1st Parliament · 1st Session
Mr. Speaker took the chair at 2.30 p.m., and read prayers.
asked the Minister for
Trade and Customs, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follow : -
Electrical machinery, 25 per cent. Electrical apparatus, various rates - some free, others varying from 15 per cent. to 30 per cent. Electrical fittings, viz. , arc lamps without globes, carbons, incandescent lamps, automatical registers, transmitters and storage batteries, free ; earthenware fittings,15 per cent.; woodware, 25 per cent.; metal, 30 per cent.
Particulars of “electrical machinery and apparatus “ are not shown separately Statistical Returns, but are included in the general . heading “Machinery other.” This information, therefore, cannot be given.
asked the Minister for Defence, upon notice -
What arrangement has been made by the Imperial Government for distributing the pay due to soldiers who have returned, or may hereafter return from South Africa, and to whom should they apply in each State for their pay, or for the rectification of mistakes in pay vouchers sent from South Africa? .
– The answer to the honorable and learned member’s question is as follows : -
The payment of claims with regard to the contingents raised by the States willbe arranged through the respective State Governments. The Commonwealth Government did not take over any work in connexion with these contingents, and the State Governments have appointed officers to deal with any claims. With reference to the Commonwealth contingents, as a paymaster will accompany them it is not anticipated that any difficulties will arise.
asked the Minister representing the PostmasterGeneral, upon notice -
Whether, having reference to his. answer to question No. 1 of 28th January last, respecting the withdrawal of certain rights from post and telegraph officers on the gold-fields of Western Australia, he will lay upon the table of the House the report which the Prime Minister requested the Premier of Western Australia to furnish concerning the circumstances under which such rights were originally granted?
– So soon as the reply comes from Western Australia it will be furnished to the honorable member.
asked the Prime Minister, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable learned member’s questions are as follow : -
asked the Minister for Defence, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follow : -
– In asking the questions which stand upon the notice-paper in my name, I desire to explain that the two men referred to were released as a consequence of a telegram sent to South Africa by the Minister for Defence, after a discussion in this Chamber in November last, and returned to Victoria this day week. My questions are as follow : -
– The answers to the honorable and learned member’s questions are as follow : - 1 and 2. The inquiry was made, but no reply has yet been received. 3 and 4. These two men have recently returned to Victoria, having been discharged in England by the Imperial authorities after undergoing a short imprisonment. No official information has been received in regard to their cases.
I have not been informed that the release was in consequence of the telegram sent to South Africa by His Excellency the GovernorGeneral, and therefore it may not be as the honorable and learned member assumes.
Consideration resumed from 14th February (vide page 10073).
Item 78. - Blacking, including dressings, soaps, oils, inks, pastes, polishes, stains, and varnishes for leather; Berlin and Brunswick blacks, furniture oil, paste, and polish, and bronzing and metal liquids, ad valorem 20 per cent.
– I cannot see why so high a duty as 20 per cent. should be placed upon articles which, I believe, are largely used in our manufacturing industries. If heavy duties are imposed upon everything, small and great, that is used in the processes of manufacture, the protection’ given by the duties on the finished articles will evaporate.
– With the exception of bronzing and metal liquids, the articles comprised in this item are manufactured largely in all the States, and although they have hitherto been admitted into New South Wales free, they have been charged 25per cent. in Victoria, Queensland, and South Australia, 20 per cent. in Tasmania, and 15 per cent. in Western Australia, so that the proposed duty of 20 per cent. is not unreasonable. The ingredients of many of these articles are themselves dutiable, so that it is only fair that they should be protected. I move -
That after the word “liquids” the words “ and powders “ be inserted.
Amendment agreed to.
Item, as amended, agreed to.
Item 79. - Greases, axle, and thickened or solidified oils ; solid or viscous compounds for lubricating, and tallow unrefined, per cwt., 4s.
– I think that this duty is much too high. I have received a letter from one of the leading Adelaide importers, in which the writer says that upon an invoice of 35 tons of axle grease, the value of which was £172, landed from a vessel at Port Adelaide on the 3rd February, the duty amounted to £140, or 85 per cent., and a confirmatory letter shows that on another importation the duty was equal to 75 per cent.
– Axle grease is generally imported in tins, and the rate of duty is about 20 per cent.
– The rate in South Australia previously was 10 per cent., so that the amount of duty which my correspondent would have had to pay would have been £19. The rate now proposed is much higher than formerly existed in any of the States, except Queensland, where the duty was 6s. per cwt. Formerly in New South Wales there was no duty, in South Australia and Tasmania it was 10 per cent., in Western Australia 15 per cent., and in Victoria, in tins,4s. - otherwise 3s. per cwt. I move -
That the following words be added : - “ And on and after 19th February, 1902, 2s.”
A suggestion made to me was that a duty of1s. or1s. 6d. per cwt. would give far more than ample protection.
– So far as I have been able to learn the larger portion of the imported anti-friction grease is in tins. It is the more valuable portion, and the rate of duty we propose comes to about 20 per cent. I can understand that certain quantities may be imported in bulk, but probably they would be of an inferior description, and the rate of duty would be higher.
– It would not come up to 80 per cent., anyhow.
-I do not think it could come up to such a high rate as that. Perhaps in this case I might meet my honorable and learned friend, Mr. Glynn, by agreeing that the duty should be 2s. per cwt. in bulk, and 4s. per cwt. in tins.
– Why not say 2s. per cwt. all round?
– No. That which is imported in tins is very valuable; running from £24 to £28 per ton. Honorable members will see that we can fairly impose a reasonable duty upon that article. I admit that so far as the bulk article is concerned the proposed rate may be too heavy. I advise the committee to agree to a duty of 2s. per cwt. in bulk, and 4s. per cwt. in tins.
– On referring to the Statistical Register of South Australia I cannot find that the South Australians import any of this article, so that it is impossible to estimate the price at which it is imported, but according to the New South Wales returns ordinary grease averages about 16s. per cwt. Anti-friction grease would average a great deal more than that here. On anti-friction grease the duty should be 4s. per cwt. whether it is imported in tins or in bulk. It is complained that we do not give an opportunity for the working up of our products in this State. I cannot see the force of sending away to other countries the grease and other byproducts of our primary industries and allowing them to come back in a manufactured state. Although the duty on antifriction grease has been 4s. per cwt. when imported in tins, the price has been less here, according to travellers’ returns, than in other States. In New South Wales, they imported most of their supply duty free from America.
Mr. REID (East Sydney). - The honorable and learned member for South Australia, I think,is nearly accurate in what he stated with reference to the difference between the value of the article and the duty of4s. per cwt. It is of no use the honorable member for Yarra taking our bulk statistics, dividing them up and finding a price, because all sorts of qualities of material are included in the general bulk. I believe that this stuff is shipped free on board in New York at 7s. per cwt.
– There could not be much tallow in it at 7s. per cwt.
-I am only taking the statements made by persons who are of very high authority, and who trade in the article.
Mr.HumeCook.-thatisnot antifriction grease.
– I am confining myself entirely to the definition in the Tariff - axle grease. A duty of £4 per ton on an article worth, on board ship in New York, £7, is a pretty stiff one ; it is a long way over 50 per cent. As the freight and shipping charges amount to £3 per ton, there is practically a natural artificial protection amounting to 100 per cent. Are we going up to 100 per cent. in the case of grease when we will not go beyond15 or 20 per cent. in the case of our great manufacturing industries ? This stuff is used in the manufacturing and producing industries. We ought to try to observe some consistency in our rates. Two shillings per cwt. would amount to over 27½ per cent.
-On certain very poor classes it might, but not on the really good stuff.
– My right honorable friend seems to know all the shades of grease - I do not.
– They run up to nearly £30.
– What a clumsy proposal this is, then, which charges the same rate per cwt. on an article worth£7 per ton as it does on an article worth £30 per ton ! That is another confession of the greatest clumsiness.
– There is a broad distinction.
– If the value ranges to these extreme points, then a specific duty is a most inconvenient and unfair one. Four shillings per cwt. would be a very small percentage, perhaps, on an article valued at £30 per ton, but when it is compared with an article valued at £7 per ton, it becomes an enormous duty. I suppose the Government wish to have some sort of relationship between their duties. The Treasurer has been extremely liberal in coming down 50 per cent, in one shot.
– On the poorerclass stuff.
– On the bulk stuff, whether poor or rich.
– That would be the poor stuff.
– Does the Minister think that these people will send it out in small tins when they can make a difference of 2s. per cwt. 1
– Yes, it would pay them to do it.
– Why should we get the business of repacking in tins for the other stuff! Why should we not spread it over the whole industry instead of allowing the bulk in at a free-trade rate 1
– I do not mind. We shall keep the same rate if honorable members like. I want to meet them as fairly as I can.
– The right honorable member has been very liberal in coming down to 2s. per cwt., and I do not wish to say anything to make him retrace his steps.
– I did not quite follow the figures of the honorable and learned member for South Australia, Mr. Glynn, but I think that he must be labouring under some mistake. If I heard him correctly, he stated that the price of grease landed in South Australia was £32 per ton, and he made out that a duty of 4s. per cwt. came to 80 per cent. Of course the figures do not work out in that way. The prices which have been furnished to me show that the average cost is about £14 per ton, so that the article quoted at £32 per ton must have been a very superior one. The prices which have been given to me are for articles of similar quality, and used in similar work, namely, £11 in Victoria, £12 in New South Wales, £14 in Queensland, and £16 in Western Australia. I suppose that the differences in the price are partly the result of freight charges, and partly the result of distances to be covered, but I believe the average is about £14 per ton. I do not know a very great deal about this matter, except that some four companies are engaged in manufacturing the article here. I believe it is manufactured in every State in Australia, and to that extent it must be locally consumed. The Victorian product has given every possible satisfaction to the users, more particularly to mine managers. I have some letters from the Bendigo, Ballarat, and Maryborough districts. It is used there in large quantities by mining managers and others, who all state that it has given every possible satisfaction; that they have used it for a number of years, varying from twelve to sixteen ; and that it has served all their purposes, and, above all, that it is quite cheap. Perhaps the best testimony is that sent by the manager for James McEwan and Co., the hardware importers, to the manager of the Standard Grease and Oil Company in Richmond -
We have pleasure in stating that for the past eighteen years we have been supplying your antifriction grease to our wholesale and retail customers and mining companies, and it has always given the very best satisfaction. We might mention that since you started the Standard Grease Works, we have not imported any in bulk, as we could not land a similar quality at the price at which 3’ou supply.
Evidence like this, coming from free-trade importers, ought to be a recommendation in favour of the quality and the price at which these men are producing the article.
– And in favour of no necessity for exorbitant duties.
– The other letters I have are from mine managers and others, who say the local article is good in quality and is supplied at a fair price. The manufacturers say that they started the industry as the result of a duty of 4s. per cwt. being imposed in this State ; that if it be removed probably they will come into very severe competition with the American Standard Oil Company, who, in part, manufacture this article from the refuse of the oil wells ; and that if they are subject to that severe competition they will have either to reduce wages or to take other steps. It does seem to me, on the evidence I have before me, only a fair thing to main tain the duty as it is, and to allow local persons to supply the market.
– I followed the arguments of the last speaker, and he has confirmed, to my satisfaction, the statement made by the leader of the Opposition that this grease is bought in Amenca at £7 per ton, and landed here at £14 per ton. He showed very clearly that this duty is quite equal to 40 or 50 per cent, on the cost of the material in America. If the Government desire to put a duty of 50 or 60 per cent on grease, then their action is quite consistent.
