1st Parliament · 1st Session
Mr. Speaker took the chair at 10.36 a.m., and read prayers.
– I desire to know from the Treasurer if any alteration has been mabe in regard to the mode of collecting duty on spirituous compounds? I brought the matter under the notice of the Minister for Trade and Customs two days ago, and I understand that it has been referred to the Customs authorities.
– The Minister for Trade and Customs is, unfortunately, absent, and I have had no opportunity to inquire into the matter, but I shall try to get, by telephone, the information which the honorable member desires.
Consideration resumed from 27th February (vide page 10492).
Division X. - Wood, wicker, and cane.
Item 104 - Wicker, bambo, cane, or wood - All articles n.e.i., made of, whether partly or wholly finished, including bellows, casks, shooks, sashes and frames, timber bent, n.e.i., wood cut into shape for making boxes or doors, axe and other unattached tool handles, umbrella sticks, walking sticks, and cones, ad valorem 20 per cent.
– This is another of those olla podrida items in which all kinds of incongruous articles appear together. It is proposed to place a duty of 20 per cent, upon umbrella sticks ; but I would point out that they are the raw material of the umbrellamakers.
– I propose to exempt umbrella sticks.
– Last night the committee imposed a duty of 59 per cent, upon doors, under cover of a specific duty of 7s. 6d. each; but here it is proposed to impose a duty of only 20 per cent, on sashes and frames, which are substantially the same kind of articles. This Tariff will be so full of such absurd anomalies and inconsistencies that it will be the laughingstock of any one who has the moral courage to go through it. I have been informed that a duty is charged upon hickory and ash oars. It seems to me absurd to try to discourage the use of the most suitable material for the manufacture of articles such as oars.
– Undressed ash is admitted free. The item contains chiefly articles which are composed of several materials. For instance, leather, iron, and wood are used in making a pair of bellows, and to prevent any doubts being entertained as to the duty chargeable upon such articles, we made them specifically dutiable. I move -
That the words “ umbrella sticks “ be omitted.
– I think it would be better to place a duty of 10 per cent, upon umbrella sticks and handles than to admit the sticks free, and to charge a duty of 20 per cent, upon the handles.
– The handles are often very valuable, as they carry gold and silver mountings.
– I think it would be easier and more convenient for both the importers and the Customs officials if there were an all-round duty of 10 per cent. I understand that the handles are imported attached to the sticks, and therefore they could be valued according to the invoices.
– I intend to omit umbrella sticks from this item, but I will reconsider the duty upon handles.
– If we agree to the omission of umbrella sticks now, will it be possible to afterwards impose a 10 per cent, duty on sticks and handles?
– I think so.
– I agree with the suggestion of the honorable member for Yarra in regard to the duty upon umbrella sticks. To my mind, there are several articles which should be added to this item - cask heads, for instance.
– When an article is dutiable, parts of it are dutiable.
Mr. TUDOR (Yarra).- If a wooden frame covered with some other material, such as plush or canvas, is imported, will it be subject to a duty of 20 per cent. ?
– Photograph frames are dealt with elsewhere.
-But there are what are known in the trade as stretchers - frames covered with canvas, for the use of artists.
-They would be dutiable.
Amendment agreed to.
– A duty of 20 per cent is imposed upon wood cut into shapes for making doors, and I desire to point out the inconsistency of the Government in dealing with what is known as door stock. -The material cannot be obtained within the States, and the result of the combined duties upon doors and door stocks will be to increase the price of doors generally. If doors are imported ready made they will be subject to a duty of 58 per cent., and if made locally a duty of 20 per cent, will be levied upon the stock used by the manufacturer.
– The duty will be levied upon the partly manufactured article. We can cut up the material for making doors here.
– But the result of this duty will be to increase the price of the locally-manufactured article.
Mr.F. E. McLEAN (Lang).- American sugar-pine is perhaps the lightest and best wood in the world for making doors, and even when a duty was imposed upon doors in New South Wales, what is called door stock was admitted free of duty from America. I understand that there is a great difficulty in obtaining timber suitable for the manufacture of doors from America unless it is cut into shape, and that door stock can be imported at lower prices than the rough timber. We found in New South Wales that it was impracticable to manufacture doors without importing door stock, unless doors were made of local timbers which are not very well adapted for the purpose. The representations made by the honorable member for South Australia are well worthy of consideration.
– In view of the protection which we have given to the manufacturers of doors, it is not unreasonable to impose a duty for revenue purposes upon door stock. The manufacturers have ample protection, even though they have to pay a high duty upon their partly-prepared stock.
– If the duty upon door stock were reduced, the prepared timber would be imported and put together here, and then the unfortunate consumers would be charged prices fixed in accordance with the high duty imposed upon the finished article.
– I think that axe and other unattached tool-handles might be placed upon the free list. The committee have recognised the justice of exempting tools of trade of city industries, such as bootmaking,&c., and there seems no reason why axe and other tool-handles, which are practically tools of trade, should not also be admitted free. The revenue derived from the duty upon them cannot be very large.
– The revenue will be small, because a large number of axe and tool-handles are being madewithin the Commonwealth.
– Then there should be no necessity for the duty. I hope that for the sake of consistency, and out of consideration for those who have to use these articles, the duty will be remitted.
