1st Parliament · 1st Session
Mr. Speaker took the chair at 2.30 p.m., and read prayers.
Sir PHILIP FYSH presented a petition from certainwoollen manufacturers of the State of Tasmania, praying that the duty upon woollen piece goods may be increased to 20 per cent, ad valorem.
Petition received and read.
Mr. DEAKIN presented a similar petition from employes in thewoollen manufacturing industry in Ballarat.
Mr. CROUCH presented a petition from Elizabeth Holmes, widow, Geelong West, praying that the pension which her late husbandwas receiving may be continued to her ; or that compensation may be granted to her for the losses entailed on him through accidents incurred in the service of the Victorian Postal department, and for the physical injuries received by her in attending on him.
asked the Minister representing the Postmaster-General, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follow : -
Queensland - 4 mile radially from telephone exchange.
South Australia and Western Australia - 1 mile radially from telephone exchange for certain exchanges ;½ mile radially from telephone exchange for other exchanges.
Victoria - £1 per annum for each additional ½ mile or under.
Queensland - £1 5s.per annum for each addi tional½ mile or under.
South Australia - 3 rates - . £1 per annum for each additional¼ mile or under, beyond 1 mile - certain exchanges. £1 per annum for eachadditional½ mile or under - up to2 miles, and 1 per annum for each additional¼ mile or under ; beyond 2 miles, certain other exchanges. £1 per annum for each additional½mile or under up to 3 miles and £1 per annum for each additional¼mile or under beyond 3 miles, other exchanges:
Western Australia - £1 per annum for each additional¼ mile or under.
Tasmania- 10s, per annum for each additional ¼ mile or under.
asked the Minister for
Trade and Customs, upon notice -
Whether ho will direct that ink mills (which are stated to be substantially identical with machine tools of other industries now on the list of special exemptions) shall be admitted free of duty ?
– The answer to the honorable member’s question is as follows : -
Ink mills are not identical with machine tools of other industries now on the list of special exemptions. Theyare dutiable at the rate of 20 per cent, as machinery n.e.i.
asked the Minister for Trade and Customs, upon notice -
Whether he will obtain the opinion of experts with a view to considering the desirableness of placing cask-making machines on the list of exemptions under Division VI. of the Tariff?
– The answer to the honorable member’s question is as follows: -
This matter is now receiving the attention of the Right Honorable the Minister for Trade and Customs.
In Committee of Supply :
– I move -
That a sum not exceeding £320,955 be granted to His Majesty for or towards defraying the services for the year ending 30th June, 1902.
I ask honorable members to grant me supply to meet the ordinary requirements of government for this month and the early part of next month. Honorable members are aware that the heavy payments come at the end of the month, but a schedulewas circulated some days ago for the information of honorable members, showing exactly how the money is to be expended. The items in this schedule have been carefully checked. I have gone through them all myself, and I know of none the passing of which will in any way affect the decision of the committee in regard to the general Estimates when they come on.for discussion. I do not know that this will be the last time I shall have to ask for supply, but I hope that before the end of next month honorable members will have had an opportunity to deal with part, at all events, of the Estimates. Honorable members will see that in . the schedule which has been circulated we have followed the form of the Estimates, and each item is printed separately, taking the votes as they appear in the subdivisions of the Estimates. If any honorable member desires information in regard to any of the items, I shall be glad to give it to him, but I know of nothing beyond the ordinary services of the Government which has been provided for.
– As I was away during what is known asgrievance day the week before last,I may perhaps be allowed to refer now to a matter which is of some public importance, and which I should have referred to then had I been here. I do it in no party spirit, but purely to draw the attention of the Treasurer to the question in the interests of the public. Soon after the Commonwealth was established certain departments of. Government, among which was the Post and Telegraph department, were transferred from the control of the States to the control of the Commonwealth ; but, when the transference was made, matters of payment for work done for the department were left in abeyance, though it seems to me that if individual citizens contract to do work for any State or for the Commonwealth they should he paid as promptly as possible when that work is satisfactorily completed. In a case of which I have knowledge, however, after the work had been done for the Postal department in Sydney - I presume under the control of the Public Works department - when the contractors applied for their money they were told that, as the Postal department had been handed over to the Commonwealth, the State Government could not deal with any claims upon it. In one case, a man in a comparatively small way of business completed a contract about twelve months ago for a work costing £3,000. Like every other Government contractor, if he had failed to finish his contract within the stipulated time, or had not carried out all its specifications, he would have been dealt with by the Government officials in the most stringent manner ; and when a man completes a contract under such circumstances, he should be promptly paid the moment he obtains a certificate that the work has been satisfactorily done.
– If the honorable member will tell me to what case he refers, I shall at once get him all the information concerning it.
SirWilliam McMillan.-I will give the honorable member the name of the contractor, but I think it better not to mention it publicly. Where contractors are men with small capital, and the payment of £2,000 or £3,000 is delayed, it often means their insolvency. Of course, we have nothing to do with transactions between the States Governments and the people, and I think that it would be improper for us to in any way animadvert upon the conduct of the State Treasuries; but the Government of the Commonwealth may have to get the States to resume land for Commonwealth purposes, and I hope that when that is done there will be more promptitude in paying the individuals whose property is taken than there has been hitherto. The want of promptitude on the part of the Treasuries in some of the States in paying the public creditors, is becoming to some extent a scandal. It is well enough to say that the public have their remedy at law, but it is a very difficult thing to exercise that remedy against a State or the Commonwealth
Government, since they have unlimited supplies at their back. In the particular case to which I refer, although the work was completed twelve months ago, I am told that when the contractor last applied for his money in Sydney he was told that he could get it only in doles, and that he might perhaps be able to get £1,000 of the £3,000 that was owing to him. I do not think that that sort of thing should be allowed to continue. There should be every supervision exercised over public works, in order to see that they are properly completed ; but when once a work is finally passed, the amount ought to be paid. I should not have mentioned this case only that I understand there are others, and I have not spoken before moving the department. I wish to ask the Treasurer whether there have been any very drastic changes made in salaries, or anything of that kind, which it might be necessary to lay before the committee.
– I do not know of any. The increments are paid in South Australia, because the officers are entitled to them by law, but the others we have held in abeyance until we get parliamentary sanction.
– I am quite willing to take the right honorable gentleman’s word, because he has shown sufficient fairness in all these matters, to make us feel that we can trust him. I take it for granted therefore that the expenditure embodied in this Supply Bill is simply a twelfth of the annual amount.
– It does not come to a twelfth of the total amount. It is just what will carry us over the month on the basis of the Estimates without putting in any debatable items.
– It stands to reason that we cannot get to the Estimates yet, and that Supply must be granted. I trust entirely to the assurance of my right honorable friend that there is nothing in the Bill except that which we might expect, and which Parliament has up to the present time approved.
Sir GEORGE TURNER (BalaclavaTreasurer). - I am. in the dark as to the particular case to which the honorable member for Wentworth has referred, but I know that with the exception of afew disputed accounts relating to the celebrations, where we deny our liability to pay, and say that the States should pay, there has been no delay in making any payments. There is no reason why there should be any delay. There is ample money available, and as soon as the accounts are properly certified,. the officers in the States have full authority to make the payments. I think what my honorable friend is referring to is some work which was being constructed out of loan funds at the time the Commonwealth was established. I made arrangements with all the States that where they had works actually in hand, and were paying for them out of loan funds, they should complete those works out of loan funds, the money so expended being taken into consideration in fixing the value of the works we have to pay for under the provisions in the Constitution. If the public work to which my honorable friend referred was constructed out of loan funds, the Commonwealth has nothing to do with that particular payment. It ought to be made by the State, and we must assume that if it has been held over there must be some valid reason for that action. As soon as my honorable friend furnishes the Minister for Home Affairs with the name of the particular case, we shall have immediate inquiries made. So fas as our own payments are concerned, I am certain that there is no unreasonable delay. We take every means we possibly can to faciliate payments even in the outlying parts of the continent. This is the only explanation I can give.
– I desire to draw the attention of the Treasurer to the way in which this schedule is prepared. If the additions were made so that we could ascertain what is asked for each department, it would be much more convenient. For instance, if any one wishes to ascertain what is required for the department of Defence, he has to add up the figures on a number of pages. That, I think, should be done by those who prepare the schedule.
– I shall take care that a table is attached to the next one, showing the amounts.
– I desire to draw the attention of the Treasurer and of the committee to the largely increased cost under the head of Defence. The estimate for the year amounted to £869,855; but for eight months of the year we have expended £627,286.
– That includes £105,000 for the auxiliary squadron, and payments to the militia, which is a very heavy item.
– Even allowing for the payment for the auxilary squadron, apparently we shall be over at least £40,000 odd.
– The arrears to the 30th” June amounted to £112,000, and these we have to go on paying in this financial year.
– I felt almost certain that those amounts were included in the estimate of £869,000.
– The estimate for the year was £S69,000, and the honorable member will see that the arrears to the 30th June amounted .to £112,000, which we have been paying during this financial year.
– That item on the Estimates had escaped my attention, otherwise it looked as if the expenditure of the Defence department was increasing by leaps and bounds. It is a great waste of time to have monthly Supply Bills. In nearly all the States- it is the custom to take supply for three months.
– In the first two cases I took supply for three months, but there seemed to be a feeling that I was asking for too much at a time, and so I limited the supply to a month, hoping to be able to get to the Estimates.
– It would conserve the time of the House if the Treasurer would take three months’ supply, as is done in the States, and undoubtedly it would save trouble to the department, because monthly Supply Bills must be a source of great trouble and expense.
– I wish to ask the. Treasurer whether the item of defence in the various States includes other than the ordinary expenditure on the establishments. For instance, does it include provision for sending a rifle team to Bisley 1
– That is not included.
– I wish to say a word or two before any money is voted for that purpose.
– I have hurriedly ascertained particulars of the case referred to by the honorable member for Wentworth.
The work was sanctioned before the building was taken over by the Commonwealth, but it had not been carried out. An. .estimate was made of the amount which would be required - the estimate was £600 a month - and I approved of the amount being repaid to the State Government. The State Government agreed to pay £600 a month first, and if there has been any delayit has not been the fault of the Federal Government. The total amount is not 3,000, but 4,000.
– The answer given by the officer was that he gets £600 a month, and that he can this month give only a dole out of it for the work which was done twelve months ago.
– The only case which the department is aware of is one where £4,000 worth of work was approved of by the State Government before the Federal Government took over the Postoffice, and the State Government estimated that some £600 .a month would be required;
– This work was finished twelve months ago.
– No, it is the same case.
– I made particular inquiry, and that is the information I received.
– If it were finished twelve months ago it would not come under the same category. It would be paid for by the State.
– It was finished at about the time the department was taken over.
– My department knows of only one case, and in that we recoup the State Government according to what they require ; if there has been -any delay it is through no fault of the department. The honorable member said that there are other cases of the kind, and that it is becoming somewhat of a scandal. The only other cases I am aware of arose in South Australia, and were brought under my notice by the honorable members, Mr. Poynton and Mr. Batchelor. These were cases that never came to my department. The payments had been stopped, through some little interference in South Australia between the Federal department and the State department. I think the two honorable members who brought the matter under my notice quite agree that it was not the fault of the department. However, it has been rectified, though I had some trouble to ascertain the cause of the delay. I know of no case of money being due where it is not ready to be paid. The new regulations have assisted in getting prompt payments made. I would point out to the honorable member for Wentworth that this aspect of the question had to be considered. Certain works had been authorized by some of the States. I do not know that there were many, except in New South Wales. It was desired by the States to carry out the works, thinking that the money would have to be paid by the Federal Government exactly as they wished. It was decided that all appropriations must pass through the hands of the Federal Government, in order that we might control the expenditure. That caused a check to be observed for some little time in regard to buildings in New South Wales, but I do not think it applied to buildings in other States. I think the honorable member will admit that if the Federal Government and Parliament have to raise money for any of the works in., the States it is very necessary that the appropriation and approval should come through the Federal Government before it is expended. In every other case, I feel that the department has brought everything practically uptodate. Only this morning my UnderSecretary told me that there is scarcely a paper which has not been dealt with, and that wherever there is money to be paid, there is no delay. There may be complaints made, but there is a fairly satisfactory answer to be made in each case. Of course in dealing with so many cases, coming from all parts of the States, it is rather difficult to prevent little complaints being made here or there. I have taken the utmost care to prevent delay, and have sent telegrams with that end in view when it has been of advantage to do so.
– I hope the Minister will follow up the case to which T refer, because I am completely blocked.
– I shall follow up the case at once ; I have already sent for my Under-Secretary.
– I have made the most exhaustive inquiries, and I do not think that I have been wrongly informed.
– I think the honorable member will find that what I say is correct. I was unaware until very recently that works were being delayed in South Australia because money had not been deposited there, so that it might be paid away as the works progressed. Pending satisfactory arrangements in regard to financial matters, I desired that the States should advance the money for carrying out these works, until it could be repaid by the Commonwealth Government. This may not have been done in all cases. There is, however, no necessity for any alarm, and in the particular matters referred to, no blame is to be attached to the Home department.
– I should like to ask the Treasurer whether it is not possible to give some details of the amounts appearing under the head of contingencies?
– The whole of the details appear in the Estimates, and it would be impracticable to furnish them in every Supply Bill.
– I see the contingencies in the Defence department alone represent something like £28,000.
– That is very likely. If the honorable member looks at the amount on the Estimates, he will find that a great many items of expenditure come under this particular heading.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Resolution reported and agreed to.
