glazing Machines and parts, Brushing and BlackingMachines and parts, Shaving Machines and parts, Whitening Machines and parts, Measuring Machines and parts, Staking Machines and parts, Squeezing Machines and parts. “
Sir WILLIAM MCMILLAN (Wentworth). - I hope that the committee will give attention to the remarks of the honorable member for Parramatta. This is a big industry to which he referred. It is one which enters very largely into the export trade of Australia, and which cannot be practically protected by means of duties, because the material is, no doubt, procured in this country very largely. We do have imports no doubt, but still leather is essentially one of our staple exports, and it is a great and growing business. If the industry cannot be protected at all, surely it stands to reason that anything which enters so largely into the manufacture of the article as do tools of trade, whatever may be said about Other machinery, ought to be as free as possible. Let me state the principle which I think we ought to adopt in dealing with industries of this kind. Here is an established industry ; the Government do not protect it as they can other industries, ‘ therefore they ought to lighten the burden as much as possible. Considering the whole situation, I think it would be very unfair and inequitable from the broadest possible point of view to put any tax on those people who do not get the benefit of the general system of protection. I trust that the amendment will be carried. It seems to me that it stands on all four with those which we have passed. We ought to be consistent in this matter, and certainly we ought to see that fair play is given to an industry which has no protection under the system proposed.
– It would be better if we were not so prone to discuss mere generalities, and to come down to what is under discussion. I listened with very great attention to the last two speakers, but neither of them devoted his attention to the machines which they desire to have put on the free list. Only one statement indeed can be canvassed, and that was the statement made by the honorable member for Parramatta., that quite a number of the machines which he has named are not made in the Commonwealth. In Victoria there are several manufacturers. One firm makes every machine named in the amendment.
– Is that the firm named by the Treasurer t
– The tanners say not.
– I shall come to what the tanners say in a moment. Every machine the honorable member has named in his amendment is made by that firm, but there are some other firms in this State who make some one or more of the machines he has named. In South Australia there are two firms who devote all their attention to the making of these kinds of machines. I am not so well posted as to what other firms do, but I suppose there are firms in that State, as there are in Victoria, who also devote some attention to the making of these kinds of machines. I am not able to learn that they are made in any of the other States.
– New South Wales appears to be making some of them, according to our information.
– I understand, from an authority I can rely upon, that in New South Wales there is a man who is able to repair a machine that has got out of order, but who has not yet succeeded in making a fully-equipped machine. I hold in my hand an advertisement of the firm that the Treasurer has named. Any honorable member may look at the sheet if he pleases. It is covered with lithograph pictures of every kind of machine which the honorable member for Parramatta has named, and it gives some interesting information as to what is taking place in other States. So far from the tanners not making use of locally-made machines, there is a list given here of some 22 firms in New South Wales who have bought machines from this firm, and who evidently find that they have given satisfaction. I also find that there are quite a number of men in Tasmania, Victoria, and some of the otherStates, who have bought these particular machines, and their names and addresses are given: ‘
– Is there only one man in Australia who makes these machines 1
– As I said, in Australia, there are at least three firms who devote the whole of their resources to the making of these machines.
– Can the honorable member tell us how many hands are employed ?
– I have repeatedly said that it does not matter to me how many hands are employed in any factory. I ask myself only one question, and that is, does the consumer benefit by the manufacturer having a say in the manufacture of any given articles 1 The consumer has benefited by there being manufacturers of these machines within the Commonwealth. I shall give a case in point. There is a machine which is in use in every tanner’s and currier’s establishment in Australia, it is called a “ union splitter.” The price of a “ union splitter “ in Victoria prior to the machines being made here was £154, whereas to-day it can be bought for £100.
– What does the honorable member want the protection foi’, then 1
– Because it enables the manufacturer to still keep up a competition with the importer - to the consumer’s benefit.
– Can the honorable member state the price of the band knife splitting machine 1
– I am not in a position to furnish the prices of all the machines. I have given the price of one machine, and that is typical of all. If the honorable member chooses to take any of the machines he has named and compare the price now with the price that obtained prior to their manufacture in the Commonwealth, he will find that as the result of the manufacturer’s competition the prices have come down.
– The prices are lowered to the manufacturer.
– Some interjections are pertinent, some are impertinent, and some are silly, and the interjection of the honorable and learned member belongs to the last category.
– At all events they are not made to promote any personal interest. I do not go over and drink champagne in the White Hart afterwards.
– The honorable and learned member has the right to follow me if he pleases j but he has no right to interrupt me.
– The honorable and learned member for Werriwa ought to stop his talk about that champagne. He ought to give the names and make a specific charge.
– I shall make a specific charge. I do not accuse the honorable member of joining in it.
– The honorable and learned member accuses everybody on this side.
The ACTING CHAIRMAN (Mr. Kirwan). - I must ask honorable members to desist from these interruptions.
– I have no desire to break into such a very interesting discussion, except that it interferes with my arguments. I believe the honorable member for Parramatta has chosen his list of machines from a list in the Australian Leather Journal. That newspaper asserted that these machines were not made in the Commonwealth, but the proprietors were foolish enough to state that a particular firm was not making and could not make them. It had to retract everything it had said, and pay the firm £200 damages and the whole of the costs in connexion with the action at law. It was proved in a court of law here that they were made in Victoria. I may add that that journal is particularly active in asking that these particular machines should be put on the free list.
– Why should it, if the local machines are cheaper ?
– Some of the proprietors of that journal are interested importers of the machines, and therefore they desire the duty to be removed in order that they may crush the manufacturers, I suppose, and get the same old prices that they used to get. To prevent any such contingency, I am interested in maintaining competition between the importer and the manufacturer in order that the consumer may benefit. If the honorable member for Parramatta can prove that the consumer does not benefit, I will vote with him to remove the duty. The honorable member for Parramatta will not deny that he took his list from the journal to which I have referred.
– I do deny it. I have never seen the list in that journal.
– It is singular that the honorable member’s list and that published in the journal referred to absolutely agree. I may inform the committee that negotiations are now proceeding between the importers in Victoria and American manufacturers of these machines with a view to effecting what is called a “ knockout” as far as the local manufacturer is concerned, if the duties are reduced. If the manufacturer has to- shut down his works, the importers will have everything their own way, and therefore it would be to the interest of the consumer if the duty were retained. I am not familiar with the names of the principal tanners in other States, but I can say that almost without exception every tanner and currier in Victoria is using the locally-made machines. I have here a copy of a testimonial given by Mr. Carl Wehl of the Stawell Tannery and Fellmongery at Stawell, which is as follows : -
Gentlemen, - It is with great pleasure that 1 can inform you that the improved design sheepskin burring machine you supplied me works very satisfactorily, taking the burrs out quite clean.
N.B. - I may mention here that the machine I had imported for me previous to giving you an order for one of yours caused me great loss in time and money. It was months in coming from England after the order was given, and when it was started ‘would not burr a skin, so I had to pull it up and return it to the agents.
– If the local machine was competing on the same terms as is the imported machine, there would be no need for protection, but the history of manufactures all over the world goes to prove that without protection the local manufacturer has no chance against the importer.
– If what Mr. Wehl says of the imported machine is true, he would not have it as a gift.
– That is true of one machine, but I arn referring to all machines. I am not sure about the last three machines named by the honorable member for Parramatta, which are not in the printed list, and I do not desire to include them in the definite statements which I have made.
– As to those machines, the tanners who use them say that they are not made here.
– I suppose neither of the honorable members know much about the subject.
– I know only what I am told j but I have obtained my information from those who use the machines. The honorable member for Bourke will not say how many men are engaged in making these machines, but I am informed that only twenty men are employed by Messrs. Pullan and Co. Perhaps the honorable member will deny that. -
– I do not know.
– There are about 60 employed.
– I am told that only twenty men are employed. It is also stated that there are other makers of these machines in the Commonwealth, and I should like to know what the reports obtained by the Treasurer say upon that point?
– All that the reports say is that the machines are being made in Victoria by Pullan and Co.
– There is also a firm in South Australia which makes these machines.
– The South Australian firm only does a little repairing.
– Does the honorable member get his information from the man who had to pay the £200 ?
– No, my informant is a reliable man from New South Wales, who has been engaged in the industry, and whose character is beyond reproach.
– Is he still in the trade ?
– No. The honorable member for Bourke attacked the Leather Trade Journal, and when asked why its proprietor should be so much opposed to Pullan and Co., said that it was because he was interested as an importer. We have only the honorable member’s bare statement for that, and it is difficult to conceive how the proprietor of the journal could act otherwise than in the interests of the trade generally upon which he is dependent for support. It is singular that those who are engaged in the trade should be anxious to revert to the imported machines, when, if the honorable member for Bourke is to be believed, better machines can be made within the Commonwealth. The honorable member has referred to one machine, but I invite his attention to another which is called a bandknife leather splitting machine. This machine is sold by Pullan and Co. in Victoria for £250, whereas they set it up in Sydney for £200.
– Then they sell their machines in New South Wales already ?
– Tes, and what I am endeavouring to show is that in consequence of the duties imposed in Victoria, the purchasers in that State have to pay £50 more than do those who buy a similar article in Sydney.
– That upsets all the arguments used by protectionists for the last two months.
– I believe the whole trade would be glad if these machines were placed on the free list. How is it that the buyers of these machines have never come to the House aud asked that duties should be imposed upon them ? Since the fiscal controversy was raised here, every petition which has come from the users of tools or machinery has asked for a reduction of duty, and yet we are told night after night by honorable members who believe in protectionist principles that the effect of imposing high duties is to bring down prices, and give the purchasers a better article. Surely the people who use these articles are the best judges, and surely they would have asked the committee to increase the duty if they had believed in the protectionist argument. They surely ought to know their own business best.
– I heartily support the honorable member for Parramatta, and I would point out that in this particular matter he can fairly claim the support of Ministers themselves, because they placed leather dressing machine tools upon the list of exemptions.
– Surely the honorable member does not contend that a machine tool is a machine ?
– If the honorable member for Melbourne Ports will refer to the list of machine tools which the Government themselves are prepared to place upon the free list, he will find machine after machine included in it. I say that Ministers did intend to exempt machine tools used in connexion with this particular trade.
– They were not in the list of detailed items which we brought down.
– They were in the original list of the trades,- in connexion with which the Government thought that machine tools ought to be exempted. But the Ministry have altered their intentions, no doubt as the result of representations. In this connexion it seems to “me that we are allowing individual firms far too much power in this committee.
– Is the honorable member referring to page 7 of the old Tariff?
Mi-. THOMSON. - I am referring to the machine tools used in certain industries.
– And to be specified in departmental by-laws.
– But there is not a single tool specified in connexion with leather dressing. The Government recognised that reason existed for exemptions in this industry, though they did not exempt the machine tools of every industry. Now they say they have abandoned that position, because every such machine tool can be made in Australia. But do honorable members believe that local manufacturers can make every machine tool used in this industry under the conditions which have been prescribed, by the Ministry themselves ? In other words, can these articles “ reasonably “ be manufactured within the Commonwealth? Personally, I cannot believe that every machine tool used in this particular trade can “reasonably” be produced in ‘Australia, if in the other trades they cannot be locally manufactured. What evidence does the Minister offer that they can “ reasonably “ be made -within the Commonwealth? Simply the statement of a firm that it can manufacture them. Of course it can do so, but we have no evidence that it can “ reasonably” manufacture them. The honorable member for Bourke sneered at the authority upon which he presumed the honorable member for Parramatta submitted his amendment. Why did he do so ? Because the firm mentioned are interested people, who import these very machines. Consequently he declared that their desires ought to have no weight with this committee. I quite agree with him. But who is the honorable member speaking for ? Is he not speaking for an interested firm ? Will he apply his own reasoning in the case of the honorable member-for Parramatta to his own case ? Of course honorable members upon this side of the chamber do not accept the definition of the Ministry that everything should be dutiable if it can “ reasonably “ be manufactured within the Commonwealth, But adopting the view of honorable members opposite, who have accepted that definition, I will point out that not a single attempt has been made to demonstrate that these articles can “ reasonably “ be produced in Australia. What does the term “ reasonably made “ mean 1 It means not only that a machine can be locally manufactured at a reasonable cost, but that it is as lasting, as effective, as rapid, and as. saving in its operation as the imported article. The fact is that Government officials, who are deputed to ascertain whether particular articles can be locally manufactured, merely ask different firms if they can produce them. Upon an affirmative reply being given, they convey the information to
Ministers, and the articles in question are immediately placed upon the dutiable list. I say that honorable members should never have been required to traverse this list of exemptions. Either a moderate duty should have been imposed upon all these articles or there should have been such an exact definition of “ tools of trade “ and “ machine tools,” that the task of discriminating between the two classes could safely have been left to the Government without itemizing. But honorable members are now called upon to discuss another Tariff item by item - a Tariff which has been solicited by the Ministry, and one which necessarily adds to the large amount of work connected with their original proposals.
– The committee ure now going through practically a new Tariff without any power of differentiation.
– Honorable members should ‘never have been called upon to do that. This Tariff is being framed by honorable members with more or less of the consent of Ministers, and by the time we have completed our labours this new exemption Tariff will contain as many, if not more, items than did the original Tariff.
Mr. HUME COOK (Bourke).- The honorable member for North Sydney has said that this committee ought not to accept the testimony of interested parties. I quite agree with him. But this is a question of fact rather than of theory. Regarding the facts, I repeat that these machines are made in this country. In support of my statement I point to a list which has been published broadcast, and which gives not merely the machines which are manufactured locally, but the names of nearly 60 persons who have purchased them from the manufacturers. Amongst the names of Victorian tanners and curriers I find those in the very front rank of the tanners and curriers. For example, there is Major Braithwaite, who is perhaps the largest tanner and currier in this State.
– He uses 24 machines made by Pullan and Co.
– What was the duty in Victoria ?