– This item is of a particularly sweeping character, and I am afraid that the Customs officers. may claim that articles which are made only in part of wicker, wood, cane, or bamboo, are dutiable. In the list of articles which the Government have recognised as exempt, from duty, although they are not included within the Tariff exemptions, are many which would become dutiable if a strict interpretation were placed upon this item.
– If the honorable member mentions the articles he has in his mind, I will look into the matter.
– Among other things which are taxed under this item are casks, and as they are largely used by winegrowers the duty of 20 per cent, will impose a heavy burden upon a great natural industry which we all hope to see largely developed. Wine-growers cannot procure within the Commonwealth timber of a character suitable for making the best quality casks, and in view of this fact, a 20 per cent, duty is extremely high. It has also been pointed out that axe-handles are subject to a duty which will fall directly upon a very large number of hard-working people in the country. Umbrella sticks are on the free list, because their’ exemption from duty will benefit the manufacturers of Melbourne. No consideration is shown by the Government for the working men in the country districts, but wherever a manufacturer’s interests are concerned, a duty is imposed or remitted just as may be required to further his interests. Thousands of pioneers and settlers may appeal in vain for any consideration if one manufacturer desires a duty upon axe-handles because he imports the partly prepared material and simply dresses it here. Are not the men who are employed in cutting timber manufacturers in a sense1! Who is going to determine at what stage manufacturing begins and ends ? The proposed duty upon casks will seriously affect the whole of the wine-growers of Australia.
– The undressed material of the casks used by the wine-growers is already upon the free list.
– But the great bulk of the casks used in the wine trade has to be put together locally. The proposed duty, therefore, must fall upon the people who are engaged in this great industry. The Treasurer estimates that a revenue of £23,000 will be derived from this item. He has clearly shown that he expects the importations under this head to be reduced by one-half, and it is therefore abundantly clear that a 20 per cent, rate is far too high for revenue purposes. I move -
That the words “ and on and after 1st March,’ 1902, 15 per cent.” be added,
– I wish to ask the Treasurer whether bellows, which are used for inflating air beds, are included under ‘the term “bellows”? If so, the proposed duty will constitute a tax upon hospitals and people who are in straitened circumstances.
– They would be dutiable under this item, but if the honorable member will give me notice I will consider whether they should not be placed upon the free list.
Mr. KIRWAN (Kalgoorlie).- It seems very inconsistent for the Government to propose that umbrella sticks shall be placed upon the free list, and to subject axe and other unattached tool handles to duty. Surely if the latter class of articles can be manufactured locally so also cm umbrella sticks. I therefore move -
That the words “20 per cent., and on and after 1st March, 1902, free,” be inserted after the word “handles.”
– I wish to point out to the committee that axe and other unattached tool handles are being manufactured very extensively within the Commonwealth, whereas umbrella sticks are made by one firm only, and then not in anything like the variety, required by the trade. We are not discussing umbrella sticks ; but if the honorable member will vote for a duty on those articles I shall support him.
– Let us be consistent.
– We are consistent, foithe simple reason that the local manufacturers are practically supplying the market. The raw material is brought in free, and handles are dressed here by the hundreds of gross every year, providing a great amount of employment. I am informed by a man of great experience that if the consumer had to pay the whole of the duty it would be a matter of only 6d. a year, and I question whether it would even amount to that small sum. We contend, however, that the duty has not to be paid by the consumer because the article is manufactured here. The firm of which the acting leader of the Opposition is the head have just issued a circular, stating that since the introduction of the Tariff they have started making shirts, and that the duty of 27½ per cent, will be escaped by the consumer in consequence of the local manufacture. In connexion with axe handles the consumer escapes the duty in the same way.
– Why should the city man have his umbrella sticks free ?
– Because umbrella sticks are not manufactured in the Commonwealth.
– The honorable member has just said’ that these articles are manufactured here.
– I have already said that, if the honorable member will vote with me, I should like to propose a duty on umbrella sticks, which I think would very soon be manufactured here largely.
Sir WILLIAM McMILLAN (Wentworth). - I do not know anything about the circular to which the honorable member for Melbourne Ports has alluded. I have heard that this “ pill “ has been, so to speak, in store for me for several days, awaiting the psychological moment. It is with great reluctance that I drag the affairs of my firm into these discussions ; and all I can say is that there has been no development of our business which was not started years ago. Anything done during the past twelve months has been simply owing to the large development and increase of business, and would have been done, I give my word of honour, whether or not a duty had been imposed.
Mr. POYNTON (South Australia).- It is singular that we should put “ swell “ luxuries in the shape of umbrellas and walking sticks on the free list. We had a great discussion yesterday about the poor timbercutter, and yet is is sought to-day to tax axe handles to the extent of 20 per cent.
– How many handles would a man use in a year?
– That depends on the nature of the work and the competency of the man. It is unreasonable to say that umbrella sticks should be free, because if the arguments of the protectionists are sound we ought to impose a duty in order to make them cheaper. Is it said that in Australia we cannot make umbrella sticks, or that there is anything more difficult in their manufacture than in the manufacture of axe handles’! The whole proposal is invidious, and I shall support the placing of axe handles on the free list.