But if it is desired to impose a duty of 25 per cent, the amount should be reduced from 4s. to 2s. per cwt. There is no possibility of Australia competing with America in the manufacture of axlegrease. The best Australian grease is made from tallow and oil - chiefly cod oil which comes from Newfoundland. The cod oil would cost here between £30 and £40 per ton, and the cheapest tallow cannot be obtained for less than £18 per ton. We can make axle-grease of better quality than that which is imported, but it will not do better work, and when we have to pay £18 per ton for tallow, it would be impossible for us to compete with the imported article at £14 per ton. That is one of the reasons why the consumers of axle-grease in Victoria had to pay more than was realized for the article in New South Wales before the Federal Tariff came into operation.
Mr. MAUGER (Melbourne Ports).Axlegrease is being made in Victoria, and sold at £1 per ton cheaper than in New South Wales. I hope the compromise suggested by the Treasurer will be accepted, and that we shall get on with the business.
Mr. REID (East Sydney).- If the honorable member for Melbourne Ports desires the business to be expedited, he will not make wildly inaccurate statements such as that which has just fallen from him. I have some figures taken from Messrs. Lewis and Whitty’s price-list before the Federal Tariff came into operation. Axle-grease was then admitted free in New South Wales, but was subject to a duty of 4s. per cwt. in Victoria. According to this price - list Messrs. Lewis and Whitty sold their axlegrease called “ lubricator,” in one and a-half pound tins, six dozen in a case, at 4s. 9d. per dozen tins in Sydney, whilst the Melbourne price was 5s. -3d. per dozen. This made a difference of 6s. 2d. per cwt. in favour of Sydney consumers. As the Treasurer has agreed to reduce the duty by 2s. per cwt., I suggest that the honorable and learned member for South Australia should accept the compromise, so that we may save discussion and get on with the business.
Mr. GLYNN (South Australia).- If the Treasurer will accept the 2s. duty for the whole item I shall be content.
– I cannot consent to that. I have offered to meet the committee by consenting to a duty of 2s. per ton upon grease imported in bulk, retaining the 4s. duty upon grease imported in tins. Now the honorable and learned member for South Australia wishes me to apply the 2s. rate all round, and I do not think that it is fair to press me to that extent. If the committee will not accept my offer I must stand by the original proposal.
– I object to the Treasurer’s proposal, because it is intended to vary the duty according to the package in which an article may be imported. Why should the nature of the package determine the rate of duty to be charged upon the contents 1
– Because the prices are so different.
– Why should antifriction grease in tins be subject to the payment of a higher rate of duty than is asimilar commodity imported in boxes or barrels, or jars 1 It does not follow that there is any difference in quality. Unlessan ad valorem duty is imposed under which the grease will have to pay duty according to its quality and price, an all round fixed duty should be applied irrespective of the packages in which the article is imported.
– My chief objection to the proposal now made is that it will permit large companies, who always buy their grease in bulk, to escape from the payment of the higher duty, whilst those who use the grease in small quantities and purchase it by the tin, will have to pay duty on the higher scale.
– The greater proportion of the axle-grease is brought here in bulk and put up in tins within the Commonwealth.
– Nevertheless, by far the greater number of consumers would have to pay a higher price for their grease owing to the difference in the duty. An all round duty of 2s. per ton would be quite sufficient.
– The very cheapest qualities of axle-grease are imported in tins.
– The Customs officers give quite a different report upon the matter.
– The bulk of the axlegrease is imported in barrels, and the Treasurer will defeat his own object, if a higher duty is imposed upon the grease imported in the smaller packages. The total amount of revenue involved is not very great, and I would strongly suggest an allround rate of 2s. per cwt.
Mr. BATCHELOR (South Australia).I would ask the Treasurer whether it is worth while to make a distinction between the axle-grease imported in tins, and that brought in in bulk. The grease is sure to be brought in here in large quantities, and tinned within the Commonwealth, but we shall scarcely be justified in imposing a high duty upon axle grease in tins, in order to encourage its importation in bulk, so that it may be put in tins here.
Mr. TUDOR (Yarra).- The proposal of the Government is a very fair one. It is perfectly legitimate to impose a higher rate of duty on grease imported in tins, with a view to encourage its importation in bulk. Honorable members opposite declare that axle grease will continue to be imported in bulk, and that the tinning will be done locally. In my judgment, the men employed by the local manufacturer should be given a preference. Despite the repeated declarations of members of the Opposition that they are in favour of extending consideration to the primary producer, they want to send away tallow from Australia in order that it may be worked up into axle grease in another country, and then imported into the Commonwealth.
– Axle grease is not tallow.
– Tallow forms an important part of axle grease. According to the figures which I have obtained, the latest quotation for anti-friction grease in New York is £12 10s. per ton. That is greater by nearly 50 per cent, than is the price quoted by the honorable member for Robertson. I trust that the compromise suggested by the Treasurer will be accepted.
Mr. GLYNN (South Australia). - In order to put this matter to a test, I ask the permission of the committee to amend my amendment, to provide for the imposition of a general rate of 2s. per cwt.
Amendment, by leave, amended according1^
– I would point out to the committee that the total revenue which the Treasurer expects to derive from this particular item is £830 per annum. After declaring that the Government would consent to the imposition of a duty of 2s. per cwt. upon axle grease, we find Ministers affirming that there must be a difference made between the tax levied upon grease imported in bulk and that collected upon grease which is imported in tins. In other words, because Messrs. Lewis and Whitty put this grease up in tins, we are to impose a differential duty for their benefit.
– The honorable and learned member is quite wrong.
– I never address myself to an honorable member who is only the representative of two or three manufacturers. I am addressing those honorable members who have some regard to the welfare of the people of the Commonwealth. The proposed duty will fall upon the bulk of the producers, because they are the persons who use this axle grease. But simply because a particular Melbourne firm says - “ We should like an extra duty of 25 or 30 per cent, imposed upon this particular article,” their wishes are cheerfully acceded to. The Commonwealth is composed of the people of Australia, and not of the halfdozen manufacturers who make representations to the Ministry.
– Nor of the half-dozen importers ‘ who instruct the honorable and learned member.
– Honorable members opposite are always considering how much of any particular duty will be diverted from the Treasury into the pockets of the individual. The interests of the consumer are never considered. We are asked to impose a 50 per cent, duty upon axle grease, simply to benefit one firm which is engaged in its manufacture, and which probably does not employ more than half-a-dozen men.
– I do not think the honorable and learned member is justified in declaring that the proposed duties are intended to benefit one particular firm. In this connexion I would point out that in Victoria alone, four firms are engaged in the manufacture of this grease.
– Dozens of firms within the Commonwealth are engaged in treating the crude stuff.
– The honorable and learned member for Werriwa is always haunted by the suspicion that any honorable member who speaks from the Government side of the Chamber, must be speaking on behalf of a particular firm. The industry under discussion has been established in Victoria for eighteen years. When a protective duty was first imposed upon axle grease in this State the price of the article was 22s. per cwt. ; but at the present time I am informed that a more suitable grease for mining purposes can be purchased for lis. per cwt. This commodity is being made by the firms which have sprung into existence under the operation of a protective duty ; and the reduction in price which has taken place has been brought about solely by internal competition. During the tenure of office of the Patterson Government the duty upon axle grease in tins was fixed at 4s. per cwt., whilst that levied upon grease not otherwise enumerated was 3s. per cwt. ; so that the present proposal of the Treasurer really constitutes a reduction of the Victorian rate of duty. The compromise suggested by the Government is a reasonable one. and should be accepted.
Mr. CONROY (Werriwa).- According to the argument of the honorable and learned member for Bendigo, the committee ought to abolish the duty upon axle grease. He says that in Victoria, as the result of the operation of a tax upon this article, its price has fallen from 22s. per cwt. to lis. per cwt. Last week he declared that it was necessary to impose protective duties to enable our manufacturers to pay higher wages to their workmen than those which are paid in other countries. Therefore, if the operation of this particular duty in Victoria has lowered i the price of axle grease, it necessarily follows that the wages paid in connexion with the industry have also been lowered.
– It is quite natural that every honorable member who speaks from the Opposition side of the Chamber should be regarded as a theorist by the honorable and learned member for Bendigo. But I would point out that the only theoretical proposal which has been advanced to-day has been put forward by the honorable member for Melbourne Ports and himself. The honorable member for Melbourne Ports tells the committee that axle grease is 20s. per ton cheaper in Victoria than it is in Sydney. Has the honorable member ever heard of any petitions coming from Sydney praying for the maintenance of the duty which formerly operated in Victoria in order to enable the people of New South Wales to get a cheaper article? Are all the residents of Sydney simpletons 1 If they have to pay 20s. per ton more for axle grease than do the people in Victoria, does he not suppose that they would be clamouring for the imposition of this duty in order that the price of the article might be reduced ?
– How many years did they submit to the price charged for reapers and binders 1
– The honorable member has me at a disadvantage, because I do not know. But does he subscribe to the theory that if we impose a duty upon any particular article we reduce its price ? The amazing feature with regard to the honorable member for Melbourne Ports is that he knows everybody’s business, can tell the committee precisely how it stands financially, and whether any individual firm is making profits or going to the wall. To-day he has made the astonishing statement that axle grease can be purchased in Victoria for 20s. per ton less than it can be bought for in Sydney. Upon that line of reasoning the honorable member ought to be a most violent opponent of the Treasurer’s proposal, because, if the duty is lowered, the probability is that the price of the article in Sydney will be reduced, whilst it will be raised in Victoria. Really the statements which are made by the honorable member are too ridiculous. If he would only take the trouble to consult the people who have to pay these duties, he would not submit the absurd proposition i that if we increase the rate of duty upon any article we decrease its price. The contrary is the case, and as grease is used so largely in every kind of manufacturing industry, it appears to me that the Government might well waive this proposal, or at an)’ rate reduce the duty to the extent proposed by the honorable and learned member for South Australia.
Mr. A. PATERSON (Capricornia).This is an item about which I certainly ought to know something. I have been rather amused b)’ some of the speeches delivered on this question. There seems tobe an impression that axle-grease is made from tallow, but from the facts stated during the course of the debate I conclude that very little tallow is used in it at the present day. Tallow is not obtainable here under £1S per ton, and in New York, where axlegrease comes from, tallow is from £20 to £23 per ton at the present time. Therefore the quantity of tallow used in the manufacture of the axle-grease must be verv immaterial. No doubt some adulterant is employed which can be obtained for next to nothing. Part of this item relates to “tallow unrefined.” I would suggest to the Minister for Trade and Customs that it seems to be absurd to impose a duty on tallow, because under the former State Tariffs of New South Wales, Victoria, and South Australia, it was admitted free, while no duty is imposed even by protectionist New Zealand. It is ridiculous to impose a duty on this article, because for the last ten years the surplus which must be exported has ranged in value from £1,000,000 to £1,500,000 per annum. Tallow ought to be placed on the free list. I wonder whether the Government, having placed a varying duty on axle-grease in tins and casks, propose to treat tallow in the same way. That would make the position even more ludicrous. I suggest that the duty so far as it relates to tallow, be omitted.
Question - That the words “ and on and after 19th February, 1902, 2s.” be added to the duty, “ Grease . . 4s. per cwt.” - put. The committee divided -
Question so resolved in the negative
Amendment (by Sir George Turner) proposed - ,
That the words “ and on and after 19th February, 1902, in packages not exceeding 4lbs. inweight, 4s. ; n.e.i., 2s.” be added.