– Thirty-five percent, originally. Then I find the names of Michaelis,Hallenstein,and Co. They are men who profess to be free-traders, and obviously they would buy in the cheapest market. How is it that Lloyd Bros, and Maginnis, another large firm of tanners and importers in this State, also purchase these machines 1 I find also that some firms in New South Wales use these machines, including J. Dennis and Co., Farleig, Nettheim, and Co., G. Cunningham, T. Saxon, G. Bailey, W. Chaffer, and Johnston Bros. The honorable member for Parramatta made a statement which, if true, is very surprising. He declared that Pullan and Co. had supplied a band-knife leather splitting machine to a certain individual for £200, whereas the price of it in Victoria was £250. I am not familiar with the price in Victoria, but I have endeavoured to ascertain it, because I believe that if the facts were disclosed they would be found to be very different from what the honorable member has stated. A clerk at Pullan and Co.’s, with whom I got into telephonic communication, informs me that there were two or three cases in different parts of New South Wales some years ago where men were supplied with these particular machines at a very heavy discount, in consideration of their pushing them amongst the users.
– Have not all the manufactures of Victoria been sold at a cheaper price in New South Wales than in this State 1
– I do not think so. But even if that statement were true, it proves only that protection establishes industries, and enables our manufacturers to sell their goods to other States. I am not one of those who advocate the imposition of a duty so high that it must be calculated to create a monopoly ; nor am I here to ask for high duties in order that manufacturers may be able to make immense profits at the expense of the consumers. Throughout this debate, and throughout my public career, I have put to myself the question whether it is possible to give the consumer any advantage by the imposition of protective duties. In every case that I have been able to analyze I have found that, as the result of the increased competition, not merely between importers and manufacturers, but between the manufacturers themselves, the consumers have invariably benefited. It is so in this case beyond all doubt, and, I believe, in all others. I regret that I am not in a position to furnish the committee with a list of all the prices of the machines under review, but I am satisfied that if the facts were elucidated, my contention would be established beyond any doubt. The honorable member for North Sydney has said that we have to be assured not merely that these machines are made here, and that they are made here at a reasonable price - two points which I have answered - but that they are safe and rapid, and of the right kind to use.
– I did not say that ; I said that we have to compare these machines with others under the definition given by the Minister as to their being rapid, lasting, effective, and so forth.
– I shall take the honorable member’s own statement. If these machines did not fufil every one of the conditions he has named, none of the firms in New South Wales, South Australia, Queensland, Tasmania, and other States, would be using them. The honorable member admits that the consumer knows what he requires, that he buys the article that suits him and rejects that which is not fitted for his work. In these circumstances the answer to the’ honorable member’s question is to be found in the fact that these machines are supplied by local firms, and used largely throughout the States.
– The debate upon this proposal has shown us, more than any other discussion we have had, the worst features of protection. It has been equalled only by two other debates on similar subjects which were raised also by the honorable member for Bourke. We are asked to impose a duty for the benefit of a particular firm. ,
– That is not so.
– In the worst days of “ Boodleism “ in America such a thing was never done. We have never heard of a member standing up in Congress and saying - “ Here is a manufacturer ; a friend of mine and a friend of the Minister’s, who makes a certain article. Put a duty of 20 per cent, on the imported article, and let him rob the rest of the people.” However the matter may be disguised, that is really the aim of the demand for this duty. Has the honorable member said one word on behalf of the consumers, or on behalf of the men, numbering some thousands, who use these things in their industry ? Not a word has been said by him about the men ; they are mere workmen, and, therefore, they are not to be considered by any friend of Pullan and Co., who seem to have pulled to some purpose, because they have led the Ministry to depart from their original intention ofncluding these articles in the free list–
– That is not the case.
– The honorable member does not know the mind of the Ministry.
– The honorable member for Melbourne Ports is correct.
– I am considering the number of men employed in this industry.
– So am I.
– It may be said that the honorable member for Bourke is considering those employed by Pullan and Co. I do not think he is even considering them because he has shown already that this firm was able to compete against the world in what was the freetrade market of New South Wales. That being the case, what can be. the necessity for a duty 1 The object must and can only be a desire to put a certain amount of money into the pockets of Pullan and Co. We have had the extraordinary spectacle of an honorable member standing up and saying - “The firm of Messrs. Pullan and Co., friends of ours, in whom we are interested, ask us to place a duty on this article, so that they may place a little* more money in their own pockets.”
– Does the honorable member mean to say that I am interested in Pullan and Co. 1
– Could any one show a more definite evidence of interest than the honorable member has done by rushing out of the House to consult Pullan and Co. over the telephone, and then returning to tell honorable members that he has tried to telephone them in order to ascertain the facts ? It seems that Pullan and Co. are to direct the determinations of the committee.
– The honorable arid learned member obtains information in the same way.
– The seeking of information in that way is very different when the information is desired for the purpose of assisting an honorable member in a proposal to remove restrictions, and give a free port to every one.
– It is fair in both cases.
– An importer cannot have the same interest as has a manufacturer in a question relating to the imposition of a duty. So far as the importer is concerned, every man is placed on an equal footing with him but when a man is the sole manufacturer of an article no one else can compete with him. Therefore in this case it is proposed to impose a duty solely for the benefit of one manufacturer. I trust that we shall not have a repetition of what occurred a few days ago, when an honorable member addressing the committee said - “ Here is a friend of mine who has had to pay £500 for a machine. Let us impose a duty on this article so that he may secure a return of his money.” It is one of the worst spectacles that could be witnessed here.
– It seems to me, as the honorable and learned member for Werriwa has said, that this is one of the worst cases which has come before us. There are three phases of this question. First of all we have the fact that thousands of men are working in the leather industry. Then we have to consider the great export trade in leather, which is so necessary for the country, and thirdly we have to take into consideration the consumers of the country as a whole. In order to protect about a handful of people, we are to injure directly the men engaged in the leather industry ; we are to injure the Australian export trade in leather ; and thirdly, we are to increase - a fact which honorable members never seem to realize - the price of these articles to the 4,000,000 of people in Australia. If ever there was a case in which there was no question to decide, it is this. We have only one manufacturer of any importance engaged in the making of these machines. He employs a mere handful of men, and yet we are to throw aside entirely the interests of thousands of people who use the machines, mid who are carrying on an industry not merely for their own benefit, but as one that promises to be the great industry of the future, so far as the export trade is concerned. If honorable members vote against this proposal, the principle laid down will be that, if in any part of Australia there are five men carrying on an industry, a duty of .20 per cent, should be imposed to protect their product as against the interests of the 4,000,000 people of the continent.
Mr. JOSEPH COOK (Parramatta).The honorable member for Bourke has quoted the names of certain firms who have purchased their machinery from Pullan and Co. The explanation is very simple. Pullan and Co. are the only firm which repair these machines in Victoria. They alone supply the parts for these machines. It would be absurd for a man to buy a machine abroad, and then be compelled to go to Pullan and Co. to replace parts as soon as thev got out of repair. Those requiring machines here naturally go to Pullan and Co., and as they are the only firm engaged in this industry in Victoria, they do not trouble themselves very much about the original cost. They know that any parts which get out of repair must be replaced by Pullan and Co., and that that firm must supply the workmen to carry out the repairs. In these circumstances they naturally obtain their machinery from. Pullan and Co. in the first instance. The honorable member for Bourke does not seem to see that this firm are now practically monopolists.
– The honorable member asserted in the first instance that Pullan and Co. did not make these machines ; now he says something different.
– The honorable member tried to make me say so, but I did not. I quoted three or four machines which I said I was informed were not made by Pullan and Co., but I made a statement that I believed the others were made by them. The fact that people purchase these machines from the only local manufacturer and repairer of them cannot be used as an argument upon the question of price, and the possibility of consumers being able to secure the machinery cheaper in a wider market.
– I do not think that the honorable member for Bourke is in the slightest degree deserving of the criticism to which he has been subjected. On the contrary, in regard to every item of the Tariff to which he has addressed himself, he has shown the possession of a large quantity of information, and has spoken calmly and deliberately in a way appreciated by the committee. All that can be urged against the honorable member is simply that upon a dispute arising in the committee as to whether or not certain articles were made here, and the circumstances under which they were made, he placed himself in communication with the man who manufactured them. He went to the fount of authority, and gave us the result of his inquiry. What more or what less- could be expected from him ?
– That is all that the honor- able member for Kooyong did.
– I am not going to be drawn into a discussion of that matter. What personal interest could the honorable member for Bourke have in this matter? Does the honorable member suggest anything of the sort.
– How could I know any more than the right honorable gentleman could know ?
-When I see the honorable member for Bourke advertising himself as the agent for Pullan and Co. I shall subject him to similar criticism.
– What else is the honorable member doing ?
– He has spoken as a free and independent member in a way in which he has a right to address the committee, and I venture to believe that the committee will be disposed to thant him. As regards the question whether one workman or 50 are involved in this proposal I would point out that we cannot collect every detail ; but we are told that these articles are made by Pullan and Co. in Victoria, and also by others in South Australia, and in New South Wales.
– Who says that they are made in South Australia and New South Wales?
– I have a memorandum on the subject from one of our officers.
– It is strange that the Treasurer did not tell us of it.
– I said I knew they were made by Pullan and Co.
Mr.- Joseph Cook. - The Treasurer said the officer reported that they were made in Victoria.
– So they are.
– Upon hearing that statement one of our officers immediately sent us a memorandum setting forth that the machines were made also in South Australia and New South Wales. The people of New South Wales, to whom, of course, I attribute all sorts of wisdom - New South Wales being the senior State and so on - are not fools. What have they shown us in regard to these articles 1 They have purchased them largely from Pullan and Co. There are a number of firms, some nineteen or twenty, in New South Wales who have these machines, and that fact also bears testimony to the character of the machines. The proof of the pudding is in the eating of it, and the proof of the value of these machines is that they are purchased. ‘
They are bought and used and found to answer the purpose. Under these circumstances, to suggest that we were wrong in saying that they were made here is to strive for a position which is absolutely unattainable.’ I do not know the number of men engaged in the industry, but we are told that one firm employs as many as 60 hands. That is proof of the existence of a substantial industry at present. It seems to me that it* is capable of further development, and that this is a case in which we ought to apply the general principle that where an industry is useful to Australia, and is capable, if properly encouraged, of being fairly established, we should do what we can to establish it. One word more with respect to the statement of the honorable member for North Sydney, that we had provided that these goods should be free. We did nothing of the sort. What we provided for as regards these particular trades - not knowing at the moment what should be specially mentioned - was that machine tools to be specified in a departmental bylaw were to be free.
– Did I not say that ?
– The true construction of that was that anything which ought to be free was to be specified, and we took the power to deal with the matter after subsequent inquiry. Looking into the question of which notice was given by the honorable member, we directed the attention of our officer to finding out what the real facts were. The facts are, that these are goods which can be made here fairly, and the industry is one which is worthy of encouragement. Under the circumstances I ask honorable members to apply here the principle they previously applied to other industries, and afford encouragement. We are not asking anything extravagant; I believe the duty here before was 35 per cent., and we are asking for only 20 per cent. When honorable members talk of the Maitland speech, I venture to say that if they are desirous of redeeming the pledge that we should not destroy any existing industries, they should refrain from voting in the way in which members of the Opposition would vote, to entirely take away from these industries the protection which they enjoy by putting these articles on the free list.
– A one-man industry.
– The figures quoted show the straits to which free-traders are driven when they describe as a “ one-man industry “ the work of a firm employing 60 men. Honorable members may talk as they please, but it is not a good thing to have men going about seeking work when they are able to find it, and in the case of this one firm their action would turn 60 men into the street, and cause suffering to those dependent upon them.
Mr. THOMSON (North Sydney).-The right honorable gentleman has stated that what I said was not true.
– I did not say it was not true ; or, if I did, it is not an expression I should have applied to the honorable member’s statement.
– The right honorable gentleman may have said that I was not correct in saying that the Ministers themselves had provided for the exemption of certain lines in this industry. The right honorable gentleman knows, and if he does not, his colleague and the committee know that I admitted the qualification as to the departmental by-law.
– After I drew the honorable member’s attention to it.
Mi-. THOMSON. - Yes, and I was coming to that ; and I asked whether Ministers were not trifling with the committee when they proposed to take power to exempt by departmental by-law in this particular trade.
– Does it follow that we intended to exempt all tools in that trade ?
– Their general policy was not to put them on the free list if they were locally made.
– Does the honorable member contend that we were bound to put all these things on the free list because they were to be specified in a by-law ?
– In reply to the honorable member for Bland, who says it was in accordance with the Government policy, I ask the honorable member if Ministers have not exercised a selection under that policy by putting in thirteen trades and omitting a score of others. We raised the point before. They put some trades on the list, because according to their own statement they found that some of the machine tools used by these trades could not be made in the Commonwealth ; they, subsequently knocked out that proposal, and did not bring forward a single item of machine tools in the leather trade.
– And two other trades.
– Yes, woodworking, and apparel and attire. What I say is that they did mean to exempt in the leather trade, but they changed their policy.
– Does the honorable member- say we meant to exempt these articles ?
– I say Ministers did mean to exempt in the leather trade, but they changed their policy, and did not exempt.
Mr. JOSEPH COOK (Parramatta).If the right honorable Treasurer desires to get a vote upon this matter it would be better for him to keep the Minister for Trade and Customs in his seat. That is the best way in which to get a vote upon any of these items. ‘The right honorable gentleman got up just now to give us some information from his officers, and he invited us to go to those officers for corroboration of their statements, or to get information in an independent wa3’ on our own account. I went to the officer who sent in this information. The honorable member for Bourke told us, I believe correctly, that there is one man in New South Wales who repairs these machines, but that there is not a man who makes them. The Minister for Trade and Customs said they were made in New South Wales, and that his officer had said so. I went to ask the officer, and he said he was so informed ; and when I asked him who made them, he said - “ I do not know.” We are told by the Minister that they make the complete machines in New South Wales, and yet the officer who says so, saysthat he does not know the name of the man who makes them. Some man over here told him that they did make them in New South Wales, and that he was going to get the particulars when he gets to New South Wales. That is the information put before the committee as accurate and reliable information, and it is upon such information as this that we are asked to believe that these Ministers know all the ramifications of the industrial life of the Commonwealth. I do not blame the officer in this matter ; he is doing his best, no doubt. No one officer could know all about these industries, and no one officer could find out all about them unless he had access to information from the other States. One would have thought that if
Ministers wished to know anything about the industries of New South Wales they would have telegraphed to the Customs officials there for the information. Instead of doing that they apply on the spot to an officer who knows nothing about them, and who gets his information not direct from New South Wales, but from some man who is in Victoria, and who says he believes that they do this, that, and the other. This is a glorious specimen of the accurate information upon which Ministers are framing their Tariff, and it accounts for many of the anomalies that from time to time crop up in connexion with it. I believe the honorable member for Bourke knows most about this industry, and I believe the honorable member is absolutely correct when he says that only repairs to these machines are executed in New South Wales, and that no completed machines are made there.
