1st Parliament · 1st Session
Mr. Speaker took the chair at 2.30 p.m., and read prayers.
– I wish to know from the Prime Minister, in reference to certain advertisements by the firm of Burns, Philp, and Co., wherein long leases of land in the New Hebrides are offered to intending settlers, if his attention has been drawn to the matter, and if it is with the concurrence of the Commonwealth Government that these leases are being advertised? Has the Commonwealth Government been consulted in the matter; and how comes it that the company possesses the right to grant such leases?
– I take it that the firm of Burns, Philp, and Co., in respect to any lands which they hold in the New Hebrides, has no greater and no lesser rights than belong to, say, the French New Hebrides Company. The question of land grants in those islands is not in a very determined position yet, because, as I have informed honorable members, negotiations are proceeding between the Governments of Great Britain and France to see whether some tribunal cannot be established to inquire into land disputes there; but there is a great deal of land in the hands of Messrs. Burns, Philp, and Co. which is not, and never has been, the subject of dispute. I hope to be in a position within a few days to lay some papers upon the table relating to a contract which the Government propose to enter into, and which will, perhaps, have then been entered into, with Messrs. Burns, Philp, and Co. in extension of the contract which they already possess with the Government of New South Wales, and which we are advised has become a contract under the Constitution of the Federal Government. I have been in negotiation with the company to see whether, for a slightly larger sum, the service cannot be carried on with white crews instead of with coloured labour. I hope, also, to be able to announce the speedy completion of an agreement under which, for a very slight additional rate, the service will be extended from the New Hebrides and the Solomon groups to the Gilbert and Ellice groups, and more frequent visits will be paid to the New Hebrides. I hope, further, to be able to announce that Messrs. Burns, Philp, and Co. will be willing, in consideration of the contract, to throw open to settlers, at long leases and. at nominal rates of rental, the large tracts of land which they hold in the New Hebrides, they agreeing to bring the intending settlers and their, belongings to the New Hebrides free of passage money.
– Have Messrs. Burns, Philp, and Co. an absolute title to their land?
– So far as an absolute title can be got in a place where there is no real dominion. They hold large tracts, of which the greater part is not subject to any dispute as to title. It is in respect to that land that we are in negotiation with Messrs. Burns, Philp, and Company, because, although the Commonwealth does not propose to itself become, or to attempt to become, the owner of land in the New Hebrides - which I think would be quite beyond its scope - it may make an arrangement with the company in consideration of the contract which it is granting to them to enable settlers to acquire land under them in the New Hebrides, and thus afford a counterpoise to the large settlement which has been going on there at. the hands of French organizations. I think it will be found that this is a perfectly feasible arrangement, and that it will be carried out so far as the payment for the contract and the development of the mail service is concerned, at a very cheap rate; that it will be very largely in the interests of the Commonwealth, and that there will be reason to conclude from it that there will now be, for the first time, a proper and an open opportunity for English settlement to proceed in the New Hebrides at the same pace as that at which French settlement has been proceeding, an object very much to be desired. There are, however, obstacles, but I think I shall be able to overcome them. The contract between Messrs. Burns, Philp, and Co. and the New South Wales Government, although for a term of ten years, is terminable upon the failure or refusal of Parliament to grant supply for the purposes of the annual payments, and in any contract that we make we shall give the same opportunity to Parliament, so that the moment the vote comes on Parliament will be able to say whether it will or will not endorse what has been done by the Government.
– We must guard against a land grab like that we had in New Guinea.
– There is no question of a land grab.
– I should like to ask the Prime Minister if the land referred to is not land acquired in the first instance by the Australian New Hebrides Company, a company consisting of citizens of the Commonwealth, and formed to preserve British interests in the New Hebrides ? Is not the land situated in a great many island groups, and although in the aggregate a considerable area, are not the blocks for the most part comparatively small?
– I think that the honorable member is substantially correct in what he says, though I cannot follow him in detail. The firm of Messrs. Burns, Philp, and Co., which for many years past has sustained upon its shoulders the trade with the New Hebrides, and has performed good service in doing so, acquired the rights of the Australian New Hebrides Company, among which was the title to a considerable quantity of land..
– That was after the funds of the Australian New Hebrides Company had been exhausted.
– I understand that the Australian New Hebrides Company was not a success, and parted with its rights, which were acquired as the French New Hebrides Company acquired its rights, to Messrs. Burns, Philp, and Co. I understand, too, that the French New Hebrides Company has failed, and that an attempt to resuscitate it also failed. I see no reason to anticipate any withdrawal from their contract on the part of Messrs. Burns, Philp, and Co., and there are reasons why they should be prepared not to withdraw, but to work in a spirit of co-operation with the Federal Government. I take it that under these circumstances any policy which leaves it open to the Federal Government, without permitting itself to become a landholder, to assist, even indirectly, the acquisition of British rights in the New Hebrides, will be one that will be acceptable to this Parliament.
asked the Minister for Trade and Customs, upon notice -
Whether, as the Tariff now stands, Siemens Brothers and Co.’s electrical rock drills (which it is stated are fully covered by patents, and cannot be manufactured within the Commonwealth) are not upon the free list ?
– The articles are not upon the free list.
In Committee of Ways and Means :
Consideration resumed from 28th February, (vide page 10539).
Division XII. - Leather and Rubber.
Item 109. - Boots and Shoes, except partly or wholly of lasting or stuff, English sizes to be the standard, viz. : -
Men’s sizes above 5, per doz. pairs, 20s. and 15 per cent, ad valorem.
Youths’ sizes above 1, per doz. pairs, 15s. and 15 per cent, ad valorem.
Boys’ 7-1, per doz. pairs, 10s. and 15 per cent. ad valorem.
Women’s sizes above 2, per doz pairs, 15s. and 15 per cent, ad valorem.
Girls’ sizes above 10, per doz. pairs, 12s. and 15 per cent, ad valorem
Girls’ 7-10, per doz. pairs, 9s. and 15 per cent. ad valorem.
Slippers, leather, per doz. pairs, os. and 15 per cent, ad valorem.
– McMlLLAN (Wentworth). - I should like to know if the Treasurer intends to make any statement in regard to- this division ?’ I ca!n scarcely imagine that after the debate- which has taken place upon previous divisions-, and the general expression- of opinion against composite duties, he intends- to’ proceed’ with the programme originally laid down by the Government. I do not think it would be expedient to- allow the- discussion to proceed with a view to seeing how the cat will jump. There should be some declaration’ from the Treasurer as to whether the proposal in the Tariff is the proposal which he really intends to’ place before the committee. Personally I arn very anxious, as: are all the members on- this side of the Chamber, to conserve time, and to- facilitate the passing of .the Tariff, and I therefore ask my right honorable friend if he does not intend to make a proposal which will simplify our deliberations ?
– I am not prepared to make any other proposal at the present time.
– I thought that after the- discussion which we had upon the proposed duties on’ hats, and the general trend of our deliberations, the Government would have made some other proposal. The duties now proposed practically amount to- prohibition. I do not want to be continually arguing and re-arguing the same thing, but I feel bound to again point out that, despite the pledge of the Prime Minister that we should have a Tariff which would secure revenue without destruction of industries, and which would go neither to free-trade nor to protectionist extremes, we have, in’ regard to one of the largest industries in Australia, a proposal which practically amounts to the prohibition of importations. I wish to know from the- Government if, after the pledges of the Prime Minister, and the votes that have been, taken in- committee - which place 10, 15, and 25 per cent, as practically the high-water mark of protection - they now intend to propose what is, practically, prohibition? The Treasurer expects to obtain £30,000 of revenue fromNew South Wales from the proposed duties. A duty of 25 per cent, upon the importation of boots into New South Wales in 1S99 would have returned £73,000j and- a duty of 50 per cent., which is a very low average for the duties proposed, would have returned £146,000. We find, however, that the total amount of revenue1 expected from these duties on boots is £’68,000, whereas, if the duties were reduced by at least one-half, the .revenue in> New South- Wales alone would amount to- £73^000. If this is not practically prohibition, I do not know what is. In spite1 of the pledges made by the Prime Minister in his Maitland speech; we arc asked to impose prohibitive duties’ in respect to a great industry which has its ramificationsall over Australia. If this division is passed as it stands, we shall practically shut out all importations of boots with the exception of a- few goods of special kinds, which* people would import under any circumstances: We may be told that high- duties were imposed in! some of the States- prior to the imposition of the- Federal Tariff, but there is a great difference’ between framing a national Tariff and formulating a Tarifffor single States which- have their borders closed against the productions of their neighbours. We- are making a Tariff which’ will apply only to goods coming from the outside world, and a Tariff which is essentially designed1, to a large extent, for revenue purposes. Of the boots used in New South Wales, 66- per cent, have been made within the State under free-trade conditions, leaving only about 30 per cent, to be imported, and in view of this fact, where are- the Government to look for revenue if enormously high- duties are imposed? The- duty on men’s boots will range from 61 to 33 per cent, under the composite- duties which have been so cleverly designed in order to- shut the eyes of the people to the real effect of the imposts. When the- Tariff- was introduced we were told by Ministers that the duties provided for would range from 10 to 25 per cent. But here1 we find them varying from 31 to 66 per cent. Upon youths’ boots of sizes above 1, the duties range from 58 to 30- per cent. ; on women’s boots, from 50 to 30 per cent. ; and so on, the average all round being about 40- per cent. We seem to be dealing with the Tariff in a haphazard way, just as one of the State Tariffs might be dealt with after a dozen revisions. A national Tariff should be framed upon broad national lines. After “having imposed a duty of 25 per cent, on clothing and 15 per cent, on woollens, how can we justify our action to the public if, with our eyes open, and with a full knowledge of what is covered by these composite duties, we place upon boots imposts ranging from 30 to 60 per cent ? I really thought that, in order to save time, the Ministers would have told us that after the condemnation by the committee of the. principle of composite duties, the Government were ready to give way. The actions of the Ministry have proved that they either brought down proposals for high duties because they thought they might have to reduce them, or that they have been absolutely regardless of their pledges. The fact that they expect to derive only £68,000 from the duties on boots shows that rates have been fixed with the deliberate intention to shut out importations altogether. Is there any necessity for this ? Is the boot industry one in which there should be no competition? I have heard honorable members sitting on the Government benches say that they would repudiate any attempt to impose prohibitive duties because they would kill all competition. The duties now proposed, however, are part of a project to destroy competition. It does not require any elaborate argument to show that these duties will give to the bootmakers of Australia a practical monopoly of the trade of the Commonwealth. I defy the Treasurer to deny it. What places the boot industry in a position different from that occupied by others ? We have reduced the duties upon many articles of a class exactly similar to boots, so far as the general public are concerned. No necessity has been shown for extending special consideration to the boot industry. Surely, when we reach a division of this kind, dealing with one of the greatest industries in Australia, we have a right to ask the Minister in charge to justify proposals for duties ranging from 30 to 60 per cent. 1 There has been no policy disclosed and no courage of opinion displayed by the Ministry in dealing with the Tariff. I asked the Treasurer if he had anything to say regarding this division, and he said “No.” The bone is thrown to the dogs to fight over, and the result will be seen after a certain amount of debate, and after opinions expressed by their supporters indicate to the 30 f 2
Ministry what they should do. Will any honorable member say that these proposals are not an outrage of the sacred pledges of the Ministry with regard to the national Tariff? Some honorable members who have supported the Government have cared nothing for the promises made at Maitland, or for the Ministerial pledges, but have preached absolute prohibition. When we have protested that their proposals would keep out imports, they have retorted, “A very good thing, too.” Perhaps it would be better in the interests of the party I represent to allow this division to pass as it is, because if ever there were a damning proof of absolute breach of faith it is contained in this division. We do not, however, intend to resort to any such tactics. In the first place, a breach of faith has been committed, and secondly, there is absolute inconsistency between this divison and other parts of the Tariff, which Ministers ought to make some attempt to explain. We have not all been Tariff driven in Australia. We have not all been the slaves of a protective system, and surely the representatives of New. South Wales and other States where customs duties have not been so onerous as in Victoria, .have a right to expect from the Ministry an explanation why such outrageous duties as these should be imposed. In Victoria protectionist duties were imposed upon boots, but in New South Wales they were admitted free. Still boots were manufactured as cheaply in that State as in Victoria. The New South Wales manufacturers were able to supply two-thirds of the public requirements, and the only reason why boots were not sent to Victoria was that the manufacturers of the mother State were shut out by an absolutely prohibitive Tariff. Now we have placed before us proposals which, although not adopting the exact figures of the Victorian Tariff, embody the same principle and its very essence. Who is going to pay the piper for all this 1 Is it the rich man ? What does it matter to the ‘rich man if he has to pay a little more for the imported boots which he wears ? The poorer classes of the population will feel the pressure of these iniquitous duties, and under the guise of a great national policy there lies the hidden snake of protected monopolies and of a raid upon the working man. The boot manufacturing industry does not require elaborate protection. No elaborate machinery is employed, no trade secrets are involved, and generations of experience are not required in order to follow it up successfully. It is a natural industry, similar to that of furniture making, in connexion with which we have imposed a duty of 25 per cent. Why should a distinction be made between the rate of duty imposed upon furniture, and that which it is proposed to levy upon boots and shoes ? Will the Treasurer explain the difference between the manufacture of furniture and that of boots, from the point of view of protection? Will any honorable.member who favours the Government scheme tell me - because as sensible men we have a right to know these things - what is the essential difference between the manufacture of furniture, upon which we imposed a 25 per cent, rate last week, and the manufacture of boots, upon which it is proposed to levy a duty of from 30 to 50 per cent. ? I want that question answered.
– The Chinamen who make the furniture have no votes and the manufacturers of boots have. That is the whole j>oint. .
– It results from the fact that in Victoria an elaborate system, existed under which every duty was so carefully graduated and planned that in each case it practically represented prohibition - the exclusion of the article upon which the tax was levied. There is no sense in such a system. In view of the pledges of the Government, the committee, as a matter of consistency ‘fair play, and honesty, ought to demand the abolition of all these composite duties,and the substitution of a fair ad valorem rate having regard to the other industries with which we have already dealt.