– I can understand the Treasurer moving that umbrella sticks be put on the free list. It is admitted by those in the business that this would be a purely revenue duty, and it is not congenial to the Treasurer to have a duty which will make for revenue, and will not serve the purpose of protection in the slightest degree. Honorable members have received a circular from somebody in the trade, who tells a pitiful tale of how he has employed more than the average three men and a boy - how he has employed a great number of men - in the manufacture of umbrella and walking sticks, and has lost an enormous sum of money, principally owing to the fact that the sticks have to be imported. The wail of this manufacturer is that a duty would be only a revenue tax ; and, if that be so, we ought to adhere to it.
Mr. HENRY WILLIS (Robertson).- I have no complaint against the Government for putting these goods on the free list, but some consideration should be given to the remarks of the honorable member for Tasmania, Sir Edward Braddon. I now remember receiving the circular to which that honorable member refers, in which it was stated that some of these sticks are very valuable indeed, and are used chiefly by well-to-do people.
– The handles are the valuable parts.
– And yet these sticks are to be admitted free.
– Not if they have any gold or silver on them.
– Of course, if they carry precious metal they will be charged.
– They nearly all are mounted with precious metals, and that is the trouble.
– If such articles ought to be on the free list, then axe and other handles ought not to be dutiable. The importation of these handles is very large, and I am given to understand that the locally made article is of a very inferior kind. If imported handles must be used the duty will not promote the industry, but will only add to the taxation of the working community.
Question - That the words “ 20 per cent., and on and after 1st March, 1902, free,” be inserted after the word “ handles “ - put. The committee divided -
Question so resolved in the negative.
Amendment (by Mr. Conroy) negatived -
That the words “20 per cent., and on and after 1st March, 1902, 10 per cent.” be inserted after the word “handles.”
Item, as amended, agreed to.
Motion (by Sir George Turner) proposed -
That the exemptions be postponed.
– I think that staves required for almost any purpose can be made in Australia, and when we come to the exemptions, I propose to limit them to American oak. Silky oak is a timber of which we have an abundance, and its qualities do not seem to me to be sufficiently appreciated. I should like to see the following duties imposed : -
Staves, undressed, n.e.i., per 100, 2s. ; staves, rough dressed, n.e.i., per 100, 4s.
– As the term “ shooks “ includes staves, we have already placed a duty of 20 per cent, upon those articles.
– The honorable member can deal with the matter when we come to the exemptions.
– When an exemption is struck out, the article to which it formerly applied becomes dutiable.
– Then I shall postpone my action in regard to staves.
Motion agreed to ; exemptions postponed.
Division, as amended, agreed to.
Division XI. - Jewellery and Fancy Goods.
Item 105 - Fancy goods (not being partly or wholly of gold or silver), including - Card-cases, snuff and match boxes, purses, thimbles, serviette rings, button-hooks, shoe-horns and lifts, glove stretchers, toys, ivory and other ornamental figures, ornamental confectionery, feather dusters, paper parasols, articles used for outdoor and indoor games, fishing appliances, pencil-cases, pencils, and penholders, n.e.i., articles manufactured from pulp, papier mache, or indurated fibre, ad valorem, 20 per cent.
– Honorable members on this side of the Chamber do not intend to offer any opposition to this division. I could not at first understand why a duty of 15 per cent, has been applied to the articles mentioned in item 106 and a duty of 25 per cent, to the articles mentioned in the item 107 ; but I have since been informed that the first set of articles are the raw materials of the second set. As the articles dealt with in this division are luxuries, not necessaries, while I look upon the proposed duties as high, they are not higher than the duties imposed upon similar articles in other parts of the Tariff.
Mr. POYNTON (South Australia).Some time ago I brought under the notice of the Minister the fact that, while lead pencils and penholders of wood are exempt from duty, blue and red pencils are charged 20 per cent., as containing a composition which is not lead, while the steel clamps attached to the penholders are brought under the denomination of “metals, n.e.i.” I ask the Treasurer if an importer can fairly estimate the cost of the clamps attached to penholders, apart from the value of the penholders themselves ?
– I am willing to meet the honorable member by amending the exemption.
– I also wish to point out that the Customs authorities, while exempting from duty lead pencils which are imported loose, charge 20 per cent, upon those which are imported in little cases suitable for the use of school children. As the value of these cases is very small, and the pencils are used almost wholly by school children, I think the exemption should be altered to cover the cases as well as the pencils.
– I have no objection to. that.
Item agreed to.
Item 106 - Jewellery, viz. : - Chain, machinemade in the rough, gallerie, coronets, beads, catches and joints for pins, clasps, points, and brooch pins, ad valorem, 15 per cent.
– I should like to know from the Treasurer if he is willing to transfer bolt and split rings, swivels, bars, and stampings from item107, and place them in this item.
– I understand that they are all finished articles, with the exception of the stampings, and that the stampings can be made here.
– They may be finished articles, but they are not made here. I think my request is a fair one, and it is made rather in the interests of the smaller than of the larger jewellers.
– I cannot do what the honorable member asks. The duty of 15 per cent, is imposed upon raw material, while the duty of 25 per cent, is imposed upon finished articles.