– I suppose it is useless to think of opposing the amendment, but it seems to me that the Government gain very little by these compromises. Their only effect is to give away the Government policy. The Government offered the Opposition this compromise, but a division was insisted upon, with the result that the item was agreed to. We might as well have an all round duty of 4s. as give away a duty of 2s. per cwt.
– Do the Government propose to retain the duty on tallow, unrefined?
– That point has been decided.
– I think the duty ought to be omitted so far as it relates to that article. There has been no such duty even in Victoria, and the question of the maintenance of an established industry is not involved.
– It is unimportant.
– The duty so far as it relates to tallow unrefined is unimportant, and, therefore, it might well be omitted. The inclusion of an unimportant proposal is a blot on the Tariff. I desire to move -
That the words “ tallow unrefined “ be omitted.
– I submit that the honorable member is not in order in moving his amendment, in view of the fact that we have dealt already with a proposal relating to a subsequent part of the item. I promise honorable members that we will look into the matter further, and if we come to the conclusion that it is unnecessary to retain an item of this kind we shall not hesitate to give effect to that decision.
– The committee having given its decision upon an amendment at the end of the item that which the honorable member is proposing is out of order.
Amendment agreed to.
Item, as amended, agreed to.
– There is an item in this list which, I think, should receive attention from honorable members. I refer to cotton seed oil, and the duty proposed to be imposed upon its introduction. I presume that so high a dutyhas been imposed upon this article because it is used considerably as an adulterant for olive oil. So far as regards the encouragement of purity in that direction, I have no objection whatever to the extent of the duty here proposed. I do think, however, that there is an incongruity when the adulterated olive oil can come in at1s. 4d. per gallon, while the cotton seed oil would have to pay 2s. There is another aspect of the question to which I desire to direct the Minister’s particular attention. After some years of experimenting, and the expenditure of a considerable sum, a process has been devised in New South Wales - I do not know whether it has been used in any of the other States - by which tallow is sufficiently refined to produce what is called “edible fat.” This edible fat is a marketable article, and in its manufacture a considerable quantity of cotton seed oil is used. It is quite true that we have expressed our opposition to “ edible fat “ going into competition with our butter in these markets, but there is a large demand for it in England, and on the continent, as a marketable article. The difference to Australia is that, whereas the finest refined tallow may bring £29 per ton, this “ edible fat “ sells at £40 per ton.
– Sells as butter?
– No, not as butter. It is not retailed by the exporters, but is simply sold on the market as “edible fat” at £40 per ton. I cannot speak from my own knowledge, but this is an article of commerce which is said to be utterly harmless as an article of consumption.
– Used as what?
– I do not know for what it is used. Do we know for what our tallow is used? American lard is said to contain the same admixture of this cottonseed oil as does this refined tallow which is described as “edible fat,”andwepropose to let American lard in at1d. per lb., while we charge nearly 3d. per lb. on cotton-seed oil. How can we say what our products are used for? I have myself observed that in London the finest quality of our tallow is refined there and used as the basis of a substitute for butter. Are we to ceaseexporting tallow or to place difficulties in the way of its exportation because it is so used ? We know that the poorer populations of Europe cannot afford to pay the prices charged for butter. They are perfectly willing to accept these edible fats, knowing them to be edible fats, and why should they not get the benefit of using them? This being so, there is an opportunity of increasing our export trade, of improving certain products of Australia, and of obtaining a much higher price for them than can be obtained for them as tallow. Why should we allow difficulties to be placed in the way of this industiy? By placing a duty of 3d. per lb, or £28 per ton, on cottonseed oil, unless some arrangements are made for giving a drawback upon the quantity of oil used in the manufacture of the fat exported, we raise the price of the finished article by some £14 per ton, and immediately destroy the business. Thousands of pounds have been spent in perfecting the processes and providing the machinery necessary to produce this article, and such an expenditure has in other instances been urged by honorable members opposite as a good reason for protecting industries. But protection is not demanded here, and the request is simply that we should not destroy this industry by our Tariff proposals. This article is never offered upon the local markets ; but while an industry of this sort has been established in New South Wales at an expenditure of thousands of pounds in machinery, and while there is a demand in Europe for the article, not as a substitute for butter, but simply as “ edible fat,” for whatever purpose it may be used, it is ridiculous for us to interfere with that industry, and destroy it. I recognise that no reductionwhich Ministers would be disposed to consider would be sufficient to meet this case, but if the duty is not to be reduced, or sufficiently reduced, could not the Minister, under his regulations, grant a drawhack, as he proposes to do in the case of other articles, on the amount of cotton seed oil that may be used in the product 1 By doing anything else Ministers would not interfere with the consumption of edible fat, which is supplied by America and other countries, and they would only say, in effect, that Australia should not take part in this trade because some of the product is used as a substitute for butter. On the same principle they should put difficulties in the way of the exportation of tallow, because, as I have witnessed in London, a considerable amount of that article is refined, and then used as a substitute for butter. So far as that kind of thing is honestly and openly done, it is perfectly legitimate and proper, and we cannot stop it. We can only prevent the Australian producers from getting the benefit of that outlet for their products, and the present prices for their articles in the markets of the world are such that every possible assistance should be given them to raise the prices of those articles. There is no question of protection in this ; it is only a question of removing by drawback the disability which this duty will impose upon the industry, and of allowing Australia to supply what is in demand in other portions of the world, and which will be supplied, and will be used practically to the same extent if Australia cannot supply it. If the duty is to remain at the figure here proposed, or even at a much lower figure, the proper way will be for the Minister to arrange that on the exportation of this “edible fat,” there shall be a drawback given upon the quantity of cotton-seed oil it contains.
– This duty upon cotton-seed oil is undoubtedly high, and it has been purposely made so because the article is not only used fraudulently, but, so far as we know, it is injurious to health. Olive oil is produced within the Commonwealth and this cotton-seed oil is absolutely put into bottles in which olive oil has been imported, and then sold as olive oil. That is undoubtedly a fraud, the oil being a less valuable article than pure olive oil, and we are informed upon expert advice that it is injurious. The honorable member for North Sydney admits that there ought to be a very high duty imposed upon it. Cottonseed oil is made very largely in America, and goes through several processes before it is exported. In these processes various chemicals are used, and amongst them caustic soda, potash, and milk of lime. These ingredients are used in refining the oil. The committee will, I hope, pause before they do what the honorable member for North Sydney asks us to do. If there is anything which more than another we have attempted to do in all our State Parliaments it is to be perfectly certain that everything exported from our States as butter, or as a substitute for butter, shall be as pure as we can possibly make it. If this is an article which, for the reasons I have mentioned, ought to be heavily taxed, surely the honorable member will see that he is asking us to do something which would not be wise in the interests of Australia. It may be that this particular industry has been established, but we all know that it is not absolutely necessary to use all these ingredients. This cotton-seed oil is used for some purpose, but I doubt whether my honorable friend will tell us that no other ingredient could be used which would answer the purpose as well. If we admit, as I think we do, that this is an article which is fraudulently used, it is one upon which we should not only put a heavy duty, but one which might very well be considered when we come to discuss later on a list of articles which ought to be prohibited.
– Would the right honorable gentleman prohibit the export of tallow ?
– I would not prohibit the export of tallow, but I would prohibit the export of anything which contains ingredients which we know are injurious, because the export of such . articles can only react injuriously upon ourselves.
– What evidence is there of its injurious nature ?
– We have evidence from our officers that it is injurious. My honorable friend admits that there ought to be a heavy duty imposed upon it for the same reason.
– That is not the question ; it is a question of the reasonableness of a drawback.
– If this were a non-injurious article there would be no reason for putting a heavy duty on it. All the evidence we can get, and all the information supplied to us, shows that this is an article the use of which we ought not to encourage. We have, therefore, proposed a heavy duty upon it, and I regret that I cannot accede to the request of the honorable member for North Sydney to facilitate the use of this article in the manufacture of “edible fat,” which will be sold by some people as butter. I think the duty ought to be carried as proposed.
– I protest against the committee confusing two things. We are dealing here with the Tariff, and we are now asked to deal with certain matters as we would deal with them in considering an adulteration Bill. Cotton-seed oil may, sometimes, be put up and sold as olive oil.
– It is almost invariably sold as olive oil.
– For the purpose of argument I assume that it is ; but is not the committee getting away from what we are here to do ? We are at present dealing with the Tariff, and not with an adulteration Bill, and all we have to consider is, whether there is such a thing as genuine cotton-seed oil. There is. Is it useful 1 It is, and it is used in thousands of cases.
– For what ?
– The honorable member will find, if he reads up the American statistics, that there are thousands of gallons of it made, and that shows the extensive use to which it is put. The committee are asked at the present time to impose a duty upon it, which, with the import charges, amounts to possibly 100 per cent. The original price of cotton-seed oil is from 2s. 3d. to 2s. 6d. per gallon. We are asked to impose a duty of 2s. per gallon upon it, and I suppose the import charges would amount to not less than fid. per gallon. The argument used is that cotton-seed oil is used in place of olive oil. Is that not rather an absurd reason to bring before this committee1! We must deal with this article on its own basis, and look at it from that point of view entirely. It seems to me that it would not be a bad thing for members of this committee to get one or two elementary lessons in chemistry, that they might learn that scientists are endeavouring to - day to make foods cheap. In spite of what has been said, I would defy honorable members to tell good cotton oil from good olive oil if both were placed before them. Fraud occurs only when an attempt is made to sell common oil for some other oil, and we cannot prevent that. If the protectionists were to have their way in regard to matters like this, they would prevent any new discoveries in chemistry.
The assertions of the Minister for Trade and Customs would convince a schoolboy that he does not understand the subject. I think Mark Twain, in his Life on the Mississippi, devotes a couple of pages to a discussion as to the use of cotton oil in America, where there was a great deal of prejudice against it 20 or 30 years ago, and the right honorable member seems to have obtained his information from that book, when he would have been much better occupied in making himself acquainted with some author on the subject of political economy. The committee are not now considering the provisions of an Adulteration Bill. We are engaged upon a Tariff, and why cannot we keep to what is before us ? No wonder that the number of lawyers is increased. The Postal Act contains a number of provisions which rightly belong to other measures, and now it is proposed to insert in the Tariff provisions which should belong to an Adulteration Act.
Mr. THOMSON (North Sydney).- I do not know of my own knowledge whether cottonseed oil or even olive oil is injurious ; but I know that edible fat mixed with cottonseed oil has been sold in England for years, and the British Adulteration Acts are the strictest in the world. If the British Government allow this article to be imported, we may be pretty sure that it is perfectly wholesome. The best refined tallow brings £29 a ton, and is largely used as a substitute for butter, but if edible fat mixed with cotton-seed oil is sent home it brings £11 per ton more.
– Why is the cottonseed oil used 1
– Because tallow during a three months’ voyage acquires a peculiar rancid flavour, which should be absent from an edible fat. This article is exported to Great Britain from the United States and from South America, so that, even if we prevent its exportation from Australia, we cannot prevent its importation into Great Britain. My complaint is this : If cotton-seed oil is imported and then exported, a drawback is allowed, but no drawback is allowed when the cotton-seed oil is exported mixed with some other substance.
– I think that the importer would be entitled to a drawback under such circumstances.
– The Minister has hitherto refused to grant drawbacks. We do not want competition between butter and edible fat in our own market, but if we do not allow this edible fat to be exported, it will be forced upon our market. The same drawback should be given when cotton-seed oil is exported mixed with some other substance as when it is exported by itself. A duty of 2s. a gallon is imposed upon cottonseed oil, but adulterated olive oil is allowed to come in on payment of a duty of ls. 4d. a gallon.