– I shall quote the memorandum received from the officer, who I may say, is without doubt one of the most excellent officers in the service. He is entirely reliable, and speaks of what he knows, despite the suggestion of the honorable member for Parramatta
– I rise to order. Does the right honorable gentleman suggest that I made the slightest reflection upon this officer?
– I do, certainly.
– I should be sorry to do so.
– Then I am glad the honorable member withdraws it.
– The statement I made about the officer was that he was an excellent man, but he could not be expected to know all the ramifications of the industrial life of this country.
– The honorable member put it that the officer had given information to Ministers which was not correct, and I desire to point out that this is not so.
– I rise to order. The right honorable gentleman is now making a reflection upon me which I must certainly resent. I made no such statement. I said that the officer gave the best information in his power to the Minister.
– If the honorable member really says that he does not reflect upon the officer, and that the officer gave the best information in his power, I go further, and I say that the information he gave is correct. After a reference to the fact of there being a manufacturer of these machines in Victoria, the memorandum says -
A number of these machines are also made in New South Wales and in South Australia.
I will guarantee that that is correct.
– He says he does not know, but that he has been told they are made.
– This is going to be a tax upon every individual in the Commonwealth, because there is no one who does not wear boots of some kind. If an honorable member gets up behind the Government and gives information upon any trade, the Minister for Trade and Customs congratulates him upon the information he has given to the committee. The Minister, in reply to my interjection while he was speaking, said the honorable member for Bourke was not interested, inferring that the honorable member for Kooyong was interested in the information which he gave. The honorable member for Kooyong has already told the committee that he is not interested, and that should be sufficient for the Minister for Trade and Customs. I point out that he did only what the honorable member for Bourke is doing. The honorable member for Kooyong voiced the desires of the importer as the honorable member for Bourke is voicing the desires of the manufacturer ; but, because the honorable member for Kooyong is on this side of the committee, he is slated by the Minister. If he were on the other side, he would be congratulated upon the information he had given the committee. I say that, if one of those honorable members is to blame, they are both to blame. So far as the proposed taxation upon these tools of trade is concerned, I say that, if we are going to tax the whole Commonwealth to keep one set of manufacturers going, it is no wonder that Victoria is in the deplorable condition she is. Honorable members to-day might have seen a gathering of 200 or 300 unemployed outside the House. If protection is a good thing, what were they doing there ?
An Honorable Member. - The farmers are looking in vain for labour.
– The farmers can get labour if they like to pay for it, and so can the manufacturers. The honorable member for Bourke has not told us how many men are employed in this machine-tool shop. Had it not been for the honorable and learned member for Corio, we should have had a tax of 20 per cent, to encourage a Victorian tool-making industry in which there are only one man and a boy employed. I hope that the committee will give the tanners the consideration they deserve.
– It is evident that the honorable member for Parramatta misunderstood the officer to whom he refers, who writes to me as follows : -
Mr. Cook is wrong. I have received the name of the Sydney manufacturer but have mislaid it. I have been promised a Sydney catalogue, and expected it to-day.
– The officer told me that he did not know the name of the manufacturer who made the tools ; that a man in Victoria had told him, and had promised to send him more detailed information when he went to Sydney.
– The honorable member for Maranoa has referred to an occurrence which took place last week, and which I, and I think every other honorable member, sincerely regret. I wish to state that what I objected to upon that occasion was the suggestion that I could allow my personal interest to affect any vote given in this committee. With regard to the officer to whom reference has been made, I have known him for years, and I know that he is a most capable and experienced officer, and would give the Minister the best information he could procure. In the early part of this session I moved for a return, which, if it had been compiled in such a manner that honorable members could have referred to it in this discussion, would have greatly assisted us. I was helped by honorable members on both sides with suggestions in regard to the matter ; but the return is ineffective, though I admit that there were very many inherent difficulties in the way of its compilation.
-I desired that the return to which the honorable member refers should be made as full and complete as possible, and to that end I placed him in direct communication with the officers of the department, and I believe that both he and they worked for the production of the fullest information obtainable. Nothing was done, either by myself or by my officers, to render the return incomplete.
Question - That the exemptions proposed by Mr. Joseph Cook be added - put. The committee divided -
Question so resolved in the negative.
– I move-
That the following exemptions be added : - “Clippers (horse), snaps (harness and halter), bells (6 inches and under), pins (cotter), rings (including screw and curtain), handles for tools (namely, saw, chisel, file, turnscrew), hooks (cup, curtain, cornice, and roller), currycombs, corkscrews, latches, hasps and staples, chaff-cutter knives.
– We raise no objection to harness and halter snaps, cotter pins, and chaff-cutter, knives being placed upon the free list. With regard to rings and hooks, which are minor articles, it is the intention of the Government to place them upon the -list of minor articles when it is being framed. The other things mentioned in the amendment we think should be dutiable.
– I would suggest to the honorable member for Wimmera that, as the .Government has given way in some instances, he might agree to the items being taken separately.
– I am perfectly willing to adopt that course.
– I think we ought to have an assurance from the Ministers that we may review the amount of the duty, as we seem to be in a hole over this business. We quite allow that from the revenue stand-point many of these items are fairly open for a revenue duty. These are different from tools of trade. At the same time we hold that 20 per cent, is an extortionate duty to levy on many Of these things which are in household use. I am certain that if we had had an opportunity of seeing these items in detail, or if we had had an intelligible division, the result would have been different. The Tariff discloses new beauties every day. A great deal of the work that has been done has been done without very much knowledge. I do not intend to call for a division on these matters of revenue, but I think that 20 per cent, is an extortionate amount to impose. The Ministers will agree that these are revenue duties, and I hold that 20 per cent, is far beyond the maximum of a revenue duty.
– Some are revenue, some are protective. Latches, hasps, and staples are made here.
– I think that 15 per cent, is high-water mark for a revenue duty from the financial point of view. The committee has placed itself in rather an unfortunate position. It must vote for these articles either to be placed on the free list or’to be subject to 20 per cent, duty. I believe .that there are a great many moderate men who -would prefer to have a 10 per cent, duty on many of these items as a matter of revenue.
Mr. BATCHELOR (South AustralianThere is no doubt that most of these articles ought to bear a revenue duty even if we eliminate the idea of protection. For instance, currycombs and corkscrews ought to be dutiable. Latches, hasp’s, and staples are made here. What kind of cotter pins does the honorable member for Wimmera wish to let in free 1 Surely they are -made in these States 1
– Not -metal cotter pins, I understand.
– I have spent a good many hours making various descriptions of cotter -pins. They are made of iron and steel - in fact, of all sorts of materials. I suppose what are meant by the honorable member for Wimmera -are those generally known as split cotter pins. These are merely a piece of metal’ bent round and forming a split piece of iron with a head. It is a most simple thing to make. Most of the cotter pins that are used in engineering are tapered ones. -If. one is hard up, he can make cotter pins with a . bit of fencing wire. We ought to strike “cotter pins” out of this amendment.
– The honorable member is willing to leave them out.
The following proposed exemptions were agreed to : -
Snaps (harness and halter), Chaff-cutter Knives.
The following proposed exemptions were negatived : -
Clippers (Horse), Bells (6 inches and under), Pins (Cotter), Rings (including Screw and Curtain), Handles for Tools (viz., Saw, Chisel, Pile, Turnscrew), Hooks (Cup, Curtain, Cornice, and Roller), Currycombs, Corkscrews, Latches, Hasps, and Staples.
– I move -
That the following exemption be added : - “Barbers’ Clippers.”
– We have already declared that horse clippers are to be dutiable.
– -Barbers’ clippers are in a very different position from horse clippers. I venture to say that more men are employed as barbers in Australia than are engaged in any single industry which can be named. A barber’s clipper is a tool of trade. It is expensive.
– The committee decided, when entering upon the consideration of the Tariff, that the amendments on the printed list should be taken first and dealt with, and unless an honorable member proposes. to add words to ‘a contingent amendment, or to strike out words, he will not be in order in moving an amendment at this stage. The honorable member for “South Australia will have an opportunity later on to move his amendment.
Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.
Sir WILLIAM McMILLAN (Wentworth). - On behalf of the honorable and learned member for Werriwa, I move -
That the following exemptions be added : - Anvils, Belt Fasteners, Plain and Headed Steel Keys, Cotter Pins, Taper Pins, Moulders’ Chaplets and Studs, Blowers and Fans, Forges (Fan), Steam-engine Indicators, Pulley andRope Blocks, Screw and Hydraulic Jacks, Screw and Hydraulic Bears’, Steam Traps, Governors (Steam-engine), Hoisting Crabs, Twist Drills; Chasers, Tube Expanders, Pipe Wrenches, Boiler Tube Cleaners.
Some of these articles are practically tools of trade, such as anvils and forges for blacksmiths. Most of them are part and parcel of machinery. We have put on the free list, if I mistake not, articles of a very similar character. Fans of mining machinery are scarcely ever made here. They form a very important part of mining machinery for the safety of the lives of men underground. I do not think that steam-engine indicators are made here.
– We can give the honorable member that.
– I fancy that hydraulic jacks are not made here.
– They are fair articles for a revenue duty, I think.
– But the duty might be less than 20 per cent. I do not wish to blame the right honorable gentleman for the management of business, but certainly he has put us in a very awkward position by the way in which these items have been submitted. I expect that he will feel, by-and-by, that he was to blame, and probably he will, in a fit of repentance, recommit the schedule. One special kind of boiler-tube cleaner is the subject of a patent; I think it is called the “ Hotchkiss,” and I am interested in it to some extent. I presume, however, that boiler-tubes generally are intended to be exempted.
– If the honorable member for Werriwa is prepared to amend the description of belt fasteners by prefixing the word “ machine,” we shall agree to that exemption. Then, as to plain and headed steel keys–
– Those are made here.
– So far as we are informed they are not made here, and they should, therefore, be admitted free of duty. Moulders’ chaplets and studs are already on the list of exemptions. We raise no objection to steam-engine indicators, but twist drills and pipe wrenches appear to be already on the free list. As to the rest of the articles mentioned, we think they are fair subjects ‘for the imposition of a revenue duty.
– I accept the amendment suggested by the Treasurer in regard to belt fasteners. Honorable members will readily understand that I do not know much about the articles mentioned in the amendment, but the list was submitted to an importer and to amanufacturer of engines. The manufacturer told me that plain and headed steel keys were not made within the Commonwealth. I believe that one particular class of boiler-tube cleaners is the subject of a patent, and should be admitted free, and that with regard to other kinds they would be obtained here whether there was a duty imposed or not. In the case of boiler-tube cleaners of the class manufactured locally it is distinctly to the advantage of those who use them to have them made here, so that they can be easily repaired, and, therefore, the imposition of a duty will not make any difference to the local manufacturers. I framed the list with a view to including only such articles as could not be manufactured here.
Mr. BATCHELOR (South Australia).It is difficult to know what special lines of goods are referred to under some of these headings. Any number of boiler-tube cleaners are made within the Commonwealth, and it would be a mistake to select a particular type of cleaner for exemption. Plain and headed steel keys are also made here, and it would be absurd to allow them to come in free of duty. Some of the smaller kinds of keys may be imported, but the majority of them are made in the engineering shops as they are required. As honorable members doubtless know, they are used chiefly for keying wheels and pulleys on shafts and axles, and they are nearly all made of steel. Tube expanders are also made here, and I cannot understand why any manufacturer should ask that these and similar articles should be placed on the free list. Every engineer makes his own chasers, and twist drills are also made locally. Governors are made here, but I do not think indicators are, and, perhaps, they might be exempted.
The following exemptions were agreed to : -
– Under the circumstances I shall not proceed further with the list of proposed exemptions ; although personally -I should like to see all the articles placed upon the free list.
– I move -
That the following exemptions be added : - Tinsmiths’ Machines, Well-boring Machinery and Casings, Tinned Copper (sheet), Spurs and Spur Boxes, Metal Parts for Saddle-trees, Saddlers’ Tacks and Nails, Saddlers’ Tools- of Trade, Saddlers’ Machine Tools, Picks, Galloway and Parallel Boiler-Tubes.
I think it was intended that tinned coppersheets should be included amongst the exemptions originally in the Tariff. Coppersheets are included amongst the exemptions, but tinned copper-sheets have been classed as mixed metal, and as dutiable accordingly.
– There is no objection to exempting tinned copper-sheets, spurs, and spurs-boxes, and saddlers’ tacks and nails. Saddlers’ tools of trade have already been dealt with; also galloway boiler-tubes. We do not understand what parallel boiler-tubes are, and with regard to well-boring machinery and casing, I should like some explanation.
Mr. THOMSON (North Sydney).- I should have mentioned before, that I accept the previous division with regard to wellboring machinery. “ Casings,” I think, are free.
– They would come under “pipes of under 6-inch internal diameter.”
– Yes ; and the nature of the pipes would render them free. I understand that the Government agree to exempting “tinned copper sheets,” “spurs and spur boxes,” and “metal parts for saddletrees.”
– We cannot exempt metal parts for saddletrees, because they constitute nearly the whole of the saddletree.
– I do not know that they are made locally. Then, I understand that the Government are willing to exempt “ saddlers’ tacks and nails,” but refuse to place “ saddlers’ machine tools “ upon the free list.
– We should like some information as to. what “ saddlers’ machine tools “ comprise.
– I have only received this list since the last day of sitting. The articles which it enumerates as “ saddlers’ machine tools “ comprise bench drills, winker presses and dies, leather printing presses, hair carding machines, punching machines, riveting machines, loop press boxes and dies, creasing machines, trace trimmers, brass finishers, pinking machines, splitting machines, lap skiver, stitching horse or stool clamps, strap splits and strap holders. Hair carding machines should come in as “ machines for treating fibrous materials.”
– I do not think that the word “carding” is used in the Tariff.
– Yes, it is.
– Then if the machines are used in connexion with fibrous materials they will be admitted free.