– After fully considering the matter I fail to see why such a determined set should be made against the composite rates. I believe that in many instances they constitute the fairest impost which can be levied, taking into consideration the fact that some articles ought to bear a fixed duty. Where a specific rate only is collected it usually represents a high duty upon the poorer class of goods, and a comparatively low rate upon the better class. The proposal of the Government was adopted with ‘ a view to lessening the difference between the rates. “Whilst imposing a fair protective rate upon ihe lower and medium classes of articles, for which we have a large local market, we were desirous of obtaining from the better class of goods a greater revenue than had been derived from them in the past. I regret that a majority of this committee appear to entertain views adverse to composite rates. I recognise that it is useless for me to attempt to fight for those rates in connexion with this particular item. Therefore, I do not propose to do so. But I wish strongly to urge that the boot and shoe industry is entitled to a fair amount of protection in the form of a fixed duty - such a measure of protection as will give the local manufacturers an opportunity of competing in the poorer and medium classes of goods. Under these circumstances, I purpose asking the committee to impose, not ad valorem rates, but fixed duties upon the articles which are enumerated in the Tariff. The boot and shoe industry is not one which, can be said to employ only two men and a boy. It gives employment within the Commonwealth to between 11,000 and 12,000 people. We have been very careful, indeed, to avoid doing anything which would enable a large quantity of boots and shoes to be imported into Australia to the detriment of an established industry. That is ‘ the evil against which we wish to guard, and I ask the committee to deal with the matter from that stand-point. Therefore, I appeal to honorable members to sanction the imposition of such a fixed duty as will enable the industry to continue, and our own people to be employed. In this connexion I would point out that no less than 4,812 persons find employment in the industry in Victoria, and 3,953 in New South Wales. Of course I admit that it is difficult to obtain exact figures with regard to the manufacture of boots, but I may mention that I have today been supplied with a return by the Comptroller-General of Customs, having reference to the output of boots in New South Wales and Victoria during the years 1899 and 1900. From that document I find .that in 1899 New South Wales manufactured 3,207,000 pairs of boots, as against 2,929,000 pairs manufactured in Victoria. In 1900 the former State turned out 3,269,000 pairs - practically the same number as was made in the previous year - as against 3,346,000 pairs manufactured by the latter.
– Did not the Treasurer alter his system of making these calculations ?
– The figures which I have quoted were* supplied to me to-day as the official statistics.
– What is the source of the information ?
– They have been obtained by the Comptroller-General of Customs, and are authenticated by him. No doubt he has obtained them from the statistical branch in Victoria.
– Do those figures include slippers 1
– No ; I am dealing with boots only. Honorable members have also to bear in mind the quantities of boots imported into the various States, which must afford some indication of the number of boots and shoes manufactured locally. I find under the heading of “ Interchange,” in the Statistical Register, that the value of boots imported into New South Wales in 189S represented £273,000; whilst in 1899 it was £276,000 ; and in 1900, £382,000. So that in 1900 there was a large increase in the imports, and a considerable decrease in the number of boots manufactured locally. Probably the latter fact is explained by the heavier import of American boots.
– The population of New South Wales has been increasing.
– It has not increased to any considerable extent during the past two years. But in Victoria the different results which have followed from the adoption of a protective policy are at once apparent. In this State, the imports in 1898 were valued at £34,000 ; in 1899, at £32,000 ; and in 1900, at £43,000. The total imports into the Commonwealth during the three years mentioned represent a value of £4S4,000, £465,000, and £623,000 respectively. It will be seen therefore that, in New South Wales, in 1900 there was a very large increase in the importations as compared with those of the previous year.
– That was owing to the “ loading up.”
– There may have been a certain amount of loading up, but evidently it was thought that there would be a larger production in New South Wales, as no doubt there will be. We have made an allowance for such a development. The importers were loading up in order to get a better market in New South Wales, in the belief that this Parliament would take care that in future they would be unable to import such large quantities of manufactured goods as they had done in the past. Whilst I admit that we ought not to be bound by the duties which existed under the State Tariffs prior to the accomplishment of federation, and that with the larger market of Australia open to our manufacturers, lower rates might be advisable, it is well, that we should consider the circumstancesof the trade in the different States prior toFederal union, because we have to take Such steps as will not seriously injure any part of it. In this connexion I find that in New South Wales boots and shoes were admitted free.
– That State contains a third of the population of the Commonwealth.
– In Victoria,., which represents another third of the population, the duty was 60s. per dozen, in Queensland and South Australia it was . 33s., in Tasmania 20s., whilst in Western Australia there were both fixed rates and>. percentage. rates operating. In considering the advisability of adopting either a fixed! rate or an ad valorem duty, we must remember that fixed duties obtained in three of the States prior to federation. One reason why we should give a considerableamount of protection to this industry is. that the Americans, during the past two or three years, for various reasons, and not solely on account of the large duty which operated in the United States, have been able to manufacture boots and shoes to an enormous extent, and we all realize that they larger the capacity for production, thegreater is the cheapness of the individual article. These facts have enabled America not only to obtain command of its home market, but to export very largely.
– What is the duty in theUnited States 1
– I think it is about 45 per cent. In the Board of TradeJournal of 1st March, 1901, I find somevery interesting figures. In a despatchwhich was received at the Foreign Officefrom tho Embassy at Washington, dated. 5th February of that year, appears a copy of a report, drawn up by the British Commercial Agent of the United States, uponthe boot and shoe industry of that country. The report calls the very particular attention of British manufacturers to the fact, as evidenced by the statistics, that the exportation of boots and shoes from the United States is increasing at a rapid rate. The value of the exports of boots and shoes from that country last year amounted to £963,803, against £764,257 in the preceding year, and £405,088 in 1898. Honorable members will therefore see that immense strides are being made in the boot export trade of the United States. A large portion of these boots were shipped to the United Kingdom, the importations from America in 1898 representing a value of £72,000, whilst in 1900 they had increased to £228,000. The importations from the United States into British Australasia in 1898 aggregated a value of £67,000, whilst in 1900 they had increased to £278,000. It is evident, therefore, that our friends in the United States are to a large extent capturing the boot trade, not only of Great Britain, but also of the colonies. It will be noticed that the larger portion of these Australasian importations found its way into New South Wales.
An Honorable Member. - American boots are better finished articles than are those locally manufactured.
– Ido not believe that they are better finished articles. In New South Wales and Victoria we make boots of as good material and finish as are produced in any part of the world. America, however, is able to export to such a large extent because her manufacturers specialize more than we do, and are thus able to manufacture much more cheaply, having regard to our smaller population.
– Is that the Treasurer’s argument for prohibition?
-I do not desire prohibition. I wish to have a real Australian industry for the Australians, if I can get it. No doubt the manufacturers of the United States are making rapid strides. They are exporting large quantities of. boots into Germany, as is evidenced by the fact that only a few months ago the Germans had to consider whether they would not increase the duties upon those articles in order to prevent the large inroads being madeupon their own markets. Itis wise, in a case of this kind, “to have fixed and not ad valorem duties. Fixed duties have been the practice in several of the States, and I know that in ‘Victoria, several years ago, when we had ad valorem rates, we did not collect the amount of duty which ought to have resulted. From information I have from the Customs officers there is no doubt that ad valorem rates with regard to boots and shoes do not work well, and, in addition, I may say that fixed rates will give us practically the command of the market in the lower and medium-priced grades of goods, and allow the free importation of the better class of goods, which are consumed by those who can afford to pay for them. Honorable members of the Opposition are wrong if they think that the poor man in Australia is going to wear imported boots. We hear very often that the farmer will be penalized, if not ruined because he has to pay more for his boots in consequence of the duty ; but any one who has inquired into the question knows full well that the farmer and labourer wear, not imported boots, but home-made boots, which can be got of good quality and at very reasonable cost.
– As cheap as or cheaper in Victoria than in New South
– I do not think itwill be said that the farmers and labourers in New South Wales are persons who wear large quantities of better class imported boots and shoes. I ask the committee to consider this matter very carefully lest we take any step which will allow, not only the United States, but other countries which produce more largely and more cheaply, to send here their surplus products, which were described by another name a few nights ago by the honorable member forWentworth. We ought to be careful notto cut down the duty to an unreasonable extent. We aretold that ‘there ought to be no monopoly, but that we ought to have competition. I ventureto say that if there is one trade more than another in which there is active competition, it is the boot-making trade. We have alarge number of manufacturers, and the competitionis so keen that, whether they like it or not, they are forced to sellat a reasonable cost. No one is more strongly opposed than I am to any duty which may create a monopoly.Butwhen we have competition withthe outside world,and internal competition withregard toarticles we can well make, we have done all that we can be expected to do in theinterests of the consumer. I think it will be found that so far as the price of boots and shoes in Victoria is concerned, there is no cause for complaint. It is not the rate of duty that the consumer is so much concerned about, as it is the price he has to pay for his boots.
– The duty does not affect the price, I suppose?
-I will not say that ; but ifwe take off the duty, or put on too low a duty, and seriously injure or cripple the industry here, the persons who import boots, and the persons who sell them in the exporting countries, and who have to allow a considerable proportion for the duty, will, once they get command of the market, raise prices very considerably.
– Why was that not done in New South Wales?
– Victoria is not able to export much of these manufactures.
– Victoria exports a certain quantity.
– The exportsfor 1900 were valued at £43,000.
– That is not a bagatelle. The manufacturers of boots and shoes have to pay duty on much of the material which they use, and it is to their credit that the local article is used to a great extent. But there are some articles which have to be imported, and which necessarily bear some duty ; and the very fact that a large quantity of Australian produce is used for this purpose shows that the more bootswe can make here the more employment we give to the other persons engaged in that particular line. That consideration shouldweigh with us in dealingwiththis question. We are told that 60 per cent, of the boots and shoes used in New South Wales are manufactured in that State ; but thereis no doubt that a larger percentage would be of local manufacture if there were reasonable protection. In a letter written to the Customs authorities by Mr. Enoch Taylor, of Sydney, it is said that if a duty were imposedone-half of the goods now imported into New South Wales would undoubtedly be made locally. Surely that is something weshould help to bring about, if possible. The more employment we give to people in such an industry, and the more we manufacture, the more cheaply will each individual article be, and keen competition will undoubtedly bring about reasonable prices, more especially when we know that manufacturers in the various States will have to compete, not only with the outside world, subject to the duty, but amongst themselves on equal terms.
– The largest boot factory in Australia has been established in New South Wales under free-trade.
– I am not so certain about that. We have had certain, figures quoted ; but I think we have factories as large in Victoria. In New South Wales, those who are described as manufacturers also carry on the business of importers, and it is somewhat difficult to distinguish those who are actively engaged in manufacturing from those who are engaged in the importingbranch.
– Then importing does give encouragement to labour ?
– Importing certainly does afford a certain amount of labour, but manufacturing gives employment to twice or three times as many not only in the particular industry, but in other industries which are assisted by it. We often hear ofthe greatboot and shoe industry which is carried on in New Zealand under the duty of 22per cent. It is said that if an industry can live with such a duty in New Zealand, it ought to be able to live with, a similar duty in the States of the Commonwealth.But if we look at the figures with regard to New Zealand for the last few years, wefind that the industry there is not nearly so progressive as it ought tobe indeed, it is rather the other way. Whilethe imports into Victoria are valued at £30,000 or £40,000 per annum, we find that in 1898 the imports into New Zealand were valued at £1 30,000, in 1899 at £150,000, and in 1900 at £194,000. The exports from New Zealand were practically nil, but during 1900 the exports from Victoria to the other States, and probably to New Zealand, were valued at £60,000. I have no doubt that as the industry increases weshall not only have Inter-State trade, but alsoexport a reasonable amount of surplus stock to New Zealand and other places.
– Does the Treasurer think that New Zealand ought to admit these goods when similar exports from that colony are excluded from Australia?
– The New Zealand, people ought to try to keep their home marketfor themselves. At the same time, if we, like other countries both protected and free-trade, have surplus stocks, we know that it often pays manufacturers to sell such stocks in other countries, because their own markets are fully supplied. I think, however, that it will be many years before we can hope for such a state of things, owing to the competition amongst ourselves.
– Victorian exportations represented £61,000 last year, and yet the Victorian manufacturers could not undersell . the imported article in New South
W til 6 s
– I think Victoria exported a good deal to New South Wales. I hope that in a few years, after we have got rid of the little feeling which, perhaps, still exists, more or less, the people in New South Wales will feel more satisfied to buy boots from Victoria if they do not like their home-made articles, than those imported from the United States, Germany, and other places. We, in Victoria, shall also be very glad to buy boots made by our friends in Sydney, if these can be sold cheaper than our own make. We need not have any fear of a ring in connexion with this industry. I have here a statement which was sent to me a day or two ago by Mr. Harkness, a well-known bootmaker. I have not been able to obtain the original of the extracts forwarded to me, but I may fairly assume that the information is correct. I want to impress this particular phase of the subject on honorable members, so that they may not be led away with any desire to make the duty too low and thus enable our markets to be flooded and our own makers to be thrown out of employment, as has been the case in Great Britain. Northampton is a place in England where the . boot industry was large and flourishing. A paragraph in the London Daily Express of December last states -
Northampton is the first English town seriously to feel the wave of depression now passing over Europe. Seven hundred men are out of work there, the unemployed women are counted bv the multitude, and two-thirds of the factories are on short time. Hundreds of houses are standing empty.
The writer proceeds -
In factory after factory there work is lessening till some are not averaging half-a-crown a week. Boot and shoe making - Northampton’s staple industry - is feeling the full strain of foreign competition and of lost colonial markets.
Honorable members will see that the large exports from the United States, not only to Great Britain, but to the colonies, have seriously affected the boot-making industry of Northampton.
– How is it that Northampton cannot make boots to compete with America ?
– Simply because of the enormous output in America. The manufacturers in the United States have their own markets, and, as I said before, where there is an enormous output, the cost of the individual articles must be very largely reduced. In addition, where there is an immense population, particular factories are enabled to turn out special classes of goods, which, again, means reduced cost and cheap selling prices.
– Wages are higher and material is dearer in America than here.