– A mixture of cotton-seed oil and olive oil would have to pay a duty of 2s. a gallon.
– If it were declared to be a mixture. Otherwise it would have to be sampled and analyzed before its composition could be discovered. I think that whatever duty is fixed upon it should be the same in both cases. That would secure the effect which is desired, and would save a great deal of trouble.
– I think that the case made outby the honorable member for North Sydney has not been answered. I could understand the position of the Treasurer if it were a practice to export edible fats as Australian butter butthat is not done, and if Ministers wish to make quite sure on the point they can require all casks containing edible fats to be branded with the name of their contents. But to undertake to supplement the Adulteration and Health Acts of Great Britain and other European countries is to take too much upon ourselves, and to inflict a severe blow upon one of our industries. Even if Australia ceases to export edible fats, they will continue to be exported from America, so that our efforts on behalf of the people of England and Europe will be abortive. We have a good export trade in edible fats, and it is quite opposed to the underlying principle of both free-trade and protection that obstacles should be placed in its way. The honorable member for North Sydney does not ask for an alteration in the proposed duty. He admits that it is necessary to do something to prevent the use of cotton-seed oil in Australia in place of the ordinary culinary and table oils. But he wishes to secure from Ministers the promise that a drawback will be granted when cotton-seed oil upon which duty has been paid is exported, whether mixed with edible fat or not. We have given protection and assistance to other industries, and why should we hinder this industry, which is likely to become more and more important as the years go by ? It is not for us to say that the use of these edible fats by the people of other countries is injurious. We can very well leave them to take care of themselves. It is no part of our duty to refuse to enter into a trade in which America and the Argentine are already very largely engaged simply because of some Quixotic notion about protecting the health of the people of European countries.
– My attention has been directed to the proposed duty of 2s. per gallon on cotton-seed oil being likely to prove somewhat injurious to the soap-making industry.
– No. On that which is methylated for soap making and similar purposes the duty is only 6d. per gallon.
– The request made by the honorable member for North Sydney, so far as the export of this article in combination with tallow is concerned, is a reasonable one, and the Government have perfect power under the Customs Act to allow a drawback. Of course, the manufacture would have to be carried out in such a way that the Government could be satisfied as to the quantity of oil which was used. As regards the oil itself, a great mistake seems to prevail. No doubt it is used as a substitute for olive oil, but it is a perfectly sweet and wholesome product, and there can be no objection to it if it is sold for what iv. is. If it is sold and used as olive oil it is a fraud, and would come under the provisions of the Adulteration of Foods Act. I fail to see how the Government are likely to quite attain their object by imposing a duty of1s. 4d. per gallon on olive oilwhich they intend to prevent cotton-seed oil being substituted for. If the article is imported in bottles, unless every parcel is examined by an analytical chemist, it is impossible to tell what it is.
– And then only if they can distinguish them.
– I am not aware if they can. It will lead to great practical inconvenience if every parcel is examined. If it is not examined, the substituted article will come in at ls. 4d. per gallon in bottles and at 2s. per gallon in bulk. That will lead to difficulties. If the duty on the two articles is assimilated there will not be an inducement to people to substitute one for the other. I suppose the duty is proposed in view of the fact that olive oil is being largely made in Australia. If it is brought in in bottles at ls. 4d. per gallon, the protection which the Ministry intend to give the article, will not be attained. There is another difficulty which has to be pointed out. According to the next paragraph, bottles are subjected to a duty of 20 per cent. If bottled oil comes in no duty is paid on the bottles, cases, and labels, whereas any one using the olive oil of South Australia or Victoria will have to pay a duty if he uses foreign bottles. There are a great variety of bottles involved. I am not prepared at the moment to say what is the best way for getting out of the difficulty; but I think that one method will be to assimilate the duties on the two articles. There is no question that one is substituted for the other in Europe, America, and Australia ; but I believe it is generally sold as salad oil, which is not necessarily olive oil, because many other oils are used for salad purposes. It may be that large quantities are sold as olive oil. “We wish, as far as possible, to remove the inducement to people to perpetrate a fraud which cam be punished under the Adulteration of Foods Act at any moment.
– The only justification which has been put forward by the Government for imposing this very high duty on cotton-seed oil is that which has been put forward by the Treasurer - that it is used fraudulently, and that it is injurious. If, as he says, it is sometimes sold for olive oil, I do not see why we ought to take that matter into consideration in connexion with the Tariff, because those who sell cottonseed oil as olive oil ought to be prosecuted in the ordinary way. And if it is injurious to the extent which the Treasurer implies that it is, then it is a matter which ought to be dealt with in the regulations under the Customs Act. Its importation ought to be prohibited. This duty will not prohibit its importation. On the contrary, the quantity that will be imported, even under this very high duty, must be very considerable. According to the estimate prepared by the officers of the Government, the proposed duty is expected to yield £6,875. Therefore the federal authorities must believe that the importation of the article must go on to a considerable extent. The Government have placed themselves in the position of getting that very large amount of revenue out of the importation of an article which the Treasurer declares to be injurious.
– A great part of that will be methylated for soap-making.
– It is a very singular thing that, if cotton-seed oil be as injurious as it is represented to be, none of the otherStates seem to have quite discovered the fact. Not one of them has had a duty nearly so high as 2s. per gallon. In New South Wales and Queensland it was admitted duty free. In South Australia - the State which is principally interested in the production of olive oil - the duty was only 6d. per gallon ; while in Tasmania it was ls. 3d. per gallon. I am told that the cost of cottonseed oil in America is from 2s. 3d. to 2s. 6d. per gallon, and the cost of carriage to Australia 6d. per gallon, so that a duty of 2s. per gallon will come to about S5 per cent. If we are going to admit this oil at all, a duty of 85 per cent, is far too high, no matter whether it is regarded from the revenue or the protectionist point of view.
– I trust that Ministers will see the wisdom of agreeing to allow a drawback, as the honorable member for North Sydney suggests, in respect of the duty paid on cotton-seed oil used in the composition of an article of export. There is a great deal of force in the point put forward by him that it lies with the consignees at the other end of the world to see that they get what they are asking for. I trust that the committee will not see fit to assimilate the duties on olive oil and cotton-seed oil, because that would be practically giving a bonus to the employment of the cheaper and nastier oil. If we subject cotton-seed oil to the same duty as olive oil, it stands to reason that the inducement to people is to use the cheaper article, and the effect will not be at all in the direction of discouraging the use of an article which, so far as I know, is very seldom sold on its own -basis commercially. Our small farmers are beginning to understand that a plantation of olives can be made of value to them for the production of oil, and we shall not for very long have to depend on outside sources for our supply. Nearly all the salad oils on the market- of course I exclude the well known brands - are made of cotton-seed oil, and by salad oil the general public understand olive oil.
– They do, and they expect to get a nutritious article which cotton-seed oil cannot be claimed to be.
– Yes, it can.
– Men who have been working with cotton-seed and other oils for various purposes for many years inform me that there is not the adulteration about the one that there is about the other.
– They are speaking of it as it was first brought in in the fifties.
– That may be so. It would be a good thing to put an even higher duty upon cotton-seed oil other than that used for soap-making. I trust the Government will at least insist upon the distinction they have made in favour of olive oil. I should prefer to see a difference made to the extent of reducing the duty on olive oil to ls. per gallon, while leaving the duty on cotton-seed oil at 2s. per gallon.
– Why should a duty equivalent to 85 per cent, be imposed?
– I should impose a duty of 185 per cent, if I could prevent it from entering into human consumption. If oil is methylated so that it cannot enter into human consumption it is admitted at a very low rate of duty, namely, 6d. per gallon, and that should meet all the requirements of those who use oil for ordinary trade purposes. The point raised by the honorable member for Mernda is well worthy of consideration. The foreign exporter is at an advantage as. compared with the local manufacturer so far as bottle supplies are concerned. Certain kinds of bottles have not been, and are not likely to be, manufactured within the Commonwealth, and upon these the local consumer has to pay a high duty, but the exporter from abroad can send in perfumery, essences, tinctures, or even oils, and pay no duty upon the bottles in which the liquids are contained. This was an old-established grievance amongst a certain class of manufacturers under all the State Tariffs. In the free-trade port of Sydney we were able to manufacture certain goods, put them up in bottles, and send them into Queensland and Western Australia at a distinct advantage, because our bottles were free of duty, whilst the local manufacturers of the same commodities had to pay duty upon every bottle they used. That is a lefthanded way of encouraging native industries.
– There was a duty in Victoria upon bottles used as packages for imported goods.
– I was not aware of that; but I am sure that there was no such duty imposed in Western Australia or Queensland, because I was a member of a firm which sent frequent consignments into those States. We were not able to compete in the Victorian market, because the spirit duties were too much in favour of the local manufacturer. If there is to be a duty on bottles, every bottle, whether it contains a liquid or not, should be subject to duty. I hope the Government will consider this matter, because otherwise they will find that they are placing a large proportion of our manufacturers at a disadvantage as compared with their competitors abroad.
– We shall be opening up the whole question of the taxation of packages.
– All packages are not on the same plane. The material of which wooden packages are made would probably not be subject to any duty. If we compel the local manufacturer to pay a duty on the bottles used by him, we should not allow his competitor to send in bottles free.
– I cannot agree with the honorable member for Bland that a duty should be imposed upon all bottles, irrespective of whether they are empty or used as packages for imported goods. If we did as the honorable member suggests I do not know where we should stop. If we impose a duty upon the packages in which imported goods are contained as well as upon the goods themselves, we shall inflict great injury upon the revenue. We have already had communications from all parts of the Commonwealth protesting against the imposition of a duty upon packages, and I hope the Government will take these into consideration. I do not see that there can be any objection to the proposed duty on cotton-seed oil. I trust the Government will take into consideration the point raised by the honorable member for North Sydney, because we should encourage exports in every possible way.
– I think the Government will probably accede to the suggestion made by the honorable member for North Sydney with reference to drawbacks, because that matter stands upon such a footing that it should present no difficulty. The manufacture of edible fat is in itself perfectly harmless. Some millions of people in European and other countries are too poor to buy butter, and they knowingly buy edible fat as a cheap substitute.
An Honorable Member. - It is very difficult to tell the difference.
– That is where the trouble comes in.
– But if poor people cannot afford to buy butter, we surely do not want to prevent them from procuring edible fat as a cheap substitute. I remember when I was a youngster - and doubtless other honorable members have a similar recollection - that we ate a fair amount of bread and dripping, and it did not do us much harm. That was edible fat, and surely we should not discourage the export of fat in a refined state. If there is any fraud committed in connexion with the sale of the article in some foreign country, surely that country may be left to look after its internal government. The ambitious spirit of the Minister for Trade and Customs will find sufficient occupation in squaring the financial returns with the Treasury, without bothering himself about what they do in countries 12,000 miles away. It would be absurd to interfere with the operations of Australian industry here on the basis of some anxiety for people somewhere else, who can very well look after themselves. I have no doubt, therefore, that that matter will be put right. I understand that cotton-seed oil is an article which can be used honestly for a number of purposes, although I believe that frauds are practised in connexion with its use. There again, is a subject that has a great deal more to do with some other Act than with the Tariff Act. I do not desire to attack those honorable members who wish incidentally so to shape the Tariff as to “prevent fraud. I do not see anything to object to in that. From all I can hear, large quantities of cotton-seed oil are used for a purpose which has not yet been mentioned, namely, in the operations of those who sell fried fish.