– They should be, but at the present time the Customs ‘authorities are charging duty upon these machines. They appear to have limited the meaning of “ carding machines “ to machines used in connexion with wool and vegetable fibres. Then, again, punching and trimming machines, if used for bookbinding purposes, are admitted free, but if intended for use by a saddler they are dutiable. Apparently the use to which a machine is put determines the duty which shall be paid upon it. That is a most improper system to adopt,and will lead to fraud on the part of unscrupulous houses.
– How do they draw a distinction ?
– The distinction drawn is that punching and trimming machines have either to be imported by a bookbinder, or a declaration has to be made that they are to be used only for bookbinding purposes.
– I do not think that is the practice.
– I know that it is from my own knowledge in connexion with the importation of wood for staves. That wood was refused admission free of duty, until a declaration was made that it was to be used by a cooper.
– An officer merely went down and satisfied himself that that sort of wood was being imported for staves.
– Honorable members have before them a list of the machine tools used in connexion with bookbinding. These will be admitted free if they are to be used for bookbinding purposes only, but will. not be so admitted if they are to be used for any other class of work.
– The officer says that they will.
– The Treasurer will find that he is mistaken. In this connexion I might also point out that buckles are admitted free when they are to be used by bootmakers, but are dutiable when they are imported by saddlers.
– Is the honorable member referring to decisions on the specification of machine tools which we lately adopted ?
– I am referring to articles in the Tariff which are specifically named as being used in certain trades. I know that a duty was charged upon tacks and nails when they were imported by saddlers, but that they were admitted free when imported by bootmakers. That error, however, has now been rectified. “ Riveting machines,” I notice, are included in the free list published in the Commonwealth Gazette of the 24th January last.
– Riveters are admitted free under “ metal working.”
– But I am referring to riveting machines for saddlers. Then winker presses and loop presses are practically identical with bench presses, which are exempt under the heading of “bookbinding.” Does the Treasurer propose to admit “picks “free of duty?
– Why should they be placed upon the 20 per cent, list, when other tools, such as masons’ tools, are admitted free 1
– For the simple reason that we can make them, locally.
– Surely we can make a spade here. In this connexion I would ask the Treasurer if miners’ picks are manufactured locally.
– Does the honorable member mean coal-miners’ picks ?
– I do not know.
– I think it will be found that they are imported.
– We took a division upon “ picks.”
– No ; the question has not been put. My suggestion embraces all picks. I am informed that coal-miners’ picks are not manufactured locally, whilst shovels and other articles of that description are.
I understand that the only item in this list in regard to which the Minister has not arrived at a decision is “ metal parts for saddletrees.” I do not think they are made here. If not, they will not yield any revenue, and no doubt the Minister will agree to their being placed on die list of exemptions.
– I think that is too much to ask.
– The next item in the amendment is “saddlers’ machine tools “ - a list of which I have supplied to the Minister. Then we come to “ picks.” The honorable member for Parramatta has given notice of an amendment that miners’ picks be placed on the exemption list j and, if the Minister would prefer it, I shall be prepared to leave the whole question of the exemption of picks to be considered upon his amendment.
– For what is the honorable member really asking 1
– I” am asking that the metal parts for saddletrees, saddlers’ machine tools, and Galloway and parallel boiler tubes be admitted free. These Galloway tubes are 6 inches in diameter at the one end but expand until at the other end they are perhaps 10 inches in diameter.
– We do not object to Galloway tubes being placed on the exemption list.
– Parallel tubes used vertically, not horizontally, frequently exceed 6 inches in diameter. All other tubes are free, and I think it is the intention of the Government that boiler tubes should be free. The horizontal tubes are free because they do not run over the 6 inches limit. The parallel tubes which are used vertically are not made here ; but they often exceed 6 inches in diameter and, consequently, are subject to a duty.. I merely propose that they should be placed on the same footing as horizontal tubes.
– During the adjournment for dinner, I looked at the list which the honorable member for North Sydney was good enough to hand in. We find that the great majority of the fifteen items which he specifies in his amendment are free under the specification “tools of trade: saddlers’ and harness makers’ tools, including knives,” which has been inserted.
– It all depends on what the division is, as between tools and machine tools.
– “Machine tools” covers all tools in the ordinary sense of the word. Some of the items mentioned by the honorable member are machine tools, and are not specified in the list of machine tools. As to three of the items- to which he has referred - namely, printing presses, creasing machines and pinking machines, we are content that they should be added.
– What do the Government propose to do in regard to casings. There are well boring casings up to 10 inches in diam g t ©r
– Let the honorable member deal first with those items about which we are agreed.
Mr. THOMSON (North Sydney).- Then I will, by leave, amend my amendment to make it read as follows : -
That the following exemptions be added: - “ Tinned copper-sheets, spurs and spur-boxes, saddlers’ tacks and nails, saddlers’ machine tools, viz., creasing machines and pinking machines, Galloway and vertical parallel boiler tubes, leatherprinting presses and plates. “
– We object to metal parts for saddletrees being allowed to come in free.
– Very well; I shall not press that item, The honorable member for Maranoa has said that some wellboring casings exceed 6 inches in diameter. I do not think it is the intention of the Government to make any of these casings dutiable, and I would ask the Minister to deal with the matter.
Amendment amended accordingly, and agreed to.
– I hope the Government will see their way clear to allow well-boring casings to be placed on the list of exemptions. Ten-inch casing is invariably put down to a. certain depth; then 8-inch casing is put in ; and inside that again, 6-inch casing is placed.
– Quick. - Are they wroughtiron tubes ?
– Yes. Stewart and Stewart’s, and Russian with the outside thread. They are used for no other purpose than, for well-boring.
– Would they not be used in connexion with all diamond drills?
– No. Once anything goes wrong with the thread, the whole pipe is useless. There are tons of these pipes lying about Western Queensland, utterly useless, because of the fact that their threads have gone. The Government have allowed pipes under 6 inches to come in free, and I think they should treat these pipes similarly.
– We have agreed to allow pipes under 6 inches to come in free, because they are not made here.
– Well-boring casings of larger size are not made here; Every inch is imported.
– Wherein do these pipes differ from ordinary pipes ?
– They are entirely different from any other, and are made for a special purpose.
– There are other pipes with outside threads.
– Not the same as these.
Mr. THOMSON (North Sydney).- I understood that well-boring casings were free, but I see now that those over 6 inches in diameter would be liable to duty, as coming within the limitation which has been imposed. These are a very special pipe, and I move -
That the following exemption be added : - “Water-bore casings.”
– I do not profess to have a very wide knowledge of this particular matter, but I am inclined to think that the statement is correct that pipes used for artesian boring are imported. We know very well that they are much needed in connexion with artesian bores in dry country. I shall be very glad to return good for evil by helping to carry out the desire of the honorable member for Maranoa.
– I think that the Ministry might concede this proposed exemption. To my knowledge the class of pipe in question is not made in Victoria.
– In the circumstances we propose to agree to this exemption. If, after further examination, we come to the conclusion that we have made a mistake, we shall not hesitate to advise the committee to that effect, and ask honorable members to reverse their decision.
Amendment agreed to.
Mr. THOMSON (North Sydney).- I move -
That the following exemption be added : - “Picks.”
– What sort of picks ?
– Picks of all classes. The honorable member for Parramatta has given notice of an amendment for the exemption of mining picks, and I should be very glad to allow the matter to stand over until that amendment is called upon. The honorable member, however, desires me to press the general question upon the committee at this stage. Picks are essentially tools of trade ; and if: they can be made here successfully, why are so many other tools of trade placed on the exemption list which can. be made here? Why should masons’ tools, for example, be placed on the list of exemptions ?
– I wish the honorable member would let us know some of them.
– I have mentioned masons’ tools.
– Then we should not exempt them. If the honorable member will give me a list of those which are made here, I will take them out of the list of exemptions.
– Surely the Minister does not want another list? He ought to be as sick of the exemptions as members of the committee are.I do not see why jiggers cannot be made here, if picks can be made here. It would be hard to name any lines in this list of exemptions, some of the tools of which could not be made in the Commonwealth. Picks are largely used all over the Commonwealth, and if they are to be made here, it shouldbe only upon the condition that, they can be made equal of quality and at as low a price as the imported article. Surely we should not have a tax upon an article so largely used in all development work in the Commonwealth?
Mr. JOSEPH COOK (Parramatta).The honorable member’s amendment will include miners’ picks, and I desire to remind the committee that many of the picks used by miners are ofa peculiar kind. They are not made here, but are imported from America. They are what are known to the miners as “patent” picks. One handle fits any number of blades, while the ordinary pick has a handle fixed into one blade. I believe that neither the handles nor the blades of miners’ picks are made in the Commonwealth, and that there is no possibility of their being made here. Then as to miners’ wedges, reference was made to the exemption of masons’ tools, and. as the wedge may be called the miner’s chisel I. do not see why miners’ tools should not be placed on the free list as well as masons’ tools. As an instalment of the proposalI have myself placed on the paper, I shallvote for the amendment proposed by the honorable member for North Sydney, seeing that “ picks “ will include the patent picks, used by miners.
– The Government have gone a very great length in their desire to exempt tools of trade of different kinds. We have submitted a very large exemption list for the purpose of assisting industries, but we have done so in cases where our information showed that the particular articles proposed to be exempted were not being made here. Why they are not being made here we do not know. In many cases probably it is because the demand is not large enough, and in some cases perhaps it is because it would not be profitable to make them in competition with the imported article. With regard to picks, we are told that they are made here very largely, including miners’ picks. There is, therefore, no reason why we should exempt these articles, which are being made in some of our States.
– Does the right honorable gentleman say that miners’ patent picks are made here ?
– We are inquiring of honorable members who know something about the manufacture of these articles, but so far we are told that miners’ picks are made in Ballarat. Whether they are of the kind used by coal-miners I do not know.
– They are not.
– We are dealing now with all classes of picks, and I am certain that, seeing that these articles are being made in the State, the committee will not consent to their, being imported free. Later, on, when we come to the amendment submitted by the honorable member for Parramatta, we may have further information, and if it is shown thatthe patent picks to which he has referred are not made here, I shall have no objection to their being admitted free.
Question - That the following exemption be added - “ Picks “ - put. The committee divided -
– The numbers being equal, I shall follow the usual parliamentary practice and give my vote with the “Noes,” in order that the matter may be brought up again in some other form.
Question so resolved in the negative.
– I move-
That the following exemption be added : - “All fire brigade plant and appliances.”
I find that already fire-engines and extinguishers are on the free list, and, considering that these appliances are to be used in the saving of life and property, it is only reasonable that they should be admitted free of duty. It is well known to honorable members that fire brigades are supported by local authorities, insurance companies, and occasionally by voluntary subscriptions, and that they are subsidized by the different State Governments. I think the request I make is a very reasonable one, and I hope the Minister will place no obstacle in the way of it, but will allow those appliances to be placed on the free list in order that fire brigades throughout the Commonwealth may be equipped with up-to-date appliances at a reasonable cost. I think it is unnecessary to say any more in support of a proposition which must commend itself to honorable members on both sides.
– I sincerely hope that the Government will not accept the amendment. I have had to do with volunteer fire brigades, and I am in close connexion now with the Metropolitan Eire Brigade, so that I believe that I know as much about fire brigade work as most honorable members. I know that a great deal of the plant used by fire brigades can be, and is being, made in Australia. The brass work, couplings, hydrants, fire carts, and ladders, for instance, can be locally made. We have exempted steam fire engines, and there may be some reasons for exempting hose, but there can be no reason for such a wholesale exemption as the honorable member proposes.
– It is a wellknown fact that throughout the Commonwealth, and especially in country districts, the work of extinguishing fires is done largely by volunteer fire brigades. The men give their services free, but they have a difficulty in obtaining subscriptions to buy the necessary plant and to keep their station-houses and appliances in order. The honorable member for Melbourne Ports spoke as though hydrants and other appliances used not exclusively by fire brigades would be exempted, but that is not so, because the amendment applies only to appliances used by fire brigades. Fire brigade appliances and apparatus are not bought for purposes of trade and profit, and in many cases they are patented, and could not be made here under any circumstances. Surely unless a man is soaked in protection, he must see the advisability of allowing the fire brigades, of whose efficiency we are proud, to obtain their appliances as cheaply as possible. If steam fire engines are placed on the free list, why should not manual fire engines also be exempt ?
– Because manual engines are built here. We tried to have steam fire engines built here, but we found that there were too few required to make the undertaking profitable.
– The honorable member has supported the imposition of duties in many cases in which that argument would have applied. Incidentally, I should like to suggest to the Minister that articles purchased by municipalities, not for gain or profit, but for the public convenience - such as road rollers and garbage destructors - should be admitted free.
Mr. BATCHELOR (South Australia).It does not seem to me to be the duty of this committee to -give special facilities for the importation of fire engines. It is no part of our business to look after the work of fire extinguishing. The proposed exemption should stand upon its merits. If fire engines can be made here, and the industry is worth establishing, we should put a duty upon them.
– Is not a fire brigade a semi-public institution for the saving of life and protection of property ?
– As a general rule the expenses of fire brigades are defrayed by contributions from the State Governments, the local governing bodies, and the insurance companies. It does not matter to the two former whether we impose a duty or not, and the insurance companies could well afford to pay an additional price. In Adelaide, the men of the local fire brigade make almost the whole of their plant.
– We do the same thing in Melbourne, too. We build our own fire carts and reels, and make a’ lot of our brass work.
– The engines are imported, but duplicates of the parts are made on the premises, and are excellently made too. It is a good thing for the men to have work of that kind to do, because they are not sufficiently employed by their exercises, and fires are not always occurring. It seems to me that under the wording of the amendment the fire saving plant used by private firms would be exempt from duty.
– I am willing to make the amendment apply only to public fire brigades.
– I think that we have run a little bit mad on protection on this side of the Chamber lately, and when I heard the honorable member for South Australia say that the Commonwealth has nothing to do with the preservation of life and property, although we are placing customs restrictions all round Australia, I was staggered. I think that we shall have to form a common sense party - a party composed of men who have had ten or fifteen years’ experience in the humbler and harder walks of life.
– The honorable member had better join the labour party.