– In New South Wales the President of the Chamber of Commerce, in August, 1900, drew attention to the great depression, more especially in the boot and shoe trade, and showed that from 1896 to 1900 there was an increase of only eleven in the number of persons employed. As to New South Wales, the Sydney Morning Herald of the 2nd September last gave an account of the low wages said to be earned in the boot and shoe industry in that State. I do not want to enter into the question of wages as between the two States. Figures and averages as to the wages of men, women, and boys may be quoted, but unless one is perfectly sure of the ground, and that like is compared with like, it is very difficult to say whether the rates are higher or lower in a particular State. We have heard it alleged that rates of wages are higher iri Sydney than in Melbourne. It is difficult to arrive at any standard, but this is what a Sydney journal says -
With regard to the rate of wages the scales of payment are said to vary in different factories, but to be very low in all of them. In Victoria and South Australia the rates of payment are said to be much higher than here, and an effort is to be made to have them raised to something like a fair return for the labour given. It is stated hy one of the officials of the union that an estimate was made not long ago of the average earnings of the men, and it was found not-to exceed 25s. per week.
That might be in consequence of their not being fully employed ; but this writer goes on to say -
This year the trade has been very slack, and in many instances the men were not working full time, in fact, not much more than half time. In conclusion, he said the better manufacturers were anxious that a good wage should be paid all round.
Here we have the statement made that the hoot operatives in New South “Wales were working only half-time at the same time that immense quantities of boots and shoes were imported from America and other places. Surely it is not reasonable not to try to assist the boot operatives throughout the Commonwealth to obtain as much employment in their industry as they possibly can. I hope the committee are not going to take any step which will largely increase the importation of boots and shoes into the Commonwealth, but will rather take such a stand as will enable the industry to be carried on by our own people.
– At what ad valorem rate does the Treasurer’s scheme work out 1
– I have only the averages, which run from 30 to 40 per cent.; though I quite admit that there are some lines on which the duty may be higher.
– What is the difference in principle between boots and shoes and other articles, such as furniture 1
– When my honorable friend was dealing with furniture he spoke of the immense natural protection which the industry had. I have not heard him say a word about that natural protection as applying to boots and shoes. Indeed the amount of natural protection the industry enjoys is remarkably small.
– In view of the fact that 66 per cent, of the boots and shoes in New South Wales are made in Sydney it may be regarded as a natural industry.
– The statement made by one of the Sydney importers shows that the whole of the boots and shoes in New South Wales could be made there.
– That is a reason why the Government have made the duties prohibitive, I suppose.
– I do not want to make the duties prohibitive, because we desire to have a fair amount of competition. If this were an article in regard to which there would not be keen competition amongst our own manufacturers, I should not be so much inclined to fix the duties high. But there will be very keen competition between Australian manufacturers.
– When we talk of competition we mean the competition of the outside world.
– By competition I mean two things ; the competition of the importer, and the internal competition. I would rather have the competition amongst our own people, so long as it is fair and good competition. In regard to this class of goods we can well think of Australia first, and outsiders afterwards.
– On that principle we might shut out all imports.
– No, because there are a certain class of people who are absolutely prejudiced against everything Australian, and who profess to believe that we cannot make furniture or anything else here. If such people are determined to have imported articles, let them pay a little extra for them. I maintain that Australian made boots and shoes are good enough for our own people, and I have shown that there is no fear of the creation of a mono- poly.
– What revenue does the Treasurer expect to derive from boots and shoes ?
– We expect to derive a revenue of about £68,000.
– But is not the Treasurer going to move an amendment ?
– As it is evident that the committee are opposed to composite duties - which I very much regret - I intend to propose that the rates be fixed.
– The Treasurer apprehends that he will receive the same revenue from the new proposal as from the other 1
– I think probably that will be so, but it is difficult to say. Probably we shall get more, for the reason that the fixed duties will undoubtedly have the effect - I am not going to shirk that position - of shutting out the medium and lower class goods, which would be imported under the fixed duty and the ad valorem rate combined. In all probability, however, there will be a larger importation of better class goods under the new duties. I am sorry that the committee will not go to the full length that I desire them to go. Personally, I trust that when Parliament revises the Tariff - say in ten years’ time - honorable members will have realized the benefit of the composite duties.
– We will reduce the duties after the next election !
– Then I hope my honorable friend will be here to assist in the task. I should be sorry to miss him. I do not want to move an amendment at present, because I wish the committee to have a fair opportunity for a general discussion. I hope, however, that the debate will not be long. The fixed rate in Victoria on this line is 60s., in Queensland 33s., and in South Australia 33s. I intend to propose a fixed duty of 40s. per dozen pairs on men’s sizes above 5. The officers of the Customs have worked out the rates at what we think would be equivalent to a proper degree of protection. Perhaps I may be permitted now to quote the proposed new rates, so that honorable .members may mark them down. On youths’ sizes above 1 I shall propose that the rate be 25s. per dozen pairs ; on boys’ 7 to 1, 15s. ; women’s sizes above ‘2, 25s. ; girls’ sizes above 10, 18s. ; girls’, 7 to 10, 13s. ; leather slippers, 10s. Those rates are what we think would be a fair protection, averaging about 30 or 35 per cent, all round.
– On 3s. 9d. boots it amounts to SO per cent.
– Does my honorable -friend think that 3s. 9d., boots will be imported 1 I am perfectly certain that those who wear imported boots do:not buy boots-costing 3s.. 9d. per-pair. They are much more likely =to buy boots costing 39s. per pair. I have now placed the matter as -fully as I could before the committee, and I trust that whatever is done we shall fix such rates as give a reasonable amount of protection. The advice I .have obtained -from the experts of the Custom-house .-is that :it would be infinitely better to .have .fixed rates than ad valorem :rates.
– “Why do the Customhouse officers prefer -fixed rates ?
– We proposed them because the -fixed rates -prevent the under valuation which experience showed took place with’ regard to boots and shoes a :few years ago. Fixed rates ‘ are also in line with the policy pursued by three States in the past; they work out better in regard to numbers and sizes ; and they give a better rate of protection.
I do trust that, viewing the magnitude of this industry and the large number of persons employed in it, and seeing the competition we shall have, from the United States and other places, honorable members will not consent to a rate of duty which ^ ill not be protective. -If they do, we shall be simply throwing open our markets to the sweepings of the surplus stocks of the old world ; we shall seriously injure our manufactures; and in the long run I believe the consumer will suffer. Under all the circumstances T trust the committee will consent to place a fair amount of pro- ‘tection upon these articles, .and by the imposition, of fixed rates of duty.
– On behalf of honorable members on this side, I absolutely protest against this most extraordinary behaviour on the part of the Government. This matter has been gestating for an exceedingly long time, and yet at the very moment the committee is asked to deal with it, we have an entire change of front. The Government abandon the ad valorem principle, and propose increased fixed rates of duties without any notice -to this committee or to the public, and without any chance of criticism being directed against the proposal. They propose that we should debate this new proposal without’ consideration. It is monstrous. As a mere matter of courtesy, to say nothing of the rules of the House, we should have had notice of this. We are asked, as a matter of courtesy to the Government, if we have any proposal to make, to give notice of it, and for weeks and weeks past there have been notices on the business-paper with regard to this Tariff. The Government have had the fullest information of what we desire to do. ‘They have known that probably our attack would have been upon fixed duties, with a desire to see the imposition of an ad valorem duty, as in -the case of hats. Yet, with -the knowledge-which they might have had that that would have been our line of action, they actually turn the thing topsy-turvy, exclude the ad valorem duty, and propose -enormous increases in fixed rates, -the very principle of which we oppose as being a blind to the public. I say this is not fair. It is certainly not treating the committee with the courtesy we have the right to expect. We have been asked to conserve .the time of the committee, but I say that one-half of the time spent over this Tariff has been due to the unbusiness-like and absurd manner in which it is being placed before honorable members. There never were less business acumen and less common sense exhibited in dealing with a great commercial matter of this kind than have been shown in connexion with this Tariff.
– Do not occupy further time now ; let us get on with the debate.
– The honorable member for Melbourne is new to politics. There are members of this committee who have acted simply as voting machines. Members possessing some of the best intelligence on the other side of the House have come here and voted night after night without ever opening their mouths on this Tariff. They have applied none of their intelligence to the consideration of this greatnational subject, and I say that the way in which this automaton business has been carried on by honorable members who ought to have given the committee the benefit of their experience is a matter that will call for reproof and remark in the future. We have now a proposal to increase a duty of 20s. to 40s., a duty of 15s. to 25s., and a duty of 10s. to 15s., and we have not had one word of notice. How are we to know how the change proposed will work out? Are we to make calculations right off the reel, without any knowledge of what we are dealing with ? I say this proposal is worse than anything which has been submitted duringthe consideration of this Tariff.
– Has the honorable gentleman got thepercentages worked out at the old rates ?
– I have, but we cannot work out these things while standing upto debate the question. I want to knowwhen thisproposal wasarranged. In opening up the debate on thisdivision of the Tariff,Iasked the Treasurer, on behalf of members on this side,if he had any change of front to announce, or any proposal but thatstated in the Tariff tosubmit, and by his silence therighthonorable gentleman practically said “ No.” Yet the moment I sitdown, after dealing with the matter as I did, he getsup and tellsus that the Government never intended to submit this scheme to the committee at all - that is, lately, because, of course, I know they did originally. I say that that is not treating this side with courtesy, and when the history of this Tariff discussion comes to be written, it will show that there has been a majority simply overriding without any courtesy or consideration a respectable minority, representing the majority of the people of Australia.
– Representing the importers.
– I may put a question to the Minister for Home Affairs, and I know what his answer would be if he answered me as an honest man.
– I always do answer as an honest man.
– I suppose the honorable gentleman would not answer at all, but if he did answer me, and I had told him at the last general election that a fixed duty equal to about 50 per cent, was going to be put upon an article like this, he would have repudiated it.
– In the first place, it is not 50 per cent.
– I do not expect the honorable gentleman to answer me, because he is a member of the Government, and whether he approves of this proposal or not, I could not expect him to say anything of the kind. I am simply showing the unfortunate position in which honorable members on this side are placed, because we are a betrayed minority. Of course, there will be considerable debate on this division under the circumstances. I do not desire to prolong the debate an hour longer than I can help ; but I say that if this debate is prolonged beyond a reasonable period the Ministry alone will be to blame. I would like to ask the Treasurer when he came to this determination ?Will the right honorable gentleman answer me that? Then I ask him, if he came to this determination within the last few days, and during the debates of last week, why we were not told of it?
– If the honorable gentleman desires to know Iwill tell him. I was waiting for my right honorable colleague, the Minister for Trade and Customs, to come back to discuss the matter with him before taking any step at all. Unfortunately, when he came back I could not see him, because he had to return. I have made this proposal entirely upon my own responsibility.
– This Tariff has been before the public since last
October, and this division has been in the hands of the Ministry, and it is only at the last moment we are informed of this big alteration in the proposals of the Government. The thing is absurd on the face of it, and shows that there is absolutely no kind of united consideration of measures by the present Cabinet. I have no desire to speak in any way against time.
– Honorable members opposite all know the invoice prices of boots very much better than I do.
– I will tell my right honorable friend that what we intend to fight for upon this item is a proper ad valorem duty. An ad valorem duty is absolutely the soundest duty to impose where we can get at the value of an article. It has been agreed to in this committee time after time, and when we have agreed to place a fixed duty upon any particular item, it has been simply because certain considerations and surroundings connected with the articles included have made it very difficult to get at their real value. Where we can get at the real value of an article, there is no question as between an ad valorem and a fixed duty, because an ad valorem duty presses heaviest upon those who are best able to bear it. It is a duty upon a graduated scale, by which the poor man pays only his proportion, and the rich man has to pay his. Of course, it is proposed here to vary the fixed duty, but a fixed duty has two objections. In the first place, it is a stupid mechanical operation, which does not touch the real per centage of value, and, in the second place, nine times out of ten it is a blind to cover what we are doing. I am not going to decide upon this proposal without consultation. The Ministry, no doubt,consult about what they are going to do, but we are also a party, and we have to consult amongst ourselves. I do not venture to get up in this Chamber and decide of my own will exactly what we are going to propose as a counter proposal to that of the Government. W e have to consult amongst ourselves, and, meanwhile, the debate must proceed on this proposal, which has been sprung upon us by the Government, without any notice whatever.
– We have a counter proposal from the other side.
– Will the honorable gentleman suggest what he thinks the ad valorem duty ought to be ?
– I am not going now to fix what the ad valorem duty should be, but we have carried out the ad valorem system in the case of almost every great industry in the country. We have agreed to fixed duties upon groceries and other things to which they are more applicable, but when we have dealt with the great manufacturing industries of Australia we have always carried out the ad valorem principle. As I said before, we are willing to agree to an ad valorem duty in connexion with this industry, to place it on a consistent footing with the other industries in connexion with which we have already imposed duties. I am not going to say what the duty should be in this case, but we have already agreed to ad valorem duties of 15, 20, and 25 per cent.
– And 30 per cent.
– Yes, on hats and umbrellas. What I say now is that we will divide the committee on the question whether this industryhas anything in its essence, or in the conditions by which it is surrounded, that differentiates it from all the other industries in connexion with which we have agreed to ad valorem duties. I am not going to say now to what duty we will be prepared to agree, but we are absolutely and irrevocably opposed to a fixed duty, because it is a wrong kind of duty, and is absolutely inconsistent with the previous work of the committee.
– It is in the power of the committee to say whether there shall be a fixed duty or an ad valorem, duty.
– I know all that. We shall propose a certain duty which we consider a fair one as soon as the debate has developed. I have not had time to consult with honorable members on this side, but if we had had the notice which the Government should have givenus of this proposal we should have been able to announce some decision. The debate must now go on, and the Government must expect that members of this party, and others, will take breathing time before they come to a conclusion. I think we shall be able to show from certain statistics and information of an absolutely reliable character, that there is no reason why we should differentiate this industry from every other industry, and that a moderate ad valorem duty in this case would be quite sufficient under all the circumstances.
– The complaint of the honorable member for Wentworth in his second speech is that the Treasurer has sprung a proposal upon him as to which members on the other side have had no time to study or consult. The honorable gentleman says that the Government have had from October last to make up their minds about this particular industry, and should have been in a position to tell the committee at once, or, at any rate, some time earlier than to-day, what they intended to do. But the honorable gentleman forgets, or fails to observe, that the very same thing is true of himself. In his first speech this afternoon, and now in his second speech, he has announced to the committee that honorable members opposite intend to support an ad valorem duty. Yet when he was asked by the honorable member for Darling Downs what rate of ad valorem duty he would suggest, the honorable gentleman replied that he had not yet had time to consult his party. The honorable gentleman, as well as the Treasurer, has had ample time since October last in which to consult his party.
