1st Parliament · 1st Session
Mr. Speaker took the chair at 2.30 p.m., and read prayers.
asked the Attorney-General, upon notice -
– The question is somewhat argumentative in its character, but, probably, an answer will be suggested by the facta. The regulations of the States, until repealed, will govern the holidays and leave of absence granted to officers of transferred departments. Leave of absence may be an “ existing, and accruing right “ within the meaning of the Constitution, but it depends in each instance upon the State statute. The so-called right of free medical attendance: enjoyed by officers stationed in Western Australia was not enjoyed under the regulations of any transferred department, nor under any statute of Western Australia.
asked the Minister for
Trade and Customs, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follow : -
as asked the Minister for
Defence, upon notice -
Whether, in view of the trial at Staines, England, on the 11th of November last, in which the Hylard rifle - an Australian invention - proved, it is stated, infinitely superior to the Lee-Metf ord, the Government will request the British Government to test the merits of the Hylard rifle, and not complete the order for 20,000 rifles until after such investigation ?
– The answer to the honorable member’s question is as follows : -
No order has yet been placed for rifles ; and the merits of this and other rifles wlil becarefully considered before any order is placed. The opinion of the War-office authorities as to the merits of this and other rifles will be requested.
Consideration resumed from February18 (vide page 10120).
Division VII. - (Oils, Paints, and Varnishes).
Dyes, dry, not packed for retail sale.
Amendment (by Sir George Turner) agreed to -
That the word “ dry “ be omitted.
– I move -
That the words “ not packed for retail sale “ be omitted.
The Government agreed to the omission of these words in regard to another item on the Tariff.
– But we made a mistake in doing so.
– If any mistake was made, it was through a misdescription which had previously obtained in the Victorian Custom-house. We must import dry dyes, as the Government themselves admit, by placing them on the free list, and why should we hamper those engaged in the tra de by compelling them to bring them in in bulk, so that they may be wrapped up in paper parcels after they arrive within the Commonwealth ?
– I do not object to the amendment.
– I do not see why an exception should be made in respect to dry colours. There are other items in the Tariff to which this provision attaches, and when we come to tea I suppose we shall insert some provision of this kind. The words have been inserted in order to give employment to our own people.
– Dry dyes are generally imported in small packages.
Amendment agreed to.
– I move -
That the words “sulphate of copper” be omitted.
I do this in order that a duty of 10 per cent, may be imposed upon sulphate of copper, which is produced within the Commonwealth, on Yorke’s Peninsula, in South
Australia, by the Wallaroo and Moonta Mining and Smelting Company. The industry began in a very small way in 1893, but since that time it has largely developed, so that to-day the works are capable of turning; out 550 tons per annum, and it is believed that very soon the output will be sufficient to meet the requirements of the Commonwealth. The sulphate of copper produced by the Wallaroo company is unquestionably equal to the imported article. That I think is proved by the fact that it has been successfully introduced into general trade, and is used by several of the State Telegraph departments for charging their electric batteries. Those engaged in the industry do not ask for a duty in order that they may increase their prices - they are content, and have been content, with prices equivalent to those prevailing in England and in the United States - but they feel that they should be protected from unfair competition. That the competition which they have to meet is unfair I think can be established by the facts I am about to mention. The Engineering and Mining Journal of New York, of 4th January, con tains a review of the trades in metals and chemicals for the past year. From this it appears that the lowest price quoted for sulphate of copper in New York during 1901 was £19 per ton, and the highest £24. Towards the end of the year the fluctuations were between £21 and £23 per ton. In spite of these facts the Americans, I am informed, have been offering for some months past to sell sulphate of copper laid down in Sydney at £17 per ton. As it must cost at least £2 per ton to ship from America this would leave, on the most favorable basis, a return of £15 per ton. So it would seem that the Americans are selling at from £6 to £7 less in Australia than in the United States. The price for Wallaroo sulphate of copper during part of 1901 was £23 per ton laid down in Sydney or Melbourne, and it was reduced towards the end of the year to £22. The price now is £20. The committee will see that these prices compare very favorably with the prices charged in America. As to the industry itself, I shall read an extract from a letter dated 31st January, and written by Mr. Davidson, the secretary to the Wallaroo and Moonta company. He says -
The production of sulphate of copper is an adjunct to the business of copper smelting, and helps the company to carry on when - as at present - it is, owing to the low price of copper, working its mines at a loss. According to the printed balance-sheet of last year it cost the company ?68 13s. per ton to place each ton of copper on the London market. Copper of a quality equal to Wallaroo is now worth only about ?55 per ton in the same market. The price of sulphate of copper is regulated by theprice of copper, there being in one ton of bluestone a quarter of a ton ofcopper, to which has to be added the cost of manufacture. Last year the company employed nearly 3,000 men and boys, and it would be a national calamity if it were obliged to discontinue operations.
Mr. Davidson adds :
I would point out further that the company will in future have to pay in customs duties a very much larger amount than it paid under the old South Australian Tariff, particularly in consequence of the imposition of heavy duties on mining timber, explosives, and other articles used in the mines and smelting works, the new duty on explosives alone amounting to ?290 per annum.
These are facts that I think are entitled to serious consideration ; and I trust that I have said sufficient to convince the committee that this is a perfectly legitimate industry, and is thoroughly entitled to the small amount of fostering care which I suggest should be extended to it.
– Sulphate of copper hardly comes under the head of oils, paints, and varnishes ; it would probably be more correctly classed with drugs and chemicals. The information supplied to us shows that this substance is now being largely manufactured in South Australia.
– How many firms are producing sulphate of copper ?
– Only one company, so far as I am aware.
– Then its production is a monopoly.
– How many men do the company employ in making sulphate of copper ?
– The company apparently employ about 3,000 men and boys, but it would be impossible to say how many men are employed in the production of this particular article. Sulphate of copper is used to some extent for steeping wheat and for spraying purposes, and it is difficult to say what position should be taken up with regard to it. It is being produced here in considerable quantities, and unless we can hear some very strong reasons why we should not grant a fair measure of protection we shall be prepared to omit it from the list of exemptions. That would not in itself make the article dutiable, but we should have to provide for a duty in some other portion of the Tariff. Until to-day we had very little information upon this subject, and probably some honorable members who have had practical experience will be able to afford information which will enable the committee to come to a fair conclusion when the proper time arrives. In the meantime I think sulphate of copper ought to be omitted from this division ; it is not in its right place here.
– I do not think this item should be omitted. One does not see anything cognate between blacking and sulphate of copper, but there is much that is so between paint, Paris green, and sulphate of copper. The only argument I have heard in favour of the omission of this article from the list of exemptions is that 3,000 people are employed in South Australia in the production of copper, of which sulphate of copper is a byproduct. I wantto know how many people are employed in the production of this particular article. No reason has been advanced in support of the suggestion that sulphate of copper should be subject to a duty, except that a very strong supporter of the Government has asked for it. That is not a good enough reason for me. The reasons supplied by the Ministry are so vague and unsatisfactory that either they do not know of any worth mentioning, or they hesitate to lay them before the committee. If the Government are strong enough to secure the omission of sulphate of copper from the list of exemptions they will be able to impose upon it any duty they like. Therefore, we may as well oppose the present proposal.We hear that sulphate of copper is used for spraying purposes, and for steeping wheat. I do not know whether the Treasurer realizes that not 3,000, but something like 23,000 persons are engaged in fruit-growing, and that the very existence of their industry depends upon the adoption of cheap and efficient methods of dealing with fruit pests. If sulphate of copper is an efficient destructive agent, as I believe it is, in connexion with many fungoid diseases, it should not be placed on the dutiable list, and I shall therefore vote against its omission from the list of exemptions.
– There are many persons other than fruit-growers interested in sulphate of copper, because all our wheat-growers use Milestone or sulphate of copper for steeping their seed wheat. It has not been proved that any considerable number of men are engaged in its production. One company in South Australia make sulphate of copper, and they have very large works, but it has not been shown that the production is sufficiently important as an industry to justify our imposing a duty upon an article which is indispensable to our wheat-growers. It would not do to run the risk of increasing the price of the article to any great extent, and I shall therefore vote in favour of retaining it on the free list.
– The honorable member for South Australia, Sir Langdon Bonython, entirely gave his case away when he spoke about the unfair competition to which local producers of sulphate of copper are exposed. He stated that the Americans were selling their product for £17 per ton within the Commonwealth, whereas they charged consumers in their own country £23 per ton, and that they were supplying us with their surplus at considerably less than the actual cost of the article. Does not the honorable member see that in America the manufacturers are taking full advantage of a high protective duty by charging high prices to local consumers, enabling them to export their surplus at less than the cost price. The honorable member admitted that only one local company were making this sulphate.
– It does not follow that only one companywill make it in the future.
– The honorable member says that one company turns out 550 tons per annum, and that in a very short time they will be able to overtake the consumption of the Commonwealth. The result will be that if we impose a 10 per cent, duty the whole population of the Commonwealth, and particularly our fruit-growers and farmers, will have to pay an increased price. I see no good reason why the article should be omitted from the list of exemptions.
Mr. BATCHELOR (South Australia).I have heard some honourable members express their regret at various times that it was impossible to afford protection to those engaged in mining operations. Now, however, that an opportunity is presented for imposing a protective duty on a mining product honorable members, who were previously so solicitous of the interests of the miners, are extremely anxious to protect the orchardists and wheat-growers against them. It is difficult to say how many men are employed in the production of sulphate of copper, but the Wallaroo Copper Company employ 3,000 men and boys in the production of copper and in smelting it, and also in producing the sulphate, which is an important by-product. Copper is liable to great fluctuations in price. The quotations have dropped from £66 to £55 per ton within a very short time, and unless a profitable market is found for sulphate of copper, the copper mining will be placed in a position of greater difficulty. Copper is one of the most important of South Australian products, and, although it cannot be said that the free introduction of sulphate of copper will have the effect of throwing large numbers of men out of employment, the failure of the mining companies to secure a reasonably good market for their by-product may have an important bearing upon the continuance of mining operations, unless the price of copper materially improves. I think that as good a case can be made out for sulphate of. copper as for many other articles upon which duties have been imposed, and I hope that the committee will agree to the suggestion that it should be omitted from the list of exemptions.
– I quite agree with the honorable member who has just spoken, that as good a case can be made out for the protection of sulphate of copper, as for many other products of so-called native industries upon which heavy duties have been imposed. Nevertheless, I am not going to support the present proposal. I cannot see in the letters which the Wallaroo Copper Company have sent me, in order to induce me to advocate a duty on sulphate of copper, anything that entitles that article to be placed on the 10 per cent. list. In the first place, as has been pointed out by the honorable member for Kennedy, one of the evils of protection in America is that the manufacturers sell at a high price in the home market, and export their surplus product at a comparatively low price - at a price lower than that at which the same article can be imported into Australia from England.
– Is there a duty on sulphate of copper in the United States I have looked through the United States Tariff, and I cannot find any reference to it.
– I do not know. I am merely dealing with the two letters sent to me by the Wallaroo Company, asking me to advocate this duty in which they seem to assume that there is. I will take their own reasons.
– I - I think that copper is admitted into the United States free of duty.
– I do not know, and I certainly do not want to think about the matter, but I want definite information. The Wallaroo Company in their letter point out that the manufacturers in America sell sulphate of copper at a high price in the home market, and export their surplus to us, and sell it at a price which is considerably lower than the cost at which sulphate of copper sent from England can be landed in Australia. The company state that it was owing to this that they lost their contract for the supply of sulphate to the New South Wales Government. Previously they had secured several of the New South Wales contracts, but they lost the contract last year because the Americans exported their surplus at low prices, and beat them in open competition. I am very sorry for the company, but what they describe is one of the usual effects of protection, and I do not see why we should raise not only the price of the local product, but also the price of the English importations in order to defeat the American exporters. We are asked to impose a high duty before the Wallaroo Company are prepared to supply the whole of Australia. They say distinctly that they are not yet in a position to meet the full local demand. If we give them the benefit of a protective duty, they may possibly increase their production. But before they are able to do so, we are asked to impose a tax, which will fall not only upon the American but upon the English import, and under the operation of which the price of sulphate of copper must be increased in the markets of Australia. That is bad reasoning, and indicates one of the evils of protection. I am not going to attempt to cure that evil by sanctioning the imposition ofa duty of 10 per cent, upon the commodity in question for the sake of benefiting the Wallaroo Copper
Company. That company points out that the present Tariff is based upon protectionist principles, and asks that some considera tion should be extended to the producers of South Australia. The position is thus stated -
I would point out further that the company will in the future have to pay in customs duties a very much larger amount than it paid under the old South Australian Tariff, particularly in consequence of the heavy duties upon mining timber, explosives, and other articles used in the mine and smelting works, the new duty upon explosives alone amounting to £290 per year.
Are we going to attempt to cure that condition of affairs at the expense of free-trade? Are we to diminish the evil incidence of this Tariff by decreasing the burdens upon a hitherto rich company ?
– It is not a rich company.
– The company was pretty well off until the price of copper declined recently. For very many years it paid good dividends.
– At the present time they are really employing their men out of the proceeds of the sale of sulphate of copper.
– Unless the honorable gentleman can show me that that is so–
– I have recently been upon the mine.
– So have I, but I know little more now than I did before I visited it. I know that there are about 3,000 electors there. I am proud to think that a good many of them voted for me at the federal election, and I am sorry to have to cross the line of their present desires in connexion with the proposed duty. I am not aware how many of the 3,000 men and boys are engaged in the production of sulphate of copper ; but protectionists themselves acknowledge that its manufacture is merely an adjunct to the smelting of copper. It appears to me that the company cannot possibly employ more than a very few hands in this branch of their industry, and if we refuse to impose a duty of 10 per cent, upon this commodity, I do not believe for a moment that the Wallaroo works will be closed. So far they have remained open under all sorts of adverse circumstances. At the present time they are holding their own manfully, though the price of copper isonly £50 per ton. Surely it is preposterous to declare that these works will have to close up unless a duty of 1 0 per cent, is imposed upon sulphate of copper ? I quite admire the clear and dispassionate way in which the honorable member for South Australia, Sir Langdon Bonython, put the case, and if I were a protectionist I should agree with everything that he said. I am, however, a free-trader, and therefore cannot support the proposed duty. There is not an argument advanced by the Wallaroo Company which does not go to show that to make an exception in their favour would be to prove , false to the principles of freetrade.
– Of course, we all recognise that the honorable and learned member for South Australia, Mr. Glynn, is consistent in the position which he takes up, and we must accordingly respect his views. At the same time it will be admitted by most honorable members that a fair case has been made out for the imposition of a moderate protective duty upon this commodity. It is one of a large number of instances which have been submitted to us during the period in which we have been engaged in discussing the Tariff. It has been shown clearly that for the purpose of crushing out this industry the imported article is sold here, for the time being, at a much lower price than that charged to the consumers in the country in which it is produced. Do honorable members imagine for a moment that the importers would continue to sell at that price if they succeeded in closing the localworks ? We know perfectly well thatthey would not, but that they would increase the cost to considerably more than it would be under the operation of a moderate duty of 10 per cent. We can hardly expect our people to continue to produce and sell sulphate of copper at £4 or £5 per ton less than the cost of its production abroad.
– Does the company manufacture this article solely ?
– They do not exist upon that manufacture alone, but why should they continue a branch of their business which is unprofitable? We are told that only a limited number of people are engaged in the manufacture of this commodity, whilst a very large number consume it and pay for it. But do not honorable members recognise that the whole community is composed of sections, each of which produces some commodity or other? If we crush them all out. in detail, what will become of the whole of our industries ? We are told that the whole community are purchasers, whilst only a limited number are producers, but we must recollect that the purchasers are also producers of some commodity or other, and that each section of the community produces something. I see no reason for voting against the imposition of a moderate duty upon this article. I do not think that Victoria is interested in the matter, but that does not deter me from being consistent. Wherever I see the prospect of establishing an industry by means of the imposition of a moderate duty and without increasing the cost of its particular products to the consumer to any considerable extent, I shall vote for its establishment.
Mr.REID (East Sydney).- I regret that the honorable member for Gippsland has again obtruded these general considerations affecting fiscal policy.
– I ask the right honorable member not to follow my bad example.
Mr.REID. - I am afraid I must, although I shall be just as brief as was the honorable member. I have always opposed similar proposals for the reason that we make a number of small sections of the people, as compared with the mass who require the article under discussion, dependent upon the views of men sitting in Parliament.
– Those sections make up the whole.
– Unfortunately they do not. If we could protect every one all round, we should take an infinite amount of trouble to arrive at the old spot from which we started. If a benefit were to be conferred upon every one by such proposals as that which we are now discussing, there would not be such a rabid desire to have it. It is only when people can get a thing which they do not give away that they are so eager to obtain it. If a man who received 1s. out of a policy had to pay it away to other people there would not be much in that policy for him. That is why the protectionist in a factory is so desperately enamoured of his pet doctrine. I have never attempted to convince a protectionist manufacturer, for the reason that his pocket is concerned, and the task would be hopeless. But when the honorable member for Gippsland pictures the great industries of Australia as a brigade of paupers coming to this committee and begging for a crumb of comfort to sustain life, I am very glad to know that they stand upon a much stronger footing. They do not depend upon bounties, and are not in the position of paupers waving assistance. If they were in such a position they would go to the wall, because they have to fight in the open markets of. the world. My objection to creating these little privileged preserves for a few individuals is that they have to be created at the expense of men who have very little to throw away.
– That has never been shown.
– I never expect to show it to the satisfaction of my honorable friend, although remarks such as he made this afternoon, and which are perfectly proper from his point of view, always call for a reply. In regard to this particular matter, I agree with the honorable and learned member for South Australia, Mr. Glynn. It is something refreshing to find a man courageous enough to stand right across the path of 3,000 workmen. It is quite refreshing to see one whose convictions compel him to take that course in the interests of the larger number in the State which he represents. I have seen some people “ go down “ at the shadow of a gluepot factory - go abjectly down from all their principles at the mere shadow of a three-legged gluepot. I am indeed happy to see that the honorable and learned member for South Australia, Mr. Glynn, can withstand a stronger ordeal than that. But in connexion with the appeal that has been made for this particular industry, is it not strange that the number of persons who depend upon the production of sulphate of copper has not been stated ? It cannot be that a small number daunts the courage of my friends opposite, because they triumphantly flourish statistics which refer to the employment in an industry of two or three men and an equal number of boys. They do not shrink from a basis of that sort. The employment of two or three men and boys in an industry is, in their opinion, sufficient to warrant an alteration in the national policy of Australia. That being so, how is it that this attempt is made to picture 3,000 men as being engaged in the production of this particular article? It is a transparent piece of fudge, which can only impose upon men who are wilfully blind. If there were any considerable number of men dependent for their living upon the production of sulphate of copper we should have heard of it to-day. The fact that we do not hear of it is the strongest possible proof that the number so employed is small. No one can put a case better than can the honorable member for Gippsland when he takes it up, and if he were in a position to tell the committee that a large number of men were dependent for a livelihood upon the production of sulphate of copper he would have been the first to give us the precise figures. Instead of that he throws the whole army at us. That is good enough for some honorable members, and, especially for the Minister for Trade and Customs. One need only put the initials “ S. A.” before him, and he is down. But that is not quite sufficient for us.
– There is a certain scriptural warning that one should not answer certain people in a certain way. I shall be warned accordingly, and, therefore, do not intend to indulge in any argument upon the general question of freetrade versus protection, any doubt on the subject having been sufficiently solved by the honorable member for Gippsland, confirmed by the patent failure of the leader of the Opposition to disturb the position. If I were in the habit of imputing motives - and we know that as we grow older we grow wiser - there would be no difficulty in showing that the arguments of the leader of the Opposition as to the difficulty of convincing protectionists under certain circumstances apply with equal force to freetraders under similar circumstances. Both free-traders and protectionists are made of the same clay, and there is a disposition on the part of each, as there is on the part of all humanity, to look to a great extent after their own interests. But I think we can get on with the discussion of this question without any elaboration of that particular point of view. In regard to this particular line, we are not asked to do anything very unreasonable. We want revenue - though I do not know that we shall get much in this case - and we want reasonable protection ; and I understand that 10 per cent. is generally considered a reasonable revenue duty. We have heard many accounts at different times of the advance of Queensland, and I believe that State is developingher agricultural resources with great success. But will it be believed, after the gloomy picture which has been drawn as to the probable result of the imposition of a duty of 10 per cent., that Queensland, at this particular moment, is, and has been for years past, paying a duty of 15 per cent. on sulphate of copper? I suppose the leader of the Opposition did not know that fact ; and I am not making the suggestion offensively, because until lately I myself did not know what duty was paid in Queensland. The duty is such a trifle that the people of Queensland did not feel it, and if we now extend to all the States two-thirds of the protection which has been given in Queensland, agriculturists will be likely to feel the impost still less, and be even more cheerful and successful than they are under present circumstances. Is it not simply intolerable that wo should not be able to produce sufficient sulphate of copper for our own consumption ? If we were able to do so we should be subject to only fair competition, whereas at present, as has been clearly shown, American sulphate of copper is sold here at a price considerably less than that at which the commodity is sold in America. The Americans are selling us, one might almost say, their surplus with the intention of wrecking our industry, with the ultimate design of raising the price, to the detriment of the general community. The duty proposed is fair, and while it will not be felt by agriculturists, it will protect an industry which is struggling with unfair competition. I ask honorable members to look at the matter a little more closely. It is said that at the present moment we are not producing sufficient sulphate of copper for Australian requirements. The information we have received from the company is to the effect that they are producing about 550 tons per annum out of 600 tons which they calculate as the total Australian consumption. If we take, in round figures, sulphate of copper at £20 a ton, the total value is represented by £12,000, on which a duty of 10 per cent., if every atom were imported, amounts to £1,200, distributed over all those who use sulphate of copper. Such an amount does not require to be given a second thought, seeing that consumers will scarcely feel or know of the duty, just as the honorable member for Kennedy was not aware of the circumstances in Queensland. This is an industry which is native to Australia.