– Will the honorable member insert “ snaps” after “ clasps “ ? I am told that clasps are not known in the trade, and the insertion of “ snaps” will make the item more clear. I also wish “ bows” inserted after “points.”
– I hope the honorable member will not press these matters. We had a number of applications from the jewellers, and went into them very carefully. We selected these articles as being entitled to admission at a lower rate of duty, and I think we have dealt very fairly with the trade generally.
– The dentists complain very much of the duty charged on liquid gold, and I should like the Treasurer to inquire into the matter.
– My impression is that we could fairly admit liquid gold free, but I wish to make some inquiries, and I shall deal with it when we are considering the exemptions relating to dentists’ materials.
Item agreed to.
Item 107. - Jewellery and imitation jewellery, including ornamental hair, hat, and other pins, buckles and clasps for adornment, smelling and pocket perfume bottles, chatelaines, jewel cases, bolt and split rings, swivels, ear wires, bars and stampings used in the manufacture of jewellery ; medals and all articles n.e.i., partly or wholly made up of gold or silver, including gold or silver wire, ad valorem 25 per cent.
– (Melbourne). - I desire to move an amendment to the effect that imitation jewellery shall be subject to a duty of 25 per cent., and jewellery of gold and silver shall be admitted at 20 per cent. It is represented to me that the cost of bringing gold and silver jewellery here is much greater than in the case of imitations, and that the high-class jewellery imported here really constitutes the raw material of the trade. Most articles of gold and silver jewellery imported are introduced as patterns, and it will assist the trade if these are admitted at the lower rate.
– If the importations were limited to patterns, there might be something in the argument of the honorable member, but there is no reason why jewellery generally should not pay 25 per cent.
– I am simply representing what is stated to me by a large number of those engaged in the trade. I move -
That the words “and on and after 1st March, 1902, jewellery of gold and silver 20 per cent., and imitation jewellery 25 per cent, ad valorem” be added.
– The amendment suggested by the honorable member for Melbourne is the most extraordinary I have heard of. The idea of reducing the duty on high-class luxuries and imposing the full rate on articles which the poorer classes use for their adornment is certainly a very singular one. The only limit I should place on the duty on jewellery is that beyond which we cannot collect it, and to my mind there is no reason why cameos and precious stones unset should be exempted.
– The reason is that we could not collect the duty.
– Still, there is no reason why the)’ should be admitted free, and certainly facilities should not be afforded for evading duty, to the extent of, perhaps, hundreds of pounds on one consignment, by simply lifting stones out of their settings and importing them separately. There is no reason for differentiating in favour of the luxurious jewels of the rich against the poor little trinkets used by the working classes. I do not know whether it is safe to fix the duty upon jewellery at 25 per cent. I am afraid it will encourage attempts at evasion ; but if the duty can be collected at that rate, it should be imposed. I understand that certain classes of metal buttons have been declared by the Customs authorities to come within the category of jewellery, on the ground that they are used for personal adornment. No doubt most buttons are used for the purposes of adornment, but there are many, such as the small brass buttons bearing the figure of an anchor, which are used largely for buttoning children’s clothes. These should not be subject to a duty whilst bone or horn buttons, which may be much more valuable, are allowed to come in free of duty as necessaries. It is very difficult to draw a distinction, but I should like to see the brass buttons, such as those used for children’s clothing, either exempted or admitted at a lower rate of duty.
Sir WILLIAM MCMILLAN (Wentworth). - There is really very little difference between buckles used for adorning hats’ and other similar purposes, and ribbon, which is subject to a duty of only 15 per cent. No one could say that these buckles are pieces of jewellery, any more than is the band on a man’s hat. It is purely a question whether the duty on such articles as buckles should be 15 or 25 per cent. Certainly they are unnecessary in one sense ; they are manufactured articles, and I see great difficulty from the collector’s point of view in making any distinction in their favour. I should prefer to see the duty fixed on jewellery all round at 20 per cent., although I admit that with a duty of 25 per cent, on clothing and a duty of 59 per cent, on doors it may seem inconsistent to place a lower impost upon jewellery.
Mr. POYNTON (South Australia).- I am given to understand that the very commonest black-headed hat pins are charged duty as jewellery. I do not think this was intended.
– A number of them ought certainly be dutiable.
– It is absurd to argue that common black hat pins should be placed in the category o£ jewellery, and subjected to a duty of 25 per cent. Will the Treasurer look into the matter and see if the cheaper class of hat pins cannot be exempted 1
– It is a very difficult matter to decide, because one article may be composed of real jet, and another of imitation jet.
Sir MALCOLM MCEACHARN (Melbourne). - The jewellery to which my previous remarks had reference is jewellery which comes here either in the form of samples, or for the purpose of being finished. My desire is to impose a 20 per cent, rate upon silver and gold jewellery which is imported for patterns or for finishing.