– May I be allowed to say, by way of explanation, that the Opposition expected that the Government, because of what took place in regard to the duties upon hats, would propose an ad valorem instead of a composite duty upon boots. When the Government tell us, as they did in regard to the duties upon hats, what they intend to propose as an equivalent for the proposed composite duty upon boots, we can consider it ; but until then, as the honorable member knows, it is not our duty to decide what to do. That is why I am in the position in which I am now.
– Of course, any excuse is better than none. What I said was that the honorable member in both his speeches this afternoon announced that it is part of the policy of the Opposition to advocate an ad valorem duty upon boots and shoes. If that is so, he should be prepared to announce what rate the Opposition are prepared to accept in place of the rate fixed by the Government.
– We shall doit before the day closes.
– The honorable member tells us that he has not yet had time to consult his party, and in the same breath he said thathe wishes to save time. If, before sitting down, he had proposed a certain duty, and had placed it against the Treasurer’s proposal, he would have saved time, because then all we should have had to do would be to decide between his proposal and that of the Government. As one of the rank and file in this House, I rather resent the tone which he adopted in speaking upon the position of the Government and upon the attitude of those who support them. He referred to there being a monopoly of common sense upon his side of the Chamber.
– I did not say that.
– The honorable member twitted the Government with having broken faith, and spoke of the Opposition as a betrayed minority, and as a respectable minority representing a majority of the people of the Commonwealth. I do not grudge them their respectability.
– I must ask the honorable member to confine himself to the item before the Chair. There is no amendment before the committee.
– I desire to conduct the debate according to the established rules of Parliament, but I think that honorable members should be allowed to reply to remarks which are offensive to those who are endeavouring to do the best they can for the people whom they represent. The speech of the honorable member for Wentworth consisted chiefly of abuse of the Government and praise of the Opposition, but in dealing with the question before the committee, he said that the rich man does not care if he has to pay a little more for his boots. I do not know that we are to take into account the feelings of either the rich man or the poor man on this subject, but, in my opinion, it would be betterfor the rich man to have to pay a little more for his boots than for the poor man to have to do so. The imposition of a fixed duty upon boots is a better thing for the poor man than the imposition of an ad valorem duty, because under a fixed duty only the better quality of boots will be imported, and the boots worn by persons of the middle and poorer classes will be boots manufactured within the Commonwealth. Under the old Victorian Tariff boots and shoes were sold in Melbourne and in other places in this State for prices less than the amount of duty chargeable upon imported boots, a fact which disproves the assertion that the amount of the duty is always added to the price of the locally manufactured article. A fixed duty is better for persons of the poorer and middle classes, because the boots which they buy will be locally manufactured boots, and will, therefore, not be subject to duty. An ad valorem rate could not give them the- same amount of protection as the proposed fixed duties. Further, the boot manufacturers and operatives throughout Victoria, New South Wales, and South Australia all approve of the imposition of fixed rates, which is a reason, in addition to those given by the Treasurer, for adopting specific rates. The question asked by the honorable member for Wentworth as to why the Americans were able to manufacture boots, and to. send them into this and the* English market at lower rates than they could be manufactured, for locally, is a very pertinent one; but if he had studied the subject as I have, he- would probably have arrived at the same conclusion. I find that, in the early nineties, the Americans had, by reason of their immense- home market being -conserved to them, so- developed their trade that internal competition was stimulated to an extraordinary degree, and, as a result, they were enabled to specialize and organize their machinery in such a fashion as no manufacturers elsewhere were able to do.
– They had better equipped factories.
– Yes, their factories were better equipped, first, because of the splendid protection given to them by their Tariff ; secondly, because of the immense volume of trade which it secured to them ; thirdly, because of the competition which naturally sprang up between the different States, and, in the last place, because of the specialization and organization which took place.
– Very few of those things can be duplicated here.
– The reason” why they have not been duplicated here will be apparent as my argument proceeds, but before federation, no one State had a population . exceeding 1,000,000 people, whereas the population of the United States of America runs into scores of millions. The Americans have so developed their machinery and resources, that at the time I speak of they were unrivalled in the manufacture of boots and shoes, as can be proved by figures and statistics token from trade journals throughout the world. Having all the benefits which I have enumerated conferred upon them, the time came when they must export, and they naturally directed their attention to those markets where the greatest field was offered to them, and seized upon practically the whole of the British possessions and Great Britain itself. They began to export to Australia in 1891 or 1892, just when our period of depression was at its very worst. The boot trade of Australia, which had been employing thousands of operatives in all the , States, feeling the keen competition of the American manufacturers, had first to reduce wages, and then to reduce hands, and when the operation of the Reid Tariff in New South Wales began to be felt, still further additions were made to the unemployed market of that State.
– And a still further addition to- its output of boots.
– I will explain that presently. In Victoria, a tremendous agitation then sprang up for the extension of the- Pactori.es Act to the boot trade, so that a minimum rate of wage might be fixed, and the hours of labour shortened. That agitation has since extended to New South Wales, and the relief sought for is likely to be obtained by the operation of the- Arbitration Act which has recently been passed there.
– Is not the influence of the wages board defeated in the boot trade of Victoria 1
– No. The wages board has fixed a minimum rate of 42s. per week, whereas, according to Coghlan, the rate in New South Wales is 33s. 8d. per week, and the actual earnings, according to independent investigations - notably those of the Sydney Morning Herald - from 25s. to 28s. per week.
– Not per week, but for four days in the week.
– I must ask the honorable member not to discuss the question of wages. An incidental reference to the subject is in order, but not the elaboration upon which he is entering.
– Are we to understand, Mr. Chairman, that honorable members are not to be permitted to discuss , the cost of production or the effect of, protection upon the rate of wages paid to the men employed in the industry 1 Are we to confine ‘our- ‘ selves to the discussion of the prices of boots, and the extent of the imports and exports of the article?
– I gave no such ruling. I asked the honorable member to confine himself to an incidental reference to the wages question. I ruled that it was not competent to elaborate that point by giving examples of the rates of wages paid in Victoria and New South “Wales.
– I had practically concluded my remarks upon that phase of thequestion. With, improved machinery, and a large market, the cost of production, may be reduced without at the same time involving the payment of a lower rate of wages. There is a machine known as the consolidated boot laster, which, if not an American invention, is very largely used in that country. It is capable of turning off 400 pairs of boots per day with the service of five men. If’ only 200 pairs per day are thus dealt with the services of five men are still required to work the machine; and therefore if the machine can be kept in full, work for six days as compared with three days of the week, the cost of producing the boots must necessarily be reduced. In the light of facts like these the bearing of an immense home market upon the use of machinery and the cost of production at once becomesapparent. If we had a market equal to that of the Americans, we should be able to keep machines of this kind in full work, and possibly reduce the cost of production to the same extent as they do. Inasmuch, however, as our market is not equal to theirs, we could not possibly hope to compete with them under conditions such, as those which existed prior to the introduction of the federal Tariff. I may mention another instance which will give point to my remarks. Glace kid which enters very largely into the construction of the better class of boots, was at one time a purely French speciality. Later on it was manufactured by the Germans, but now its manufacture is practically wholly in: the hands of the Americans. A man named Foerderer discovered the way in which this kid was made, and owing to the large home market secured by the American Tariff and the consequent immense demand, he has developed such a trade that he is actually exporting glace- kid to other parts of the world. Mr. Foerderer is the largest single employer of labour in the world, and his business has been built up practically as the result of the protection which has been afforded to the boot manufacturers of America. In the United States the factories are worked on what is known as the “ one line “ basis. One manufacturer will turn out from 5,000 to 8,000 pairs of boots per day, and will make only two lines - certainly not more than three - whereas in Australia it is difficult to find a factory that does not manufacture, perhaps, 20 or 30 lines. This specialization reduces the cost of production very materially. As the result of all this organization, and special effort on the part of the American’s, the Australian manufacturers had, prior to the introduction of the Tariff, to labour under another disability which, in the absence of a large market, it was utterly impossible for them to contend against. Specialization such as I have referred to has led to the establishment of very large factories in America. The Leicester factory in New York, has a daily out-put of 18,000 pairs of boots, and according to thelast American Boot Trade Journal the proprietor is directing his efforts to the increase of his plant and machinery so that he may work his factory up to a daily output of 30,000 pairs of boots. Such an enormous volume of production would not be possible except in an immense home market, and these large operations have been encouraged by the splendid protective duties which the Americans have imposed in order to assist their industries. Unless we are prepared to do something, similar, how can we expectour industries to be built up ? As the result of their magnificent trade developments the American, manufacturers are sending their boots and shoes to all parts of the world - even to Great Britain itself. The increase in the value of the exports of boots and shoes from the United Kingdom between 1898 and 1900 amounted to nearly £250, 000. On the other hand the balance between English exports and imports of boots and shoes during the last nine years shows the round sum of nearly £1,000,000 to the bad. Practically the whole of this trade which has been lost to the United Kingdom has gone to the Americans for the reasons I have mentioned.
– Has not a similar thing happened in, Germany?
– The Germans were losing their boot trade to America for the reasons I have already given ; but the Germans have taken special precautions to conserve their home markets by increasing their import duties. The municipalities and corporations and guilds help the manufacturers in the United States. On a former occasion I read an extract from the American Ironmonger, which contained several advertisements showing that some of the municipal councils had special funds at their disposal for the purpose of establishing manufactories in their States. For instance, the State of New York can place large sums of money at the disposal of persons who may desire to start manufacturing enterprises. The smaller States are also adopting a similar policy, and hundreds of thousands of pounds are now available in the various States for the establishment of industries. As the result of this special assistance - such as is not given in Australia, or in any other part of the world, so far as I know - the American manufactures have gone forward by leaps and bounds. All the American organizations appear to be united in assisting the development of the manufactures of that great country. How, then, is it to be wondered at that we cannot compete with America? Even the English manufacturers, notwithstanding their immense capital, are not able to cope with the Americans. Some of the other disabilities under which Australian manufacturers labour have been mentioned by the Treasurer, notably the fact that Australian manufacturers have to pay duty upon some of their raw material. In addition, large quantities of what may be termed the accessories in the boot and shoe trade are not made within the Commonwealth, and therefore have to be imported. The freight alone upon these goods, apart from any duty, adds to their cost and to the difficulty of competing with American manufacturers, who, owing to the protective system in operation in that country, can obtain everything they require within their own borders.
– No industry has more articles upon the free list than has the boot industry.
– No industry has more articles on the dutiable list than has the boot industry.
– Does the honorable member contend that the articles which are subject to duty are dearer in consequence 1
– Only when they are not made within the Commonwealth. Again, owing to the wonderful development of the boot trade in America, the manufacturers there have been able to set the fashions in boots and shoes, and in that respect they lead all the world. The latest designs in boots and shoes, and the most tasteful and ornate articles of foot wear, practically all come from America. This fact in itself gives their manufacturers a great advantage over rivals in other countries, because if people will follow the fashions they must, to a large extent, wear imported boots. Then, again, it is a matter of common knowledge that in America ten hours constitutes a recognised day’s labour, whilst in Australia the eight hours system prevails. These are factors which enter very largely into the cost of production. If our manufacturers worked their operatives for the same hours as the latter are being worked by the manufacturers of America, they might possibly have been in a better position to compete with the outside world than they have been in the past.
– The operatives in America receive a higher rate of wage per hour.
– I am coming to that. The Australian boot operatives do not work the same number of hours as do the American. It is quite true that in America the operatives earn, upon anaverage, more money than they do in Victoria. That, however, is due to the fact that, in the United States, the manufacturers have been able to specialize and organize; consequently they can produce boots more cheaply than can our local manufacturers; whilst, as a result of the larger profits thus derived, they can afford to share those profits with their operatives. I have ‘said that the American boot manufacturers have practically invaded England. That is so. I further state that, between 1891 and 1901, Great Britain lost nearly a million pounds’ worth of trade in connexion with this particular industry. In 1891 the balance of exports represented a value of £1,586,5S0, whilst in 1901 it totalled £713,997, thus showing a loss of £872,583 within nine years. That, surely, is a startling fact, so startling that the ambassador from the British Court in America- drew attention to this subject in an article which he forwarded to the Home authorities on the 5th February, 1901, and from which I propose to quote in reply to the honorable and learned member for “Werriwa, who asserted by way of interjection that the Americans did not need to import their own hides because they were locally grown. The article in question, after giving certain figures, goes on to say -
Considering that so much of the raw material has to be imported into the United States by the tanners, there seems no reason why leather should not be manufactured as cheap or cheaper in the United Kingdom. This applies especially to the finer qualities, such as patent leather, glazed kid, and others. The United States is a larger importer of hides. There were imported during the twelve months ended 31st December last, 307,257,924 hides, valued at .£10,748,007, of which 152,792,232, valued at £3,815,987, were hides of cattle which pay import duty of 15 per cent, ad valorem.
There are a number of figures given with respect to the importation of goat and other skins, which enter into the finer kinds of boot work, but I do not propose to weary honorable members by quoting them. My answer to the honorable and learned member for Werriwa is that in spite of the tremendous number of hides which are imported into America-
– From where are they imported?
– From all parts of the’ world. A great number come from Australia.
– From what is the honorable member quoting 1
– I am quoting from an article written by the British ambassador from the Court of St. James in America. He writes to his principals in England upon the state of the boot trade in America, and the decline of British exports to that country, and whilst giving certain reasons, which he thinks have led to the magnificent success of the American people as against the British, he is careful to point’ out that although the latter can obtain their hides free of duty, the former, who import an immense quantity, upon which they have to pay 15 per cent, ad valorem, still beat the English bootmakers in their own market.
– How does the honorable member account for that t
– It is accounted for by specialization, by the conservation of the home market to their own people, by the use of up-to-date machinery, and by other aids which the protective Tariff gives to production.
– From where do they obtain their tanning materials 1
– Their tanning material is principally American. 30 a
– Do they import from the Argentine ?