– The labour party carry the easiest burden. If I were a member of that party I could save more than a thousand a year. Have not the Adelaide firemen sufficient employment in their exercises that they should be asked to make fire engines? How many fire engines have they made since Adelaide was Adelaide, and how many fire engines have been imported into Australia since Captain Cook left Botany Bay for Moreton Bay? When we hear such arrant rot talked as we have had to listen to to-night, can we wonder that the press should become impatient 1 It would be very much better for the progress of the business of the Commonwealth and its fiscal policy if we were to talk less and vote more often. What plant is there, outside the fire engine, but extinguishers, a bit of hose, and a ladder or two? I thought that when we decided to admit fire engines free, it practically included all adjuncts. I come back to the observation of the honorable member for Maranoa, that the fire insurance companies will pay. Does he not know that if the fire insurance companies have to pay something beyond what they have been paying from year to year, it will fall upon the premium1 payer ? You cannot possibly extract a shilling from fire insurance companies without its eventually coming out of the pockets of those who pay the premiums. I hope that all the materials for the plant of a fire brigade which contributes to the saving of life and property in towns will be admitted free. It is well for men and women to be able to go to sleep feeling that their properties and their lives are safe in the care of a highly-trained fire brigade armed with the best appliances in the world, admitted duty free if they cannot be made here. I feel quite sure that the Minister will rise when I resume my seat and say that all fire brigade plants shall be admitted free.
– I am sorry to say that I find it impossible to convey my meaning in the few words suggested by the last speaker. We have every sympathy with fire brigades, and we have already provided for the free admission of the steam engines and firemen’s hats. I understand that the intention of the honorable member for Oxley is to free everything which is used by a fire brigade - plant, hose, and everything else.
– I will state some ofl the items ? ‘
– I should have been so very glad if the honorable member had enumerated the items before he asked us to vote, because one of. our principal objections to his amendment as it stands- is that it is somewhat vague. The very large wordsthat are employed are indicative of a. grasping spirit, and I do not know where it would land us. “ We are dealing now with metals and machinery, and I understand that the honorable member’s object is to go further than making metals and machinery employed by fire brigades free. He will see that this is not the proper time at which to move this large amendment. He ought to deal with the free admission of all articles which are in any way connected with, fire brigades at the end of the Tariff, where various exemptions in favour of classes such as fire brigades are sought to be placed. Would it not be much better, instead of dotting exemptions all over the Tariff, to deal with general exemptions of this kind in one clause, in which we could include such institutions as hospitals and fire brigades? I somewhat share the views of the honorable and learned member for Parkes as to the propriety of lessening “these general .exemptions. We have no power directly to* legislate with reference to fire brigades, or to regulate the relations between the States and fire brigades. It was not intended to be conferred upon us by the Constitution, and it is not. Shall we assume to ourselves that power by declaring in connexion with this Tariff, “ Though we have no power to regulate your relations with fire-brigades, you shall not have this money. You shall let these goods come in duty free.”
– That applies to a great many things.
– It does.
– It is a very broad question.
– It is a very broad question, and it was to a certain extent brought under my notice by the remarks of the honorable and learned member for Parkes. I trust that honorable members will give this matter their closest consideration when we come to deal with the general question of classes of exemptions in favour of persons whose rights we have no power to regulate. Ought we to assume to ourselves, because- we have the power .to impose a. Tariff, the right to regulate the relations of the -States with certain bodies, when it was not intended by the Constitution that we should have any control of. those relations? I am inclined to think that there is a lot to be -said - in favour, of collecting the money, unless we can say as a matter of federal policy that we ought not to do so. If it is not a matter of federal concern, if we have no power to legislate, if it is a matter which the Constitution intended should be left to be regulated by the States, it- is much better not to attempt to interfere, but to collect the money arid hand it over to the States, and to leave them and the bodies concerned to do what they please in respect of it. Honorable members know perfectly well that the relations between the fire brigades and the States vary. Fire brigades are of various descriptions. There are, for instance, volunteer fire brigades. The steam-engines we have allowed to come in duty free, and it is now a question of exempting all goods not imported by and for the use of the fire brigades, but imported by anybody for the purpose of being sold at a> profit.
– The argument put forward by the Minister does not appear to me to be a very good one. I think it will be found that- nearly the whole of the fire brigade plant that is imported is imported directly either- by the States or by the bodies which are authorized by the States, and exist under State Acts.
– The honorable member is quite wrong.
– I hardly think the honorable member can cite very many instances where -private firms have imported such plants and then ‘sold them to the brigades.-
– But this amendment would undoubtedly give to a private firm the power to import them duty free.
– What advantage is it to a fire brigade corporation to buy from an importer when it can buy directly in the home market ? A fire brigade corporation is not usually so short of money that it need make the transaction a credit one, nor is there any suggestion that that should be so. Although I admit that the law has not yet been decided, it is proposed in the Tariff that articles imported for the use of the Commonwealth or of any State Government are to be exempt from duty. I have already asked the Government for an expression of opinion upon this point. They hold that “ State “ means the State, and does not include any of’ its delegated powers. They will have to prove that. I believe that when the Premier has had an opportunity of consulting the authorities, he will find that in the only case where the matter has come before a- court it has been ruled that “ State “ applies to a municipality at any rate. Take the case of an unincorporated district in New South Wales where all the functions are now exercised- directly by the State Government. It is proposed to incorporate that area. What is tha incorporation of an area but the delegation by the State of certain functions, which formerly it exercised directly, to a certain set of people through whom it proposes to exercise them indirectly? If this provision be inserted here for the purpose of allowing, the importation of things to be used by the State for its own use, it will, be rather difficult to prove that the intention of the framers was that it should not include any of the bodies outside the State Government. In Queensland the condition of things is different. I fancy that the whole of the State is under some sort of municipal government. In New South Wales, however, that is not so. A very large proportion of its area is unincorporated. What is a municipality but a form of government by the people ?
– It is not the State.
– Because these States happen to be called the United States of the Commonwealth the Minister imagines that the term “ the State “ means one of the States. It means nothing, of the sort. It means a State Government - a government as distinguished from the Commonwealth Government. It means the exercise of those functions which are now left to be exercised by the other bodies over which we have no control. Whether they are to be exercised by the State directly, or by the municipalities, or by the fire brigades’ corporations is a matter for arrangement. I agree with the honorable member for Oxley and others that it is very necessary that these appliances, which are to be used exclusively for the public good, should not be the medium of petty chaffering. The honorable member for Melbourne Ports states that he knows all about this industry, but surely the honorable member cannot know all about every industry.
– I have been connected with this industry for the last twenty years, and I do know ali about it.
– No doubt a few of. the minor articles of. brass work are made locally, but certainly not the fire engines.
– Those are on the free list now..
– Then all fire brigade plant ought to be placed on the same footing, as it is to be used; ultimately, at any rate, by the public for the public good.
– The plant is made by the public for the public use.
– The honorable member for Melbourne Ports wants to make a profit out of these appliances for the sake of some wretched tin-pot manufacturer who employs half-a-dozen men. The honorable member has not made any attempt to prove his statements.
– I have been, connected with the volunteer fire brigades in Victoria for the last fifteen years.
– Until we get some further information I shall believe that the manufacture of fire brigade plant is not a flourishing industry in Victoria, and I shall vote for the amendment. If it is not carried, it is my intention, when we come to Division XVI., Miscellaneous, and deal with the exemptions, to give the committee an opportunity of saying what is the precise meaning of “ State Government,” so that we may thoroughly understand the extent to which the committee desire to go.
– The committee are becoming somewhat mixed over this amendment, and I do not think the Minister’s contribution to the debate is calculated to clear things up, because he- has appealed to us to allow the whole matter to stand over until we deal with the broader question of whether certain public bodies shall be exempt from the duties imposed on other people. The right honorable gentleman has re* minded me of some observations I made a few nights ago on the question of exempting States from the payment of duty on railway rails. I submit that there is no connexion whatever between the two questions. The first point to be decided was whether the Commonwealth Government should im, pose a duty on railway rails, and I con tended that if such a duty were imposed the States should be called upon to pay like every one else. The question here, however, is not whether the lire brigades shall be exempted from the payment of duties which other people are called upon to pay, but whether any duty at all shall be imposed upon fire brigade appliances. The first honorable member to speak on this question was the honorable member for Melbourne Ports ; and I cannot understand why he is not prepared to recognise the unique position in which fire brigades stand. We all clearly recognise that it is in the interests of the general community that the most modern and complete appliances for extinguishing fires should be available in all. parts of the Commonwealth, because we know that from time to time not only property, which is comparatively unimportant, but the lives of human beings are saved by the use of these appliances. We very often see statements in the press to the effect that if certain fire-fighting appliances had been more complete and of more modern construction, in all probability fires which ended in the sacrifice of human life would have been extinguished without involving any such fatality. The committee now have an opportunity, not of exempting any particular body or class from the payment of taxation, but of placing fire brigade appliances on the free list. I do not care whether these appliances are to be used by an individual or by a volunteer or other fire brigade. We should look to the end that is held in view by those who use these appliances, and if we come to the conclusion that any particular articles are designed to do that which will confer a benefit upon the whole community, we should offer every facility for procuring those of the best and most modern type. The honorable member for South Australia, Mr. Batchelor, has told us about “some extraordinary fire brigade in his particular State, and I am bound to say that his statement had a sort of antediluvian sound to me.
– The Adelaide brigade is the smartest in the world.
– It may be at some forms of exercise. But when I heard the honorable member tell the committee that the men of the Adelaide fire brigade not only do their work as volunteers, or as paid firemen, but can, in their leisure time, make their own fire engines-
– He did not say “ fire engines.” He said “ parts.”
– I thought I heard the honorable member say “fire engines,” and that is what the honorable member led us to believe. The honorable member omits to recollect that the great advantage of importing these engines is that we get them from countries like America, with its population of 80,000,000, and Great Britain with its . population of 40,000,000, where the most modern patents are applied, and where the machines are made in the most complete form for the purposes for which they are intended. It is, therefore, ridiculous to ask the committee to refuse to make any exception in favour of these appliances, because in one State some particular parts can be made locally.
– Fire engines are on the free list.
– Steam fire engines have been placed on the free list at the suggestion of the honorable member who is trying to block this proposal which will cover only manual fire engines.
– If the honorable and learned member refers to me, he is wrong, because I did not either propose or vote for the exemption.
– I humbly apologize, if I am .wrong. The committee has approved of the exemption of steam fire engines, but, as everybody knows, it is quite impossible to use steam fire engines in many places in the Commonwealth. These steam engines cost some hundreds of pounds each, and I know that £600 or £700 was spent upon a steam fire engine in a small town in which I occasionally spent some of my time. How many small communities could spend that amount? They have, as a rule, to fall back upon manual fire engines. Whereas the fire insurance companies in the big cities are to be freed from the payment of duty on the steam fire-fighting appliances, which lessen their commercial risks, the people in the country towns, whose property is possibly not insured, are apparently not to have a similar exception made in their favour.
– In what country town was it that they purchased a steam fire engine . costing £6*00 or £700 ?
– At Bowral.
– That amount must represent the cost of the whole plant.
– Yes ; the whole plant cost between £600 or £700. The object of this proposal is that all fire brigade plant and appliances shall be placed on the free list.
– That would include saddlery and lamps and torches.
– I quite recognise the difficulty connected with those articles. I understand that if the amendment were to pass in its present form it could only apply to fire brigade plant and appliances so far as the metal parts are concerned. The amendment does not affect the harness and the hose, and other articles which might seem to be included. I appeal to the committee to consider that a huge proportion of the fire brigades throughout the Commonwealth are purely voluntary. They are joined by young men in country towns in a public spirit, and without any other desire - beyond the opportunity for exercise and the chivalry of the thing - of helping their fellow beings by quenching fires. It is not only in hot weather, but in the depth of winter that they are frequently called upon to do the work which they have undertaken. We should assist them as far as we can, because they are working in the public interest, and I know of no class of goods for which a better claim to exemption could be established. On looking further down the list of exemptions I find a proposal by the honorable member for Melbourne Ports that the machinery for making bottles shall be admitted free. One of the most prominent teetotallers in the Chamber is proposing to exempt from du tj’ the machinery used in the making of bottles,, which are intended to contain drink for the community. . We were told by the honorable member for South Australia, Mr. Batchelor, that we were not to look at the purpose for which these appliances were to be introduced, and it is clear that the honorable member for Melbourne Ports has not looked at the purpose to which these bottles are to be applied. If the manufacturers of bottles are to have such merit claimed for them, the fire brigade appliances come before the committee with even greater merits, and I hope the amendment will be carried. I would ask the committee to consider what might be the effect of adding 20 per cent, to the cost of fire brigade appliances. In a case such as I have mentioned, the residents of the town would be called upon to raise an additional £120 or £130. I congratulate the honorable member for Brisbane upon the oasis of common sense which he has disclosed in this desert of protection. It is quite refreshing to hear the honorable member ‘admit that his fellow members on the Government side of the Chamber have “gone mad,” and I invite him to now cross the gangway and take his seat on this side.
Mr. EWING (Richmond).- The point under consideration is not whether it is a disastrous thing to have fires, but whether it is the function of the Federal Government to extinguish them. That is essentially the crux of the whole question. The honorable member for West Sydney seems to think that because fire brigades are laudable institutions, and are established in the public interest, the Government should make an exception in their favour. But I hold that it is no more the business of the Federal Parliament to extinguish fires than it is to kill bubonic rats. If the people have not wisdom enough to prevent the destruction of their property by fire, we should lose no time in rearing a community which is fitted to do so. I do not think that Melbourne, Sydney, or any of the country towns desire to be mendicants in regard to this matter. I know that honorable members opposite, in dealing with the fiscal policy, uniformly endeavour to put the Government and their supporters in a false position. Of course we all recognise that it is objectionable to place taxation upon the people, and although my free-trade friends, if they occupied the Ministerial benches, would have to raise the same amount of revenue that it is proposed to raise, they claim that they would admit everything free. The acting leader of the Opposition knows that if he were at the head of a Government and had a considerable free list, he would have to propose an all-round duty of 15 per cent. Yet upon every proposal that is brought forward he reiterates his declaration that the article under discussion should be admitted free. That is not an honest course to adopt. No doubt it would be a very pleasant thing if the honorable and learned member for Parkes could go to Bowral and declare “ I voted against any duty upon fire extinguishing appliances.” I recognise the usefulness of. fire brigades as much as he does. But if the honorable and learned member desires to help them, let him- do so in a straight forward way by voting them a grant. Do not let us when dealing with the Tariff single them out from the rest of the community for special treatment.