– The fish are supposed to be fried in olive oil.
– Yes ; but I understand that two-thirds of the oil used for frying fish is cotton-seed oil. I am afraid that in Our endeavour to follow the manipulation of imported articles we shall only land the unfortunate public in a greater difficulty by causing those who now use cotton-seed oil to substitute a still more objectionable article. China nut oil, which is subject to only a low rate of duty, could be used for some of the purposes to which cotton-seed oil is now applied, but it would not be anything like so good. We shall have to undertake a very big contract if in passing the Tariff we try to deal with this trouble. As long as the point mentioned by the honorable member for North Sydney, with reference to drawbacks, is attended to, the main object of this debate will have been served.
– I think we shall do well to be very careful in dealing with butter substitutes, or with substitutes for any of our staple products. It will be admitted that some parts of Australia may be described as a second Palestine - a land of corn, wine, and oil. It is difficult for me to omit recollecting at this moment that I have the honour to represent a State which has acquired a very considerable reputation in connexion with the production of olive oil. I believe there are other parts of Australia equally well adapted for the production of this excellent article, and I look forward to our being able at an early date to meet all local requirements in the way of edible oils. Cotton-seed oil has been attacked in a variety of ways, and I confess that I have been taught to think that in many respects it lends itself to fraud, and that we often get it when we do not expect it. I believe that there are good reasons for believing that under certain circumstances its use is deleterious. I wish to especially address myself to the whole question from an agricultural point of view - from the point of view of dairy farmers and others. Of course our agricultural resources are of the greatest importance, and what I am afraid of is that in endeavouring to get a small market for butter substitutes we may incur a huge loss as regards butter itself. At the present moment Australia enjoys a verv fair reputation foi- butter, and I believe that, as time goes on, we are likely - by the adoption of more careful methods than those which have hitherto been adopted - to improve that reputation. The higher our reputation in connexion with the manufacture of an article for the production of which Australia is so eminently suited, the greater will be the financial reward of those who engage in an industry of the character to which I have referred. It is of the utmost importance that we should strive, in every conceivable way, to increase our reputation as a butter-producing country. We know that the production of butter has been a great stand-by and a magnificent source of assistance to our farmers at various periods when they were urgently in need of it. Why is it that Australian wines enjoy such a high reputation ? It is because we do all that we can for the purpose of preventing their adulteration. They are said to be pure, and I believe they are. Hitherto Australia has never had its name associated with oleomargarine–
– This is not oleomargarine.
– It is something very like it. When people in the old country buy Australian butter they know that they are getting butter. Would one of us willingly purchase a substitute? Would we, instead of getting a smaller quantity of real butter, purchase a larger quantity of fat and cotton-seed oil? The very idea of the thing is repulsive. These butter substitutes can be palmed off upon the people as butter. I have a letter in my hand bearing upon this very question. The matter is put as follows : -
I take the liberty of bringing before you an industry that has reached great dimensions in England, America, and the continent of Europe. The incidence of the present Tariff makes this manufacture impossible in Australia. Emulsions. - A hard ox and mutton fat when emulsified with American edible cotton-seed oil produces soft oleos. These soft butter substitutes go to South Africa in hundreds of tons. There is also a demand for them in the East, in fact they are now in universal demand everywhere.
– That does not prevent the demand.
– The writer points out how it is possible for Australia to participate in this trade. What would be the result of our doing so ? Either we should engage in it secretly, or we should do so openly, and thus have our reputation for the production of excellent butter mixed up with the rather discomforting reflection and criticism that we were indulging considerably in the manufacture of butter substitutes, and were supplying those who think that they are getting butter with cottonseed oil and tallow. I trust that our name will never be associated with anything of the sort. It would work great injury to our reputation as exporters of pure butter, and any amount of revenue which might be derived from such a source would be as nothing compared with the loss that would be sustained by those engaged in the production of the genuine article. We have already dealt with a somewhat similar matter in the Customs Act. In that measure the importation of oleomargarine, butterine, Ac, is prohibited. We practically say that we will protect Australian stomachs and constitutions against the baneful results caused by the consumption of these deleterious articles. We declare that we will prevent our people from being imposed upon, and that our farmers shall not be brought into competition with artificial articles of this sort.
– The Ministry are not going to stop that by the adoption of their present proposals.
– It is one thing to stop it and another thing to facilitate it. I ask’ the committee to consider whether it is not wise to encourage the production of the genuine article, and if it would not be a mistake to mix up trade of that description with the manufacture of a spurious article which often imposes upon people, with the possibility of results such as I have already referred to ?
Mr. THOMSON (North Sydney).- If after the clear exposition which was given of the point at issue, the Minister for Trade and Customs looks at the matter in that 1,vav I almost tremble for his administration of the Customs department. He states that we have prevented Australian citizens from using oleomargarine. We have done nothing of the sort. There is nothing in the Customs Act to prevent all our citizens from being supplied with oleomargarine. All we have done is to declare that oleomargarine shall not be imported into the Commonwealth except under certain conditions. But it can be made in every State of the Union. It is being made to’ some extent at the present time.
– It is being made, I understand, to a small extent in New South Wales. This fact evidences the inaccuracy of the statement made by the Minister. Nothing has been done to prevent the local production of oleomargarine or to interfere with its exportation. It can be manufactured and it can be used by Australians in spite of anything that the Minister may do. Edible fat has been produced to supply the demand which exists in Great Britain and on the con- tinent of Europe. The Minister for Trade and Customs is altogether wrong in declaring that edible fat as such is sold as a substitute for butter. It is simply the base of that substitute, and if the edible fat is not used as a base what is? The best refined tallow, which is another of our exports. Are we going to say - “ “We shall not refine tallow to the highest degree of perfection and export it, lest we should damage the reputation enjoyed by Australian butter?” Yet that is what the Minister coolly puts before the committee as a reason why we should not export edible fat. By adopting the course suggested by him we shall not reduce its consumption one iota. Even if we do not supply it, it will still be supplied by the United States and the Argentine Republic. I am told that there is a very large outlet for this article in India. Even if refined tallow were not used there, butter would not be used. The consumers there know its constituents, as they have to consider the ingredients of which certain articles are made, on account of their religion and caste. Its use is preferred in many cases because it stands the climate better. Whilst we allow a drawback upon other articles, and will permit oleomargarine - which is a complete butter substitute - to be exported, are we going to say “ We will not allow any drawback upon cotton seed oil which is portion of this edible fat “ ? If this article supplies a, good and wholesome purpose, and if it is in demand by people in different parts of the world who know what it is, why not permit our folk to supply ? The Minister has shown no good reason for refusing to grant a drawback upon this article, and I hope that he will reconsider the matter. From my business knowledge, I assert that he is acting upon a wrong principle.
– I have only a word or two to say as to the mode in which these things are manufactured. The writer, to whom I have referred already, puts the matter in this way -
Emulsions. - A hard ox and mutton fat, when emulsified with American edible cotton -seed oil, produces soft oleos. These soft butter substitutes go to South Africa in hundreds of tons.
Mr. JOSEPH COOK (Parramatta).- In dealing with the duty on olive oil, I am going to take the Minister for Trade and Customs at his word. He has argued that we ought to impose a heavy duty on cottonseed oil for the reason that it is used in the manufacture of adulterated substances which are very injurious to our trade when used as substitutes for Australian butter. Another reason urged by him for the imposition of the duty was that cotton-seed oil came in here as a substitute for olive oil, and was used by people under the impression that they were using olive oil. It has been put to the committee that that is a very wrong practice. I believe that olive oil is much superior to cotton-seed oil, and it is with a view to foster the use of the former, and to supply a motive for the use of olive oil, that I propose to strike out the duty upon it. That will lead to a strict examination on the part of the Customs department, and to the “ policeing “ of these oils, with the result that the people will obtain the pure article. On the very grounds upon which the Minister urged the imposition of a heavy duty on cotton-seed oil, I move -
That the words “and on and after 1 19th February, 1902, free,” be added to the duty “ Olive, per gallon, ls. 4d.”
– The Government know, as every one knows, that they are proposing a duty on olive oil at a higher rate than that which has existed in any of the States save South Australia. Under the old State Tariffs, the duty on olive oil was 6d. per gallon in Victoria, and ls. per gallon in Queensland, ls. 3d. per gallon - a very high duty imposed for revenue purposes upon this and all other oils - in Tasmania.’ In Western Australia and New South Wales no duty was imposed. We understand that the increased duty is proposed for protective purposes : but there is no reason for protecting that which is protected already by nature. Just as it is impossible for India to import from Europe any oil which can be compared for one moment with that which is manufactured locally, so is it impossible for the Commonwealth to import oil equal to the local product. The oil imported by these States is not able to stand the long sea voyage from Europe, and is more or less rancid when it arrives here. Olive oil is manufactured in the Commonwealth, and if it cannot compete with that imported from Italy, Spain, or elsewhere, which suffers the natural disadvantages to which I have referred, the industry ought not to be assisted. If a duty of 6d., or even 9d., per gallon were imposed for revenue purposes, it would be all sufficient : and the amendment of the Tariff in that way would remove an additional blot from it.
Sir JOHN QUICK (Bendigo).- I hope that the Ministry will stand by this duty. It is justifiable not only on the ground that it will raise revenue : but also because it will tend to encourage and promote the production of native olive oil. For many years past scientists and others have been advocating the cultivation of the olive in Australia. They have advised orchardists and cultivators generally that the olive should grow in certain parts of Australia just as well as it does in certain parts of Europe. The result has been that the olive has been and is being cultivated successfully in South Australia aa well as in various parts of Victoria.
– Also in Western Australia.
– In Western Australia as well as in New South Wales, so that it may fairly be claimed that the olive has been acclimatized here. As the result of its cultivation vast quantities of oil have been produced in Australia, under local conditions and subject to local rates of wages, but it has had to compete with rancid oils from foreign countries, imported in large quantities, and sold at very low rates.
– What is the total manufacture of olive oil in Australia 1
– The honorable member ought to be particularly interested in justifying this duty, because no State will benefit by it to such an extent as will South Australia. I believe that the duty is justified on the ground of the protection which it will afford Australian cultivators of the olive. In time, perhaps, they will be able, to compete with the imported article ; meanwhile this duty will steady the market, and keep out inferior olive oil imported from the old world, which does not tend to popularize the consumption of that article but rather to disgust the public taste. If the attention of the public is directed to the pure olive oil of Australia, and that article has a fair field, unembarrassed by cheap products from the old world, the industry may become thoroughly established here, with the result that millions of money will be placed in the pockets of Australian cultivators.
– This is one of the few duties proposed by the Government which I shall support. I certainly regard it as a revenue duty which is incidentally protective, and I should be very glad to support the Government if they introduced a few more proposals of the same kind.
– Another free-trader gone wrong.
– I object to that observation, because when I was before the electors I stated distinctly that I took up the position held by the leader of the Opposition ; that I would have a humane regard for existing industries. I consider that the duty on olive oil relates to an industry for which we ought to show some consideration, and, as it is also a revenue-producing duty, I think there is very little in it to which objection can be taken.
Mr. KIRWAN (Kalgoorlie).- I shall support the amendment. I believe in consistently following out any policy that one adopts, and in adhering to that policy, irrespective of how it may affect the interests of any individuals whom an honorable member may represent. I am in favour of olive oil being placed upon the free list, or, at any rate, of the proposed duty being reduced very much. I would draw the attention of the committee to the fact that, with one exception, the duty is higher than that which existed under any of the State TarifFs. No duty has been imposed upon olive oil either in New South Wales or in Western Australia. In Victoria the duty was only 6d. per gallon, while in Queensland it was ls. per gallon. In South Australia there was a duty of 2s. per gallon. South Australia is the chief producer of olive oil, and as it supplies most of the oil required by the other States, I fail to see that there is any necessity for this duty. Therefore I shall vote in favour of the amendment.
