1st Parliament · 1st Session
Mr. Speaker took the chair at 2.30 p.m., and rend prayers.
Sir JOHN FORREST presented a petition from the Women’s Christian Temperance Union of Western Australia, praying the House to adopt the system of local option in the federal capital.
– I desire to ask the Prime Minister whether, in view of certain press statements, it is the intention of the Government to give Parliament an opportunity before the close of the sessionto determine finally the site of the federal capital ?
– The question whether the Parliament before the close of this session will have an opportunity of determining finally the site of the federal capital depends upona number of investigations which must succeed the inspection of sites by the members of the House of Representatives, following an inspection which has been made by members of the Senate. Unless they are absolutely precluded, the Government will give an opportunity to members of the House of Representatives to visit the sites ; but inasmuch as after that inspection there will have to be certain investigations from the point of view of engineers, architects, surveyors and sanitary authorities for the purpose of determining which is really the best site, I cannot undertake to give Parliament an opportunity of deciding upon a site finally in this session. Everything that can be done to push forward in all reason the selection of the site will be done, having in view the consideration that, as a mistake would be irreparable, extreme care must be taken, and having in view on the other hand the desirability which presses very strongly on me of having the federal capital in a place which is not subject to any provincial influence, whether it be that of Sydney or of Melbourne.
– I desire to ask the Prime Minister whether, in view of the fact that only one senator from New South Wales - Senator Neild - accompanied the members of the Senate, it is not reasonable to suppose that the senators from that State desire us to sit here for the next ten years?
-I do not think that the House will expect me to answer that question seriously. It may be presumed that the members of the Senate who hace been elected from New SouthWales have already a very fair acquaintance with the sites.
The Clerk laid upon the table the following paper : -
Cast of printing for Parliamentand Departments - (Return).
– Might I be allowed to intimate to the House that it is the intention of the Treasurer to take Supply tomorrow.
asked the AttorneyGeneral, upon notice -
– Accepting the honorable member’s statement as to the practice in Western Australia, the matter can only be dealt with by an exercise of the Commonwealth power to pass a law in regard to naturalization. I see no prospect of that being done this session. It may be possible to pass sucha measure next session.
Mr.E. SOLOMON asked the Minister representing the Postmaster-General, upon notice -
Has it been decided to abolish the½d. postcard system in Western Australia ?
Is it the intention of the PostmasterGeneral to inaugurate a1d. letter postage system in eachState, the same as that which exists in the State of Victoria, in order that there shall be an uniform postal system throughout the Com monwealth ?
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follow : -
Consideration resumed from 19th February(vide page 10172).
Division VIII.- Earthenware, Cement, China, Glass, and Stone.
Item 86 - Filters of all kinds, fire and glazed bricks, fire lumps, fire-clay manufactures, n.e.i., asphalt and roofing tiles, ad valorem . 15 per cent.
– I rise to ask the Ministers if they cannot see their way to place filters on the free list. This duty is altogether unnecessary. It is almost a tax on pure water. Dripstone filters are madein Australia, and I am told that they will always be made here, because the cost of importation is too great. Acertain class of filters is imported. Three descriptions of germ-killing filters are used in Australia. Of these, the Jeffrey is made in Melbourne, employing a few hands; and the Abbott and Pasteur filters are imported. In many parts of Australia, especially the tropical parts, where water is very impure, and in other parts where water is very scarce, filters are absolutely indispensable to health. I move -
That the words “15 per cent., and on and after 21st February, 1902, free,” be inserted after the word “kinds.”
– It is not expected that the duty will yield a largeamount of revenue, simply because filters are being made here and in other States in consequence of protection. They have been dutiable at a much higher rate than we propose, except in New South Wales, where, of course, they were duty free. They were subjectto a duty of 30 per cent. in Victoria, 25 per cent. in Queensland, 25, 20, 15, and 10 per cent. in South Australia, 20 per cent. in Tasmania, and 10 per cent. in Western Australia Even in the State which my honorable friend represents filters have been dutiable. Honorable members know that these articles tire largely made in the Commonwealth; and of various kinds. I ana afraid that my honorable friend has not made out a case which would justify the committee in saying that filters should ‘be admitted free, and by that means, in a’ll probability, injure an industry without getting any revenue.
– How many hands are engaged in making filters 1 “
– -There is no filter factory.
– It is all very well for some honorable members to ask how many hands are employed, but we all know that the men are not limited to the making of one article. A manufacturer has a number of industries combined, and the hands are employed in making various, articles in one factory. However, the articles have been dutiable, and a 15 per cent, duty is certainly a very reasonable one. If we had proposed a duty of 25 or 30 per cent, my honorable friend might have had some justification for asking that it should be reduced, but seeing that we ask for a duty of only 15 per cent, on the whole line, I think it is a very fair proposal, and one which the committee ought to adopt.
– A number of the best patent filters cannot be made in the .Commonwealth. In any case, the making of filters must be a very small adjunct to an ordinary industry. It has not got into a special line yet, but is a sort of odd job, I suppose, in some of the , factories. Surely there is something we can do to give encouragement to the people in the country. In big cities we are all well off, with a pure water supply, but in the interior the people suffer a great discomfort from the water they have to drink. I should very much like to see some consideration shown for the people in the country. It is the people in the towns, who have all the comforts of life, and comparatively high wages, who enjoy all the benefits of these high protective duties. The Ministry might therefore stretch a point and place on the free list the filters which are so necessary to those who have to live in the country. A number of other articles which are made here have been placed on the free list. Take wire netting, for instance. The committee’ placed wire netting on the free list, although it is made by a very large manufacturer in one part of the Commonwealth, and I think filters might be similarly dealt with. .
– The Government have apparently overlooked the carbon-filters, which are carried by prospectors wherever they go. They are universally used throughout the gold-fields of Western Australia, because it is well known that where they are not used great risk is run of contracting typhoid fever through drinking impure water. This kind of filter, at least, should be placed on the free list in order to give as much encouragement as possible to those who go out prospecting.
Mr. KIRWAN (Kalgoorlie). - I am very much disappointed at the action of the Government. It is important to a large number of people throughout the Commonwealth, and particularly to those in the more tropical parts, that filters should be readily and cheaply obtainable. The Treasurer seems to hardly realize the position of those who are engaged in making filters. Ordinary filters are made in Australia, and will always be made here, because the cost of importation is so great that filters of this class made in foreign countries cannot be sold here to advantage. It is the germ-arresting filters which will be particularly affected by this duty. There are three kinds of these filters, namely, the “ Pasteur,” Abbott’s, and Jeffer3’’s, the lastnamed being made locally.
– A company is being formed to make another filter.’
– Only one kind of locally-made filter will be affected by my proposal.
– Thousands of filters are being made in Brunswick.
– Ido not think they come within the class to which I refer. Only one kind of germ-arresting filter is made within the Commonwealth, and I think it is taking rather an extreme stand to refuse to place filters on the free list simply because a few people are employed in making, them here. The Government do not care apparently to what extent disease may be spread throughout the tropical parts of Australia, where- the use of these filters is absolutely essential to the preservation of health. I hope Ministers will reconsider the matter, and that if they cannot place filters on the free list they will considerably reduce the duty.
– The duty is only 15 per cent. now.
– I am becoming rather tired of hearing remarks from the honorable member for Melbourne Ports and the honorable member for Bourke. It is only reasonable to expect that they should object to my proposal, because they cannot see beyond the suburbs of Melbourne. So long as those who live in the neighbourhood of Melbourne are studied, the interests of the people of the whole of the rest of the Commonwealth do not matter a rap to these honorable members. I am not at all surprised at their attitude, but I am astonished to find the Treasurer and the Minister for Trade and Customs, who ought to take a wider view of the requirements of the Commonwealth, allowing themselves to be influenced by similarly small considerations.
– Why should not Jeffery’s filters be used? They are amongst the best made.
– I am tired of all this talk about the people in the back-blocks using filters. Who ever heard of swagmen using filters? I have the interests of the men who are struggling in the back-blocks as much at heart as has the honorable member for Kalgoorlie.
– The honorable member’s interests are bound up in Melbourne and its suburbs.
– My honorable friend has no right whatever to make any such statement. I have always been ready to admit the sincerity of the honorable member, and he ought to give other people similar credit.
– I did not insinuate that the honorable member was biased by his own personal interests, but that in a political sense his actions implied that the interests of the Commonwealth were comprised in those of the residents of Melbourne and its suburbs.
– There is no justification for any such statement. My political inclinations are influenced by the interests of the workmen of Australia. Our own workmen are making just as good filters of the kind to which the honorable member has referred as can be imported.
– There was a duty of 10 per cent. imposed on filters in Western Australia.
– Yes, and in every other State they imposed a still higher duty. Honorable members have asked how many men are employed in making filters, but I contend that the importance of an industry should not be measured by the number of men engaged in it. If all the industries in which a few men are engaged are allowed to go by the board, we shall have none left. I hope the committee will support the moderate proposal made by the Government.
Mr.FULLER (Illawarra). - I move-
That the words “and on and after 21st February, 1902, 10 per cent.” be added.
The tiles to which I desire the amendment to apply are known as Marseilles tiles, and it may be urged by the honorable member for Melbourne Ports that they are manufactured in France and exported under the encouragement of special bounties on the same substantial evidence which he gave us in regard to Government bounties yesterday. At the same time I am informed that the cost of importation amounts to 150 per cent. upon the original value of the tiles.
– Then their value must be very low.
– In support of what I say, I have an invoice here if the Treasurer would like to see it. In order to encourage the tile-making industry in Victoria a 20 per cent. duty was imposed some time ago, but notwithstanding this addition to the very high natural protection, to which I have referred, the tile-making operations in Victoria were a failure. In Sydney some four years ago a similar manufactory was established under free-trade conditions. Notwithstanding that those engaged in the enterprise had to compete with the imported tiles in a free market, they have manufactured 3,000,000 tiles, which they have been able to sell in a free market at 15 and 20 per cent. below the prices quoted for the tiles imported from Marseilles. This tile manufactory is therefore an institution of which we have good reason to be proud.
– They have a better class of clay in Sydney than we have in Victoria.
– The causes of the failure of the tile industry in Victoria were pointed out in the columns of the Age on the 25th April, 1900, as follow : -
There is no special virtue in the French clay ; no reason whatever, as far as materials are concerned, why the article imported in such steadily increasingquantities from Marseilles should not be manufactured here. On that point the local industry is unanimous. The great difficulty is the price. With the aid of cheap labour the foreigner can land his goods here at a cost that defies local competition. That, at least, has been the experience to date. A leading tile maker, who was questioned on the subject a day or two ugo, said that the curse of cheap labour abroad was ruining the local market. “What cun you do,” he asked, “ when the manufacturers at Marseilles can get labourers for half-a-crown a day?” Both in Sydney and Melbourne attempts have been made to supply the article, and manufactories have tentatively been set up. In Sydney / the industry carries on a struggling existence. In Melbourne the attempts have Been abandoned, as it lias been found that in existing circumstances they cam only be carried on at a loss. Mr. G. Sweet, manager of the Brunswick Brick, Tile and Pottery Company, recently left for Europe in order to inquire into the more modern processes in use in the Continental cities. He will spend some time in Marseilles, and will investigate the means b)’ which the French tile can be turned out in such large quantities to the indirect loss of the colonial workmen. The points to be considered are the materials required - the machinery, the right kind of presses, and the exact processes involved. None of the Melbourne handicraftsmen have yet mastered the processes by which the foreigner is enabled to produce with ease and certainty this particular article of commerce. But the mystery cannot continue lon’g unsolved. It then remains to be seen whether a Melbourne made tile can be produced at a cost that will enable it to compete with France. So long as the duty remains what it is, there is not much chance of the local article being able to hold its own, but several members of the trade who were spoken to have strong hopes that the Government will do something for them. If the protective duty is to be of any use, it will have to be a heavy one, but that is always the ease when the unfair advantage of low-priced labour is held by the other side.
– That was two years ago. We can tell a very different story from that now.
– In the meantime the Victorian industry has become extinct, and the manufacture of tiles in Sydney, which was spoken of as a struggling industry, has become a very flourishing one. The article in the Age shows that the Victorian manufacturers could not compete with the imported tiles on account of the low prices at which they were sold, and a large increase of duty was asked for to compel consumers to pay a higher price than they would otherwise have to give. I contend that the natural protection of 150 per cent, ought to be sufficient. I would further point out that it is the cheap labour of Europe - that is, the cheap labour of a protective country like France - against which we are asked to protect the local workmen. It has been pointed out that the fact that the French workmen engaged in tile-making are paid only 2s. 6d. a day, ought not to prevent the successful manufacture of tiles in Victoria. Because, although that very low rate of wages was being paid in this industry in Marseilles, a still lower rate was being paid in the protected State of Victoria. This fact was pointed out by Mr. J. B. Davies, of Brunswick, in a letter written to the Age, and his statement has remained uncontradicted up to the present time. He put the position thus -
It is stated that a labourer in Marseilles gets 2s. 6d. per day (in potteries). This fact should not stop some of our own manufacturers, as they pay even less than is paid in Marseilles, as the following list of wages paid at the Brunswick pottery proves : - Boys, 4s. to 4s. Gd. per week ; carters, 7s. 6d. to 15s. ; labouring men, 12s. to 20s. per week. I can prove the correctness of the above figures.
The accuracy of the writer’s statement has never been contradicted.
– The contradiction is to be found in the fact that a wages board is now in existence, so that the potteries have to pay decent wages.
– I wish also to direct the attention of the committee to a statement which was made by the honorable member for Melbourne Ports, concerning the wages paid in the potteries in and around Melbourne, prior to the establishment of a wages board. According to Mr. S. Mauger, M.H.R., secretary of the Protectionist Association of Victoria, the wages in pottery works, protected by over 100 per cent., were 3s. 6d. a week for boys, and for men 5s. per day of twelve hours. These are magnificent wages to be paid in an industry enjoying such a high measure of protection as this particular industry enjoyed. But what was the position in free-trade New South Wales? There the following rate of wages was being paid : - Foremen, maximum £3 10s., minimum £2 8s. ; throwers, maximum £3, minimum £2 ; pipemakers, maximum £3, minimum £2 ; burners, maximum £3, minimum £2 ; claygetters, maximum £2 8s., minimum £1 10s. These wages were being paid to men for a day’s work of eight hours as against a day’s work of twelve hours in Victoria.
– The honorable and learned member’s statement as to the hours worked in Victoria was applicable to only one Victorian pottery.
– I have in my hand a report of the honorable member’s own statement in which he speaks of the “pottery works “ of Victoria. If he had been referring to one pottery only he would have been keen ‘enough to make the distinction.
– What is the honorable and learned member’s authority for my statement 1
– I am quoting a statement made by the honorable member as secretary of the Protectionist Association of Victoria, - a statement which- appeared in the Argus and Age.
– What is the date of the report 1
– I am not in possession of the date.
– I do not think the honorable and learned member is.
– I can easily’ look up the date if it is necessary to do so.
– Is the honorable and learned member quoting from a newspaper ?
– I atn quoting from my notes in regard to the matter. I would point out to the committee that roofing tiles have become almost a necessity in connexion with the building trade of Australia. One cannot go anywhere in the suburbs of Melbourne without finding that a majority of the houses are roofed with tiles. The same condition of affairs prevails in and around Sydney. For example, at Mosman’s Bay and other places, which are advancing with rapid strides, nearly all the cottages are being roofed with these particular tiles. The bulk of the Marseilles tiles are brought out in sailing vessels, which after discharging them in Sydney, proceed to Newcastle for the purpose of loading coal, and taking it away to other parts of the world.
– - Are these tiles imported to any extent ?
– A very large quantity indeed is imported, and as I have previously stated* over 3,000,000 tiles of this particular class have been manufactured by the potteries in Sydney during the past four years. If the importation of Marseilles tiles is stopped, by reason of the imposition of a high protective duty, it will necessarily follow that the tonnage at the port of Newcastle will be considerably lessened, and a decreased quantity of coal will be taken away to other parts of the world. When we consider the high natural protection enjoyed by this industry, which is a flourishing one in the city of Sydney, where the local article is able to undersell the imported by 10 or 15 per cent., I think it will be admitted that a duty of 10 per cent, is sufficient to meet all the requirements of the case.
– The honorable and learned member for Illawarra has undoubtedly made out a very good case from his point of view. But, as in the statement which he made last evening, concerning pottery ware generally, the whole of the story has not been told. I do not blame him, however, because he is probably not in possession of complete information, and consequently is in a position to give only a partial statement of the case. In the first place, I desire to deal with his declaration that the cost of ‘importing tiles from abroad represents 150 per cent, upon their value, and that, therefore, the industry enjoys a large measure of natural protection. When we come to examine that, statement in conjunction with one of his later statements, we see that the two cannot possibly be reconciled. His second statement that Marseilles tiles are brought out by sailing vessels to Sydney is perfectly true. They are brought out because they can be packed so closely together, and make such splendid dead weight, whilst the freightage upon them is very small. They are brought out in the same way as cement used to be-
– No ; the ships are chartered solely for the purpose of bringing out these tiles.
– The close way in which they can be packed prevents the amount of natural protection which the local industry enjoys from approaching anything like 150 per cent.’ Possibly it does not exceed 15 or 20 per cent. I have not any invoices with me, but I think I could easily disprove the statement that the charges incidental to shipping and transport constitute a protection of 150 per cent. As a matter of fact, the percentage must be very small indeed. The honorable and learned member for Illawarra told the committee that the industry enjoyed this immense measure of natural protection, but in the next breath admitted that he did not know what was the value of the tiles. How he could possibly arrive at the percentage represented by the charges levied upon them , without knowing their value I am at a loss to understand, unless he has been briefed.
– That is easily understood some one may have told him.
– Regarding the alleged failure of the industry in Victoria, I find that the authority for the rate of wages said to have been paid in this State is a newspaper report, which is a little over two years old. In that report it is stated that the Victorian potteries had been unable to make the tiles which are known as Marseilles tiles. As a matter of fact they were and are able to manufacture them. That they declined to do so was only owing to the fierce competition of the Marseilles makers, and because they did not enjoy the measure of protection which the honorable and learned member has alleged. On the other hand, all the ornaments, such as griffins, finials, and cappings, which go to complete roofs of this kind, have been made in Victoria for a considerable time past, because these articles do enjoy a natural protection which, added to the duty which has been operative, has enabled the local potteries to supply them at a satisfactory price to the consumer. It will be seen therefore that the statement that the Victorian potteries have been a failure is not entirely correct. The honorable and learned member also referred to the rate of wages which was formerly paid in the Victorian potteries. In this connexion I desire to point out that where Marseilles tiles are manufactured, they are made only by the best and most skilled workmen. No man in the employ of a potter who undertakes their manufacture receives less than £3 per week, whilst the foreman gets £4 weekly. Regarding the general potteries, I indicated last night that the lowest wage paid to a skilled workman in any Victorian pottery is 40s. per week, and his remuneration ranges from that to 55s. per week.
– How long has that wage been paid?
– That determination of the wages board has been in force for fifteen months. At the time the alleged sweating rates quoted by the honorable and learned member for Illawarra were paid there was no wages board in existence ; but even the wages then current, except in two instances, were not 10 per cent. less than those which obtain at the present time.