– I do not wish- to delay the’ vote, but this is not a matter for refined argument at all. It- is purely one of whether in regard to some things which affect the public as a -whole, and which are specially necessary for the preservation of life, we should make an exception in the interests of the. public. Let us take a case in point. Light-houses are designed to save life at sea, property being a very insignificant matter compared with life. Let us suppose that lighthouses were under municipal control; would it be right for us to put aside protectionist and free-trade theories, and to exempt from taxation- the materials used in connexion with these -structures, so far as the illuminating power is concerned ? That is a case which requires no refined pleading and no logic. It is purely a question of policy and common sense. Upon strictly logical grounds it cannot be argued, because from a protectionist point of view we ought to tax everything that we can manufacture within the Commonwealth, whilst from a free-trade stand-point we ought to tax everything that will produce revenue. This is a matter, however, which, though not altogether public, is certainly quasi-public, and the contributions which are made to fire brigades all over the country are not merely contributions from the insurance offices, or from people of capital whom we are all so anxious to tax, and who contribute only for the sake of the property that is preserved. ‘ The municipalities and others contribute towards saving human life, and as’ the honorable and learned member for Parkes has said, . a great deal of the assistance that is given to them all over Australia is of a voluntary character. Upon grounds of high policy, of humanity and common sense we ought, therefore, to do everything in our power to remove taxation from- such institutions. I shall -support the amendment.
Mr. BATCHELOR (South Australia).I join with the honorable and learned member for Parkes in congratulating the honorable and learned member for Brisbane upon having provided the committee with some amusement, even though he did so at my expense. I appear to have been strangely misunderstood First of all, I suggested to the committee that we ought to draw a distinction between the purpose to which any article is to be put, and the question of whether it is advisable to admit that article free of duty. We need not discuss whether fire brigades serve a good purpose or not. Everybody admits that. But the principle upon which the committee have hitherto -acted is, “ Can these things be successfully manufactured within the States?” That has been the point upon which all our discussions have hinged, and as a general rule -it has been the .determining factor in the question of whether any particular article shall bear duty or not. I think that the same principle should be adopted here. I did not know to what extent these goods were locally manufactured, but I pointed out to the honorable member for Oxley that the wording of his proposal was so very wide that it would certainly cover a number of articles which are produced here. In this connexion, and as illustrating the fact that certain, articles can be made within the States, I . mentioned that in Adelaide the members of the Metropolitan Fire Brigade have turned out a number of most efficient plants.
– -Did they get specially paid for that work ?
– They are paid as members of the fire brigade. I have never heard any complaint from them as to the rate of their remuneration. I know that they are a most efficient body of men, notwithstanding the suggestion which was made by one honorable member that they are somewhat fossilized. I think it is well that members of the brigade should employ a portion of their time in turning out fire extinguishing appliances, because the better one understands the mechanism of a machine, the more efficiently he can work it. The suggestion that any hindrance should be placed upon the importation of these goods is absurd. Nothing of the kind is intended. But I think that we ought to have before us details of these plants to enable us to decide what parts can be manufactured within the States. If such appliances can, and are being manufactured in Australia, we ought not to single them out for any special treatment because they happen to be utilized for a particularly useful purpose.
– I rise chiefly to call attention to some remarks of the honorable member for Richmond, who went somewhat out of his way to say that we ought not to treat- fire brigades as mendicants.
– The honorable member has been asleep.
– On the contrary, I think the honorable -member has allowed statements, to drop from his lips which I am sure he did. not intend.
– To say that we should not treat these people as mendicants is not to say that they are mendicants.
– Taking the most favorable construction to be placed upon the remarks of the honorable . member for Richmond, as suggested by the Minister, who has asked that these people should be treated as mendicants? We know them only ‘ as a hard - working body of men, possessed of great public spirit, and carrying out their most arduous duties without any fee or reward in most cases. There is a great body of volunteer fire brigade men throughout the Commonwealth, who, after they have earned their own living, give time and skill to these purposes, and do not receive one penny in return. All that we ask is that these men shall have an opportunity of purchasing the materials they require in the market which will give them the best value for their money.
– The men who work the machines have nothing to do with the buying of them.
– It is said that an ounce of fact is worth a ton of theory. A little while ago I entered into a bond for about £7 5, to enable a brigade in one part of my electorate to purchase an engine which they were able to secure cheaply. They purchased it on their own responsibility, although of course I had to endeavour subsequently to obtain a little money from the Government to enable them to discharge their liability.
– Perhaps that is what was meant ; that the honorable member applied for money for mendicants.
– Where is the mendicancy in anything of this kind? The men only asked for the money to enable them to purchase property for public purposes. The Minister is always ready to defend any one who speaks from his own side, but he generally puts his foot in it. In New -South Wales the State Government contributes about £4,000 a year to the maintenance of volunteer fire brigades. Is it a fair thing for the Commonwealth to place, a tax - for that is what it means - on expenditure upon material designed for public purposes 1 The protection of life and property is the. main object of these brigades. Therefore I think that the material required should not be taxed in the way suggested’ by the Minister. These people ought to be enabled to spend the public money in the market which will give them the best return for their outlay.
Mr. R. EDWARDS (Oxley).- I moved my amendment at the present stage in view of what the Minister said earlier in the debate. I understood him to state that he proposed to go through the printed list as it stood, and that I should be able to propose my amendment-in my proper turn. I still think that the committee would be justified, in the interests of the life and property of the community, in passing my amendment as it stands. But, as the Minister desire’s that more information shall be given in regard to the items to be considered, I ask the permission of the committee to withdraw my amendment at this stage on the understanding that I shall bring it forward under the heading of “ Miscellaneous.”
– I object.
– 1° would ask the acting leader of the Opposition to withdraw his objection. If we insert the proposal at the point proposed by the honorable member for Oxley, it will not have the full effect intended. We shall be able to deal with the matter better when the amendment, which he proposes to bring before us is moved, and in regard to which I shall be glad to give him my assistance in specifying more particularly what he requires.
Sir WILLIAM MCMILLAN (Wentworth). - The Minister will not give the committee the slightest indication of his own intention in regard to this matter. Surely he might say that he is favorably inclined to the amendment,-so that we may have some hope of avoiding a repetition of the debate ? If the right honorable gentleman will give us some slight indication of his intention, it will be sufficient. We know from past experience that common sense and logic does gradually trickle into his intellect, and by the time we come to the end of the Tariff, we may .find that he possesses some wisdom.
– I am sorry to say that I have not yet observed any indications of the trickling in the honorable member’s case. The reason why I suggest that we should allow this matter to stand over for the present is that we shall be able to deal with it much better later on. Honorable members must see that in view of the question of practice, to which the honorable member in charge of the amendment has agreed, I am only asking what will be the best for all parties.
Mr. BRUCE SMITH (Parkes). - I should be the last to offer any objection to the course suggested by the Minister if he could only show us that it was a wise course. It seems to me that there are two objections to that course, which are almost insuperable. First of all, we have had a debate upon this matter extending over two hours. The chances are that when the question is brought on again the committee will be constituted differently; the whole thing will be gone over de novo; we shall probably have another two hours’ discussion, and then be no nearer a decision than we are now. My second objection is this : It has been said by the honorable member for Richmond, with a strange process of reasoning which I cannot understand, that if the committee frees this particular class of goods from duty, everybody who uses them will come under the category of “mendicants.” The honorable member is in a sort of logical cul de sac, for by the same law of reasoning his contention is that miners and printers using machinery which has been exempted are mendicants. We are not proposing to exempt any class of people. We say simply that the class of people to which reference has been made happen to use this commodity, and that we should free this commodity just as we free printers’ machinery, or machinery used by any other class. The Minister representing the Government on this occasion proposes that the matter shall stand over in order that some other kind of step may be taken by which the particular class of people involved - not the particular class of commodity - shall have some kind of concession extended to them. That would, in my opinion, and, I think, in the opinion of the committee, bring the whole of this class of people within the category which the honorable member for Richmond has seen fit to-night to name, because there will not be a mere attempt to exempt this machinery from duty, which would place the people using it in the category of printers and” other manufacturers-
– Printers’ machinery is being dealt with in this particular class.
– Then I will take any particular manufacture or machinery which has been exempted. The honorable member who has moved this amendment would be perfectly content to insert the word “metal” so as to free all metal goods.
– The honorable member wants also to do other things.
– The course suggested by the Minister would not enable him to do so. It would treat the people as a class, and treat the goods they use in a certain way, not because of the goods themselves, but because of the class that uses them. It would involve a repetition of the whole of this discussion. I would be the last to stand in the way of the adoption of any course suggested by the Minister, but I ,do not think he has given any reason to support his contention. Therefore, although it may seem very unamiable on my part to do so, I shall support the amendment at this stage.
– I hope that the Opposition will not object to the amendment being postponed, because in its present form it is too wide and general.
– It is also too limited.
– I am anxious to vote for the exemption of fire brigade appliances so far as they cannot be made within the Commonwealth, but this proposal is couched in such wide and sweeping terms that it applies- not only to metal and woodwork-
– It applies to harness work among other things.
– It applies not to any particular kind of plant, but to everything. It is a sort of drag-net. In view of the fact that the mover of the amendment desires to reconsider it and to place it in a proper form, so that it may be decided’ by the committee, it is not fair for the Opposition to object to its withdrawal. They should allow the matter to be debated, and decided
On its merits. I think that the Minister for Trade and Customs has offered very fairly to consider the whole question, particularly in reference to the problem as to how far some of the fire brigades in Australia may be regarded as State institutions. To the extent that they are State institutions the plant and appliances required by them may be exempt. For instance, in Victoria there is a Metropolitan Brigades Board and a Country Fire Brigades Board, organized by Act of Parliament.
– That would not interfere with this proposal. It would simply mean double banking.
– It shows that the Minister requires to consider this proposal in order that there may be a uniform law applicable to the whole of Australia. If it turns out that according to law the Fire Brigade department of Victoria is a State institution, then that department will be entitled to have all its fire brigade plant and appliances admitted free of duty. In that case everything ought to be free. If the Victorian fire brigades are to have their appliances admitted free, the whole of the fire brigades throughout Australia should be placed in the same position. It is only fair that time should be given to further consider the matter. The Minister has offered every facility for its further consideration in order that a matured plan of dealing with it may be proposed. I hope the Opposition will not take advantage of existing circumstances to force the matter to a division, because such a course would place myself and other honorable members in an unfair position. I am sure honorable members opposite have no desire to do that, and they must see that the amendment, as it stands, is too vague for decision.
Sir WILLIAM MCMILLAN , (Wentworth). - I think I see an easy way out of the difficulty. If we pass the amendment now, exempting all metal appliances, it will be perfectly easy for the Minister for Trade and Customs, when we come to the more general division, to exempt all fire brigade appliances that have not been previously exempted. It is clear, from the debate, that it is the desire of the committee that fire brigade appliances should be exempted, and if we pass this amendment now, it will be a direction to the Minister to carry it further by exempting, at a later stage, all appliances that are not covered by it.
– The honorable member for Oxley has moved his amendment in a certain way. He desires to free till fire brigade plant and appliances. I point out in the first place that he will not do it by carrying the amendment at this stage, and I point out also that it is rather vaguely worded in not indicating precisely what the honorable member wants. Under the circumstances I propose that if he will not move it now, I will assist him to frame it in a way which will give effect to what is desired once and for all.
– But will the right honorable gentleman support it ?
– I cannot promise to do that, but I am not altogether blind to what is the sense of the committee. I need say nothing more upon the subject at present, and honorable members must see that it is not fair to the honorable member for Oxley to allow him to withdraw his amendment.
Mr. BRUCE SMITH (Parkes). - I haveno particular reason for championing this, proposal, but it seems to me that an attempt is being made to induce us toadopt a certain course without reasons beinggiven. The Minister for Trade and Customs confirms me in the opinion that if the amendment is carried in its present form, it will extend only to appliances coming under the head of metals, and will not be as general as the honorable member desires.
– Would the honorable and learned member have it apply to stables fittings ? I would not.
– It should apply to couplings and hydrants.
– Branches and hydrants are made here. What consummate rot !
– Whether it be rot or not- e
– I was not alluding to. what the honorable and learned membersaid.
– The honorablemember was not alluding to what I was. saying, but he was alluding to the question I am discussing, and such expressions areneither logic nor criticism. The honorablemember for Bendigo has raised the point that the question will arise hereafter of whether importations by the States should not be free from duty, and whether, seeing that they are so largely interested in these fire engines and appliances, they would nob be identical with State importations. Even if that were so, it need not interfere with what we are proposing to do now. The constitutional principle, if interpreted in the way suggested by-and-by, cannot alter our course, though it may double-bank what we are proposing to do, because, in addition to our making these appliances free, the constitutional principle may also have the effect of making them free. I do not think the Minister has given any good reason why we should postpone a decision upon this matter. If it is brought forward again there ‘will be another lengthy discussion upon it.
– If we pass it as it is now, there will have to be another amendment upon it.
– No ; this amendment, if carried, will free all fire brigade plant and appliances which come under the head of “ metals,” and then it will remain for the Government to give effect to the wishes of the committee, and see whether it would not be better to treat the rest of the appliances used by fire brigades in the same way.
– The honorable member for Oxley has moved that all fire brigade plant and appliances should be placed on the free list. The Minister for Trade and Customs has pointed out that the amendment, if carried at this stage, would cover only appliances coming under the head of “ metals.” The honorable member who moved the amendment having consented to the proposal- of the Government that its consideration should be postponed, it appears to me to be extraordinary that the Opposition, in refusing to allow the amendment to be withdrawn, should attempt to take the conduct of business out of the hands of the Government. Do honorable members of the Opposition desire to snatch a victory, or to put members like myself in a false position on this question ? So far as I am concerned, I decline to be put in a false position. I hope we shall be given a fair opportunity of discussing the matter when we come to deal with the miscellaneous division of the Tariff. Honorable members will find in that division such articles as are specially designed and imported for the use of the blind, deaf, and dumb, and so forth, and that is the proper place for dealing with this proposal, to place appliances used by fire brigades on the free list. I think it is unconstitutional for the Opposition to attempt to dictate to the committee in this way.