Mr. JOSEPH COOK (Parramatta).- To bring the duty into line with the previous Victorian Tariff, and with the duty proposed to be imposed upon the other oils mentioned below it in this Tariff, I move -
That the words “and on and after 19th February, 1902, 6d.” be added to the duty, “ olive, per gai., ls. 4d.”
Question - That the words proposed to be added be so added - put. The committee divided -
Question so resolved in the negative.
– I desire to draw the attention of the committee to the duty proposed upon castor oil, which, in its unrefined state, is largely used as a lubricant. I am satisfied that the Minister for Trade and Customs, in his love for everything pertaining to protection, and particularly as applied to the machinery industries, will not be prepared to place those industries at a disadvantage. Castor oil is not made in Australia, so that there is no local industry to be encouraged by the duty proposed, or to be destroyed by its reduction. The value of castor oil at the port of shipment, India, is 2s. 3d. per gallon. The import expenses amount to ls. per gallon, and Ministers propose a duty of 6d. per gallon. The ad valorem duty here proposed is equivalent to 22^ per cent., and the import expenses are equivalent to 45 per cent. The ad valorem duty proposed and the import expenses amount together to something like 68 per cent, upon the value of the article.
In its unrefined state castor oil competes with mineral oils. It is well known that vegetable oils are a better lubricant for machinery than are mineral oils. But if honorable members will look at the list they will find that the duty placed on mineral oils for lubricating purposes is only 3d. per gallon.
– But the same rate per cent.
– I do not suppose it was the intention of the Ministry, but as it stands the Tariff simply offers a premium to the Standard Oil Trust. They sell mineral oils in Australia for lubricating purposes, and under this Tariff they are given an advantage of 3d. per gallon in competition with this vegetable oil in its unrefined state. I mention this matter in the interests of a large section of the people whom I represent, who have to use lubricating oils very largely, and who prefer to use castor oil if they can get it. I will allow other members of the committee, better able to speak upon sentimental lines, to show that castor oil is really the medicine of the poor. Surely under these circumstances Ministers will not be prepared to insist upon such a high duty upon this article, seeing that it is not made in Australia.
– AVith the exception of the duty upon linseed oil these are practically revenue duties. Linseed can be grown here and linseed oil can be made here, although up to the present it has not been made to any very great extent. We have allowed lubricating mineral oils to be introduced at a lower rate because they are very largely used in connexion with all classes of machinery. The value of those oils is, of course, less than the value of the oils referred to here. These are items out of which we may expect a very reasonable amount of revenue. The honorable member for Dalley estimates the duty at 22 per cent. The rate, as given to us by experts, is about 20 per cent, on both classes of oils, and I think it can hardly be said that that is a very high rate of duty. Kerosene we propose to deal with separately, but honorable members will see from the figures supplied that under this item we expect to receive in revenue from £70,000 to £SO,000. I fail to see that any argument has been brought forward to justify a reduction of the dutv here proposed.
Mr. BATCHELOR (South Australia).I was going to put it to the right honorable Treasurer whether 20 per cent, is not a pretty stiff revenue duty. Castor oil is an exceedingly good lubricant. Colza oil is an illuminant ; linseed oil is another lubricating oil, and raw and boiled it is really the raw material for most mixed paints. I therefore put it to the Treasurer whether he is not asking rather too much in the duty he proposes on linseed oil. In looking at the Tariff lists of the States, I see that in nearly all of them the duty was 6d. per gallon.
– I omitted to mention that. In one State it was ls., and in another ls. 3d.
– That is so; and the duty here proposed is not higher than has been placed upon these articles hitherto. At the same time I think we do not need to put a duty of 20 per cent, upon an article which is the painter’s raw material, especially as the question of protection does not come in.
– It does with regard to linseed.
– There is very little linseed oil made here, and the Treasurer would be acting wisely in agreeing to a reduction of this duty.
Mr. JOSEPH COOK (Parramatta).China oil is used by miners, and by most people who work underground, for illuminating purposes. Miners use this China oil in the small lamps which are attached to their hats.
– Can the honorable member say how much one of those lamps will hold and for how long it will burn 1
– The miners have to replenish their lamps five or six times during a shift. This is a very expensive item indeed to the miner, and he resorts to some strange shifts at times to avoid the expense of purchasing China oil. He sometimes makes up a compound of fat for himself, which is a very poor substitute for China oil. This oil is not made here but is imported, as its name indicates, from China.
Mr. WILKS (Dalley).- The Treasurer practically admits the correctness of my figures as regards the percentage of the duty upon castor oil, since he puts it at 20 per cent., whereas I put it at 22 per cent. The expense of importation, however, is 45 per cent. Castor oil is the most useful and effective lubricant that we have, but since the duty upon mineral oil is only 3d., that oil will compete with it unfairly.
– Mineral oil is morelargely used than castor oil.
– On linseed oil the ad valorem duty is equal to IS per cent., while the expenses of importation amount to 33 per cent. I believe that the honorablemember for Gippsland and the honorable member for Mernda have both attempted tomanufacture linseed oil in Victoria under a bonus, but without success, and that at the present time neither linseed oil nor castor oil is manufactured in the Commonwealth. Therefore, it is not necessary to impose a. protective duty for the assistance or protection of a local industry.
– As linseed oil is the raw material of the painter, I agree with the honorable member for South Australia, Mr. Batchelor, that a revenue duty of 15 per cent, will be quite high enough to place upon it.
Mr. G. B. EDWARDS (South Sydney).All these oils are the raw materials of various industries. Castor oil is the best lubricant we have, while the other oils are largely used in paint-making and in other industries, and the duty upon them will prove very oppressive to those engaged in those industries. I therefore move -
That the words, “and on and after 19th February, .1902, 3d.,” be added to the duty, “Castor, China, Colza …. per gallon, 6d. “
– As they will not injure any manufacturer within the Commonwealth by making this concession, I think the Government might very well agree to the reduction.
– There is no question of protection or free-trade involved here ; it is simply a matter of revenue. In Tasmania there was a duty of ls. 3d. upon oils of every description, and, while I am aware that oils were free in New South Wales, I am of opinion that, unhappily, our requirements are such that we cannot follow the splendid example of that State in this matter.
– Personally I do not favour purely revenue duties, and although I know that the proposed duty of 6d. per gallon upon linseed affects the varnishing and painting industries, I feel that the Government must obtain money from some source. Honorable members, when they come to look into some figures which I hope to supply to them in the course of a few days, will find that both Queensland and Tasmania’ require as much assistance as we can give them. Formerly, the duty upon these oils was1s. in Queensland,1s. 3d. in Tasmania, and 6d. in theother States, with the exception of New South Wales. That fact has actuated us in fixing the duties at 6d., and 3d. upon mineral oils, which are morelargely used in our industries. The proposed rate is not unreasonable, and, even if it is agreed to, both Queensland and Tasmania will be affected to some extent, so that I trust that the committee will reject the amendment.
– It is all very well to talkabout the revenue, but this duty has a protective incidence, and as the proposed duty upon mixed paints is 15 per cent, and1s. per cwt., the oil used in those paints will come in nearly as cheaply as pure oil. The best protection that we can give to an industry is to allow those engaged in it to obtain the materials they require as cheaply as possible.
– I think that the committee will do well to retain the duty. I have received information from manufacturers in Melbourne approving of a duty of 6d. per gallon, and I am informed by the Victorian Varnish Company, of Melbourne and Sydney, that the duty should not be increased, but that if it is increased they would like a reduction in the duty upon varnishes and paints, which shows that they are satisfied with the present duty.
Question - That the words, “and on and after 19th February, 1902, 3d.,” be added to the duty. “ Castor, China, Colza…… per gallon, 6d.” - put. The committee divided - Ayes … … … 22
Question so resolved in the negative.
– I wish China oil to be placed on the free list. It is used largely by coal miners.
– It is used for other purposes.
– Colza oil is, but China oil is used almost wholly by coal miners. If it is admitted duty free, it will not make any difference to any State except New South Wales, and perhaps Victoria. The revenue could not suffer to any material extent. Although the tax is insignificant from the stand-point of the continent as a whole, still it is very severe on the miners.
– What quantity would a miner use?
– I suppose he would use a gallon a week. I ask the Minister to consent to place China oil on the free list.
– The officers say that more than half of it is used for other purposes.
– Have they ascertained the figures for New South Wales ?
– That is the information they give on the spur of the moment.
– There is hardly any China oil used here except in New South Wales.
– I have not sufficient evidence at present to justify the statement that it is not used for other purposes than coal-mining. The information has been given by the officer on the spur of the moment. While he has a good general knowledge, he may make a mistake in regard to its use in States with which he is not so familiar as he is with Victoria. I shall ascertain the whole quantity that is imported, and see what other purposes, if any, it is used for. If I find that a very large quantity is used for the purpose the honorable member mentions, I think we might assist the coal-miners to that extent by omitting the item later on.
– What about colza oil?
– That is largely used for mining purposes, I know. With regard to kerosene and one or two of the items here, I am obtaining, the fullest and most reliable information I can as to the actual receipts on each line of the Tariff in each State. I have had considerable difficulty in getting information from Western Australia, the officers there being so far away, and misunderstanding what was required. I shall not have the information for perhaps a week or ten days. As soon as it is received it will be circulated, so that honorable members may be in a position to see how the revenue from each item is coming in, and we shall then deal as quickly as possible with two or three items which are postponed, such as kerosene. In the meantime, I ask the committee to deal with only “ lubricating (mineral) “ and “ mineral n.e.i.”
– I believe that lubricating oil is absolutely necessary for all machinery, and is used almost entirely for that purpose.
– It is only half the price of the other oil, and it is only subject to half the duty. We took that into consideration in fixing the duty at 3d. per gallon.
– It is an article which I should like to see, if not put on the free list, subjected to as small a duty as possible, because it is one of those oils out of which the users never get anything. The rope-makers and the tanners get paid for the oils they use in the price of the rope or the leather they sell. I am told that the rope-maker pays altogether for the oil he uses in making his rope about £18 per ton, and gets £80 per ton for the oil in the rope he sells. The tanners get paid in the same way for the oil they put into the leather. In this case, however, ‘the users get only the immediate use of the oil in the
I machinery. In Victoria some years ago, five or six I believe, there was a duty of 1 6d. per gallon. It was found that it did no I good, but did some harm, and it was re- pealed.
– It must have been j a long time ago. j Sir Malcolm McEacharn. - Not so long ago. 1 Mr. REID. - My information is that it is I not so long since it was repealed. It was found that it was a hindrance instead of a benefit, and the State Parliament took off the duty. I shall be very glad if the Government can do something liberal in that line.
– I was going to make use of the very” remarks which the leader of the Opposition has addressed to the committee. I would advocate either that the article should be admitted free, or that the duty should be reduced. In Victoria the article was duty free before the Federal Tariff was introduced. The duty was taken off, I understand, in the interests of protection. The imported lubricating oil was compounded with Victorian animal oils, and I am informed that the effect of the imposition of this duty has been to take away from Victoria the trade we had in Tasmania. The railways in Tasmania always took this oil from us in the past, but will not take it now in consequence of this duty. It is a matter which might well be inquired into. I feel sure that there is information that the Treasurer has not got which might be useful to him.