– Speaking generally, the hides are imported from Australia, Russia, and the Argentine, whilst the goat skins come from, Germany, Switzerland, and Italy. In the same article from which I have previously quoted the ambassador says -
The organization, as a rule, leaves ‘nothing to be desired. The factories in Chicago are generally in buildings of five or six stories, fitted with electric light and elevators throughout. The leather is out at the top of the building and passes down from floor to floor as the work probrasses until it reaches the ground-floor as a. finished article. It is here packed and sent away. So systematically is the work done in many of thefactories that a boot will pass down from the top to the bottom of the house without once crossing from one side of a floor to another until it goes to be packed.
It must be admitted that under existing conditions the Americans will practically swamp the Australian market with boots, and will thus destroy what promises to be a. magnificent industry. That being so, I think it would be wise either to have absolute free-trade in boots, or to impose such a duty as will conserve the homemarket to our own manufacturers. “ Revenue without destruction” was a memorable phrase in connexion with the Maitland manifesto. We want revenue, without the destruction of the boot trade. We can getour revenue by imposing such rates of duty upon boots and shoes as will compel those prejudiced persons who think that nothing Australian is good enough for them to wear to pay upon the imported articles. If we do this, instead of getting £70,000 or £80,000 from this item, as the Treasurer anticipates, we shall get a great deal more. Indeed, I believe that the Treasurer’s estimate, is wrong in any case, because, notwithstanding that the -rates which formerly operated in Victoria were higher than those which are now proposed, £68,000 worth of boots were ‘ imported into this State last year. I am inclined to think, therefore, that, as the duties are to be decreased, the imports will be correspondingly increased, and that the Treasurer’s estimate will be out to that extent. My desire is to impose such a duty as will compel those who insist upon wearing foot-gear from abroad to pay a heavy duty upon it, and thus provide us with revenue, whilst at the same time preserving an existing industry from destruction. I arn sure that the acting leader of the Opposition has no desire to utterly destroy the boot industry: The difference between us is as to what constitutes an adequate duty. One honorable member may suggest that 30 per cent, is sufficient, whilst another may say that 40s. per dozen is an insufficient duty. This debate will probably show which set of opinions is correct. But if both sides are agreed that the industry shall continue, some rate of duty must be fixed. Under all the circumstances, it appears to me that the proper course is to tax the rich man by the imposition of a fixed duty, and not to raid the poor man, but to give him an opportunity of getting his boots made locally cheaper than they can be imported. As I have pointed out, the boots which poorer men wear were actually sold in Victoria for less than the amount of duty chargeable, and the same tiling will apply to the Commonwealth. I earnestly appeal to honorable members in - connexion with this industry. I have admitted that the Americans are able, -with their wonderful specialization and organization, to so conduct their business, as, practically, to wipe out the Australian industry. If that be so, and if we wish to give the consumer an advantage, we should either abolish the duties or so fix the rates as to conserve our own home market. For myself, I shall always vote for conserving the home market, and for giving work to our own people. It is calculated that there are 10,000 or 12,000 operatives already engaged in the trade, and there is probably room for 2,000 or 3,000 more ; but, taking the former figures, it is clear that, considering the wives and families, there are 30,000 or 40,000 people depending on th« result of our deliberations. We ought, therefore, to be careful before we do anything which may have the effect of wiping out the industry.
– Does the honorable member really believe that this duty is necessary ?
– I honestly believe that the duty is necessary; and, as my calm conviction after study of the subject, I say that unless we impose an adequate duty, and conserve the home market, the specialization and the organization of the Americans is so great, that a splendid and promising industry will be utterly abolished in Australia. I wish to give our people employment ; to avoid a step which may be followed by such a disaster as the destruction of the industry.
– How is it that the industry has not been destroyed in New South Wales?
– There are 4,000,000 people depending on what we do to-day.
– If it can be shown that, by fixing the rates of duty which are proposed, there will be an all-round increase in the price of boots, there may be something in the arguments of honorable members opposite. But it has been proved time and again that when local manufacturers come into competition with imported goods, prices come down, and the consumer gets an advantage. That result can be brought about in the cheaper lines with proper rates of duty, but I admit that it cannot be done in the better lines. For the sake of the home market, however, and for the sake of the local operatives and the local consumers, we ought to be very careful. It is calculated that £1,000,000 per annum is disbursed in wages in this industry, and that is a large sum to be taken away from the persons interested. I ask honorable members to pause before they take the drastic steps which, apparently, are to be proposed by the leader of the Opposition. If we act wisely, and take the same steps as the Americans have taken, we shall build an industry analogous in its developments. In that way we shall find work for our people. We shall not ruin a great industry ; on the contrary, we shall extend it; and, as a result, we shall do justice to the Commonwealth and to both the consumer and the manufacturer.
– The honorable member for Bourke, to be logical, ought to have advocated a duty of 100s. per dozen, seeing that the whole of his arguments were in favour of total prohibition. Because machinery in America can produce for us boots at a cheaper rate than that at which we can manufacture ourselves, the honorable mem- ber would absolutely shut out those boots by a prohibitive Tariff ; and he argues that the proposed fixed rate is in the interests of the poorer classes. That is the most marvellous argument I ever heard, in view of the average value per pair of the boots which were imported into Victoria under the State Tariff. I have some reason to complain of the action of the Government in this matter. Some months ago the Government invited honorable members to give notice of any intended amendments, in order that the latter might not come as a surprise. When it had been decided that the composite duties on hats and umbrellas were to be abolished, I gave notice of amendments, which have appeared on the business-paper for months past, with the object of abolishing fixed duties on all lines. When it was decided, without a division I believe, that the composite duties on hats should not be enforced, the Government practically intimated that it was their intention to abandon that particular system of taxation. But what has occurred ? On the original proposal of the Government in regard to boots and shoes we had an opportunity of ascertaining exactly how the duty would work out; but now we have had sprung on us a new proposal which “out Herod’s Herod “ in its iniquity. On the original proposal the extreme duty which could be paid on the lower classes of men’s boots was 61 per cent., whereas, under the present proposal, so far as we can approximate, the limit is 1 1 1 per cent.
– It is 28 per cent, on the actual imports intoVictoria.
– That is a very fine way of putting the matter.
– It is just as fair a way of putting it as the honorable member’s way.
– With due respect to the Treasurer, I think the actual value of the boots should be taken, and if that be done, what does the proposed duty mean on a pair of boots invoiced at 4s. ?
– Where is the imported boot which is sold at anything like that price?
– That is the cost price ; and I may inform the honorable member that in Victoria, in 1889, there were 205,112 pairs of boots imported, valued at £32,238, or an average value of 3s. 2d. per pair.
– Those figures include slippers and babies’ boots, which are sold at1s. per pair.
– Are no slippers or babies’ boots used ?
– But the argument is not fair, if babies’ boots and shoes be included.
– What I am stating is absolutely fair as against the arguments of the honorable member for Bourke, whose whole speech was directed to showing that the duty would admit the higher class boots and keep out the cheaper classes. In reply, I say that the higher duty in Victoria did not keep out the cheaper boots, which had to pay from 50 per cent, to 110 per cent, and 112 per cent.
– How many cheap boots were imported into Victoria?
– I have just given the figures.
– The honorable member knows that none of the cheap boots were imported. In the particular line with which we are now dealing, the average value per dozen pairs was 140s.
– But the protection is on the cheaper sort.
– How can the Treasurer get away from the figures I have quoted ?
– I do not deny the figures, but I deny the honorable member’s application.
– It is immaterial tome whether the figures apply to this particular division or to some other division. I say that the cheaper classes of boots came in under the Victorian Tariff, and the users of those boots have had to pay the extra duty. In the year 1900, there were imported into Victoria 312,924 pairs of boots, valued at £42,463, or an average of 2s. 9d. per pair. That, if it shows anything, shows that the great bulk of the boots imported were valued at under 3s. per pair.
– It shows that the honorable member includes, slippers, and calls them boots.
– Were slippers exempt from duty ? Is the proposal of the Government to charge 10s. on slippers not equivalent to 100 per cent. ?
– The value of a slipper and the value of a boot are vastly different.
– I am working out the cost to the purchaser. A boot invoiced at 3s. will, under the present proposal of the Government, pay 111 per cent., as against 61 per cent, under the original proposal ; a boot invoiced at 4s. will pay 88 per cent. ; and a boot at 6s. will pay 56 per cent. But on boots invoiced at 10s. the percentage is only 33 per cent., and on the boot invoiced at 15s. only 22 per cent.
– And what about a boot at £3 3s. ?
– A boot invoiced at £3 3s. will, of course, pay inproportion a much lower duty. This is what the Government describe as a fair and equitable system of taxation. We cannot insist on people buying either imported or locally-made boots ; but could anything be more unfair than to allow a man who can afford the better class of article to get off with 22 per cent., while the working man, who buys boots more suitable to his calling, has to pay 111 per cent.? The proposal is monstrous in the extreme. I am prepared to give a substantial amount of protection for locally-made boots, but I do not believe in a system which penalizes the people in regard to their necessities, fines them because they are poor, and adds to their burdens because they have to buv a cheaper class of article. I prefer the original proposal of the Government to that which they now suggest.
– Is it not a fact that in Victoria these cheap boots were cheaper under protection than in the other States ?
– My own candid opinion is that thousands and thousands of pairs of boots were smuggled into Victoria from New South Wales.
– That is an evasion of the question.
– Does the honorable gentleman believe that if this duty is imposed the manufacturers are such born philanthropists that they will not take advantage of it? What is the good of the duty unless the manufacturers do take advantage of it? My intention is to move to strike out “ 20s. and “.in the first line of the item, in order to fight out the question whether ad valorem or fixed rates shall be imposed. We have imposed an ad valorem rate on umbrellas, which vary in quality just as much as boots. I see no reason why there should not be a similar duty in this case.
– I would suggest to the honorable member for South Australia, Mr. Poynton, that in order to carry out his object it would be better for him to move the addition of the words “and on and after March 5, 1902, ad valorem “ without mentioning any amount. That would enable the committee to arrive at a determination whether the duty should be ad valorem or fixed. If the committee refuse to add the words “ad valorem “ it will be an indication that they desire to have a fixed duty.
Mr. POYNTON (South Australia). - I am willing to accept the Treasurer’s suggestion, but I do not wish the committee to run away with the idea that I tie myself down to a duty of 15 per cent. I move -
That the words “and on and after 5th March, 1902, ad valorem” be added to the duty, “ Men’s sizes, above five, per dozen pairs, 20s. and 15 per cent, ad valorem.”
– The honorable, member for South Australia, Mr. Poynton, quoted some figures as to the value of boots imported into Victoria in the year 1899. I have taken the trouble to work out the statistics under the different headings of boots given in the Statistical Register. The honorable member for South Australia gave the average at 3s.- 2d. per pair. I do not know how he arrived at that result. The latest Statistical Register, for 1900, gives the number of pairs of men’s boots, over size six, imported into Victoria at 15,102, and the value was £9,021, the average of which is. slightly over 12s. per pair. (Committee counted.) So that no working man would pay the amount that the honorable member for South Australia wished us to infer.
– 312,000 pairs of boots came in.
– I do not think the honorable member can prove my figures to be wrong. In the case of women’s boots the importations numbered 24,525 pairs at slightly over 9s. per pair ; youths’ averaged over 10s. ; girls’ over 8s. ; and boys’ over 5s. per pair. I fancy that the honorable member must have counted in straw slippers, or some other common cheap- class of’ article, such as children’s boots, which were on the free list and were invoiced at less than ls. per pair, and over 107,000 pairs were imported - to arrive at the figures he has given to the committee. Some honorable members object to the Treasurers proposal in connexion with this line, and state that fixed rates are an abomination, or, as the honorable member for South Australia said, worse than what the Government originally proposed. Personally I have had a great liking for composite rates, and the Government have never found- me lacking in my support of them.
– Nor in anything else.
– Yes they have, and I expect to have honorable members opposite supporting me when I move to have some of the revenue duties wiped off the Tariff. In three of the States there have been fixed rates; in Tasmania, there was a duty of 20 per cent. ; in “Western Australia they had a mixed rate of 1 8s. on one class of boots, and 10s. on another; and if the invoice value was above 10s. per pair an ad valorem rate of 15 per cent, was charged. I do not suppose there is any trade in which there has been keene retail competition than the boot and shoe trade. The workers in the trade in Victoria had to suffer in consequence until the wages boards came into being under the Factories and Shops Act. But still they were no more hardly treated than are the workers in the trade in New South Wales to-day. The Sydney Morning Herald sent out a special correspondent to inquire into the rates being paid in the boot trade in Sydney, and he stated in October last year - before this Tariff came into operation - that the rates mentioned by the secretary of the Trades Union, some 25s. per week, were found to be correct by the correspondent. The operatives themselves complained of the wages paid. The secretary of the Boot Operatives’ Union in Sydney, in a letter, states -
During the last four (4) years there has been no uniform wage, no two factories paying the same rates. Eighteen months ago the union was reformed; it consists, mostly of “makers” and “ finishers,” very few of any of the other branches of the trade being members. Therefore I can only speak authoritatively of the wages paid to the “makers” and the “finishers.” There are about 900 of the former and about 400 of the latter working at the trade at present in Sydney. Some time ago, in consequence of the misleading figures given by Mr. Coghlan regarding the earnings of “makers” and “finishers,” doubtless supplied by interested manufacturers, when there was no union in existence, I was instructed by my executive to collect statistics of the wages earned, and to find the average. The majority of “makers” and “finishers” work piece-work, although many work on weekly wages. I found that the average earnings of “makers” was 25s., and of “finishers” 30s. per week. Of course there are individual factories where the men average much higher than this.
He goes on to speak of various factories in New South Wales, and he says that the manufacturers themselves admit that the rates he’ quotes are correct. I have here a letter also from the largest manufacturer of boots and shoes in Australia. He is the largest manufacturer in Victoria, and he has also a branch in Sydney. He states in relation to the trade -
As regards the state and condition of the trade for manufacturers and work-people, there is no comparison between Sydney and Melbourne. Here the manufacturer makes all classes of work, thanks to the State protecive policy, his orders are lai-ge and consistent.