– Does the honorable member deny the truth of Mr. Davies’ letter?
– I repeat that in all the Victorian potteries, save two, the wages paid prior to the determination of the wages board were not 10 per cent. less than those which are now being paid. In the case of the two potteries referred to, the wages were not so good, and, indeed, one of them, which has been quoted, was run by the owner principally with boy labour. This man, although he is wealthy, paid particularly low wages; indeed, he is about the worst specimen of a champion sweater to be found anywhere. It was principally to contend with this employer that the potters agitated for the establishment of a wages board, with the result that he was compelled to discharge his boys and. substitute men, and to pay something like reasonable wages. But, in the two potteries I have mentioned, the class of goods known as Marseilles tiles were not manufactured, and the figures supplied by Mr. Davies in his letter were applicable only to these establishments.
– He spoke of the Brunswick potteries.
– They apply only to the two potteries mentioned. At those particular establishments very low wages were being paid, and Mr. Davies’ statement in regard to them , was absolutely correct, although it did not apply to the potteryware known as Marseilles tiles. For the most part the articles made at the potteries in question consisted of flower pots and vitrified ware, such as is supplied to the Melbourne and Metropolitan Board of Works. In the first case, the wages given are not correct ; and, in the second case, the wages are correct, but do not apply to the particular trade. In spite of the fact that these tiles are being made in New South Wales, the honorable member had to admit that there are very large importations into that State ; but not being in possession of accurate or precise information, I somewhat doubt the statement that the local makers are selling at 15 per cent. under the imported price.
– The statement is correct
– I can only accept the honorable member’s statement in the meantime ; but there is a complete answer to the fact, if it be a fact First of all, these particular tiles are made in New Sonth Wales by firms who are not solely engaged in the pottery business. They are made by a firm or firms who, in addition to the manufacture of the poorer classes of pottery, are also engaged in the cement and timber trades, who have,
I understand, some interests in the coal business, and, in short, are general merchants. Whether or not these firms are making a profit out of this particular class of ware it is very difficult to say ; ‘but the probabilities are that this is a line adopted by them as a kind of “ draw “ or “ catch “ to stimulate their other branches of business. I can understand why in New South Wales it is possible to make these tiles at greater advantage than in the adjoining State. In Victoria, as elsewhere, these tiles have to be burned with coal. In New South Wales the coal is practically on the same ground as the clay, and can be bought at the pit’s mouth for 2s. 6d. and 3s. 6d. per ton, whereas in Victoria 20s. to 23s. per ton has to be paid for coal delivered at the potteries. Under these circumstances there is an immense difference in the cost of producing the article in the potteries of Victoria, and producing it at Lithgow or Bulli, the coal being near at hand in both the latter cases. My figures may not be absolutely correct as to the prices paid for coal, but we all know that there is an immense difference between the cost of coal at the pit’s mouth and coal transported from Korumburra in Victoria to the potteries at Brunswick or Bendigo, even supposing we used local coal. But in the potteries of Victoria not only local coal but Illawarra and Newcastle coal has to be used, so that there is a decided advantage in favour of New South Wales. Even with all these advantages I make bold to assert that the New South Wales tile makers cannot possibly compete against Marseilles makers, and pay the same rate of wages that is paid in Victoria. The wages quoted by the honorable member for Illawarra do not compare, or, at any rate do not compare favorably, with the wages paid in Victoria. We have thus to contend with the extra cost of coal, and the difference in wages as between Australian ‘ rates and French rates ; and under these circumstances it is utterly impossible for Victorian potters to make this particular class of ware at a profit. This class of tile can, I suppose, be made in almost every State of the union. From my knowledge of the deposits of clay in Australia, I know that the tile can be made in four of the States, and that it should be made for use here is extremely desirable. The honorable member for Illawarra has given some good reasons why these tiles should be used in the roofing of our houses. They are cool, clean, and sanitary, and much better in many respects than the iron which is so common ; and for these reasons, in addition to those given by the honorable member, it is very desirable to stimulate their manufacture for use by Australians generally. I am a little astonished, if I may say so without being offensive, that men like the honorable members for Illawarra and Parramatta, who represent constituencies in which there are immense mineral deposits, should not endeavour to develop these resources to a greater extent than they appear to do. If I may be permitted to digress for a moment from the immediate question of roofing tiles, I should like to say that in France and England, where these tiles are made, potteries have been in existence for hundreds of years. There the coal deposits and the clay deposits are practically contiguous, and the makers have all the advantages of the most up-to-date machinery. There are not the immense distances which have to be travelled in Australia, nor the great freightages to pay in order to reach the local market; and, under all the circumstances, the advantages which English and Continental makers have over Australian makers is simply enormous. I should have thought that these facts would afford good and substantial grounds for utilizing our magnificent natural resources, and, by every means in our power, seeking to develop in Australia a product which is so successful in other countries. I mentioned last night that there are in Queensland, as in Victoria, very fine kaolin deposits, which are the basis of porcelain and chinaware. Chinaware is not made in Australia now, and I am much afraid it will be a long time indeed before we manufacture any porcelain. At the same time, it ought to be our endeavour to at once make our own chinaware. When a member of the State Parliament of Victoria, I had the honour to suggest that there should be established a national school of pottery and design, and that in connexion with the designs put on porcelain and earthenware, there should be an adaptation of the flora and fauna of Australia. In that way we should turn out a distinctive class of ware that would be known all over the world, and would be sold for its intrinsic worth, and also for its extreme novelty. Those who have read the history of pottery know that that is exactly the plan followed by Bernard Pallissy and others, who have made such a magnificent success of this work in France. It is the method adopted at the Sevres works, which, by the way, are a State-owned institution ; and it is the method adopted at the Dresden works, which, if not exactly a State institution to-day, are, at any rate, heavily subsidized by the German Government. In connexion with Australian potteries it would be a magnificent idea for the Government, seeing that we cannot very well found a national school of pottery, to give a bonus for the development of the manufacture of china and porcelain ware. If that were done, we should beable to make not only Marseilles tiles, which in a sense are the very poorest class of pottery, but all the chinaware required for Australia. I am surprised that honorable members who represent districts which are so rich in these natural deposits, do not take a greater interest in their development, and try to induce either the State Governments or the Federal Government to assist in further developing the pottery, earthenware, and china industries in Australia. There are sufficient deposits here to make all the china we require ; but in spite of that fact, and largely because there is not sufficient protection or inducement offered for the making ofthese commodities, we find that something over £300,000 worth of china and earthenware are imported into Australia every year. The figures for New South Wales alone show that last year the imports of earthenware and china represented over £110,000. Here surely is a great national industry - a great primary industry, which can be properly developed, and which ought to be stimulated on the lines I have suggested. I have ventured to make these observations only because I feel that these other industries are intimately allied with the subject-matter under discussion, and if the committee would only realize the immense value of our splendid mineral deposits of all kinds, I have no hesitation in affirming that within the next five or ten years we should be making not merely Marseilles tiles, but also chinaware. In addition to these deposits, nearly all the glazes which are required for finishing the products can be found in Australia. Lead, tin, cobalt, manganese, and salt are amongst the principal glazes used, and these can be found in large quantities in the various States. It is true that there has not yet been found a substitute for
Cornish stone or Spanish felspar, but the probabilities are that these, and every requisite connected with the pottery trade, will be discovered in Australia. There is an immense belt of country in Victoria where fictile clays of the very best kind, used in the making of paints, have been discovered ; here, again, is a deposit of clay which, together with the pottery clay, ought to be developed. I have digressed somewhat from the remarks I intended to make, but I feel that we do not give enough attention to the development of our natural endowments. The manufacture of Marseilles tiles, and of china and porcelain ware, presents a great field for enterprise. If we begin with the making of such humble commodities as these tiles, we shall probably go on, as has been the case in France, Germany, and England, to the making of the very finest kinds of ware, and develop industries which will be a credit to Australia and the Australian workman.
– The honorable member for Bourke has placed before the committee all the facts in connexion with this matter from one point of view, and the honorable member for Illawarra, who raised an objection to the item, has also put his case very fully. I do not propose to traverse the ground covered by those speakers, but, judging from the imports into New South Wales, it appears to me that these tiles are worth about £5 per 1,000. The honorable member for Illawarra told us that during four years 3,000,000 of them were manufactured in New South Wales, though I find that in the year 1900 there were 2,000,000 imported. It would seem, therefore, that in New South Wales only a very small proportion of the number used is manufactured locally. The honorable member for Illawarrahas toldus that the locally-manufactured tiles are sold at a price 15 per cent.belowthatof the imported article. Therefore, even though there were foreign competition they ought to have been able to supply the local market. I find that in Victoria, where we had a fair protective duty, tiles are included with a number of other articles in the statistics. The imports were about the same as in New South Wales. The value was about £10,000 in New South Wales for tiles alone, and in Victoria the value of the imports of tiles, fire clay, and fire bricks came to about the same amount. So that it is evident that the imports of tiles into New South Wales were very large. If they can make tiles in New South Wales, I fail to see why we should not give them a reasonable amount of protection. My honorable friend, the member for Illawarra, will not contend that 10 per cent. is a fairly protective duty. I take it that he would regard that as a mere revenue duty. Fifteen per cent. is certainly a very low duty for protective purposes in respect of the manufacture of such articles as these. I find that in all the States except New South Wales tiles have been dutiable in the past, at a higher rate than is proposed in this Tariff. The duties have been in Victoria 20 per cent., in Queensland 25 per cent., in South Australia 25 per cent., in Tasmania 20 per cent., and in Western Australia 15 per cent. All we ask for is a duty of 15 per cent., and I am certain that the committee will not say that that is unreasonable. If in New South Wales there are better facilities for the manufacture of tiles, we shall, by imposing this duty, encourage the industry there ; and if in the other States tiles cannot be manufactured to such advantage - through their nothavingas goodamaterial or for some other reason - we should be prepared to take tiles manufactured in New South Wales in preference to tiles manufactured in Prance. If Australians prefer to buy the imported article, notwithstanding that they can obtain tiles manufactured in New South Wales, let them pay a little extra. Let us assist our own industries, and let those who will not use the locally made article pay a little more for the imported commodity. It is not unreasonable to say to people that if they insist upon having an imported article they should pay more for it. I could understand an objection being made to a duty like 25 per cent., but what is here proposed is a reasonable protective duty, and one which I think the committee will indorse.
– I should like to ask the Minister for Trade and Customs a question with reference to asphalt and roofing tiles. I wish to know whether the word “ asphalt, “ as here used, is intended to qualify the word “ tiles,” or whether it is intended to impose a duty on the asphalt itself? If it is intended to tax asphalt, it would be better to have a specific duty than an ad valorem duty. I believe that the Customs have been victimized to some extent already by reason of there being an ad valorem duty on asphalt. As far as I know there are no such things as asphalt roofing tiles, though I believe there are tiles for footpaths made partly from asphalt. If it is intended to make asphalt itself dutiable, the duty should be so much per ton ; but in my opinion, asphalt being a raw material, should be upon the free list.
– The intention of the Government is that the duty should be imposed upon asphalt tiles. The word “ asphalt “ is used as an adjective referring to tiles. We have already noted the point, and I propose to move the insertion of the word “ tiles “ after the word “ asphalt.” The item will then read -
Asphalt tiles and roofing tiles.
– Are not the Customs charging on asphalt at present ?
– No, I believe not.
– I have heard that duty has been charged on asphalt.
– It has not been brought under my notice. I shall be delighted to look into the matter. If the honorable member for Illawarra will temporarily withdraw his amendment, I will move the insertion of the necessary word.
Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.
Amendment (by Mr. Kingston) proposed -
That after the word “asphalt” the word “ tiles “ be inserted.
– What is the intention of the amendment?
– The intention is to limit the use of the word “asphalt” - to make it an adjective qualifying the word “ tiles.”
– I understand that the word “ asphalt “ as here used, was intended to limit the importation of Trinidad asphalt, and to give the local maker an opportunity of producing Australian asphalt.
Amendment agreed to.
Mr. FULLER (Illawarra).- I move-
That the words “ and on and after 21st February, 1902, 10 per cent.” be added.
The Treasurer has expressed his surprise that if roofing tiles are manufactured in Sydney as I have described, there should be such a quantity imported from Marseilles. The explanation is that while the local industry has been progressing satisfactorily during the last four years, there has been an enormous demand for building material in Sydney during the last two years, and there has been a particular rush upon this special article. As I have already pointed out, nearly all the cottages and buildings which are being erected in the neighbourhood of Mosman are being roofed with these tiles. For this reason the local manufacturers have not been able to supply the demand, and of course imported tiles had to be used. The Treasurer says that 15 per cent, is not very much protection. But I would point out to the committee that the protection will not only be 15 per cent., but that in reality there is a natural protection of 150 per cent. When I was previously speaking I intended to quote from an invoice which I did not happen to have in the chamber at the moment. I have since obtained it. It is a copy of an invoice for a cargo of Marseilles, roofing tiles imported by Messrs. W. H. Rocke and Co., who are very large house furnishers carrying on business at 247 and 249 Collins-street, Melbourne. The invoice shows, that the value of the cargo, as per home invoice, was £2,250; freight loading, port dues, insurance, and primage amounted to £2,200 ; wharfage, unloading, and stevedoring amounted to £487 10s. ; duty at 10 per cent, amounted to £495. The total was £6,152 10s., the original value of the cargo being, as I have said, £2,250. There was an increase of £3,903 15s., which appears to me to be a very high natural protection, indeed, to those who are engaged in this particular industry. The honorable member for Bourke has pleaded very hard for the duty proposed by the Government, on the ground that in “Victoria the manufacturers are disadvantageously placed.
– Not on that ground alone.
– The honorable member has said that the manufacturers have to pay more for their coal, and so on. I have pointed out that the industry has been successfully established in New South Wales. Are we going to commit ourselves to the folly of imposing duties in order to encourage the establishment of industries in places which are not suitable for them, whilst we have suitable places in other parts of “the Commonwealth ? I can understand the anxiety of the honorable member for Bourke, because the industry has failed in Victoria.
– It has never been started. 29 p z
– I have pointed out that it has been started and has failed.
– The statement is not true, if the honorable member will allow me to say so.
– Like the honorable member for Bourke, I can only give the committee the information which has been supplied to me. That information is to the effect that this tile-making industry was established in Victoria and had failed. I hold it to be very bad policy, indeed, to impose duties for the establishment of industries in places which are at a great disadvantage in consequence of the amount which has to be paid for materials. The honorable member has also expressed his great surprise that the. honorable member for Parramatta and myself, who represent districts possessing great natural resources, do not lend our adhesion to a policy which would lead -to the development of those resources in accordance with the ideas of protectionists. But the honorable member for Parramatta and myself take a different view in connexion with the development of our resources from the view that is held by honorable members opposite. The great natural resources which I have in my electorate, such as coal mining and dairying, and those which the honorable memberfor Parramatta has in his district, have to face the unrestricted competition of the whole world. We have to send our produce to places where it has to take its chance upon the world’s markets. There is no system of protection which can benefit us in any shape or form. I am anxious, and the honorable member for Parramatta has also shown his anxiety to have the industries of Australia developed, but we object to some industries, which are at present paltry in the extreme, having the benefit of high duties in order that they may be established in Australia, thus making the great body of consumers, and those engaged in the primary industries, pay through the nose.
Mr. REID (East Sydney).- I think it is about time that those honorable members who speak like the honorable member for Bourke and the honorable member for Melbourne Ports made a choice. They cannot get up one moment to beg of us, in pity, to support some poor industry which must inevitably expire unless we agree to vote for the duties proposed by the Government, and then the next moment brag about the great prosperity of the industry and the wages it pays. Honorable members opposite must choose one story, and stick to it. Either these industries are brought before us in one way or the other - either as appealing to our benevolent instincts to save them from immediate extinction, or as appealing to us to still further encourage really robust and promising industries. It is becoming quite sickening. There should be the same story told day after day. It is no wonder that these honorable members get somewhat puzzled and angry when the honorable and learned member for Illawarra and other honorable members mention time after time, as they are able to do, the fact that in New South Wales the very same industries are carried on under conditions which leave human energy free to work out its own profit and its own expansion. We can point to such industries in New South Wales, the persons engaged in which do not come whining to Parliament for protective duties, but allow the duties to be struck off without saying a word, and are never to be seen hanging about the corridors of this building begging for protection. It is apparently marvellous to some honorable members that those engaged in the great industries of New South Wales which have been allowed to work out their own destinies, as others have had to do, should not come to this Parliament as the manufacturers of Victoria have done.
– I havejust been sent for by a manufacturer from New South Wales.
– No doubt he was some twopennyha’penny manufacturer, an ex- Victorian, who knew the honorable member when he was secretary to the anti-sweating league. But I am speaking generally of the great industries of New South Wales. The time has come when my honorable friend should either appeal to us for these manufacturers as a pure matter of charity, or on the grounds that their industries have been a success, and ought to be encouraged.
– Is 10 per cent. a revenue or a protective duty ?
– My right honorable friend, whom we all respect so much, descends occasionally to remarks which are puerile and quite beside the question. He knows that owing to a breach of faith thousands and tens of thousands of the electors of Australia who believed the Prime Minister’s Maitland manifesto, have been entrapped practically into a position in which they have the rabid Victorian policy in the matter of roofing tiles, teapots, and other matters of the sort thrust upon them. Last night the honorable member for Bourke paraded a teapot before the committee, with all the pride of a warrior who had won a great battle in some world-renowned encounter. These parades, however, are all beneath notice. True we have to bow down to chance majorities, but they are becoming beautifully less. The Ministry are hanging on now by majorities of one, two or three votes. We, of the Opposition, have done well.We have awakened the consciences of some supporters of the Government, and they are gradually coming back to the paths of righteousness. In the meantime, we have to make a very bitter struggle in defence of the people of Australia. We have to resist as far as wecan these attempts to place a high ring fence around Australia, and to cut it off from the rest of the world. I should not mind if the farmers were obtaining boom prices for their products, such as5s. or 6s. a bushel for their wheat. Then a proposal such as this would not matter much ; everyone would have so much money thatWe might scatter a little over Brunswick, or South Melbourne, or Collingwood. It is a remarkable thing - and this item is a very striking illustration of the fact - that we can have honorable members bringing hundredweights of crockery into the chamber night after night on behalf of some industry at Brunswick, although they will not moveastep on behalf of the great national industries of Australia. Why do not they trot out the Japanese bogy - put forward in regard to crockery - when dealing with matters affecting the farmers? Why do they not propose to do something for the farmers ? When we were endeavouring to place agricultural implements on the free list why did not these honorable members remember that the farmers have to compete in the markets of the world ; that there is no fence high enough to protect them. I ask the Government to accede occasionally to some of our slight demands. Surely they will consent to take 5 per cent. off tiles.
– We would rather not do so.
– Then we shall take more than 10 per cent, off the Government themselves.
Mr. HUME COOK. (Bourke).- I do not intend to traverse the statements made by the leader of the Opposition as to the position of the farmers-
– The honorable member cannot do so.