– South Australia ?
– The industry is not limited to South Australia. I venture to think there is copper in Tasmania and in nearly all the States.
– Copper is got at Mount Lyell and Mount Morgan.
– This is an Australian industry struggling with unfair competition, and it can be assisted at a trifling cost to maintain its position, to the permanent good of all who use the article. Under the circumstances, why should we hesitate to extend to Australia generally a proportion of that protection which has already been accorded to Queensland, with the good resultsto which I have referred?
Mr. REID (East Sydney). - I wish to point out one transparent fallacy which frequently characterizes the addresses of the Minister for Trade and Customs. The right honorable gentleman puts before the committee a little impromptu calculation showing that this duty will be a mere fleabite to the vast population of Australia. But’ only a limited number of the vast population will use this article, so that the calculation is faulty in that respect. And the calculation is faulty in another respect. The right honorable gentleman has pictured to us the ruin which the consumers of this article are now suffering, owing to the circumstance that American firms sell sulphate of copper to our people at a price which is cheaper than that charged to the American people at the other end of the world. According to the Minister himself, those who use the article here are getting it at a rate cheap “ beyond the dreams of avarice “ ; so that there will be a loss of all that advantage, as well as a duty to pay. That is a point of view which the Minister, not being a consumer of the article, does not regard.
Mr. SYDNEY SMITH (Macquarie).The Minister for Trade and Customs, who has sought to defend this item, forgets that there is no duty on sulphate of copper in his own State of South Australia. If the people of South Australia were anxious to protect this industry and prevent it from failing, it is naturalto suppose that a duty would have been imposed but the commodity was left on the free list in order to help farmers and fruit-growers.
– How long has sulphate of copper been produced in South Australia?
– That has nothing to do with the question. The same reasons exist why the article should be placed on the free list in the Federal Tariff, and the Commonwealth Government at first saw the necessity of assisting farmers and orchardists by refraining from imposing any duty. None of us on this side, who have watched the proceedings of honorable members on the Government side for the last few months, can give them any credit for a desire to assist farmers or miners, seeing that the implements and machinery used by the latter have been taxed as highly as possible. The Treasurer tried to come down in a very nice way. When the amendment was submitted, he said - “Well, I think the item is in the wrong place, and we shall omit it for the time being.”
– It was on the wrong side of the page.
– I fail to see the justification for this duty. It has been pointed out by the leader of the Opposition that while the Government make the most of any Victorian industry in which three or four men are concerned, we have not yet been told how many people are dependent on this industry. According to the Minister for Trade and Customs, the duty on sulphate of copper cannot be an important matter to South Australia. Notwithstandi n g that the commodity was on the free list in that State, it appears that the local company supplies 550 tons out of a total Australian consumption of 600 tons. That has been done with open competition.
– Hear, hear ; with State duties to fight.
– I trust that the committee, for the reasons which actuated the South Australian Government, will place sulphate of copper on the free list of Australia.
– The honorable member for Macquarie has taunted me with the fact that South Australia did not impose a protective duty on sulphate of copper. But the reason South Australia did not impose ti duty on this commodity in 1887 was that there was no sulphate of copper manufacturing industry to protect. In 1887, when the Tariff was introduced in South Australia, there was not an ounce of sulphate of copper being made in that State.
– What about the right honorable gentleman’s own Tariff of 1901 ?
– The industry was not started until 1893, and if ‘the honorable member’ for Macquarie is able to foresee what is going to happen six years hence, he is smarter than I take him to be. The South Australian Government could not foresee what was going to’ happen, and therefore did not provide a duty on sulphate of copper.
– It was not provided for in the Tariff of 1901.
– The facts of to-day are brought under our notice, and we give them due consideration, and submit for the acceptance of the committee a proposal which we venture to think justifiable. As to the suggestion of the leader of the Opposition that the Australian farmer should have sulphate of copper at a price £6 cheaper than that at which the same article is supplied to the people of the United States, I- venture to think there is no necessity for anything of that sort. It is infinitely preferable to have an industry permanently established, upon which our farmers can rely for sulphate of copper at a fair price, than to obtain the article at a sacrificing price for a moment, and have ultimately to pay a permanently enhanced price.
Mr. POYNTON (South Australia).There has been too much fuss made about the protective element in this particular item. After all, what is 10 per cent. ? This particular production deserves much more consideration than do many of the “twopenny half-penny” items we have dealt with. If it were not for the fact that sulphate of copper is used by farmers for their wheat, and very considerably in South Australia in the shape of bluestone for spraying purposes by fruit-growers and horticulturists, I should not hesitate about imposing the extra amount of duty. But this industry has so far extended that, according to the Minister’s own statement, the output is within 50 tons of the actual requirements of Australia.
– I am informed that the local production is within 50 tons of the local consumption.
– That progress has been made under free-trade conditions, and the industry may very well get along without a dutv. If protectionists desire to assist this company and assist the 3,000 odd men who are employed in the industry of which sulphate of copper is a valuable byproduct, let them vote for putting timber and explosives upon the free list. They will then assist the company far more than by imposing a duty of 10 per cent, upon sulphate of copper. I have made up my mind to vote against removing this item from the free list.
Mr. JOSEPH COOK (Parramatta).The Minister for Trade and Customs has informed the committee that the South Australian TarifF was introduced in 1887, and that the Government of that State could not then foresee that the Wallaroo works would be established in 1893. But the right honorable gentleman forgot to tell the committee that the South Australian Government purposely avoided imposing a duty on sulphate of copper when they revised the Tariff in 1894.
– Nonsense !
– Does the honorable member deny that the Tariff question was re-opened in 1894 ?
– Binder twine !
– And some other things also were dealt with. There was an opportunity in 1894 of imposing the duty upon sulphate of copper, which we are told is so important an industry for South Australia ; and there have been other opportunities since then for imposing a duty. But the South Australian Government never even thought of it. Indeed the Minister for Trade and Customs tells us that they did not know of the industry. So great has been his solicitude for industries in his own State, and so anxiously has he professed an affectionate regard for the working men of South Australia, that the right honorable gentleman did not even know that sulphate of copper was being made, and that the industry required a duty ! I sympathize very largely with the circular which the secretary of the Wallaroo Mining Company has issued. He makes the statement that the production of copper costs the company £68 10s. per ton. That is almost the top price of copper, and it means that under ordinary conditions when copper is anything below the maximum price it, is a non-paying line. One can therefore sympathize with the desire of the company to make the production arrive at a paying point by the imposition of a duty. Here we have their own statement, that whereas the price of copper to-day is only £55 per ton, their copper costs them £68 10s. to produce. I should like in connexion with this matter to ask this question - Is this a time, when the Wallaroo Company is struggling and cannot keep its head above water, so far as concerns its ordinary production, to tax it in connexion with everything it uses for the production of copper ? Is this an appropriate time to tax the company’s timber, their bill for which I venture to say is an exceptionally heavy one ; or to tax their explosives or their machinery - because the production of this article requires extensive machinery? Notwithstanding the condition of the company, everything in connexion with mining operations is being heavily taxed. No wonder the company has had to ask this Parliament for some little compensating advantage, to be derived from the people who are to bleed them in return under the provisions of this Tariff! We are treated in the circular which has been issued, to some admissions which we cannot get from honorable members opposite. We are told that in America the price of sulphate of copper is kept up in the home market in order to bring down the price of the foreign export. That is the kind of admission we can never get from protectionists, but this gentleman who is engaged in the everyday operations of business tells us that such is the fact, and he gives it as a reason for the imposition of the 10 per cent, duty which is sought at the. hands of Parliament. There are other places in the Commonwealth beside the Wallaroo and Moonta Copper Mines where copper is produced. In my own electorate the Cobar Copper Company has just put up an electrolytic plant of very large proportions indeed ; and I have no doubt that in the near future this company will be producing sulphate of copper in considerable quantities. If such a business can be established under free-trade conditions, and can make the production of copper pay at very much less than £68 per ton, the management of the Wallaroo mine can make up their minds that they will no longer produce sulphate of copper for the whole Commonwealth.
– So that there will be no monopoly.
– And therefore no higher price. Consequently we ought not to impose this duty, as it cannot be of much importance to the Wallaroo Company if there is to be severe internal competition for the limited market which we have in Australia. The Wallaroo Company informs us that they are producing 550 tons out of a possible consumption of 600 tons. Really, they give away their own case. They show that they have built up and maintained this industry in spite of the competition of Germany, America, and England ; and if that be the case, why should we go out of our way to impose a duty which the Government of South Australia never even sought to impose, and which, indeed, was never brought under their notice 1 The exPremier of South Australia., who was the special advocate of protection in his own State, tells us that he never even heard of the production of sulphate of copper until it was brought specially under his notice recently. Therefore the company can be in no great straits. They have never before asked for a duty, nor have they wanted it. But they now step in to ask that a quota of the contributions of the Commonwealth may be turned into their pockets, because they themselves are to be taxed to put money into the pockets of other people.
– It is always a good thing when one can point a moral on accurate data. The honorable member for Kennedy who has been followed in effect by the honorable member for Parramatta, has pointed out as one of the evils of the protectionist system, .that the manufacturer in the home market is able to keep up the price of commodities at the expense of the consumer, and consequently able to export his surplus product to foreign countries at a cut rate. The American export of sulphate of copper to Australia has been quoted as a striking illustration of that wicked protectionist result. I do not profess to be able to speak with authority, but while the debate has been proceeding I have twice carefully gone through the United States Tariff, which is . given in a schedule to the Shipping World Tear Book for 1901 ; and so far as my researches have gone - unless I have made some careless blunder - there is no duty whatever on sulphate of copper in the United States.
– Perhaps it is under “ n.e.i.”
– There is no n.e.i. in the United States Tariff so far as I can see. I do not know whether there is- or is not a duty on sulphate of copper in the United States, but it does not appear on the face of- the Tariff.
– If the honorable and learned member has read the United States Tariff through twice while this debate has been going on, he is clever, because it is a’ very long Tariff.
– Of course I did not look under the heading of woollens or any similarly unlikely place, but I searched under the headings where I thought it should appear. I may be mistaken, but so far as I can see the item does not exist in the United States Tariff. I only point this out as some honorable members have used the case of America to point a moral against protection. The facts are not in the particular form in which the moral can be turned against protection. They happen to be in the form in which the moral can be pointed against free-trade if the facts be as I have stated them. But, after all, it is not a matter of vital importance whether or not there is a duty on sulphate of copper. I cannot feel any overwhelming wave of enthusiasm coming over me at the thought of a product that amounts to only 600 tons for the whole year having the advantage of a duty. I do not know whether the imposition of a duty will be of advantage or otherwise to the community ; but I cannot see that it will be of any great disadvantage. Whether a duty of 10 per cent, is or is not imposed the matter is not one of great importance to the Commonwealth
Mr. SALMON (Laanecoorie). - I have had the opportunity within the last few months of visiting the Moonta mines in South Australia, and was able to see the work carried on, and also to obtain information which I think will be of some advantage to the committee. Captain Hancock, who is in charge of the works, informed me that the Moonta mines would not be able to continue, and that the 3,000 men employed there would be thrown out of employment, were it “not for the byproducts which the company was disposing of. Sulphate of copper is the principal byproduct.
– No, sulphuric acid is the principal one.
– I am assured that sulphate of copper is one of the principal byproducts of the mine, and that it means nearly £12,000 per annum to this company alone.
– £12,000 at £17 per ton !
– That interjection shows the way in which figures are twisted. £17 a ton is the price at which sulphate of copper is landed from the United States, and that is a cut price adopted by those who send the article across the sea. AVe have documentary evidence to show that the Moonta mine is now obtaining £20 a ton.
– I cannot help laughing at the honorable member’s tone over a difference of £3 per ton !
– It is a sample of the errors in quotation made by some honorable members. I have been assured by the manager of the company - and this was said to me altogether outside any Tariff consideration whatever - that this particular mine would be closed down, and that 3,000 men would be thrown out of employment were it not for the market the company has for the disposal’ of its by-products, of which sulphate of copper is one of the principal. I cannot enumerate the other by-products, because I do not remember what they are, but certainly sulphate of copper is one of the principal. The company produces 550 tons of it, and up to the present has been able to sell it at £20 a ton. By a simple calculation, honorable members will be able to find that the company consequently receives considerably over £10,000 per annum from this particular by-product alone.
Mr.winter Cooke. - They have done that without a duty. .
– Yes, but the old price was £24 per ton, and they have now to compete with the imported article at £17 per ton. They would not require a duty if they were not subjected to this unfair competition, which is calculated to destroy the local industry, and to capture the market for the importer. Each ton of. this sulphate of copper contains a quarter of a ton of native copper, and with copper at £55 per ton, it is clear that there is £13 worth of native copper in each ton of sulphate of copper. Honorable members will see that it is impossible, under the circumstances, to produce this article at £17 per ton.
– At what price can they sell- £20 per ton?
– Yes, they are selling it at present at £20 per ton. I believe they commenced to sell it at £23 per ton, but the price has been gradually reduced, and they are now selling it at £20 per ton. The price of the imported article was £24 per ton, and it has been gradually reduced, until it is now being landed in Sydney at £17 per ton. The same sulphate of copper, produced from the same manufactories, is being sold in the United States at £23 and £24 per ton. We are getting the benefit of the cut rate which has been introduced for the purpose for which cut rates are always introduced - namely, the crushing out of the local industry, and the capturing of the local market. As honorable members have said we have undoubtedly here an opportunity to assist a natural industry. Surely honorable members who in the past have favoured revenue duties, can have very little objection to a 10 per cent. duty. It would not have the effectof increasing the price of this article. The present price of £17 per ton is purely temporary, and we have no reason to suppose that it will be maintained. If the local supply is stopped, as it certainly will be if we do not give the local industry some assistance, there can be little doubt that within twelve months or so the price of the imported article will be increased. The honorable member for Gippsland has referred to a matter which the committee should not lose sight of. We have undoubted evidence of the attempts on the part of other countries to capture our local market, and we should be extremely careful not to place the consumer at the mercy of those who send goods to this country from oversea.
– Is the consumer asking for a duty?
– We know that when the importer finds he has a monopoly of the market he raises his prices, and if that is done in this instance we shall have the consumer coming to us and telling us that we failed in our duty in not giving the local industry some assistance.
– Has the consumer ever demanded a duty ?
– The honorable member has spoken on behalf of the consumer over and over again in this committee.
– Against protection.
– I am sure the honorable member addresses his constituents as consumers, and endeavours to secure their suffrages upon what he is prepared to do in order to benefit them.
– Does the consumer ever ask for a duty.?
– It may sometimes be necessary. I do not wish to go into the general question of free-trade and protection, but if the honorable member will study the true incidence of protection, he will find that many consumers have agreed that the imposition of a duty has resulted in a decrease in the price of an article, and that they have been benefited materially thereby. These are the two points to which I wish to direct attention. First, that in the case of one mine they are dependent upon the by-products for the maintenance of the mine, because they are producing their copper at a loss. They anticipate that the price of copper will increase in the future, and they are anxious not to shut down their mine. The sale of their by-products enables them to keep the mine open. Any one who has had any experience of mining must know how disastrous it is to have a mine closed down, even if at some future time there may be an opportunity of re-opening it. The other point is that the consumer will be placed entirely at the mercy of the importer if we stifle the local competition. We have already been assured by the honorable member for Parramatta that there will be further internal competition, as the honorable member hastold us that there will be very strong competition indeed from his own electorate. We have in that statement a safeguard against such an increase in the price of this article as would bear hardly upon the consumer.
Mr. McDONALD (Kennedy).- When the honorable member takes us to task in connexion with our figures, I would draw his attention to the figures he has used himself. He has told us that it is practically the production of this by-product of sulphate of copper - that keeps the Wallaroo mine going, and keeps 3,000 men employed. When we come to analyze the figures the honorable member has given us, we find that the income the honorable member referred to would give each of the 3,000 men £3 6d.8d. a year. That is a nice wage for the industry to pay.
– The honorable member cannot know much about mining when he talks like that. An annual income of £12,000 is worth keeping going.
– I wish to impress upon the honorable member’s mind that it is the sulphuric acid that is wanted, and that if it were not for the market for sulphuric acid sulphate of copper would not be produced at all. It is the manufacture of sulphuric acid that enables them to utilize this by-product of sulphate of copper. The honorable member and other honorable members have said that the Americans desire to capture our market for this product.
Do not honorable members know that wherever there is a surplus production of an article in a community in which it is produced it goes out upon the open market, and is governed by the prices in the outside world ?
– The honorablemember will not say that £17 per ton is the price of this article here.
– Does not the honorable member know that Victorian butter is sent to the London market, and sold there at 100s. and 105s. per cwt., while people here have to pay1s. 6d. per lb. for it? Does he not know that while the people have to pay8d. per lb. for meat in the city of Melbourne and other cities of Australia, meat is sent to England, and, after paying all the charges of export, is sold there at from 2½d. to 3d. per lb. The honorable member for Laanecoorie tells us that because this particular product is sold in the United States at from £23 to £24 per ton, and is landed in Sydney at £17 per ton, it is evidence of unfair competition, and of a desire to capture the Australian market.
– I say so still.
– Is not that an ordinary transaction in commercial life? Is not that kind of thing done every day ?
– In unrestricted trade, certainly.
– Does the honorable member say that the butter and meat trades are unrestricted trades, or that there is unrestricted trade in tallow, hides, and wool ? The honorable member must see the fallacy of. the arguments he has used. Those who will use this commodity are certainly as hard pressed in these times in Australia as are those interested in the Wallaroo and Moonta mines. I refer to the wheat-growers and fruit-growers, and under the circumstances they should have an opportunity of getting this article as cheaply as possible. I shall therefore vote to have it retained on the free list.
– I desire to say one or two words to remove a misapprehension which may have arisen from a statement that the Wallaroo company has an entire monopoly of this product. That is not correct. Sulphate of copper is one of the by-products at the Broken Hill Company’s works at Port Pirie. I should like also to remove a misapprehension that this is a by-product which is inexpensively obtained. That is not so, because it requires a somewhat expensive plant to produce sulphate of copper in a form useful for the purposes for which it’ is intended. It is produced in all reduction works in which pyritic ores are treated - that is, ores with sulphur in them. Whether this duty is imposed or not will matter very little to the consumer, inasmuch as at the present time it is contemplated by a large company in Tasmania to erect sulphuric acid works, when they will be able to supply sulphate of copper very largely. I can say, as the result of personal investigations in Spain, where sulphate of copper is made in very large quantities at the Rio Tinto mines, that the use of sulphate of copper in refineries and in agriculture is not sufficiently known. The agricultural interest is in my opinion of infinitely greater importance than are any of the works which are turning out sulphate of copper, and my own feeling is that if this amendment goes to a division I shall be compelled to vote against the imposition of any further burdens upon what I consider a primary industry. Sulphate of copper ought to be used much more largely than it is for the destruction and prevention of the insect pests with which we have to deal. Though the quantity at present produced may be limited, it will very shortly be largely increased, and the question of price need not weigh with honorable members in deciding how they will cast their votes. In a very short time there will be sufficient sulphate of copper produced locally to supply all the demands of the Commonwealth, even though they be much larger than they now are.
– The right honorable the leader of the Opposition pointed out one or two fallacies indulged in by the Minister for Trade and Customs, but he left one without remark, possibly because he imagined that it was so obvious a fallacy that there was no necessity to deal with it. During the debate the same fallacy has been trotted out twice subsequently, and it may, perhaps, be worthy of a little attention in order to convince a few members of the committee, who have not yet discovered it, of its utter worthlessness. I refer to the cry as to the treatment of the poor manufacturers here by manufacturers in other parts of the world. We are told time and again, until I am becoming a little impatient of listening to it, that we are subjected to unfair competition by manufacturers in other parts of the world. It is said that they dump their products down here in order to kill local . production, and that having secured the market for themselves they raise the price to suit themselves also. In connexion with the particular item we are at present discussing I happen to be able to say something from personal knowledge which bears upon this particular fallacy. As a young man I was engaged for some time in the office of a large firm of chemical manufacturers who exported theirproducts to all parts of the world. The idea of sending their products to any part of the world at prices which would not pay them was never entertained by that firm, nor would it be entertained by any other firm. They had their quotations for shipment, and these quotations varied according to the places to which they were asked to export their goods: but in all cases a margin of profit was provided for. It is ridiculous to imagine that anything else could happen. Can it be supposed that the manufacturers of sulphate of copper in other parts of the world would combine to send that article into Australia at a loss, in order to kill the local production ? And no single firm would do it, because, when the local production was killed, they would have no certainty of keeping the monopoly to themselves. The suggestion is merely a Munchausen tale, and I trust that we have heard the lastofit. Ihavenodoubtthatithas done yeoman service in Victoria in the past, but its brilliancy is so tarnished now, and its tinsel has become so obvious, that it is time it was reverently consigned to the dust heap.
Mr. HUGHES (West Sydney).- Bad as is the cause of the honorable member for South Australia, Sir Langdon Bonython, the arguments with which it is supported are still worse. The honorable member for Laanecoorie was the first to give us exact data in regard to this industry. He stated that the local producers were selling their sulphate at £20 a ton, and could not afford to sell for less, while the importers formerly charged £24 a ton, but were now charging £17 a ton. According to the Minister for Trade and Customs, there are 3,000 men employed in this industry.
– There are 3,000 men employed by the Wallaroo Company
– These 3,000 men are to be kept in employment by a duty of 10 per cent. on 600 tons ; so that £1,2.00, only a small part of which would be profit, would make all the difference between ruin and prosperity to the industry. I never heard a more absurd statement. As a matter of fact, honorable members never heard of this industry before, and even the honorable and learned member for Corinella admitted that he was not boiling over with enthusiasm in regard to the proposal. No one has made himself more thoroughly acquainted with the industries of South Australia than has the Minister for Trade and Customs, but he had not heard of this industry until recently. The South Australian Tariff was revised in 1893 or 1894.