– Clearly upon this item the committee should endeavour to collect as much revenue as possible. The question which we have to consider is what rate will yield the largest amount and lead to the least possible fraud. Honorable members should recollect that we are now dealing with articles, the more valuable kinds of which can be packed into a very small compass. A man might very easily bring in £5,000 worth of jewellery in a carpet bag, and I fear that the imposition of an excessively high duty will conduce to fraud and evasion. In that case the tax would fall almost entirely upon the poorer classes of the community who buy the cheaper kinds of jewellery. I am glad to know that there is no question of either free-trade or protection involved in the discussion of this item. It is altogether outside the realm of one’s fiscal belief. The Treasurer has already declared that he abstained from proposing the imposition of a high duty upon cameos and diamonds on account of their great value, and because the adoption of such a course would minimize the revenue receipts and encourage dishonest trading. I therefore appeal to the Government whether it is not advisable in the interests of the revenue itself to reduce the proposed rate to 15 per cent.
– I think that the honorable and learned member for Werriwa has pointed out the weak spot in connexion with the proposed duty. Every one must admit that the higher the impost the greater is the encouragement offered for fraudulent practices. On this question I take a view rather opposite to that favoured by most of the committee. Honorable members’ seem to run away with the idea that because jewellery is an ornament it is necessarily a luxury ; but I am of opinion that the daughters of the people have as much right to be adorned as their luckier sisters who can afford to buy high-class jewellery. It has been pointed out that hat-pins may be tipped with precious stones, and it is contended that, because of that fact, the daughters of the people should be called upon to pay a duty of 25 per cent, on the humbler classes of pins which they use. Is it feared that, great as this Commonwealth may be, the habits of the period of Louis XV. are going to be adopted, and that our eyes may be dazzled with jewellery worn by the wives and daughters of Australians on the fashionable promenades in Melbourne, Sydney, and other capitals? I see no necessity for a duty of the kind proposed, and for the protection of the revenue as well as for other reasons, I ask the Treasurer to reconsider the position. In a short time wehope that the women of Australia will have the franchise, and if this duty be imposed, how will the Government fare when they have to meet thousands of indignant females at the ballot-box ? Ordinary hat -pins should not be regarded as luxuries.
– Some little time ago the Minister for Trade and Customs made me a promise that at some stage in the consideration of the Tariff he would give me an opportunity to move in the direction of having heirlooms and family silver placed on the free list. It was then suggested that I might move an amendment in the division we have now reached or at that in which trophies are dealt with.
– Trophies, and the articles which the honorable member mentions, will be dealt with when we come to the consideration of general exemptions.
– I should like to ask the honorable member for
Melbourne to temporarily withdraw his amendment in order to enable me to submit a prior proposal.
Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.
– I move-
That the word “ ornamental,” be omitted.
I submit this amendment with the view of subsequently moving that the words “for adornment” be also omitted in order to substitute the words “partly or wholly made up of gold, silver, or precious stones.” That amendment would save the department an enormous amount of trouble, because the distinctions proposed in the Tariff are so difficult to make that there is constant friction between importers and the department. That friction will always continue if it be left to an officer to decide whether a particular article is or is not for the purposes of adornment.
– I am told this duty is working very smoothly in the department.
– I know that it is not working smoothly in Sydney, and the honorable member for South Australia, Mr. Poynton, has already shown the difficulty there is in connexion with common hat-pins.
– Jet and other valuable materials are used in the making of hat-pins.
– But the Minister adopts the idea contained in my proposed amendment when he uses the words at the end of the item, “ partly or wholly made up of gold or silver.” A hat-pin is a thing for use.
– The honorable member’s amendment would make all hatpins dutiable, which the Tariff does not.
– It would make dutiable only those hat-pins which are partly or wholly made up of gold, silver, or precious stones, and I contend that a distinct line of demarcation would be provided by the amendment, without any appreciable loss to the revenue.
– Then all imitations of jewellery would come in free.
– Of course, all the cheap articles would come in free.
– And more confusion would be created in deciding whether articles were or were not made up of gold or silver.
– That point is easily decided.
– The Government specify all the imitation jewellery they know.
– Suppose a few hatpins and things of that sort did come in free, surely it was never intended to charge duty on these under the description of jewellery?
– What item would imitation jewellery come under 1
– Imitation jewellery is specified as dutiable, and the amendment does not limit the interpretation, but includes certain articles. Is a hat-pin to be absolutely black metal ?
– Those hat-pins would pay 20 per cent, as fancy goods.
– That may be, but I think we should get rid of the objectionable distinction made in this item.
– It seems to me that the amendment of the honorable member for North Sydney would allow to escape free of duty imitation jewellery, made up of other than gold, silver, and precious stones. A great deal of shoddy imitation jewellery is imported, the use of which we do not desire to encourage, but which is just as showy, whilst new, as genuine jewellery. As to the item generally, I hope the Government will adhere to a duty of 25 per cent. Let us have here and there in the Tariff some evidence of the fact that we are imposing reasonably heavy duties on the luxuries of the rich as well as extravagantly heavy duties on the necessaries of the poor. We, on this side of the chamber, have involuntarily passed duties of 40 per cent, and 50 per cent, on absolute necessaries, and I do not see why we should baulk at 25 per cent, on articles which are clearly of the character of luxuries. I cannot see that we should get less revenue from the higher duties. If dishonest dealers will smuggle when the duties are 25 per cent., they will do so when the duties are 20 or 15 per cent.; and we most look to the Customs authorities to prevent that sort of tiling. I shall not be disposed to vote for a reduction of this duty, but when we come to cameos and uncut gems it might be considered whether the former should not be made dutiable. Thousands of pounds’ worth of uncut gems can be carried in one’s waistcoat pocket, but cameos and works of art of a fragile character have to be packed with great care, and are by no means easily smuggled.