– I have a desire to proceed with the business and to keep to the point. The question before the committee is the duty to be imposed on roofing tiles, and not the Maitland policy. There was one remark made by the honorable and learned member for Illawarra, to which I desire to refer before proceeding to discuss the speech made by the leader of the Opposition. The honorable and learned member for Illawarra said that he had an invoice from W. H. Rocke and Co., showing that there was a natural protection of 150 per cent, on rooting tiles. It is always inadvisable to accept, without some reservation, statements made either by manufacturers on the one hand, or importers on the other. It is just as well for an honorable member to be sure of his information and to make inquiries on his own account. It happens that Messrs. W. H. Rocke and Co. are interested to a greater extent in the local manufacture of what are known as Marseilles tiles than is any other firm in Victoria. They have not yet been able to manufacture the tiles themselves, but the tappings and griffins and finials used in connexion with them are made in Victoria by companies in which Messrs. W. H. Rocke and Co. are the largest shareholders. If there is a natural protection of 150 per cent, on these tiles, how is it that this firm has not entered upon their manufacture, instead of limiting their attention to the ornamental work on which, as I have pointed out, there is some natural protection ? To talk of natural protection in regard to tiles is all moonshine. If there were natural protection to any extent the importers would enter upon their local manufacture.
– What is the natural protection on these tiles t
– The natural protection on the tile itself, quite apart from the ornamental work, which is very bulky, and takes up a great deal of room, may be 15 or 20 per cent.; but it is nothing like 1 50 per cent. As to the remarks made by the honorable and learned member in regard to the disadvantageous position of Victoria as compared with New South Wales, I’ would remind him we are legislating for the Commonwealth, and that the Commonwealth consists of something more than the State of New South Wales. The honorable and learned member alleges that I cannot dispute his statement that tiles of this kind are being made in New South Wales without protection; but even if that is so I would point out that it is far cheaper to ship tiles from Marseilles to Melbourne than to send them from Lithgow to Melbourne. The freight from Lithgow to Melbourne is far greater than it is from Marseilles to this port. We desire to stimulate the industry not merely in one State but in all the States. Queensland and South Australia have immense deposits of clay suitable for this class of work ; Victoria also possesses good deposits, and these States have as much right to seek the local devolpment of the industry as has New South Wales, whose coal supplies place it in a more favourable position. That is my answer to the honorable and learned member. In addition to the coal which they obtain from Victorian mines, the Brunswick potteries alone consume annually some 30,000 tons of Newcastle and Illawarra coal. Now, I desire to deal with the remarks made by the leader of the Opposition as to the wonderful things done in such a robust fashion in New South Wales without the aid of protection, and his statements that the manufacturers there never seek protection after the duties have been taken off; that they are such hardy industrial plants that the sun may shine and the wind may blow upon them without their coming down. I have not discovered these hardy manufacturers ; but I have a letter in my possession signed by the general manager for Bakewell Bros., of the chief pottery in New South Wales, and Mr. Thomas Wilton, managing director of the Lithgow potteries, on behalf of the potters of New South Wales.
– They are protectionists.
– I am now about to give the leader of the Opposition some information which may be of interest to him. This letter is signed on behalf of the hardy manufacturers who do not want protection
– No ‘doubt they want to obtain a bit of what is being given.
– That is a good back down.
– This is what these gentlemen- say on behalf of the potters of New South Wales : -
We are of opinion that the duty, if intended to help manufacturers, should have been left as originally proposed, or else have had a sliding scale on the principle of the better the article the more duty. It appears to us that the fixing of the same duty on a common ginger-beer bottle, and a gilt and decorated toilet set, is ridiculous. The one can be produced without any aid from imported material or labour, and the other cannot be produced without the importation of twothirds o£ its material, and skilled labour, though they both come under the term of earthenware. If the duty had been as at present for earthenware, namely, brown tea-pots, baking dishes, bread crocks, bottles, &c, and the original duty on decorated, printed, and sponged ware and sanitary goods, the manufacturers would have been helped, and the middle-class and rich would have paid the duty, and not the poor ; but as it is it neither helps one or the other.
These gentlemen wanted the duties to remain as proposed original] y, namely, 15 per cent., and 6d. per cubic foot, which is equal to something like 45 per cent.
– Protectionists are all alike.
– But these are the hardy manufacturers, who, according to the leader of the Opposition, do not want protection. As a matter of fact, they want something more than the duty of 20 per cent, which we decided to give them last night. I disagree with some of the statements made in this letter as to certain materials not being obtainable here. I assert that they can be made here. The statement that two-thirds of the material has to be imported is absolutely incorrect. The potteries - and I can speak with fuller knowledge of those in this State - make all their sanitary ware, with the exception of some of the glazes, from local clays. Natural deposits of almost all the glazes exist in Australia. These hardy individuals, who sprang up without protection, who never complained when the duty was taken off, who do not come now to ask for a duty, write to me as the representative of the largest pottery district in Victoria, to take up their case for them, and they do not ask for a duty of 15 or 20 per cent., which we give them, but for duties amounting to 45 per cent. These are my answers to the honorable member’s statements.
Mr. REID (East Sydney).- At last we have discovered some one in New South
Wales who has been asking for an unreasonable duty. I feel humiliated by the disclosure which has been made that twogentlemen in New. South Wales could be found to make such an unreasonable demand on the taxpayers of Australia. It only shows the effect of those evil communications which have become possible under federation. Such a thing would have been absolutely impossible in New South Wales under the free-trade flag. I suppose they see so much plunder going round that they wish to get a share of it. It is a natural impulse, although it is not creditable to them. It only shows that they must have been brought up in a protectionist school. I know that one of them is one of the oldest protectionists in the State, so that my honorable friend must recollect that when we indulged in the boast which we ventured to make, we did not refer to the protectionist, because he is the same in every country and in every century. Just as those bandits who have extracted £27,000 for the redemption of a young lady in the wild mountains of Greece are the same sort of people as those who have been guilty of outrages of a similar kind for centuries in Europe, so we have an illustration of that sort in this particular individual.
– The honorable member for Bourke has stated that the natural protection in the removal of tiles from the works at Marseilles to the shore at Sydney Harbor or Port Melbourne ‘ is only 15 per cent.
– From 15 to 20 per cent.
– The honorable member is absolutely wrong in that statement. He made another misstatement, no doubt unintentionally, in his first speech when he said that these tiles are carried, as cement is stated to be carried, as dead weight for vessels at an exceedingly low freight. I should like to know from the honorable member what other cargo comes from Marseilles to Australia direct that would constitute the other loading of the vessel, if tiles come only as dead weight. There is practically no export from Marseilles to Australia direct, and a whole ship has to be chartered for the conveyance of tiles. They enter Sydney Harbor by the shipload, and from my own window I can see them landed on to the shore. Does the honorable member think that that can be done for 15 or 20 per cent. on the value of the tiles - avalue which theTreasurer has stated to beabout £5 per 1,000? I am not aware of the cost at port of shipment; but that evidence of the value at the port of arrival shows that it is a very low cost article. I am quite sure that under the most advantageous circumstances the cost of chartering a vessel, conveying the tiles from the works to Marseilles, and from Marseilles by lighter to the vessel, stacking them, and landing them with care, at the port of arrival, cannot be less than £2 a ton. The stacking is very expensive, as each tile has to be packed, and the vessel has not the advantage that vessels often get of taking other goods at higher measurement rates. The whole difference which the honorable and learned member for Illawarra asked for is not really the difference between 10 and 15 per cent., but the difference - if you allow the import cost to be even 40 per cent. only - between 50 and 55 per cent.
– If we are willing to give 50 per cent., we might as well give 55 per cent.
– Forty per cent. protection ought to be enough, and if we give another 10 per cent. protection it is excessive liberality. The further argument of the honorable member for Bourke is a most extraordinary one. He says that he desires to see an industry in tile-making, not merely in New SouthWales, but in every State of the Commonwealth. So do I, and naturally if the circumstances fit the States for the production, there will be that production - I hold, without a protective duty, but he says, with a protective duty. If we are going to fix the rate of that protective duty according to the difficulties of production in the place which has least facilities for production, what are we committed to? We shall have to guide our Tariff rates by what it will cost to produce an article, I suppose, in the centre of Australia. That is a view which I have never before heard so deliberately argued, even by a protectionist. If that sort of policy has been pursued in our separate State existences, under federation at least we must leave that idea in the background. We must not legislate for the place that is least fitted to produce ; we must legislate for the whole of Australia.
Question - That the words “ and on and after 21st February, 1902, 10 per cent. “ proposed to be added, be so added - put.
The committee divided -
Question so resolved in the negative.
Item, as amended, agreed to.
Item 87. Glass, viz. : - Bent, bevelled, heraldic, sandblasted, enamelled, embossed, etched, silvered, and cut ; corners cut, bevelled, or engraved ; panes, prisms, and all other framed with metal, ad valorem, 20 per cent.
– I think we ought to have some explanation from the Minister with regard to this item, as I do not understand anything about it.
Mr.REID (East Sydney). - I am surprised at my honorable friend challenging this item. When we consider that a duty of 20 per cent, has been imposed on mangles and washing machines, I am astonished that a duty of at least 100 per cent, has not been proposed in this case, because it would fall upon people who can afford it. I suppose, however, that there are not a sufficient number of wealthy people in the Commonwealth to make it worth the while of the Ministry to plunder them. This item is, perhaps, the only one in the whole Tariff that is really a moderate proposition, and my only hope is that it will give Brunswick a lift.
– I have a communication from Sydney which deals with some of the articles in this item. Objection has been taken by some of those engaged in the glass trade in Sydney to the ad valorem duty. No objection is raised to the rate of the duty, because, as the leader of the Opposition has stated, we may regard this as a fair revenue impost.
– No ; a good deal of glass is worked up here.
– The difference between the duty proposed here and that upon plain glass under the next item is only 5 per cent.
– That is where it is bad. The difference is not sufficient.
– Some of the articles mentioned in the communication I have received are embraced in this item. It is suggested, that instead of a percentage duty, fixed duties at per 100 superficial feet should be imposed on sheet-glass, polished plate-glass, sheet and plate-glass silvered or bevelled, and rolled plate, cathedral, coloured ground glass, and glass “ n.e.i.” The rates proposed are 2s. Gd. for sheetglass, 20s. for polished plate-glass, 40s. for silvered or bevelled glass, and 4s. for rolled, plate, cathedral, coloured ground glass, and glass “n.e.i.”
– What percentages would those figures represent 1
– I do not know. I handed this list to the Minister for Trade and Customs, and I see some figures marked in the margin, which, I presume, show the percentages of duty. The percentage on sheet-glass is given as 14 per cent., on polished plate-glass 20 per cent., and on sheet and plate-glass, silvered or bevelled, 20 per cent.
– Those are the percentages as worked out by our experts.
– Several reasons are given for the proposed change. One of these is the special danger of fraud in connexion with undervalued invoices. Another argument is that at present Belgium supplies three-fourths of the glass used in Australia. There is a difference in price of about 30 per cent, between the Belgian and English glass. It is stated that this difference is justified by quality, but in spite of the superior quality of the English glass the lower prices of the Belgian article have led to the importation of very much larger quantities from Belgium, to the corresponding exclusion of the British manufactures. It is further pointed out that the percentage on the difference in the price of Belgian and English glass would represent another 5 per cent., and consequently the English glass would practically be put out of the market.
– That is quite correct.
– I do not wish to interfere with the honorable member for Bourke, who has given notice of an amendment upon the next item, but as those engaged in the Sydney trade desire to see some alteration made in regard to the duty imposed on some of the goods dealt with under this item, I should like to have the opinion of the Minister on the matter.
– The honorable member for North Sydney does not quite understand the way in which the duties are being levied. As a matter of fact the descriptions of glass to which he has referred are not being charged duty under this item, but under the next item as glass, n.e.i., and if my proposed amendment to the next item were carried it would embrace the glass he has named. Rolled plate, sheet-glass, and polished plate would be covered by my proposal to impose fixed duties on polished plate and on window glass.
– That would not deal with silvered and bevelled glass.
– No ; it would not include that particular line or brilliant-cut glass. The arguments adduced by the honorable member do not apply to those commodities, but to plate-window and sheetglass only. These are covered by my proposal, and I suggest therefore that we should test the feeling of the committee upon the next item. I have not had time to look up the figures, for the whole of the Commonwealth, but the returns for Victoria give absolute proof of the statement of the honorable member for North Sydney as to the excessive importation of glass from foreign countries, and particularly from Belgium. The importations of British polished plate-glass into Victoria in the year 1900 were valued at £1,892, whereas the glass of similar character sent here from Belgium was valued at £11,500. “Window glass was imported from Great Britain to the value of £4,595, and from Belgium to the value of £13,211. The committee will therefore see that the statements of the honorable member are fully borne out by the facts. Regarding the practicability of levying a duty in this way - I desire to state that upon the outside of every case of glass imported into Australia there appears a description, not only of its contents, but an accurate statement of its superficial measurement. That this is so can be easily ascertained by reference to the Statistical Registers of the various States. In my judgment a duty upon measurement would be easier to collect than would an ad valorem duty, because - as has been properly pointed out - the item of glass is one of those in regard to which invoices might be very easily “cooked.” I wish also to point out that an ad valorem rate in this particular case would be much to the advantage of the very large importers, mid to the disadvantage of the smaller men upon whose behalf I speak. Again, so far as cheap glass is concerned, British glass is much superior to Belgian, and if we levy a duty upon superficial measurement, we shall give the consumer an opportunity of securing the better article. In other words, if we charge upon values, we shall differentiate against the smaller consumer, whereas, if we charge upon measurement, we shall differentiate in his favour.
– The position is the other way about.
– No, it is not. But for the necessity which exists for raising revenue I should vote in favour of placing glass upon the free list. The figures which I have given represent, as accurately as I can work them out, an equivalent to the 15 per cent, proposal of the Government.
– I take it that the remarks of the honorable member for North Sydney are applicable more to- item 88 than to the one immediately under discussion. What we are proposing to do at the present moment is to fix the rate of duty to be levied upon glass, in regard to which certain operations, such as enamelling, bevelling, silvering, &C., can be carried out locally. We propose to collect upon that glass a certain duty, which, while it will be productive of revenue, will be incidentally protective. Our object is to get a certain amount of revenue, and at the same time to protect that portion of the work which can be undertaken locally. All the operations enumerated in the Tariff are being carried out in Australia. In reference to the proposal of the honorable member for Bourke, I desire to say that, apart from the question of rates, there seems to be a good deal in favour of the scheme which he has suggested. But at the same time we are informed that the balance of convenience and propriety is rather in favour of the course which we propose. It has been put that an ad valorem duty is liable to be abused, and that therefore a fixed rate should be substituted. I recognise that ai ad valorem duties are liable to bc abused. They require very careful administration. I know that in a good many cases the Customs department will be “got at” unless a considerable amount of diligence is exercised. But there is also no doubt that ad valorem duties have a great deal to recommend them, in that they are based upon the principle of collecting a larger amount of duty from the more valuable article. I am further told by the Customs officers that a good many checks can be. imposed in connexion with the collection of ad valorem duties, checks which are generally observed. For example, there is not only the invoice to guide them, but they also have power to require the production of the draft if necessary. The value of goods is capable of proof in a variety of ways. But in connexion with the levying of a duty, by measurement, there is not the same facility for check short of the actual examination of the goods. When any doubt exists” as to the accuracy of the measurements given, the only way in which it can be solved is by opening the cases, and the honorable member for North Sydney knows there is nothing that importers deprecate more than the unnecessary opening of goods. Altogether, our officers consider that the balance of convenience in that respect is entirely in favour of an ad which duty. Then it is put fairly enough that the Belgians are underselling the British by about 30 per cent., and that in point of fact where British goods would cost £100 the Belgian goods would cost only £70. In this connexion I would ask honorable members whether it is altogether a fair thing to charge upon £70 worth of goods the same duty as is charged upon £100 worth? No doubt our patriotism is such that we prefer to trade with Britain rather than with any foreign country. But I ask honorable members to recollect that the cheaper goods must commend themselves more to the poorer classes of the community ; and is it a right thing, by refusing to regard the question of values, to provide for a system of taxation which would bear more heavily upon the poorer people than upon those who prefer the extra valuable article, and are able to pay the higher price for it ? I do not think so. I put these considerations before honorable members. I also put it that we can best deal with the whole question when we come to consider the next item. I have roughly indicated our general feeling upon the subject at the present moment. I am not pledging ourselves to absolutely refuse a further, consideration of the matter, but I ask the honorable member for North Sydney not to press his proposal at the present stage.
Mr. THOMSON (North Sydney).- I am quite willing to allow the matter to stand over until the next item is under consideration. I believe, however, that there are two lines covered by the item under discussion which will be affected, although in a minor degree.
Item agreed to.
Item 88. Glass, n.e.i. ; also seltzogenes and accessories and syphon bottles, ad valorem .15 per cen i.
Mr. HUME COOK (Bourke).- I moveThat the words “ 15 per cent. ; and, on and after 21st February, 1902, polished plate per .100 feet 15s., window sheet per 100 feet 2s. 6d.,” be inserted after the word “ glass.”
Window sheet will, I understand, cover all kinds of glass used in connexion with windows. I choose the word “window” as covering several kinds of glass which are sold at about the same price. In what I am saying I am advised by the trade ; I do not pretend to any personal knowledge. Taking the Government proposal at 15 per cent., and working it out on the basis of the Victorian imports, I find that 15s. on the one hand, and 2s. 6d. on the other, are about equivalent to the 15 per cent, proposed.
– That is so.
– So far as I am personally concerned, I should like to vote for placing this particular item on the free list.
– Will the honorable member make the duty 7s. 6d. ?
– I do not care what the amount is. At present my only concern is that if there is to be a duty it should be a fixed duty. But whether the duty be 7s. 6d., 10s., or 15s., is a matter of indifference to me. I shall go for the lowest duty the Government will accept. The ad valorem argument, singularly enough, does not apply to sheet-window glass.
– Why not?
– -For the reason that the man who buys a sheet of glass does _ not know whether it is English or of Belgian make. What he asks for is 16-oz. or 21-oz. glass, and the seller naturally disposes of the kind of glass which gives the bigger profit. If the seller had to pay duty on a footage rate, he would rather keep the English article for the credit of his establishment, but if he has a chance to make more money by selling Belgian glass, which is cheaper to him, he does so. In an ordinary case, under an ad valorem duty, the man who buys the better article pays the higher price, but all glass is about the same price practically.
– The buyer is altogether in the dark.
– The buyer is altogether in the dark as to whether it is English or Belgian glass he is buying, and he is entirely at the mercy of the man who sells. A glass-dealer will sell 16-oz. Belgian glass, which costs 70s., as against English glass of the same kind costing 100s., because he makes more profit in the former case.
– That is, he sells £70 worth of glass for £100.
– The figures I have given go to prove how the Belgians are getting the market, which I would much rather see in the hands of Britishers.
– Does the honorable member think that if all the glass be taxed at the same rate, the higher qualities will be imported ?
– I do not know, but the chances are that the seller will charge both at the same rate, and the British article will have an opportunity of
I getting into. the market on better terms than under an ad valorem duty. It is admitted that the quality of the English glass is higher than that of Belgian glass, and the result under an ad valorem duty is that the consumer does not get an opportunity of buying it. I see no difficulty in collecting a fixed duty. The invoice, which declares the value, also declares the number of feet ; and it will probably facilitate Customs operations to have a fixed duty. I submit the amendment of which I have given notice.