– Yes, in certain particulars ; and if this great company, which wields the enormous influence that- 3,000 votes can command, had wanted a duty on sulphate of copper, they would have got it then. The Minister gave his best attention to the industries of South Australia. If he had been a fiend pickled in his own brine he could not have fought more desperately for the duty on salt. But even he made no proposal in regard to sulphate of copper. No one heard of the industry until the honorable member for South Australia, Sir Langdon Bonython, bashfully and hesitatingly proposed this duty. But that was sufficient for the Ministry. They wanted no other evidence. In New South Wales there are large’ deposits of arsenic, but although the rat is. so to speak, stalking through that State and Queensland, and Paris green is so largely required, no sort of consideration is given to it. The coal industry employs some 13,000 or 14,000 men in New South Wales alone; but aniline dyes, which are a by-product of coal tar, have been placed upon the free list.
– Are they made in New South Wales?
– No; but we should very soon make them if we had a chance. If some one on the other side said that 13,000 men were employed in the industry, but he could not say exactly how many were engaged in making aniline dyes, the Government would propose a duty upon aniline dyes. Why do they not stick to their policy ? They do not commend themselves to those who regard consistency as a desirable though a rare political virtue. The Minister would have done better if he had told the honorable member for South Australia that, having given the matter careful consideration, he came to the conelusion that the industry is . not worth supporting.
Question - That the words “sulphate of copper,” proposed to be omitted, stand - put. The committee divided -
Question so resolved in the affirmative.
– I move-
That the following exemptions be added : - “Ceramic colours,” “prepared glazes for pottery.”
I understand that ceramic colours are used in connexion with the glazes. They are made from flint, and are therefore distinct from ordinary colours.
Amendment agreed to.
– I move-
That the following exemptions he added : - “Residuum oil “ and “distillate oil.”
These are raw products used in the manufacture of axle-grease, and are imported from San Francisco. Residuum oil costs about 4d. per gallon, and the duty of 3d. per gallon is equal to an impost of 75 per cent, ad valorem. The distillate oil is worth about 5d. per gallon, and the duty of 6d. per gallon is equal to over 100 per cent. ad valorem. Axle-grease is being made in Victoria and New South Wales, and it is necessary to afford our local manufacturers every opportunity of competing with the American axle-grease, which is of superior quality, and is sold at a higher price than is the local product.
– If what the honorable member refers to is residual oil, it would include fuel oil, and that would involve a very large question.
– No, I am given to understand that residuum oil is crude lubricating oil.
– I should like to understand whether distillate oil is the residuum left after distillation or oil procured by distillation. If the description would apply to the latter the proposed exemptions would conflict with what we have already agreed to, namely, that mineral spirit oils n.e.i. shall be subject to a duty of 6d. per gallon. Spirit oil would naturally be of higher value than the residuum after distillation. Gasolene is a distillate oil, and as generally understood, distillate oil would be oil procured by distillation. If such oil were admitted free it would compete with gasolene and mineral spirit oils uponwhich we have imposed a duty of 6d . per gallon. If distillate oil is simply the residuum left after distillation, and is used solely in the manufacture of axle-grease I should have no objection to its admission free of duty, but it would be a mistake to do anything that would deprive us of the revenue that we expect to derive from gasolene.
– The Government have had no opportunity to ascertain what would be the effect of the proposed exemptions. These commodities may be used in the manufacture of axle-grease, but they may also be utilized as fuel and as illuminants. It is impossible for the Government at this stage to agree to these oils being placed upon the free list, but we shall cause full inquiries to be made as to the purposes for which they are used, and afford the honorable member for Illawarra an opportunity of bringing the matter before the committee at a later stage.
– I am assured that if these oils are made subject to duty a serious blow will be inflicted upon one large manufacturer in New South Wales.
– The matter has not been brought under our notice.
– I understood that it had been. However, I hope the honorable member for Illawarra will have another opportunity of proposing the exemptions.
Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.
-I move -
That the following exemption be added: - “ Solar oil for gas-making purposes.”
I also intend to propose that liquid fuel shall be added to the list of exemptions. I am informed that solar oil is a by-product of petroleum, and that it is used in conjunction with coal for gas-making purposes in Perth, Dunedin, and Auckland, and very largely throughout Europe. Its price in Australia ranges from £2 10s. to £3 per ton of 250 gallons, so that a duty of 3d. per gallon would be ridiculous and prohibitive. I understand that the Government have no objection to this proposal. Yesterday they expressed their willingness to place liquid fuel on the free list also.
– That is a far more serious matter.
– I understand that there is no objection to placing solar oil on the free list.
– I should like a further explanation from the honorable and learned member.
– My case is that solar oil is a by-product of petroleum, and is very largely used in conjunction with coal for the manufacture of gas. I believe that the combination is a somewhat recent discovery so far as its utility is concerned. I understand that it is extensively used throughout Europe, and that it has been recently introduced into Sydney, Perth, Dunedin, and Auckland. In my judgment an article of this sort ought not be subject to a revenue duty. It is just one of those commodities which, like kerosene, I object to taxing. Indeed, the very same arguments that influence me in the case of kerosene operate in regard to solar oil.
– The information which we have obtained from our expert officer leads us to believe that we should not raise any very strong objection to the inclusion of this particular article upon the free list, but later advices are to the effect that “solar oil “ is the name of a particular brand of oil. All through the Tariff discussion the committee have laid down the principle that we should not discriminate in favour of any particular brand of article, and if solar oil is the name of a special brand we can scarcely agree to its inclusion in the free list.
Mr. GLYNN (South Australia). - I do not know that “ solar oil “ is a particular brand of oil, but I have no objection to striking out the word “ solar “ if there is a belief that its inclusion would unfairly discriminate between a special description -of oil and other oils.
– I would point -out that, if we agree to placing “ oil used for gas-making purposes” in the f roe list, we shall create a great deal of difficulty, inasmuch as many oils can be used for those purposes, and we shall thus be compelled to differentiate between different classes of the same article, according to the uses to which they are to be applied.
– In regard to this particular item, the Government will be happy to obtain further information. The honorable and learned member for South Australia, Mr. Glynn, gave notice of his proposal some time ago, and since then we have been able to obtain some little knowledge in regard to it. But I would point out that if we agree to this exemption, about which we know practically nothing, the article in question might be rushed in free with disastrous effects to trade. We might do in a few minutes something which would have disastrous effects for years. Therefore, I trust that the honorable and learned member will not press the matter at the present stage. I will give him another opportunity to deal with it.
– I was under the impression last night that the Government were in favour of this proposal. They then knew all the circumstances, because the matter had been before them for over two months. However, if the Ministry declare that they must be in possession of further information upon the subject before they can consent to my proposal, I have no option but to withdraw the amendment.
Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.
Mr. GLYNN (South Australia). - I move -
That the following exemption be adder - * Liquid fuel.”
Liquid fuel, I believe, is the residuum of petroleum after the naphtha, kerosene, and benzine have been extracted from the crude oil. I understand that its value is about 30s. per ton, estimating 250 gallons to the ton. Threepence per gallon, which is the duty proposed, would represent an impost of £3 2s. Gd. per ton ; so that the incidence of the tax is absolutely absurd. Liquid fuel is largely used for boiler engines, and also for general engines. Especially is it used in England for steamboat purposes. I am further informed that it is about to be introduced into Australia, as the Shell Transport Company intend erecting large storage accommodation here. That idea, however, has not been put into execution because of the operation of the present prohibitive duty. If liquid fuel is used for the purposes indicated, I think there is strong reason for putting it upon the free list.
– I heartily support the amendment. My information is that the cost of this article in Great Britain is from 2d. to 3d. per gallon. The price is a little higher in Australia ; but the quotation I have given is sufficient to indicate that the proposed duty bears no proper relation to the value of the commodity. Liquid fuel has a very great future before it. Already it is being applied to the production of steam, even with regard to sea-going ships. It is also being applied to small engines supplying motive power, for the generation of which - as is often the case in Western Australia - it is difficult to obtain ordinary fuel. In view of the fact that it promises to open up avenues of usefulness in which coal and; .wood would not come into competition with it, I thinkthat it might well be placed upon the free list.
– What kind of oil is used at the present time in the ordinary engines 1
– Kerosene oil is used but of course its cost is much higher than is the cost of liquid fuel, although the latter is in some respects much more effective. In this connexion, I would remind the Treasurer that kerosene is the direct force which drives the piston rod, whereas liquid fuel is used to generate steam, consequently the two articles do not come into competition. It is well known that in outlying districts a great difficulty is often experienced in obtaining coal or wood for the purpose of driving engines, and liquid fuel promises to supply that deficiency. If its use only opens up an avenue of employment in this respect, it is worthy of the serious consideration of Ministers. But, as the honorable and learned member for South Australia has pointed out, it is used by gas companies in conjunction with coal–
– The honorable member is in error. The honorable and learned member for South Australia was referring to solar oil.
– I am informed that liquid fuel is used in the gas-works of Australia in conjunction with coal for producing a superior quality of gas.
– What is that crude oil ? How is it made?
– It is some product or residuum of petroleum.
– It is unrefined kerosene.
– I am informed by managers of gas-works in my own State that this crude oil is used in conjunction with coal, in order to give a superior quality to gas. If this oil is necessary in order to increase the illuminating power of gas, I do not see that the Government are justified in imposing a duty. In any case, the duty proposed is altogether out of the question. The only duty that could be asked for is, say,¼d. per gallon, and even that is too high in proportion to the value. The best course would be to place this article on the free list.
– I trust that the Government will not propose to place this oil on the free list. If I could be assured that this liquid fuel would not come into competition with the locallyproduced fuel, I should not take my present course ; but anybody who understands what is being done on the western coast of America will know that the huge oil trust which is attempting to have this liquid fuel placed on the Commonwealth free list is competing with the coal sent from Australia to that part of the world.
– The liquid fuel we get in Western Australia comes from Borneo and has no relation to the trust.
– The request that this fuel should be placed on the free list comes from the “ Shell “ Transport and Trading Company Limited, of London.
– These are the Borneo people.
– I am informed that the “ Shell “ Company has amalgamated with, or has been bought up by, the American Oil Trust, the amount involved being some £8,000,000. The most recent reports show, as I have stated, that this liquid fuel is one of the most keen competitors with Australian coal on the western coast of America, where, in this connexion, some big developments are expected in the next twelve months.
– Is this liquid fuel at all dangerous ?
– It is a dangerous competitor with coal. I have here a circular from the “Shell” Company, which states -
We desire to draw your attention to a subject in which we are greatly interested.
No doubt they are.
A large and continually increasing trade in liquid fuel is being done by the company throughout the world, and its fleet of over 30 steamers is engaged in the transport of the commodity.
The circular proceeds to explain that liquid fuel is the residuum of petroleum after the naphtha, kerosene, benzine,&c, have been extracted from the crude oil, and to state that its value, delivered in Australian ports, is about 30s. per ton. From what I can learn of this particular kind of fuel, it can be landed here by the company without duty at such a price that it will interfere considerably with the consumption of Australasian coal. I fail to see how a cask of this oil can be more easily or cheaply transported into the interior than can a ton of coal.
– The cost of transport is very different.
– That may be so on the water, but not on the land. I do not advocate a prohibitive duty, but I would point out that a great deal has been said about the miner not being protected, though he is heavily taxed. If there is one section of the community which is paying a considerable amount of taxation under the
Tariff, it is that section which produces coal in Australia.
– It is a pity the honorable member did not realize that earlier.
– The miners are prepared to pay their fair share of taxation, but I ask the Ministry to be consistent, and, when opportunity offers, to extend their protectionist principles to the miner.
Mr. G. B. EDWARDS (South Sydney).The argument of the honorable member for Newcastle might be used in regard to a great many of the proposals to which we have already agreed. The argument against allowing liquid fuel in free, on the ground that it may interfere with the coal industry of Australia, is one that might be applied with still greater force against the free importation of all electrical apparatus. Undoubtedly, electricity has supplanted coal, both as an illuminant and a motive force ; but I guarantee that if an honorable member opposed the introduction of electrical machinery on the ground that it might interfere with the coal industry, his action would be characterized as trying to keep the Atlantic back with a mop.
– That is the other extreme.
– It is of no use our resisting the march of progress and the inventions of the human mind. If this fuel is to supplant coal it will ultimately do so, notwithstanding anything that the Commonwealth Parliament may do. The only result of any action we may take towards such prevention will be to make ourselves lag behind in the march of progress, and compete on unfair terms with the whole world. In attempting that, we should be making a great blunder.We can, perhaps, best learn what liquid fuel is from a paragraph in a circular which has been sent to me by a highly respectable shipping firm. It reads -
We beg to point out that liquid fuel is, as yet, hardly known in Australia, but we have hopes, at an early date, of seeing its introduction and development. You are no doubt aware that it is now being extensively used by many of the railway companies in the United Kingdom and France. In Southern Russia, almost every boiler is firedby oil. Oil is also being rapidly adopted for fuel purposes in California, and many of the large steam-ship companies are using, solely, liquid fuel. Under the present Tariff proposals, crude petroleum is admitted tree. Liquid fuel is the residuum of petroleum after the naphtha, benzine, kerosene, &c, have been extracted from the “ crude.” We think it only necessary to point this out to have it put on the free list.
This paragraph might be made much stronger by pointing out that we have already on the free list crude petroleum, naphtha, and benzine.
– Benzine and naphtha have both been made dutiable. They were taken off the free list because they could not be distinguished from other articles.
– In that sense it was wise to move them from the free list. But crude petroleum is admitted free ; and the only effect of keeping out the liquid fuel will be that, if we are to take part in the march of progress, we shall have to dissociate benzine and other properties of petroleum, and manufacture the residuum liquid fuel here. We shall not be able to do that, however, owing to the fact that we cannot find a market for the large quantities of benzine and other substances which result, and that in other places of the world, where there is such a market, the liquid fuel can be produced much more cheaply. There is no gainsaying the fact that recent experiments made in America and the old world have almost demonstrated that liquid fuel has “come to stay.” It is of no use our trying to obstruct progress. If liquid fuel is a better and more economical commodity, surely we, who have been doing our best on both sides of the House to establish industries, are not going to prohibit those industries from making use of what is best in the shape of fuel? I have read, not only in reference to the Commonwealth but in reference to other parts of the world, that there are already fears that the coal supplies of the world will not last. And this liquid fuel affords an admirable way of making the coal supplies last longer than they otherwise would. I believe the importation of this commodity will interfere with the coal industry, but it is of no use our prohibiting liquid fuel in the interests of that industry, and thus handicapping a thousand and one other enterprises which depend entirely for their success on a cheaper method, than that provided bycoal, of creating motive power. While on a sea voyage the other day I was talking to a gentleman largely interested in shipping, and he told me many shipping companies in Australia are hesitating about making alterations to their marine boilers and engines, on the ground that they do not know what may be the result of the discovery of liquid fuel. It is feared by these companies that it may be a waste of money to make alterations in the direction of increased speed with the present methods, until they see the ultimate result of the experiments which are now being made. It is contended, though perhaps not demonstrated, that a much greater rate of speed can be attained by steamers using this liquid fuel than by steamers using coal. Vessels have greater capacity for carrying liquid fuel, weight for weight, and it goes much further. Then, there are land engines all over the continent, in connexion with which it is found very troublesome and expensive to convey coal from the mines to where it is required ; and liquid fuel could be transported much more readily. It would be a pity if we threw any obstacles in the way of the use of liquid fuel, when we are trying day by day, in discussing the Tariff, to do something, whether rightly or wrongly, to foster the industries of the Commonwealth.
– When this matter was first brought under my notice, and I looked through the papers, I was under the impression that it was of small importance. I thought that the oil would be mostly used, as mentioned by the honorable member for Perth, in connexion with small engines in Western Australia and other outlying parts of the Common wealth; but further inquiries I have made into the matter since it was mentioned last night, have led me to the belief that this liquid fuel will in time compete very seriously with the coal industry in some of the States. I quite admit with the honorable member for South Sydney that we ought not to attempt to arrest the progress of these latest appliances. But we must not forget that this article will be used largely by industries to which we are giving a considerable amount of protection, and that it is not fair to leave altogether unprotected the coal industry, which is very large, and one which we should try to help. At the same time it does appear, from the values which have been put forward, that a duty of 3d. per gallon would be altogether too high if not prohibitive - such a duty as no one would desire to impose upon this particular article. That there should be some reasonable duty in order to give fair protection cannot, I think, be denied. The honorable member for South Sydney has set out the numerous advantages which various industries’ would derive from the use of liquid fuel ; and seeing the very cheap rate at which, apparently, it can be imported, it is only fair that it should bear a reasonable amount of duty, though what that duty should be is a matter for future consideration. Under the circumstances we cannot agree to the item being made absolutely free. We shall reserve for further inquiry and future proposal the rate of duty. Liquid fuel appears to be produced by the very large companies which have been referred to, and I suppose it will come here principally from Borneo. It is the Shell Transport Company who are pressing for this concession, and that company, so far as I know, obtain the product from Borneo. Liquid fuel might also be sent here from Russia, and, from what the honorable member for Newcastle has said, it will probably be sent by the large trust which operates in America.
– The trust is reported to have bought up the Shell Company.
– I have seen a statement to that effect in the newspapers, but I have no information about it. The oil is apparently sent out here very cheaply, and as the company say that they can stand a reasonable amount of duty, we shall have to object to putting the article upon the free list, reserving the particular amount of duty for future consideration and for a subsequent proposal to the committee.
– I can thoroughly understand that the honorable member for Newcastle is naturally anxious to protect the industry in which his own constituency is interested ; and I can also understand the keenness of the Treasurer to obtain a certain amount of revenue from oil for liquid fuel. I am not such a rabid free-trader as to say that this is an article of commerce upon which it would not be right to put a certain amount of duty. It is well to understand the position of the importing company. I had the pleasure, some few months back, of visiting the storage station at Williamstown, Victoria. The company now have at that place a large storage capacity for cheap illuminants, and it is their intention to import liquid fuel. I heard a prominent member of the Victorian Cabinet say at the opening ceremony, that he looked with pride at the establishment of another industry in Victoria. The character of the industry is as follows : - A tank steamer brings the article to our shores. The steamer itself is loaded by means of gravitation, through pipes in the ordinary way, either in the Caspian Sea, or at Borneo. The sailors employed upon the vessels are sepoys, who are engaged at the lowest possible rate of wages. The company itself, is exploiting the natural springs of . the two districts I have mentioned, and is practically having the oil . given to it. It is an industry which does not benefit any of the interests of Australia, and it is a reasonable thing that we should look for a fair amount of revenue from it. I agree with the honorable member for South Sydney that we are not living in an age when we can afford to stand still in the matter of industrial progress. But the right honorable member will admit that liquid fuel is so cheap in itself, and can be so cheaply imported into Australia, that it will be more than an ordinary competitor with the coal mines of this country. No duty which can be placed upon it short of absolute prohibition will enable the coal mines to cope against liquid fuel. The Government are in the position of not knowing what are the powers of consumption of liquid fuel in Australia. But I venture to say that within a few years, owing to the inventive powers of scientists, liquid fuel will be brought into general operation for purposes of locomotion. Indeed it is possible that solar heat itself will some day be so applied as to do away with the use of either oil or coal. To-day, oil engines are to some extent displacing coal engines. I think that the Government can, without any injury to the people at large, look to obtaining a certain amount of revenue from this article. There are other articles upon the Tariff which are far more objectionable than this. The subject is at any rate worthy of investigation, and the Government are not justified in placing liquid fuel upon the free list until they obtain further information. They rightly look upon it as an article of revenue. A duty can be placed upon it without injuring any Australian industry, and it may prove to be a splendid revenue-producing item.
Mr. FOWLER (Perth).- We have witnessed many strange changes of front in this Chamber, but I feel confident that we have seen nothing more astonishing than the change of front on the part of the honorable member for Dalley, who, though he has hitherto been one of the strongest free-traders in the committee, now advocates a tax on the industries of the country. In spite of the anxiety of honorable members to obtain some revenue from what they hold to be a great monopoly, their intentions will be frustrated, because this is a tax that will be levied upon the consumers of oil, and will not affect the owners of the monopoly in any respect further than enabling them perhaps to make a little extra profit. Foi1 my own part, I have had no communication whatever, direct or indirect, from any of the representatives of this monopoly ; but I have been approached by the consumers of the material, who protest against being taxed in this manner. They object to being taxed over 100 per cent, on their material, as they will be if the proposed duty is imposed, in spite of the implied promise of the Government to put the article upon the free list. If there is to be a duty at all, I hope it will have some relation to the actual cost of the article. If that be the case, I for one shall have no great objection, although I regret that the original intention of the Government is not to be carried out. That intention would have been appreciated if not now, certainly in the near future, by almost all the industries of the Commonwealth.
Mr. WATSON (Bland).- The Treasurer has to my mind taken the right attitude in saying that we are entitled to ask for some amount of revenue from this source. The honorable member for Perth states that he speaks for the consumers of liquid fuel. I think there is some confusion as to the particular article referred to, because as far as my knowledge goes, at present there are no consumers of liquid fuel, as the term is properly understood, in Australia. There are plenty of oil. engines, but they do not use liquid fuel.
– I was referring to liquid fuel.
– I do not know where it has been used ; at any rate it is not used to any great extent. What the use of it may be in the future it is impossible to say.
– There is a possibility of development.
– There is : but when we are casting about for revenue, I do not see why a small amount of revenue should not be obtained from this article.
– It should bear some relation to the value.
– I quite admit that 3d. per gallon is too much, because it practically prohibits the use of the article, in which case there would be no revenue from it. We should, I think, impose a small duty, equivalent to 10 per cent., or something like that.
– There seems to be a certain amount of uncertainty in the minds of honorable members as to what is proposed, and I think it arises out of their ignorance as to what liquid fuel is. I am much astonished to find crude petroleum in the list of oils already exempt from duty. I do not know the difference between crude petroleum and liquid fuel.