– In support of the amendment proposed by the honorable member for North Sydney, I would point out that in the next division, dealing with leather and rubber goods, there is a similar qualification in the special exemptions, namely “ buckles, not for adornment.” It has been pointed out by harness-makers that the retention of those words will mean that buckles which are plated with tin, brass, or nickel, will be charged a duty of 25 per cent., just as if they were articles of jewellery. Such a duty is, of course, absurd, and shows the danger of the retention of these words. At the same time, harness-makers point out that some such amendment as that now before the committee will meet the case. As to the general item, I should like to point out to the right honorable member for Tasmania, Sir Edward Braddon, that the real question is what ought to be the rate for the purposes of revenue. It is somewhat significant that in Victoria, where the duty was 20 per cent., the value of the jewellery imported in 1900 was only £47,000, whereas in New South Wales, where there was no duty, the importations were valued at £195,000.
– In Victoria, jewellery is manufactured very largely.
– Jewellery is also manufactured in New South Wales, and the difference I have shown in the importations is enormous. The principal purchasers of jewellery are the poorer, not the richer classes, but it is not for us to penalize people because of their folly. If a lower rate would bring a larger- return, why should we not reduce the duty ? ‘
Mr. HENRY WILLIS (Robertson).This must be looked upon as a revenue pro.ducing duty. The New South Wales duty upon jewellery while it lasted was 15 per cent., and I understand that in Victoria there was a strong agitation to reduce the duty from 25 to 20 per cent., in order to obtain more revenue. I am satisfied, from conversations which I have had with jewellers, that the better class of jewellery will come in even if we make the duty as, high as 30 per cent., but the poorer classes of jewellery, and imitations of jewellery, will be kept out, and the persons who buy it will make what they have last longer, so that the revenue will suffer. If any amendment is made, it should be to reduce the rate of duty upon the poorer classes of jewellery. I do not think that the better class of jewellery should be charged less than 25 per cent. The amendment of the honorable member for Melbourne will, if it is pressed, lead to a long debate.
– I hope that the honorable member for North Sydney will not press his amendment. If it is carried we shall be able to charge duty only upon articles made of gold, silver, and precious stones.
– The articles to which the amendment applies might be dutiable as fancy goods.
– The distinction which is made in the item is altogether wrong. It is not a distinction which should be made in a Tariff.
-I do not see why the articles to which the amendment refers should not pay 25 per cent. I cannot agree to the amendment, because it would make imitation jewellery absolutely free.
Sir MALCOLM McEACHARN (Melbourne). - I move -
That the words “ and on and after 1st March, 1902, 20 per cent.” be added to the duty “Jewellery, ad valorem, 25 per cent,”
I wish to dispel from the minds of the committee the idea that in moving the amendment I desire to prevent those who import made-up jewellery from paying a rate of 25 per cent. I am informed, however, that very little made-up jewellery is imported, because it does not pay to import it since, when it is imported in a finished state, duty is charged upon the precious stones it contains, whereas unset stones are admitted free. I am advised, however, by those in the trade that a duty of 25 per cent, is too high.
– Those in the trade appear to be anxious to obtain an advantage. We may be perfectly certain that they do not want the duty reduced so that the importations may. increase, but they would naturally be glad to be able to bring in samples and other small articles at a lower rate. I went thoroughly into the whole question with the Minister for Trade and Customs, and while we came to the decision that it was hardly worth while to place a duty upon unset precious stones, we thought that a duty of 25 per cent, upon jewellery would be a reasonable rate, seeing that the rate upon the requirements of the jewellery trade is only 15 per cent.
– I have no strong feeling in regard to this matter, but it is refreshing to find the honorable member for Melbourne moving for a reduction of duty.
– I moved to place more machines on the free list than the honorable member did.
– If the Government think that more revenue will be obtained by a duty of 25 per cent, than by a duty of 20 per cent., I shall vote with them.
Sir WILLIAM McMILLAN (Wentworth). - I have stated that I felt inclined to support this proposal, but on second thoughts, seeing that we have had no experience of the operation of a duty upon jewellery in New South Wales, while the Treasurer can look back upon the records of 20 or 30 years of the operation of a similar duty in Victoria, I am prepared, as he says a larger amount of revenue will be obtained from the higher rate, to vote with the Government.
Item agreed to.
Item 108. - Watches, clocks, and chronometers, n.e.i., and parts thereof, time registers and detectors, opera, field, and marine glasses, pedometers, pocket counters, kinematographs, kinetoscopes, phonographs, graphophones, gramaphones, cameras, and magic lanterns, including accessories, ad valorem; 20 per cent.
Mr. GLYNN (South Australia).- I intend to move an amendment to place cameras upon the free list. Photographs are admitted free, but dry plates, films, sensitized paper, and cameras, which are required to make photographs, are all taxed. I received this morning a letter from the South Australian Photographic Society, which contains 112 active members, and by there I am informed that the better class of cameras, which must be used to obtain the best results, are exceedingly expensive, and that a duty of 20 per cent, will restrict, if it will not prevent, their importation. Photography is used to a very large extent for illustrative work in connexion with weekly and monthly journals, and, therefore, from the artistic point of view, it would be wrong to impose a tax upon the cameras used by those who are in the trade. Cameras are used also in connexion with the telescope and microscope for scientific purposes, and with the spectrum by which we measure the distances of the stars.