– I should like to know whether the Government accept the amendment proposed by the honorable member for Bourke, because, if so, I shall move as an amendment on the amendment that the duty be reduced from 15s. to 7s. 6d.
– We think an ad valorem duty better.
– Then I shall ask the honorable member for Bourke to withdraw his amendment in order that I may move that the duty be 10 per cent. The difference in duty between the raw material and the manufactured article is only 5 per cent., and this is a very extensive industry in Victoria, which, under the State Tariff, was protected by a duty of 35 per cent.
Mr. HUME COOK (Bourke).- Perhaps the better plan would beforme to move the insertion of the words “polished plate,” to test the question whether there shall be a fixed or an ad valorem duty. If the committee determine that there shall not be a fixed duty, then it will be competent for the honorable member for Melbourne Ports to propose a duty of 10 per cent.; and if we determine that there shall be a fixed rate, then the honorable member may move to make it 7s. 6d.
– I do not care whether the duty be ad valorem or fixed, so long as it is lower than that proposed.
Amendment amended accordingly.
Mr. THOMSON (South Sydney).- As to the Minister for Trade and Customs’ suggested objections to the amendment, I would point out that it is not a fact that the poorer user will pay one fraction more for the glass which he buys. When I say that, I presume, of course, that the 2s. 6d. proposed is equivalent to 15 per cent.
– Practically; it is about 14 per cent.
– The poorer user will not pay any more for Belgian glass. There is nothing to charge on to the user if the- duty now proposed on that glass is the exact equivalent of the duty proposed by the Minister, and that disposes of the Minister’s argument.
– What is the effect on English glass?
– The amendment will not create another advantage of 5 per cent. to the Belgian glass as against the English glass. There will still be the cheaper Belgian glass, which will not be increased 1d. in cost.
– The price of the English glass will be reduced.
– The English glass will pay a lower comparative duty under the proposals of the honorable member for Bourke than it will under the Minister’s proposal.
– It will pay less money.
– It will pay 5 per cent. less duty, but the cheap Belgian glass will still be there at exactly the same cost as under the Government proposal. As to the difficulty of checking at the Customs’ House, I have had some experience in this connexion, and, in my opinion, ad valorem invoices must prove more difficult than measurement invoices. To a large extent, dependence must be placed on the invoice under the ad valorem system, and a false invoice cannot be made as to measurement, because the latter is so easily checked. Glass is. not packed in different sized sheets in one case, because that would only lead to breakages. There must be a case built corresponding to the size of the sheets, as many of which are packed as can be safely carried, and any experienced officer can tell in a few minutes, even without any invoice, what duties are chargeable on a case. There is the further national reason, to which I have already alluded, and which has been supported or amplified by the honorable member for Bourke. For these reasons I do not see any objection to the proposed amendment, though I see something in its favour. The Minister is getting an equivalent to his own proposed duty, and the duty on Belgian glass is not raised. By a fixed duty we escape the danger which is said to be particularly noticeable in this trade, of undervaluation in foreign invoices ; and the proposed amendment would do some good, without risk to the revenue or injury to the consumer.
– I have no special personal knowledge of the subject, and I rely upon the information derived from my officers.
– Even the officers say that there is very little difference in the difficulty of checking.
– I am not putting it that there is much difference. >I am putting the case on two points. First, we are assured that checking by measurement in connexion with glass, packed in the way it is, involves a lot of trouble in any necessary opening of the packages.
– The cases do not need opening; the sheets of glass are all one size.
– The officers, who have given their whole lives to this work, tell me that for the purposes of checking there is undoubtedly difficulty in a fixed duty on this item.
– They say the difficulty is very little.
– They say that it is a considerable difficulty, and that the importers would object to the opening of the packages. We should have to take the word of the importers under circumstances in which we should not do so. That is one point. The other is in connexion with the calculation of value. The honorable member says that what is proposed would not raise the price of the cheaper class of goods. Still, however, it would give a preference to the dearer class. No doubt we have done that in some cases already, by fixed duties on articles that vary in value. However, the matter, is not of great importance. The long and the short of it is that we may fairly give a preference to the British manufacturer. Under the circumstances, therefore, we will not press the point. It is undoubtedly shown that the British manufacturer will get somewhat the better of the rate in comparison with the foreigner, and that if we take the course now suggested, we shall avoid placing the British manufacturer at a disadvantage. Consequently we will let the matter go.
Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.
Amendment (*y Mr. Hume Cook) proposed -
That the following new item stand item 87a : - “Polished plate, per 100 feet superficial, 15s.; sheet, per 100 feet, 2s. Sd.”
Mr. MAUGER (Melbourne Ports).- I wish to move an amendment to make the protection equivalent to 10 per cent It will be admitted that it is not fair to give the industry only 5 per cent.- protection.
– Would it be ruined?
– I think it would be ruined. Under the old Victorian Tariff there was a 35 per cent, duty for this industry. The raw material was free. Now the Government propose to tax the raw materia] 15 per cent., and only give a margin of 5 per cent. What I urge is that plate-glass, which is the raw material for bevelling, sandblasting, enamelling, and embossing, should be admitted at 10 per cent. I ask the Government to consent to amend the item so as to make the duties 10s. on polished plate, and ls. on sheet glass.
– We will agree to 10s. and 2s.
– I move-
That “ los. “ be omitted, with a view of inserting “10s.”; and that “2s. 6cl.” be omitted with a view of inserting “ 2s.”
– Do I understand that the Minister for Trade and Customs intends to accept this amendment ?
– Yes. Has the right honorable member any objection ?
– I object to the extraordinary way in which the Government bring down proposals, amend them immediately a suggestion is made from behind them, and still further amend them when a suggestion comes from another direction. I should like to see the Government hold to their policy sometimes.
Amendment of the amendment agreed to.
New item, as amended, agreed to.
Item 88. - Glass, n.e.i. ; also seltzogenes and accessories and syphon bottles, 15 per cent, ad valorem. “
Item 89. - Glassware, n.e.i.. Sd. per cubic foot and 15 per cent, aci valorem.
– I move-
That the following words be added: - “and on and after 21st February, 1902, 20 per cent.”
I move this amendment in order to carry out- the promise made to the committee some time ago with regard to abolishing the measurement rate. Twenty per cent, is the rate we have already agreed to in respect of earthenware and brownware, and will be a fairly protective rate with regard to glassware.
– The item as it originally stood is now proposed to be amended by the substitution of 20 per cent. The data I have is based upon the presumption that the proposed duty was to be 8d. per cubic foot and 15 per cent. ad valorem. Therefore I am unable to furnish the committee with the exact data as to what the effect of the duty now proposed will be. For instance, the English cost per gross of aerated water bottles being £1 4s., the duty at 8d. per cubic foot would be 9s. 7d. But it is proposed to strike out the 8d., and to substitute 20 per cent. for 15 per cent. That would reduce the duty to about 6s. 6d. on about £1 4s. worth of goods.
– It is one-fifth of 24s.
– The English cost is £1 4s. The addition of 10 per cent. to the invoice cost for ad valorem would be 2s. 5d., making the cost altogether £1 6s. 5d. A duty of 15 per cent. on that would be 3s.11d. Now the Government propose to make the duty 20 per cent. - that is, onethird more than 3s.11d.
– The duty on some of the other articles will be a long way less.
– The duty on goods to the value of £1 4s. would be something over 5s. That is to say, it comes to over one-quarter of the original cost. There are other articles on which there is a still greater difference. For instance, there is a brand of bottles called “Lamonts,” the English cost of which is £1 4s. 6d. per gross; 15 per cent. on that amount would be 4s., and therefore 20 per cent. would amount to at least 5s. This will seriously hamper one particular industry. I have here a communication as to correspondence which has passed between Messrs. Schweppes Limited and the Custom-house officials with regard to bottles returned empty. That matter is in a most unsatisfactory state, notwithstanding the clear statement of the Minister for Trade and Customs.
– The bottles were to be free after they had once paid duty.
– The Ministerial decision is as follows : -
Article 172. - Decision under Federal Tariff. Cases, bottles, corks, &c., used in packing,- that is to say, bottles that are Australian products - to be admitted to all States, excepting to Western Australia, free.
That was the decision given by the Minister for Trade and Customs. But the practices of the various Custom-houses are so widely divergent that it seems impossible to connect them. Who is to say whether duty has been paid on a particular bottle or not ?
– The honorable member is referring to section 92 of the Constitution.
-I am referring incidentally to article 172 in connexion with returned empty bottles which are made in Australia. I am showing that a duty of 20 per cent. on aërated-water bottles would in reality effect a still greater charge upon them, while in addition those engaged in the industry are hampered by the restriction as to returned empties passing between the States. The Ministerial decision is clear enough, but the practice of the Customs officials is far from being in accord with it.
– Where does this happen ?
– It is happening every day. The particular complaint which I have under notice is made in a letter dated December 6, 1901, but the Ministerial decision is dated January 20. How is a person to tell whether or not duty has been paid on a particular bottle ?
– That difficulty is the unfortunate effect of a section in the Constitution.
– The Customs authorities are taking no risks, therefore they make the people concerned pay duty on these bottles every time. These people have to make their living, and what they say is this -
Mr. Kingston stated that a decision had been giventotheeffectthatallbottlesshouldpay dutyonlyonce,andafterthatcouldbesentto and from ships free all further restrictions.
– That is, imported bottles?
– Yes. The letter continues -
Even if the decision was as Mr. Kingston declared it to be, we have no hesitation in saying, from our individual experience of the way in which the Tariff is being administered, that we would be met with an objection by the customs officials to prove that the bottles sought to be landed from any ship, having previously paid duty, were the identical bottles.
– They say they have no hesitation in making that assertion, but has that been their experience 1
– I wired yesterday to
Schweppes, Limited - whose letter I am quoting - to ascertain whether this condition of things still existed. I have received a reply setting forth that the same harassing conditions are to be met with. They say that the practice does not affect them very much because they are not doing business with the other States to any great extent, nor do they propose to do so until this matter has been placed on a proper footing. The letter continues -
The impossibility to prove this may be seen at si glance, when we say that oar London works turn out an average of 2,000,000 of bottles per week. How would it be possible, except at an enormous amount of expense, to follow through the processes of manufacture a small percentage of these bottles ?
As far as the P. and O. and Orient Mail complines are concerned, we have, as previously stated, cabled to our London office to supply these boats for the voyage out and the voyage home -
That is to say, the vessels are supplied not from Australia but from London, so that the bottles are not put ashore here -
In” view of the passenger season approaching for His Majesty’s coronation, we anticipate the orders will be greater during that period than ever before, and if we arc in a position to get the empties to refill without paying duty, it may be in opportunity for our Sydney branch to resume the trade ; but we certainly would not feel justified in advising our London house to alter existing arrangements, until we see “returned empties” without cumbersome qualifications placed on the free list in the Tariff.
Dr. Wollaston in reply to the aforesaid letter, states, “ Empties can be landed for refilling under guarantee by arrangement with the agents of the vessels and the Customs.” That is precisely, as it is now -
This is somewhat extraordinary, but Dr. Wollaston carefully avoids to reply to our proposition.
With regard to Dr. Wollaston’s assertion that his first decision was never intended to include bottles manufactured in Australia, and could not do so, inasmuch as such were free by the Constitution Act, we desire to say the Customs officials in Sydney stated that Dr. Wollaston’s decision - “ Returned empties dutiable under the Tarin”’ - included bottles and cases manufactured in New South W ales, and we have actually paid duty on cases manufactured in this State.
– What is the date of that letter?
– December 6, 1901.
– And my decision in re gard to this matter was given last month.
– As a matter of fact, this firm is not doing . any Inter-State business, and does not intend to do any until this matter has been settled.
– There is nothing to prevent them from doing business without difficulty under Dr. Wollaston’s letter.
– But who is going to enter into business under such conditions 1
– Dr. Wollaston says that they can land the bottles and refill them by arrangement.
– They have done what Dr. Wollaston has told them to do, but nevertheless they have been charged duty. Dr. Wollaston’s decision is clear enough, but Schweppes, Limited, point out that -
The Customs officials in Sydney stated that Dr. Wollaston’s decision “returned empties dutiable under the Tariff” included bottles and cases manufactured in New South Wales, and we have actually paid duty on cases manufactured in this State.
With respect to empties returned for refilling, Dr. Wollaston said -
If 3’ou obtain a certificate as to payment of duty on bottles not the manufacture of Australia, you will probably find no difficulty in their subsequent transfer.
Dr. Wollaston does not answer the question put to him by this company with the offhandedness and cocksuredness of my right honorable friend the Minister for Trade and Customs. As a matter of fact, they experience considerable difficulty in regard to returned empties on which duty has been paid. The Cooma Spa Co.- Limited, which bottles natural mineral water in New South Wales and exports it largely to Tasmania, has had its business thrown into the utmost confusion. It is useless for Ministers to say that it is not so. I have before me an invoice showing what would be the dutv payable under the present Tariff on one case of 8-oz. bottles. The invoice is as follows : -
That shows a duty of 3s. lOd. on a value of 12s., which is equal to 33 per cent. Such a duty precludes the company from carrying on their business. Assuming that they have paid the duty on the bottles, the point is that when they send these bottles to Tasmania there ought to be no difficulty in getting them back to be re -filled. I do not say that the difficulty experienced by these people is the fault of the Minister ; the difficulty is to identify the bottles, and the Customs authorities take care to be on the right side by charging duty on them every time. It is useless for Ministers to say that these difficulties do not occur. They do not occur here ; but I could hardly conceive that two or three reputable firms would fall victims such an astounding epidemic of mendacity, and say that these things occurred when they did not.
SirG eorge Turner. - The letters referred to by the honorable member are two or three months old.
– I have received an assurance from Schweppes Ltd., that the same sort of thing is still taking place.
– But the honorable member says that Schweppes Ltd., are not doing any business with the other States ; that they are not trying to do any.
– They are not doing any business in a large way. I do not know whether the right honorable gentleman is aware that the Sydney branch of Schweppes Ltd., has been closed owing to this state of affairs.
– It should not be.
– I know the Melbourne office has not been closed, but the difficulty is being experienced in Sydney, and it makes a difference in regard to the employment of a few people. We should enjoy what opportunity there is for the employment, and for carrying on the industry. What we ask for would make no difference so far as the revenue is concerned.
– I do not say that it would ; and I agree that the convenience asked for should be extended to these firms.
– A system should be put into force that would enable them to carry on business without this harassing interference. I intend to move that the duty be reduced to 15 per cent. That, I think, would be ample. The duty of 15 per cent. and8d. per cubic foot is so penal that a large number of people have ceased to do business with the other States. I have here a tabulated statement showing that the effect of a 15 per cent. duty on a gross of 12-oz. bottles, of the value of £1 4s., is 3s.11d. ; on a gross of 10-oz. bottles of the value of £1 3s., it is 3s.10d. ; on a gross of 6-oz. bottles, valued at £11s., it is 3s. 5d. ; on a gross of 10-oz. bottles, valued at £1 6s. 6d., 4s. 4d. ; on a gross of 6-oz. bottles, valued at £1 4s. 6d., 4s. ; on a gross of 10-oz. egg soda bottles, valued at 16s. 6d., 2s. 8d. ; and on a gross of 6-oz. egg soda bottles, valued at 15s., it is 2s. 6d. That is on a 15 per cent. duty, which is quite enough. The trade cannot stand any more. A duty of 20 per cent. would increase the amount paid on the first quotation from 3s. 10d. to about 5s. If the Minister wishes to crush out the trade, it is all very well ; but ærated-water bottles are not made, to any great extent, in the States. The Government should specialize the different kinds of bottles. Theærated-water trade is a special one, and, so far as I understand, it demands the importation of bottles from England principally, at a reasonable rate. I think that the Government ought to make some reasonable compromise in this matter. They have knocked off the8d. per cubic foot, but instead of leaving the duty at 15 per cent., they propose to make it 20 per cent. So far as Sydney is concerned I am in a position to say that the trade is being harassed with regard to returned empties, in spite of the very clear decision of the Minister.
Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.
Amendment (by Mr. Hughes) proposed -
That the words “and on and after 21st February, 1902, 15 per cent.” be added.
– I can indorse what has fallen from the honorable member for North Sydney. Even in Tasmania the trade has been affected by this arrangement, and complaints against it have been loud and numerous.
– There must be a misunderstanding somewhere. Our object is to do whatever we possibly can. to facilitate Inter-State trade.
– Why not treat returned empties like jewellery sent for repair?
– I think we have. In the first instance there was some trouble about duty being collected on these casks and cases.
– The department charges duty on bottles sent from one State to another.
– We have altered all that by decision No. 172 -
Cases, bottles, corks, straws, &c., used in packing to be admitted free in all States except Western Australia.
– That does not touch .the foreign trade in soda-water to Fiji or New Zealand.
– I have never heard any objection on that score yet, but I see by the note of the Comptroller-General that he proposes to deal with it, and I can assure honorable members that every facility will be given in that and other respects. Section 92 of the Constitution Act does impose a lot of trouble in connexion with administration, and deprives us, to a very considerable extent, of the benefits of InterState free-trade. I trust that it will not be long before we shall be able to take even more radical steps than we have yet taken in this direction, and remove all grounds for the suggestion that Inter-State freetrade is not a reality.
– The matter I referred to is an important one. Bitter complaints were made in Sydney, and I fully expected that they had been made to the Minister, because there is a very large trade, no doubt from Melbourne as well as from Sydney, in aerated waters to the east, to New Zealand, and to the Islands.
– How long ago were the complaints made ?
– I have heard, of none recently, but the decision which the Minister quoted does not include such cases. In only admits empty bottles to different States. Supposing that a Melbourne or Sydney firm send a shipment of aerated waters to the East and the bottles are returned, is any duty charged ‘(
– If imported bottles, they pay duty once.
– Am I to understand that the bottles pay duty on importation, and that the manufacturers of aerated waters can send them out and get them back as often as they like 1
– That is the intention.
– I should think that the Minister’s intention ought to be sufficient for all collectors, and obeyed implicitly. The Minister’s intention ought to mean the same thing as administration. I hope it is so.
– No doubt the intention of a Minister declared in Parliament is to be considered as the law affecting the department, and it is an undertaking that effect shall be given to it. We have not heard of any complaint in that respect, and from the tenor of the correspondence the Comptroller-General evidently dealt with the matter, anticipating the Ministerial intention.
– On this question of admitting returned empties, the provision which the Minister has made does not altogether meet the case. These bottles are used as long as they last. Sometimes the life of a bottle is a very long one. Some of these bottles may have been in New South Wales when the Dibbs duties were imposed, but none can identify them at this time as those on which duty was paid. If they are sent out of the State full, and enter another State, they are not dutiable in that State ; but if they come back to New South Wales, the manufacturer of, say, aerated waters has to pay duty if he cannot prove that it has been paid before. The Treasurer said that so long as bottles have paid duty once, they are admitted free.
– That is under the Constitution. We cannot help that, unless we override the Constitution.
– The Ministry have overridden the Constitution in the case of jewellery and- machinery sent across the border for repairs.
– -The regulation is not limited to jewellery and machinery. It applies to goods sent for repair.