– There is a difference. I understand that liquid fuel is the residuum after taking the benzine and the kerosene out of the petroleum.
– I believe both can be used for liquid fuel.
– Oh, yes.
– I take it, that what we require to know most certainly in regard to this matter is, whether it is a big matter or a small one. There is no use in our discussing the question at length without that information. If the Government are going to insist upon imposing a duty of 3d. per gallon on refined kerosene, I should certainly be inclined not to vote to exempt crude oil. If we could arrive at a compromise with the Government on this matter, that they should exempt refined kerosene from taxation altogether, the understanding being that we were committed to a duty of, say, 6d. a gallon on the raw oil, that would be a good thing. Such taxation would commend itself to a very large proportion of the people of the country. I do not know how that suggestion strikes the Government, but I know that a good many honorable members are disinclined to votefor a duty on kerosene, which is an illuminant very much used by both the poorer and the better classes. I should be very much influenced in giving my vote by what happened in regard to kerosene. If kerosene be placed upon the free list I do not mind voting with the Government to impose a duty of 3d. on the raw oil. If, on the other hand, a duty of 3d. or even 2d. be placed on kerosene, I certainly should not like to allow the crude oil to come in free. That is the point. Kerosene is used in nearly every household in this community. If we impose a duty of 3d. a gallon on refined kerosene, we impose a tax on every person in the community. That should not be done. I, therefore, suggest to the Government that they should postpone the consideration of this item until after refined kerosene is dealt with. Then honorable members will know how matters stand. Certainly they do not know now.
– I hope the right honorable the Treasurer, by agreeing to a greatly reduced duty, will save his revenue from an impending attack, which may involve considerable disaster. The honorable member who has just resumed his seat has made a perfectly beautiful proposal in the interests of the revenue, and that is that we should impose a duty upon this particular article of liquid fuel in consideration of our getting kerosene placed upon the free list. I hope the right honorable Treasurer will take the course the honorable member has suggested.
– I have already said that we cannot agree to this article going on the free list, but that a duty of 3d. is too high, and that later on we will make a definite proposal as to what duty should be imposed upon it.
– I have no doubt that will be found to meet with the approval of the honorable member who has moved this amendment.
– After the statement of the right honorable Treasurer there is not much more to be said. I think honorable members are rather exaggerating the possibilities of this liquid fuel being introduced to such an extent as to destroy the utility of our coal measures, because its use will involve a continual process of change in all our mechanical appliances, and it will therefore be a very long time before it has a very material effect upon the consumption of coal. The argument as to the enormous amount of consumption justifies the expectation of considerable revenue, and the Treasurer will have my support in securing it.
Mr. WILKS (Dalley). - I would not have troubled the committee again if it had not been for the severe castigation I have received from the honorable member for Perth. The honorable member has charged me with a change of front, but it is “ front “ on the honorable member’s part to make such a charge against a free-trader. I may remind the honorable member that in my electorate there are some 3,000 ironworkers, and that I have not cast a single vote in the direction of protection to benefit those workers. It is, therefore, rather late in the day for the honorable member to charge me with a change of front in this instance. This is an item which, in my opinion, may fairly well be levied upon for revenue purposes. Without anything like the same justification, taxation has been imposed upon other articles, and still more iniquitous taxation will yet be imposed if the Ministry can have their way. The true position of free-traders in this matter is that, while they wish to have a low duty imposed upon kerosene oil, and, if possible, to have it included in the free list, they are willing to compromise their principles upon liquid fuel. I should like the right honorable Treasurer to explain his intention with regard to kerosene oil, that we may know what we ought to do in this case.
Mr GLYNN (South Australia).- I do not know whether the Government are prepared now to save time by agreeing toa specific duty.
– It is impossible to do it now.
– Am I to understand that the Government will bring down some alternative proposal 1 It is, of course, very difficult to discuss a policy until we know what it is.
– We will bring forward a proposal to place a certain duty upon the item, and it will be for the committee to say whether the proposal is a fair one.
– As we have postponed the consideration of kerosene oil, it may save time if this is also postponed, when I understand the Government will come forward with an amended proposal for a low duty.
-With a proposal for what we think a reasonable duty.
– I think it will be better’ to settle the question upon any reasonable proposal which may be submitted by the Government, and I therefore ask leave to withdraw the amendment.
Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.
Exemptions agreed to.
Division VIII. - Earthenware, cement, china, glass, and stone.
Item83. - Cement, Portland, plaster of Paris, and other like preparations having magnesia or sulphate of lime as a basis, also gypsum, not prepared, percwt.,1s.
Mr. WATSON (Bland).- I think we ought to deal with these items separately, and in my opinion the duty of1s. per cwt. proposed upon cement is too high. It is equivalent to 3s. 4½d. a cask, and when it is remembered that cement is sometimes as low as 9s. 6d. and 10s. a cask retail in Sydney, it will be admitted that this is a very high duty upon an article which has a great deal of natural protection. If we cannot reduce the duty to 6d., I think it should be reduced to at least 9d. per cwt. I do not propose to move an amendment at this stage, but taking everything into consideration I believe that the people engaged in the industry could do with a lower duty than that proposed. I would never advocate a duty so high as to give an opportunity to local manufacturers to raise prices unduly against the consumer. If we have a moderate duty we have some chance of keeping the balance between the importer and the local manufacturer. I do not think that can be done with a duty which amounts on ordinary prices to 33 per cent. This duty may be even more than that upon the landed price of the imported article, but upon the ordinary price of cement in the open market it is over 33 per cent.
– I am exceedingly sorry to hear the remarks of the honorable member for Bland, because he has forgotten that the competition to which our manufacturers are subjected is exceedingly unfair. This article is being imported largely from Germany; it is bounty fed, and it is brought here in subsidized ships.
– Who says it is bounty fed?
– I repeat that it is bounty fed in Germany. There is at the present time a ship load, if not more than one, to be discharged in Melbourne, which will come into competition with our own workmen, our own raw material, and our own manufacturers, and not to the advantage of the consumer.
– Can the honorable member say what the bounty is?
– I cannot name the amount, but I know that it is bounty fed. Before our own cement mines, if I may so call them, were developed, we were paying as much as 18s. a cask for cement. The competition between the manufacturer and the importer has steadied the market, given employment, and cut prices down. I am informed that at present prices a duty of anything less than 9d. per cwt. will result in the immediate closing down of the works here, and I think also in New South Wales. I am assured that while it may be possible to struggle on with a duty of 9d., it will not be possible to continue the industry with a duty of a fraction less. I should like to see the duty continued at ls. per cwt., and I do not think any one would be injured by it. I recognise that there are honorable members here who are opposed to all duties, and also a number of protectionists who do not view this matter from my point of view. A special appeal has been made by the workmen to this House from New South Wales and Victoria. In this industry men work for 56 hours a week in Germany, while here they work only 48 hours. The wages paid in Germany are 3s. 6d. a day, and here the minimum wage paid is 6s, 6d. a day. That is low enough in all reason, but it is high compared with the wage paid in Germany. I am hoping that when honorable members hear the evidence which will be adduced from the data in the possession of members of the committee, they will see their way to support the duty of ls. per cwt. as proposed in the Tariff.
– I do not think that the manufacture of cement is likely to be a pronouncedly successful industry within the Commonwealth. The duty which the Government has imposed upon cement is equal to 35 per cent. In New South Wales, before the coming into force of the federal Tariff, cement was lis. a cask ; but after the Tariff was imposed the price was increased to 1 5s. a cask. There cement has been upon the free list for the last five years.
– But the New South Wales cement works were started under protection.
– I think that a protection of 20 per cent, should be quite sufficient for the industry. The Government have promised that the artisans shall not be unduly taxed, and I do not think that cement works will be generally successful throughout the Commonwealth. They will be confined to certain populous centres. When cement was free in New South Wales, its price was lis. per cask, while the price in Victoria was from 13s. to 14s. per cask. That shows that the industry has not been a very great success, and, as it is not a native industry, the natural effect of the duty must be to increase the cost. While I wish to retain the existing factories, I do not think that builders and others who use cement should have to pay too highly for it, and I therefore move -
That after the word “cement,” the following words be inserted: - “per cwt. ls., and on and after 20th February, 1902, 9d.”
Mr. McCAY (Corinella).- In 1900, New South Wales, under free - trade, imported 167,000 barrels of cement, valued at £83,000, or about 10s. per barrel, while Victoria imported only 41,000 barrels, of about the same value per barrel.
– Much more work was going on in New South Wales in that year.
– Hardly four times as much.
– A good deal of- cement was being used in the construction of breakwaters in New South Wales.
– But we were doing a little work in Victoria, even though we had protection. The Metropolitan Board of Works alone used tens of thousands of barrels of cement in that year. Of the cement imported into New South Wales 23,000 barrels came from the United Kingdom, 123,000 from Germany, and 26,000 from Belgium, whilst of the cement imported into Victoria two-thirds came from the United Kingdom and one-third from Germany. Having said so much, I wish to point out to the committee the utter unfairness of the German competition. I do not know what the New South Wales wages are, but I assume that they are about the same as the Victorian wages, while the wages paid in Germany are not more than half as much, and the hours worked there are from 56 to 60 as against 4S in Australia. Then, as honorable members know, a great many of the vessels which come out to Australia in the course of a year are unable to obtain full cargoes at ordinary freight rates, and, therefore, large manufacturers, or associations of manufacturers, are able to buy the spare bottoms of a line of ships for a given period, and export their manufactures as dead weight for merely nominal rates of freight. It is stated in to-day’s Argus that it costs 4s. 2d. to bring a cask of cement from London to Melbourne, but, as a matter of fact, the shippers of cement, by engaging the surplus space on board ship to which I have referred, are often able to export it at a very low rate.
– What does the honorable and learned member call a low rate?
– The rates I believe run as low as10s. per ton, or about1s. 6d. a barrel.
– No cement has come out at anything like that rate for a long time past.
– Cement is frequently bought in German ports to fill in a vessel’s spare space, and is sold here at whatever price it will realize, so long as that price is higher than the original price free on board at the port of export, and gives a profit to the ship-owner. When that happens scarcely any freight at all is paid on the cement. But we are told by the Argus that the local manufacturer of cement enjoys a protection of 72 per cent. I do not say that imported cement is not dearer because of the import duty. I think that it is : but undoubtedly the establishment of Australian cement factories has materially assisted in reducing the price of cement to the users. I hold in my hand a number of original invoices and receipts for cement bought in the years 1888, 1889, and 1890, in parcels of various sizes running up to 500 casks. At that time no cement was manufactured locally, and the cement realized from 16s. 9d. to 17s. 6d. per cask.
– Freights were much higher then.
– Some of the cheapest freights we ever had were obtained eleven years ago.
– When the local industry commenced, the price of cement fell to 9s. per cask, because the importers cut their pricesin order to destroy the localcompetition. The local manufacturers came to Parliament and said they could not stand selling their cement at a cash loss any longer. They asked for a duty, which was granted to them by the Victorian Parliament, and from that time up to the present the prices of cement have varied very little indeed. If the duty is abolished it is certain that the surplus products of foreign countries, where labourers work for long hours at low wages, will be introduced at such prices that the local manufacturers will be killed. The importers will afterwards be able to put up prices to any figure they like.
– Hear, hear.
– The right honorable gentleman cheers ironically, but does he know that practically the whole of the cement-makers of England were, in 1900, united under the title of the Portland Cement Manufacturers Limited, for the purpose of controlling prices, and that this association has issued congratulatory circulars ?
– Does not the honorable and learned member recognise the absurdity of his statement ; how could the English manufacturers control the German makers ?
– I am speaking of what has been done in the United Kingdom, and I shall refer to the German makers. I have here a report from Messrs. Tulloch and Co., who occupy a well-recognised status in the cement trade. They refer to the importations of foreign cement into Great Britain in 1900 as amounting to 110,000 tons, equivalent to 700,000 casks. This came from Germany and Belgium. In their report for April, 1901, Messrs. Tulloch and Co. say : -
Germany. - Whilst the mills carry fairly heavy stocks, Inland demand is now likely to improve, and production is under control. The Export Syndicates are well organized, and have already exerted a healthy effect on business.
That of course means that prices have been controlled.
Prices are maintained at inks. 6.25 to mks.6.50, but where necessary to maintain or extend foreign trade, moderate concessions would be granted.
Of course that would be intended to prevent the local manufacturer from continuing operations. First we have the associated manufacturers of England, and I have seen their prospectus with a very long list of the manufacturers who are included in the combination. Then we have the home and foreign syndicates of Germany. I have papers here describing what is done in Germany. They have one syndicate which controls the home prices, and another which regulates foreign prices. The foreign prices at the date of this report were 6s. 3d. to 6s. 6d. per cask f.o.b. at Hamburg, or whatever the port of shipment might be. The exporters of cement from England and the exporters from Germany are united to control prices, and once the cement makers of Australia are got rid of we shall find remarkable harmony between the exporters of England and Germany so far as their operations in the neutral market of
Australia, are concerned. I contend, therefore, that the cement trade will be endangered if we do not impose a reasonable and proper duty. I regret that a reduction of the duty has been proposed, especially in view of the fact that practically the whole value of the article is represented in wages and the cost of management, as the ingredients are practically valueless.
– What is the present price in England ?
– It ranges from 6s. to 6s. 6d. per cask f.o.b.
– It averages 5s. 6d.
– No. It does not range as low as that. In some cases I have seen 5s. 9d. quoted, but 6s. per cask, although it is a low price, is not an unfair one to take as the f.o.b. charge at the port of shipment all the year round. That is the price per cask, and as a cask contains about 375 lbs., the duty at1s. per cwt. would represent about 3s. 4½d. per cask. In the Argus this morning some figures were published relating to cement, and the first thing that strikes one on reading the article in which they appear is that it was compiled last year. It says -
In September this year the South Australian Government accepted a tender for the supply of 102,000 bushels of cement at 3s. 3d. per bushel, 11s. per cask of 375 lbs.
Obviously that statement was compiled before Christmas, and no one has taken the trouble to correct it. There are one or two things which the Argus might have corrected without doing itself an injustice, and with a little fairness to those whom it is opposing. In this article the Argus says -
Cement is imported in wooden casks. Cement colonially manufactured is usually delivered in bags. The duty prevailing in New South Wales was nil; in South Australia, 2s. per cask : in Victoria,1s. per cwt.; and the proposed duty is 1s. per cwt., equal to 3s. 4½d. per cask. Best English cement is worth f.o.b. London,6s. per cask. The transit charges f.o.b. from London to delivery into store at Australian ports, is (or more than 72 per cent.) 4s. 4½d.
In the first place, that is an utterly exaggerated statement, and I shall show that either my statement about the low freights is true, or people are selling cement at a big loss for the mere fun of the thing. Towards the close of this article the Argus says-
In November of this year, a contract was accepted by the VictorianRailway department for the supply of 3,000 casks imported cement at a fraction under 10s. 2d.
In the Argus of 22nd November of last year details of that contract are given as follows : -
TheRailway department has let contracts for 3,000 casks of cement at the following rates - 500 at 8s.11½d. and 2,500 at 9s. 3½d.
That certainly is a fraction under 10s. 2d.
– Is the honorable and learned member sure that the same contract is referred to in both cases ?
– I cannot say, of course, but I do not know of any other contract mentioned in the commercial columns of the Argus in November. This contract was entered into in the same month as that first referred to, and is for the same number of casks, and until it is shown that the contract last mentioned is another contract it is reasonable to assume that it is the same. I want honorable members to observe the prices - 8s. 11½d. and 9s. 3½d. - which average about 9s. 2d.
– Was that imported or colonial cement?
– It was imported.
– Did those prices include the duty?
– No ; the Railway department pays no duty.
– That makes a considerable difference.
– Yes, but it does not make the difference between 9s. 2d. and 10s. 2d. If the Argus figures are correct, and 4s. 4d. is a fair rate of freight, cement which costs 6s. per cask in England could not be landed here at less than 10s. 4d. per cask. Why, then, should people sell the article to the Railway department at 8s.11½d. or 9s. 3½d.? If freights were 4s. 4d., or anything like it, the people who contracted to supply the Railway deportment deliberately sold the cement at a loss of1s. 2d. per cask.
– The actual contract price was 9s. 2d.
– I am quoting the figures given in the Argus.
– That is purely an unintentional error, as I can show.
– As I have said, the statement was compiled last year, and surely it was checked this year before it was printed. If the contract price was 9s. 2d., and the statement that it was 10s. 2d. was due merely to a clerical error, then the 4s. 4d. which was stated to be a fair rate of freight is an obvious exaggeration, because if 4s. 4d. is added to 6s., the f.o.b. grice of cement in England, the total will far exceed 9s. 2d., the amount which the contract prices average. Either the 10s. 2d. was put there intentionally to mislead people, and to bring the contract price into accord with the alleged import charges of 4s. 4d. per cask, or the 4s. 4d. per cask is an obvious exaggeration, because no one would sell cement at a loss, to the Railway department of all people in the world. Then - again, the same article says : -
In September of this year, the Metropolitan Board of Works accepted a tender for the supply of 5,000 casks of cement at a shade under 13s. 2d.
I believe that is so, but why did not the Argus add that on the 8th January this year the same Board of Works accepted a tender for 5,000 casks of Victorian cement at 12s. 6d. per cask, a reduction of 8d. per cask on the quotation of September last.
– What is the difference in the duty 1
– There was no difference in the duty. It was 3s. 4£d per cask, the same as under the old Victorian Tariff.
– They had to pay the duty.
– Not on the locally-made cement.
– But the honorable and lea.rned member is proving that they did pay the duty.
– The first contract was also for the supply of Victorian cement, and I admit that the prices in both cases were considerably above those at which the Board of Works could have obtained foreign cement duty free. ‘I am not going to deny that, but there is no question that the.local manufacture of cement exercises an important influence on the importers1 prices. The figures I have quoted show the prices that were paid prior to the imposition of the duty and since, and the freight charges have not altered to such an extent as to represent the difference of 6s. and 7s. between the prices then and now.. I admit that there may be other circumstances which would influence prices so far as the Australian market is concerned.
– The same difference in prices occurred in other States where there were no cement works.
– The fall in prices in New South Wales, where there was no duty, has been the result of what would have probably brought about the same effect if there had been no duty in Victoria, namely, the present keen competition between the German and English cement manufacturers.
– We also have local cement manufacturers in New South Wales.
– Yes, and those local manufacturers have had protection, to all intents and purposes, from the New South Wales Government.
– How ?
– By having contracts given to them apart from competition with the rest of the world. Will the honorable member deny that the conditions in Government contracts have specified that the cement shall be made in Australia - or in New South Wales.
– I know of no such stipulation.
– I have the information on the authority of honorable members who ought to know something about the affairs of New South Wales. Honorable members who know the circumstances assure me that such contracts have been let, and let to a very large extent. To all intents and purposes that is protection.
– No such contracts have been let within the past five or six years.
– I am informed otherwise. I do not pretend to vouch for the accuracy of the information, although I believe it to be true. But undoubtedly the British and German competition has recently tended to reduce the price of cement. When the whole of the British manufacturers are consolidated - as they practically are - into one association, and the whole of the German manufacturers into another,” it is easy to understand that if we did not manufacture cement locally it would not be long before an understanding was arrived at between these two associations. No difficulty would be experienced in arriving, at an arrangement for the benefit of those who sell this commodity, and to the detriment of those who purchase it. But above all these considerations there is the significant fact that the price of cement fell from 1 7s. per cask to 9s. per cask upon the establishment of the local factories. Admitting that the price of cement is temporarily higher than it would be in the absence of the operation of any duty, the fact remains that during the last decade it has been distinctly less than it was formerly.
– That fact may be admitted, and yet it may not be the result of protection.
– Various causes may have contributed to that result, but clearly local production is one of them. In this connexion I would point out that cement is practically a labour product. Without having our market secured to us, we cannot compete with the cheaplypaid labour of Germany. When honorable members recollect that two-thirds of the total imports into New South Wales during 1900 came from Germany, they will realize what German competition, means to that State. We have to choose between securing the source of supply to Australia, and allowing this commodity to come from abroad. There are about 300 men employed in the cement industry in Victoria, which I suppose supplies more than half of the trade of this State. I have made inquiries concerning the quality of the local cement from those who use it, and I am assured that it is superior to the imported article. Upon being questioned as to its quality, a gentleman who, outside of the Government departments, is probably the largest user of cement in Australia, replied - “I am a buyer. 1 like to get the cheapest and best article I can. for my work, and I buy the colonial cement.” That seems to me to sufficiently evidence his opinion as- to the respective merits of the local and imported article. I am further told by ‘distributors, who sell both imported and colonial cement, that they receive more complaints about the former than about the latter. It is apparent, therefore, that the old prejudice which existed against Australian commodities- is disappearing, and that locally -manufactured cement is securing, that recognition which its merits deserve. It seems to me that a very clear case has been made out for the imposition of a reasonable duty. Of course there may be a difference of opinion as to the amount of that duty, but certainly either 9d. per cwt. or ls-, per cwt. should be accepted, in order that the men employed in the Australian cement works may continue to . earn the wages which they have been accustomed to earn. If the duty be reduced to such an extent.as to compel us to compete with the cheaply-made and cheaply-carried supply of cement from Germany, our local works will practically have to cease, operations. Only last December there were 17,000 barrels of cement in bond in Melbourne alone about 15,000 of which came from Germany. As regards the Melbourne and Sydney prices to private buyers, they are practically the same. The average price in Sydney during, the first ten months of last year was 1 ls. 2d. per cask ex store. In Melbourne the makers’ price to distributors was 12s. 4d. per cask. But I would point out that the importing seller in Sydney delivers from the store, and the distributor has to cart, store, <fcc, whereas in Melbourne the maker does all that kind of work. Then there is also a difference in the terms. In Sydney the rule is cash within 14 days, as against 30 and 60 days in Melbourne. Making an allowance for the discounts, the price in Melbourne would represent about lis. 4d. or lis. 5d. per cask, so that practically there is very little difference between the two quotations. Of course, if we take the price at which imported cement has been sold in bond, and compare it with the price at which Australian cement has been sold, we shall find a substantial difference. Let us take the Melbourne and Metropolitan Board of Works as .an example. Tha; body could purchase, say, 5,000 casks of cement from an importer for a great deal less than they could obtain it from the local manufacturer. But I would point out that in all contracts under the Melbourne and Metropolitan Board of Works, the following, conditions require to be fulfilled : -
The contractor shall pay as wages for a clay’s work of 8 hours, not less than– for bo3’s up to 16 years of age, 2s. 6d ; for youths between 16 and 18 years of age, 4s. ; for youths between 18 and 20 years of age, 5s. ; for men between 20 and 55 years of age, 6s. 8d. ; and for men over 55 years of age, 5s: fid.