He goes on to say -
In Sydney where the foreign importer has the run of the market, and gets the cream of it, and the local manufacturer has to take what is left ; the result is that he is kept down to making the lower grades of work.
– Where high wages are paid.
– Yes ; the rninimum wage in America is from 12£ to- 15 dollars per week, while in England it is only 28s.
– And the bulk of our goods imported come from America.
– The bulk of the goods do not come , from America. As a matter of fact, there is practically very little difference. The value of these articles imported from America is stated by Coghlan at £185,000, and the value of the goods imported from the United Kingdom at £176,000. There is, therefore, a difference of only £9,000 in favour of America. The employer to whom I referred states -
Wages are very low in Sydney. At our Sydney factory our manager has workmen applying for work continually, and he hears from them the wages they had been getting previously, which frequently had been not more than from 25s. to 30s. per week.
– What is the date of that letter 1
– October 21st, 1901. I quoted from this letter in my speech on the address in reply. I have letters from the representative of the workmen’s union, and also from the largest employer in the trade. It has been stated that when a wages board .fixes a rate the minimum becomes the maximum, but that is not so in this employer’s factory, where, I believe, most of the employes get more than the minimum rate fixed by the wages board. We have had figures given by the Treasurer, and by the honorable member for Bourke, showing the import of boots into England, and the export of boots from England. Those figures show that the imports are increasing, and* the exports are decreasing. We have also had letters read showing how the trade is going out of the hand’s of the manufacturer, and into the hands of the importer. I have here a’ copy of the Boot and Shoe Trades’ Journal, a manufacturers’ journal published in England, and I find this stated in the issue for December 6th, 1901, ‘ with reference to Leeds -
The lot of the shoe manufacturer so far as this centre is concerned, is just now far from being an enviable one ; indeed the condition of business could hardly be more unsatisfactory, and unless some unexpected orders or repeats come to hand, employers . will have the greatest difficulty to keep all fully employed to the end of the present working year. Some firms I know have been, and are even now making for stock, which in itself is a proof of the weak condition of the trade.
Then, as regards Northampton, which has already been referred to as the first town in England to feel the effects of the depression. Northampton is the town in England in which high-class boots are made, but the American boot is displacing the high-class boot in England. This is what the Boot and Shoe Trades’ Journal has to say about Northampton -
In the meantime the demand for autumn goods is practically nil, and those who have not yet started upon their next year’s orders are finding themselves exceedingly short of work.
We have heard from time to time that the reason the Americans can sell cheaper abroad is that they charge more to the home consumer. I have here a copy of the Shoe Manufacturers’ Monthly, published at Liecester, in England, in which I find this statement -
One of the lightly flung assertions with regard to this competition has been the statement that the home consumer has to pay a higher price for his goods to enable the importer to sell at a cheaper rate what amounts to an over-production. This is decidedly untrue.
Here we have an English journal stating that it is untrue that the American charges more abroad than he does at home for the goods he produces -
American shoes are sold cheaper in the States than abroad, even when cost of transport, &c, are added. The competition is quite as keen there in the retail trade as it is at home. The one-priced shoe largely accounts for this.
They have adopted the system there of specialization, as has already been pointed out, and that enables them to produce more cheaply than the English manufacturer, and, I believe, the Australian manufacturer, who have tried to cover the whole field of production.
– Are we to have duties imposed to counterbalance that specialization 1
– I have never said that we should have duties imposed to counteract that specialization, but I remind the honorable member that it is under the American protective Tariff that that specialization has been perfected. No honorable member opposite can deny that.
I venture to say that if we walk down the streets of any city in Australia to-day, we shall find, not English, but American boots advertised, and in America they have had protection for the trade, and the workers are paid nearly double the rates they are being paid in England at the present time.
– Does protection help them to invent new machines ?
– Protection has given them the run of their own home market. They have been sure of that, and that has been an inducement and encouragement to the inventor. In England they have been slow in connexion with this particular trade. I noticed recently that the workers, I believe of Northampton, decided that they would not work one particular kind of machine, and they intended to prevent machines of that kind being introduced into England.
– The honorable member tried to do that in connexion with cigarettes the other evening.
– I did not ; I tried to secure differential treatment, because it is admitted by all that the hand-made cigarette is superior to that made by machinery. I do not intend to proceed with that argument. In America they had the benefit of a number of inventions in machinery, and there perhaps they have better laws connected with the patenting of machines. They have taken advantage of that circumstance, and we know that England, is more conservative than is America in the adoption of any new system. The honorable member for Wentworth stated that this was a natural industry. We know that it is, and that we can produce leather here in unlimited quantities. The tanners tell us that they can produce far more than can be consumed in this country, and therefore they can get very little protection for their industry. I trust, however, that when we have an opportunity later on we shall give them some measure of protection. I have ‘ said that the minimum wage in England is 28s. a week, and in America the average wage paid is from 12£dols. to 15dols. per week for piece-work. In Victoria the wage is £2 2s., and according to Coghlan’ s Statistical Register the wage paid in New South Wales is £1 13s. lOd. per week. We are anxious that our country should succeed. We know that example is good, and that practice is better’ than theory. We know that the practice of the policy of protection in America has enabled American manufacturers to successfully compete with the English manufacturers, and to drive them out of their own market and also to beat them in oversea markets. I say, therefore, that this committee will act wisely by giving such a measure of protection to this industry as will enable us in Australia to do what the Americans have done in the United States.
– The state of the Ministerial benches when we are dealing with a sudden announcement of the imposition of very heavy duties upon articles of general consumption throughout the Commonwealth, compels me to take the view that the Ministerial supporters have been informed of the Government proposal, or that they are outside of the chamber because they are ashamed of its enormity, and are now trying to arrange some means of overcoming the difficulty. It is a most serious thing that the Treasurer should, without any warning, have proposed so heavy an impost upon these articles. (Committee counted.) The proposed alteration from the composite system of duties to a fixed rate ranging as high as 40s. per dozen upon boots and shoes is indeed an enormity, and if such a proposition had been made by any other member of the committee but the Treasurer without due notice, it would have been very properly scouted. The position has become so serious that the Opposition might do well to move the chairman out of the chair, and propose a vote of censure upon the Government. We can now understand the prophetic nature of the utterance of the Prime Minister at Maitland when he referred to “the pattering of bare feet upon the highways of the Commonwealth.” I can now understand that the right honorable gentleman realized that the provisions of his Tariff would result in the actual fulfilment of the prophecy he made. Such a proposition as this was never before even dreamt of by the protectionists of New South Wales, who, when they hear of it to-morrow, will realize the accuracy of the right honorable gentleman’s prophecy, and will know that their children in proceeding to school, will very often have to go on bare feet. I cannot understand such a proposal in a country like Australia, where the raw material of these articles is a natural product of the country. To propose a duty of 40s. per dozen under such circumstances is absurd, and I am astonished at the moderation of the leader of the Opposition in not moving the Chairman out of the chair, as a motion of censure. The Treasurer told the committee that he regretted that his experience showed him that a composite duty could not be carried, and that, therefore, he proposed a fixed duty. As a matter of fact, the only composite duty now on the Tariff is that relating to cigars.
– What I said was that I thought that a composite duty in regard to boots could not be carried.
– No doubt the right honorable member has ascertained that fact with the assistance of the Government whip. He went on to tell us that one of his reasons for preferring a fixed duty to an ad valorem duty is that he has been informed by the Customs authorities that a fixed duty is more easy to collect, and allows fewer evasions than an ad valorem duty. If that be so, why were not fixed duties applied to all the other articles in the Tariff 1 Why, for instance, was not a fixed duty instead of an ad valorem duty applied to woollen piece goods? Surely it is easier for the Customs authorities to determine the value of an importation of boots than to determine the value of a bale of fine silk, or of home-spun? And why, if fixed duties prevent evasion, has the right honorable member allowed the revenue to suffer by the imposition of ad valorem duties ? What is proposed now, in place of the composite duty of 20s. per dozen and an ad’ valorem duty of 15 per cent, upon certain sizes in men’s boots, is a fixed duty of 40s. per dozen. That duty, as has been pointed out by the honorable member for South Australia, Mr. Poynton, is equal, on the cheapest kind of boots - the boots valued at 45s. per dozen, or 3s. 9d. per pair - to 88 per cent, ad valorem. Is any protectionist, however ardent, willing to agree to a duty of 88 per cent. ? When the people of Australia thoroughly understand the incidence of these fixed duties, those who vote for them will tremble very much for what they have done. Furthermore, while it is proposed to impose an ad valorem duty of 88 per cent, upon the cheaper classes of boots - the boots worn by those who are least able to bear additional burdens - the better classes of boots, which are worn by men who would be able to pay even a duty of 88 per cent, are charged only 22 per cent. The Treasurer spoke of these duties as necessary for the protection of the boot factories of Australia, to which he referred with pride and admiration, and he was generous enough in that connexion to admit the strength of the New South Wales factories. I propose however, with a view to show how little a Tariff has to do with the establishment of the boot industry, to quote some figures relating to the boot industry of New South Wales and Victoria, for the years 1899 and 1900. At that time New South Wales had a free-trade policy, so that there was no duty upon the boots imported into that State, while in Victoria the duty upon boots was 60s. per dozen. In 1899, the New South Wales factories numbered 79, and in 1900, 94, an increase of fifteen factories, or 20 per cent. in one year. But in Victoria the number of factories in 1S99 was 105, and in 1900, 10S, an increase of only three factories, or less than 3 per cent. Those are not figures culled from unreliable’ statistics by a biased free-trader; they are taken from a return compiled by the Government, and laid upon the table in pursuance of a motion moved by a supporter.
– New South Wales had fewer factories, but a larger population, than Victoria.
– I desire, to use a boilermaker’s expression, to rivet the attention of the committee and of the community upon these facts. Furthermore, the importations of boots into New South Wales under freetrade decreased year by year to an astounding extent, until they came to a minimum. The free-traders are not opposed to the establishment of factories ; they are glad to see local factories succeed and expand, but they are opposed to taxing the general community for the advantage of a few. In 1SS2 the boots imported into New South Wales were valued at £635,796. The population of that State was then 817,468, and the boot importations thus represented a value of 15s. 6½d. per head. A 5 per cent, duty was imposed in those days. In 18S3 the imports were valued at £571,402, the population was 869,310, the value of imports per head 13s. 1#d. In 1884 the imports were valued at £581,820, the population was 921,268, and the proportion per head 12s. 7½d. In 1S98 the figures were imports £316,650, population 1,346,240, and proportion 4s. 8-^d. per head; and in 1899, imports £348,295, population 1,356,650, and proportion per head 5s. l£d. The statistics prove that the policy of freetrade does not stifle industries. The manufacturers in the mother State have gradually absorbed the trade in low and medium class goods, and it only remains for them to capture the trade in the better class of goods, such as are now imported from America.
– The period from 1882 to 1899 embraces the years during which the Dibbs Tariff was in operation.
– That is so, but the Dibbs Tariff was in existence for only two and a half years, and had no appreciable effect upon the manufacturing industry. We shall be quite content to agree to impose upon boots the same duty as was levied under the Dibbs Tariff, namely, 10 per cent. The Treasurer has referred to the exportation of boots from Victoria. He admitted that most of the boots required by the people of Victoria were made within the State, and that the manufacturers could very well look forward to the time when they would be able to supply outside markets, but the only markets that would be available to them beyond the Commonwealth would be the New Hebrides, the Solomon Islands, and Fiji, the native inhabitants of which would require to be educated up to the use of boots. In 1900, Victoria exported £60,000 worth of boots, of which £43,000 worth were imported into New South Wales. The mother State in her turn exported £25,000 worth of locally-made boots, of which £70 worth were sent into Victoria. Thus, apart from the Victorian boots sent into New South Wales, the mother State exported a larger quantity of boots than did Victoria. The honorable member for Yarra said that it was only right that the boot operatives should receive some assistance from the State, and if we grant that, it is reasonable to inquire what amount of protection has been granted to the operatives of other industries of equal importance. “It is estimated that the labour employed in the engineering trade, represents 60 per cent, of the cost of the finished article, and as a duty of 20 per cent, has been imposed, under this Tariff the manufacturer is given an advantage of 33 per cent, to compensate him for the higher wages which have to be paid to the Australian workman as compared with those in foreign countries. In the boilermaking trade, the cost of labour represents 50 per cent, of the cost of manufacture, and as the duty amounts to 15 per cent., the protection given to labour is 30 per cent. In the boot trade the labour represents on the average 25 per cent, of the cost of the manufactured article.
– The average is 33 per cent, all round.
– I was giving the figures roughly, but as the Treasurer has challenged my calculations, I shall quote them in detail. In the case of cheap women’s shoes the labour represents 30 per cent, of the cost of production ; in boots valued at 6s. 3d. per pair, 23 per cent.; in boots costing 9s. 6d. per pair, 20 per cent. ; and in regard to men’s boots, which range in price from 7s. 6d. to 8s. 9d. per pair the proportion of the cost represented by labour varies from 21 to 26 per cent. Therefore, at the lowest calculation the protection afforded to boot manufacturers in respect to the labour is 153 per cent. No special reason has been given why the manufacturers in this industry should receive assistance to the extent of over 120 per cent, in excess of that afforded to the employers in other trades. (Committee counted.) These calculations are based upon the composite duties originally proposed by the Government. Now, however, that the duty of 20s. per dozen and 15 per cent. ad valorem upon men’s sizes above 5 has been abandoned in favour of a fixed duty of 40s. per dozen, the percentage has been greatly increased. The honorable member for Yarra has attributed the wages paid to the Victorian boot operatives to the operation of the Factories Act and the establishment of a wages board. But I have been informed by a representative Sydney man, who is not a boot manufacturer - and I have verified his statement by reference to a Victorian manufacturer - that an employe in the boot trade in this State receives only £2 7s. 6d. per week nominally. The trick of the trade is to compel him, at the end of each week, to make a purchase worth 7s. 6d.
– Has the honorable member verified that 1
– I have. .1 am not at liberty to openly give the name of my informant, but I shall be very happy to supply the honorable member- with it privately. What I have stated is, I am told, not an uncommon practice in Victoria. A man makes a nominal purchase of leather on Saturday, and returns it on the following Monday or Tuesday morning. By the adoption of this practice the provisions of the law are evaded. The master bakers do the same thing by compelling their employes to board with them, and thus the whole effect of the establishment of wages boards is destroyed.