– The Constitution provides otherwise, but the Ministers saw that it would fetter trade, and they wisely decided not to in force the provision. The Treasurer is not correct in saying that the Ministry are forced by the Constitution Act to take a certain course, because in another case, to facilitate business, they acted in a different way. Here are bottles floating about the States, and practically no one can say whether they have paid duty or not. Some of them have come into Victoria in the past, have paid duty, and have been passed on to branch houses in New South Wales. There is no record of the transaction. No one can identify either this bottle or that bottle. Yet the Ministers say that if the bottles have not paid duty before, they must pay duty on being returned to a particular State.
– And more than once.
– The bottles may have to pay duty more than once because of the difficulty to prove that they have paid it once.
– The honorable member says that the bottles are charged when they come back to New South Wales. That cannot be under the Constitution. They pay the duty in another State, but not when they go back to New South Wales.
– They are counted as having been imported into Victoria or Tasmania. Those in the trade say that their bottles have been stopped, and that the P. and O., boats, which used to get their supplies at one end or the other, now carry sufficient for the voyage out and back. That is one way of encouraging Australian industry. Even if the Ministers are providing a remedy it is practically impossible of accomplishment. Cannot the Minister for Trade and Customs deal with these returned empties as he dealt with jewellery and other goods sent across the border for repairs ? Cannot he say, “Although strictly speaking the Constitution requires so and so to be done, it is an absurdity to enforce that provision. There will be no loss to any State if I do not enforce it, and there will be no danger to the revenue.” It can easily be ascertained whether the bottles are new ones, coming out in crates in ships’ holds, or whether they are secondhand’ ones which have been sent out by the makers of the material, and returned to them. It is quite true that if the Minister allows so many gross of bottles to go out on English steamers, he may get back, not those bottles but some others which have been made in England, and have never paid duty. What does it matter if they are admitted free ? It is only an exchange. There is no loss to the State or to the revenue. When trades are hampered under the present arrangement there ought to be an effort, as there has been in other directions, to get over the difficulty.
– I have received a letter in which it is pointed out how unfair it is to charge the full duty on all bottles passing from State to State. I can only explain the action of the Government on the presumption that it is impossible to distinguish between locally manufactured and imported bottles. In any case the practice of levying the duty all round seems to operate with special harshness. My correspondent writes -
I would like to point out that it is very necessary, in order to prevent the accumulation of large surplus stocks in any one State, to offer 29 g facilities for the interchange of bottles. Take, for instance, lager bottles which accumulate here, and for which we have comparatively no use. We can exchange with Melbourne for others in general use here.
In some of the States certain kinds of bottles are of more use than in others, and an association has been formed in order to facilitate interchanges between the States. The writer of this letter mentions that since the Commonwealth duty was imposed upon bottles interchanged between the States large stocks have accumulated. He says -
I might mention that the Bottle Society have accumulated 12,000 dozen lager bottles lately with no chance now of getting rid of them.
It is further pointed- out that under the composite duty provided for in the Tariff a consignment of bottles valued at £47 4s. 3d., on being sent from one State to another, was subject to duty amounting to £39 16s. Upon a similar consignment of bottles the duty previously levied in South Australia would have amounted to only £17 15s. If inconvenience is caused at present- - and what has been stated during the debate shows that there is a difficulty - the Government should allow drawbacks, which are permitted in the case of Western Australia, not under the Constitution, but by virtue., of the Customs Act. The Minister for Trade and Customs is aware that the Constitution does not directly allow of drawbacks upon exports from other parts of the Commonwealth to Western Australia, but we have provided for that under the Customs Act, and we might also allow a drawback on bottles transferred from State to State. It would be better, however, to reduce the duty. The writer of this letter says that he would not grumble much if the duty were reduced to an equivalent of the duty which previously prevailed in South Australia. Although the old duty operated harshly it would be preferable to the composite duties provided for under the present Tariff, and stocks would not accumulate. I believe the cost of importation in connexion with bottles is particularly high, and therefore a protective duty of 20per cent, would be excessive. I have been told that the import charges amount to fully 40 or 50 per cent upon the value of some of these articles. Therefore, on the ground that the incidence of the duty is excessive, and because a lower duty would allow of the interchange of bottles between State and State, I think the amendment of the honorable member for West Sydney should be supported.
– I think a good many of the complaints which have been referred to arose some time ago, and that the defects which gave rise to them have been remedied. I am sure that that statement will apply to most of the cases, because I could point to various instances in which the necessary remedy has been applied. With regard to the suggestion that there have been attempts to charge duty on goods returned to the State in which they were at the time of the imposition of the federal duties, I have personally reversed action taken in that direction. It was never the intention of the Constitution that goods which were in New South Wales, for instance, at the time of the imposition of the federal duties, and which were afterwards sent temporarily to another State, should be subject to further duty on being returned to New South Wales.
– The duty was intended to apply to the goods sold, and not to the vessels in which they were carried.
– Just so. If for some reason the people of New South Wales wished to send their goods into another State in bond, in order to evade the provisions of section 92 of the Constitution they could get them back free of duty, and even if they paid the balance of duty required on entry for home consumption in another State, there would be no thought of charging them anything further on the goods being sent back to New South Wales. There was no intention that goods which had certain privileges within the limits of New South Wales should be in any way deprived of those privileges, but it was necessary for the purposes of the Constitution that on goods passing into other States certain steps should be taken to see that they were not enabled to compete at a preference with goods upon which a higher duty had been paid. Our intention is - and I think that our actions give proof of it - to do our best to secure Inter-State free-trade at the earliest possible date. When attention is drawn to any particular provision of the Constitution, we shall be abundantly justified in doing whatever is necessary in the opinion of the Legislature to remove restrictions which it was never intended to impose when the Constitution Act was passed. We shall not hesitate to act accordingly, and our only limit of action in this respect will be that in which we believe the House will support us. We shall give a fair and reasonable interpretation of the very broad sections of the Act, which were intended to protect all the’ States, but to hamper none.
– If considerations of revenue would permit of our admitting all these articles free of duty, a considerable degree of natural protection would still be afforded to the local manufacturers. I have an invoice which shows that in connexion with a shipment of lampglasses, costing £66 12s., the various import charges amounted to £43 10s. 7d. That represents 65 per cent, of the invoice cost of the goods, irrespective of duty. In the case of a shipment of lamp-globes invoiced at £7 16s., the import chargesamounted to £7 8s. 4d., or 93’ per cent, on the invoiced cost. I believe that on such articles as jugs, the duty and natural protection would work out at about SO per cent.; on sugar basins, at 90 per cent.; on cake stands and fruit dishes, at something’ like 70 per cent.; and on tumblers, at 65 per cent. Therefore the suggestion that the duty should be reduced by 5 per cent, is a’ very reasonable one. It is well known that’ the cost of packing and the risk of breakage in connexion with all hollowware and glass goods are very great, and that the space’ they occupy causes the freight charges to run into very high figures. I presume that this duty is imposed partly for protective purposes, and in this connexion it is interesting to note that, in New South Wales, local manufacturers’ can sell some of the articles enumerated in this item at lower prices than” are charged by Victorian makers, and can afford to give higher wages than are paid in Victoria for similar work.
– They will be able’ to sell them in Victoria then, and thus increase their output.
– I very much question whether they will on account of the freight charges. I have in my hand, a list of the wages paid in connexion with the Amalgamated Glass Bottle Workers’ Union, and it’ shows that in nearly every branch of that, industry a higher wage prevails in New South Wales than in Victoria. If we impose a duty of 15 per cent, upon this item, surely the natural protection which the industry enjoys, varying from 60 to 90 per cent., according to the class of the article, ought, in addition, to be sufficient. I shall support the moderate proposal which has been submitted to reduce the duty to 15 per cent.
– I trust that the committee will not’ agree to the amendment. The honorable member for South Australia, Mr. Poynton, has produced copies of a number of invoices which show that the amount of natural protection upon some special lines of glassware is very high indeed. But any one who has travelled in the North of England must know that many of the glass and crockery establishments there will often clear their stock at a loss. Probably some of the goods to which the honorable member has referred have been shipped- to Australia at a loss.
– Rubbish !
– The honorable member for Parramatta knows very well that plenty of glassware is sold here at less than the cost price of manufacturing it in the North of England. I wish to point out that a duty of 20 per cent, approximates very nearly the average impost which existed under the old State Tariffs. In Germany, men, women, and children are employed in the manufacture of this glassware.
– That is a protectionist country.
– It is a protectionist country, but I am not prepared to say that the evil 1 have mentioned is the result of protection. I have done what I can to improve the condition of the workers in Victoria, as well as of those in free-trade England. Indeed, I was instrumental in introducing into England a stamp or label to show that goods were made under fair conditions, which was of advantage to the workers there. It was copied from protectionist America.
– We wanted to institute a similar system here, and the honorable member would not have it.
– That statement is scarcely correct.
– The honorable member said that it would be impossible to sell Victorian cigars if they were stamped.
– I am prepared to deal with that matter in a Trades Mark Act. I trust that the committee will vote for the retention of the duty of 20 per cent.
– I would point out that cheap, common glassware is exceedingly brittle, and deserves more consideration at the hands of the Government than has been bestowed upon it, judging by their proposals. No doubt there is a good deal of force in the remarks of the honorable member for Yarra. He is a pronounced protectionist, and naturally desiresprotection extended to the glass manufacturers of Victoria. But what; about theglassware which is not and cannot be manufactured in Australia, and which is used by the poorer classes of the community 1 Thisafternoon the Ministry showed a decided ‘ tendency to consider the requirements of the poor, but they have made a dead halt upon this item. I think that they are alittle inconsistent in admitting seltzogenes, which are used by the rich, at 15 per cent., and refusing to agree to the imposition of a similar duty upon common glassware. Personally I had intended to move a reduction of the duty upon this item to 10 percent., but I shall be satisfied if the Government will agree to the amendment of. the honorable member for West Sydney. At the same time, I should prefer to see a good stiff duty imposed upon cut-glass, which is used by rich people, and to allow the poorer classes of glassware to come in at 15 per cent.
– I think that the suggestion of the honorable member for Capricornia is one which is well worthy of the consideration of theGovernment. Under this item is included everything in the way of glass except mirrors, bevelled glass, and a few articles with which we have already dealt. It covers tumblers, decanters, glass jugs, butter dishes, and a host of other things which are manufactured in half-a-dozen different grades. For instance, one can buy a decanter for a couple of shillings or for £1. The haphazard way in which all glassware except seltzogenes, syphons, bevelled glass, Jio., has-been lumped under the line “n.e.i.,” renders this item somewhat difficult to deal with. I have no doubt that honorable members could name a hundred distinct articles used in the homes of both rich and poor, which would come under that heading. I am glad that the Government have seen fit to discard the composite duty as originally proposed, but unless they are prepared to make some distinction between the commoner and more 29 a z expensive forms of glassware, it will be very much better for the committee to agree to the imposition of a duty of 15 per cent. The charges upon many of the commoner lines of glassware aggregate from 50 to 100 per cent. Surely the most rabid protectionist will admit that that measure of protection should be sufficient for any ordinary industry. This item also covers empty bottles. I do not know how many firms within the Commonwealth manufacture beer bottles, but I am aware that there is one such establishment in Victoria. The amount of natural protection upon empty bottles will surprise even the freetrade members of this committee. I have in my possession an invoice which shows that the charges in freight,&c., upon empty bottles such as are required for bottling colonial beers and wines, amount to no less than 230 per cent. This invoice refers to bottles imported by Mr. Lindeman, of Sydney, from P. B. Burgoyne and Co. The shipment consisted of 246 gross of empty bottles imported in February, 1897. There were 150 gross of quart claret bottles.
– That instance has done duty for five years - since 1897.
– The freights are the same to-day as then, and I am showing the natural protection irrespective of the duty. There were, as I say, 150 gross of quart claret bottles at a cost of 8s. per gross or 8d. per dozen ; 46 gross of hock pint bottles at 5s. 6d. a gross ; and 50 gross of hock quart bottles at 9s. 6d., or a total value of £96 8s. These bottles were imported from London for the bottling of Australian wines, and in order that these wines anight be put into local consumption or, it might be, exported. On that consignment of bottles the charges, irrespective of duty, were packing material, £49 ; carriage and shipping charges, £24 ; straw envelopes, £18; freight, £122; insurance, £21 13s. 7d. - a total of £217 10s.What protection do we want for the manufacture of bottles, even supposing we can manufacture the class wanted, when, on a legitimate invoice for wine bottles, the natural protection amounts to £217?
– We do not import any bottles for that purpose in Victoria ; we make them all here.
– I beg the Treasurer’s pardon ; Victorian people cannot make a claret bottle or a hock bottle fit to use, and the beer bottles manufactured in the State of Victoria to-day are not a “patch” on the ordinary imported bottle.
– We do not import any bottles into Victoria, but use our own manufacture, which are good enough for us.
– I can tell the Treasurer that the beer bottled in Victoria, and exported to-day, is, to a very great extent, sent out in imported bottles.
– We do not import any empty bottles.
– I am not talking of imported empty bottles.
– Of course, empty bottles are collected here.
– Empty bottles are not imported into Victoria, because, in addition to the 200 odd per cent. natural protection, the Victorian Parliamentimposed a tremendous import duty which compels the bottler of beer to pay 2s. per dozen for inferior bottles, while, were it not for that duty, empty bottles of superior quality could be imported at 9d. per dozen. Victoria has been held up as an example ; but I should like honorable members to see the class of bottles made in that State under the high Tariff, because they are the biggest rubbish that could possibly be used. They are of such an inferior description that they absolutely damage the sale of the liquor which is put into them, and are forced on the Victorian brewers and bottlers solely owing to the tremendous protective duty, combined with the natural protection which I have described. I am dealing particularly with wine bottles, and I challenge any honorable member on the protectionist side to show me a claret bottle that can be produced in Victoria.
– The honorable member should have given notice of the challenge.
– The honorable member for Melbourne Ports does not require notice, but generally has the lobbies filled with samples or with gentlemen engaged in log-rolling. We shall, however, have an opportunity of dealing with the question of the importation of empty bottles when we reach the exemptions, and when I intend to movethat these articles be admitted free. I shall then produce bottles manufactured in Victoria, and also imported bottles, in order that honorable members may see the difference ; and we shall probably have some more figures to prove the enormous protection already granted to this particular line. I suggest to the Treasurer and the Minister for Trade and Customs that it would be a good thing to postpone this item, and to bring down more detail as to the classes of glassware involved. Why should ordinary common moulded glassware, which is sold at the cheapest rates to the poorer people of the community, be taxed at the same rate of 20 per cent, as superior cut-glass, which is used by people in better circumstances, who can well afford the enhanced price 1 The line “ n.e.i.” embraces such a tremendous number of articles that we are voting to a great extent in the dark, and it would be well to separate the articles which are embraced. I have no objection to the duty of 20 per cent, on the superior classes of glassware.
– The duty is in the same proportion on the higher as on the lower classes of ware.
– That may be a very good argument ; but 20 per cent, on a £l’s worth of glassware to a man who has an income of £1,000 a year, is not so much as 20 per cent, on 2s. worth to a man with £1 00 a year. As regards revenue duties, we desire to proportionately fit the burden to the shoulders best able to bear it, and this item certainly wants a little consideration, and separating into the different lines. The Minister might accept the duty of 15 per cent, on glassware, except cut glass. A duty of 20 per cent, on cut glassware would give a large revenue, and 15 per cent, on the commoner sort is a fair proposal.
– The honorable member for South Australia, Mr. “V. L. Solomon, exposes the weakness of the item when he refers to the necessity of so recasting and subdividing it that we may arrive at what is a fair revenue duty on some of the lines, and provide a lower duty on those which are used in other manufactures. Personally I think that the more expensive glassware, such as cut glass, which costs a considerable sum of money, and is purchased and used only by the wealthy, is a legitimate subject for a revenue impost, and might be taxed even more highly than is suggested by the Government. But when we come to other lines, I think that “ n.e.i.” is too comprehensive, and may do a great deal of harm where no harm is intended. AVe were promised in the Maitland manifesto that the Federal Tariff should be a scientific. Tariff; but in very many of the items I have been forced to consider, I see an utter absence of anything’ like scientific consideration. In no item is the absence of scientific consideration more pronounced than in that under discussion. What is ihe science 1 Is it the science of political economy? If so, where is the adhesion to the precepts of the political economist in taxing glassware, which is used by the manufacturers for their exports 1 Where is the adhesion to the principles of political economy in taxing so highly glassware, which is used in those industries on which we are dependent, and on which we shall be more and more dependent for our exports ? A similar question might be asked in connexion with such exports as jams, pickles, sauces, and other manufactures which have to be exported in glass. Many people objecting to take these goods in tins, glass must be used ; and unless we have facilities for getting this glassware at the cheapest possible price, we are very much handicapped in competing in the markets of the world. In no case is that necessity more pronounced than in the wine trade, about which, however, I have to admit that I know little or nothing, beyond, perhaps, being able to form an opinion of the wine I drink. But ‘ the trade is so important to Australia, that anything we do now which may have the effect of handicapping it, is a detriment to the best interests of the Commonwealth. Outside the glassware I have mentioned, there is such an infinite variety of goods included under this one item, that the Government fail utterly to fulfil the promise that this would be a scientific Tariff. Under this item we tax cut-glass at the same rate ad valorem as we tax the common tumbler or sugar-bowl of the poor. Tn this respect the proposal follows no scientific principle whatever. The Government are Working in a wrong direction:- It would have been better to split the item into several portions, and thus obtain probably a larger amount of duty than will be obtained under the method proposed. I have no objection whatever to making the taxation of glassware, so far as concerns articles of luxury, as high as is now proposed, or even higher ; but I object to articles which are of common necessity in an ordinary decent home, being taxed at the same rate as the more artistic luxuries of the rich. Again I object to the taxation of articles required in manufactures at the same rate as things that are more or less luxuries. It is only necessary to remind honorable members of such articles as the celebrated glass jars which we had in the Melbourne exhibition, and which were objects of great beauty. They would come in at the same rate as the commonest earthenware. Surely it is wrong to tax goods which are used in the humble homes of the poor at the same rate as we tax expensive Florentine glass vases. Apart from that consideration, however, we are departing from another principle so soon as we tax the common glass bottles, required for the export of our wines, jams, and pickles at the same rate as we tax articles from which we desire to get revenue. The aim of honorable members opposite has been to foster manufactures, and we cannot have such manufactories as will be able to compete in the markets of the world unless we allow them to obtain the articles they require at the cheapest rate for which they can buy them. I have been surprised on many occasions, in my own business experience, to see the enormous charges upon packages of glass jars imported by my own firm - charges for freight, packing, insurance, and so on. If we are going to add to these expenses an abnormal charge in the way of -duty, it will have a hampering effect upon our industries, which are making an endeavour to compete with the wide world. I do not care if the articles of glassware which we all admire in our own homes as objects of art, are taxed even higher than is now pro- posed, but we are completely wandering from the text of the Maitland speech if we impose heavy duties upon the ordinary glassware used in manufactures. There is no scientific principle underlying the proposal, nor is there any principle underlying the fact here exposed that the common glassware of the poor is taxed at the same rate as those articles of luxury and adornment which are used by the rich.