They do not pay a minimum wage of 6s. Sd., but they give their ordinary employes an average .of 6s. per day. A special exemption, however, from the minimum rate clauses operates in the case of imported goods, as will be seen from the following : -
Clauses 3, 4, and 5 preceding shall not be operative in the case of contracts for the supply of imported goods, or in contracts for the supply of raw material.
Of course it would be absurd to apply those clauses to imported goods, seeing the impossibility of proving that the conditions therein laid down had not been complied with. The local contractor, however, whenever so required by the Engineer-in-Chief, has to make a statutory declaration that the wages which have been paid by him upon the contract are in every case not less than the rates which I have quoted. That, of course, makes all the difference. After going carefully into all the facts connected with this industry, I ain thoroughly satisfied that unless we are prepared to allow our cement supply to pass into the hands of sweating employers in Germany, we must impose a duty.
– Sweating in protectionist Germany 1
– Yes, there is sweating in Germany, although it is a protected country. It is not a “sweating “ country, however, merely because it is a protective one ; it is because British and German ideas of wages vary so widely. The proposal of the Government seems to me a reasonable one. Certainly the amendment of the honorable member for Gwydir fixes the lowest rate which we could possibly adopt, without either wiping out the industry or reducing the wages of the workmen employed in it.
Mr. WILKS (Dalley). - I congratulate the honorable and learned member for Corinella upon the speech which he has just delivered. He has apparently devoted many hours of attention to this question. Evidently, he anticipated a very long debate upon the proposal of the Government. I am sorry that I shall be compelled to traverse a good many of his statements in order to reply to .them. The honorable member for Gwydir, another powerful supporter of the Government, and an ardent protectionist—
– I am afraid the honorable member would have a difficulty in proving that.
– I think that is a cruel interjection for the Minister for Home Affairs to make. The honorable member for Gwydir has proposed the adoption of what was formerly the Tasmanian rate of duty upon cement, namely, 9d. per cwt., or 2s. 6d. per barrel. The Government proposal is for the imposition of the duty which formerly operated in Victoria and South Australia. This is another instance in which the Victorian duty has been adopted when other alternatives presented themselves. The honorable and learned member for Corinella seems to scout and ridicule the idea of natural protection, which he confined entirely to freight, and he led the committee to believe that all vessels trading to the ports of Australia bring cement as “ stiffening” cargo. But for ships to carry cement in that way is very exceptional. I have taken the trouble to make a calculation extending over the last three years, and I find that the advantage in favour of the local manufacturer consists of - freight, 3s. a barrel ; wharfage, 61.d ; exchange, insurance, and cartage, 3d. ; a total of 4s. 2-J-d. The Melbourne Argus places the advantage at 4s. 4d., so that I have apparently understated the case by 2d. I am, however, prepared to take the figures of the Argus, and, as the honorable and learned member for Corinella has chosen that newspaper as an authority, he must, later on, be prepared to accept some figures taken from the same source, in regard to the wages paid in this industry. All commercial members know that freights vary, and, while I have shown an average of 3s. per barrel for three years, at some periods the freight has been as high as 7s. 6d.
– What has been the lowest freight 1
– The lowest freight for “ stiffening “ cargo has been from 6d. to 8d. per barrel, but the normal freight is about 3s.
– The freight is from 3s. to 3s. 6d. per barrel.
– There, again, it appears, I underestimate an item of natural protection. But there is another and most effective item of natural protection which the honorable and learned member for Corinella absolutely evaded. Cement from abroad is always sent oversea in barrels, while the local manufacturer uses bags ; and though in the old world each barrel costs from ls. 3d. to ls. 6d., bags here can be purchased at 2d. each. Some estimates have been given to me showing that bags can be supplied at Id., but I prefer to take 2d. as the cost. When the local manufacturer does find it necessary to put cement into barrels he uses those which have come from abroad, and have been emptied, and which he can buy at 3d. to 6d. each. It will be seen that the natural protection afforded by the freight is powerful, but that even more powerful protection is enjoyed in .connexion with the packages. Honorable members on the other side have taken the trouble to give an historical sketch of this industry in Victoria, and it is only right that we on this side should afford similar .information in reference to New South Wales. Before doing that, however, I should like to inform the committee that, prior to the introduction of the Federal Tariff, cement was admitted free into New South Wales ; whilst in Queensland there was a duty of 2s. per barrel, in South Australia 2s., in Western Australia 2s. per barrel, and in Tasmania 9d. per cwt., or 2s. 6d. per barrel. It has been suggested that the Tasmanian rate, which means a protection of at least 22 per cent, should be adopted by the Government, and the idea apparently meets with the favour of the Treasurer.
– I am afraid the honorable member is not a thought reader.
– Then I have made a mistake ; and I take it that the Treasurer will adhere to the Government proposal to make this duty 3s. 4½d. per barrel, which is an entirely new impost for New South Wales, and a, higher impost than has been experienced in any of the States except Victoria and South Australia. We have had this industry in New South Wales under protection, and also under free-trade. In that State there has been a duty of 2s. per barrel, while cement was free in Victoria, and it. has been free in New South Wales when there was a duty, of 3s. 4Jd. in Victoria. If I can show, taking half-year periods, that while cement was duty free in New South Wales, it was cheaper than when a duty was imposed, and that similar effects were experienced in Victoria, it will be seen that the duty was added to the original cost, and that protection does not cheapen prices. For many years in New South Wales there have been two firms manufacturing cement, one of which produces what is known as the “ Kangaroo “ brand, which is held in high repute throughout Australia. Shortly before the introduction of the Reid Tariff in 1896, when it was intimated that cement would be placed on the free list, the most powerful firm in New South Wales temporarily closed their works, in order to, as they said, get rid of the surplus stock they had accumulated under protection.
– That was said afterwards. The old gag was used that they could not get on without a duty.
– The manufacturers I am referring to are Messrs. Goodlet and Smith. After a short period that firm re opened their works, which have been open ever since. 29 d
– Were Messrs. Goodlet and Smith not contractors as well as manufacturers ?
– Of course ; what else would they be?
– The honorable and learned member for Corio has raised the point whether these manufacturers were not also contractors. When it suits the argument of honorable and learned members they give the tender price of the Metropolitan Board of Works ; but when that does not suit, they refer to the ordinary price paid by traders. Is not every manufacturer a contractor ?
– I mean a building contractor.
– It was argued that without a duty of 2s. per barrel this firm would have to close their manufactory, and it was closed, but only temporarily ; and it has now remained open for six years without any assistance in the shape of duty. The industry has not been destroyed, and builders and others who use the commodity have been the gainers. The British trust of gigantic proportions, of which we have heard, has not checked thepoor New South Wales industry, although it was deprived of a duty.
– Very nearly.
– These works are much larger than ever they were before, and the German firms spoken of are a mere bogy raised by the honorable and learned member for Corinella. In his strong defence of the proposal to impose a tax of 3s. 4½d. per barrel on cement, he has given occasion for the whole question to be dealt with in a manner that would, not otherwise have been called for. It is tobe remarked that the suggestion that theproposed duty is too high has not come from, the Opposition side of the Chamber, butfrom one of the strongest supporters of theMinistry - an avowed and ardent protectionist, who contends that the old Victorian duty was too high to be tolerated by him and he has suggested the former Tasmanian duty of 9d. per cwt., or 22 per cent, on the value of the article. I can thoroughly understand an honorable member hesitatingto proceed any further than that. The honorable member to whom I allude even thought that duty rather stiff, because the cement industry is not a large one in Australia. It is only light that the history of this matter should be dealt with from the point of view of the Opposition, inasmuch as the story has been told from the point of view of the protectionists. Until the year 1896 the cement industry in New South Wales had the assistance of a duty of 2s. per barrel. Prom that year up to 1901 - that is for six years - absolute freetrade in cement existed there. The keen competition of the Germans, with their bounty aided cement, has had full play, as well as the competition of. the English ; market. But the story which I am delighted to tell, is that the cement industry as represented by two manufactories in New South Wales is in a more prosperous condition to-day than it has ever been in before, proving that it can succeed without a duty. But let us take the. history of the industry in Victoria. Until July, 1892, cement was- absolutely free of duty in Victoria. In 1892 the Victorian Government introduced a new Tariff Bill, the duty they suggested on cement being 6d. per cwt., equivalent to ls. 8¼d. per barrel. It must be remembered that the Government were strongly protectionist. In October of the same year a. surprise motion was sprung upon the Victorian Legislative Assembly by a private member that the duty on cement should be ls. per cwt., equivalent to 3s. 4£d. per barrel. That motion was carried - not at the instigation of the Ministry, but at the instance of a private member.
– With the consent of the Ministry.
– Exactly; any child would know that such a proposal could not be carried without the consent of -the Ministry; but I am saying that the Government, with all the advice of their expert officers before them, were only prepared to recommend a dutv of 6d. per cwt. AH that the manufacturers themselves asked for, was a duty of 2s. 6d. per barrel, or 9d. per cwt. ; but the willing Legislature granted them ls. per- cwt> We are told by the honorable and. learned member for Corinella that the imposition of the duty did not raise the price.
– I said that I would not deny that the duty in this particular instance appeared to raise the price of imported cement.
– I will deal both with imported and locally made cement. Honorable members opposite cannot claim in this case that a variation of prices has taken place in the markets of the world. I have looked over the figures for a period of eight years, . when the price in Great Britain fluctuated only from 6s. 6d., which was the highest price, to 5s., which was the lowest. The ordinary schoolboy would say that the average was 5s. 6d., hut I prefer, for the purposes of argument, to take the average suggested by the honorable and learned member for Corinella himself, namely, 5s. 9d. Such being the average price of cement in England, let us turn to the comparative price of the article in Victoria and New South Wales. The first thing we have to remember is that during the boom period in Victoria cement reached a very high price, in common with all building materials. The boom burst in 1S92. That was the year in which the Victorian Legislature, imposed for the first time an import duty upon cement. The duty imposed was, as .1 have mentioned, 3s. 4£d. per barrel. After- the bursting of the boom in 1892, other ‘building materials, such as timber, bricks, and galvanized iron, sustained a heavy reduction in price ; but not so with’ cement. Whilst all other building material came: down in price, cement did not. Having now made these general statements, I intend to give one or two illustrations. As I have already mentioned, the duty in New South Wales up to 1896 was 2s. per barrel, whilst in Victoria cement was free until. 1892. Previous to 1892 cement was dearer in New South Wales than in Victoria. From. 1892 to 1896, cement in Victoria was slightly dearer than in New South Wales. From 1896 to 1901 it was much dearer in Victoria than in New South Wales. Cement was placed on the free list in-New South Wales in 1896, and at that period there was a duty of. 3s. 4^-d. per barrel in Victoria. Since October, 1901, when the Commonwealth Tariff was introduced - and there has been an> equal duty of 3s. 4½d. in all the States - the price of cement in Victoria and New South Wales has been almost precisely the same.
– The price of imported cement 1
– Of both imported and locally-made cement. In the first half of 1892, the average price in Victoria r.was 1 ls. per barrel ; in New South Wales the price was under 10s. per barrel, though there was a 2s. duty there.
– That is, it was dearer here because we had no duty.
– Now, we will take the year 1895. New South Wales had imposed a 2s. duty. The duty in Victoria was then 3s. 4½d. per barrel. Taking the prices for the half-year, in 1895 in both cases, the average in New South Wales was 10s. 3d. per barrel, and in Victoria it was 12s. 6d. Honorable members will notice that the difference was 2s. 3d. more on the average price per barrel in Victoria than in New South Wales, and the difference in the duty was1s. 4½d. In 1901, and that should be recent enough for honorable members, prior to the introduction of the Commonwealth Tariff, the average price was11s. 3d. in New South Wales, while in Victoria, still with a duty of 3s. 4½d., the average price per barrel was 14s. 3d. I am not quoting the tender prices of the Metropolitan Board of Works or theRailway department in Victoria, or the Sewerage Board or Railway department in New South Wales. I am quoting the wholesale prices to the building trade, which must be considered largely in this matter. Now, taking the last period during 1902 since the introduction of the Commonwealth Tariff, I find that the average price in New South Wales up to the end of January was 13s. 6d. per barrel and the average price in Victoria was 14s. showing that the operation of an equal duty has made the average prices the same in both States. The honorable and learned member for Corinella directs our attention to the cheap labour employed in the industry in Germany. If we find any discrepancy between the prices in New South Wales and in Victoria the honorable and learned member suggests that the increased price in Victoria may be due to the operation of the wages board. He has laid great stress upon this, and has directed attention to mistakes made by the Argus in dealing with the wages in the industry. I quote this from, the Argusof 23rd June, 1900 -
At last night’s meeting of the Trades Hall Council Mr. Billson, Chairman of the Organizing Committee, reported that the committee’s visit to Geelong had been followed by the dismissal of five men employed at the Fyansford cement works, who had advocated the application of the Factories and Shops Act to the works. Themen had been employed 10½ hours per dayat a wage which worked out at 7½d. per hour.
That was the wage paid two years ago in the paradise of labour, Victoria. Now the excuse made for the slight increase in price between that period and the present time is that it is due to the operation of the wages board. Let us see what wages are paid at the dictation of the wages board. I find that the wages for boys of sixteen are 2s. 6d. per day ; youths from sixteen to eighteen, 4s.; youths from eighteen to twenty, 5s.; men from twenty to 55, 6s.8d.; and men over 55, 5s. 6d. That is the startling result of the improved conditions brought about by the operation of the wages board, to which the honorable and learned member for Corinella attributes the increase in the price of the article.
– I never said a word about the wages board. I quoted the conditions imposed by the Metropolitan Board of Works.
– I am quoting the conditions as they existed in Victoria. I looked at the quotations for cement for the period, and I happen to have a note of the Metropolitan Board of Works’ prices for the same period. I looked up these figures to see what relation there was between the operation of the wages board in the industry and the increased price of cement. I find that in 1901 the price of cement was 13s. 2d. per barrel, and in 1900, before the wages board came into operation in the industry, it was 13s. per barrel. The work of the wages board has therefore resulted in an increased price of only 2d. per barrel. It is clear that the argument used by the the honorable and learned member for Corinella to show that the increased price was due to the improved labour conditions should not be given much weight.
– The honorable member has entirely misapprehended what I was saying.
– I am not alone in that. It is possible I may have misapprehended the honorable and learned member. I may have taken him too seriously. There is only one other argument which I think may be used by honorable members opposite, and it is upon the lines adopted in dealing with cotton - seed oil. When Ministers were in shallow water the other evening they fell back upon the argument that the use of cotton-seed oil was injurious to the community, and I have come to the conclusion that on grounds of public health the Minister for Trade and Customs might be disposed not only to put a stiff duty upon cement, but to prohibit its importation. We know that cement is largely used in connexion with State railway works, sewerage works, telephone channels, and large undertakings of that description. We have not yet decided whether articles used for State, purposes are to be exempt from taxation, and merely to support what is called an industry, I am not disposed to vote even for the reduced duty of 2s. 6d. per barrel, proposed by the honorable member for Gwydir, especially in view of the fact that in the early stages of the cement industry the Victorian manufacturers asked for a duty of only 2s. 6d. per barrel. There is now an increased demand for the article, the raw material is almost at hand, and I have pointed out that the natural protection due to freight, which lias averaged 3s. per barrel for the last three years, and other charges amounts to 4s. 2d. per barrel. I do not consider, under the circumstances, that there is any necessity for the Commonwealth to impose so high a rate of duty upon the building trade and others who are compelled to use cement. I may say that there is an extra natural protection to be considered to which the honorable and learned member for Corinella paid no attention. The imported cement is packed in barrels which cost in the old country from ls. 3d. to ls. 6d. each, whereas in the majority of cases the local cement is packed in bags costing about 2d. each. If under the terms of a contract the local cement must be supplied in barrels the empties from imported cement can be got at from 3d. to 6d. each. I have not gone into details as to the number of thousands of barrels manufactured or imported, and the prices quoted by the various firms in either Melbourne or Sydney, but I think I have shown by comparative statements compiled from half-yearly returns that the difference of price in New South Wales and in Victoria has amounted in nearly every case to the full amount of the difference in duty. That being so it is clear that this duty will be a severe tax upon the building trade and the community, a tax from which in New South Wales they have been free, though the cement industry has been progressing there without the assistance it has had in Victoria. I do not suggest an amendment, but between, the free list and the duty of 3s. 4£d. per barrel there is a large margin for compromise, which is not met by the proposal of the honorable member for Gwydir.
– If the other facts and statements presented by the honorable member for Dalley are not more reliable than his statement that the cement trade in Victoria is under a wages board, the honorable member has entirely misled the committee. No wages board has ever existed in connexion with this trade in Victoria. Any member from the metropolitan area in Victoria could have told the honorable member that, and I am sorry that he should have been led astray by some person who appears to have been working in the interests of the importers.
– Are not the wages I have quoted the wages which are paid in the industry?
– If they are, they are the wages paid by the employers independently of any wages board. The people engaged in a number of trades are anxious to get under wages boards, and I have been a member of deputations who have asked that this trade as well as others should be brought under wages boards. -But what is the use of doing away with the industry first and asking for a wages board afterwards 1 We have an example in New Zealand where, owing to conditions brought about by the Arbitration and Conciliation Act, the prices have been so much increased in some industries upon the local product that the imported article has been able to swamp the market. I know that there are many honorable members on the other side who believe in protection for the worker and who approve of the principle of wages boards and industrial arbitration. But there is no use in trying to apply those principles unless we protect the productions of labour at the Custom-house. I am in favour of having the work done in the country, and we can then fix the conditions under which the work is to be done. The honorable and learned member for Corinella stated that in their contracts the Metropolitan Board of Works provided that their work should be done under certain conditions, but where importers are tendering the conditions need not be enforced. In other words, it is provided that we must not sweat those at home, but we may sweat workers who live hundreds of miles away. To my mind the worker in Germany is as much entitled to protection through a wages board or an arbitration board as workers in Victoria. The honorable member for Dalley pointed out that the average freight during the last few years amounted to something like 3s. per barrel of cement.
– That is indorsed by the honorable member for Melbourne.
– A very good authority. But that honorable member will admit that the freights on ocean-going vessels have been higher during the last three years than they were previously, because of the South African war and the number of boats taken off the Australian lines for the South African trade. That has led ship-owners to charge enhanced freights. The existing conditions are not normal, and there is no doubt that when this unfortunate war is at an end the freight upon this particular article will be reduced. The honorable member for Dalley has admitted that cement has been brought to this State for as little as 6d. a barrel, so that in that case the natural protection to the local manufacturer was not very much. I have been informed that of the two firms which began operations in New South Wales under a protective duty of 2s. per barrel - the Cullen Bullen Co., and Messrs. Goodlet and Smith - the former had to close when the duty was taken off, and the latter, although they have kept on, are running a large timber yard, and are large contractors, and their cement works are merely an adjunct to their other business. Now, I understand, an English firm are bringing out machinery in order to start a new factory in New South Wales. I believe that Mr. Goodlet stated that had he known that the duty on cement would be repealed, he would not have commenced to manufacture cement.
– Messrs. Goodlet and Smith are supplying the Government with cement.
– Perhaps that is because the contract contained a stipulation similar to that in the con tracts of the Metropolitan Board of Works.
– Our manufacturers can beat the world.
– Yes ; but what wages do they pay?
– The honorable member does not know that.
– It cannot be said that I have not done my utmost to improve the condition of the workers wherever I have been, and I shall be glad to see the cementmaking industry placed under a wages board, so that those employed in it may get their share of any protection we give.
Unless I thought that the workers would get their share, I should not vote for protective duties.
– What wages are paid in New South Wales?
– I do not know. It has been stated that 7½d. per hour has been paid in Victoria, but I know of one place where the men are getting 9d. an hour, although there is no wages board in the trade.
– Yet people flock to New South Wales from Victoria, and stay there!
– If the honorable member had read the statistics supplied by the Unemployed Bureau the other day, he would know that that is not so. The conditions under which these men work are not such as any of us would like to accept ourselves, but we cannot improve them while we continue to use imported cement. It is only by having cement made here that we can improve theconditions of those employed in makingit. I regret that the honorable member for Gwydir proposes to reduce the duty on cement to 9d. per cwt., but if the Government stick to their proposal I shall vote for them, and I shall vote for the highest duties always when I think that they will improve the condition of the workers. Two cement-making companies started in Victoria before there was any duty on cement here. At that time cement was selling in Victoria at from 16s. to 18s. per barrel, but directly the local manufacturers started the importers brought down their prices in order to swamp them. The local factories were then compelled to close, and did not open again until, in 1892, a duty of 2s. a barrel was placed upon cement. The competition between the local factories which followed reduced the price of cement, after the imported article was practically shut out, to from 9s. or 10s. a barrel. Both works were then compelled to close again, but afterwards they started a second time. Cement works are often run with three shifts of men, working eight hours each, but lately trade has been slack, so that both in New South Wales and in Victoria they are now working with only one or two shifts a day.
– How many hands are employed in the industry?