Resolved (motion by Sir George Turner) -
That the standing orders be suspended, in order to enable all steps to be taken to obtain supply, and to enablea Supply Bill to be passed through all its stages without delay.
Resolution of Committee of Ways and Means covering resolution of Committee of Supply reported and agreed to.
Bill founded upon resolutions of Committee of Supply and of Committee of Ways and Means presented, and passed through all its stages.
Consideration resumed from 20th February(vide page 10220.)
Division IX. - Drugs and Chemicals.
Item 93 - Acetic acid, extract or essence of vinegar,and vinegar - Containing not more than 6 per cent, of absolute acid.,6d. per gallon ; containing more than 6 per cent. , but not more than 30 per cent. , 2s 6d. per. gallon ; for every extra 1 0 per cent, or part of 10 per cent.,10d. per gallon.
– I suggest that the Treasurer should indicate the concessions which he is prepared to make upon the items in this division so that we may arrive at an understanding. I have no doubt he has received a great many- letters in regard to these items.
– Not in this division. I have received very few letters. One writer very highly approves of the proposed duties, and another suggests higher duties.
– I am told that although bicarbonate of soda, tartaric acid, and cream of tartar are not specially mentioned in this division they have had to pay duty, and I wish to know the full scope of the various items. I am informed that glacial acetic acid is valued at £47 per ton, and that the duty now imposed upon it is equal to £100 per ton. The duty upon some of these acids is certainly beyond anything that would be reasonable.
– I notice that the honorable and learned member for South Australia, Mr. Glynn, has given notice of his intention to move that the duty on acetic acid extract or essence of vinegar, and vinegar should be reduced to 3d. per gallon. I should like to know whether the honorable and learned member has made any representations to the Government.
– I know nothing of them. We consider that the duty on vinegar ought, if anything, to be increased.
– The duty now proposed by the Government upon vinegar and acetic acid is lower than the average duty levied in the States before the introduction of the Federal Tariff. I trust, therefore, that the Government will not agree to any reduction. I took the trouble to work out, from the States Statistical Registers, the value per gallon of acetic acid and vinegar. I find that Queensland imported 3,322 gallons of acetic acid, valued at 5s. 6d. per gallon ; Victoria imported 2,893 gallons, at an average value of 4s. 9d. per gallon ; New South Wales imported 59,000 gallons, at an average of 3s. per gallon ; and in South Australia the average price was 3s. 5d. per gallon. Therefore, a duty of6d. per gallon works out at less than 1 5 per cent, ad valorem.
– The honorable member is wrong, as he has not taken the strengths into account.
– I obtained my information from the figures in the Statistical Registers, which did not give particulars as to strengths. Vinegar works out at a value of less than 3s. per gallon, but 6d. per gallon is a fair duty, and is less than the rate hitherto collected in the majority of States. In New South Wales no duty was charged, in “Victoria 6d. per gallon was levied, and in Queensland, a duty of 9d. per gallon was charged on acetic acid, and ls. per gallon on vinegar. I hope that the committee- will, agree to the Government proposal.
– Representations have been made to me by those in the trade that the duty upon acetic acid amounts to 200 per cent, ad valorem,. That is a perfectly monstrous rate of duty, even though half-a-dozen men be employed in Victoria in manufacturing the article. I understand that acetic acid is not made anywhere within the Commonwealth.
– Oh, yes; it is made in all the States except Tasmania.
– -There are two factories in Victoria, in each of which one man only is employed.
– That fact goes to prove that no necessity exists for the imposition of a heavy duty.
– This is a somewhat difficult subject to deal with, because vinegar and acetic acid are used for practically the same purposes. The desire of the Government is to encourage the production of vinegar from our wines and malt rather than from acetic acid, and we have, therefore, deliberately made a break at 6 per cent., because that represents the proportion of acid which is contained in true vinegar. In New Zealand and Canada the same practice is observed. The proposed rate upon vinegar probably represents a duty of 25 or 30 per cent., whereas that upon acetic acid approximates 155 or 156 per cent. But I would point out that, unless we preserve this proportion, small quantities of acetic acid of very great strength will probably be imported for the purpose of being broken down into vinegar to the detriment of the vinegar industry in all the States. I admit that the proposed rate is a high one, but if we look at the various State Tariffs we shall find that the duties which formerly operated were extremely heavy.. I know that a firm in Tasmania is anxious to secure the admission of acetic acid at a low rate in order that it may assist the industry which they have established. Upon inquiry, however, I find that one-half of the acetic acid imported into Tasmania is imported from Victoria, and there is nothing to prevent that State from getting all the acetic acid she requires from the other States. Honorable members will find upon examination that the proposed duties do not exceed those which have been operative in connexion with the various State Tariffs, except in the case of New South Wales. The duty upon vinegar represents about ls. 6d. per gallon in bulk, and 2s. 6d. per gallon in bottle. The estimated imports, under this item are not very large, because we believe that the States will be able to manufacture all the acetic acid and vinegar which they require.
Mr. TUDOR (Yarra).- Last year the value of -vinegar imported into “ New South Wales averaged 2s. Id. per gallon. In Victoria the rate was less than that which obtained in the other States. In Queensland it averaged 2s. 8d. per gallon. I know that it costs more to import vinegar in bottle than it does to import it in bulk, but as we have imposed a duty upon bottles, whilst no charge will be levied upon the packages in which bulk vinegar is imported, and casks cost more here, as coopers’ wages are higher here, being 54s. per week in this State, I think that the proposed duty is a very reasonable one.
– I fail to see how any one can claim that the proposed rate upon acetic acid is a reasonable one. The duty upon this article is fixed at 2s. 6d. per gallon, 30 per cent, strength,, and provision is made for an increase of lOd. per gallon upon every 10 per cent, increase in strength. That really means that the rate upon 95 per cent, acid will, be 7s. 1 Id. per gallon. If we assume that a gallon represents about 10 lbs., we find, that the proposed impost amounts to about 86s. per cwt., or £86 per ton. Now, acetic acid does not cost anything like that sum. It probably costs about a half or a third of it, so that the measure of protection which it is proposed to extend to this article is excessively high. The Treasurer says that he does not wish to encourage the manufacture of vinegar from acetic acid, but I would point out that he is really doing that. The price j of the article made within the Common- wealth is very little more than that of the i imported, and, consequently, under the operation of this duty our vinegar-makers will be induced to use acetic acid which is locally made.Why should such a heavy protection be given, to the industry when the result for which the Treasurer hopes cannot be realized ? I quite agree that even if we reduce the duty to 3d. per gallon it will constitute a very heavy protection - a protection which ought to prohibit the importation of acetic acid. As long as vinegar is made locally from acetic acid at a much lower cost than itcan be made from wine, the acid will be used. By adopting the Government proposal we shall be giving to the few manufacturers of acetic acid an opportunity to raise the price of that article.
Mr. BATCHELOR (South Australia).What the honorable member for North Sydney says may be true, but I find that some of the large makers of acetic acid vinegar are pressing most strongly for the admission of acetic acid free. For my part I intend to support the proposal of the Government. Indeed, I would vote for imposing a prohibitive duty upon acetic acid for vinegar-making purposes, because I believe that vinegar made from acetic acid is a very bad product compared with that which is made from wine or malt.
Sir WILLIAM McMILLAN (Wentworth). - I do not think that this is an item which we need to discuss at any length. There is not much acetic acid imported into the Commonwealth, and I think that the imposition of an unnecessarily high duty will only give an opportunity to the local manufacturers of increasing the price of the article. I notice that nearly the whole of the importations into New South Walescome from Germany. Where I think that debate should arise is in connexion with the tremendous difference between the duty imposed upon acetic acid containing not more than 6 per cent, of absolute acid and that with a higher percentage.
– That will work out all right commercially. Acetic acid containing not more than 6 per cent, of absolute acid comes in as table vinegar.
– I would point out that under the duty which formerly operated in Victoria two men only were employed in the industry.
– There are three firms engaged in the industry in Victoria. I do not know how the honorable member can say that two men only are employed in it.
– There, are two factories in Victoria each of which employs one man. Last year the duty paid upon acetic acid in this State was£274, so that it is evident the industry does not require any protction whatever. All acids enjoy a natural protection, inasmuch as the freight upon them represents about 40 per cent, of their value.
– In my opinion this duty is too high. Vinegar is the raw material used in a number of manufactures, and an article of very general consumption. It is made here, and the Treasurer seems to imply that the effect of this duty will be to enable us to procure a better quality of vinegar. That is nonsense. As a matter of fact we produce here as poor a quality of vinegar as one could wish to have, and all our highest qualities of table vinegar are imported. No distinction is made in the duty between bottled and bulk vinegar. I think that honorable members, no matter on which side of the House they may sit, will agree that a distinction ought to be made between bottled vinegar, which is retailed - and we have a heavy duty on imported bottles - and bulk vinegar, brought in for manufacturing purposes. The duty ought to be reduced by one-half. If that were done it would still be ample for the purpose of placing the local manufacturer on a level with his foreign competitors, while at the same time it would not stamp out the better class of vinegar made from wine, to which the Treasurer has referred. The Minister is right in desiring that our own malt and wine vinegars should come into greater use, but the duty as proposed will not help them. In order to test the question I move: -
That the words “and on and after 26th February, 1902, 3d.” be added to the duty, “ Acetic acid, &c. . . . per gallon6d.”
Item agreed to.
Item 94 - Acids, viz. : - Muriatic, nitric, and sulphuric, ad valorem, 15 per cent.
– I desire to know whether carbolic acid is included in this item or dealt with as a disinfectant.
– It is included under the heading of “disinfectants.”
– I fail to understand why the item should not be placed upon the free list. The acids included in it are used to a very large extent in connexion with mining operations in Australia, and surely the Treasurer is not anxious to penalize an industry of that kind? On referenceto the returns before us, I find that the Treasurer does not estimate to receive any revenue from this source. I do not know whether that is a mistake.
– We do not anticipate receiving any revenue from the item.
– Then it must be that the duty is either prohibitive or not worth imposing. The committee have to say whether they are prepared to vote for this duty when there is no reason for it. The argument as to revenue is dismissed on the Treasurer’s own admission. Can we accept the doctrine of prohibition whether applied te drugs or any other article?
Sir WILLIAM McMILLAN (Wentworth). - I would ask the Treasurer to seriously consider, this proposal. I understand that these acids are vised very largely for reducing precious metals from refractory ores, and the duty would very seriously hamper the mining industry throughout Australia. As the honorable member for Dalley has said, the duty is either practically prohibitive or not worth puttingon. If it is practically prohibitive, it is against the principles upon which we have been acting. I do not know that a great quantity of these acids will be imported, but we ought to be peculiarly careful that we do not strike a blow at the mining industry. This duty means that to a large extent we shall prevent the spirit of competition. We know that in certain industries there is not likely to be a large number of manufacturers ; that there is a tendency to a monopoly in relation to them, because innumerable manufactories could not be created as in the case of articles of general use. These acids are for a special purpose. Honorable members sitting behind the Government have said on various occasions that they believe in duties which will afford some competition, and I think that this duty, if it is not entirely done away with, should be reduced to at least 10 per cent.
– I think it would be hardly worth while to reduce the duty from 15 to 10 per cent., although I could understand my honorable friend proposing that the item should be absolutely free. In all the States with the exception of New South Wales it has been subject to a duty. In Victoria muriatic and nitric acids were liable to a duty of 5s. per cwt.; South Australia, 5s. per cwt.;
Tasmania, 2s. 6d. per cwt.; Western Australia, 15 per cent.; and Queensland, 25 per cent. A. duty of 5s. per cwt. would be equal to about 25 per cent. As a matter of fact, from the returns in our possession, we find that there have been practically no imports of these acids for several years. Therefore, if they have been largely used in mining operations, the miners must have been using acids produced within the Commonwealth. Some of these articles are not, however, used in the mines ; they are actually the by-products of some of the mines, and we ought to encourage them as far as we can..
– By this duty?
– We do not know what the effect might be if we had no duty. We impose a light duty, and we do not expect any importations, because we know that ship-masters do not care much about carrying these articles. I do not think it would be wise to allow them to come in free, while to reduce the duty from 15 to 10 per cent, would practically make no difference one way or the other. Why make an alteration which can have no good effect? I do not think it is worth while discussing the question whether this duty should be 10 or 15 per cent. A duty of 15 per cent, is a reasonable one.
Amendment (by Mr. Wilks) proposed -
That the words “and on and after 26th February, 1902, 10 per cent.” be added.
Sir WILLIAM McMILLAN (Wentworth). - I desire to impress upon the Treasurer that there is some difference between a duty of 15 per cent, and one of 10 per cent, in connexion with this proposal. He has told us that practically there is no difference. If that be the case, and if there is a chance of manufacturers taking advantage of a nominal duty and charging an inordinate price for these acids, then it is wrong to have the duty 1 per cent, above the highest rate that is really necessary. I would appeal to honorable members on the other side to make this Tariff something consistent with common - sense principles. The Treasurer has allowed that a duty of 10 per cent, would answer all necessary purposes, and that it would be practically prohibitive. I do not desire to vote for prohibitive duties, but we must obtain what we can, and if 10 per cent, will do all that is necessary from a protectionist point of view, it is extremely foolish to propose that the duty shall be 15 per cent. As presumably sensible men we are proposing to place a duty of 15 per cent, on certain articles when the Treasurer admits that a duty of 10 per cent, would have the same effect.
– I said it would not make much difference.