– I had the information, but it is a very small matter.
– It is a considerable matter to those who have got industries established, and who have hitherto had the trade of the adjoining States. I ask the Minister whether he cannot make the article free, or agree to some reduction of the duty.
– This duty, although it is imposed for revenue purposes, is undoubtedly a burden on the industry. That is a cry which ought to attract the attention of protectionists. The duty amounts to from 20 to 50 per cent, on the value of the article. Mineral oils for lubricating purposes are by-products of the kerosene-making industry. They are imported from the United States, and sold by the Standard Oil Trust. I trust that the
Ministers will see their way clear to reduce the duty.
– I wish to draw the attention of the Ministers to the incidence of the Tariff in connexion with the item “ mineral n.e.i.” It includes an article which is undoubtedly going to be very generally used in the near future. I refer to what is called crude oil or liquid fuel.
– Notice has been given to exempt that article. We shall raise no objection to its being placed on the free list.
– I am glad to hear that statement from the Treasurer. Judging from the experiments which have been made in the old world, I look upon crude oil as the coming fuel. We ought to facilitate its use in every way.
– What about our coal mines in New South Wales ? I want them protected.
– It is the cheapest fuel we can get.
– Cocoanut oil is largely used.
-It comes under the next item - “ n.e.i.”
-I wish it to be placed under this heading so as to be subject to a duty of threepence instead of sixpence per gallon, because it is largely used in the manufacture of soap and other articles.
– We are admitting the copra free for the purpose of manufacturing it.
– We are making the oil in Balmain.
– Some of the soapmakers consider that if this raw material was not dutiable before, it should not be dutiable now.
– After the announcement made by the Treasurer that it is intended to put on the free list crude mineral oil, such as is used for fuel, some statement ought to be made regarding the intentions of the Government in respect to kerosene. I see no reason why mineral oil used for illuminating purposes should not be treated upon the same footing as is mineral oil intended to be used as fuel. I hope the Ministry will put kerosene on the free list and thus make a valuable concession to the people throughout the country, and particularly the farmers and miners, who have to use it as an illuminant.
– I hope that the appeal made from both sides of the committee will have some weight with the Government, and that thev will agree to a reduction of the duty.
Sir MALCOLM McEACHARN (Melbourne). - I would urge the Government to reduce the duty to 2d. Lubricating oils go entirely to waste, and as they are used very largely in mining and other operations, the duty should be reduced to as low a figure as possible. If the duty of 3d. per gallon is retained, it will do great injury to the industries in which it is largelv used.
– We have already determined that castor oil and other similar oils shall be subject to a duty of 6d. per gallon, or at the rate of 20 per cent., and I am told that a duty of 3d. per gallon upon these lubricating oils would represent about the same percentage ad valorem. Surely the industries in which these oils are used are not in such a bad state that the difference between 2d. and 3d. per gallon would be a matter of any great importance to them.
– These oils are used to a far greater extent than is castor oil.
– And they are much cheaper, and are subject to a much lower rate of duty. Either these oils should be subject to a duty of 3d. per gallon, or should be admitted free.
Amendment (by Mr. Joseph Cook) proposed -
That the words, “per gallon 3d., and on and after the 1.9bh February, 1902, free,” be inserted after the words, “Mineral, n.e.i.”
– Since the Minister for Trade and Customs has £500,000 more of revenue than has the Treasurer, I would appeal to him to make the concession asked for.
– I am glad that the right honorable gentleman has referred to that matter, as it gives me an opportunity of explaining to the committee that there is no truth whatever in the statement which has appeared in the press. It is an invention of the enemy - of the conservative portion of the press.
– The revenue we expect to derive from the duty on these oils is £20,000, and if the committee are prepared to deprive us of that source of revenue, I cannot help it.
Question - That the words “per gallon 3d., and on and after 19th February, 1902, free,’” be inserted after the words “Mineral, n.e.i.” - put.
The committee divided -
Question so resolved in the negative.
Amendment (Sir Malcolm McEacharn) - put -
That the words “per gallon 3d., and on and after 19th February, 1902, per gallon 2d.,” be inserted after the words “ Mineral, n.e.i.”
The committee divided -
Question so resolved in the negative.
Motion (by Sir George Turner) agreed to-
That the consideration of the duty “and kerosene, per gallon, 3d.,” be postponed.
– I would direct the attention of the committee to the fact that palm oil and cocoanut oil, both of which are largely used in the manufacture of soap, will, under the proposal of the Government, be taxed to the extent of 6d. per gallon, whilst other oils, n.e.i., will be required to pay only 3d. per gallon. As the Sunlight Soap Company, in Sydney, is the only company which manufactures palm and cocoanut oils, the adoption of the Government proposal will practically compel all competitors to purchase from that firm. Therefore the duty should be reduced to 3d. per gallon.
– It is the same rate as operates in the case of vegetable oils.
Item, as amended, agreed to.
Item S1 - Paints and Colours, viz. : -
Ground, in liquid, partly or wholly prepared for use,1s. per cwt. and 15 per cent, ad valorem.
Colours Dry, Dry White Lead, and Patent Dryers and Putty, per cwt.1s.
– I move-
That the words “and on and after 19th
February, 1902,1s.” be added.
My object in submitting this amendment is to destroy the composite character of the proposed duty. I would point out to the committee that under the Tariff which formerly operated in New South Wales, paints and colours were admitted free. In Victoria, where a duty was applicable to everything from white lead to paints in tins for household purposes, the system has been anything but a success. Indeed, it has been an abject failure. That the effort to encourage the manufacture of white lead has been a failure in this State, is proved bythe fact that to-day it is being made only in small quantities by Messrs. Lewis and Whitty. Honorable members are also aware that the Messrs. Patterson, who claim to have discovered material upon their property suitable for the making of paints and colours, received a subsidy from the Victorian Government. Despite this encouragement, however, the industry has collapsed, and the Government has seized the machinery. The imposition of the proposed duty upon anti-fouling and anticorrosive paints, which are used for painting the bottoms of ships, will directly affect the employment of several thousand men.
– Surely they do not find their own paints.
– No, the paints are found for them. But the point is that in Eastern ports, where labour is cheap, these paints are admitted free. The result of the imposition of the proposed duty will be that ships will not undergo repairs within the Commonwealth, but will proceed to Eastern countries and be docked there. If the Minister for Trade and Customs is not prepared to concede all that I ask, I hope that he will consent to the payment of a drawback upon anti-fouling and anti-corrosive paints when they are used in connexion with shipping. Australia does not produce either white lead or colours, and I would point out that upon the poorer classes of paints, which cost 10s. per cwt., the proposed composite duty would work out at about 38s. 6d.
– When the honorable member tells us that the poorer article costs 10s. per cwt., the composite duty cannot represent more than 25 per cent.
– I would strongly urge the Government to discard the composite duty, although I cannot go the length proposed by the honorable member for Dalley, because I know that those who are chiefly interested in this matter would be satisfied with the Victorian duty of 2s. and 4s. per cwt. I would point out to the Minister that steamers like the Kalgoorlie have to be docked every six months. To paint the vessel I have mentioned absorbs 14½ cwt. of material,which costs £78 18s. 7d. Under the Tariff which formerly operated in Victoria the duty upon that material was £2 18s.; but under the present Tariff it represents no less a sum than £1211s. 3d.
– What sort of paint is used?
– It is a composite paint which is not manufactured here.
– The duty may be high on some very valuable article not much used.
– The composition to which I refer is used very considerably in painting all ships that are docked here. In the case of anti-corrosive composition - I am referring entirely to paints that are not manufactured here - the old Victorian duty was 4s. per cwt. The present duty is 14s. 6d. per cwt., an increase of 10s. 6d. per cwt. On anti-fouling composition there is an increase of18s. 6d. per cwt., the proposed duty being £1 2s. 6d. per cwt., as against the former duty of 4s. per cwt. On water-line composition the duty is £111s., as against 4s. under the old Tariff, an increase of £1 7s. per cwt. Let me say in dealing with these particular items that, if these enormous increases of duty are imposed, steamers will not be docked and painted here. Therefore, while the States themselves are spending money in providing largely increased docking accommodation, the Federal Government will be doing what they can to drive away from our ports ships requiring to be painted and repaired. I think therefore that I have made out a very good case.
– For reducing the duty to ls. per cwt. t
– I ann not advocating the reduction of. the duty to ls. per cwt. If I have anything to bring forward I endeavour always to put it before the committee fairly. I do not advocate a reduction to ls. per cwt., because those interested would he perfectly satisfied if a duty were imposed similar to that which prevailed under the Victorian Tariff. The majority of the articles on which this heavy duty is to be collected are used in the manufacture of paints. Take white lead, for example, which is not made here.
– The honorable member is wrong ; it is made here.
– The duty on white lead is only ls. per cwt.
– It is explained that -
White lead, which is the largest item in the oil and colour trade, and is practically the basis of all prepared paints, is not manufactured in any of the States, although it was recently announced in one of the Melbourne dailies that a company was formed in April, 1900, for the purpose. So far its manufacture is not on the market, and past experience of white lead manufacture in the various colonies does not induce any hope of its success.
– What does the honorable member say is the value of white lead 1
– It used to be about £18 per ton; 1 do not know what it is now. I am making this appeal for the painting trade generally, and especially in regard to the particular compositions that are used for the painting of ships.
– What docs the honorable member say is the average price of the compositions required for the painting of ships 1 sir malcolm mceacharn.-
Twelve cwts. cost £54 10s. ; those are actual figures taken from actual payments. Quite apart from the fact that a composite duty is objectionable - and I said at the outset that I should vote against composite duties - I would urge the Government to do away with it, and fix a duty that will be acceptable to all parties concerned. The Government have before them the example of the rate under the old Victorian Tariff, which was 2s. and 4s. per cwt.
– The proposal as I understand it is simply to have a fixed duty of ls. per cwt. on these articles. It has been pointed out that some of the paints embraced by this item are of very great value, but the Government worked on an average of about 30s. per cwt. A fixed duty of ls. per cwt. upon that value would be about 3 per cent., and the addition of 15 per cent. ad valorem makes an average duty of IS per cent. We certainly think that an average duty of 18 per cent, is not unreasonable on articles such as these. If we were to take off the fixed duty of ls. per cwt, and leave the impost at 15 per cent, ad valorem, the duty would still be very heavy on the class of paints to which the honorable member for Melbourne refers. The fixed duty of ls. therefore makes practically no difference. The proposal to have only a dutv of ls. per cwt. is something to which we cannot agree. If we fixed only an ad valorem duty of 15 or 20 per cent, the impost would still be high on the class of paints referred to by the honorable member for Melbourne. Such a course would not get over the difficulty suggested by him. Seeing the way in which the prices of these goods vary, it. seems to me that this is one of the class of articles to which we may very fairly apply a composite duty. At the same time I do not want to do anything that would drive work away from any of the States. We must oppose the amendment, but any other reasonable suggestion might be considered by us.
Mr. WILKS (Dalley). - My proposition would destroy this composite duty. I suggested before the adjournment for tea that we should leave the fixed duty of ls. per cwt., and abolish the 15 per cent, ad valorem duty. Reasons had been given by various speakers why this should be done, and I suggested that the Government should be satisfied with a specific duty. Under the old Victorian Tariff, the duty was 2s. per cwt.
– No; 4s. and 2s. per cwt.