– If that be so, the offenders ought to be prosecuted. It is not fair to the honest trader, and if the honorable member will submit names to me, I will forward them to the Minister of Labour in Victoria, and ask that the persons may be prosecuted.
– I have known my informant for a number of years. He is a man possessing perceptive powers above the average, and I have no reason to doubt his word.
– Does the honorable member’s informant say that the practice is a general one.
– No, he does not. He has simply supplied me with a particular case. The imposition of the heavy tax proposed cannot be justified upon the ground that it will give steady employment to those who work in factories. It is well known that the reason why some New South Wales boot factories have more than successfully competed with those of Victoria is that they are better equipped with machinery. The specialization and organization referred to by the honorable member for Bourke is particularly exemplified by one firm, which has been able to import patent and up-to-date machinery from America free of duty. Even the most pronounced protectionist must admit that the Victorian manufacturers have relied too much upon State assistance and too little upon their own resources. The boot trade is a specialty, and as such is yearly becoming, more dependent upon up-to-date machinery and more independent of the services of skilled operatives. To-day, machines practically manufacture boots in their entirety. These ‘ machines can be worked with juvenile labour equally as well as with adult labour. I see no reason why the proposed duty should be carried because the composite system has been destroyed. The Treasurer does not ask for the imposition of an ad valorem duty which is equivalent to the composite duty originally proposed, but for the first time pleads for a fixed duty of 40s. per dozen. I know that the New South Wales factories employ very few hands less than do those of Victoria, and produce more boots annually.
– They did not produce more in 1900.
– No ; in the magic year referred to, the position was reversed. But in all the other years the production of the New South Wales factories exceeded that of the Victorian factories without the aid of any artificial stimulus. The competition referred to by the Treasurer will not reduce the price of the article to the consumer ; but the effect of levying the duty proposed will be to increase the cost of boots and shoes to those who can ill afford to pay more for “their apparel. Amongst the artisan classes the struggle for existence is already keen enough, and a very slight impost upon the necessaries of life will be sufficient to deprive their children of foot-wear. Those classes always like to see their children as well clad as are those of the more fortunate portions of the community. Even in the case of engineers, ironworkers, and those engaged in other trades, which, according to the wisdom of the committee, and the belief of the Government, require protection, the assistance given in no way compares to that proposed in connexion with the boot industry. This is one of the most important items of the Tariff. Boots are a necessity of life; and I can understand that supporters of the Government, although apparently against composite duties, will be satisfied, when they see the full effect of the Government proposal, to adopt an ad valorem duty much lower than the impost now suggested. If there be difficulty on the part of the Customhouse officials in correctly gauging values in this industry, how much greater must the difficulty be in connexion with ad valorem duties which have already been decided on by the committee ? When it is realized that this impost means 88 per cent., it will be regarded, not as protection, but, even by those who believe in that policy, as prohibition.
– I shall have to apologize to the committee for the time I may occupy in discussing this item, and I regret that circumstance, because I have been steadily studious throughout our discussions to take up as little time as possible. But this is an item which is admitted by honorable members on the other side to be of very great importance, dividing, as it does, the two principles which actuate the two parties in the House. Naturally this issue will be keenly contested by honorable members on both sides. I had given some consideration to the subject long before I thought of having to address the committee on this item,- and I have since fortified myself with such facts as may be acquired in my own State and in the State of Victoria. I represent a district where there are some of the finest factories in Australia, many of the proprietors and operatives of which are protectionists. On the other hand, those interested in some of the most successful factories are thoroughly imbued with the belief that thorough free-trade is best. Many ordinary voters are of the same opinion, and I was elected as a free-trade representative by a majority in the district. I never thought for a moment, as I said in the debate on the address in reply, that we could obtain absolute free-trade. But I intend to adhere to my free-trade principles to the extent of obtaining that compromise which has been promised by several of the Ministers from the time when the Federal election commenced to be fought. That compromise, however, has not been offered us by the Government in either of the proposals they have placed before the committee in regard to this taxation. I sympathize very deeply with some honorable members on the other side whose political convictions are entirely opposed to my own. Those honorable members hold their convictions sincerely, and- 1 listened with great interest while they strongly advocated their cause. I hope that in my remarks I may receive that patient hearing which, I am sorry to say, was not always accorded to them. The subject is of such importance that we ought, at any rate, to have a clear exposition of the two views, so that we may have an historical record of the opinions on both sides of the House on this vexed question. I must confess that, to an individual inquirer, the subject presents many features which almost defy either one principle or the other. Although I have come to the conclusion that the facts do not disturb in any degree my freetrade convictions, I see on the surface many circumstances which may disturb the opinions of either a free-trader or a protectionist. Some of the facts are, indeed, inexplicable, unless we look very deeply beneath the surface. Both in Victoria, where there has been a highly protective impost, and in the State of New South Wales, where on the contrary, with a slight interval when 10 per cent, duties prevailed, there has been almost perfect freedom, the wages of the operatives are notoriously low; and neither one system nor the other gives an adequate explanation of that fact. It has been pointed out over and over again that the work expected of these men is always of a highly skilled and technical character. The machines in use are, in many cases, not merely automatic, but require the trained brain, skilled hand, and undivided attention of the operator. Under the circumstances, in the State where the policy of protection has been carried to an extreme, we might look for some increase in wages. Not only is that not the case, but we find that it was very largely the position of the employes in the boot trade in Victoria which led to the agitation for the creation of . wages boards, in an endeavour to secure to the operatives their fair share of the protection which is accorded to that industry. I shall later on have an opportunity of showing that, even with this extraordinary phase of protection - for I think it was extraordinary - it has been found impossible to secure to the labourer that fair share of reward which should result from extreme protection. We have instance) after instance in which the Victorian Act is evaded ; and the circumstances of the worker in this State are as bad as they could be in any free-trade State, and as bad as ever they were in the worst days of New South Wales. In this respect there is very little to choose between the two States. We know that statistics are frequently misleading, because we are (?iven rates of wages, when the best guide would be the earnings of the men ; and the only way in which we can apply a check is by careful, patient, and systematic inquiry. Such inquiry, I have, I think, made in both States ; and I am led to the conclusion which I have just indicated. As to the proposals of the Government, I was prepared to sink my free-trade principles to the extent of affording some protection to industries which have been established. The policy of the Maitland speech was in the direction of some sort of moderate protection, which would enable those industries to survive, with some friction, some feeling, and probably some heartrending, but such protection as would not be so severe, or inflict such hardship on the whole of the 4,000,000 people of the Commonwealth, as that now submitted to the committee. We have a right to look for a compromise. The Prime Minister promised the people that we should have neither a policy of free-trade nor a policy of protection, and the Minister for Home Affairs said he did not look forward to any Tariff in which the duties would exceed 15 per cent., while the Vice-President of the Executive Council expressed the opinion that both free-trade and protection were dead. In the face of those statements, what are the proposals which the Government have put before us ? If the proposals do not mean protection, what do they mean? The Treasurer estimates to receive £68,000 in revenue from the entire importations of boots and shoes into the Commonwealth, although under a 10 per cent, duty the State of New South Wales would receive £50,000. Is the proposed duty a revenue duty ? Is it a compromise, or is it not the most protective duty that has yet been proposed in this Tariff? Is there any reason why we should assist this trade more than any other ? It is not the leading industry in Victoria or in any other State, because there are dozens and dozens of industries of much more importance. It seems to me that this policy has been framed more with a view to the circumstances of a single State than to the inevitable circumstances and requirements of the whole Commonwealth. The honorable member for Bourke has eloquently told us to-day that the American boot and shoe industry has been so highly successful because of the size of the market which it supplies, the ingenuity of the people in constructing machinery, ‘and the power of organization shown by the business managers and captains of labour. These are conditions we shall have to look for in the Commonwealth more and more as time goes on ; we could not look for them in any one single State. The honorable member for Bourke also spoke of the power of specialization in America. No work is ever made perfect in point of economy without this specialization, which could not be looked for in a single State, with wretched little factories carried on under the excessive protection afforded by the Government of Victoria. But if we have faith that the same energy and capacity will be shown by the
Australian people in this as in other marches of life, we may look for organization, ingenuity, and power of adaptability in taking advantage of inventions abroad. Therefore, we should approach this question with a view to a policy for the Commonwealth, and not, as I fear we have done, with a view to a policy for a single State. The circumstances of the boot trade in Victoria were such that, although I am bound to admit that in certain respects the policy of protection stimulated manufactures - in fact, stimulated them to an abnormal extent - yet that policy, being restricted to this one State, had the effect of starting a tremendous number of small factories, which competed with one another. The proprietors of many of them had not the capital to embark in the industry to the extent required for its success. The policy of perfect freedom of trade might have established in Victoria certain factories, which might have made certain classes of boots in a healthy manner, and might have been successful to this day. I do not desire to compare the neighbouring States of New South Wales and Victoria in order to set them in antagonism one towards the other, because that is all done away with now, thank God ; but I mention the two in this connexion because the one is an example of one policy and the other of the opposite policy. There might have been established . in Victoria, as there were in New South Wales, factories which, if not as prosperous as we could have wished them to be, and if they did not pay those wages which apparently the boot industry has not been able to pay, still, would have been sound concerns, and might in time have developed into respectable industries. When they came to supply the whole population of the States of Australia combined under the Commonwealth, we might have looked forward to these industries doing a large trade, and so attaining to the success which has been achieved in the manufacturing ventures of America. The honorable member for Bourke has alleged that the success of the manufacturing enterprises in America is due to various factors that will not be present in the Commonwealth of Australia until this country is further developed. But I hold that we are of the same race, and are quite as ingenious as the American people ; and if we allowed these matters to develop themselves, we might look for the same outcome as has happened in America.
The honorable member for Bourke has referred to the success which has been achieved in the United States as resulting from the policy of protection. I could not help interjecting that this success was more largely due to the ingenuity and enterprise of the American people. I claim that it can distinctly be proved that the fiscal policy of America has had nothing to do with the success of the manufacturers of that country, as is shown by the fact that they have developed the same ingenuity and organizing powers in business enterprises with which protection has had no concern. Take the fruit-canning industry. In all the branches of manufacture connected with that industry- in the way of inventing automatic machinery, and so on - no fiscal legislation could have brought about the success which has been achieved. It was brought about by the ingenuity of the people, and the capacity of their captains of industry in organizing the work people and carrying their operations to a successful conclusion. If we pursued a national policy with regard to our industries, we should, I readily admit, impose a certain amount of protection, so as not to handle the established industries too roughly. I have already admitted that much and hold to it. But the Ministry have departed from that policy.
– The protection must be adequate.
– The question of adequacy will lead to a variety of opinions ; but when we point to the fact that industries have been established in New South Wales under perfect free-trade, and have succeeded, it proves that the protection is not necessary. There are successful boot factories in New South Wales, and in Victoria also there are five or six adequately equipped factories, which are doing a splendid business, and are among the dozen best factories in all Australia. But the general effect of the protectionist policy of Victoria has been to lead to the establishment of a number of ill-equipped factories, and to a number of men going into the industry who were not well qualified, had not the capital, and did not possess the necessarycapacityfororganization. They could not have succeeded in any degree except for the abnormally high Tariff which prevailed in this State. The honorable member for Bourke has also referred to the fact that the American people had to import their leather, upon which they paid 15 per cent. duty. Here there is another reason why we cannot expect - and ought not to have - the same protection in Australia as manufacturers might have expected in the United States. It is true that we only manufacture the rougher kinds of leather, but we can look forward to making the whole of the kinds of leather which form nineteen-twentieths of the raw material used in the bootmaking industry. A policy of low revenue duties and incidental protection would have been sufficient to that end. I have received only this evening a circular from the Bootmakers’ Association in Victoria asking that we should take the duties off some of their raw material, notably glazed or glacé kid, French calf, and patent calf. I am prepared to take the duties off the whole of the raw materials that cannot be made in Australia, and off a great many that can be made here. The boot manufacturers would be better off with lower duties, and all duties removed from their raw material, machinery, tools, and everything they use. I believe that the success of the manufacturers in the neighbouring State of New South Wales has been due to the fact that they have not had protection on the manufactured article, but have had free-trade in connexion with all they use in their factories. I shall be prepared to vote for making the duties on the raw materials used in the boot factories as low as we can, consistently with getting revenue. The policy of the Government is not in any sense scientific. The proposal now before us is directly in conflict with the policy which has been laid down as scientific, that taxation should be laid on the shoulders of the people in proportion as they are able to bear it. The modification of the Tariff which has now been proposed by the Government is quite opposed to that policy. Notwithstanding what has been said in favour of fixed duties by the honorable member for Yarra and the honorable member for Bourke, we must always look to the fact that so long as the duties stand, even though the boots are made here, the operation of those duties will be to advance the price of goods. But I shall be answered by honorable members opposite that we can, do, and shall make the cheaper class of boots within the Commonwealth. Certainly that has been the case in Victoria, and should be the case in the Commonwealth generally. But we have no reason to suppose that protective duties would operate in the same way now we belong to the Commonwealth as they operated in Victoria, where special circumstances have led to the production of the lower class of boots at lower prices than those for which, they could honestly and in the legitimate way of business be made. If throughout the whole Commonwealth we impose a fixed duty on the lower class of boots, the effect will be to advance their price as well as the price of boots of the higher class. There has been an absence of classification in the proposals of the Government. The classification in sizes alone is not sufficient for the purposes of this trade. I notice that in the Queensland classification more specific details are included, and there they appear to have been able to deal with the vexed question of the slipper which has troubled a good many of the Australian Governments that have gone in for protection. The slipper is defined in one way in one State and in a different way in another. I think the Government might have made some effort to introduce a more systematic classification which would lead to less trouble in the future. We are now face to face with the fact that the Government have broken faith with the people of the country in not giving us the compromise Tariff we naturally expected from their utterances. They brought down a much higher Tariff than any one expected as their defined policy, but at the last moment, after their original proposal has been thought over and skilled advice taken upon it, and after people like myself have been about seeking informationupon a definite line of policy, we are brought face to face with a totally different policy, which hi very many respects, in its incidence, will be diametrically opposed to the policy first submitted by the Government. I allude now particularly to the proposal to withdraw the ad valorem duty, and submit a specific duty of 40s. per dozen pairs on men’s boots. Some time ago, assisted in my calculations by an article in the Boot and Shoe Trades’ Journal of England, I worked out the original proposals of the Government for composite duties, and I found they amounted to a fixed duty of 36s. per dozen pairs for men’s boots,” and nearly 30s. per dozen for women’s boots. The proposal the Government now make involves an absolute rise in the duty, and if the importations remain the same, it will certainly yield a larger revenue. And yet it is submitted as a concession upon the original proposals of the Ministry. In Tasmania there was a duty of 20 per cent., and that would amount roughly to a fixed duty of 24s. per dozen pairs upon men’s boots. In South Australia the’ duty amounted to 33s. In Queensland to 33s., and in New South Wales these articles were free. Is it not notorious that the only reason for imposing so high a duty in connexion with this one industry is the fact that a mistake was made in the State of Victoria in imposing such heavy protective duties to start the manufacture of boots here ? No other reason exists for it. I say that the first twelve factories in Victoria at the present time would be benefited by a more moderate policy. It may be that some of the smaller factories would be injured by it, but while we might regret that, we ought not, as men legislating for the whole Commonwealth, allow it to influence us to impose heavier burdens on the people. The return I asked from the Treasurer the other day shows that in New South Wales for the first four months under the new Tariff £8,000 revenue was collected, and in Victoria £6,258, and a total for the Commonwealth of £27,598.