– Yet in a Tariff the object of which is supposed to be simply to assist industries at present in existence, we are to place a duty so prohibitive that the Treasurer does not estimate to receive any revenue from the item. I appeal to the Treasurer not to ask us’ to go to a division on this matter.
– The honorable member for Wentworth has referred to the price of these articles being increased by means of the duty. I am assured on the very best authority that a Sydney house which uses them in its manufactures has not been called on to pay any increased price for them since the imposition of the Tariff.
– That is because the manufacturers are honest.
– Victorian manufacturers have been supplying the house to which I refer, so that we have at last found honest manufacturers. This particular item is being made in the Commonwealth, and I hope the Treasurer is not going to begin yielding.
– I do not think it matters much whether the duty is 15 per cent, or 10 per cent. Sulphuric acid is a by-product of various industries, and will continue to be made in the Commonwealth. It is used in almost all classes of manufacture here, and. its consumption is, perhaps, the best index we can have of the progress of our manufactures. Honorable members shall recollect that when discussing the duty upon sulphate of copper it , was explained that sulphuric acid was being made here, and would continue to be made. As we shall now have greater scope for local industries, the local manufacture of sulphuric acid will increase, and, as has already been pointed out, these are articles which ships donot care to take at all. If the Minister is in a yielding humour, and will agree to a duty of 10 per cent., I shall be only too glad, but . I do not consider it is worth while to divide the committee upon it.
Question - That the words “and on and after 26th February, 1902, 10 per cent.” be added - put. The committee divided -
Question so resolved in the negative.
Item agreed to.
Item 95. Carbonate of ammonia and carbide of calcium, per cwt., 5s.
– I am advised that carbide of calcium is used in the production of acetylene gas, and that it is made by the treatment of limestone, coke, and electricity, with water as the motive power.. I am told that it is impossible to produce it in Australia for want of effective water’ power. I know that acetylene gas is used to a large extent in the country districts, and it is alleged that this duty upon carbide of calcium would be a severe impost upon those using the gas, and upon those engaged in the installation of plants.
It is a patented article, and that is another reason why the right honorable the Treasurer should be prepared to agree to a reduction of the duty. Looking at his returns, I find that the sum of only £400 per annum is expected to be derived from both carbonate of ammonia and carbide of calcium. Five shillings per cwt. is a very high duty upon carbide of calcium, and as the case, as presented to me, is a strong one, I trust the Treasurer will agree to a reduction of the duty, if not to the exemption of this particular article.
– I trust that the right honorable the Treasurer will agree to consider carbonate of ammonia and carbide of calcium separately. I join with the honorable member for Dalley in asking that carbide of calcium should be put upon the free list. I think it is almost the only illuminant that is taxed, so far as we have gone. Coal gas is not taxed, and I am informed that it costs more to produce this acetylene gas than it does to produce the coal gas, which is here used with incandescent burners. I am also informed that carbide of calcium is not manufactured here, but that the acetylene gas generators are. An industry, in the manufacture of these gas generators, I believe, is starting, and they are gradually coming into more extended use in the country districts. The first of these generators I saw was in the Riverina district, at an inn on the road within 15 or 16 miles of Hay, but I have seen a good many since in Victoria. The country people are interested in getting this very fine light, and there are many things which would always prevent its supply very cheaply. The railways, for instance, will not carry it except at very high rates of freight. There are many difficulties of this kind in the way of its general consumption, and consideration so far should be had for the fact that we have done very little for country people. If the honorable member for Dalley had not moved an amendment, I should have been prepared to move that carbide of calcium be placed upon the free list.
– On carbonate of ammonia the duty fixed here would be at the rate of about 17 per cent. It is a revenue duty, as the article is not made here, and I think it ought to remain. With regard to carbide of calcium, I admit that the duty fixed is too high, but from the information we had at the time we fixed the rate, we were under the impression that it was manufactured here. It is not made here, and is not likely to be made here, and therefore any duty upon it must be regarded simply as a revenue duty. As a duty of 5s. per cwt. would be equal to 36 per cent., that must be regarded as altogether too high ; and therefore I am prepared to accept a duty of 2s. per cwt. To enable honorable members to deal with the two articles - carbonate of ammonia and carbide of calcium - separately, I move -
That, after the word “ammonia,” the words “per cwt., 5s.” be inserted.
Amendment agreed to.
– It seems to me that it would be wiser to place carbide of calcium upon the free list. Acetylene gas is coming into very general use in the country districts where other illuminants are not available.
– It competes with gas.
– It cannot be regarded as competing with gas, because the lowest price at which carbide of calcium is obtainable will not allow acetylene gas to be manufactured so cheaply as coal gas. Carbide of calcium cannot be manufactured locally, because it is necessary for its manufacture to have exceptionally cheap power, such as can be obtained at the falls of Niagara.
– Carbide of calcium is manufactured also in Germany.
– And at Westport, New Zealand.
– And at Cairns, Queensland.
– I know that there is the necessary power at Westport, and the Acetylene Gas Company of Australia, which is a Sydney company, proposed a little time ago to utilize it for the manufacture of carbide of calcium.
Mr. G. B. EDWARDS (South Sydney).I think that it is a very wrong thing to place a tax upon light. I have used acetylene gas for a long time, and I know for country houses it is distinctly in advance of gasolene and all other illuminants, being clean, easily managed, and despite what some people have said about it, free from danger if ordinary care is exercised. It is very unlikely that the committee will consent to a duty upon kerosene, and, as we are not going to tax any other illuminant, I think that carbide of calcium, which is the only ingredient besides water in the manufacture of acetylene gas, should be admitted duty free. The amount of revenue that would be derived from the duty that the Treasurer now proposes would be very small.
– It will grow.
Mr.G. B. EDWARDS.- That may be so, but it cannot be regarded as a protective duty, because the manufacture of carbide of calcium requires enormous electric power for the fusion of the lime and coke, which can be got only by the aid of water power, such as does not exist to my knowledge within the Commonwealth.
– Let us make the duty 10 per cent. -1s. 6d. per cwt.
– I hope that no duty at all will be imposed. I shall vote to place carbide of. calcium upon the free list.
– I join with previous speakers in asking the Treasurer to place carbide of calcium upon the free list. As honorable members are well aware, it is not manufactured within the Commonwealth, and the Treasurer has acknowledged that it is not likely to be manufactured here. The duty which the Treasurer proposes to place upon it is equal to nearly 100 per cent., according to the following information which Has been placed in my hand, and which I believe is reliable : -
With reference to the duty of £5 per ton levied on carbide by the Federal Tariff, for your information and to assist you when this item comes on for debate, wo give you the following particulars of cost of carbide at works, showing how the excessive duty imposed compares with the cost of the product, and also other costs to land in Australia : -
From the above figures you will see that it costs us £18 to land a ton of carbide that costs £6 to make. This carbide is sold in New York for £8 per ton, packages included. You will, therefore, see that the duty demanded of £5 per ton represents about 80 per cent, on the product that costs £6 per ton to make. We would suggest that to be on a competitive basis with kerosene, an ad valorem duty of 10 per cent, would be fair and reasonable.
– The Treasurer is now willing to agree to a duty of 1 0 per cent.
– I should prefer to see the article placed upon the free list. Acetylene gas is used chiefly in country places, where coal gas cannot be obtained, and I have in my hand a number of testimonials as to the satisfaction which it gives.
– I hope that the Treasurer will place carbide of calcium upon the free list. Acetylene gas is very largely used in the country, and is used in a number of the towns in my electorate. The cost of bringing it here from New York is something like 70 per cent, of its value, and the Treasurer now proposes, as a concession, to agree to a duty of 14 per cent.
– I have suggested 10 per cent, as a revenue duty.
– There is no reason why carbide of calcium should bear any duty, because it is already an expensive article. I remember that some time ago, when. a municipality wished to light its town with acetylene gas, it was found that the price would be too high.
SirGeorge Turner. - The dutyin Queens land has been. 25 per cent.
– Referring to the figures read by the honorable member for Oxley, it costs 100 per cent, to land it here.
– Those figures are too low.
– I think that they are. According to the information with which I have been supplied, carbide of calcium is worth £14 a ton free on board at New York, and all charges would bring it up to about £27 per ton here.
Mr. WILKS (Dalley).- The Treasurer has admitted that he does not expect much revenue from this duty, and that carbide of calcium cannot be produced in the Commonwealth. I would point out to him, however, that the generators are made in Australia ; and if he imposes a duty upon carbide of calcium he is likely to interfere with their manufacture locally. Considering that some of his most ardent supporters, - the honorable member for Oxley, the leader of the labour party, and my self - have asked that this duty be placed upon the free list, I hope that he will not split straws, but will agree to our request. I move -
That the words “and on and after 26th February, 1902, free “ be added.
Question put. The committee divided : -
Question so resolved in the affirmative.
Amendment agreed to.
Item as amended agreed to.
Item 96.- Drugs and Chemicals, viz. : - Salicylic and boric acids ;bisulphites of potassium, sodium, calcium, and magnesium ; foaming powders and liquids, and malt and hops substitutes, ad valorem, 20 per cent.
– I propose to insert the words “ sulphites and “ before the word “ bisulphites,” and to omit the words “ and malt and hops substitutes “ because we can deal with them better under the sections of the Customs Act.
– I hope that this item will be considerably amended and made very much more intelligible than it is. I hold in my hand some correspondence which ends with a letter written by the Comptroller of Customs, by the direction of the Minister, in reply to a letter of. mine in which I urged that magnesia carbonate levis should be placed in the category of drugs, to which it properly belongs, and also that a clearer definition of the word “ drugs “ should be used. It is contended, with very great force, that articles which are included under the headof medicines should be placed under the head of drugs. What are drugs ? According to the dictionary drugs include any substance, vegetable, animal,’ or mineral, used in the composition or preparation of medicine.
– Then they are nearly all free. Those under this head are brewers’ sundries I understand.
– Chemists very properly contend that magnesia carbonate levis is a drug, inasmuch as it is a substance used in the preparation of medicine.
– If it is a drug it is not dutiable, unless it comes under some of the words mentioned in this item.
-That is where all the trouble arises. It has been placed under the 25 per cent. category, and charged accordingly. While under the administration of the Tariff, this drug, which is a lighter and less valuable preparation of magnesia, is being charged 25 per cent., the heavier form of it comes in free or pays a lower duty. That cannot be intended. This letter which I hand to the Minister promises that the question will be taken into the fullest consideration. It is hoped that this grave anomaly will not continue to exist. I would remind the Treasurer that two drugs are not provided for in the Tariff, namely, bhang and gunjah. These are preparations which are largely used by the natives of India, principally by the Afghans and the northern people of India. It is under the influence of the drugs that these people run amuck, and commit all sorts of frightful crimes. In the interests of the white people of this Commonwealth, the Treasurer would do well to see that a heavy duty is imposed, if possible, to prevent their importation, but if not, to make them very costly articles to consume.
– In order to simplify the duties and to prevent confusion arising in the Customs department, it would be better to impose an all-round duty of 15 per cent, upon drugs, chemicals, and medicines. Lookingat the comparative statement of the duties levied in the States prior to the introduction of the Federal Tariff, I find that drugs and chemicals which are now subject to a duty of 20 per cent, were admitted into New South Wales free. Of course that does not count. In Victoria, however, they were also admitted free of duty, and I suppose that does count.
– Some of them were and some of them were not.
SirWilliam McMillan. -In Queensland, a duty of 25 per cent, was levied ; in South Australia, 10 per cent; in Tasmania, 20 per cent. ; and in Western Australia, 15 per cent. Therefore, an average of 15 per cent, would be high, considering the population of the different States. Medicines were admitted into New South Wales free of duty, whilst in Victoria some were admitted free and others were subject to a duty of 25 per cent. In Queensland they were subject to a duty of 25 per cent., in South Australia to 10 per cent., and in Tasmania to 20 per cent. I am very anxious that we should make good progress with the Tariff, and I therefore hope that the Treasurer will accept my suggestion.
– My attention has been drawn to some facts in connexion with this division. In the case of boric acid, which I presume is identical with boracic acid, I find that its use is approved of by the Royal commission which was recently appointed in England to report on the use of preservatives in food products, and particularly in butter.
– What percentage of it is used in butter?
– Only the half of 1 per cent. It is admitted by medical authorities that the use of half of 1 per cent, of boracic acid as a preservative in butter is not injurious to health ; indeed, it is claimed that it is rather beneficial to people who suffer from indigestion. I am informed that boracic acid is used only in butter intended for exportation. Boracic acid is not produced here, but it is imported in the rough state, and is subjected to certain processes which involve the employment of considerable labour. In New Zealand all preservatives are admitted free of duty. We should encourage our dairymen to use boracic acid, which is recommended by high authorities, in preference to salicylic acid and other things which are distinctly harmful.
– Is not boracic acid injurious to health?
– The information I have is that if it is used in the proportion of the half of 1 per cent, in butter it is not injurious to health. I do not propose to move in this matter now, but unless the information I have given is satisfactorily rebutted, I shall be disposed to move that boracic acid be placed on the free list.
– As far as I know, the drugs and chemicals enumerated here are what were recently referred to by the honorable member for Maranoa, as brewers’ sundries, and are mostly used for brewing purposes. Boracic acid is used to some extent as a preservative in butter - in the proportion of the half of 1 per cent.
– The duty would represent two-thirds of a1d. per cwt. of butter.
– A duty such as that would not prevent any one from using boracic acid as a preservative, if it were wise to use it. These drugs are, I think, fair subjects for taxation. Other drugs, used for compounding medicines, will be free of duty, because they are not specifically mentioned.