– So far as New South Wales is concerned, I would point out that the paints referred to by the honorable member for Melbourne, are used only for j the painting of ships. They are patent I preparations, and are very expensive. The ; composite duty proposed by the GovernJ ment would make their use prohibitive, and j the result would be that ships that are now I docked in Sydney for the purpose of being repaired, would have their work done in other ports. These patent compositions are not made in the Commonwealth ; they are admitted free into eastern ports, and vessels trading between Australia and the East would have their painting work done in those ports. The result would be that so far as my electorate is concerned, from 500 to 600 men would be thrown out of employment.
– By the imposition of this one duty?
– Yes. The cost of the paint would be increased by this duty to such an extent as to become almost prohibitive. It has to be remembered that paints of all descriptions have hitherto been admitted free into New South Wales. I ask the committee not to impose the duty proposed by the Government. There is no established paint-making industry in Victoria. Messrs. Patterson Bros., who were subsidized by the Victorian Government, failed in their efforts, and the Government had to take over the machinery on which they had a mortgage.
– The honorable member does not know anything about Patterson Bros/ works ; I shall refer to them.
– The only local manufacturers of white lead in any quantity are Lewis and Whitty. The difficulty in regard to this composite duty is that many firms import paints which, although of exactly the same name, have different values, and the authorities will not be able to gauge accurately the values of the various paints presented to them. On behalf not only of the industry to which I have referred, but of the building trade, which uses paints and colours very largely, I urge the Treasurer to consider the desirability of agreeing to a reduction of this heavy duty. Apparently he is willing to meet the proposal made by the honorable member for Melbourne, and the object which that honorable member wishes to attain can only be secured by the imposition of a fixed duty. Whether that duty shall be ls., 2s., or even 2s. 6d. percwt. is a matter for the committee to determine. I would sooner see a fixed duty of even 2s. per cwt. than a composite - a fixed and an ad valorem - duty.
– Under the old Victorian Tariff there was a duty of 40s. per ton on paint ground in oil, and 80s. per ton on paint ready for use, or 2s. and 4s. per cwt. respectively. In Queensland they do not appear to have differentiated between the two, but they imposed an allround duty of 3s. per cwt. In South Australia there were duties of 3s. and 4s. per cwt. collected probably on the same lines as were the duties under the old Victorian Tariff. In Tasmania there was a duty of ½d. per lb. which would be equal to 4s. 8d. per cwt., while New South Wales admitted these paints free.
– And most of the repairs to ships are effected in New South Wales.
– Yes ; but does my honorable friend mean to tell the committee that the effect of this duty of 8 per cent, on the average will be to throw some 600 men out of work ? I am afraid that he must be drawing on his imagination to some small extent when he makes that statement. I do not think that the rate of duty proposed here, or any alteration of it which may be made, would have the effect of sending out of the States the work to which reference has been made. I admit that there is some force in the arguments which have been used, and I shall be glad if possible to meet the wishes of the committee in the matter. If we are to make any alteration at all it should be on the lines of a fixed duty. I think, perhaps, there may be a good deal of difficulty in arriving at the value of some of these articles, but we should differentiate between partly prepared and wholly prepared paints. We might fairly meet the difficulty by having a fixed duty, as there appears to be a feeling in the committee that importers and manufacturers would prefer that to an ad valorem duty. We might, under these circumstances, accept the basis adopted in Victoria and South Australia, and agree to a duty of 2s. per cwt. on paints ground, in liquid, and 4s. per cwt. on paints ready for use. I think that might be considered a fair compromise.
Mr. RONALD (Southern Melbourne).A good deal has been said as to our being unable to produce these paints, and as to our not having the material wherewith these dry colors are manufactured. We have been told that there is no white lead made here, and that Patterson Brothers failed to do what was expected of them, even though they were subsidized by the Victorian Government. The mistake was that the Victorian Government did not satisfy themselves that the necessary pigments were there before they gave a subsidy for the manufacture of the paint.
I happen to know the ground, and I know that the necessary pigments were never there, and that is the reason the subsidy did not produce the results expected.
– And the Government have got the machinery. That is all I said.
– They have the machinery because they put their money on the wrong horse to begin with. I am sure they will not repeat such an experiment. That is the explanation of Patterson Brothers’ failure, but there are others in the State who have produced these paints, and they are being produced here at the present time in large quantities. I wish to direct special attention to the serious way in which we have handicapped paint manufacturers already, by the revenue duties we have imposed upon linseed oil and methylated spirits, which are very largely used as raw materials in the manufacture of paint. The duties we have imposed upon the raw material in the case of this industry reduce, almost to vanishing point* the protection afforded by a duty of even 4s. per cwt. If we are going to raise revenue upon the raw materials of this industry, surely it is only fair to give its production some substantial protection. I appeal to honorable members not to ruthlessly destroy this industry, which is finding employment for a large number of men at excellent wages. The work is scientific and skilled work, and the wages paid in the industry range from £6 to £3 3s. per week, while boys are paid from 30s. to £1 per week. The industry employs a large number of men, and those engaged in it have entered into large monetary obligations in the establishment of the necessary plant.
– How many men are employed 1
– I can give the honorable member the exact figures for one firm, which will prove that it is not an insignificant industry. I do not hold with the theory that if an industry employs only two men and a boy it is not worthy of consideration. If it employs only half a man, and he has an interest in it, we have no right to destroy his interest. The honorable member for Dalley has been lamenting that this proposal may lead to some 600 men being thrown out of work. That is all a myth. There is no likelihood of any such thing taking place. A duty of ls. per cwt. upon paints that cost from 12s. to 29 a
SOs. per cwt. is not going to make the slightest difference in contracts for the painting of ships. Such a duty is trifling and insignificant when estimated upon the price of the paint. It must be remembered that we are able to produce all the paint required, and can enlarge the output to meet all demands made. I therefore ask the committee not to be influenced by any suggestion that the imposition of such a duty is likely to throw men out of employment. The only likelihood of men being thrown out of employment in this connexion would arise from the injury which might be done by refusing the very moderate protection asked to enable those who have invested largely in this industry, and who turn out an article which gives the utmost satisfaction to all who use it, to continue the production of that article. I hope that the Government proposal will be “maintained, and failing that, that there will be an emphatically protectionist duty imposed. Revenue without destruction should be our motto again in this case, and- we may do serious injury to a large and promising industry unless we can give liberal terras under this head, seeing that we have already taxed those engaged in it to the utmost limit upon the raw materials which they use. If we are going to do justice we must compensate those engaged in this industry for that heavy taxation.
– Why did the honorable member vote for it ?
– For the reason that we have to protect other industries as well, and the whole thing hangs together. If we are going to have a patchwork in the Tariff, with a free-trade page here, and a protectionist page there, it will be very mixed up by the time we have done with it. We have imposed duties upon raw materials of this industry for the purpose of protecting the local industries established for the production of those raw materials, and to be consistent we should now insist as far as we can upon a reasonable protection for this industry. The Government proposals in their original form are no more than adequate to meet the case. We may have to accept a proposal, making a differentiating duty of 2s. and 4s. per cwt., but I would prefer the original proposal.
– It might simplify proceedings if we knew exactly where we were. I understand that the Treasurer proposes some drastic alterations, and that the composite duties are to be done away with.
– No. I preferto keep these duties, but to meet the wishes of the committee, I am prepared to agree to a fixed duty of 2s. per cwt. upon paints ground in liquid, and 4s. per cwt. upon fully prepared paints.
– Would that be an equivalent to these duties 1
– Not upon the highpriced paints referred to.
– I understand that the composite duties are to be dropped.
– I will not drop them unless the other proposal is accepted.
– I am under the impression that Ministers will have to drop the composite duties whether the other proposal is accepted or not.
– If the committee decide in that way, we cannot help our- selves
– I have some idea of the Ministerial position, and I believe they have really abandoned the composite duties in this case. We may now hope for a moderate ad valorem or specific duty to cover the exigencies of the case.
– I am sorry we have to give up the composite duty, because on the better classes of paint it would undoubtedly be the right thing. Still I recognise that the feeling of the committee is against it. I think that the Treasurer is going as low as he can in agreeing to 2s. and 4s. per cwt.
– I congratulate the honorable member for Southern Melbourne upon his speech to-night. I am afraid that he knows no more about this subject than other honorable gentlemen do. At any rate, his speech was not very enlightening. He got np to demolish the arguments of the honorable member for Dalley, but what he said confirmed the honorable member’s statements in regard to the efforts of the Victorian Government to galvanize into activity the business of Messrs. Patterson Bios. Some time ago we heard that the Victorian Government has a beet sugar plant on their hands, and now we find that they possess paint-making machinery as well. I wonder that they do not hold an auction, and get rid of some of their machinery. The honorable member for Southern Melbourne told us that the paint-making industry could not be established here because the necessary ingredients for making the paint are not to be obtained in the State. If that be so, what an idiotic thing it was for theVictorian Government to pour out itsmoney in the attempt to establish the industry here ! It shows the length to which the protectionist policy and the hungering, unintelligent desire to establish impossible industries will drive people. The honorablemember asks for a high duty upon paint, because we have put high duties, which he voted for, upon the raw materials, and he says that unless these high duties are imposed scores of men and boys will be thrown out of employment. How many men and boys are employed in the industry he doesnot tell us. The Government estimate to obtain about £27,000 a year from the dutiesupon paint, and I believe that if that money, which we are taking out of the pockets of those who use paint, was distributed amongstthose who are employed in the paint-making: industry, it would give them all very handsome pensions. As against the few persons, who are employed in the manufacture of paints, there are thousands of persons in the great industrial centres of New South Wales who use paint. From the revenue point of view New South Wales will have to stand the brunt of any reduction of these duties.
– Victoria contributes £9,000 a year; which is about the same on the population basis.
– Is not that the clearest proof that the high duties which they have had in Victoria have been of noavail 1
– There are moreindustries in which paint is used in Victoria than in New South Wales.
– That is very strange, in view of the fact that New South Wales contributes more to the revenue from the duties on paint. We ask that the requisites of a great industry may not be excessively taxed. It is not fair thatthe whole Commonwealth should be taxed because a few men and boys areengaged in Victoria in the compounding of paints.
– It seems, to me that the declamation of members of the Opposition amounts to this : that-
– I never heard of a painter rising to eminence in politics.
– The late William McKinley was a very good painter, and Abraham Lincoln used to paint houses in Kentucky. Wehavereachedaperiod whenthe boys and girls must have work provided for them. At one time the only employment for women was to find some one to marry them, but now they are becoming self-reliant, and competing with the men, and they are entitled to the same protection, and to the protection of themen aswell. Theleaderof the Opposition must have worked and struggled as a boy in order to get where he is. I hope that the committee will accept the proposal of the Treasurer, and save further debate.
– No one appreciates more than I do the eloquence of our distinguished friend from Tasmania. But our humanity has a wider range than his. His thoughts are concentrated upon some shanty near Sandridge, where two or three attenuated children who ought to be at school are eking out a miserable existence under most unhealthy conditions, while we are championing the cause of thousands of bright, intelligent youths who are learning one of the healthiest trades under the open air of heaven. Why should the thousands of boys who are painters have to carry an iniquitous load of taxation because two or three misguided parents have put a few unhappy boys into some unhealthy shanty in some crowded slum near Melbourne? As one of the representatives of a city of great commercial development, I wish the committee to consider the interests of the shipping ports of Australia. In the docks, compositions of rare excellence, which cannot be made here, are used, and those
Cite as: Australia, House of Representatives, Debates, 18 February 1902, viewed 7 November 2016, <http://historichansard.net/hofreps/1902/19020218_reps_1_8/>.