– About 300, including those who are employed in carting materials to the factories and taking the cement from the factories, and those employed in the quarries.
– Could not the carters find employment in drawing imported cement 1
– If the local factories were closed, the men employed in carting materials from the quarries would be thrown out of employment. In one case, some of the material has to be carried 25 miles.
– No wonder the factory does not pay.
– I suppose 95 per cent, of all the cement used is used in the large cities, so that honorable members cannot get up a wail on behalf of the poor farmer in this case. I trust that the committee will vote against the amendment, and thus encourage a natural industry in which labour plays an important part.
– The difference between the position assumed by Victorian manufacturers and that assumed by manufacturers in the State from which I come is a very marked one. It is only casually and rarely that we hear a wail from the New South Wales manufacturers. After the stormy passage which they had to make under free-trade, with foreign and British rings combining to stifle colonial industry, it is remarkable that none of our factories have been strangled, and that none of our manufacturers come on their knees to the protectionists of Melbourne to beg for assistance to keep their enterprises alive. Day after day we have whining appeals to our charitable instincts to save this and that tottering Victorian industry ; but when in 1896 New South Wales opened her ports to the commerce of the world, her manufacturers did not come whining to me about the thousands of men who would be thrown out of employment. One or two, who were probably cursed with old and inefficient machinery, made themselves heard, but the great body of the manufacturers of New South Wales allowed me to sweep away the duties without holding a single meeting to protest against what I was doing. That was the result of a hardy course of training, as compared with the hot-house treatment by which so many industries in this State have been coddled. But even in charity there should be some consistency, and I ask, What building material, except cement, is protected by a duty of over 50 per cent. 1 None. On china and porcelain, the luxuries of the mansions of Australia, the duty is only 20 per cent. Messrs. Goodlet and Smith, to whom reference has been made, have very large cement works, and no doubt, while they would have liked the duty on cement to be continued, they got on very well without it ; and I believe another large cement works is now being erected in New South Wales. According to the report of the Victorian Inspector of Factories for 1899, I find that in that year there were two cement factories in Victoria, and that the number of hands employed in them was 60, while in 1900 they employed only57 persons. Here is an industry in Victoria that is dragging down all the other industries in which cement is used. We all admit that every industrial concern gives employment indirectly as well as directly ; but those who find work in connexion with the cement industry are insignificant in number compared with those engaged in the building trades, and in other operations in which cement is most usefully applied. The arguments which we hear regarding some fearful combination of cement manufacturers in the old world are really grotesque. We are told that all the cement manufacturers of the world have their eyes on a wretched little cement works in Victoria, employing 50 hands, and that they are all bent on crushing out this little germ of industry. It is supremely ridiculous to talk like this. No ring in the world could prevent people from buying cement from the large holders of that commodity in the United Kingdom. There are plenty of men of enterprise who will import anything if a price is offered in which they can see a profit. These suggestions of combinations only arise from the hysterical fears which seem to dog the steps of all the industrial enterprises of Victoria. It is perfectly clear that the duty on .cement does increase the price to the consumer. All the talk that we have heard about fluctuating prices is most absurd. Do we not know that within the last few years there has been a perfect revolution in prices right through every line of industry? The idea that the change in the price of cement has been brought about because 50 men are employed somewhere near Melbourne in manufacturing cement is supremely ridiculous. This is the sort of imposition that has been successfully practised upon the people of Victoria for many years. I have received a letter from a firm of importers in Melbourne, and it is only fair that I should read it. Honorable members like the honorable and learned member for Corinella have quoted conversations they have had with various individuals, and have shown how easy it is for a man to be convinced when a statement is in accordance with his wishes. The honorable and learned member for Corinella met some man in the street who told him that he had used colonial cement because it was the best and the cheapest. In the same breath the honorable and learned member said that nearly the whole cost of cement was represented by the labour employed in its manufacture, and that Australian manufacturers could not afford to compete with the starvation labour of .Germany. Yet the honorable member was the first man to tell us that they could compete with the starvation labour of Germany, and could beat Germany by selling a cheaper article. All these fallacious statements ought to answer themselves. We cannot forget that the protectionist policy has been thoroughly established in Germany, and that Germany is still one of the most dreaded enemies of Australian industry. The firm who have written to me have had the courage to attach their names to the letter, to offer to -substantiate all their statements, and to authorize me to make any use I may please of their communication. The writers of the letter are Messrs. Cohen, Nelson, and Co.
– They have written to the newspapers about the same thing.
– The letter is as follows :-
We have the honour to call your attention to the following facts anent cement, the duty on which will, we understand, come before the House for discussion to-day. The proposed duty of ls. per cwt., or 3s. 4£d. per cask, is equivalent to 55 per cent, ad valorem on English cost. The wharfage payable in addition is 6Jd. per cask. Freight from London, insurance, exchange, cooperage, and cartage amount to 3s. Sd. per cask : total, 4s. 2Ad. per cask, or another 66 per cent, ad valorem. The duty, as shown above, is 55 per cent., and freight, wharfage, &c, 66 per cent. : total, 121 per cent.
Surely if an Australian industry cannot carry on a successful fight when it has an advantage of 66 per cent., represented by the cost of bringing goods from a foreign country, it is a matter for consideration whether the energies of the Commonwealth should be any further taxed ? I thoroughly believe, however, that these industries will go on without any protection. I might point to the industry carried on by Messrs. Goodlet and Smith in Sydney in support of my belief.
– How many men do» they employ ?
– I do not know. I know that they have a very large establishment, in which they make lime, plaster, and cement ; but the returns do not specify the number of men engaged in the production of each of these articles. Messrs. Cohen, Nelson, and Co. say further -
It is outrageously untrue as stated in the A ge to-day, that the importers when they had the trade in their own hands, charged 18s. per cask,, and our Mr. Nelson offered publicly years ago to>disprove this, and further to prove before thepresident of the Protectionist Association of Victoria or before the president of the Trades Hall’. Council that the average profit made by importers of cement for the past ten or twelve years did not exceed seven and a half per cent. (7$ percent.) This offer the local manufacturers dared not accept, and never attempted to accept. That the duty did increase the cost to the consumer we can prove by recent sales in Victoria, We can show invoices of thousands of casks sold for export last year at 10s. per cask, and at 13s. Bd. to 14s., duty paid, to buyers here. There are only two manufacturers of cement in this State, and they charge buyers what they like, and ha ve raised the price to the Melbourne and Metropolitan Board of Works from 10s. ojd. per cask in 1S93, to 13s. 2d. in 1901. These facts we have called public attention to, and they were not denied.
Where is the downward progress of prices under the stimulus of colonial industry? Protective duties were imposed in Victoria in 1892, and yet we find that there was an upward tendency of prices from 10s. 5-Jd.- in 1893, to 13s. 2d. in 1901. I do not for a moment say that this was not a perfectly legitimate increase. I only mention, it toshow that it is idle to make wild statements about the great reduction in price. We have the simple fact that the price has goneup, and, I believe, for a very proper reason. The writers of the letter proceed -
The local manufacturers declared in .1892 that they had 155 hands employed, and would give work to 500 or COO extra hands if a duty of 3s. per cask were imposed, but instead of having about 700 hands now employed they have a tenth of that number, according to the report of the Inspector of Factories. In a return presented to Parliament last June, the total hands employed in the two factories in Victoria were - In 1899, 60 hands ; in 1900, 57 hands. As the figures are given for two separate years there Can hardly be any mistake. To sum up the whole position - (a) The proposed duty is 55 per cent. ; freight &c. added, 66 per cent. ; total, 121 per cent. (6) If carried it will place consumers at the mercy of two manufacturers here, (c) The number of hands employed here is insignificant, and not move than about one-tenth of the number they promised to employ if 3s. per cask duty were imposed. Finally, it must not be forgotten that the manufacture of cement began here before a duty was in existence, and did not commence life propped by a Tariff. We give you liberty to use this letter as you choose, and we are prepared to substantiate every statement in it.
That is a very clear and forcible statement. I do not put it forward as the opinion of perfectly disinterested parties, but as the importers’ reply to the case made out by the manufacturers. The Ministry have broken down in their attempt to carry out the Maitland programme, but it does not follow that honorable members should pursue the devious paths of the Ministry in this respect. Is there any honorable member who can honestly say that on the lines of the Maitland speech this duty is justified? I will give my reason for asking this question. At the time of the Maitland speech the duty on cement in most of the Australian States was 6d. per cwt. In Tasmania it was 9d. per cwt., in New South Wales there was no duty, and Victoria was the only.State in which a duty of1s. per cwt. was in force. Now, how does the Government proposal carry out the Maitland programme ? Do we not see in this instance, as in the greater number of cases throughout the Tariff, the adoption of the Victorian duty, regardless of the rate in force in the other States prior to the establishment of the Federal Tariff? Each barrel of cement contains about 3cwts. In New South Wales cement was formerly admitted free; in Victoria, the duty was 1s. per cwt.1;: in Queensland, South Australia, and Western Australia, it was 2s. per barrel ; whilst in Tasmania the rate was 9d. per cwt. In Canada the duty is only 20 per cent, ad valorem, which represents about 5d. per cwt. We have a whole array of figures, therefore, to show that if honorable members carry out the spirit of the Prime Minister’s Maitland speech, they will support a reduction of the proposed duty. In this connexion I cannot fail to note the way in which Ministers vary their appeals in order to suit the situation of the moment. At one time they fight for a duty because it is necessary to preserve an industry ; at another they declare it to be necessary, because the finances of some of the States require assistance. But upon this occasion we can vote for a reduction of the proposed duty with the full assurance that the revenue will not be injured thereby. I have ventured to make these few observations, because the matter is one of considerable importance. I think that a duty of 6d. per cwt. would be a very fair one to impose. It would represent something over 25 per cent, on the cost abroad, and taking into consideration other charges, would be equivalent to more than 50 or 60 per cent.
– Throughout the whole of the Tariff discussion I have consistently voted in favour of extending reasonable protection to every industry which can be successfully established within the Commonwealth. I am prepared to adopt a similar course of action in regard to the cement industry ; but I would ask the Treasurer if the proposed duty is not unnecessarily high. I understand that a barrel of cement contains a little over 3 cwts., so that a duty of1s. per cwt. really represents a tax of 3s. 4d. upon each barrel. I believe that the price of cement in England is about 6s. per barrel. It is quite evident, therefore, that the Government proposal represents a protection of more than 50 per cent. Whilst I am prepared to extend to the local industry what should be an ample measure of protection, I cannot support such an unnecessarily high duty as 1s. per cwt. I am prepared to vote for a 9d. rate, but not for a higher one.
– Like the previous speaker, I feel that the duty proposed by the Government is altogether too high. I think that a medium between the rate suggested by the leader of the Opposition and that submitted by the Ministry, namely, 9d. per cwt., would meet all the requirements of the case. There is a good deal in what has been said regarding the amount of natural protection which the industry enjoys. Of course we know that even under the operation of a duty of1s. per cwt. in Victoria, the importations of cement from abroad have been extremely large. When one considers that something like a third of the cement imported into this State comes from Antwerp and Germany, one may feel disposed to think that the measure of protection afforded to the local industry has not been sufficient. But we have to consider the position from the point of view not only of Victoria, but of the other States. In Queensland and South Australia, prior to the introduction of theFederal Tariff, a duty of 2s. per barrel operated, as against the Government proposal of 3s. 4½d. per barrel. In Tasmania the duty was 9d. per cwt., and in Western Australia it was 2s. per barrel. If we were to strike an average of the duties which prevailed under the various State Tariffs, we should adopt a rate of 9d. per cwt.
– That would represent a considerable increase to New South Wales.
– Of course, when we come to consider the position of New South Wales, wo are confronted with a very grave difficulty by reason of the fact that nearly everything there was formerly upon the free list. At thesame time, that State must have known perfectly well what it had to meet prior to its entering the federation. Then again, we have to consider the position of Queensland and Tasmania from a revenue standpoint. If we impose a duty of only6d. per cwt., weshall lessen the proportion of revenue returnable to those States, and shall be putting them in a worse position than they were in previously. A good deal has been said in reference to the charges which have been levied upon cement coming from home. I think I can give figures which will explain the cost of its supply to the Metropolitan Board of Works. It is true that the present price of cement in England is nominally6s. per cask, but inasmuch as the importations from. Germany within the past six or nine months approximate 36,000 casks, and the importer of that cement held a contract from the Metropolitan Board of Works, I am certain that it did not cost him that amount. I will calculate its cost at 5s. per cask. The freight in that instance I estimate at 2s. 6d. per cask, the interest at5d., the wharfage at 6½d., and the stacking and loss at1½d. These charges would allow the cement to be landed here for 8s. 7d. per cask, so that there would still be a small profit upon the price at which it was supplied to the VictorianRail way department, namely, 9s. 2d. per cask. Then again, taking the charges upon imported cement at 4s. 4d. per cwt., as stated in one of to-day’s papers, I estimate the freight at 3s. 3d., wharfage at 6½d., stacking at1½d., and exchange, interest, and insurance at 5d. That will bring the total up to 4s. 4d. I think, therefore, that we may take the figures which have been given as fairly correct. I hope that the Government will not press for the imposition of a duty of1s. per cwt., as I am convinced that those engaged in the industry will be able to do very well with the protection afforded by a duty of 9d. per cwt. A good deal has been said in reference to cement being brought to Australia at a very low freight. I am aware that five or seven years ago, when shipowners were short of dead weight, it was a very usual thing for them to ship 2,000 or 3,000 casks of cement, and bring it to Australia, where they had sometimes to sell it at a very small profit. Frequently, however, they hit the market, and made a good profit. For the past five years, however, that system has been abandoned. It is a fair thing, therefore, to calculate that English cement, which is imported into Australia, pays a reasonable freight. I hope that the Treasurer will meet the views of the committee, and accept a lower rate than that which is proposed by the Government.
– I intend to support the Government proposal, and I am justified in doing so by reason of the fact that this industry is likely, in the near future, to develop into a very big one. Last week we spent a considerable time in discussing industries which had no real existence. Today we are dealing with an industry which is already in existence, though it has not yet been established upon a very firm footing. During the last few weeks I have been making inquiries into the condition and prospects of this industry, and I understand that the raw material is to be procured in abundance in almost every State of the Commonwealth. The wages, too, I understand, are of a very satisfactory nature - altogether different from those paid in German cement works, from which a large quantity of our cement is brought. On this point I will read the following paragraph from a letter I have received : -
In reference to the wages paid in German cement works, we understand from our works manager, who is thoroughly conversant with the conditions, that the wages for unskilled labour are from 2s. to3s. for ten hours’ work.
It has been stated that the average wage paid in Australia is from 6s. 8d. to 7 s. per day ; and that ought to be taken into consideration, and every encouragement given to the establishment of this industry, not only in Victoria, but in every State of the Commonwealth. If we establish the industry, we ought to be able in the near future to manufacture all the cement required in Australia. The information I lay before the committee I have sought myself ; it has not been sent to me by manufacturers. I was uncertain, when the Tariff was introduced, as to whether I should support the Tariff proposals in this connexion or vote against them ; but, owing to inquiries I have made, I have come to the conclusion that I shall be right in supporting the Government. At any rate, the committee ought to be agreeable to allow a duty of 9d., if not of1s. per cwt. The following is an extract from a letter received from the Victorian Portland Cement Works, of Burnley-street, Richmond : -
Unfortunately for the local manufacturer, Australia has become a clumping ground for the surplus cement manufactured in Europe, more particularly in Germany and Belgium. In the Victorian market we have even been threatened with an invasion of cement manufactured in China. I have the best authority for stating that within the last twelve months inquiries have been made as to the prospect of finding a market here for cement manufactured by a Hong Kong company at Macao - an island at the mouth of the Canton River- the labour employed there being, of course, Chinese. Cement making is one of the “primary” industries, and there is, I feel certain, great scope for the industry in Queensland. Ultimate success depends, however, largely upon the amount of protection afforded. It is useless to contend that the colonially manufactured article - if equal in quality - ought to command as ready a sale and the same price as the imported cement. Experience has shown that such is not the case. The average consumer is not prepared to take any risk in the use of an untried cement (particularly if colonially made) unless some substantial inducement in the way of a low price is offered. Now it is obvious that the Australian maker, manufacturing as he does with high-priced labour, and, in face of the kind of competition he has to face from cheap labour countries and theconditions under which cement is sent out to this country, i.e., on consignment as surplus production - often us ballast on ship’s account - is not only unable to offer that inducement to the consumer, but even to compete at all with the foreign article unless adequately protected. Victorian experience, extending over eleven years, is that1s. per cwt. represents the amount of the duty required, and it is sincerely to be hoped that this amount - which is the Government proposal - will be passed by the House. As an instance of the beneficial effect of protection in fostering an industry,we have Portland cement manufactured in the United States of America. A few years ago cement making was practically unknown there; now the annual output in that country is computed on a low estimate at 10,000,000 barrels. The Atlas Cement Works, in Pennsylvania, are the largest in the world. In 1900 the output at this factory was about 1,500 tons of finished cement per day. (See Minutes of Proceedings of Institute of Civil Engineers, vol. cxlv., page 76.) Trusting that the foregoing may be of some use as well as interest toyou.
I hope the committee will see their way clear, if not to agree to the original proposal of the Government, to at least support a duty of 9d., so that we may have this industry established not only in Victoria, but in New South Wales, Queensland, and the other States.
– The honorable member for Oxley might have told the committee that cement works have been established in Queensland for some time, and also that the Government architect of that State prohibits the use of locally-manufactured cement in all Government contracts. It is quite true that Queensland has all the raw material necessary to produce cement, but I believe that the same can be said of nearly all the States. It has often puzzled me why this industry has not made more headway in Australia. There appears to be some doubt as to the quality of the locallymanufactured article ; at any rate, it is not used.
– Locally - manufactured cement was not allowed to be used in connexion with Government contracts in New South Wales until I compelled the authorities to permit its use.
– Nonsense !
– The fact that the Minister for Home Affairs compelled the authorities to permit the use of local cement does not prove that that cement was any better or as good as that which had been used previously ; and I should take the Government architect’s opinion on this matter in preference to that of the honorable gentleman.
– The cement has to go through a certain test.
– It is quite true that cement has to go through a certain breaking test, but I understand that while portions of the local cement may be good, it is not, on the whole, as good as the imported article.
– Is the honorable member speaking of Queensland ?
– I am speaking only of Queensland ; I know nothing of the other States in this connexion. I do not say that the cement manufactured in Queensland is not as good as that imported, because I witnessed some tests, and the breaking strength of the local cement was said to be equal to that of the cement brought from abroad. The fact remains, however, that the Government architect will not allow local cement to be used in the erection of public buildings in Queensland.
– This question has now been discussed very fully from both points of view. The case for a duty was put fairly and frankly by the honorable and learned member for Corinella, who adduced a large number of facts and figures which must have had considerable weight with honorable members. Then the honorable member for Dalley submitted certain facts, and put the case from the other point of view ; and since then the item has been discussed at some length. I think there are few, if any, in the Chamber who for a moment will admit that any whining appeal for mercy or charity has been made by those who favour this duty. The industry is a substantial one, giving employment to a considerable number of persons both directly and indirectly, and is entitled to fair, consideration at the hands of the committee. We always hear, of course, about the great natural protection which is afforded by the distance of Australia from the exporting countries. But that natural protection can often be discounted by the fact that here heavy freights have to be paid for moving cement from the place of manufacture to where it is required. In Australia much heavier interest has to be paid on the capital invested in the various industries than has to be paid in other countries, and there are also greater expenses in wages, rates and taxes, rents, and in various other directions, which justify a considerable amount of protection in addition to any natural protection which may be enjoyed.
– Has the imported cement not to be moved about ?
– No ; the imported cement is taken direct.
– Is it all used on the wharfs?
– The imported cement is taken direct to the various centres.
– The Minister surely does not expect that the cement works will all be in one place ?
– No doubt there will be works in several States. The industry has been fairly established in Victoria. We hear from New South Wales that there are two manufactories, one of which, admittedly, has been closed down.
– That is not true.
– The statement was made and no one contradicted it.
– I will explain afterwards. The works, are in my district.
– In order to save time I will take the honorable member’s statement that the two factories are still running.
– A new firm bought one of the factories.
– I understand there are two factories, one of which was running for some time, and is about to recommence operations.
– No ; the factory was bought by another firm two years ago.
– The fact remains that the imports of cement into New South Wales are much larger than they are into Victoria, and much larger than they ought to be, allowing for the larger population and a fair comparative increase in building operations.
– There are more employed in the industry in New South Wales than in Victoria.
– I do not believe that is so. I asked for the figures on that point, but, strangely enough, the leader of the Opposition was not in a position to give them, although he had the figures showing the number employed in Victoria. The fact that imports are larger in New SouthWales is fairly conclusive evidence that there is not anything like the quantity of cement manufactured there that there is in Victoria. That the duty in Victoria was not prohibitive was shown by the fact that we had a considerable amount of imports, and that it is not considered a prohibitive duty is evidenced by the fact that we expect to get in revenue, even at the higher duty, a sum of £44,000. It has been shown by figures quoted that a very large proportion of this cement is imported from Germany. We cannot close our eyes to the fact that the German Governmentin many ways give assistance in the export of articles to these States and other places where German manufacturers are desirous of opening up markets.
– Do they give a bounty?
– I have no knowledge. At all events we know that they do assist the shipping very largely in respect of this class of article.
– Most of the cement that came here last year came in British bottoms ; there were only two German vessels in the whole lot.