-I desire to make an appeal on behalf of the hospitals of the Commonwealth. I recently asked the Minister for Trade and Customs to consider whether any concession could be made to the hospitals in connexion with the drugs and chemicals used by them.
– Iain afraid that is a matter for the States to deal with.
– The Minister for Trade and Customs said that he was afraid nothing could be done, because he did not care to interfere with State rights. My reply to that observation was that it was rather late in the day to think of interfering with State rights. In the absence of the Minister for Trade and Customs, I now desire to mention the matter to the Treasurer with a view to securing his consideration. My connexion with the committee of the Brisbane Hospital for many years has brought under my notice a good deal of information regarding drugs and chemicals, and hospital requisites, which represent a very large item in the expenditure upon medical charities. The Queensland Government subsidize subscriptions raised in aid of hospitals to the extent of £2 to £1, so far as maintenance is concerned, and £1 for £1 in cases where funds are subscribed for building purposes. I do not suppose the Federal Government will be called upon to subsidize the hospitals throughout the Commonwealth, and if they cannot place drugs, chemicals, and hospital requisites upon the free list, they might consider whether they could not make some concession to hospitals in the shape of a discount on their yearly or half-yearly accounts. This matter is worthy of the most favorable consideration.
Sir EDWARD BRADDON (Tasmania). - I shall support the suggestion of the acting leader of the Opposition, and I hope the Treasurer may see his was to adopt it. It is monstrous to charge a duty of 25 per cent, on medicines which are resorted to for the alleviation of the distress of suffering humanity, and which the poorer classes unfortunately have to usein largerrelative quantities than do those who are better able to afford them. No one would dream of calling medicines luxuries.
– Does the honorable member apply his remarks to patent medicines ?
– Why not?
– Weshould prohibit then sale.
– I should not be disposed to do that, as a good many patent medicines are very useful, and meet the cases of those who use them. I understand that the Melbourne Hospital authorities request that consideration should be shown to all medical charities in regard to their medicines and surgical instruments.
– I would point out to the right honorable member for Tasmania that surgical and dental instruments are included in the list of miscellaneous exemptions. I move -
That the words “sulphites and” be inserted after the word “ acids,” and that the words “and malt and hop substitutes “ be omitted
– Where do the Government intend to deal with hop substitutes ?
– We propose to deal with them in the Customs Act itself.
Amendment agreed to.
Amendment (by Sir Edward Braddon) proposed -
That the words “and on and after 26th February, 1902, 15 per cent. “ be added.
-I should like the Government to consider the suggestion which has been made by the honorable member for Oxley. In this connexion I would point out that if differential treatment is not meted out to our hospitals and charitable institutions, the expense of maintaining them will be largely increased by the operation of this Tariff. Such institutions are established for the purpose of assisting the needy in time of trouble, and upon that ground alone, I claim that every consideration should be extended to them. As evidencing the way in which the Tariff in its present form will operate, I need only mention that soon after its introduction one of the leading Sydney hospitals estimated that it would increase the cost of its maintenance by £750 per annum. Honorable members will recognise that that amount represents a very substantial tax. Seeing that these institutions are established for the purpose of alleviating physical suffering, I think that they should be accorded the most generous treatment possible.
– I heartily indorse the remarks of the honorable member for Oxley in connexion with this matter. I may mention that I have had an equally pathetic appeal from the authorities of the Adelaide Hospital, who desire that drugs and chemical preparations used in such institutions shall be exempt from duty. At the same time, I think that this matter could be better dealt with at a later stage, and if no honorable member has. notified, his intention of moving in the direction of placing upon the free list all articles used by our charitable institutions, I will do so now.
– I would urge the honorable member for Oxley to bring this matter up at a later stage. Honorable members will notice that under the heading of “ Miscellaneous exemptions” there is a list dealing with articles specially designed and imported for the use of the blind, deaf, and dumb,” when imported by governing bodies of public institutions having the care thereof.” We can deal with the matter then. But I would point out that we have to consider not only the hospitals which are established in our large cities, but the whole of those institutions throughout the country districts, and country hospitals do not always import their necessaries directly through their governing bodies. They have to purchase most of their articles f rom the local chemists. It would be very difficult, therefore, to mete out differential treatment to such, institutions in the way that has been, suggested.
– There is no doubt that we can best deal with this matter, to which the Minister for Trade andCustoms andmyself have given, a considerable amount of attention, when we are discussing the list of miscellaneous exemptions. Of course, if we could make any concession to our charitable, institutions, we should be very glad to do so. But under any such scheme - as has been pointed out by the honorable and learned member for Darling Downs - complications would be sure to arise. We have been asked that white spirit, and other articles which are used in our hospitals and universities, should be exempt from duty. I doubt very much whether it is within our province to enter upon such a course of action. It seems to me that this is a matter which should be dealt with, by the States themselves. We think it wise to charge, a duty upon thesearticles, and as the States subsidize the hospitals they can, if they deem it advisable, increase their annual subsidies; By allowing the States to deal with this matter we shall avoid the confusion which would inevitably result from the practice of allowing, a refund to be made in thecaseof articles which hadpaid duty and gone, into consumption in our hospitals.
Sir WILLIAM McMILLAN (Wentworth). - I quite agree with the Treasurer that the arrangement suggested by the honorable member for Oxley is not practicable. The Federal Government cannot deal with a matter of purely State origin. But weare surely not here, to grind the last farthing out of every kind of importation entering the Commonwealth. Other considerations must weigh with us. In connexion with a matter affecting the people’s health, we have no right to impose more than, a reasonable revenue duty, and no one will urge that 20 per cent, constitutes such a duty. It is impossible to separate drugs and chemicals from medicines, and uponbroad, humanitarian principles, I think that the proposed duty should be reduced to the lowest passible revenue duty.
– If thequestion of granting consideration, to our hospitals is to be discussed at all, it shouldbe in connexion with item 98. The particular item now under consideration covers very little that is used by hospitals ; and the drugs and chemicals mentioned are, I think, fair subjectc for revenue. There is no question of protection. I am prepared to vote for the imposition of a duty of 20 per cent., or for an even higher duty. Such a tax will not affect any industry in the community; neither will it affect people other than those who drink beer. I trust that the Government proposal will be carried.
– I would pointout to the committee that we are asked to levy the same duty upon drugs and chemicals as it is proposed to charge uponperfumery, although the latter certainly comes within the category of luxuries. The comparison as between perfumery and medicine is absolutely monstrous.
– I will increase the duty upon perfumery to 25 per cent., if the right honorable member wishes.
– I claim that we should not add to the burdens of those who have to use medicines, and upon whom, the hand of fate has been, heavily laid.
– I think the committee are making a mistake in seeking to treat this item as relating purely to medicines. If these chemicals were not used there would befar less need for medicine. They are manufacturing drugs, and a great many of them are very deleterious in their effects. I have no objection, to this item, but I think that the duty on medicine, and what I may call medical drugs, is very high. Perfumery ought to pay a duty of 25 per cent., but the duty on medical drugs might very well be reduced to 15 per cent. We need not give much consideration to the item under discussion. The articles included in it are not needed by the poor or the sick. They are used most largely for fortifying drinks and preserving food. The use of salicylic acid in certain foods has been productive of more harm, and has necessitated the use of more medicine, than has anything else of the kind.
Question -that the words “ and on and after 26th February, 1902, 15 per cent.” be added - put. The committee divided.
Majority … … 16
Question so resolved in the negative.
Item, as amended, agreed to.
Item 97 - Insecticides, sheep-washes, and disinfectants, n.e.i., ad valorem, 15 per cent.
– I do not know whether any honorable member has a prior amendment to propose, but it is my intention to move that sheep-washes be placed on the free list.
– Perhaps it will save time if I inform the honorable member that we have made inquiries, and have no objection to place sheep-washes on the free list. The other articles in the item ought to remain.
Sir WILLIAM McMILLAN (Wentworth). - I desire to move that the whole item be struck out.
– Then we had better take the articles in the item seriatim.
– It seems to me that, especially at this time, when we know the danger of plague, and the necessity for keeping our stock free from disease–
– And our fruit trees.
– And our fruit trees, it is carrying our revenue principles rather far to propose a duty on such an article as this, simply because there happens to’ be such a thing in existence. The principle which guides some honorable members seems, to be that there must be a duty on anything that is imported, without regard to its character, or to its effect upon the health of the people. If there is one item in the Tariff which, on broad humanitarian and utilitarian principles, ought to be allowed to come in free, it is this. For the sake of the health of the people, for the sake of the health of our stock and of our vineyards, anything that can in any way stay disease should’ be allowed to come in free of duty. A discovery which would prevent the spread of all kinds of vermin might be madeat any time by some great scientist in Europe; who naturally would protect his rights. Why should we shut out articles of that kind, which might have a far-reaching effect on our industrial welfare; to say nothing of the lives of individuals. This matter calls for the attention of the whole committee. The idea that, for the sake of one particular class of stock, we should simply eliminate sheep-washes from this item, is, to me, unfair and inequitable. The underlying principle of the Commonwealth is equal dealing with all classes of the community and with all industries ; and it is just as necessary that we should allow insecticide, disinfectants generally, and other articles included in the all-reaching words “n.e.i.,” used in this item, to come in free as it is to allow sheep-washes to be free of duty. As a matter of common sense, all the articles included in this item ought to be free of duty. I move -
That the words “ad valorem, 15 per cent., and on and after 26th February, 1902, free” be inserted after the word “ insecticides.”
– The talk about the health of the community is arrant nonsense. Disinfectants of all descriptions are made here, and we are just as capable of preserving the health of our own people as are any other people.
– Are sheep washes made here?
– I am not referring to sheep-washes, because the Government have agreed that they should come in free.
– Sheep -washes are made here.
– I hope that the same duty will be imposed upon all of these articles.
Mr. BATCHELOR (South Australia).Disinfectants are made here, and sheepwashes are also made here, and if we are going to allow sheep-washes to come in free we should also allow disinfectants to be admitted free. I am not going to draw a line between the pastoralist and other users of disinfectants, to whom it is quite as serious a business to have to use these articles. It the Government are prepared to stick to their original proposal I am prepared to support that.
Mr. SYDNEY SMITH (Parramatta).I hope the right honorable Treasurer will consent to the proposal made by the acting leader of the Opposition. I quite agree with the right honorable gentleman’s action in proposing, to place sheep-washes on the free list, but if that is done it will be most inconsistent if we do not also place disinfectants and insecticides upon the free list. It is most important that every encouragement should be given to the use of insecticides and disinfectants. I give the Treasurer credit for responding as he did to the appeal made to him on behalf of the pastoral industry, but we have sheepwashes as well as disinfectants made in the Commonwealth, and it will be most inconsistent if the committee, having consented, with the concurrence of the Government, to the free admission of sheep-washes, imposes a duty upon insecticides and disinfectants which are largely used for the prevention of various diseases. I trust that the whole of these articles will be placed upon the free list.
– The Treasurer is inclined to accede to the request of the honorable member for New England to place sheep-washes on the free list. I take a similar view of this matter to that expressed by the honorable member for South Australia, Mr. Batchelor, and for that reason I agree with the proposal of the acting leader of the Opposition that all these disinfectants and insecticides should be treated alike. In three of the States I find that disinfectants are placed on the free list.
– I am sorry to hear that the Government have decided to abandon the duty on sheepwashes. I am told that Thomas’ sheep dip is made in Victoria. With respect to disinfectants I point out to the committee that most of the raw materials used in their manufacture have already been taxed under the Tariff.
Mr. G. B. EDWARDS (South Sydney). - I hope the Government will give way and agree to the omission of the duty upon insecticides. It is a matter of very great importance to the Commonwealth, because these insecticides cover all the mixtures and sprays used for the destruction of the insect pests attacking fruit trees and fruit. We know there has been great struggles in every one of the States to preserve orchards from the destruction of these pests, and I make bold to say that there is more money being spent, and there is likely to be much more money spent in the destruction of pests attacking vegetable life than in the prevention of diseases in sheep by the use of sheep-washes. There is little doubt that some form of insecticide will be used in the treatment of diseases affecting animal life also. For instance, we will no doubt discover some insecticide to deal with the Queensland tick. It is our duty to make the tilings which are required to deal with these great evils as cheap at least as sheep-washes. We know that in all the States fruit trees and vegetables of various kinds are attacked from time to time by insect pests and diseases which are most difficult to deal with. The State Governments have gone to no end of trouble and expense in the employment of men of skill and technical knowledge to discover the best form of insecticide to deal with these pests. The information so obtained has been spread broadcast in the States to enable people to cope with these pests, and yet we now propose to put a duty on the very articles of which the State Governments are encouraging the use. We should make them as cheap as we can, and I know of no better way of doing that than by admitting these insecticides free, and so making them available to everybody. In the growth of many vegetables and fruit it is impossible for us to hold our own in Australia without the use of some of these washes and sprays to keep down insect pests, which have in many instances resulted in the throwing of orchards out of cultivation altogether. Anything we can do in the framing of the Tariff which will cheapen these mixtures, washes, and sprays, will have my hearty support.
Mr. HENRY WILLIS (Robertson).Insecticides are very largely manufactured within the Commonwealth, and manufacturers say they can sell them at 25 per cent, cheaper than the imported article. That being the case, I think the right honorable the Treasurer should agree to place insecticides on the same footing as sheep-wash, and let us get on to the next item.
– I agreed to sheep-washes being admitted free for certain good reasons which do not apply to insecticides. As the honorable member for Robertson says, insecticides are being made very largely in the different States, and are being sold considerably cheaper than the imported article. Why should we not impose a duty upon them?