These articles are not made locally, and I therefore move -
That the word “cameras” be omitted.
Question - That the word proposed to be omitted stand - put. The committee divided -
Question so resolved in the affirmative.
Lead Pencils and Penholders of wood, Bullion and coin, Gold and Silver, bar, ingot, and sheet. Jewellery, viz.: - Cameos and Precious stones, unset. Ships’ Compasses, Ships’ Chronometers, Microscopes, Telescopes, Spectacles except gold or silver ; Barometers and Thermometers, except advertising, and Watch and Clock Springs.
Amendments (by Sir George Turner) agreed to -
That the word “ Lead “ be omitted.
That after the word “wood” the words “and metal chimps, not being gold or silver, school pen and pencil sets in boxes be inserted.
– I do not see why cameos and precious stones unset should be exempted from duty. I am informed that a very large amount of revenue is raised from a duty on precious stones in America, and it seems a pity that we should lose the revenue that might be collected on a pure luxury.
– This is a matter that occasioned my right honorable colleague the Minister for Trade and Customs and myself considerable trouble. We were anxious to impose a duty, but we were forced to the conclusion that precious stones would undoubtedly be brought in here by dishonest people to the prejudice of the honest trader, who would pay the duty. Under all the circumstances, we thought it would be wiser to exempt them.
– Whilst admitting that it would be difficult to prevent smuggling it occurs to me that it might be possible to impose a lower rate of duty without offering too much encouragement to frauds. I do not think precious stones should be admitted free, and I move -
That the words “Jewellery, namely: - Cameos and precious stones, unset,” be omitted.
– I think it would be a mistake to omit the exemption. If we impose a high duty we shall throw the trade in precious stones into the hands of dishonest people, because all honest traders may as well give up the business.
– The duty is collected in America.
– I know that a great deal of smuggling of precious stones goes on in America, and besides that we do not wish to adopt here the enormously expensive system of Custom-house supervision, adopted there. If we imposed a 5 per cent, duty the Custom-house officers would have to make the closest search for articles which it is very difficult to discover, and. the revenue derived would scarcely recompense us for the trouble and expense. I quite agree that it is desirable to impose a. duty if it can be collected, but I am satisfied that we should only encourage dishonesty.
– If we imposed a duty upon precious stones we should have to largely increase our customs staff. The total importations of precious stones into the Commonwealth would not be valued at more than £100,000 per annum, and a duty of 5 per cent, would realize only £5,000. The search for these articles would prove most irritating to travellers, and the duty derived would not repay us forour trouble.
– I would also point out that a duty upon precious stones would interfere with the manufacturing jewellers within the Commonwealth, because these articles form part of their raw material.
Amendment(bySirMalcolmMcEacharn) agreed to -
That the following exemption be added : - “Pocket compasses, except when mounted in gold or silver.”
Amendment (by Sir George Turner) agreed to.
That the words “patent logs and sounding machines” be inserted after the word “compasses “ ; also that the words “ or plated “ be inserted after the words “ spectacles, except gold or silver.”
Sir MALCOLM McEACHARN (Melbourne). - I move -
That the words “and material for repairs of watches and clocks “ be inserted after the words “ clock springs.”
This is an amendment which might well be accepted by the Government.
– It is so very vague.
– I am afraid that I cannot give the committee more information upon it. It is submitted in the interests of the smaller men in the trade, who consider that it is necessary, and I am advocating it on their behalf.
– I will see if something cannot be done to meet their case.
– Then I ask leave to withdraw the amendment.
Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.
– I move-
That the following exemption be added : - “ Magic lantern slides for ambulance purposes;”
These slides are necessary in imparting efficient instruction to ambulance classes.
– The Government have no objection to the amendment.
Mr. THOMSON (North Sydney.)- I must really ask the committee to vote against the amendment. Whilst I am thoroughly in sympathy with the intention of the honorable member for Wide Bay, I claim that it is impossible to ascertain the purposes for which lantern slides are to be used at the time they are imported. Moreover, ambulance classes do not import these slides direct. They purchase them locally. I further hold that it is a false principle to make the amount of duty chargeable upon any article dependent upon the use to which that article is to be put.
– These are a special kind of slide.
– The Treasurer has already laid down the principle that we cannot exempt from duty drugs and chemicals which are consumed in our hospitals and charitable institutions. He declares that such institutions should be dealt with by the States in which they are established.. In the present instance, however, he is prepared to reverse that policy, and to introduce the objectionable principle of determining the dutywhich is to be paid upon an article by the use to which it is to be put. I ask the committee to vote against the proposal.
Mr. FISHER (Wide Bay). -I think that the honorable member for North Sydney is in error in believing that any difficulty exists in determining what these slides really are.I cannot conceive of the possibility of such slides being used for amusement purposes, because they illustrate, for example, the various positions in which injured persons should be placed when having their injuries attended to.