Mr. HUGHES (West Sydney). - Some statements have been put into my hands with reference to the actual charges on various lines included under this item. One of these concerns the cost of importing one dozen syphons. The net home cost is 16s. Freight is ls. 5d., commission, bank exchange, and insurance at 7£ per cent, amount to ls. 4d., wharfage and cartage amount to 4d., and duty on a 15 per cent, basis to 2s. 8d. So that the expenses, including freight, on this consignment, would be 36 per cent, on home cost. Another statement shows the cost of importing one gross of Codd’s large bottles. The home cost is £1, less 2£ per cent, discount 6d., leaving the net home cost 19s. 6d. Freight amounts to 3s. 7d., commission, bank exchange, and insurance at 7£ per cent., together with wharfage and cartage bring the expenses up to 6s. The duty at 20 per cent, is 4s. 4d - total, £1 9s. 10d., being 53 per cent, on home cost. Honorable members must see that this is an excessive charge. T have here another statement, in which the expense is 59 per cent, of the home cost. Another shows the expense of importation of one gross of egg-shaped bottles. In each case 25 per cent, is taken off for cash. The home cost is 13s. 6d., and the total charges bring the cost up to £1 2s. Id., being 6S per cent, on the home cost. Another statement shows the facts with regard to the importation of one gross of Lamont’. small bottles. The cost amounts to 46 per cent, on the home cost. Another shows that the expenses in connexion with the importation of one gross of Codd’s small bottles, amount to 50 per cent, on the home cost. In the case of one gross of Lamont’s large bottles, the expenses are also 50 per cent, on home cost. Another line concerns ginger beer bottles. The expenses here are no less than 113 per cent, on the home cost. In view of these facts, surely 15 per cent, clear protection is ample. In almost every one of the cases I have mentioned, there is a clear cover of 50 per cent, on the basis of a 20 per cent. duty. With a duty of 15 per cent., there would be a clear cover of 36 per cent., made up largely of bank charges, wharfage, and so on. It has to be remembered that the importations of glass bottles are becoming smaller and smaller every year, even in New South Wales, without a protective Tariff, because the freight and expenses are nearly prohibitive. In the case of ginger beer bottles, they amount, as I have shown, to 113 per cent. I ask the Government to meet us in this matter. I am not asking for the articles to be placed on the free list. Fifteen per cent, is a fair duty, and I believe we can make more revenue out of it than by putting on a -high duty. I trust the Government will see their way to agree to the compromise suggested.
Question - That the words “ and on and after 21st February, 1902, 15 per cent.” proposed to be addedbe so added - put.
The committee divided -
Question so resolved in the negative.
Amendment (by Sir George Turner) agreed to -
That the words, “and on and after 21st February, 1902, 20 per cent.” be added.
Item, as amended, agreed to.
Item 90 - Glue, not liquid, and Gelatine sheet, per lb. 2d.
– I think this is an exceedingly high duty to be placed on an article the raw material of which is obtainable in the Commonwealth.
– It was the ruling rate under three of the State Tariffs.
– It amounts, I think, to something like 60 per cent.
– We are advised that it is equal to from 30 to 33 per cent. Of course there may be some cheaper sorts upon which the duty would be more.
– In some cases it is more than that. There is a higher percentage in regard to the cheaper classes of glue. Considering that the raw material for the manufacture of glue is obtainable in the Commonwealth, and the cost of importing the finished article, there ought to be no occasion for the imposition of a duty. After all, this duty is something like others which we have passed already. In reality it reduces the assistance which we have given to certain industries. Glue is used largely in the box-making industry, and boxes are employed by different manufacturers. The products of these manufactures have to compete with the imported article. With one hand we are giving assistance to some of these industries - but not equally to all- while with the other we are proposing to take away a good deal of that aid. It is said that the glue produced in Australia is not as desirable as the imported article for certain classes of box-making; that it is not as free from smell, nor as well finished, as is the imported article; and that consequently a considerable quantity of the imported article must be used if good boxes are to be produced. In these circumstances, the duty paid on it will considerably increase the cost.
– Suppose that we bracket this item with the next, which relates to similar kinds of articles, and make it liable to a duty of 20 per cent.
– That would be an improvement on the present proposal, and I should be willing to accept it.
– I have no objection to that course being followed if the, committee is agreeable.
– I do not know whether a reduction to 20 percent. is sufficient in regard to the commoner classes of glue.
– But it has been said that the duty is equal to a 60 per cent. duty.
– The Treasurer said that the duty amounted only to 30 per cent. in some cases. In my opinion it is nearer 60 per cent.
– A reduction of 40 per cent. is a good one.
– Yes ; and we must be content with what we can get. I am advised that, prior to the imposition of this Tariff, glue made in Victoria was quoted at 56s. per cwt., while glue produced in New South Wales was quoted at 34s. per cwt. I am advised, further, that since the imposition of this duty a sort of ring has been formed amongst the glue manufacturers of Victoria and South Australia to fix the price at 45s. per cwt. That is the effect of many of the duties imposed on items forwhich no protection is really required. As the honorable member for North Sydney has said, the raw material for the production of this article is obtainable in the Commonwealth. The industry has been established not only in Victoria, where the manufacturers have had protection, but very firmly also in New South Wales, where they have had no protection. Although the proposition of the Treasurer goes a long way towards meeting our wishes, it goes hardly far enough.
– I am afraid I could never make a proposal which would satisfy the honorable member.
– In the circumstances it is a fair compromise, and I am willing to accept it without further discussion. It is a wonder that in considering this Tariff the fact has been overlooked that many industries like the bookbinding, cardboard, and furniture trades, which we have been endeavouring to assist, would be penalized by a duty of 60 per cent. on an article such as glue, which is used so largely by them. It seems to me that we are approaching nearer and nearer the scientific Tariff promised at Maitland when we come to test these matters, and if the Treasurer will make the duty on this item 20 per cent., I shall accept it as a fair compromise.
Mr. MAUGER (Melbourne Ports).Honorable members of the Opposition are exceedingly magnanimous. They are going to accept what they term a compromise, but what I call an absolute sacrifice of the Government proposal. In regard to the contention that glue is the raw material of many industries, I may mention that I have received quite a number of letters from manufacturers advising me of the duty which they have to pay on the raw material used by them, but quite overlooking the fact that a very great deal of the raw material they specify can be and is being manufactured in the Commonwealth, and supplied at prices considerably less than that quoted by them.
– That is not the case so far as glue is concerned.
– It is. I have a glue factory as well as a box-making factory in my electorate.
– How many people do they employ?
– Glue-making constitutes only one section of a very large works - one of the largest in Australia - in my electorate. The article made there is the best in the world, and I have no doubt that its very quality willcarry it through, even under a duty of only 20 per cent.
Mr. HENRY WILLIS (Robertson).As stated by the honorable member for Melbourne Ports, Australian glue is of very fine quality. Twenty years ago an Adelaide firm made some of the best glue that could be manufactured. I speak from my own personal knowledge. The firm was able to make it in large quantities, and to carry on the industry in those days without any duty whatever. Let me say further, that the very cheap glue, to which reference has been made, is manufactured in every well arranged tannery throughout the Commonwealth. There , is no art in making it. Offal, which would otherwise be buried or destroyed by fire, is boiled down, andin that way a raw glue is produced. At Messrs. Shaws’ works, on the Torrens, the glue is purified, and is equal to the imported article. I am confident that this industry requires no protection whatever. I know something about the industry, because it was under my observation for many years, and I can say confidently that it did not employ many men. A first-class article as well as a crude one is manufactured in Australia, and no protection is necessary. If the Government would like to put up a record by imposing a 5 or 10 per cent. duty, I might consent to the adoption of such a proposal. I certainly think that it is a very wrong thing to impose a duty of 20 per cent. on an article which can be made by boiling down offal - obtainable from any abattoirs or tannery - in any three-legged pot. The offal is simply given away. I hope the Government will not impose a duty of 20 per cent. on this item.
– Honorable members have spoken chiefly of glue, but gelatine is also included in the item. I would suggest that if the Government intend to accept a duty of 20 per cent. on glue they ought to leave the duty on gelatine as it is. It is a different article, which is used in confectionery, brewing, and other industries. It would be better to leave the duty at 2d. per lb. We have taxed oilmen’s stores, which embrace a good many productions made from gelatine, and if we impose a duty of 20 per cent. on gelatine we shall tax the raw material at the same rate as the manufactured article. Gelatine is chiefly derived from calves. It is a highly-refined gelatinous matter, which costs a very high price.
Mr.Watson. - Twopence per lb. is a lot more than 20 per cent. ad valorem.
– It depends on the price. As a great deal of gelatine is worth from £6 to £7 per cwt., the honorable member can see that a duty of 2d. per lb. is less than a duty of 20 per cent. ad valorem.
– The average cost is given to us at about 6d. per lb.
– That is a mistake.
Mr. SYDNEY SMITH (Macquarie).When I recall the very animated discussion which took place on the question of whether three-legged glue-pots should be placed on the free list, I cannot understand the inconsistency of honorable members opposite in not allowing glue to come in free. What is the good of having the three-legged glue-pots unless the raw material for them is allowed to come in free? I claim the vote of my honorable friends opposite on this question. I remember the honorable member for Echuca and the honorable member for Wimmera rushing to put three-legged gluepots on the free list, and I am sorry that they did not succeed. It would be better to have a duty of 10 per cent. ad valorem on the glue as well as the glue-pots. I find that the price of home-made glue is about £46 a ton, and that imported glue of the same quality is worth £35 a ton without the duty. The Victorian manufacturers have raised the cost of the home-made article by £1 1 a ton on account of this protection. The users have to pay £11 more than they did, and of course the manufacturers pocket the difference. As we can make glue against all competitors, we do not need any protective duty. A duty of 2d. per lb. would amount to £19 a ton, or nearly 50 per cent. on the value of the article. Although I do not think there is any necessity to impose a duty, still, under the circumstances, it seems to me that the compromise proposed by my honorable friend must be accepted.
– Glue is the article to which attention has been mostly directed.By omitting “glue not liquid and “ from the item it will fall into the 20 per cent. list, and we can discuss then whether that is a fair rate to impose. The duty of 2d. a lb. on gelatine sheet I understand is less than 20 per cent. ad valorem. It will be better to leave the duty at 2d. per lb., as the article is used here in the manufacture of many things.
– It is a high-priced article.
– Some of it is high-priced, but it runs down to a fair by low amount. I think that a duty of 2d. would be a fair rate on that. I move -
That the words “Glue not liquid and,” be omitted.
Amendment agreed to.
Item, as amended, agreed to.
Item 91 - Glue, gelatine, and cements, n.e.i., including mucilage and printer’s roller composition, ad valorem 20 per cent.
Amendment (by Sir George Turner) proposed -
That the letters “ n.e.i.” be inserted after the word “gelatine.”
– I desire to know if these cements are used in the making up of printer’s roller composition.
– No; in mending, They include holdfast, and stickfast.
– Are we really going to put a tax on an article of that description? Gelatine is used I suppose for making up sweets of all kinds.
– Not this gelatine.
– We are told that glue comes from offal, and that gelatine is used for the making of our sweets ; but the articles are all mixed up here together, An article which is very essential to small printing establishments in the country should be placed on the free list. I do not think that printer’s roller composition is made here.
– Yes ; Wimble makes it.
– That settles it, I suppose.
– The application comes from Sydney.
Amendment agreed to.
Item, as amended, agreed to.
Item 92 - Stone, including marble and slate, viz. : -
Monumental, wrought, per cubic foot,5s. and 15 per cent, ad valorem.
Wrought, n.e.i., ad valorem, 20 per cent.
Roofing slates and unwrought slate slabs, ad valorem, 15 per cent.
– I said sometime ago that we would omit the 15 per cent. ad valorem duty on monumental stone. For some time past the duty has been collected at the rate of 5s. per cubic foot, and unless an honorable member desires to move a prior amendment, I shall move an amendment to maintain that rate.
– I wish to make a suggestion which comes from the monumental workers and the importers. Several petitions have been sent in I think to the Minister for Trade and Customs, and several circulars to honorable members in reference to these duties. The chief objection taken of course was to the composite duty, which is now abolished. It is pointed out in the circulars and the petitions, that the cubic measurement rate ought to be abolished, and a duty of 20 per cent. such as is imposed on the next item or its equivalent, which is 35s. a ton levied. There is a very extensively signed petition sent in from all parts of the Commonwealth, in which the signatories say -
The imposition of a specific duty of 5s. per cubic foot, acts very unfairly on the different classes of goods imported, as it increases the cost of cheap goods with little work on them to their detriment, asagainst more expensive lines.
– The tonnage measurement will apply equally to that.
– They say not.
– It is dearer on the carved work, because the outside measurement is taken.
– I have five or six petitions from different parts of the States in which the signatories favour the substitution of a tonnage rate or an ad valorem rate. They say-
It is a very annoying tax to importers, as it necessitates opening the cases on the wharf when discharged, thereby often ruining both packing and contents.
In another petition the signatories say -
We estimate from practical knowledge that the extra expense of unpacking and re-packing these heavy cases of goods will entail another tax of from 5 to per cent., also requiring much labour and extra trouble to both the owner and customs officers, and furthermore doing much damage to the goods.
IfI propose a 20 per cent. ad valorem duty, it may get over the objection that the honorable member for Bland indicated. I have a petition from the Adelaide manufacturers and importers of marble, who concur in the statements which are made in the various petitions sent in from all parts of the Commonwealth. I move -
That the words - “And on and after 21st February, 1902, 20 per cent.” be added to the duty - “ Stone . . monumental, wrought, per cubic foot, 5s. and . 1.5 per cent, ad vol. “
Mr. HENRY WILLIS (Robertson).An objection has reached me from New South Wales, to this proposal to charge on the cubic measurement. A business man in the country writes to this effect : -
We would pay as much for a plain cross valued at 50s., as for a figure at £20.
He mentions a cross, because they have to use blocks in the packing of it. The case made out by the honorable and learned member for South Australia, should commend itself to Ministers, for the very reason which is stated by my constituent - that the duty would be as heavy on the cheapest kind of stone as on the most superior marble figures. I hope, therefore, that the committee will adopt the ad valorem rather than the fixed duty.
– I would urge the Government to give some consideration to the representations of the honorable member for South Australia. I think that 20 per cent. would be a fair duty, even regarded from the revenue standpoint. It is admitted that in a certain sense marble headstones are a luxury, and if people desire to erect them they should be prepared to pay a fair duty. I am assured by a number of men engaged in the trade that if this composite duty is kept on, the revenue will suffer materially, because importations of headstones will be very much reduced. There seems to be no objection to a 20 per cent. duty on the part either of importers or monumental masons. One of the objections to the present duty is that it involves the opening up of the cases in which the goods are imported by the
Customs officers here, and frequently leads to the breakage of delicate carving on the stones. From that point of view alone it seems to be preferable to impose an ad valorem duty, which may be calculated upon the invoices in most instances.
– The honorable member for Robertson generally pins his faith to the report of the Victorian Tariff Board, and I am sorry that he has not quoted it on this occasion. That board recommended that a duty of 7s. 6d. per cubic foot should be imposed upon monuments. It was found that under ad valorem duties frauds were committed right and left. The officers of the department assure me that the fixed duty has worked very well, and that is the reason why we have adopted it. I have not yet heard any arguments strong enough to induce me to change my views. I can understand that the importers would prefer an ad valorem duty, but our experience is distinctly against acceding to their wishes.
– I do not wish to discuss the merits of the Government proposal, but I desire to direct attention to some of the curious things which happen under the Tariff. In Australia during the last year or two we have had an outburst of enthusiasm and patriotism, which has resulted in our sending numbers of our young men away to assist the Empire in South Africa. My constituents thought that it would be a good thing to celebrate the return of the soldiers hailing from the southern end of the Illawarra district, by erecting a monument in one of the principal towns on the south coast of New South Wales. They ordered one of the very best Carrara marble monuments from Italy, and although it was purchased before the Tariffwas introduced, they had to pay duty amounting to £l0 upon its being landed in Sydney. I have appealed in vain to the Minister for Trade and Customs to remit the duty. The right honorable gentleman referred me to the Treasurer of the State of New South Wales, but I have been unable to obtain any satisfaction. I now appeal tothe Minister, who I know is actuated by the same feelings of patriotism as I am, to refund the duty.
– It seems to me that the patriotism which induced the people of Australia to send troops to South Africa should also impel them to put their hands into their pockets and pay for any monuments they may desire to erect. Some people, apparently, expect to get everything “on thenod,” and their patriotism depends altogether upon the glory that can be derived at the expense of others. If we believe in the Empire, and in the glory of fighting for it, we ought to be willing to pay for any head-stones and monuments that may be erected to the memory of those who have shed their blood upon the battle - fields of South Africa. The Americans who erected monuments to the memory of their glorious dead, did not attempt to evade the payment of duty, but put their hands deep down into their pockets to pay for them. I hope the Minister for Trade and Customs will decline to refund the duty referred to by the honorable member for Illawarra. I should vote against any such proposal on principle, because I am opposed to war and all connected with it.
– With regard to the matter mentioned by the honorable member for Illawarra,I can assure him that he will have our best wishes for the success of his final efforts to secure a refund. I would point out that we have to collect the customs duties, and, after making certain deductions, to hand them over to the various States. We have no right to decline to collect any duties, except under the terms of the Tariff, and every penny has to be accounted for to New South Wales and the other States.
– Will the Minister send a note to the Treasurer of New South Wales informing him that the £10 duty is included in the sums remitted to him? That is where the difficulty seems to arise.
– There should be no difficulty in that respect, because we account week by week for everything we receive. The money referred to by the honorable member is now in the hands of the New South Wales Government and we cannot refund it. The Federal Government would lay themselves open to grave reproach if they were to flaunt their patriotism by giving away something that did not belong to them.
– I am pleased to find that the Treasurer is ready to follow the recommendation of the Victorian Tariff Board. I am quite content to be guided by the conclusions of that board, because, after recommending certain rates, they say -
The Commissioner for Trade and Customs to have the option, in the event of monumental stones being difficult of measurement, to charge an ad valorem duty in lieu of the fixed duty.
– Parliament did not indorse that, but adopted the fixed duty.
– The Treasurer surely does not wish to levy as much duty upon a plain stone cross as would be charged upon a carved figure.
– I know our system is open to that objection, but we must bear in mind the liability to fraud under an ad valorem system.
– I am assured that the revenue would not suffer by the adoption of an ad valorem duty, but would gain rather than lose.
– I regret that the Government have abandoned the composite duty because it would have proved effective in this case if in any. It is impossible for any honorable member to drag in the poor farmer, or the poor miner, or the poor swagman in connexion with this item. Verv few swagmen carry monuments around with them, and as a rule the poor have none. I sincerely regret that the Government have abandoned the composite duty upon this particular line, because very often a small monument is more expensive than a large one. If we are to levy a tax upon measurement, I shall vote for the Government proposal of 5s. per cubic foot, but I regret that they have abandoned their original proposition.
– I am sorry that I did so myself. I made a mistake.