– They are imported free into New South Wales, anu still the local manufacturers can sell at 25 per cent, cheaper than the imported article.
– I am “lad to hear that they can ; but if that be so the imposition of the duty will not prevent their manufacture. We need not spend very much time upon these items, and 1 hope the committee will go to a division at once. I know of no reason why insecticides should not be made here, nor of any reason why a fair duty of 15 per cent, should- not be imposed upon them.
– I hope that the whole of these articles will be placed upon the free list. In every State in the Commonwealth legislation has been passed for the purpose of insisting that certain things shall be done to secure the destruction of insect pests. We have hod meetings and conferences of persons interested in stock raising and fruit-growing, and they have passed resolutions unanimously urging the use of these things to deal with the spread of insect pests and of diseases generally. And yet in the Commonwealth it is now proposed to impose a penalty upon those who use these articles because they are being made here. If the Government allow sheep-wash to be admitted free they will be placed in a very curious position. It certainly looks sus- picious when the Government propose to admit sheep-wash free at the request of one of their supporters who is not particularly interested in the disinfectants and insecticides used for the prevention of diseases other than those attacking sheep. It would be invidious to say that only disinfectants required by those who rear sheep should be placed on the free list, and that other disinfectants and insecticides should be taxed. This is not a simple matter, nor is it a matter which can be put off, and I trust the committee will be prepared to divide upon each of these items unless the Government agree to place’ them all on tlie free list.
Mr. BROWN (Canobolas).- The Government will be well advised if they make their proposal with respect to sheepwashes applicable to the whole of this section. From personal experience of these matters in the central parts of New South Wales, I am in a position to say that there is no comparison between the expenditure by agriculturists and orchardists in this connexion and the expenditure by sheep farmers. In the central districts a large number of land-holders combine pastoral and agricultural pursuits, and they would bear me out in the statement that the expenditure entailed in the purchase of insecticides for the purpose of keeping their crops free from insect and fungoid pests is much heavier than the expenditure entailed in providing sheep-washes and other things for the health of their stock. While I agree that sheep-washes should be placed upon the free list, I think that the producers in the country would be still more greatly helped if insecticides were placed upon the free list, and I trust, therefore, that the Government will agree to the amendment. If it be true that insecticides can be manufactured within the Commonwealth, it is equally true that sheep-washes can be manufactured here ; but if the locally-made insecticides are as good as the imported article there will be no importation.
Amendment agreed to.
Amendment (by Mr. Sawers) agreed to-
That the words, “ wl valorem 1.5 per cent., and on and after 20th February, 1.902, free,” be inserted after the word ‘ Sheep- washes.”
Amendment (by Sir William McMillan) proposed -
That the words, “and on and after 26th February, 1.902, free,” be added to the duty “ Disinfectants, 15 per cent.”
Mr. HUME COOK (Bourke).- It is somewhat unfair to place disinfectants on the free list, in view of the fact that the raw materials- - the drugs and the coal-tar oil - from which they are manufactured, have to pay duty.
– Then recommit the Tariff, and place them upon the free list.
Mr. WATSON (Bland). - I think the honorable member for Bourke is mistaken. Carbolic acid crystals are the principal article used in the manufacture of disinfectants, and they are admitted free.
Mr. WILKS (Dalley). - I would point out to the Treasurer that, in New South Wales, Queensland, and Western Australia, disinfectants have hitherto been on the free list, and, as the State Governments and municipal authorities spend thousands of pounds each year in the purchase of carbolic acid and other disinfectants for sanitary purposes, it is advisable to accept the amendment. The fact that the plague is rampant in one part of the Commonwealth is another reason for admitting disinfectants free, because the probability is that, unless strong measures are taken, it will not be confined to any one place. As the honorable member for Bland has pointed out, carbolic acid crystals are now admitted free. By placing a duty of 15 per cent. upon that article, the Treasurer will be aiming a blow at industries like the soap industry, in which.it is largely used. It is also used as a preservative. I think that we should enable the people to obtain the most effective disinfectants at the lowest prices, and, therefore, I shall vote for the amendment.
– I think that the Minister might accept the decision of the committee in regard to insecticides and sheep-washes as applying also to disinfectants. If it. is desirable to enable people to obtain insecticides cheaply, so that they may keep their crops free of disease, and sheep-washes cheaply to enable them to preserve the health of their flocks, surely they should be able to obtain as cheaply as possible disinfectants to check the spread of diseases which attack human lives? If it be argued that disinfectants are made here, and therefore, according to the protectionist doctrine, no matter what the result to the community, the imported article should be taxed, I would point out that the same argument applies to insecticides and sheep-washes ; but it was not considerediby the committee to have anyforce in this connexion. The committeehave practically said to the manufacturers - “ Unless, without a duty, you can make insecticides and sheep-washes equal to the imported article, you will have to give up, because the danger of the diseases which these things are meant to counteract is so great that we cannot place any duty upon their importation.” The same ground, I think, must be taken in regard to disinfectants. If any of the articles which are used in the manufacture of disinfectants are now subject to duty, the Tariff can be recommitted to have them placed upon the free list. We, on this side, however, have done our best to have them admitted free.
– The argument of the honorable member for North Sydney, that because disinfectants are used for the protection of the health of the community they should be placed upon the free list, would apply equally well to drugs, chemicals, soap, and everything used in connexion with sanitation.
– Hear, hear.
– I do not think the committee would allow the honorable member to carry out his views to that extent. We have built up a large industry here Many factories are engaged in making disinfectants, and it would be a great pity if they should be wiped out. The, honorable member for Dalley stated that, in some of the States, disinfectants have been admitted free. In Victoria the duty has been 25 per cent., in South Australia 10. per cent., and in Tasmania 20 per cent. We might very fairly adopt the rate which has been in force in Tasmania. I ask honorable members who previously voted against a. duty on insecticides to see that here there is an altogether different principle at stake, and that there is a sufficient difference between the two divisions to justify them in voting with the Government on this occasion.
Question - that the words “and on and after 26th February, 1902, free” be added to the duty “disinfectants, ad valorem, 15 per cent.” - put. The committee divided.
Majority … … 8
Question so resolved in the affirmative.
Item, as amended, agreed to.
Item 98. - Medicines, viz. : - Patent and proprietary medicines, and other medicinal compounds ; non-spirituous medicinal extracts, essences, juices, infusions, solutions, and syrups; pills, pilules, tabloids, tablets, capsules, cachets, suppositories, plasters, poultices, salves, ointments, liniments, non-spirituous, powders, pastes, medicated confectionery, medicinal waters and oils, n.e.i. ; and medicines for animals, adcalorem 25 per cent.
Sir WILLIAM McMILLAN (Wentworth). - I feel very strongly on this item. I hold that medicines ought to be practically free. I know that there is a feeling with regard to the first article of patent and proprietary medicines. Some honorable members, no doubt, will draw a line between patent and other kinds of medicines, but I submit that the brains of a man. deserve to be recognised. We might have a cure for one of the greatest scourges that afflict humanity discovered and patented by some great man in Europe. It would be a monstrous thing if a patent were discovered for consumption or cancer, that there should’ be a duty on an article which the whole world would receive with open arms as a great boon to mankind. While there may be a prejudice against many patent medicines, of which no doubt some are very deleterious, and others perfectly harmless, still, nobody is obliged to take them. It is not like an article which one must wear or eat, and on which he is bound to pay a duty whether he likes it or not. It shocks my feelings that there should be a duty imposed on articles which are necessary to the health of the great mass of the people.
Mr. G. B. EDWARDS (South Sydney). - I would urge the Treasurer to divide the item, and to deal first with proprietary and patent medicines. I should be perfectly willing to vote for the duty upon those articles, and afterwards support a very considerable reduction upon other classes of medicines. This would meet the views of those honorable members who desire to make some concession to charitable institutions. As has been pointed out, it is utterly impossible for the Commonwealth to make any distinction, in their favour without incurring the utmost danger of abuses. Even if we were to safeguard ourselves in this respect, many of the minor institutions which deserve and require quite as much help as do the larger ones, would not derive any advantage, because they would not import their drugs and chemicals direct. The suggestion that exemptions should be made in favour of charitable institutions is unworkable; but if we reduce the duty upon what may be called medical drugs, we shall go a long way towards meeting the views of those who desire to assist the hospitals. Proprietary medicines are subject to stamp duty in England, and I do not see why the whole of the revenue derived should go to the country in which the medicines are manufactured. The patent medicines known to be really valuable, and which are not capable of being prepared in some other form, might be counted upon the fingers of one hand. There are many valuable patent medicines which can be made up by local chemists, who know all the ingredients they contain, although they are precluded by the law from selling them under the names by which they are generally known. I do not believe in patent medicines, and if their introduction into the Commonwealth were prohibited, it would not affect me ; but there are a great number of people who have faith in them, and who derive good from them.
Mr. WATSON (Bland). - I think the Government are quite justified in expecting to derive a large revenue from proprietary medicines. The honorable member for Wentworth spoke of a certain amount of good being derived from the use of proprietary medicines. But I think the evidence of medical men generally throughout the Commonwealth would show that there is more harm done by the use of those medicines than by any other means. Although in some few instances proprietary medicines may be of value from the medicinal standpoint, the advertisements published in regard to the great majority of them have the effect’ of persuading a great number of people that they are in a bad state of health, and of inducing them to take medicines which do them great harm. Some people read advertisements describing various symptoms as indicating ill-health, and feel ill immediately. In addition to that there is no doubt that the Treasurer is correct in saying that, with regard to nearly all of these medicines, there is no proportion between the cost of preparation and the price at which they are sold to the public. Therefore a 25 per cent, duty possibly may not amount to more than 10 per cent, on the selling price.
Sir EDWARD BRADDON (Tasmania). . - Honorable members seem to entertain the idea that all the medicines included under this item are used exclusively by those who prescribe for themselves. Unfortunately, I have had experience of the use of some of these medicines, and I know that many of them are prescribed .by doctors attending people in various illnesses. I wish also to point out that tabloids, tablets, capsules, and cachets are imported, in addition to the infusions spoken of by the honorable member for Bland. I doubt whether many of these articles are manufactured locally.
That the words, “ aci calorem 25 per cent., and on and after 26th of February, 1902, 13 percent.,” be inserted after the words, “Patent and proprietary medicines.”
Mr. THOMSON (North Sydney). - There may be some good reason for differentiating between the duty upon proprietary and patent- medicines and that upon other medicines ; but I should like’ to point out to the Treasurer that the imposition of:a 25 per cent, rate -upon patent and proprietary medicines will have no effect upon the manufacturers of such articles, and. very little effect upon the revenue. If an article which is sold at ls. costs only £d., what possible effect can the imposition of the proposed duty have upon its cost or selling price? But if there are patent medicines which;cost a considerable proportion of their selling price, the cost of those medicines to the consuming public will be raised. The proper way to reach the proprietary medicines which have been spoken of is by levying a stamp duty upon them - a duty that is based upon their selling price, and not upon their original cost. Therefore, I support a reduction .of the proposed duty. But I wish specially to point out to the Treasurer that we -have no definition of the term “proprietary medicines,” and we- ought to have one. I have in my’ hand a- communication from a well-known firm of manufacturing druggists, stating that they are being charged 25 per cent.;upon their, goods. They add that they are not patent medicines, nor nostrums, nor secret preparations, but genuine standardized drugs according to the Pharmacopaeia. It is surely not the desire of the Treasurer that articles which are in the Pharmacopaeia, which any one can manufacture, but in connexion with which certain firms have a special reputation, should be charged the same rate of duty as are proprietary articles.
Mr. SYDNEY SMITH (Macquarie).I wish to point out the difficulty of discriminating between the different classes of medicines covered by this item. I should like to know from the Treasurer what he would class as proprietary medicines, and how the Customs distinguish between proprietary and other medicines 1
– It would be easy to discriminate between them in
England, because they are registered there, but there is no system of registration in the Commonwealth. I agree with the honorable member for Bland that there should be some system of registration. We ought to know from the Treasurer what interpretation is placed by the Customs department upon the word “ proprietary.” A suggestion has been made that we should divide this item, classing patent and proprietary medicines together. That I think would be wrong. I am told by members of the medical profession, who ought to know something about the subject, that at the present time there is a great tendency on the part of every person who makes a discovery in medi.cine to patent it, and that some of the most important medicines used for dispensing purposes are patented.
– Not used for dispensing purposes.
– I am not a professional man, but professional men have told me within the last hour or two that patent medicines are used for dispensing purposes. The fact that a medicine is patented shows that it is an important discovery, and -when doctors prescribe it, as they do in many cases, we ought to encourage its use rather than attempt .to prevent its importation. It would be far better to deal with proprietary and patent medicines separately. I think I shall be able to show that there is a great difference between the two which ought to be fairly considered by the committee. A “ Proprietary medicine” is usually a medicine that is advertised to cure everything, although perhaps it will not cure anything. I have here a list of recently-discovered remedies, manufactured in Europe under patented processes, and imported’ in bulk for dispensing purposes. It comprises 28 different kinds of patented medicines, prescribed continually by the medical profession. Therefore, they are not quack medicines. I have obtained this information from one of the most reliable professional men in Melbourne, and he states that -
This list is added to monthly by new discoveries. The methods of manufacture are always disclosed in the patented specifications.