– Does not the honorable member see that some one else might have moved this amendment, and he might not have been willing to withdraw it?
Mi-. SAWERS. - Is it not a constitutional principle that the Government should conduct the business of the House ? I think it is, and I am not’ going to be dragged at the heels of the Opposition in this matter. I shall vote with the Government on the question, with the clear understanding that when the matter comes to be discussed later on, I shall do what I can to secure the free admission of fire brigade plant and appliances.
– Why not get the Minister to promise that ?
– The Minister has promised to give the committee an opportunity of discussing the whole question. As the honorable member for Wentworth knows, Ministers should be the judges as to when matters should be discussed. I shall assist the Government to conduct the business of the House, and when they can no longer do it, the Opposition may take their place.
– I have a desire to help the Government and the committee to avoid any more waste of time than is necessary. This is not a very big question, and, if we are going to debate each item in this way,, a year will expire before we have finished with the Tariff. We have already decided that fire-engines and extinguishers shall be admitted free, and there are only a few other items which it is proposed to exempt. I have been in communication with some of the fire brigades in the north, and I think it would suit them if we limited the effect of the amendment, which is at present too sweeping, because fire brigade appliances may be taken to include the harness used on their horses. All the fire brigades desire is that in addition to fire-engines and extinguishers, hose couplings, hydrants, and reels should be admitted free, and I do not see why we should not settle that to-night.
Mr. WILKS (Dalley).- The honorable member for New England seemed to be very much concerned because a victory might be snatched by the Opposition. Surely we are not here merely to consider whether the Opposition are to obtain a victory or not? The honorable member was not quite so keen about consulting the Government in connexion with the duty on salt or the duty on barbed wire.
– I would remind the honorable member that those matters are not now under discussion.
– I do not wish to press the point, but it is well to draw the attention of the committee to the fact that an honorable member may on one occasion be annoyed that the conduct of business should be taken out of the hands of the Government, while on another occasion he may not be willing to study them so closely. The Opposition in fighting for their principles do not desire to snatch a victory, but at all times they desire to get a victory. The amendment is now the property of the committee, and not of theGovernment ; and if there is any insult at all it is to the honorable member for Oxley who has asked us to allow him to withdraw it. I am sure the honorable member is not so thin-skinned as to object to those who have consistently voted to have articles placed upon the free list preventing the withdrawal of this amendment. The tone of the committee may be gathered from an interjection, and when I interjected that this would cover hydrants and couplings there was a retort from the honorable member for Melbourne Ports that it was “ consummate rot.”
– -The honorable member for Melbourne Ports did not say that in debate. If so I did not hear him.
– Other honorable members of the committee do not suffer from physical defects if the Chairman does, and there must be many in the Chamber who heard the honorable member for Melbourne Ports as well as myself.
– I shall not allow the honorable member for Dalley, or any other honorable member, to reflectupon the Chairman. I ask him not to repeat that again.
– The Chairman may exercise a certain power, but he cannot exercise the power of suppressing freedom of speech, and he should not prevent me from replying to a retort used against me during the
– The remark to which the honorable member wishes to reply was made in the course of what was really a disorderly conversation between himself and the honorable member for Melbourne Ports when another honorable member was speaking.
– -We have not been told by those who oppose the exemption whether they wish to impose a revenue or a protective duty upon fire appliances. Are we to understand that the fire brigades of the Commonwealth are to be taxed to support the firm of John Danks and Co., who make hydrants and couplings ? I look upon that firm with pride and esteem, but it is too much to ask that they be supported at the expense of the fire brigades, and there will in any case be a good demand for their manufactures on the part of the ordinary community. Why not insert the word “metal “ after the word “ all,” and agree to the amendment ?
– The presence of the word “ metal “ is implied, inasmuch as we are dealing with a division of the Tariff which relates solely to metals and manufactures of metals.
– I see no reason why we should not dispose of this question now, when we can deal with it in the full light which has been produced by long discussion. To postpone a determination upon it would be to waste time.
– When an honorable member who has moved an amendment finds upon reflection that it does not adequately express what he desires to express, or will not effect his purpose, and intimates that he wishes to withdraw it, there is usually no objection to its withdrawal, though other honorable members are quite within their rights in objecting to its withdrawal, and if only one member objects, that is sufficient to prevent it from being withdrawn. But when under such circumstances a withdrawal has been objected to, I have frequently seen the mover of the amendment vote against it, in order that he may have an opportunity at a later stage to perfect his proposal, and make it effective for his purposes. I am sure that if the honorable member for Oxley does that, honorable members will recognise his right to vote as his judgment leads him to think proper. To my mind, it is unworthy of us as a deliberative assembly that any honorable member should allude to the fact that the putting of the amendment at some future time may alter the determination of the committee, because certain honorable members may be away. Although, perhaps, we have not done our work so expeditiously as we might have done it-
– We have dealt with 500 items this afternoon.
– The honorable member is not always anxious to conserve the public time. I shall vote with the Government, because I consider their offer a reasonable one, and one which can be honestly accepted by those who feel as the honorable members for Oxley and New England do about this matter.
– I urge the Opposition to accept the offer of the Government. I do not desire to vote against them, but if they press the matter to a vote tonight I shall have to vote against them, as I have not had time to look fully into it. Let me urge upon them to cultivate the wisdom of experienee as well as the wisdom of hope. Some time age I asked them to accept a duty of 15 per cent, upon mining machinery, but they refused, and the duty is now 20 per cent. The same fate may await them to-night.
Mr. R. EDWARDS (Oxley).- I am entirely in the hands of the committee, and if the amendment goes to a division I shall vote for it, because I think that the appliances used by fire brigades should be admitted free of duty.
Question - That the following exemption be added : - “ All fire brigade plant and appliances “ - put. The committee divided -
Question so resolved in the negative.
– I rise to ask the committee to place on the free-list “ steam coke rams.” When we were discussing the item of mining machinery I read a letter from the Federal Coke Company, which uses this particular machine in its operations in the Illawarra district. Through the courtesy of the Minister I have had an opportunity of seeing a report on the subject from his officers, and I understand from him that he is prepared to allow these rams to be placed on the free list.
– Hydraulic rams are used in the Illawarra district.
– I have no knowledge of hydraulic rams being used.
– I suggest that hydraulic and steam rams should be made duty free. I happen to have visited the Illawarra district, and the rams I saw there were hydraulic ones. A great mistake will be made if the exemption is limited to steam rams. It will really do away with the advantage which the honorable and learned member is seeking to gain. I believe that these rams cannot be manufactured here, and I ask the Minister to let them all come in free.
– I entirely concur in the remarks of the honorable member for Melbourne. Both hydraulic and steam power are used in connexion with these rams for pushing the coke out of the oven. I believe that in some cases steam power is used. I have not seen a steam ram.
– They are chiefly hydraulic.
– The honorable and learned member for Illawarra was good enough to callmy attention to this matter, and I had some elaborate inquiriesmade, with the result that I found that a steam coke ram is an entirely new machine, of a very elaborate character. I am absolutely satisfied, from the report of the officer, that it cannot be manufactured here, and so I am willing to admit it free. I have no information as to hydraulic rams, except that which honorable members have just been good enough to give. Am I to understand from the personal assurances of honorable members that hydraulic rams are not made in the country?
– Yes. The ram is practically the same in each case.
– I am content.
Mr. FULLER (Illawarra). - I understand from the honorable member for Kooyong that there are hydraulic rams in use in the district I represent. I was not aware of the fact before. I am told that all these rams are imported. I move -
That the following exemptions be added: - “ Steam or hydraulic coke rams or pushers.”
– Under the circumstances I am willing to place on the free list steam or hydraulic coke rams if honorable members are agreeable.
– Why not rams worked ~by an v other power ?
– There are only two kinds of these rams I understand. If, from further information I get from official sources, I find it necessary to bring any new facts before the committee, I shall do so.
Amendment agreed to.
– I move- -
That the following exemption be added: - “ Bottle-making machines.”
This item is not made here, nor is it likely to be made here.
– Never could be. “
– I should not say that.
– Although we are very gratified to see that the honorable member for Melbourne Ports desires that something should come in free, we might still find objection to his suggestion in the fact that this bottle manufacturing industry is one of the most highly protected on the list. The protection runs up to at least 100 per cent. I shall vote as I have always done in connexion with a proposal of this sort, though I think that the word “ patent “ ought to come out.
– The honorable member dropped the word “ patent “ when he moved his amendment.
– I wish to know from the honorable member for Melbourne Ports for what purpose these bottles are used. Are they medicine bottles ? If we knew what liquid was put into them, we should know how wide the industry is.
Mr. MAUGER (Melbourne Ports).- I believe they make all kinds of bottles, but largely medicine bottles, at one or two works I have in my mind’s eye. Even porter and champagne bottles are made here. If my honorable and learned friend is going to consume the champagne, I think the bottle should be made here
– It is almost a melancholy admission which the honorable member for Melbourne Ports has made. Surely, in connexion with the great bottlemaking industry we can look forward to a time when the machines for making the bottles will be made in Australia? Are we to be dejected by the melancholy announcement that the marvellous ingenuity which enables our manufacturers to make the most intricate forms of electrical machinery, on the shortest notice, is not equal to the manufacture of something or other that will turn out a medicine bottle? Perhaps this melancholy announcement is owing to the fact that there is no one-legged Victorian industry which makes these machines. How happy the honorable member must be in knowing that there is actually no man named Smith or Brown or Robinson who runs a little tinpot place, and makes one machine every 50 years, because some honorable members would only have to get up and solemnly assure the Minister that a man named Smith had been known to make these machines, and the Minister would collapse, and the member would collapse, and the free list in that respect would collapse. Now that there is a highly protective influence exercised in favour of the bottle-making industry, I do not see why we should not found, by the same beneficent policy, a grand industry in the nature of bottle making machine factories. It might be one of the choicest laurels in the wreath of Australian industry. Doss the bottlemaking industry flourish in the honorable member’s electorate ?
– I thought that bottles were blown.
– If bottles are blown this is another proof that the policy is blown too, because it cannot rise to the task of manufacturing a machine for the making of glass bottles. These machines are of the simplest possible character.
– I am told not.
– I have no doubt a very worthy manufacturer of glass bottles told the honorable member that.
– No, I have not seen a manufacturer.
– No ; that is very prudent on the honorable member’s part ; he has seen the other fellow. Does he really mean to tell us that we could not Start an industry for making these machines if we had a sufficiently high duty on them ? The freetrade view of course is that these protected industries live on one another. Why cannot the honorable member show one instance in which a protected industry has bred another industry? I do not intend to oppose this amendment, because I am very glad occasionally to have these proposals made from the other side, but there is no sort of consistency in it. The liberal heart of the honorable member which is opened to the manufacturer of glass bottles is firmly shut to all the great primary industries of Australia. It is a melancholy sight ; but, still, it is a glimmer of the” new light which is dawning.
Mr. BRUCE SMITH (Parkes).- It is refreshing to see this protectionist bigot on the other side of the House, finding at last that there are circumstances under which something cannot be manufactured in Victoria. I am quite sure that the world will be very much surprised to know that, with all its extraordinary powers, a machine for the making of bottles cannot be produced here, t I do not think the committee is aware to what extent this industry is already protected. Honorable members seem to be at liberty to supply the information which is furnished to them by good authorities. The honorable member for North Sydney has placed in my hand an 1 invoice of a shipment of bottles which, had come from Hamburg to the well-known firm of Lindeman and Co., wine-growers and wine merchants, from Burgoyne and Co. The cost of the bottles at Hamburg was £96, but by the time the charges in” the shape of freight, packing and insurance were added, it was £313. Thus the charges amounted to £217 10s.
– What is the date of that invoice 1
– February, 1897.
– Then the new Tariff had nothing to do with that 1
– No; I am not speaking about the duty, but of the natural protection that is afforded by the expense attached to bringing these articles to Australia. The packing materials cost £49 4s. ; the cartage and shipping charges were £24 12s. ; the straw envelopes cost £18 9s. ; and the freight, amounted to £122. The total charges represented 220 percent, protection, and yet we are told that the bottle-makers cannot afford to pay any duty on the machinery they use. That is a veritable reductio ad absurdum ; and I am quite sure that the public will be very much astonished to know that, despite a natural protection of 220 per cent., the bottle manufacturers are actually crying out to have their machinery admitted free. ‘
– As a specimen of the common sense and justice of this committee, I may remind honorable members that these bottlemaking machines are the tools of trade of manufacturers who are highly protected naturally and otherwise. And yet when we were considering the interests of the leather manufacturers, who have no protection whatever, the committee refused to exempt their tools of trade.
– The honorable member for Wentworth spoke of certain machine tools, but I think he would have spoken more to the purpose if he had referred to the “ tools “ to be found in this Chamber. Certainly the votes of some honorable members do not reflect any great credit on the committee. I was surprised to hear an admission from the honorable member for Melbourne Ports that the imposition of a duty upon an article increases the price to the consumer. It may be that in the same way that lessons have to be repeated to children in certain asylums, the constant repetition of free-trade lessons is bringing them home to the understanding of the honorable member for Melbourne Ports, and that we have now seen the first sign of his awakening.
Mr. MAUGER (Melbourne Ports).- I am glad that my proposal has caused so much amusement and excited so much interest. I should like to point out that the Victorian Tariff, which some honorable members have railed at so much, contained hundreds of exemptions.
– But for that Victoria would have been killed straight out.
– No one considered that a free list was incompatible with scientific protection. If I had my way I should put far more articles on the free list ; but freetraders will not distinguish between those goods which can with advantage be manufactured here, and those which there is no occasion to make within the Commonwealth.
– I am afraid I shall have to vote with the Government.
– How does the honorable member know how the Government are going to vote?
– Surely they will not consent to make this exemption ?
– Yes, we shall.
– Well, I really think that, in a case like this, there should be some duty. Where an industry has only the natural protection, I am in favour of allowing the machinery and tools used in connexion with it to come in free of duty ; but where a 15 or 20 per cent, protective duty is imposed in favour of an industry, those engaged in it should certainly be prepared to pay a reasonable amount of duty on their implements of trade.