– No one can urge that a monument is a necessity. Any one whose deeds will not live without having them perpetuated by a monument is not worthy of a monument. The honorable and learned member for Illawarra stated that in New South Wales there were no marble masons sufficiently skilled to make monuments, and as a result they had to be imported from Italy.
– He never said that.
– The honorable and learned member said that a monument was imported from Italy, and I am thoroughly satisfied that it would not have been imported if a better monument could be manufactured in New South Wales. I trust that the
Government will adhere to their original proposal.
– I quite agree with those who have expressed regret that the Government have abandoned their proposed ad valorem duty. I fail to see how we can equitably tax monuments by measurement. For example, a work of art worth £200 or £300 might be imported, and yet its measurement might not exceed one cubic foot, upon which the duty would be 5s. The present proposal is a most inequitable one. Some honorable members have spoken of Carrara marble, and in this connexion I would remind the honorable member for Yarra that in New South Wales the best of marble can be obtained. We all know that people who desire to show that respect for the dead which our religion and traditions teach us should be exhibited, very often expend money which might be more wisely retained by themselves, in erecting tombstones over the graves of their relatives. However, we do these things. I still think that a duty of 15 per cent, should be imposed upon monumental stone, in preference to a tax of 5s. per cubic foot. This is an attempt to differentiate between the rich and the poor. It seems to me that in future the poor man will have to content himself with either a sandstone monument or a block of wood, whilst the rich man will be able to luxuriously await the ressurrection morn under Carrara marble. I am sorry that the Government do not see their way clear to substitute an ad valorem duty for the proposed fixed duty.
– I have given the reason why the Government have adopted the present proposal. The honorable member for Robertson has called attention to the fact that the Tariff Revision Committee of Victoria themselves saw that some difficulty might arise, and suggested that as an alternative to a duty by measurement a duty of 35 per cent, should be imposed. I think that we should make the duty 25 per cent., and proceed to the discussion of other items.
Mr. THOMSON (North Sydney).- To my mind there is no ground whatever for accepting such a high duty as the Treasurer suggests. The extraordinary confusion of ideas presented by the honorable member for Yarra is rather surprising. He desires to make it appear that honorable members upon this side of the chamber object to the taxation of luxuries. If we accept his definition that tombstones are luxuries, they are at least luxuries that we will do without as long as we can. But I would point out that it is the Opposition members who desire to tax luxuries. The Government wish to impose a duty of only 5s. per cubic foot upon tombstones. Now there cannot be much work in a cubic foot of stone if it does not cost more than 25s., and 5s. duty would be equivalent to 20 per cent. on 25s. There is, however, a good deal of work executed in connexion with small tombstones, and this work frequently costs scores and hundreds of pounds. Under the Government proposal these tombstones would not pay one penny more than 5s. per cubic foot. It is nonsense to urge that by accepting the amendment of the honorable and learned member for South Australia, Mr. Glynn, we should reduce the revenue to be derived from this source. I believe that we should receive more under that proposal than will be received under the proposition of the Government, because the commoner sort of work, which would not cost more than 25s. per cubic foot, will not be imported to any great extent. The importations, if there are any, will be importations of the more expensive work. I wish also to point out that the duty upon wrought stone is put down at 20 per cent., whilst upon monumental stone a different rate is charged. Why should there be a difference? Why should people be compelled to pay a different price for adorning the house of the living than is paid for adorning the house of the dead ? I hope that the Government will accept a duty of 20 per cent.
– Some of my constituents object to this composite duty. One of them writes as follows : -
A first-class marble maker in Italy will get from1s.6d. to 2s. per day, whilst here the wages range from 9s. to 10s.
He suggests that the duty should be 25 per cent., and I ask the honorable and learned member for South Australia (Mr. Glynn) to accept that rate. Another constituent writes -
Monuments being luxuries should pay at least a reasonable amount of Commonwealth expense. I do not think there is 40 colonial-made monuments in the metropolis out of 400 in the yards.
In other words, ten out of every eleven monuments in the Melbourne yards are imported. The letter, which goes on to say that no apprentices to the trade have been taken on during the last three years, is signed for the trade by John W. Brown, who evidently knows what he is talking about. I cannot agree with the duty per foot, because the best work is usually sominute and full of detail that the poorer work would pay less duty than the more costly. I am only voicing the opinions of certain of my constituents in this matter, because I do not know anything of the trade myself, and so far as the underground work is concerned, I do not want to be a patronof the industry for some time to come.
– How is it that no apprentices are being taken on ?
– Simply because all the work is imported.
– Why is it imported.
– The loss work we import the better.
– Why do the patriotic people of Victoria import this work and not buy it locally ?
– I think that question forms an argument why in the future the duty of 25 per cent. should be imposed in order that the work may be done here.
– Why should not the work be done here voluntarily ?
– I would like to remind the committee that in Queensland the duty in this connexion was 25 per cent.; in South Australia, Tasmania, and Western Australia, 20 per cent,; New Zealand, 25 per cent.; and in Canada, 35 percent. In New South Wales there was no duty, but that State is so extraordinary, that I think we should begin to disregard it in our calculations.
– New South Wales is always disregarded.
– Seeing that the duty in Victoria was 7s. 6d. per cubic foot, the least we can do is to take an average of all the States, and fix the duty at 25 per cent.
Mr. WATSON (Bland).- The committee might very well accept the compromise. The suggestion of the Government means a considerable reduction on a duty of 5s. a cubic foot.
– I have figures here to prove that it is a reduction. Here is a price- list of an Italian firm who have branches in
Sydney and Melbourne. The list embraces 200 odd different kinds of monuments, with the prices delivered in the Commonwealth. For instance, a monument, 6ft. x 3ft. x1ft., costs £14 10s. The cubic measurement of that monument is 18ft., and at 5s. a cublic foot the duty would be £4 10s., while at 25 per cent. it would be £3 12s. 6d. Another monument of the same size, priced at £7 5s., would on measurement pay, of course, £4 10s., while at 25 per cent. the duty would be £1 16s. 3d.
– That is not granite.
– It is Italian marble, and so far as I have ascertained, marble is the dearer of the two.
– For a monument, of moderate value, 25per cent. is clearly much cheaper than 5s. per cubic foot, and, judging from the prices in this list, most of the monuments do not run into double figures, though some cost as much as £100 odd. In the cheaper classes of monuments which cost up to £20, the proposal of the Government would, as I say, be a considerable reduction on the 5s. per cubic foot, while as to the dearer sorts, we need not worry ourselves even if the 25 per cent. means some increase.
Mr. GLYNN (South Australia). - I proposed a duty of 20 per cent., because I thought it would shorten debate. That is a higher duty than I personally would wish, and it is higher than that which several members on this side desired me to propose. But finding that several of the associations of marble workers have asked for a duty of 20 per cent., I thought that my proposal would be accepted by all good protectionists. At all events, no objection would be taken to that duty on the ground that it was too low. I find that there is a recommendation from the Melbourne Master Monumental Masons Association, recommending 20 per cent. That recommenda- tion is written in rather a swell style, in two colours, while the others are all in the simplicity of one ink. If the cubic measurement is retained, the duty ought to be not 5s., but 4s. There is another association in Adelaide which I think is chiefly composed of protectionists, who say -
The present high range of duties is such as to defeat revenue-producing objects, besides inflicting grave injury upon an honest trade.
This is a revenue duty, and the Melbourne monumental masons have found out that the raw material is not manufactured here.
– That is notthe case.
– I am sure the honorable and learned member recollects the marble of South Australia.
– Yes ; but it is significant that the marble workers of South Australia, in the two letters they have sent to me, signed by a great number of them, ask that the duty shall be 20 per cent. South Australian marble will no doubt practically last for ever, but it is very hard and exceedingly expensive to work. There is not much of it worked now, and it has been chiefly used for Government purposes in erecting the half-finished Parliamentary buildingsin Adelaide. That reminds me that the honorable member for Yarra has contended that these monuments are luxuries ; but I would remind him on a bigger authority than himself, that - “ If a man does not erect his monument in this life’ere he dies, he will live no longer in memory than the bell rings and the widow weeps.”
Mr. O’MALLEY (Tasmania). - This is not an industry that should be encouraged. The idea of democracy is to stimulate people to live, and if we foster this monumental business we shall encourage them to die. Besides, I regard these monuments as the height of extravagance. The millions of democrats who build bridges, tunnel mountains, navigate ships, and produce the food of the world, die and are buried without monuments. If people want to put monuments over their dead - of which I approve, if they feel like doing so - they ought to be willing to pay for the luxury. Therefore, I shall go for any duty in connexion with this business, or I shall vote against a duty - it makes no difference which.
– I venture to make a suggestion in this connexion. Stone sawn, or in the rough, is admitted free, while wrought stone is charged a certain duty, which I can see will be heavily protective. But in this connexion what is good for the city stonecutters ought to be good enough for the quarrymen in the country. There are extensive deposits of marble throughout Australia, and some of the finest panelling in Sydney is done with local stone. If we give a protective duty to the city stonecutter we ought to give a similar advantage to the quarryman, and, therefore, I suggest that marble unwrought should be classed along with roofing slate and unwrought slate slabs.
– We have not reached that part of the item yet, but are only dealing wit h the first line.
– I have listened most tentively to this discussion, several features of which are interesting. Where there has been a composite duty, the Government have hitherto almost without exception, and certainly on this page twice, surrendered the fixed duty and adopted an ad valorem duty. But when we come to gravestones they reverse their policy, and, giving up the ad valorem duty, propose a duty per cubic foot. There is extraordinary inconsistency in that course of conduct. A duty per cubic foot must clearly work out in the most absurd way. Some triumph of artistic skill - some great monument imported by a wealthy family and worth £500 or £1,000- will, under the cubic-foot charge, pay very much less than it would under an ad valorem duty of 20 per cent. In such a case an ad valorem duty is the fairer, having regard to the enormous range of values. Where values do not range high a charge per cubic foot may be tolerated, but while the honorable member for Bland has shown that some monuments, cost from £7 to £14, we know that prices range to hundreds of pounds. Why, as the honorable member for Capricornia has asked, should raw marble be on the free list? There is no doubt we have marble and granite in large quantities in Australia. Why should not the natural resources of the country receive some encouragement from a Government who are encouraging artificial industries? Cannot the inventive genius of Australia grapple with the problem of making bathbricks, which I see are on the free list?
– We are not dealing with exemptions yet.
– A bathbrick is the sort of monument the Government will get when they go out of office.
– It will be a long time before that monument has to be erected.
– Why should grindstones and millstones not be included in the duty which we are now considering ?
– What about Pyrmont stone ?
– There are a large number of valuable quarries at Pyrmont. I do not feel at all anxious in regard to this item, because I believe that only a very limited number of people import these monumental stones. The great mass of the people have the poor monuments they can afford carved in Australia; but I suppose that the monumental stones are imported in the rough, and have the names added afterwards. In that sense, this is an item which affects all classes, and, therefore, an ad valorem duty seems to be the fairer. Why do the Government not accept the proposal of the honorable member for South Australia, whose arguments have convinced them? That honorable and learned member has enabled the Government to arrive at the proper basis for the duty, and the least they can do is to accept his amendment. It is owing entirely to the arguments which he and others adduced that the Government have abandoned the cubic-foot basis, and adopted an ad valorem duty, which will be clearly a revenue duty.
Question - That the words “ and on and after 21st February, 1902, 20 per cent.,” proposed to be added to the duty - “ Stone . . monumental, wrought, per cubic foot 5s., and 15 per cent. ad valorem,” be so added - put. The committee divided -
Question so resolved in the negative.
Amendment (Sir George Turner) put: -
That the words “and on and after 21st February, 1902, 25 per cent.” be added to the duty - “ Stone . . . monumental, wrought, per cubic foot 5s., and 15 per cent. ad valorem.”
The committee divided -
Question so resolved in the affirmative.
Amendment agreed to.
–If the item “ wrought, n.e.i.” is to be agreed to by the committee, it certainly should include a number of articles which are now upon the free list. I have previously made a suggestion to that effect, and I understood that the Government required certain information.
– We will strike out the exemptions when we reach them.
– Whatever happens with reference to “ n.e.i.” I am quite prepared that articles like millstones and grindstones, that can be made in New South Wales, shall be treated with other wrought materials.
– One thing that is troubling me is that I notice a printer’s dagger against the word “wrought,” corresponding with a memorandum at the foot of the page. Will the same principle of measurement be applied to wrought stone, n.e.i., as that which is indicated in reference to monumental stone ?
– There will be no measurement at all ; the two notes at the foot of the page will be struck out.
– I cannot understand why the Government have not proposed a small duty on unwrought marble. A very large quantity comes into the Commonwealth, and we have in New South Wales deposits of marble sufficiently extensive to supply the demands of the civilized world for a hundred years to come. It is a peculiar thing that an effort should not be made to develop these quarries, now that we are putting on duties ostensibly for that purpose.
– I also ask the Government to accept a duty on unwrought marble of, say, 10 per cent. Almost every day new quarries are opened up in New SouthWales. The marble is of very good quality for mantels and tables, and probably later on marble will be found that will be fit for monuments. At any rate, there are quantities of marble of a useful character which can be employed. I move -
That after the words “wrought n.e.i., ad valorem 20 per cent.,” the following words be inserted - “Unwrought marble, ad valorem 10 per cent. “
Mr. REID (East Sydney).- I am astonished at the moderation of the honorable member for Cowper. Why only a 10 per cent. duty for one of the great national resources of the country ? May I tell the honorable member that an enormous deposit of marble has been discovered in Japan? That ought to goad him on to propose an increased duty.
Mr. HUGHES (West Sydney).- I do not wish to goad on the honorable member to propose a higher duty, but I suggest that he should amend his amendment so as to include all stone.
– Hear, hear. There is sandstone at Pyrmont.
– Yes. They certainly turn out some of the best stone in the world in New South Wales, and since it is proposed to place a duty on marble, I fail to see why my honorable friend should not include stone generally in his amendment. There is any amount of genuine, excellent stone in the Commonwealth, and there is no reason to go outside for supplies. Stone can be brought here, and is brought here, as ballast ; and therefore, if the honorable member is going to deal with the matter thoroughly, he should amend his amendment in the way I have suggested.
– I would call the attenion of the honorable member to the fact that the large descriptive words, “Stone, including marble and slate,” are placed at the head of the item, and if he wishes to deal generally with stone which we have not provided for, the addition of the words, “ unwrought, n.e.i.,” will accomplish all that he desires.
– I suggest to the honorable member for Cowper that he should amend his amendment by providing for a 10 per cent. duty on stone unwrought, n.e.i.
Mr. REID (East Sydney).- Does the honorable member for Cowper seriously intend to select marble for the imposition of a duty without imposing a similar duty upon other stone?
– The right honorable member can move a further amendment.
– I will not have anything to do with this Tariff except in the way of trying to make it less monstrous than it is. I am not going to put my work into it. I shall have enough to do to put it right hereafter.
Mr. HENRY WILLIS (Robertson).Would the amendment include ballast that might be brought by ships to Australian ports ?
– Ballast would be liable if it were landed.
– Marble which has no commercial value might be brought here as ballast, and yet a duty would have to be paid upon it if it were landed. I think that we are reducing this proposal to an absurdity.
Mr. HUGHES (West Sydney). - I understood that the Government were going to add to the item the words, “unwrought, n.e.i.,” so as to cover all stone.
– We suggested that such an amendment would cover everything if the committee desired to do so.
– What I desire to do is to place the common or ordinary variety of stone on the same footing as aristocratic marble.
The CH AIRMAN. - The honorable member can move to amend the amendment.
– I suggest to the honorable member for Cowper that he should amend his amendment so as to cover stone generally, otherwise I shall be obliged to do so myself.
– In my district the best marble to be found in Australia, if not in the world, is produced. As an illustration of how perfect it is, I would remind the committee that, when I was a Minister of the Crown in New South Wales, a piece of marble shaped like a man was found in my electorate, and a medical man made an affidavit that it was a petrified man. The marble workers, however, do not want any protection for their products. They are not bolstered up by protective duties ; they are able to take care of themselves. No one has heard of the producers of marble in New South Wales coming down here and representing to honorable members the desirability of imposing a heavy duty on imported marble. They never make any claim for the assistance of their industry.
Mr. HUGHES (West Sydney).- I would again appeal to the honorable member for Cowper to apply his proposal to stone generally. I shall certainly vote against the imposition of a duty on marble only, which, as the honorable member for Macquarie has said, does not require any protection so far as his district is concerned. I am sure that my own electorate is just as well able to get on without protection, but if the honorable member for Cowper sees his way clear to cover stone generally by his amendment, I will sacrifice my principles so far as to vote for it. If not, I shall vote against the duty on marble.
Amendment agreed to.
Item, as amended, agreed to.
Special exemptions - Earthen wave, viz. : - Spurs, Stilts, and Thimbles. Glass, viz. : - Lenses, unmounted, Locket, Brooch, and Watch Glasses. Bottles, empty, of not more than six fluid drams capacity. Scientific Instruments and Apparatus, viz. : - Instruments for measuring the density of liquids. Scientific Apparatus (glass) vis.: - Beakers, Flasks, Test Tubes, Vacuum Tubes, Burettes, Pipettes, Weighing Bottles and Tubes, Eudiometers, Nitrometers Radiometers, Fat Extraction Tubes, Filter Pumps, Gas Washing, Reduction and Absorption Bulbs and Tubes, Test Measures in centimetres and grains ; also Carbonic Acid, Sulphuretted Hydrogen, Decomposing Water, and Bacteriological Apparatus of Glass. Dry Gums, Shellac, Dextrine, Sandarach, and Mastic. Bath Bricks, Oil and Whet Stones, Grindstones, and Millstones. Pestles and MortarsAgate. Stone, viz. : - Sawn or in the rough, n.e.i.
– I have been informed that unmounted lenses are not brought into Australia ; that the mounting costs only, about 2s. 6d. each, and that it is essential that the lenses should be mounted before they are sent out. A lens is valued at from £5 to £10. Some photographers called upon me in Adelaide, and pointed out that the trade would be considerably inconvenienced if mounted lenses as well as unmounted - lenses were not exempted. I move -
That the word “unmounted,” line 3, be omitted.
– If the amendment were carried, it would give rise to a difficulty in administering the Tariff, because many of the mounted lenses form part of instruments which are dutiable. I am told by an officer of Customs that my honorable and learned friend’s desire will be carried out if he amends his amendment so as to provide for the omission of the word “unmounted,” and the insertion of the letters “ n.e.i.” in its stead. Then all lenses, which are not part of instruments declared to be dutiable, will be free.
– Very well, I will adopt that suggestion.
Amendment amended accordingly, and agreed to.
Mr. REID (East Sydney). - I cannot understand why locket, brooch, and watchglasses should be on the free list, because they relate to articles which are subject to a high rate of duty. If I mistake .not, there is a duty of 20 per cent, on watches. There are a great many big industries which are not protected by such a heavy duty, but their raw material is taxed.
– These glasses are not used largely. We are trying to omit everything that is used so far as we can.
– Is it to be clearly understood that once bottles have paid duty on importation, Australian manufacturers can send them out with aerated waters to other ports and get them back empty without paying duty again 1
– If bottles have been imported and have paid duty once, they should be able to go and come absolutely free. That is the intention of the Government, and that, I understand, was the instruction sent out to all the officers, and, so far as we know, it is being carried out. My honorable colleague will make special inquiries in regard to the matter. Perhaps in the first few weeks of administering the Tariff some mistakes may have been made, and if there are any cases of that kind we shall take care that special consideration is given to them.