It would hardly be fair for the committee to come to a determination upon the broad question submitted, and to class patent with proprietary medicines. I know that there is a certain prejudice against proprietary medicines. It is possible that some of them may be useful for certain purposes, although I must admit that I doubt the wisdom of using them on many occasions ; but there can be no doubt about the list of articles to which I have just referred. ‘ i understand that the right honorable member for Tasmania, Sir Edward Braddon, has moved that the -duty on patent and proprietary medicines be reduced to 15 per cent. I would ask him to omit from his amendment any reference to the word “proprietary,” and to let us test the question first on patent medicines.
– I am willing to do that.
– There is great difficulty in ascertaining how the Customs house authorities interpret the word “ medicines “ generally. Some time ago I recommended to the Treasurer that medicines containing a:certain quantity of spirit should be dealt with in the way in which they had previously been treated in New South Wales, and on lines very similar to those formerly adopted in Victoria. The Treasurer accepted that suggestion, and it was accepted by the committee. In New South Wales the term ““medicines “ is usually interpreted in one way. The Customs authorities find out first of all what would be the amount of duty obtained by classing it as spirits, and when they discover that they can obtain more by classing it under the 25 per cent, rate, they charge the higher duty. I know of one case in which the duty, if assessed according to the suggestion which I made to the Treasurer, and which was accepted by the committee, would have amounted to £2 12s. 6d. The Customshouse authorities, however, practically altered the decision arrived at by the committee on that occasion by charging duty amounting to £10 19s. 2d.
– -What was the medicine?
– It was “Ipeca,” prescribed largely by medical nien. There should be no room for doubt as to the decisions of this committee.
– Has the matter been brought under the notice of the Minister, so that it may be investigated ?
– It has been brought under the notice oi the authorities, but no satisfaction can be obtained. I am bringing it forward now for that reason, and also as an illustration of the danger of dealing with this item in the way proposed.
– The Customs Act provides that the higher rate is to be charged when there are two duties relating to the game article.
– But my suggestion was adopted subsequent to the passing of the Customs Act. I mention the fact to show that the committee should be careful before they come to a general decision upon such a subject ; and because I think the Treasurer should describe what he means by “proprietary medicines “ and “ patent medicines.” I could give good reasons why some patent medicines have a better right to be placed upon the free list than other medicines. The proprietors of these patent medicines, hold the patent rights, and they therefore cannot be prepared here. They a re used by the medical profession by themselves, and in combination with other medicines, for the purpose of curing diseases which were found to be incurable before the discovery of these patent medicines. We have agreed to place sheepwashes on the free list, and surely we should have as much care for human beings as for stock.
Sir WILLIAM McMILLAN (Wentworth). - The debate has shown that there is a good deal of ambiguity about this item, and I think members of the committee really do nob understand the full scope of what is called “patent medicine.” There are a large number of medicines which are really patented, but are used by medical men in compounding mixtures, and the general prejudice against what are called “patent medicines “is, I believe, confined to various quackeries made up into pills, and universally advertised. We are very liable in directing a blow against these obj ectionable compounds, to strike a blow at the same time at legitimate medicines. I think, therefore, that the Minister should describe what he means by “ proprietary medicines,” and it is just as necessary that we should know what is meant by “ patent medicines,” and that by imposing a duty upon “ patent medicines “ we are imposing a tax, not only upon these quackeries, but upon genuine medicines to be found in the Pharmacopreia. I would ask the honorable member for Tasmania to separate the item “patent medicines.”
– By leave of the committee, I will amend my amendment so as to make it apply only to patent medicienes.
Amendment amended accordingly.
– I think all these things should be admitted free. I am a living witness to the efficacy of patent medicines. I came out to this country to die, and I know for a fact that patent medicines have absolutely saved me. Why should the West Coast pioneers have to pay an extra amount for the medicines they use in order to increase the wealth of a few local pillmakers? We ought to carefully consider the lives of. the people. There are hundreds of people who are unable to pay for doctors, but they are able to get a bottle of painkiller, a box of pills, or a flask ofFellowe’s syrup. We have agreed to admit medicine used for cattle free, and let us make medicine used by human beings free also. Every advance in the medical world has been made by the patient and not by the doctor. A doctor finds a patient a bit sick, and he says “keep him quiet, don’t give him water,” and the patient gets hold of a bucket of water, drinks it, bursts into a perspiration, and is well the next day in spite of the doctor. Let the people themselves be the judges of whether they want to take patent medicines, or the doctor’s prepared medicines. Some of the most skilful men in the world are engaged in the United States making patent medicines, which have had a wonderfully efficacious effect upon the human family. There are thousands of men and women everywhere to-day enjoying good health who would have been planted deep in the earthbefore now had it not been for these patent medicines. I would be glad if the right honorable member for Tasmania, Sir Edward Braddon, would move that they should be admitted free. I would support such an amendment.
Mr. V. L. SOLOMON (South Australia). - I desire toexpress my agreement with the amendment. I think a duty of 15 per cent, upon patent medicines is sufficient for revenue purposes. I resided for a good many years in a part of the country where there was no medical man, and no drug store, and I know that miners in various mining centres are entirely dependent upon such well-known remedies as Cockle’s pills, ohlorodyne, pain killer, and various mixtures which come under the head of patent medicines, but which have been approved by the medical faculty for years. The people who use these remedies are the hard-working classes, and they are entitled to a good deal of consideration. In the back country people are dependent entirely in time of sickness upon patent medicines, including patent mixtures of quinine for fever, and various other remedies, and a duty of 25 per cent, upon these medicines is a tax which should not be imposed upon this class of people. The better known patent medicines are used almost entirely by the working classes, not only in the back blocks, where they cannot get medical attendance, but in our larger cities. Going to a doctor means a fee of 7s. 6d. or 10s. 6d., and they can get a bottle of medicine ready to their hand at a comparatively low cost that will cure their simple ailments. It will be a great hardship upon these people if they are penalized to the extent of 25 per cent, upon the imported cost of the medicines they use, because there is no doubt that in this case the consumer will have to pay the duty. As has already been pointed out, there is in operation in America and England a stamp tax, by which a duty of something like 12½ per cent, is imposed upon many of these preparations, and that has to be added to the cost of these medicines. It is very unfair on the top of that to propose a further duty of 25 per cent., or really a duty of 27½ per cent., because 10 per cent, is added to the invoice value first of all, to cover various charges. This charge will fall upon those who, owing to their poverty or distance from a medical attendant or chemist’s shop, are bound to rely upon these patent medicines. Every little country store keeps these simple remedies, and can supply chlorodyne, Cockle’s pills, Fryar’s balsam, and such preparations. I am not talking about the much advertised nostrums, which are supposed to cure everything, from a broken leg to fits, but of medicines which have been tried and approved by the medical faculty for half a century. I shall support the amendment.
Sir EDWARD BRADDON (Tasmania). - I very readily acceded to the request to separate these items in my amendment, but some little difficulty arises from their separation. We are now asked to place patent medicines under a duty of only 15 percent. , but it has been abundantly shown by the honorable member for Macquarie and other honorable members that these patented medicines are prescribed by the medical profession in the same way, and in the same degree, as drugs which are introduced to be compounded within the Commonwealth. If we admit free drugs which are to be compounded here, we should also admit free these patented medicines, which are prescribed by the profession.
– How are we to discriminate between those which are prescribed by medical men and other patented medicines ?
– It has been shown that the great bulk of patented medicines are prescribed by the profession, and there is as good reason for admitting them free as there is for admitting other medicines free. I moved that the whole of the items in this line should be made subject to a duty of 15 per cent. I do not wish to back and fill upon my proposition, but I have assented to separating this item, and moving that it should be subject to a duty of 15 per cent. If any honorable member moves to put these medicines upon the free list, I think I shall abandon my amendment and agree to his.
Mr. G. B. EDWARDS (South Sydney). - I think that the point raised by the honorable member for Macquarie has given rise to a misunderstanding, and that what the honorable member referred to are drugs made by patented processes. It is not the drug itself that is patented, but the process. I do not think that oases can be cited in which medical men have prescribed what are known as patent medicines - somebody’s blood pills or liver mixture. But they do prescribe patented drugs, because of the greater purity obtained by the patented processes by which those drugs are obtained.
– What about anti-pyrine ?
– That is a drug, and a drug is altogether a different thing from a patent medicine. I understand that the Customs authorities are usually guided in their decisions by the interpretation placed upon names in commercial circles, and if the Customs department levy a duty upon a drug like anti-pyrine, because it is produced by a patented process, they are doing wrong, since it is not a patent medicine according to the commercial interpretation of the term. What we want to tax are the patent medicines which depend so much for their success upon the money spent in . advertising them. Notwithstanding what some honorable members have said about the benefits which the public obtain by taking these patented nostrums, I think that on the whole they would be better off if they paid for medical advice, and followed the prescriptions of the doctors. According to the proverb, a man who is* his own lawyer has a fool for his client, and I think that very often a man who is his own doctor has a dying man for his patient. Immense sums of money have been made by selling patent medicines, and they are a fair subject for taxation. “If the Government will separate patent medicines’ from other medicines, I shall vote for the imposition of a duty of 25 per cent, upon them, in the hope that the duty upon drugs and other medicines will be reduced so as to bring them within the reach of the poorer classes.
Mr. SAWERS (New England).- I regard it . as a personal misfortune that I have been compelled to vote against the Government on two or three occasions during this sitting, but I feel that medicines are things upon which we should place but a very small duty, if any duty at all.
– The duty applies only to medicines which are imported made up ready for use ; drugs come in free.
– That makes very little difference to my mind. Surely it should be the object of Parliament to make medicine as cheap as possible, whatever else we may tax. I have heard a sort of condemnation of patent and proprietary medicines tonight, but I know from experience in the back-blocks, extending over 30 years, that medicines such as Cockle’s pills, pain-killer, chlorodyne, balsam of aniseed, and Carter’s pills are very beneficial to the people.
– But look at the enormous fortunes which the manufacturers have made.
– I do not mind that, if the medicines have done good to the people. If a man patents a medicine which will help the sick and infirm, he well deserves any fortune he may gain by the sale of it. When I first went out into the back country, wa were 200 miles from the nearest doctor, and in many cases if persons sent for a doctor, the only person available might be an incapable fellow, who would do them no good. But, in the absence of doctors, patent” medicines have saved the lives of- ‘a great many, and I myself have been able to’ avoid a severe illness by using them. I have known such severe epidemics of influenza to break out at shearing time that almost every man in the shed has been down with it, and the only remedies those men could get were patent medicines. Every station store must keep a supply of these remedies. Do honorable members mean to say that patent medicines are not a blessing to the population on a new goldfield 1 I shall not vote for the imposition of a duty of 25 per cent, on articles which are so much used by the shearers and diggers of the country.
– The honorable member has voted to tax other things which they use.
– I have known patent medicines to prove so beneficial to people to whom medical advice was not available, and who without them might have died a miserable death, that, although I am friendly to the Government, I cannot vote for the proposed duty.
– I agree with the honorable member for New England that we should not place a heavy duty upon patent medicines. People do not buy them because they like them, or because they are cheap, but because they require them.
– They will not have to pay any more for them if we impose the duty, because .the storekeepers will continue to sell them at the present prices.
– I believe that if we impose duties upon drugs, the chemists will still make out their prescriptions at the same prices, but I do not think that that applies to patent medicines. If the storekeepers have to pay 25 per cent, for the patent medicines which they buy, they will charge the amount on to the consumers, just as the duty is charged to the consumers in the case of other articles. The Government seem to have proposed this duty simply because they know that they have a majority behind them, and without advancing any reason in support of their action. It cannot be claimed that patent medicines are luxuries - they are necessaries ; and the instances brought forward by the honorable member for New England should appeal to the Minister. The people in the back-blocks have no other remedies against diseases and fevers than these patent medicines.
– It would appear, from the speeches which have been made, that those sitting upon the left of the Chairman are in favour of people being healthy, and that those who support the Government desire that people should remain sick. When an appeal is made to any assembly ostensibly in defence of the weak, the infirm, or the sick, it always touches a chord to which there is ready response.
– So it should.
– So it should; and if honorable members had stated their case a little more competently they would have obtained a much better response. The question before us, however, is really whether compounds of drugs should be sent here ready for use, or shouldbe made up here. When the Federal Tariff was declared, an American firm which had been sending large quantities of patent medicines into this market, sent a staff of twelve competent men to Sydney to manufacture their preparations there. Is it not as well, when we can have industries of this kind in our midst, to establish them here % In every community there are various sections who are specially fitted to be hewers of wood and drawers of wafer, miners, farmers, traders, professional men, and so on, but there is also a small section who are specially fitted for the occupation of chemists, and I should like to see some of the youth of Australia have an opportunity to go into that class of work, just as I should like to see their able-bodied brothers have an opportunity of engaging in work requiring a greater expenditure of physical power. I do not think it is necessary to go into the merits of patent medicines. I have never taken them ; I have never wanted them: There may be some honorable members who have been nourished on patent medicines, and to these they may be valuable. The question is whether patent medicines can be made up in Australia, and that is not a question of health.
– The question we ought to consider is not the interests of a few persons who may be employed in making up patent medicines, but the interests of the great consumers in the Commonwealth. It is certainly not for us to consider the interests of the small minority to whom the honorablemember for Richmond referred. He talked of about a dozen men, but on this side we are talking of millions of people. I should like toknow why it is that the Government have imposed a duty of 25 per cent, on medicines, when such commodities as perfumery and fancy goods are charged 20 per cent. If there is a single article that should be taxed at a low rate it is medicine, which is used so much by the sick throughout the Commonwealth. In the Tariff there is scarcely a single percentage duty higher than 25 per cent., and it seems very extraordinary that the Government should have picked out medicines for a tax as high as any other percentage duty which is imposed. Twenty-five per cent, is an extraordinarily high duty to impose on an article like medicine, and I shall vote with the honorable member for Tasmania.