– Of course my honorable friend, the member for Melbourne, has had more experience in that matter than I have ; but this material is made in Germany, where they have opportunities of working at a cheaper rate than is possible in Australia, if we are to pay wages to our people to enable them to live as we should like them to live. The price of the imported article appears to be about 6s., or something more, at the ports of export.We have to look at the rates which have been ruling in the various States. It is true that the Victorian rate is the highest, but I think it is evident from the statistics that more of the material was imported into the other States in proportion to population than into Victoria. At the same time I am free to admit that a duty of1s., which comes to over 50 per cent., may be looked upon as too high a rate of protection for us to give. On the other hand, I do not think we should go too low, for many reasons which have been put before the committee ; in addition to which, if this stuff is imported it will be used very generally, and it is a fair subject from which to get money to help our revenue. If we reduce the rate from1s. to 6d. I do not think any one will say that we will get more revenue. I can quite understand that a slight reduction might possibly give, us the same amount of revenue, but I do not know that it would. However, we have now discussed the matter fully, and there is no doubt that the members of the committee have made up their minds as to which way they are going to vote. I hope we shall come to a vote as soon as possible, considering that we have a great amount of work to do. While I do not object to a reasonable amount of discussion, we should not unduly delay the decision upon these items. We have heard the question argued from both points of view, and I did not interfere before because I thought that the honorable and learned member for Corinella hadputall the necessary facts before the committee in a fair and plausible manner. He compared prices a few years ago with those at the present time. I am not going to say that those results are the effect of the duty, or of the want of duty. We know very well that the prices of articles vary according to the demand and supply. In talking of prices in various years, it must be remembered that there always are disturbing elements which have to be taken into consideration. I believe that thecommittee desire to give a reasonable and substantial amount of protection to the cement industry ; and after listening to the arguments I have come to the conclusion that a reasonable and sufficient duty would be that suggested by the honorable member for Gwydir, namely, 9d. per cwt. Therefore it seems to me to be a question of whether the Government should persist with their proposal for the full amount of 1s., or should consent to reduce the amount.
– The Treasurer knows that he could not get the full amount.
– I quite admit on further consideration that1s. is too high a rate. I am frank enough to admit that ; but I am not going to agree to 6d. Taking into consideration all the facts which have been brought forward, I am prepared to accept 9d., and I trust that the committee will agree to it, and come to a decision upon the matter at once.
– As the bulk of the workers in the cement industry in New South Wales are situated in my own electorate, it is appropriate that I should have a word or two to say upon the matter. Messrs. Goodlet and Smith have their works close to Parramatta, and I invite thegood people of Victoria to go over and have a look at the magnificent establishment there. If they did they would cease to believe the talk about the way our New South Wales industries are dwindling. I believe there are to-day 300 hands employed in that one factory.
– On cement alone?
– I am afraid the right honorable gentleman is an old Rip Van Winkle.
– They do not produce very much, then.
– I ask the right honorable gentleman to make a trip across to New South Wales and see for himself. He would be well treated, and would be surprised to see the magnificent establishments there which have grown up under what honorable members opposite regard as the accursed system of free-trade. In the neighbouring electorate, represented by the honorable member for Macquarie, the Treasurer would find that the company which has been spoken of as having closed down its works, has just erected £50,000 worth of new machinery. It is true that those works changed hands two years ago ; with no idea of being shut up altogether, however, but only with the idea of reconstructing them and working them with improved plant.
– When did they re-open ?
– They are open now.
– Since the Tariff was introduced?
– Certainly not ; they re-opened quite a couple of years ago. These works are at Portland, not, as has been said, at Cullen Bullen. Messrs. Goodlet and Smith, in my own constituency, employ 300 hands, so that their enterprise is a magnificent one, and they are turning out a brand of cement which can and does compete with the imported article. I would say in reply to the statement of the honorable member for Kennedy that for some reason or other contractors in Queensland prefer foreign cement to the local article, that that certainly is not the case in New South Wales.
– Nor in Queensland.
– My experience is of a contrary character. When I was PostmasterGeneral in New South Wales, we constructed £50,000 worth of telephone tunnels, the cement for which came from the works of Messrs. Goodlet and Smith. The cement was not purchased from them to show them any sympathy, but because they could do better for us than the importer. They gave us a cement that was absolutely reliable. ,
– Was it not a condition of the specifications that the local cement should be used ?
– Certainly not.
– I have been told that it was.
– Honorable members over here seem to obtain a lot of information about New South Wales which those who represent that State know nothing about. Where they pick it up we do not know. We hear surprising statements as to our industries, and what takes place in connexion with them, but we can obtain no confirmation of those statements. As far as my recollection goes, all the cement used for those tunnels came from Messrs. Goodlet and Smith, because that firm could compete against the foreign article, and their cement was deemed to be of a most excellent quality. In myopinion the manufacturers of New South Wales will do very well if they have a duty of 6d. per cwt., as has been suggested, instead of a duty of1s., amounting to1s.8d. or1s. 9d. per cask. They will be able to extend their works very rapidly, and I believe will be well satisfied with such a duty.
– I favour the proposal now agreed to by the Government to impose a duty of 9d. per cwt. upon cement. A cement industry has been established in Queensland under a duty of something less than8d. per cwt. Notwithstanding what the honorable member for Kennedy has said, to the effect that it has been condemned by those who have been using it, and by the Government architect, it is a cement of excellent quality. Unfortunately there are too many imported experts in connexion with public works in Australia. They come here with prejudices against things Australian, which on that account have been condemned. But, notwithstanding this condemnation - and here I speak of a thing of which I know, because I have been concerned in railway construction in Queensland - after Australian cement has been condemned it has been largely used in the construction of railways, and has stood the test for 25 or 30 years. It has been proved to be equal to the best Portland cement. Indeed, Queensland cement was put in, and the experts did not know that it was not Portland cement. If we get a duty of 9d. per cwt. there will be no hampering of the building trade, or of the drainage works of our towns - a very important consideration in this connexion. Indeed, one of the most important things we have to consider in reference to this item is that our towns need to be well drained. We wish to make it possible for local authorities to carry out the effective drainage of the cities and towns under their control without unduly taxing their ratepayers. A duty of 9d. per cwt. will do all that is required. Victoria has had a very much higher duty, and the industry has been established here. We have succeeded in establishing the industry in Queensland with a duty of less than 8d. per cwt. If we give those engaged in it the advantage of the protection of a duty of 9d. per cwt., and they cannot get on with that they deserve to suffer, because the material is to be found not only in every State, but probably in every constituency in the Commonwealth.
– I intend to support the duty proposed by the Government, but it is not my intention to recapitulate the arguments used by the previous speakers. I rise simply to bear testimony to the excellence of the cement made in South Australia. The local company there has turned out 50,000 tons of cement, of which 25,000 tons have been sold to the Government. Five thousand tons were used in the construction of the Happy Valley Waterworks, and the cement so used was found to give satisfaction.
Mr. SYDNEY SMITH (Macquarie).I doubt whether I would have spoken upon this item at all if some honorable member opposite had not said that the cement works at Cullen Bullen had closed down. What took place there has already been referred to by the honorable member for Parramatta.. A large company bought out the old works there about two years ago, and I may tell the Government that the new company has been most seriously handicapped by this Tariff, because upon one consignment of machinery alone they had to pay as much as £900 in duty. That is the way the Government encourage industry. This company had to pay £900 in duty upon one consignment of machinery that could not be manufactured within the Commonwealth, and they made an application to the Government for a refund of ‘theamount. That does not represent anything like the amount of money they have been called upon to pay, or will be called upon to pay for new machinery, because they will be compelled, to import up-to-date machinery to enable them- to compete with the imported article. If a Melbourneor Victorian company had been concerned in this matter we should have had 50 workmen, headed’ by the manufacturer, appealing to every member of the committee not to crush this great industry: It happened, however, in a State where the industry has been established - without the aid of protection, and- where’ those industries are able to compete against all competitors for Government works, and’ that without any special conditions to favour them in Government contracts. The right honorable member for East Sydney did away with the previous practice of specifying certain brands of articles to be used in connexion with Government contracts, and Goodlet and Smith secured the contract for cement let by the right honorable member in open competition. The new company who bought out the Cullen Bullen works two years ago are, I believe, spending £50,000 upon new machinery. I do not know whether it is all to be imported, but, if it is, honorable members will easily see what a serious handicap the Government Tariff will impose upon them. The honorable member for Melbourne Ports told us what was news to most of us that the German Government gave a bonus on the manufacture of cement. I have had a search made in the library and other places, but I can find no record of any subsidy paid by the German Government for the manufacture of cement. There is no doubt they have heavy protection, but I hope our workmen will never be brought down to the condition of the German workmen in this industry. Our honorable friends opposite have over and over again pointed out the great benefits which have accrued to German workmen by reason of the heavy protective duties established in Germany. We have been told that Germany has taken the lead in all these matters, and that has been used as an argument in favour of protection. What does the Age say upon this subject? I find the following in an article published to-day on the cement industry : -
The Australian worker in cement labours for 48’ hours, and is paid 36s. per week as a minimum. The German, who wants to compete against him on level terms, works 00 hours per week for los. to’ 18s., with some at only 10s., picking clinkers from the kilns. The German has no minimum rate of wage such as is enjoyed here. They have no Factory Act to regulate the condition of the worker.
That is the condition to which protection has brought the Germans, but I hope that we will see that our workmen are not reduced to such a level as that. We, as free-traders, have always advocated a fair rate of wages, and the workers in free-trade New South Wales have always been able to secure a fair rate of wages. I hope, now that we are a united Commonwealth, the workmen in all the States will be strong enough to see that those employed in these protected industries are fairly paid. Our friends opposite have frequently pointed to the advantage of protection, but I have never heard any of the great protectionist leaders, when advocating that certain duties should be levied in order to assist the manufacturer, say that side by side with such proposals an Act of Parliament should be passed to force those manufacturers to pay a fair rate of wages to their workmen.
Mr.Ronald. - We have done that in Victoria.
– After many years. Notwithstanding the heavy protection which manufacturers in Victoria have enjoyed for 30 years, and through which theydrained, millions of pounds out of the pockets of the consumers, they never, until they were forced by the wages boards, gave the workmen engaged in their . industries a fair rate of wages.
– The honorable member is quite right, but that is all past.
– I know I am right, but the statement proves the fallaey of the assertion that workmen will be insured a fair rate of wages by simply giving protection to the industries in which they are employed.
– The employers manage to evade the Act even yet.
– They do evade the Act in many ways, which it will probably be my privilege at some time to point out. I do not believe in protection, but if we are to have a system of protection in the Commonwealth I hope that the workmen of the Commonwealth and this Parliament will be strong enough to see that the people employed in the protected industries are paid a fair rate of wages.
Mr. A. PATERSON (Capricornia).Cement is not a matter of the first importance so far as the revenue and commerce of the country are concerned, but at this time it acquires a degree of importance in view of the fact that we shall probablyrequire a very large quantity of cement for the construction of the federal capital in the course of this century. In looking through the Tariff proposals I have been struck with one important fact in connexion with the duty upon cement: In three of the States the duty was 7¼d. per cwt., which is 2s. a barrel. Tasmania had a duty of 9d., Victoria a duty of1s., and in New South Wales it was free. If we take the duty imposed in all the States, we shall find that the average duty is about 7¼d. per cwt., or 2s. per barrel, and I consider it was inequitable for the Government to propose the highest duty previously existing in the Commonwealth because it happened to be imposed in Victoria, where the cement factoriesare. I am very glad that they have retired from that position, and now propose something more reasonable. I am beginning to think that the Government, in submitting these Tariff proposals, have left themselves a pretty considerable fighting margin, and I hope the Opposition will take a note of the fact. It is evident that the Government do not expect their proposalsto be carried as presented, and they will be happy if they have the good fortune occasionally to carry something near their original proposals. To go back to the time when the manufacture of cement was commenced here, I say that all credit is due to Mr. Mitchell for establishing the industry without protection. Looking at the figures as a business man, I believe the reason of that was that during the famous land boom in Melbourne there was a great natural protection to the industry. Mr. Mitchell thought that state of affairs would continue, and that he could depend upon the margin it gave him. But as soon as the land boom collapsed, the market began to be stocked up with great quantities of cement, and he then came to the Government to help him. The papers took the matter up on his behalf, and on the 25th May, 1892, the Age published a startling article, stating that Mitchell had paid off 100 men, and said he could not carry on the industry unless he got the protection of a duty. On the next day, 26 th of May, there appeared a further inspired paragraph in the Age, saying that another man engaged in the industry in Geelong had paid off 55 men. As there never were more than 200 men engaged in the cement factories I do not very well see how they could have paid off such a number of men, but the fallacy as to the number of hands employed has been thoroughly exposed by the leader of the Opposition in reply to the honorable member for Yarra. With regard to Queensland, I just mention that what Queensland wants atthis time is revenue and not cement works, and in whatever we do we should bear the interests of the other States in mind. I was very much charmed with the speech of the honorable member for Mel bourne, who, in a few practical, common sense remarks, completely knocked the bottom out of some of the speeches made on the other side. The honorable member spoke from actual experience in handling the stuff, and not as a theorist or special pleader. He proposes a duty of 9d., but I would like to go a little further in the protection, of the manufacturer than that. It has been pointed out to us repeatedly that a high duty operates unfavorably to the manufacturer himself because it induces other persons to go into the manufacture of the same article, and so a cut - throat competition ensues. I would relieve the manufacturer of that drawback by reducing the duty. I am in favour of a duty of 6d. per cwt. A point has been made of the immense amount of capital employed in this business, and I say frankly that, in my opinion, members on both sides of the chamber have made rather wild statements on the subject. We have heard about £50,000 worth of machinery being erected in New South Wales for the manufacture of cement. I receive such statements with a grain of salt. It is the generally accepted belief that in Victoria not less than £20,000 has been expended on the North Richmond factory, and it has been publicly stated that a similar amount has been expended upon the Geelong factory.
– The New South Wales factory is to contain up-to-date machinery, and will be as large as both the Victorian factories.
– On page 58 of the Victorian Statistical Register for 1899, it is stated that the total value of the plant and buildings used for cement making in Victoria is £17,500, and of the land, £5,000, a grand total of £23,000, instead of the £40,000 or £50,000 which has been spoken of in this Chamber. These returns are given by the manufacturers themselves, and, having made out returns for companies, I know that the value of plants and works is not generally understated. We need not have too much sympathy for the manufacturers of cement, therefore, because it is pretty clear that they have got back their capital under the Victorian Tariff two or three times over. Their output has been stated to me by one of their managers at from 65,000 to 70,000 casks a year, and, as the wages paid have been low, there must have been a large profit upon their operations. The honorable member for Yarra twitted the honorable member for Dalley with having no authentic information upon the subject of the wages paid ; but it is stated in Victorian records that the average rate of wages paid to the 61 hands employed in the cement works of Victoria is £1 1 5s. 7d. a week, or not half as much as the Victorian Government lost in duty. While we do not want to crush out the local manufacturers, we need not consider them as very ill-used if we agree to a duty of 6d. per cwt.
Mr. HENRY WILLIS (Robertson).The Treasurer has stated that he looks upon this item as a revenue line ; but I suppose a duty of 30 per cent, may be considered a sufficient^ high duty for revenue purposes, and a duty of 6d. per cwt. is equivalent to a duty of 30 per cent. It must not be lost sight of that the cement industry was started in Victoria, and 155 men were employed in it before it received any protection at all. After it had been in existence for several years the manufacturers asked for a duty of 30 per cent., or ls. 8d. per barrel, but the Government of the day gave them a duty of 70 per cent. In the course of two or three years, however, the number of hands employed in the industry was reduced to 70. In New South Wales, where they have had no- duty upon cement-
– They had at one time.
– They had in the beginning, but after the duty was removed the industry still prospered.
– No, it did not. I hold in my hand a document which proves the contrary.
– The honorable member for Parramatta, in whose electorate a cement factory is, says that the industry has flourished there. That factory employs 300 hands. In Victoria, however, there are only 300 persons altogether employed in the industry, and the wages paid were so low that the board had to come to the rescue and stipulate for a minimum wage.
– There is no wages board now.
– A minimum wage was stipulated for. Boys of sixteen years of age were to receive 2s. 6d. per day.
– That was provided for by the Metropolitan Board of Works.
– The Metropolitan Board of Works having done a very large amount of business with the local firm since 1889, would not allow them to pay their men a poor rate of wages. I have gone through the returns of the Board from 1889 up to September last, and I find that they paid the company in excess of the price of the imported article an amount equal to the duty levied by the State. That shows that the Victorians have been paying 70 per cent, when the industry required only 30 per cent. The duty in Victoria has been 3s. 4d. per barrel, in Queensland, South Australia, and Western Australia 2s. per barrel, and in Tasmania 9d. per barrel. According to the statement of the honorable member for South Australia, Sir Langdon Bonython, the industry has been flourishing in South Australia upon a duty of about 40 per cent. I do not wish to reply in detail to the statements of the honorable and learned member for Corinella, but I have checked them, and I find that, without exception, they are wrong. He stated that the price of cement in England was 6s. or 6s. 6d. per barrel.
– I said that 6s. per barrel was a fair price to take, although I thought it a little low. It ranges from 6s. to 6s. 6d. per barrel.
– 5s. a barrel is not considered low.
– That is for natural cement, not for Portland cement.
– According to the Metropolitan Board of Works, the average price, over a period of years, has been 5s. 6d. per barrel. The attack which the honorable and learned member made upon the Argus for having brought before the public the true situation of the cement industry is unworthy of him. No one would charge that journal with being anything but fair towards the industries of this State, and it is doing more for federation than any other journal this side of Sydney.
– I charged it with having made a mistake ; and I repeat the charge.
– The industry has flourished in Victoria in the past without a duty, and it has flourished in New South Wales without a duty. I think that the committee will be generous in agreeing to a duty of 30 per cent, or 6d. per cwt.
Mr. REID (East Sydney).- If I thought we could cany a duty of 6d. per cwt. I should gladly propose it ; but as I do not think we can Ishall support the amendment of the honorable member for Gwydir.
– It will save time if the reduction is made to apply to the whole item. The Government consent to that.
Amendment amended accordingly, and agreed to.
Item, as amended, agreed to.
Item 84 - China, parian, and porcelain ware and mosaic flooring, 20 per cent, ad valorem.
Item85 - Earthenware, brownware, and stoneware, n.e.i., and tiles, n.e.i, 6d. per cubic foot, and 15 per cent, ad valorem.
– I mentioned some time ago that in view of various difficulties that had arisen in the Customhouse, the Government proposed to substitute for the present composite duty an ad valorem duty of 20 per cent., and duty has been collected at the lower rate since the date of that announcement. I now move -
That the words “And on and after 20th February, 1902, 20 per cent.” be added.
– I cannot understand why the Government should fix a duty of 20 per cent, upon articles which are used throughout the homes of the Commonwealth. This is the same rate of duty as is imposed upon china, porcelain, and Mosaic flooring, perfumery, bevelled glass, gloves, and similar luxuries. On what possible system can the Tariff be constructed, when high duties are placed alike upon luxuries and articles of daily necessity ? I think the duty might very well be reduced to 15 per cent.
– I should like to know whether the Government have arrived at any decision regarding rebates of duty. I have had one or two communications sent to me by persons who have paid duty upon certain lines of goods at the rate of 60 or 70 per cent., and the goods are lying in store untouched until it is known whether the Government intend to make refunds in accordance with the reduced rates.
– That matter will have to be provided for in the Bill, and it can be discussed when that measure is brought down.
Mr. SYDNEY SMITH (Macquarie).Twenty per cent, is a very high rate of duty to impose upon articles of every -day use. We are taxing everything used by people in the humbler walks of life, and a duty of 20 per cent, is altogether too high in view of what has been done in regard to articles of pure luxury.
– I have reduced the duty by very nearly half already.
– Yes, but as the original duty worked out at between 60 and 70 per cent, ad valorem there was plenty of room for reduction. Those who are engaged in the manufacture of these articles locally cannot require so much protection as is now proposed. The freight charges upon importations of this character are very heavy, and afford high natural protection, and I hope the Government will consent to a reduction of the duty to 10 per cent.
– I regret that I cannot comply with my honorable friend’s desire to reduce the duty. It is all very well to compare this item with others in which we have imposed high duties for purely revenue purposes. It is recognised that if revenue duties are fixed too high their object will probably be defeated, but I do not claim this as a revenue duty. China and porcelain ware are taxed purely for revenue purposes, because they are not being manufactured within the Commonwealth, but earthenware, brownware, and stoneware are very largely manufactured in all the States, and those who are engaged in the industry are entitled to a fair amount of protection. I do not know that I ever heard it urged that 15 per cent, was a fair protective duty, although it is recognised as a good revenue duty. It was found that the duty, as originally fixed, worked out rather high and operated Unfairly in many instances, and we therefore reduced the impost to 20 per cent, ad valorem. Many people thought we ought to have fixed it at 25 per cent. The duties hitherto levied in the various States have ranged from 15 to 25 per cent., having been fixed in most cases at 20 per cent. In New South Wales, however, there was no duty. Taking the whole of the circumstances into consideration, I do not think the proposed rate is an unreasonable one. The committee must consider one very serious question in regard to this matter, and that is that the manufacture of earthenware and similar goods has lately been established to a considerable extent in Japan, where we know that very low rates of pay are current. This fact in itself should impel us to impose a fair rate of duty, so that our own workmen may be reasonably protected.
– I shall have great pleasure in moving that the duty be fixed at 15 per cent, ad valorem. It seems monstrous to attempt to impose a 20 per cent, duty upon these necessaries of the poorer classes, when the same rate of duty is levied upon the luxuries enjoyed by the rich.
– The duty was 20 per cent, in Tasmania.
– I have already explained ad nauseam that20 per cent, duties were imposed all round in Tasmania at a time of emergency. We then had not only to increase our customs duties to the very utmost, without regard to protection, but to impose an income tax, to double our land tax, and to retrench our expenditure by 18 per cent. That is the justification for the 20 per cent, duty which stood in the Tasmanian Tariff. But before I left office I did all that I possibly could to have that duty reduced, and it was only because the State which I represent still had a floating deficiency of some £100,000 that Parliament declined to fall in with my proposal. The fact that such a tax was imposed asa matter of necessity during a time of stress affords no proof whatever that it meets with the approval of Tasmania. To my mind 15 per cent, constitutes a very substantial duty upon these articles considering the natural protection which they already enjoy. Are the Government going to crush the poorer classes of the community? Is that the object of what is called a democratic policy ? The Minister for Trade and Customs, who poses as a democrat, is now, along with the rank conservatives, seeking to impose duties upon the poor, whilst allowing the rich to go free. It is my intention, at a later stage, to move the reduction of the duty to 15 per cent.