Mr. WATSON (Bland). - I would again urge upon the Government the undesirability of allowing to come in free bottles which are used as vessels to contain imports. Bottles containing spirits which are subject to a fixed duty, are free of duty. Supposing that those bottles with other contents are exported from Sydney, then the question of duty will immediately arise, and it will lead to an enormous amount of confusion. I trust that before we come to deal with the miscellaneous exemptions, the Government will see the wisdom of adopting an attitude towards these importations which will insure that full bottles shall pay the same duty as empty bottles. If full bottles are to be allowed in free then empty bottles should. If, on the other hand, we impose a duty of 20 or 10 per cent, on bottles, then whether empty or full it should be charged. I think it will appeal to every one that this is only a fair proposition, and will not, as has been the case in some of the States, subject the local manufacturers to competition with which they cannot possibly cope.
Mr. HENRY WILLIS (Robertson).The Minister says that bottles which have formerly paid duty will be admitted fr.ee when returned to the Commonwealth. ‘But what about bottles that were imported into New South Wales before there was a duty imposed ? Large quantities of bottles which have been imported into that State are sent away filled with aerated, waters in the mail steamers, and are returned as empties. Will these be admitted into the port of Sydney free ? At the present time a duty is imposed on such bottles.
Mr. REID (East Sydney). - I think that the object is not to put a duty on articles which were in the Commonwealth before it was established. Bottles which have come in since it was established will have paid duty, and they could be exported and returned as empties free as often as you liked. But would bottles which were in the Commonwealth ten years before it was established, which were exported, and which came back in precisely the same way, be treated as if they were coming in for the first time. They would fall within the class to which the Minister has referred. The bottles all get mixed up together in an aerated-water factory. One bottle is a counterpart of the other, and bottles imported ten years ago present the same appearance to the eye as those imported since the Commonwealth was established. It would be very difficult to find out which bottles had paid duty. I do not think that the Customs would attempt to discriminate. Supposing that so many bottles are sent out by Schweppe in a P. and 0. boat to-day, and they are returned in due course. These bottles may have been imported at different periods during the past twenty years, and the Customs, I should say, would not try to follow each one back to the date of importation.
– We are not collecting duties on bottles when they contain goods. You have to establish in some way that a bottle is a returned empty. You must take certain customs precautions to see that under the name of returned empties goods are not being introduced which do not fairly come within the category.
– For instance, Schweppe sends out in the India 300 dozen of soda water, and gets back 300 dozen empties.
– I shall not attempt, and I am sure the committee does not expect me, to lay down the exact circumstances under which bottles will be accepted as returned empties, and the precautions which the Customs will require to take for the purpose of being satisfied on the subject. The idea of my honorable friends opposite is to obtain some assurance as to the circumstances under which bottles will be admitted free.
– It will come on directly; because there will be an exemption moved.
– No doubt the best plan is to discuss it either here or on the general exemption of packages. In whichever way honorable members desire to discuss it, the Government will be only too glad to meet their view, and, whilst they hope to provide everything reasonable, at the same time they desire to prevent any provision for a duty on empty bottles being rendered a nullity by carelessness of administration.
– From information I received in Sydney, a little while ago, I am led to believe that this is not wholly a question of determining whether bottles re-imported pay duty under this Tariff, or were admitted into a State at a time when there was no duty, but that it also relates to the importation of bottles manufactured in the States. I am informed that proprietors of mineral waters in New South Wales have established a very considerable trade with the different large shipping companies. At least one company running a large mineral water concern has its bottles made in New South Wales. It sells the mineral water, supplies the bottles, and the ship brings back .the empty bottles, which are carted to the source of supply, refilled, and thus are used many times in that way. But since the introduction of this Tariff, notwithstanding the fact that the bottles were made in New South Wales, on their return by the different ships the duty has been demanded. The proprietor, after ascertaining the amount of duty he would have to pay, and the amount that the bottles cost him, found that it would be cheaper for him to have his bottles manufactured in Germany, or some other Continental country, and introduced here, than topatronize the local manufacturer and thus pay duty every time his bottles were returned. That seems to be an anomaly.
– How long was that ago?
– It was not very long ago. I was informed of this fact in Sydney, and I was then told that a large number of these returned bottles were held by the Customs authorities until the duty demanded was paid. I was assured by my informant that this proprietor had the bottles made in Sydney, not because he could not get them more cheaply by importation, but because they met his convenience in other directions.
– They would be specially branded, then ?
– I am not in a position to say that. I did not make any inquiry. This matter ought to receive the attention of the Government, and some provision should be made for the free return of such bottles, either by way of special exemption or by allowing them to be shipped in bond and some guarantee given to the Government that the bottles returned were those that were shipped with mineral waters from the State.
– The proposal is that bottles empty if not more than 6 fluid drams capacity shall be exempt from duty, but I am advised that the exemption should not extend beyond bottles of 5 fluid drams capacity. What are known as one ounce bottles usually contain from 6½ to 8 fluid drams, and if we admit only bottles up to 6 fluid drams capacity the tendency will be to import bottles of less capacity in order to save the duty. The importers of goods for which bottles are required would use larger bottles, because they would not have to pay any duty upon them, and as a consequence the local manufacturers,who would have to use smaller bottles, would be placed at a disadvantage.
– The glass companies told us that they did not make bottles of a capacity of less than 8 drachms, and we adopted 6 drachms, as we thought that would allow a sufficient margin.
– If the exemption were restricted to bottles of not more than 5 drachms capacity, it would meet the case.
The question raised by the honorable member for Bland with reference to bottles imported full, is a very important one. I understand that in cases where an ad valorem duty is charged upon goods packed in bottles, the bottles will be included in the invoice, and will thus be subject to duty. On the other hand, where goods are subject to a fixed duty, no charge will be made for the bottles. It will be found therefore that goods subject to a fixed duty will be imported in large bottles which would not be exempt from duty if they came in empty. The Government must face this question and settle upon some plan by which all imported bottles, whether full or empty, shall be chargeable with duty. If that is not done another complication will arise. If a large number of bottles containing oil are imported here, they will not be chargeable with duty because the oil duty alone will be levied. The bottles on being emptied may be used for packing some article for sale in another State. Then the bottles will be subject to duty, although they were originally admitted into the Commonwealth free.
– That is within the two years.
– Yes. The consequence will be that at every turn goods that are packed in bottles will cause difficulty if sent beyond the State in which they are packed. Let us suppose that in South Australia, where olive oil is produced, certain bottles containing oil were imported, and did not pay any duty. If these bottles were used again for packing South Australian oil, intended for sale in Melbourne, the exporter, in order to secure free admission of the bottles, would have to declare that duty had already been collected upon them. This he would not be able to do.
– But as the honorable member puts the case, the bottles would not be dutiable.
– We are not charging duty on bottles or cases used for packing goods sent from one State to another. That would involve too much trouble.
– Then that means that bottles imported full, and without the payment of duty, may be sent throughout the Commonwealth without contributing to the revenue?
– We cannot help that.
– These difficulties are arising every day. Certain classes of bottles come in duty free because they happen to contain goods which are subject to a fixed duty, whereas if they contained goods subject to an ad valorem duty, they would be included in the duty charge. This is a matter more for conference with those acquainted with the business than for discussion in this committee at this stage, and I suggest that the Government should give it their most serious consideration. I move -
That the word “ six,” line 5, lie omitted with a view to insert in lieu thereof the word “five.”
Amendment agreed to.
Mr. REID (East Sydney). - A very strong case has been made out by the honorable member for Canobolas. He pointed out that an Australian exporter of aerated waters, who sent his goods beyond the Commonwealth in bottles of Australian make, was compelled to pay duty upon the bottles on their being returned to him. That is exacting a duty from an Australian on an Australian manufacture, and it amounts to an . outrage. I can scarcely credit that such a thing has been done. There is no equity and no law in such a proceeding, and we had better clear the matter up by providing that returned empty bottles shall not be subject to duty. That would lay down a principle, and if the Government had a case of mal-administration brought under their notice, they would be able to deal with it.
– There is a provision in the Customs Act as to the return free of duty of Australian goods. Section 151 provides -
Goods, the produce of Australia, or samples of duty-paid goods sent out of Australia may, sub- ject to any prescribed conditions, be re-imported or brought back to Australia without payment of duty.
During the discussion upon this matter, it was pointed out that commercial men make calculations for various purposes, having regard to the quantities of goods here and afloat, and that it would not do to lay down the general rule, that after goods were exported they could all be re - imported without any restriction whatever. We considered that it would not be fair to permit goods to be brought back, ‘ possibly under such conditions that they would exercise a disturbing influence on the market, without any restriction or provision for the protection of the revenue.
– Under that the Minister will be able to do justice in a case such as has been referred to.
– Certainly. The Customs regulations also deal with this matter and provide checks which are intended to protect the revenue. On the fact being established that the bottles referred to by the right honorable gentlemen are Australian made, they will, no doubt, be admitted free of duty. If any difficulty has arisen, it has probably been caused through neglect at the time of exportation to give the Customs officers such notice as would enable them to check the claim subsequently made. Honorable members need be under no fear as to the policy of the Government in the administration of the Customs Act. As regards bottles, the practice which has hitherto been adopted in at least some of the States before the introduction of the Federal Tariff will be a good one to follow, and it is being followed as far as I know. On the Customs officer being satisfied of the exportation of certain bottles, he gives a credit note to the exporter entitling him to bring back practically the same number of bottles free of duty.
– Is that note given irrespective of the place of origin of the bottles ?
– I understand so.
– Is that the actual or the supposed practice?
– That is the practice as far as I know. I do not see how it could well be improved upon, because it gives every facility to traders, and at the same time provides simple but necessary checks against abuses.
– Does it apply to exchanges between the States 1
– We apply it even more liberally to exchanges between the States. The regulation provides that cases, bottles, corks, straws, <tc, used in packing, shall be admitted free to all the States except to W Western Australia.
– That does not apply to returns.
– Indeed it does. The honorable member has only to look at the large way in which the matter is put. I do not think it is necessary to provide here for any of the matters which have been mentioned. I assure honorable members as to what the practice is, and as to the spirit in which the law will be administered. If we want to deal with this particular matter, I think we can do so to more advantage when we are discussing the latter portion of the Tariff, having reference to packages generally.
Mr. HUGHES (West Sydney). - Of course, the explanation of the Minister for Trade and Customs is much more satisfactory than was his statement this afternoon, when the matter was first brought under his notice. I recognise that if upon the exportation of bottles from one State to another a credit-note is given-
– The credit-note is given for oversea transactions. We do not bother ourselves about packages passing from one State to another.
– If the right honorable gentleman will give me permission to add bottles returned as empties to the exemption list, if it be proved that the practice which I have indicated is still in operation, I shall be content.
– It will not be in operation.
– Will the Minister give me the assurance for which I ask ? This afternoon I was able to prove to the right honorable gentleman’s own experts, that in three States there were three different duties operating in regard to a particular line of goods, not one of which was the duty appearing in the Tariff.
– If the honorable member will bring that matter under my notice, I will deal with it.
– If to-morrow I receive a wire, stating that the practice to which I have referred, is still in existence, will the Minister allow me to add these bottles to the free list?
– I will undertake to say that if my instructions are not being carried out, they will be, and those who have not been carrying them out will be made more careful in the future.
– And the redress will be given ?
– Of course it will. I move -
That the words “ and fire bricks for special use in reverberatory furnaces,” be inserted after the words “bath bricks,” line 21.
This is a description of brick which cannot be manufactured locally. I believe it is known by the name of the Dynos brick, and is able to resist extreme heat.
Amendment agreed to.
Amendment (by Mr. Kingston) agreed to-
That the words “ also lithographic and emery stones” be inserted after the words “whet stones,” line 22.
Mr. HUGHES (West Sydney).-I move -
That the word, “grindstones,” line 22, be omitted.
I am quite certain that these stones can be manufactured in Tasmania and New South Wales.
– We will accept the amendment.
Amendment agreed to.
Mr. CLARKE (Cowper).- I move-
That the word “millstones,” line 23, be omitted.
These millstones are made of the same kind of stone as grindstones, and I have authority for stating that they are manufactured in New South Wales of the very finest quality.
– I was about to suggest that before the word “ millstones “ the words “ upper and nether “ be inserted, as typical of the position of Australians after this Tariff has been passed. Why it should be sought to take millstones from the free list I do not know, and I should like the honorable member to explain his object.
Amendment agreed to.
Mr. HUGHES (West Sydney). - I move -
That the words “stone, viz., sawn or in the rough, n.e.i.,” lines 24, 25, be omitted.
– The striking out of the words would merely be an intimation to the Government to make this stone dutiable.
– Will the Government give an opportunity to insert unwrought stone amongst the dutiable articles 1
– If the committee decide that this article shall be dutiable, the Government will carry out the decision.
– If we encourage the production of unwrought slate slabs and marble, there is no sense in discriminating in the way proposed by the Government. There is hardly a variety of stone known to builders which is not to be found in payable and valuable deposits right throughout the Commonwealth.
– Does the honorable member wish the amendment to apply to stone brought in as ship’s ballast ? ‘
– Ships do not bring ballast for the purpose of the latter being carted to the interior to be used in the erection of houses. But ships, in order to come here for cargo, do bring slabs of stone and marble, which serve the purpose of ballast and are carried almost for nothing. Ships have to pay for ballast, whereas they get a slight freight on the slabs of stone and marble I have mentioned. Stone that is useful for any other purpose except ballast should not be admitted free.
– I think there is great danger in the proposal of the honorable member for West Sydney. I do not know whether the honorable member seriously means” this amendment, which certainly would include stone brought here as ballast. In a great many places ships cannot get valuable stone as ballast, and have to carry stone which is not really useful for any other purpose except, perhaps, roadmaking at the port of destination. Under the amendment we should have the Customshouse officers demanding duty for ballast.
– If stone generally is made dutiable, there will have to be the usual exception in regard to ship’s ballast.
– But then valuable stone would be exempt from duty if carried as ballast.
– The Customs officers would soon stop anything of that sort.
– No doubt the Customs officers do their duty, but they are always apt to literally interpret, and we ought to make the Tariff so clear that literal interpretation will be right. If, on the one hand, we except ship’s ballast, we except valuable stone on which it is desired to charge duty, and, on the other hand, if we leave the item without that exception, then duty may be charged on ship’s ballast. That is against the interests of the Commonwealth, because it will add to ships’ freights, and affect the export trade. I do not believe there is any place in the world where a duty is charged on ballast. If we speak of stone which is valuable for building purposes, there will be everlasting bother between the Customs and shipping agents as to whether stone used as ballast is or is not suitable for building. Ships will come here not anticipating any of these fine distinctions, but expecting to be treated here as they are treated elsewhere. It would be better to leave the matter as it is.
– I hope the Government will not accept the amendment. There are places in Australia where cities have yet to be built, and if the Government accept the amendment, without knowing whether there is good building stone to be found in the various States, they will be making a great mistake. To impose a duty in the way suggested would hinder the introduction of what is an absolute necessity to the building trade, which it would be a pity to handicap. I should not object to simply striking out this exemption but for the fact that the Government have intimated that, on its being omitted, they will impose a duty. There is a larger question involved than that of ship’s ballast.
Mr. REID (East Sydney).- I have listened with deep attention to the remarks of the honorable and learned member for Corio, and they rather puzzle me. In connexion with industries far more artificial and far less germane to the natural resources of Australia, I have noticed that the honorable and learned member is prepared to impose enormous duties quite irrespective of the unfortunate persons who have to use the manufactures. This is another conspiracy against the great natural resources of Sydney. The honorable member for West Sydney represents one of the most populous and democratic constituencies, where there are limitless quarries of the finest sandstone. Now that bonuses are going about, the honorable member is anxious that the unfortunate quarrymen, who work under a burning sun, should have the advantage of some slight encouragement. But he finds himself confronted by a gentleman like the honorable and learned member for Corio, who is prepared to swallow the most extravagant protectionist proposal so long as it refers to some part of Victoria. However, at this late hour of the evening I do not propose to raise an international question on this item. At first sight I thought the amendment most admirable, but the honorable member for North Sydney, where there is no sandstone worth speaking of, has raised a number of serious objections.
Mr. HUGHES (West Sydney).- I am very much disheartened at the way in which all my chosen supporters have one by one left me. I had thought that the proposal would have won support, but the honorable member for North Sydney has pointed out endless difficulties which he thinks the Custom-house officers will meet. But all these difficulties can be dissipated, or are, in fact, non-existent. For instance, the officer could get a cinder-sieve, and after putting the ballast through it, might decide that all that remained should be deemed building stone. If we substitute for the words which I have moved shall be omitted the words, “road metal and ballast,” we shall have done all that we can be expected to do.
Mr. THOMSON (South Sydney).- I observe that glass meat jars are not placed amongst the exemptions. I do not propose to move an amendment, if the Minister will make the reasonable statement that drawback will be allowed when such meat jars are used for export purposes. Already the meat extract companies have to face severe competition from other countries, and their difficulties are increased by the ordinary charges upon the import of meat jars. The competition of the Argentine is one difficulty we have to face. Unless I have an assurance that drawback will be allowed I shall have to move that these articles be exempt from duty.
– If the honorable member moves such an amendment now I shall have to oppose it. Certain general rules have been laid down with respect to drawback, and I am sure that the honorable member would not expect me to make a special statement with regard to meat jars. If these articles are capable of drawback they will not fail to get it ; but as to whether they will get it or not I shall require time for consideration.
– Will the right honorable gentleman promise that if meat jars are not subject to drawback under the regulations he will make them subject to it ?
– We desire, of course, to encourage local manufactures for export purposes, and the drawback regulations will be liberally construed, but I can give no promise except that I will look into the matter ; and if I cannot meet the honorable member’s wish an opportunity will be given for the further consideration of the point.
Amendment (by Mr. Tudor) agreed to -
That the following exemption be added : - Process engravers’ screens.
Mr. GLYNN (South Australia).- I have given notice of an amendment to place printers’ roller composition upon the free list.
– We have already made that article dutiable.
– I have also given notice of an amendment that certain articles connected with assaying be placed upon the free list. I move -
That the following exemptions be added : - Crucibles, scorifiers, roasting dishes, muffles, assay furnaces, cupels.
I am informed that crucibles are now admitted free under a construction of the Tariff, but that upon scoriflers and muffles duty is collected. They are the same class of goods, and are used in connexion with mines for assaying purposes as well as by private assayers.
– The report from the officers is that there is no objection.
Amendment agreed to.
Special exemptions, as amended, agreed to.
Amendment (by Sir George Turner) agreed to -
That the following foot notes be omitted - “ Measuring outside the packages as imported. For purposes of measurement each stone shall be considered a rectangular solid corresponding in measurement to the extreme length, width, and height of the stone measured.”
House adjourned at 10.40 p.m.
Cite as: Australia, House of Representatives, Debates, 20 February 1902, viewed 6 July 2017, <http://historichansard.net/hofreps/1902/19020220_reps_1_8/>.