Mr. POYNTON (South Australia).- The honorable member for Richmond has not given one vote in the direction of making anything free, and therefore it would be useless to try to convince him that we have a good cause in seeking to place medicines on the free list. Were he sitting on this side of the Chamber he would be one of those who would rail against the Government for proposing this impost. He is acquainted with the requirements of Station life in the back country, and whether he takes patent medicines or not, he knows that in many instances they have been the means of saving human life. A large number of persons have great faith in the use of patent medicines, and some of these medicines are very good. The least the Government might do is toagree to the imposition of a duty of 15 per cent, on an article which is largely used in every part of the back country of the Commonwealth, and in many of the towns, too.
Mr. SYDNEY SMITH (Macquarie).It has been pointed out by the honorable member for South Sydney that the different medicines I mentioned are not prescribed by doctors in the ordinary way. I have a list of about twenty different medicines which doctors prescribe to their patients. We all know that the patent rights of anti-pyrine have expired, but trional is now prescribed by doctors in cases of insomnia.
– I have taken it.
– No doubt it was prescribed for the Treasurer by his medical adviser.
– I had a bottle sent to me ; it cost me nothing.
– The right honorable gentleman admits that no ill effects resulted from his trial of trional.
A duty of 25 per cent, was levied on a consignment of this medicine only a few days ago. Why should the Treasurer include with a lot of quack medicines a medicine which he admits was so good that he had to try it, not once but more than once?
– It saved his life.
– I dare say its use went a long way towards saving the Treasurer’s life. It is not fair to treat all these medicines alike. The honorable memfor New England made a capital speech from the country point of view. He knows well that in many country districts, unless sick persons could obtain patent medicines, there would be a very poor look out for them. Unlike city men they have not the advantage of being able to get the best medical men to attend them at a few moments’ notice. They are suddenly seized with illness like the Treasurer was, but he had the benefit of medical attendance and he was ordered to take a patent medicine. Why should not men in country districts have the opportunity to use a medicine which he has used ? In the country there may not be a chemist’s shop within a hundred miles of a man’s house. In the New England electorate I have travelled a hundred miles without seeing a chemist’s shop. A patent medicine would not be patented unless it was of some benefit to the user. We have placed on the free list sheep-washes, to enable the sheepfarmers to cure their sheep of disease ; insecticides, to enable orchardists to destroy the insects on their trees ; and disinfectants, to prevent diseases spreading to human beings. Why cannot we go a step further, and give sick people an opportunity to use the best medicines which can be produced at a reasonable cost? My opinion is that these medicines should be free of duty. A duty of 25 per cent. on medicines is a very serious taxon the hospitals, which are doing good work in the community. I hope that the committee will be consistent, and place medicineson the free list.
– I should like to know from the Treasurer whether he considers this in the light of a protective or a revenue duty.
– A protective duty. Sick people will have to wait until an industry is established, and in the meantime perhaps hundreds of persons will die.
– If it is regarded as a protective duty we can understand the reason why the Government are fighting for its retention. The moment it is shown that the revenue from a duty goes into the Treasury, that moment the Government betray a reckless indifference as to whether it is retained or not - at all events they are always willing to listen and hear arguments on both sides ; but, the moment it is shown that money is diverted into the pockets of a few persons, there arises an outcry on their behalf, and the Government stiffen their back, showing a resolution worthy of a very much better cause. We have a large number of people outside this particular coterie to consider. Persons as a rule do not take medicine when they are well. The few isolated individuals who do hardly enter into our consideration. The people we have to consider are those who take medicine when they are ill. We are asked to deny them the right to take a particular class of medicine. I do not approve of many of the patent or proprietary medicines. But it is quite different when a man is persuaded that a certain medicine will do him good. The mind has such an effect upon the body, that it is better for him to take the medicine in which he believes, rather than another which might be more efficacious under ordinary circumstances. The Government should consider the large class who use patent and proprietary medicines.
Mr. WILKS (Dalley).- The reduction of the duty upon patent medicines has been urged by some honorable members in the interests of country residents, whilst other honorable members have pointed out that it is only those who are ill who use these preparations. As a rule, those who use patent medicines are poor in pocket, in addition to being poor in health ; this applies to the working men in the towns and cities, as well as to those who live in the country. Patent medicines are to be found upon the shelves of every cottage, and there is no doubt that they are frequently taken with good effect. A great many patent medicines may be rubbish, but that affords no reason for treating all of them as deleterious. When we find that a duty of only 20 per cent, is imposed upon complexion powders and other luxuries, it is difficult to understand why a 25 per cent, duty should be placed upon articles which are in everyday use by the poorer classes. The present duty is excessive, whether it be proposed for revenue, or for protective purposes, and as many people derive great benefit from the use of patent medicines, they should be placed within the reach of the public as cheaply as possible.
Question - That the words “ad valorem 25 per cent, and on and after 26th February, 1902, 15 per cent.” be inserted after the word “Patent” - put. The committee divided.
Majority … … … 2
Question so resolved in the affirmative.
Amendment agreed to.
It will be necessary to make the other amendments I have mentioned, and I think there are one or two matters which honorable members desire to bring forward before I propose the addition of words which will have the effect of reducing the duty to 15 per cent, all round. In the meantime I move -
That the words “non-chemical” be inserted after the words “ medicinal compounds.”
Amendment agreed to.
Mr. HUME COOK (Bourke). - On behalf of the honorable member for Melbourne, who is unfortunately called away this evening, I have to submit a case for the consideration of the Treasurer. It appears that some injustice is being inflicted in connexion with the duty upon extracts and essences, owing to what was done: when stimulants were dealt with. The committee have provided in Division I that essences, extracts,&c, shall be dutiable at a certain rate. But they are also made dutiable under this division. Indeed, they have been dealt with in three different ways, and hence a difficulty has arisen. What I wish to point out is that imported essences will be taxed upon their spirituous, contents solely, whereas the compounds made up within the Commonwealth will be required to pay excise duty upon the spirits used in their manufacture, besides bearing a duty upon nearly every other element in their composition. Thus we are actually giving a bonus to the importer as against the local manufacturer, because while the former is charged upon the spirituous contents of the bottle, the latter has to pay upon his spices, gingers, chillies, preservatives, bottles, and corks. What I suggest is that the Government should consider the whole question of the duty upon essences with a view to recommitting the item. I make this suggestion with the concurrence of the honorable member for Melbourne and other honorable members. It is very unfair that the manufacturers should be placed at a disadvantage in this respect. What I have said is not only true in regard to essences, but it is also true to a large extent in regard to perfumery. I wish also to point out that essential oils, though specially exempt in the Tariff, can be charged duty as medicinal oils.
Mr. SYDNEY SMITH (Macquarie).-I pointed out on a previous occasion that under the head of “ stimulants “ certain essences and spirituous compounds were charged duty according to their spirituous strength. At that time it was clearly understood that the course adopted in New South Wales would foe followed here. Indeed the Treasurer readily agreed to make the duty chargeable dependent upon the quantity of spirits which such compounds contained. I find, however, from a list which I have in my hand that that course has not been followed. The Customs authorities in some cases have assessed the duty upon the percentage of spirits contained in the articles referred to, but where they could obtain more revenue by placing them under a different section, they have not hesitated to act accordingly.
That the word “ powders “ be omitted.
Amendment agreed to.-
Amendment (by Sir George Turner) proposed -
That the words, “ and on and after 26th February, 1902, 15 per cent.” be added.
Mr. V. L. SOLOMON (South Australia). - I am in receipt- of a communication from one of the leading chemists in’ South Australia, having reference to precisely the same point as has been raised .by. the. honorable member for Bourke. The -firm in- . question complain that they have ‘been - charged at the full rate of . 14s.’ ‘ per ‘* gallon, upon chemical tinctures, which, under. ‘the, South Australian Tariff, were admitted, at a- ‘much lower duty. My correspondent-states that he has just cleared 26£ gallons .of ( tincture, upon which, under the_ South Australian Tariff,, -the duty would have been £3. Now, however, he has been compelled to pay £19, which seems an extortionate charge. These tinctures are used solely for medicinal purposes. While the Treasurer is looking into the question, I will obtain the details, so. that.. when the item is re-committed he may take into consideration the hardship inflicted on chemists and others by this tremendous duty on medicinal tinctures.
Amendment agreed ‘to.
That the following words be added to the item : - “Opium, medical preparations containing, on and after 26th February, 1902, 30s. per lb. ob opium contained therein, when not dutiable at a higher “rate Under the heading of ‘medicines:’ “
That is to say, we will charge the duty of 30s. per lb. only on the proportion of opium contained in the compound, but the lowest rate will be that provided for medicines, namely, 15 .per cent. So .far as l ean see, a provision of that kind will meet the difficulty. It seems to be fair.
Sir EDWARD BRADDON (Tasmania). - I think the Treasurer has proposed a fair way of dealing with this question. Although there may be others, I can conceive only of [one medicine that would be introduced which would carry a higher duty than 15pe’r cent.
I refer to laudanum. The quantity of opium contained in laudanum would possibly be something like 15 per cent.
Amendment agreed to.
Item, as amended, agreed to.
Item 99. Perfumery, including perfumed ammonia, camphor in blocks or tablets, toilet preparations, non-spirituous, perfumed or not ; lanoline, glycerine, vaseline and petroleum jelly not medicated, ad valorem, 20 per cent.
Sir. WILLIAM McMILLAN (Wentworth). - I do not think that the committee will be inclined to cavil at the proposal toplace a duty of 20 per cent, on perfumery, but I would point out that there is a somewhat incongruous mixture of articles in this item. For instance, I take it that perfumery refers to eau de cologne and essences and so on, but in this item we have camphor in blocks or tablets, and a number of other things which are really medicinal articles. There are such articles as lanoline, glycerine, vaseline, and petroleum jelly–
Mr. CROUCH (Corio).- I wish to make a distinction between pure and impure glycerine by inserting the word “pure” before the word “ glycerine.” Pure glycerine is imported as a toilet preparation and should pay duty, but impure glycerine which is necessary for several of our manufactures, is a by-product of soap and candlemaking. Impure glycerine is made here, but there is not a sufficient demand for it locally, and instead of being imported, it is actually being exported at the present time. But those who produce it here charge local manufacturers of cordite, who require it, a price almost equal to that which would have to be paid for the imported article plus the full duty. I have a letter from the
Australian Explosives and Chemical Company Limited, which sets forth that -
Glycerine, to begin, with, is not a revenueproducing item.
Australia produces and exportsit, as the Customs statistics readily show, and importations are on a small scale for special medicinal purposes only. The effect of the duty -
And this is where the Treasurer should be with me - is merely to enable the local manufacturers to get an enhanced price for this article, which is a by-product of soap-and-candle-making. One would think that Australian producers of glycerine would be content to take from Australian consumers such a price as obtains in London, less the cost of transporting thither, but unfortunately this is not our experience. For instance, the present value of dynamite glycerine - as the quality we use is termed in the trade - is £43 per ton in Europe, while we cannot buy here at less than £52. The Australian producer ofglycerine knows that we must buy from him unless we import, and, therefore, makes bis price to us just something less than it would cost us to import.
Impure glycerine is absolutely necessary in the manufacture of cordite and certain explosives. The duty is of no advantage to the local manufacturer for protective purposes. Its only advantage is, that it enables him to supply local consumers at a price a little below what it -would cost to import the article, and thus prevent them from buying from London. It enables the local producers of glycerine to form a little trust.
That the word “pure” be inserted before the word “glycerine.”
Mr. KIRWAN (Kalgoorlie).- I call the attention of the Minister to the fact that included amongst these items is camphor in blocks or tablets. I understand that ordinary camphor is on the free list, and the only difference between them is that in this case the camphor is compressed into blocks. With reference to lanoline, vaseline, and petroleum jelly, I believe they are used as the basis of ointments, and really ought to be placed upon the same footing as medicines. I understand that with the exception of glycerine none of these preparations are made in Australia.
Sir EDWARD BRADDON (Tasmania). - The Treasurer knows that I am supporting him on this item, but I would like to do so with some reason, and I think he might very well omit the reference to camphor.
Mr. SYDNEY SMITH (Macquarie).Under the -heading of “ perfumery,” I find that camphor in blocks is charged a duty at the rate of 20 per cent., and yet the oil, which, I am informed, is made from these blocks may be imported under a duty of 15 per cent. I think it would be better if the Treasurer could see his way to make some alterations in this proposal which would make it consistent with other sections of the Tariff which have. already been agreed to by the committee.
Mr. V. L. SOLOMON (South Australia.) - It does seem absurd that having just passed the whole of the articles under item 98 with a duty of 15 per cent.,« we should now be asked to put such simple lines as glycerine, vaseline, lanoline, petroleum jelly, and camphor in blocks and tablets at a higher rate of duty. They are all on precisely the same basis as medicinal compounds, non-spirituous medicinal extracts, essences, juices, infusions,tablets,and tabloids referred to in the previous item. What is this camphor but a medicinal, extract in a tabloid form? The camphor in blocks and tablets referred to here is the same as the camphor in rough blocks, except that for convenience of sale it is supplied in small square tablets about two inches square by from halfaninch to three - quarters of an inch in thickness. Glycerine, vaseline, and petroleum jelly are all medicinal preparations used in nearly every household for cuts, sun burns, chapped hands, and the little scalp troubles of children. They are on exactly the same footing as the other medicines upon which we have agreed to impose a duty of 15 per cent.
Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.
Amendment (by Sir George Turner) agreed to-
That after the word “ammonia” the words ” ad valorem 20 per cent.” be inserted.
Amendment (by Sir William McMillan) put -
That after the word “tablets” the words “ad valorem 20 per cent., and on and after26th February, 1902, free” be inserted.
The committee divided.
Majority …….. 11
Question so resolved in the negative.
Amendment (by Mr. Crouch) proposed
That the word “pure” beinserted before the word ‘ ‘ glycerine. “
Sir WILLIAM McMILLAN (Wentworth). - It seems to me that, while the committee might very well accept the suggestion of the honorable member for South Australia, Mr. V. L. Solomon, and apply a duty of 15 percent, to camphor in. blocks or tablets, lanoline, glycerine, vaseline, and petroleum jelly not medicated, “toilet preparations, non-spirituous, perfumed or not” might very well continue to bear a duty of 20 per cent.
Mr. CONROY (Werriwa). - I trust that if there is to be any giving way, the Treasurer will do as he ought to do, and give way. On his own showing, after careful consideration, he thought that this item ought to bear a duty of 5 per cent, less than the previous item. He proposes a duty of 20 per cent, on this item, which, he said, ought not to be on the same plane as the other by at least 5 per cent. As the committee reduced the duty on the other item to 15 per cent., he ought to bring the duty on this item down to 10 per cent., but he is only asked to agree to a duty of 15 per cent. It will be distinctly to the advantage of the Customs officers if these articles are all grouped in one line at 15 per cent. The Treasurer makes up his mind without giving any consideration to the question, and announces his decision boldly to the committee. He will learn that unless he gives way the committee will not yield to him. I shall vote for a 15 per cent, duty, because we could not hope to carry an amendment to place the articles on the free list. The least the Treasurer might do is to afford some explanation as to why he now asks that this item shall be taxed 5 per cent, higher than the other. Isuppose that he keeps silent, because he knows nothing about the subject. As he is voting in the darkhe cannot expect any oneto pay attention to what he says.
Sir WILLIAM McMILLAN (Wentworth). - There are two reasons why we insist upon a division on this item. In the first place, there is no sense in the classification in the item ; in the second place, we do not object to high duties on absolute luxuries. We allow that perfumery, toilet preparations, and anything of that sort, are luxuries, and weare quitewilling toagree to a 20 per cent. duty. But in the case of articles which are not luxuries, but practical necessities, we hold that a20 per cent, duty is too high. It is all very well to say that other tilings may be used as well as lanoline, glycerine, vaseline, and petroleum jelly ;but these are the latest things for a necessary purpose in the household, and it is nonsense to call them luxuries. For the sake of classification, and for the other reason I mentioned, we must divide the committee on this item. We can take a test vote on the item, “ camphor in blocks, or tablets,” and if that is carried it ought to decide the duty on the others, allowing a duty of 20per cent, upon toilet preparations.
Mr. CONROY (Werriwa). - I wish to ask the Treasurer, whether it is because under a 20 per cent, duty some of the money will be diverted from the Treasury intothe pockets of a private firm that he declines to make any communication to the committee, and whether any firm has waited upon him ?
-Order. The honorable and learned member must not pursue that course.
– I am addressing the committee on the item, and I am entitled to speak.
– Order. It is my province to say whether the honorable and learned member can pursue that course or not, and I call his attention to the fact that he is not discussing the question before the Chair, which is to insert the word “pure” before the word “glycerine.”
– The Treasurer did not give. any reason why, after proposing that thisduty should be 5 per cent, lower than the other, he is now asking that it should be made 5 per cent.higher. I ask the right honorable gentleman - Is it being done for protective purposes, which means, is there any firm which hethinks will get some money out of the duty? Because if that is so, I can quite understand the course he is taking.
– Order. I must insist upon the honorable and learned member not pursuing that course any further.
– I do not object to it.
– I do.
– I consider that the committee is perfectly entitled to get the fullest information on the question before the Chair.
– I am sure that the honorable and learned member will recognise that I have only one object in view, and that is to see that the course of debate pursued in the committee is in every way respectful and progressive. I have never at any time prevented an honorable member from obtaining necessary information, but when I find the honorable and learned member absolutely digressing from the question, it would be a dereliction of duty on my part if I were not to call his attention to the fact.
Amendment, by leave withdrawn.
Sir WILLIAM McMILLAN (Wentworth). - I propose to move that the duty on camphor, in blocks or tablets, be 15 per. cent., with the intention of letting the duty on toilet preparations, non-spirituous, &c., go at 20 per cent., and if I am successful with my amendment, I shall move that the duty on lanoline, glycerine, vaseline, and petroleum jelly, not medicated, be 15 per cent. I move -
That the words “ad valorem 20 per cent. and on and after 26th February,1902, 15 per cent.” be inserted after the word “ tablets.”
– Unless the Treasurer is willing to accept the amendment I withdrew, I do not propose to proceed with it.
– I do not accept it.
Amendment (by Mr. V. L. Solomon) negatived -
That the words “and on and after 26th February, 1902, lanoline, glycerine, vaseline, and petroleum jelly not medicated, 15 per cent. “ be added.
Item agreed to.
Item 100, Saccharin, per lb., 20s.
That the item be omitted.
Saccharin has, I understand, about 400 times the strength of sugar. There are a number of similar articles likely to be prepared and imported. We have provided in section 141 of the Customs Act that duty shall be charged on all essences, condensations, concentrations, or preparations of goods liable to duty according to the quantity or equivalent of dutiable goods into which such essences, &c, can be converted according to a standard. We think it will be better to rely on that section in regard to this and a number of other articles.
Mr. CONROY (Werriwa). - Saccharin is an article which is principally made from coal tar by chemists. It is a development so far as chemistry is concerned. There are many items which come under a similar heading, and which may be changed in name by a slight alteration of the ingredients. We shall do well not to attempt to interfere with any new discoveries in chemistry ; and I, therefore, welcome the proposal of the Government to omit the item.
Amendment agreed to.
Item 101, Soda crystals per cwt.,1s.
Mr. THOMSON (North Sydney).- I desire to direct the attention of the Treasurer to a decision of the Customs authorities that carbonate of soda is subject to duty as soda crystals. It is quite true that, speaking in the strictly chemical sense, soda crystals are a carbonate of soda, but the commercial article known as carbonate or bi-carbonate of soda - the names are interchangeable - is not identical with soda crystals; it is used for an entirely different purpose. The decision which has been published is very confusing. When I inquired from the Minister for Trade and Customs in this Chamber why carbonate of soda should be dutiable under this head, he replied, “ Because it is an article used for washing purposes.” The confusion has arisen here through using a strictly chemical definition, and if this course is persisted in throughout the Tariff, it will result in chaos. I suggest that the decision towhichIhave referred should be withdrawn, and that it should be clearly understood that whatis commercially known as carbonate of soda or bi-carbonate of soda, and which is used, not for washing purposes, but for making baking-powder, and for producing the carbonic acid gas required in the manufacture of aerated waters, is not dutiable.
– I will consult my honorable colleague the Minister for Trade and Customs, when he returns.
Item agreed to.
The following exemptions were agreed to:-
Essential oils, non-spirituous ; bacteriological products and serum.
Mr. THOMSON (North Sydney.)- The Treasurer will remember that it was agreed that carbonate of soda, bi-carbonate of soda, tartaric acid, cream of tartar, and citric acid, were not subject to duty, and I suggest that those articles should be placed on the list of exemptions.
– I do not see any necessity for adopting that course; but I shall not raise any objection.
Amendment (by Mr. Thomson) agreed to-
That the following exemptions be added : - Carbonate of soda, bi-carbonate’ of soda, tartaric acid, cream of tartar, citric acid.
Mr. KIRWAN (Kalgoorlie).- I should like to point out that cyanide of potassium is on the free list, and as cyanide of sodium _ also has lately come into extensive use in connexion with the scientific treatment of refractory ores, I desire to see it exempted from duty.
– Cyanide of sodium is not mode dutiable, and will therefore be admitted free.
– I am content with that assurance-
Mr. V. L. SOLOMON (South Australia). - I desire to test the feeling of the committee with reference to the exemption from duty of all medicines and medicinal compounds and drugs imported by the authorities controlling public hospitals and charitable institutions.
– The general feeling of the committee was that we should deal with the matter when we were considering the exemptions under the head of “Miscellaneous” at the end of the Tariff.
– No good purpose can be served by postponing the consideration of this question, It has been represented by the hospital authorities of the Commonwealth that it would be a boon to these institutions if the drugs and .medicines they have to import were exempted from duty. When this matter was mentioned at an earlier stage of the discussion oh this division the Treasurer said that the State Governments could, if they thought it desirable, assist the institutions by increasing their subsidies. That is all very well, but it must be borne in mind that we are dealing with a Tariff which will affect every section of the community. It is desirable that the large institutions which are relieving the dire necessities of the people should be placed in the best possible position in regard to the drugs and medicines they have- to use. Therefore I move -
That the following exemption be added ;_
All drugs, medicines, and medicinal compounds included in item 98 imported by the controlling authorities of any public hospital or other charitable institution for the sole use of tho patients of such institutions.
Honorable members will recognise that many of these institutions have experienced considerable difficulty in making both ends meet. Some of them are. largely, supported by the State Governments and by the charitable members of the public, whilst others are almost entirely maintained by contributions from the wealthier members of the community. It is reasonable and fair that we should recognise the good work done by them by relieving them from taxation as far as possible. I trust that the Treasurer will give the suggestion favorable consideration, and that the committee will cheerfully assent to a request of such a reasonable nature, coming as it does from the various public institutions in all the States of the Commonwealth.
Mr. WILKS (Dalley). - I thoroughly agree with the remarks pf the honorable member who has just resumed his seat. But I wish to point out that a large number of the articles which he desires to see placed upon the free list already appear in Division 16 under the head of exemptions. Probably the Government have overlooked the position with regard to drugs and chemicals, and will give on undertaking to deal with those matters when the miscellaneous exemptions are under consideration.
– I regret that I cannot give any such undertaking, because I do not think .we ought to declare that all these articles shall be admitted free.. The effect of the proposal of the honorable member for South Australia would be to unduly favour the large hospitals which imported their drugs and chemicals direct, because the smaller institutions would purchase them locally. If we are to make any concession it should be applicable all round. Of course, the action proposed .would be a. very popular one to take, but .we have to consider the Tariff as a Tariff. These institutions are largely subsidized by the States, and, in my judgment, the matter referred to is one with which the States should deal themselves. We hand over to them the money which we collect under this Tariff, and if they think that their hospitals are deserving of more consideration, it is quite within their province to increase the amount of the annual subsidies paid to them. But, in my opinion, we should not lay down the principle that articles used in connexion with hospitals and charitable institutions shall be exempt from duty. If we do so, a proposal will soon be made to exempt friendly societies. Altogether, it would be very unwise to adopt the alteration suggested.
SirWILLIAM McMILLAN (Wentworth). - I suggest that, this matter having been ventilated, the honorable member for South Australia should withdraw his amendment, with a view to having it discussed when the miscellaneous exemptions are under consideration.
Mr. V.L. SOLOMON (South Australia). - If the Treasurer would like a little more time to consider this matter, it would, perhaps, be wise to adopt the suggestion of the acting leader of the Opposition.I therefore ask leave to withdraw the amendment, with the intention of moving it in connexion with the miscellaneous exemptions.
Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.
Exemptions, as amended, agreed to.
Sir WILLIAM McMILLAN (Wentworth). - Before we proceed to the consideration of the next division, I wish to ask the Treasurer if he intends to give honorable members an opportunity of considering the . duties upon tea and other articles in regard to which a great deal of anxiety prevails. I understood that, when he was thoroughly seized of the effect of the changes which have been made in the Tariff, he would be in a position to decide whether we should immediately go on with the consideration of certain proposed duties which are partly revenue duties and partly otherwise.
– I promised that, at the earliest possible moment, the committee should have an opportunity of considering the items referred to. I am trying to obtain from the different States a statement of the actual receipts under each item of the Tariff from the 9th October, 1901, up to the 31st January last. I thought I had that information pretty, complete, but, unfortunately, misunderstandings arose inWestern Australia whichnullified its value to honorable members. Within a few days, however, I hope to get the amended information for which I have asked. The figures relating to the other States are already in print. As soon as that information is available it will be circulated, so that honorable members may see the effect of the Tariff during the period it has been in operation. But it must not be understood that, because the aggregate amount of revenue collected appears to be be larger than my estimate, the whole question is settled, inasmuch as we shall probably find that many of the States occupy a worse position than was anticipated. But until I get the information to which I have referred, I cannot advise what ought to be done, and the committee will not be in a position to say whether they ought to grant or refuse to the Treasurer the money for which he asks.
Division X. - Wood, wicker, and cane. Item 102 - Furniture . . . ad valorem 20 per cent.
Mr. THOMSON (North Sydney).- It has been stated in the press that consideration has been given to the request of the representatives of Queensland, and that as a result it is proposed to alter the proposed timber duties. Has the Treasurer any objection to stating what the proposed alterations are?
– I have no knowledge of any such alterations. So far as I am aware, we intend to adhere to the timber duties as they appear in the Tariff.
House adjourned at 10.28 p.m.
Cite as: Australia, House of Representatives, Debates, 25 February 1902, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/hofreps/1902/19020225_reps_1_8/>.