-I hope that the proposal of the Government will be carried. I have in my hand a letter from a manufacturer, who says that he would prefer the imposition of a higher rate of duty than is proposed. Of course, that is perfectly natural. The chairman of the Importers’ Association also declares that he is quite satisfied to accept a rate of 20 per cent., and that the composite duly was too high. The manufacturer to whom I referred further adds that he should like a duty of lOd. per foot put upon all glassware used for lighting purposes, whilst subjecting other glassware to a duty of 20 per cent. Therefore,1 the Government proposal should satisfy both the manufacturers and the importers. Under the circumstances, there should be no delay in arriving at an early decision upon this matter.
– I have the honour to represent not merely the manufacturers engaged in this particular industry, but also the large number of workers who are employed by them. I invite honorable members to examine the quality of the work which is turned out by the industry established at Mitcham. I have consistently deprecated the suggestion that excellent work is not done by our local manufacturers, and in this connexion I am sure that the articles to which I invite the attention of honorable members will bear the closest examination. I merely wish to add that the bulk of the money spent in this industry is absorbed in the payment of wages. As honorable members are aware, the clay is easily procured. It has then simply to undergo the burning process, and to be carefully watched. All the work is done by hand, and upon that ground alone the industry deserves consideration. The bulk of the trade done by the Victorian manufacturers is with New South Wales. They have been able to send their wares to that State, and I therefore ask favorable consideration for this industy, which is an established one.
– The statement of the honorable member for Melbourne that the importers will be satisfied with a duty of 20 per cent, will not commend itself to a good many members of this committee who have the welfare of the great body of consumers at heart. The fact that tiles manufactured in Melbourne are being sold in Sydney shows conclusively that they are able to successfully compete with the foreign article in an open market. Whence then arises the necessity for giving the industry further consideration in the way of an ad valorem duty? The statement made by the Treasurer that $he earthenware industry was now an established one in Japan, reminds New South Welshmen of the occasion when the present Minister for Home Affairs threatened that New South Wales was about to be flooded vith Japanese boots. But for some mysterious reason the Japanese boots never found their way into that market. 29 e z
– One pair did, and they were made in Woolloomooloo.
– One pair did, and we were afterwards informed that they were made in Woolloomooloo. Notwithstanding that the present leader of the Opposition threw open the ports of New South Wales to. the competition of the whole world, the home market was.not flooded with Japanese boots. On the contrary the boot industry there has continued to flourish up to the present time. .This scare was brought about by the fact that a sample teapot was sent from Victoria to Japan, where a number of articles were manu- ‘factured to match it, and sent back to Victoria. A deputation then waited ‘ upon the honorable and learned member for Bendigo, directed his attention to the facts, and urged that unless a heavy import duty were imposed upon such goods the local potteries would be wiped out of existence. Emphasis was laid upon the fact that these teapots could be manufactured in Japan and imported into Victoria at such a price that they would undersell the teapots manufactured in and around Melbourne. The Japanese article was landed here at 4s. 6d. per dozen, and it is a notorious fact that teapots of the same class manufactured in Melbourne are sold at the rate of 3s. 6d. per dozen. The experiment was a mere “ try-on” on the part of certain importers, and it is abundantly clear that no more teapots will come from Japan, any more than did the boots in the years gone by. The chief articles covered by this item are pipes for sewerage, and sanitary goods. The cost of importing these things, which are of a very breakable nature, and therefore have to be packed in straw and crates, is so high, that in itself it should constitute a sufficient protection for even the greediest manufacturer in and around the city of Melbourne. I -have in my possession, figures relating to the importation of a shipment of assorted earthenware, which show that the freight and other charges represent 105 percent, upon the value of the goods in question. Upon a shipment of 66 packages, consisting of jugs, dinnerware, toiletware, cups and saucers, teapots ite, the value of which at the works was £306 18s. 6d., the charges were as follows : - From the works to Liverpool, £23 ls 9d.; packages, £53 3s.; freight, £148 6s. 9d.; buying commission, £18 ; breakages, £15 7s.; stacking, £3 8s. ; wharfage, £8 17s. ; cartage, £6 9s. ; exchange and stamps, £19 5s. ; interest, £15 7s, ; and insurance, £9 18s. 9d ; making a total of over £320. That constitutes a little over 105 per cent, which surely ought to be a sufficient protection for this particular industry. I thoroughly realize that only the very best classes of sanitary ware are imported into Australia. The figures in my possession show that the cost of importing this ware represents about 105 per cent, upon its value. One of the reasons why the freight is so high upon articles of this character is that under our customs regulations the crates in which they are imported have to pay upon their measurement. Of course the principal article covered by this particular item is tiles. Now, the cost of importing Marseilles roofing tiles is not less than 151½ per cent, upon their value.
– But those tiles are manufactured in Sydney.
– Yes; I will come to that point presently. I am speaking now of the Marseilles tiles, which are imported.
– Roofing tilesare dealt with in the next item.
– I now see that that is so, and I shall postpone this portion of my remarks, which, I think, will be found interesting, not only to the Treasurer, but also to the honorable member for Melbourne Ports. What I have said shows that the natural protection afforded is sufficient for the establishment of any manufactory in and around Melbourne or Sydney. As I said at the beginning, we on this side of the Chamber do not consider either importers or manufacturers, but we consider the great body of the people, who are the consumers. For the reasons I have given I shall support the proposal for a lower duty.
– A very different complexion to that presented by the honorable member for Illawarra can be put on the story about Japanese ware. It is quite true that a certain importer in Melbourne sent a sample teapot to Japan, and had a quantity manufactured and brought out, only to find that they were landed at a greater cost than would have been charged for the local article. To that extent the story is true, but the honorable member did not tell the whole of it. The first consignment of teapots was a sample lot of only, I believe, 100; but since then these pots have been imported in larger quantities at a very much lower rate than is charged for the local article. I hold in my hand an ordinary teapot of the kind sent to Japan as a model for Japanese workmen, who made copies, one of which I also produce. Only those who are experts can understand the difference between the two.
– What is the difference?
– The difference can be found on turning up the pot and looking at the marks and finish at the bottom.
– Does the Japanese teapot brew tea any better than the local article ?
– So far asI am informed, the Japanese pot is equal for , the purposes for which it is used to the locallymade pot. These Japanese teapots are coming into such severe competition with the local article that the Australian manufacturers will simply have to give up the business if the competition continues. The real story of the teapot is very different. Some of the importers in Victoria went to the local manufacturers and asked to be supplied with teapots at a greater discount than that given to the ordinary buyer. Teapots can be bought from manufacturers in Melbourne in quantities of half-a-dozen and upwards, and any one can buy them ; but the importers wanted to make more profit by being supplied on better terms. When the manufacturers refused the importers’ request, one importer in Melbourne sent a sample teapot to Japan and got the first order of 100 sent out. Although this first lot cost more than the local article, it has been discovered that, by sending larger orders, the Japanese manufacturer, having got to know what is wanted, can supply these pots at such a price that it is utterly impossible for Australian manufacturers paying Australian wages to compete with them.
– How many of these teapots have been imported ?
– I am not sure of the number, but I am informed that some thousands have been imported. They can be seen for sale in dozens in the Eastern Market, Melbourne.
– How can we stop this incursion? Will 100 per cent, do it?
– Perhaps the leader of the Opposition will allow me to proceed. The minimum wage paid in Victoria, under a wages board, . for making this class of pot, is 40s. per week, and the earnings range from that figure to 55s., while wages in Japan are from 6d. to Sd. or 9d. per day, or 3s, to 5s. per week. Will any honorable member suggest that a duty of 15 per cent, will protect Australian workmen against competition of that class ? It is a question as between the Australian workman and the Japanese workman, and so far as I am concerned I shall work and vote to assist the Australian as against the Japanese. I do not say that the Japanese pot is not almost equal, if not actually equal, in quality to the Australian article ; but the consumer, about whom the honorable member for Illawarra spoke so much, does not get the benefit, because the Japanese pot is sold in Victoria at exactly the same price as the local article. It is the importer and the middleman divide the profit. If the consumer got any advantage by the importation of these pots and other earthenware from Japan there might bo something in the contention that these articles should come in free, or at a lower rate. But when we know that the poor cottager, of whom the honorable member for Illawarra spoke, has to pay exactly the same price for a Japanese pot as for an Australian pot, we ought to support our own Australian workmen, and let the Japanese “ go to pot.” That is the history of the movement with reference to teapots as between the importers and the Japanese makers. The efforts of the Japanese will probably be extended to all kinds of earthenware, and the manufacturers of Australia will be driven to give up one kind of manufacture after another, until finally we shall have our workmen idle, and Japanese workmen employed. What are we to do ? Are we to give our own workmen a chance, seeing that the consumer gets no advantage from the Japanese importation, or are we to allow the proposal for 15 per cent, to be carried 1 Surely there can be no two minds in the committee on that point ? As to sanitary ware, about which the honorable member for Illawarra had so much to say, it will be in the recollection of members who were in the Victorian Parliament when a question of a duty on this class of article was discussed in 1S95, that the Chairman of the Melbourne and Metropolitan Board of Works issued a circular in which he stated that, as sanitary ware could not be made in Victoria, it would be a heavy imposition on the taxpayers of the community if a duty were imposed. In spite of the protestations and assertions of the chairman of the board, a duty was put on sanitary ware, with the result that local potters were induced to take up the manufacture of the necessary pans and other articles required by the board. Tenders were called in due course, the first lot being for 4,000 pans ; and I want to say, in parentheses, that the board made a most unfair stipulation. They insisted that each man tendering should supply a sample of the ware he proposed to supply ; and that meant that a manufacturer had to make five or six kinds of patterns before he could tender on an equality with importers. Notwithstanding that unfair stipulation, it was found, when the tenders were opened, that that of an Australian potter was the lowest. There were eight tenders sent in, four from importers and four from local makers, and the average tender of the former was £3,300 as against £2,200 by the makers. As a result of the imposition of the duty, the taxpayers of the city of Melbourne got their sanitary ware at a very much lower rate than they would have got it at had the importers’ prices been paid.
– It was because the duty was imposed that the importers had to make higher tenders. Contractors to the Melbourne and Metropolitan Board of Works have to pay the duty.
– I expected that interjection.
– Is it not a fact ?
– It is not a fact. The importers, knowing what was coming, had laid in heavy stocks for two or three months before, and were in a position to supply these pans at a very much lower price than that at which they tendered. But I imagine the importers thought that pans could not be made here, and so they sent in tenders averaging the figure I have mentioned. The estimate of the engineers and experts of the Melbourne and Metropolitan Board of Works was £1 per pan, and it was based’ on information given by the chairman, Mr. Fitz Gibbon, when he came back from the old country. As a fact, some 70,000 pans have now been supplied by local potters at an average price of 14s. each.
– More power to them !
– So say T; but the honorable member for Illawarra would lead the committee to believe that this kind of sanitary ware cannot be made here, or, at any rate, not at anything like a fair price. I have proved, first, that it can be made here, and, secondly, that it has been made at very reasonable rates indeed. So far as clays are concerned, I believe that we can make anything in Australia quite as good as it can be made anywhere in the world, because it so happens that Australia is magnificently dowered with clay deposits of all kinds. I have taken a good deal of trouble to -ascertain the facts in connexion with the matter, and I do not know any country in the world where the deposits of clay are so large and uniform in quality as in the various States of Australia. There are magnificent beds of clay within a few miles of Melbourne. If we were to utilize them we could supply the English rate of output for a thousand years from these deposits. There are also splendid deposits of kaolin near Brisbane, whilst the Lithgow district is, I believe, in this and other respects the richest little spot in Australia. The kaolin deposits near Brisbane will, I believe, become in time the basis for making excellent porcelain. At present we are not making porcelain in Australia, but there is no reason why we -should not when we develop the great natural deposits of clay and kaolin which are here in great abundance. When our workmen are sufficiently skilled, and our population is larger, there is no doubt that chinaware and porcelain will both be made in Australia, because we have splendid deposits of the raw material for such products. -The quality of the material has been proved both here and in the old country, where it has been sent for experimental purposes. Indeed, I may say in a sentence, that we can make in Australia anything that can be made from clay. Now I wish to refer to the matter of the duties. The honorable member for Macquarie, and the honorable member for Tasmania, Sir Edward Braddon, seem to think that there is a great natural protection through the freight that has to be paid on imported earthenware. I am prepared to admit that there is ; but there is not a sufficient protection when our workmen have to come into competition with Dutch, German, and Asiatic workmen. I hold in my hand a tile which is made in Holland. The Dutch can make this tile and land it ,in Victoria for 3s. 6d. per square yard. I do not know how it is done, but there are the facts before us. But we have not so much to fear from the people of Holland as from those of India. Here is a tile which is made in India, and which has been landed and sold in Sydney at 9s. per square yard. As an article of earthenware, it is equal to anything produced in the world. It is made at Malabar: In England it would co.st Ss. Id. per square yard to produce, and it cannot be produced in Australia under 9s. 3d. Yet, it can be produced in India, and landed and sold in Sydney at 9s. per square yard. Here, again, is a sample of an ordinary kind of tile. Prior to this article being made in Victoria, the price for it in Melbourne was 45s. a square yard. I admit that that was the price 20 years ago, but the price to-day is only 15s. per square yard. I do not say that it has been brought down from 45s. to 15s. ‘because of the local manufacture, but there is the fact that this tile is now being made by Australian workmen at 15s. per square yard, and is equal to anything produced in any part of the world. Here is another tile of a similar kind which, within the last five years, was being sold at 50s. per square yard, and is now sold at 25s. per square yard. I think these samples will convince honorable members that in quality and price there is nothing equal to the local production. Here, again, is a tile with a picture printed upon it. It was made within the last week at a place called Mitcham, in Victoria. I hand round these samples to honorable members in order to show that, so far as clay is concerned, tiles and other kinds of earthenware can be produced in Australia to supply Australian Wants. The only reason we ask for protection is that we need it against foreign countries, such as India, Japan, and Holland - especially against India, where the wages are comparable with those paid in Japan. It is utterly impossible for Australian workmen, with the wages they receive, to compete against the workmen of those Asiatic countries. I have a tile amongst my specimens which can be landed in ‘Victoria from India for 2s. 3d. per square yard. It almost costs that amount to dig the clay in Victoria. So that what the potters here are working against is the exclusively cheap labour in what may be called the dark countries of the world. As an answer to some of the statements which have been made concerning these low-priced tiles, I wish to say that it is quite true that recently the American potters, under inducements from Mr. Pierpoint Morgan, have formed themselves into a huge trust with £10,000,000 sterling of capital, with a view to increasing the price of pottery. But that trust is now sending pottery, and particularly tiles, into the Australian States at such prices that they are actually sold here at less than they are sold for in the United States of America. I have invoices and facts and figures which I can produce if necessary - though I do not wish to weary the committee by quoting them now - which go to show that tiles are being landed and sold at 5s.6d. per square yard, whilst the same tiles are being sold in America at 8s.1d. per square yard. Why ? They make no secret of it. Their traveller was quite open about the matter when spoken to on the subject. He says in effect that the American potters desire to secure the Australian market, and to crush out the Australian makers of tiles and earthenware ; after which they will do as they did in 1899, and send up the price again. What was done in 1899? The Victorian potters had secured large orders from firms like Lassetters, Horderns, and others in New South Wales. The Americans, finding that , the orders were going to Victorian firms, rigidly . cut the prices. As a result, in the year 1900 the orders went to the American firms instead of to Victorian firms. In 1901, however, the Americans put up the price, thinking that the Victorians were knocked out of the market ; but the Victorians, learning from experience, made terms for the supply of their product for certain periods, and now the Americans are endeavouring to beat the Australians out of the market by actually selling these tiles and other earthenware for less than it costs to produce them. I think these facts are sufficient to convince the more reasonable members of the committee that there is very good reason indeed why there should be a duty of 20 per cent, on these articles. The free-traders have constantly said that 15 percent, is a fair revenue duty. If that be so 5 per cent, more is not much more than a revenue duty. Under the circumstances they might consent to a duty of 30 per cent., which would only be 5 per cent above what they regard as reasonable for revenue purposes. I think I have shown clearly that it is utterly impossible for Victorian workmen to compete with Japanese and Indian labour. If there were anything to be gained by the consumer I could see something in the point made by honorable members opposite, but I challenge any one to show a single instance where any kind of earthenware has been sold cheaper in consequence of a reduction of the duty. As a matter of fact the only persons who have benefited have been the. importers and the middlemen and not the consumers. Under all the circumstances I hope the committee will arrive at the decision that a 20 per cent, duty is fair, and that we shall give the Australian workman a chance and let the Japanese go.
– If the honorable member for Tasmania desires to propose 15 per cent. I will withdraw my amendment.
Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.
Amendment (Sir Edwardbraddon).put -
That after the words “stoneware, n.e.i.” the words “6d. per cubic foot and 15 per cent, ad vol., and on and after 20th February, 1902, 15 per cent.” be inserted.
The committee divided -
– The honorable member for Melbourne cannot leave the chamber.
– I trust that honorable members on this side will not object to my leaving. I have paired, and I have remained in the chamber through sheer inadvertence.
– I must ask the honorable member to take his seat. The rules provide that no honorable member may leave the chamber after the doors are closed.
Question so resolved in the negative.
– I hope I shall be allowed to explain that it was through sheer inadvertence that I remained in the chamber during the last division. I desire at the same time to say that I am extremely surprised that the right honorable the Minister for Home Affairs should have objected to my leaving the chamber.
– I claim the right to reply to the statement made by the honorable member. What I said was simply that once the bars are down an honorable member has no right to leave the chamber. The honorable member had no right to leave the chamber, and in the New South Wales Parliament he would never have been allowed to do it.
– I wish to explain to the honorable member for Melbourne that it is compulsory upon the Chairman, after the bars are closed and the question is stated from the Chair, to compel honorable members present in the chamber to remain and vote. I asked the honorable member to resume his seat purely in accordance with the standing orders.
– I quite understand, sir, that it was your duty to do so, and that you did only your duty ; but I question whether you would have noticed my endeavour to leave the chamber if the Minister for Home Affairs had not directed your attention to it.
– I should say, in justice to the Minister for Home Affairs, that I was not aware that he called attention to the fact that the honorable member endeavoured to leave the chamber. I noticed the honorable member walking out of the chamber after I had ordered the doors to be closed and had stated the question, and I then took action to prevent his leaving the chamber.
– I think it is time that something was done in this matter. I have seen members leave the chamber more than a dozen times, during this session, after the doors have been ordered to be locked. I think that this is a very grave offence, which would not be allowed in any other Parliament in a British community. I made a note of the matter upon several occasions, but I did not care to bring it up because it might be thought that I desired to cause trouble. I have no desire to do that, but some night there may be a very important division which will be carried either way by one or two votes, and if this practice does not cease it may lead to very serious trouble.
– I desire that honorable members should understand the rule on this subject for their guidance in the future. The standing orders are perfectly clear as to the duties of the Chairman of Committees and of members of the committee. Standing Order 301 provides -
When the doors have been locked and all the members tire in their places, the Speaker shall state the question to the House, and then direct the Ayes to proceed to the right of the Chair and the Noes to the left, and shall appoint two tellers for each party.
The next standing order provides -
Every member present within the bar when the questionis then stated shall remain and vote.
It is clear that it is my duty to take cognizance of all the members who are in the chamber whenI have stated the question from the Chair.
Amendment (by Sir George Turner) agreed to -
That the words “and on and after 20th February, 1902, 20 per cent.” be added to the duty.
Item, as amended, agreed to.
Motion (by Mr. Barton) proposed -
That the House do now adjourn.
– I should like to draw the attention of the right honorable the Minister for Trade and Customs to a report which has been laid upon the table, as to the number of hands employed in all the States in connexion with the manufacture and repair of electrical machinery during the year 1900 It seems to me to be somewhat incorrect and misleading. It is stated that in New South Wales there are 65 people so employed, and in Victoria 233 people, but 176 of these are employed in connexion with electric lighting, There is a note in the report to that effect. These ought not to have been included at all. The number of hands employed in Queensland is put down as 95, in South Australia as 75, in Western . Australia as 87, and in Tasmania as 32. I find, with regard to Tasmania, that the 32 persons referred to are employed in connexion with telephones ; 31 are spoken of as electricians, and only one as being employed in the manufacture of electrical apparatus. It seems to me rather strange that there should be 87 persons employed in Western Australia, and only 47 in Victoria, in the manufacture of electrical apparatus, while the numbers in Queensland and New South Wales are 95 and 65 respectively. There must be a mistake somewhere. This report is of some importance; in view of the debate which will probably take place before we finish the Tariff, and it should be OS correct as possible. I asked for a statement of the number of persons employed in the manufacture of electrical machinery and apparatus, and as the honorable member for Melbourne was anxious to have a return of the number of hands employed in repairing electrical machinery, I said that I had. no objection to that information being incorporated, so long as it was made clear how many are employed in the manufacture, and how many in the repairing of this machinery. The report which has been laid upon the table, however, puts them all together.
– I do not think that it is quite fair for the honorable member to bring up this matter on the motion for adjournment, without a word of notice. The Government have endeavoured to get for him the information he wanted. They handed to him the papers in their possession, and when they were pressed for a return, they laid on the table what they believed to be a correct return. However, our desire is to give the fullest information, and I shall look into the matter, and if I find that there is any necessity for amending the return, I shall not hesitate to have it amended.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
House adjourned at 11.5 p.m.
Cite as: Australia, House of Representatives, Debates, 19 February 1902, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/hofreps/1902/19020219_reps_1_8/>.