– The Government do not intend to depart from the principle whichthey believe to be right. These machines are not made here, and we think, therefore, that they should be admitted free of duty. The fact mentioned by the honorable and learned member for Parkes, that £100 worth of bottles cannot be imported from Hamburg except at an expenditure of over £200, affords a very strong argument in favour of our doing everything that would conduce to the establishment of the bottlemaking industry here.
Mr.REID (East Sydney).- Why does not the Minister act according to his convictions? The right honorable gentleman preaches of the good times to come, but he will not do anything to bring them nearer. We might have a magnificent bottle machine industry established here if the Minister would only offer the necessary encouragement ; but instead of that he stands up and delivers a little sermon, with his hands in his pockets. If my right honorable friend is sincere in what he has said, he should resist the present proposals and let us establish a bottle machine industry in our midst. You can do anything you like if you impose enough duty.
– The leader of the Opposition has convinced me that we ought to put a duty on these machines. No great genius is required to enable us to make bottle-making machines, and if we desire to produce our own bottles we ought to make our own machinery.
Amendment agreed to.
– I move -
That the following exemptions be added - “ Soap-making, cutting, and stamping machines. “
I am informed that these machines cannot be made in Australia. There are only from 70 to 80 soap factories in the whole of Australia, and once the machines required by them are procured they last a considerable number of years. Therefore there has been no inducement to make the machines locally. Where there is no local production the price of the imported article is increased by the extent of the duty. But if there is local production, and consequently local competition, the duty does not necessarily increase the price to the consumer. In this case there has been no local production, and I consequently propose that the exemption shall be made.
Mr. JOSEPH COOK (Parramatta).- May I suggest to the honorable and learned member that his ground is a very peculiar one. The fact that there has been no production is a reason why no duty should be imposed. I always understood that honorable members opposite took up the position that production was impossible unless industries were given an artificial stimulus. It seems to me that they adopt a very contradictory attitude upon this question, and one which destroys the argument that duties are necessary before goods can be manufactured locally.
Mr. BRUCE SMITH (Parkes). - I think that an obligation rests upon any honorable member who submits an amendment of this character, to explain the nature of the machinery which he desires to see included in the list of exemptions. It is quite impossible for honorable members to determine what articles shall be, admitted free, until they know what is the nature of the machinery in question, and are able to decide whether it can be manufactured in Australia. The machinery which it is proposed to exempt in the present instance, comprises soap making, cutting, and stamping machines. My recollection of a soap stamping machine is that it consists merely of a piece of metal which comes down and forces the soap into a particular shape. Surely there should be no difficulty about manufacturing such a machine in Australia. The cutting of soap is the proverbial way of denning the sharpness of a knife. Surely there is an obligation on the part of the honorable and learned member for Bendigo to explain to the committee the peculiarities of this machinery, which make it improbable, if not impossible, that an industry for its manufacture will be established within the Commonwealth. At present he is asking us to determine that for some years to come no encouragement shall be given to manufacturers of these articles.
Sir WILLIAM MCMILLAN (Wentworth). - Looking at the list of exemptions it seems to me very peculiar that the name of nearly every rabid protectionist appears as favouring some exemption or other. Evidently they are noticing the trend of affairs, and will probably be able, as Victoria along with the other States becomes converted from the error of its ways, to show that they were to some extent on the freetrade side.
– I may mention that we have made inquiries as to the persons who use these machines, and the information with which we have been supplied shows that soap-making and stamping machines are manufactured within the Commonwealth. In our opinion, therefore, they ought to be subjected to a duty. Soapcutting machines, however, do not appear to be manufactured locally, and following the practice which has hitherto been adopted, we think that these should be placed upon the free list.
Mr. REID (East Sydney). - I should like to know whether the honorable and learned member for Bendigo consulted the Ministry before submitting this amendment, because it is usual for honorable members upon the Government side to tell us that ? From the fact that the honorable and learned member for Bendigo has omitted to inform us upon this point, it is clear that he did not consult the Government.
– I did not.
Mi-. REID. - The honorable and learned member contended that Victorian factories were able, at a minute’s notice, to cope with all the latest exigencies of electrical science as applied to the mining industry, and yet he practically says that they are not equal to the emergency of manufacturing a soapmaking machine or a soapcutting machine, or a glass machine. What utter nonsense it is to say that there are not a large number of these industries in the country, and that therefore a duty upon these articles is necessary ! Who proposes, amongst protectionists, that these great factories should all be specialized1! Why should not the struggling factories and foundries have these little tit-bits added to their existence ? Why not throw these threads and patches into the pots to enable them to get a living somehow or other ? Is it not absurd that the honorable and learned member favours free-trade in soapmaking and does not favour it in connexion with mining machinery? It appears that the Ministry have found from some person in the street that some one is able to manufacture a soap-making machine.
– Did I say that?
– No ; the Treasurer is too sensible to say that. It is impossible for the Ministry to know the rights and wrongs of all these industrial problems. We do not blame them for that. We blame them for trying to impose upon us with the pretence that they do know all about them. That is what irritates me. If anything is calculated to break me down it is this soap business. Just let us notice the touching deference which Ministers show to a strong supporter. If an honorable member upon the opposition side of the House had submitted this proposal the three articles mentioned would have been knocked upon the head with a hammer. But, to retain the affections of the honorable and learned member, they throw the soap-cutting machine into the free j list. Is it not monstrous to suggest that Victoria cannot manufacture a machine to cut a bar of soap - that the whole vigour, inventive power and enterprise of the giant industries of this State cannot make a machine of that sort ? I do not say that we should wish to see a foundry established for tine purpose of doing nothing more than making soapcutting machines: But the fallacy is in supposing that one of our great foundries cannot take an order for a soap-cutting machine, or that if they took it they would not know what to do with it. Some explanation is required here. Do the Ministry who are prepared to grapple with the most formidable problems of industrial science quail before a soap-cutting machine ? Why is it too much for their protectionist faith ? Does not the honorable . and learned member for Bendigo realize that if he put a stiff duty upon these machines people in a very short timewould be able to purchase them for almost nothing. Why deprive the unfortunate soap boilers of the opportunity of obtaining soap free by Act of Parliament ? Why expose them to this cold blast of free-trade? It seems to me that the honorable member for Melbourne Ports, and the other giants of party organization in Australia who run the protectionists unions do well to take counsel together when they see such antics played in this committee. It was to be expected that under the beneficent influence of protection, industries would increase with therapidity of rabbits, that they would spread so quickly that the country would become infested with, them. Yet there is a drought in soapcutting machines. These are humiliating confessions to make. They affront one’s patriotism because, free-traders as we are, we do not wish to see the manufacturing powers of our people slandered in that way. Will the honorable and learned member for Bendigo explain under what extraordinary impulse he became associated with soapmaking machines?
Sir JOHN QUICK (Bendigo).- After the explanation of the Treasurer, I propose to confine my amendment to the soap-cutting machine which the Government are prepared to place upon the free list. I ask leave, therefore, to amend my amendment in that direction.
Amendment amended accordingly, and agreed to.
– I move-
That the following exemptions be added : - “ Punching and shearing machines.”
From information which I have been able to gather I understand that machines of this kind are not manufactured in the Commonwealth.
– Our information is that they are manufactured here.
– I am stating only what my information is. Punching and shearing machines are used in the manufacture of boilers and metal work in its primary state, and therefore they must be considered as tools of trade. As we have been dealing very liberally with tools used by some trades, I think I am justified in asking the committee to exempt these machines. I do not say that we have been consistent altogether, for while nearly all the tools used by some trades have been placed on the free list, strong opposition has been shown to the exemption of other tools of trade.
– Only when we believed that they were made here.
– I do not consider that we have been quite consistent, for in my opinion the committee has not adhered to that principle.
Question - That the following exemptions be added : - “ Punching and shearing machines “ - put. The committee divided -
Question so resolved in the negative.
– On behalf of the honorable member for Robertson, I move -
That the following exemptions be added : - Harness Makers’ Ironmonger)’, viz. : - Stirrups and Bits (Plated), Springbars, Haines (Nickel and
Silver Plated, or Brass), Buckles and Harness Mountings ; Chains, viz. : - Plough, Leading, Back ; Breeching, Trace and Tug, Hobble, Hip Strap, Backboard, Bellyband, Watering, Crupper, Rock, Manger, Curb, Stallion Lead, Dog, Dogcouple, Stallion Bars and Chains, Bit Burnishers, Pole.
The proposal relates chiefly to raw material used in the manufacture of harness.
– Nearly all the articles enumerated are free.
– I do not know that they are all free, although some of them are.
– We shall be prepared to deal with the items relating to harness-makers’ ironmongery, with the exception of chains, when we come to the division, harness, &c. Chains in the piece are already on the free list, and I think we have dealt already with plough and back chains. We now propose to allow all chains to go on the free list. I would suggest to the honorable and learned member for Werriwa that he should allow the first part of his amendment to stand over until the division relating to harness leather is reached.
– Very well. Howwould the Treasurer amend the amendment?
– I think it would be be better to move simply that “ Chains n.e.i. “ be added to the list of exemptions.
Amendment, by leave, amended accordingly, and agreed to.
Mr. CONROY (Werriwa).- The honorable member for Robertson, who is absent, has given notice of his intention to move that the following articles be added to the list of exemptions, but a number of the items enumerated are already on the free list : -
Printers and bookbinders’ requisites : - Printers’ metal type, brass type, typeholders, rules, curves, circles, clamps ; brass locks, clasps, corners (binders), chases, metal quoins and lockup apparatus, composing sticks, shooting sticks and galleys, knives, viz. : - Palette, paper, gold and paring ; litho. hand rollers, leads, clumps, and metal furniture; roller frames and stocks ; pin-slides and pins for ruling machines ; stereo. and electro. blocks.
– They are nearly all on the free list.
– If the Treasurer would state which of these articles are already on the free list I think it would shorten the discussion.
– I shall be pleased to state which of the items in the amendment are not already on the free list.
First of all we propose to place “ clasps and corners (binders) “ on the next minor article list as free. We have decided already that paper knives shall be dutiable. We object to allow stereo, and electro, blocks to come in free, because they are made within the Commonwealth. All the other articles have been dealt with. The only item in the amendment with which the committee have to deal is that of stereo, and electro, blocks.
Mr. CONROY (Werriwa). - Stereo, and electro, blocks have been used largely for some time, and I fail to see why they should not be allowed to come in free.
– What is it the honorable and learned member is asking to have made free?
– The stereo, blocks ready for printing.
– They should not come in free.
– Why should we let them pass in free ?
– I am inclined to think they should come in free. It must Joe remembered that the printing from them will all be done here.
– If people are going to use blocks they will import them anyhow.
– I should have preferred if some honorable member who knows more of the subject than myself had taken the matter up. I have dealt with it on behalf of the honorable member for Robertson, and it seems to me that it ought to be fully considered. “ I move-
That the following exemptions be added : - “ Stereo and electro blocks.”
Electrical Machinery - Rebate on Sugar - Unemployed Kanakas.
Motion (by Mr. Deakin) proposed -
That the House do now adjourn.
– I desire to ask the Minister for Trade and Customs whether he has been able to obtain a report as to the number of men employed in the Commonwealth in the manufacture of electrical plant ?
– We have not the information yet.
– I desire to bring a matter under the notice of the Attorney-General, and I shall put it in the form of a question. I have received a telegram to this effect: -
Will employingcoloured labour during February debar for sugar rebate.
In other words, information is desired as to whether a person employing black labour after the 1st of February will be entitled to the rebate proposed by the Government on sugar which is not grown by coloured labour. I desire also to bring another matter under the notice of the honorable gentleman. I have received a telegram to this effect : -
Please inform Government result of kanaka legislation. Residents dare not now give kanakas employment in any capacity ; consequently serious menace to life and property exists. Hundreds disengaged since 31st ult.
That is from the northern part of New South Wales. The statement is that white men dare not employ kanakas in consequence of the legislation which has been passed, and that the disengaged men are a menace to the people.
– In regard to the first question put by the honorable member, relating to the employment of coloured labour during February, the proposal of the Government is that the rebate shall be allowed on all sugar grown by white labour after 31st January last. That is to say, no inquiry will be made as to whether coloured labour has been employed in any preliminary processes undertaken before that date, but the rebate is only to be paid upon sugar grown after that date- from the present month forward - by white labour. It may be added, to make the matter perfectly clear, that the same employer may have adjoining plantations, one worked by white labour, and upon the produce of which the rebate will be allowed, and another worked by coloured labour, upon the produce of which no rebate will be allowed.
– It extends to the article, and not to the individual ?
– Yes. Then in answer to the other question, I may say that in some respects it is gratifying to learn that the sugar-growers in the northern part of Now South Wales are so rapidly adopting the employment of white labour upon their plantations. Although some attention is drawn in the telegram referred to by the honorable member to what is termed “ a serious menace to life and property “ in consequence of the hundreds of kanakas disengaged, I should have assumed that the demand for kanakas in the northern part of Queensland would have been so considerable as to readily absorb what now appears to be the surplus kanaka labour of New South Wales. At all events, the representation made by those who have assumed to speak on behalf of Northern Queensland is that the supply there is inadequate, and it would seem, therefore, a comparatively simple matter to arrange that these unemployed kanakas should be informed of the work awaiting them in Queensland.
Mr.Reid. - Will there not be the same disadvantage in employing them there?
– The claim is that in the North of Queensland it is necessary to continue kanaka labour, because of the severity of the climate, upon clearing and other preparatory work, even though white men are afterwards employed in the cultivation of the cane.
– We shall have similar complaints coming from the north ere long.
– Will the Government permit them to enter Queensland?
– We have no authority to permit, nor have we the power to prevent. The kanakas already in New South Wales are what are termed “free “ kanakas.
– “ Walk-about kanakas.”
– Time-expired boys.
– They are men who have completed their original term of agreement, and they were probably imported in the first instance into Queensland.
– No ; they import them into New South Wales also.
– I never heard of any being imported into New South Wales. However, these kanakas will now be available to supply the demands in the north.
– What about the agreements ? Does our Pacific Island Labourers Act destroy any agreements in existence ?
– Not until after 1905, finally.
– An agreement made between a white and a black is binding at present.
– No . agreement between a white and a black is at present affected by any Commonwealth legislation.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
House adjourned at 10.54 p.m.
Cite as: Australia, House of Representatives, Debates, 4 February 1902, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/hofreps/1902/19020204_reps_1_7/>.