– Why not bring the matter forward when the miscellaneous exemptions are under consideration ?
– I have no objection to doing that.
Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.
Amendment (by Mr. Tudor) agreed to -
That the following exemption be added - “ kinematograph films withpictures on.”
Exemptions, as amended, agreed to.
Division, as amended, agreed to.
Division XII. - Leather and rubber : -
Item 109. - Boots and shoes……
– This item will probably excite a big discussion, and it is hardly worth while commencing its consideration to-day. But I wish to intimate that in future the Government expect the committee to sit till 11 or 11,15 p.m. each night.
Resolved (on motion by Mr. Barton) -
That the House at its rising adjourn until
Railway Passes for Federal Members. - Duties on Spirituous Compounds.
Motion (by Mr. Barton) proposed -
Thatthe House do now adjourn.
– It has come to my knowledge that the Premier of Queensland has declined to recognise any of the orders of the Federal Government for the conveyance of passengers or freight over the railways of that State, and I desire to ask the Prime Minister whether he has received any communications on the subject. If what we have heard is true, I regret that the officer of any State should take such a course, seeing that the credit ofthe Commonwealth is sufficient guarantee for the payment of any orders which may be issued. Has it come to the knowledge of the Prime Minister that the following order has been published in Queensland? -
Traffic Manager’s Office,
Rockhampton, 17th February, 1902.
Circular memo. ordersforfederalgovernmentfor Passenger Tickets,etc.
Referring to Circular Memo., dated 17th September, 1901, with reference to above.
Please note that orders from the Federal Government for passenger’s tickets or free freight must not be accepted until further notice. - (02/430/12.)
It is approved to remove the name of Acting-
Lieutenant Thomas Penlington from the list of officers authorized tosign requisitions for free railway tickets, and substitute that of Acting Sub-Lieutenant William Sellars Bennett to sign requisitions in connexion with the “Rockhampton Naval Brigade. “-(02/439/12.)
I cannot conceive of anything more hurtful to a State’s credit than a circular of that kind, though I do not know that the credit of the Commonwealth will suffer. As a representative of Queensland, I feel sorry that any action so unbecoming should have been taken by the Premier of that State.
– I should like to ask the Treasurer whether he has any reply to the question I asked him at the commencement of to-day’s proceedings in reference to the duties payable on spirituous compounds?
– I regret that I omitted to ask the officer to telephone for the information. I should like to take this opportunity of thanking honorable members generally for the assistance which, during this week, at all events, they have rendered the Government. I hope we shall continue to work as well during the next fortnight, at the end of which I hope we shall have finished the Tariff.
– In reference to the inquiry made by the honorable member for Wide Bay, I may explain the position by saying that it has been customary for vouchers or orders for railway passes to be sent by the Federal Government to the State Governments. With reference to some vouchers sent on the 21st February, the Premier of Queensland asked that they should be included amongst other claim’s already before the Federal Government. In his communication the Premier of that State wrote -
With reference to yourletterof the10th inst.stating, in connexion with the voucher forwarded with my letter of the 3rd idem, that arrangements would be made for an early settlement, I beg to inform you that it is considered advisable that in order to avoid the recurrence of the extreme inconvenience caused to the Railway department by the present system of requisitions, payment in cash should be made at the time of issuing the tickets.
The matter was referred to my honorable colleague, the Minister for Home Affairs, and the secretary to his department, on the 27th February, wrote thus -
With respect to the letter addressed to the Prime Minister by the Premier of Queensland (dated 3rd instant), and forwarded on to this department on the 10th idem, I am directed by the Ministerfor Home Affairs to request that the Prime Minister will inform the Premier of Queensland that the accounts referred to, for the conveyance by rail of senators and members of the House of Representatives, and their wives, are being held in abeyance in accordance with the original understanding, which was that the final decision as to the amount to bo paidshould await the passage of the item provided in the Estimates to cover theexpenditure. This amount is in the Estimates, which have not yet been dealt with. The interim orders, for conveyance by railway of wives of senators and members, have been issued as an expedient toenable a correct conclusion being arrived at as to the cost involved. Should the tickets issued under these orders bo now dealt with, confusion would result when the time arrived for the settlement of the whole question.
On the subject the Minister for Home Affairs has to-day written -
Attach a copy of the letter already written upon this subject. The amount involved is not large, and it is desired the present system may continue until the Estimates are passed. Of course if Mr. Philp persists in his demand the money must be paid.
It is my intention to write to Mr.Philp in the sense of the letter forwarded to me from the department of Home Affairs, and to represent the inconvenience that will result if the system suggested by him be adopted. At the same time honorable members will be with me when I say that if Mr. Philp persists in his demand, which I consider an extraordinary one, cash will, of course, be paid, however much such a course may upset the arrangement in progress at the time the demand was mode, I can only add that I am very sorry to have to say that the treatment we have received in this matter from Mr. Philp is neither surprising nor unusual.
– Has therebeen any difficulty with the other States ?
Question resolved in the affirmative.
House adjourned at 1.25 p.m.
Cite as: Australia, House of Representatives, Debates, 28 February 1902, viewed 7 November 2016, <http://historichansard.net/hofreps/1902/19020228_reps_1_8/>.