– In Victoria they were hanging back expecting lower duties.
– Assuming that the importations would continue at the same rate for the balance of the year, those figures would indicate a total revenue of £110,392; but as the Treasurer has suggested we know for a fact that the extent of the revenue collected in the first month or two was due to orders given before the Tariff was tabled. We cannot expect that rate of importation to continue. Members on this side, as well as the Treasurer, admit that that rate of importation could not be expected to continue if the original Government proposals were carried, and it is certain that if the proposal now submitted is carried we cannot expect much beyond the Treasurer’s estimate of £68,000 for the whole of the Commonwealth. I ask in all sincerity whether it is to be thought for a moment that proposals that will bring in a revenue of £68,000 upon boots and shoes can be considered in any sense a revenue Tariff? Is it not a Tariff proposed solely and wholly in the interests of protection ?
It is not our duty and it is not a part of the declared policy of the present Government to introduce any duty proposed solely and wholly for the purpose of protection. There is no other industry in connexion with which it has been done, and we have no right to do it in this particular instance, because it does not carry out the declaration of the Government that we should have revenue without destruction. This proposal in fact goes to the other extreme, and means the entire destruction of revenue we can ill afford to do without ; of revenue that would impose no burden, but would give an ease of burdens upon the people of the Commonwealth. We could get three times the revenue under a moderate tax, and a tax such as I believe would give the incidental protection to existing industries in Victoria, to which they are justly entitled. I should be prepared to vote for such a moderate tax, but for this purely protection proposal for such extremely high duties I am not prepared to vote. The effect of the Tariff has been mentioned several times. We had an estimate made by Sir Frederick Sargood of what it would turn out to be in operation, and I believe that gentleman’s estimate was perfectly correct. The only factor interfering with that estimate is this - that we do not as a nation largely import very cheap boots, upon which the fixed duty proposed would run up to a very high ad valorem percentage indeed, and we do import very many more of the higher priced articles upon which the ad valorem result of the fixed duties would be relatively very much less. But I do say that an extraordinarily high duty is proposed in the Tariff as submitted to us, and in the present proposal. In proof of that I have ascertained from two separate channels of information, firms acting as agents for manufacturing firms at home, and one of them as agent for one of the finest manufacturing firms in the old country, that as soon as the Tariff was tabled they received sheaves of letters from their customers cancelling orders. This shows distinctly that the effect of the Tariff, from the moment it was tabled, was not so much to protect the industries of this country as to utterly prohibit the products of the industries of other countries entering our ports. In one case, orders to the extent of £1,300 were declined, solely because people could not face these duties. I have here several letters in which it is stated plainly that subsequent orders could not> be looked for, as the Tariff proposed would not allow of the importation of this class of goods. I have documents here from which it can be seen that upon an importation of these goods, invoiced at £145 3s. 2d., duty to the extent of £45 19s. lid. was paid iii Queensland. That is equal to a rate of 32 per cent. That was duty paid in Queensland, and the duty on the same line of goods under the original Queensland Tariff would have amounted to £25 19s., or about 17^- per cent. Some of these boots were cheap boots.
– Then 33s. per dozen pairs would only amount to 17-jj per cent.
– I can explain that to the right honorable gentleman, because this importation included a number of children’s boots, which did not pay the rate of duty imposed upon general lines in Queensland. It has been remarked before in this committee that we do not, and have not imported cheap boots, but I see here boots quoted at 5s., 5s. 9d., 6s., 6s. 3d., 9s., 14s. 6d., and so on.
– Were they imported into Sydney ?
– The importation in this instance was into Queensland, but similar boots have been imported into New South Wales. I think the reason for this is that these are special lines, and, as the honorable member for Bourke so frequently pointed out, success in this industry can only be obtained by specializing. So long as we cannot specialize in this industry we cannot expect to turn out some of” this work as cheaply as it can be produced where the industry is specialized, and special machinery is provided for turning out particular lines of goods. We can make cheaper and better boots here, but these lines are required by the public, and are imported because they are special boots. A similar experience was met with in South Australia, where . orders had to be refused over and over again, in some instances at the cost of expensive cables to England to stop boots coming out. These facts might be claimed by protectionists as showing the necessity for protection ; but I mention them as showing that proposals of this kind mean prohibition, and not protection, upon many of these lines, which will never be imported under such a high rate of duty. We shall have to make them, and at a considerably’ higher cost to the consumer than the price for which they have been imported in the past. No one can accuse me of any desire to restrict in any way the operations of our manufacturers. I am a manufacturer myself, and I have always had a great deal of sympathy with men who have devoted their capital and energy to manufactures ; but I say that if we wish to devise a scientific Tariff which will incidentally protect manufacturers and healthy industries which will succeed, we should make the duty so moderate that it will to some extent satisfy both ‘parties, and be such as will prevent the re-opening of the question for . some years to come. I tell the Treasurer that if we decide this question upon the lines .he submits, it will not be many years before a fight will take place over the Tariff at the elections, and principally upon this item. Manufacturers and business men desire more than anything else that there should be some settlement of the Tariff, of such a nature that, if it will not last an ordinary lifetime, it will at any rate last so long that we shall see the Commonwealth firmly established, and shall know the effect of the duty before we shall need to consider the desirability of altering it. We cannot hope to secure a Tariff which will last that time unless it is a compromise Tariff, and a Tariff which upon this particular line will meet to some extent the views of honorable members on both sides without fully meeting the views of either. We on this side are prepared, against the political principles held by many of us, to vote for a substantial duty for this industry.
– We appear to be too far apart - that is the trouble.
– Unfortunately it appears to be as the right honorable gentleman says.
– What does the honorable member call a substantial duty 1
– I think 15 per cent, a substantial duty. I carry my heart on my sleeve in this matter, and I say that if we cannot obtain a duty of 1 5 per cent, we will take a 20 per cent. duty.
– After we have put a 30 per cent, duty upon hats 1
– Thirty per cent, is an abnormally high duty upon hats, and it must be remembered that this industry is very much more firmly established in the Commonwealth than the hat industry.
– And there is very much more competition in it.
– Considerable sums of money have been laid out upon this industry. There is a great deal of energy and enterprise expended upon it, and a great many people are employed in it. I know that many have made a tolerable success of it in many instances. I was speaking to a protectionist gentleman engaged in the industry in Victoria, and I could see quite well that he would succeed whatever policy we adopted, because he knew, what he was about. But he would succeed far better if we imposed only a low rate of duty as a protection to the industry, and still lower rates of duty upon the materials required by the industry. This item brings the two sides of the committee face to face with a principle which divides it. It is almost impossible to think that either side will get a victory upon it. Even if the Treasurer carries his proposal, the matter will not be finally settled. It is absolutely certain that the question will be re-opened, and it would therefore be better for him to show that tact for which he is so deservedly esteemed, and meet us in a spirit of compromise. If that is done, the manufacturers in all the States will be able to establish their businesses upon such lines that they will shortly control the whole Commonwealth market, and will ultimately be able to export boots to other parts of the world. ‘ But before we can export our boots, we must make our industry very much larger than it is now. Our factories must have better plants than they have, though there are many in both Victoria and New South Wales which are well equipped now. Even those which are well equipped must take advantage of the mechanical improvements which have been invented in the United States, and when that is done, and our manufacturers are thoroughly abreast of those in other parts of the world, we shall, with our facilities for dealing with leather, ultimately come to compete with the people of the United States. The experience of Victoria in regard to the boot trade does not justify the imposition of protective duties. Of all the industries started here under protection, the bootmaking industry, although it has had most protection, has succeeded least. The Age referred to this question on 16th January last, and in a leading article which appears in to-day’s issue the opinions which are held by the protectionist party in regard to the boot trade are again put forward. I desire to show how very ineffectually the arguments adduced account for ‘ the present position of the boot trade in Victoria. The writer says -
A protective duty is a permanent economic need to most industries long after the local product has gained a complete command of the home market. We may take the case of boots by way of example. The domestic boot supply has almost entirely ousted the imports. The duty is fairly high and acts almost prohibitively. Yet the price of the home-made article, owing to internal competition, is as low as those of England and America. Still the duty is as much needed as ever, because if it werenot there the Australian market every now and then would be made the receptacle of the “sweepings” of foreign markets, sold under the cost of production as the surplus stocks of firms which are bound to realize. Such “sweepings” would entirely disrupt the regular work of local production, interfere with regular employment, and create alternate gluts and scarcity, which are the bane of steady industry and regular trade. Just in the same way does the duty on mining and other machinery remain a need long after the local product has beaten the competitive prices of the importer.
I think that those statements epitomize the views upon this question held by honorable gentlemen opposite; but the writer either does not know the history and circumstances of the boot trade in Victoria, or falsely misrepresents them for his own ends. During the past twelve years there have been more trade insolvencies and private arrangements with creditors among the boot manufacturers of Melbourne than in any other line of business in Australia. I was told by a gentleman, who seemed to know what he was talking about, that one manufacturer here has compounded with his creditors five times during the past twelve years, and another four. Most of the factories have been for sale for years past. There are in Melbourne several first-class establishments which are equal, if not superior, to many in New South Wales, but there are a number of others which would not have come into existence but for the abnormally high duties imposed upon boots. The credit of the weakest factories has been totally destroyed, and I do not believe there are six or seven manufacturers in the State whose credit would begoodinany business transaction. Insolvent stocks have been sacrificed over and over again, and this has created a glut, the effect of which has been worse in many instances than the glut which the writer of the Age fears would be caused by the importation of the surplus stocks of foreign manufacturers. Men have been employed half their time, and allowed to work the other half of their time at their own homes, and more stock has been produced in certain lines than was required. The effect has been to create unhealthy competition, under which honest men have gone down again and again. How is it that the sweepings of foreign factories were never dumped down into New South Wales, whose market was open to the world ?
– The acting leader of the Opposition said they were.
– We had the sweepings of Victorian factories, if Victoria could be called a foreign nation. The only country from which boots were imported into New South Wales whose social conditions differed materially from ours was Germany. Most of our imported boots came from the United Kingdom, whose conditions must be taken to be something the same as those of Australia, and from the United States, where, it was admitted this evening, higher wages are paid than are paid here. Statistics do not always give a true account of the amount of wages earned in any trade. It is all very well to say that a man is earning at the rate of ?2 2s. per week ; but if he is employed for only three days he does not earn ?2 2s. a - week. The creation of a wages board was necessitated here in the boot and other trades by the high duties which were imposed, but if the system is to be carried out in its entirety, the advocates of it must go further, and regulate the pi-ice at which boots and other articles shall be sold at the retail shops. That is a necessary corollary to the imposition of protective duties and the creation of wages boards.
– They have asked for wages boards in New South Wales, where in the past there have been no duties.
– The Victorian Chief Inspector of Factories says in his latest report -
I regret to say that complaints are still made that a few manufacturers are not paying the legal rates. I have not been able to obtain evidence which would satisfy a court of law that such is the ease, but I am afraid there are grounds for the complaints in two or three instances at least. The trade has not yet recovered from the effects of the introduction of labour-saving machinery, and it is possible that some manufacturers are trying to compete, by means of 30 h evasion of the determination, with their rivals in trade who have the latest appliances…..
Mr. George Hall reports The competition in this trade is very keen, and a further increase in labour-saving machinery is noticeable ; and although the volume of business in this trade may not be less than in former years, still I am afraid that the number of employes will show a decrease. There seems to be no end to the number and variety of machines adopted into this trade to save manual labour. One may now see boots and shoes, chiefly of the lighter description and common class, made and finished almost entirely by machinery. The manufacture of the better class article still gives employment to many workers. At the same time, the present system of making boots indicates that the factory operative, as we have known him, who could either make or finish a boot, as the ease may be, will shortly become extinct, and give place to the expert machinist,, who will not necessarily be a bootmaker. . .
Miss J. H. Thear reports The determination,, of the boot trade is, generally speaking, well complied with. There are a good number of’ machinists who get over 20s. per week. For example, in a factory in which 29 girls who had . been over four years at the trade were employed, . I found that there were fifteen whose wages were above 20s. In a smaller factory where there are six minimum wage hands, three of the number were getting 22s. 6d. ; but it is only in exceptional instances that more than 22s. 6d. is paid.
Comparing that statement with the figures contained on the wages sheet of an establishment in Sydney which I personally visited, I find that in Sydney 26 out of 42 girls, employed were being paid over 20s. per;week. In Messrs. Enoch Taylor’s establishment the wages paid compare very favor- ably with the wages paid in Victoria,., and Mr. McMurtrie says that he pays boys . fourteen years of age 6s. a week, and men. up to ?2 15s. a week, while girls get from. 5s. a week, and women up to ?1 5s a week. He says -
He paid 100 of his employes over ?2 per week,., so he was sure the statement made to the commission that ?2 per week was the maximum rate - paid in the Sydney boot manufacturing trade didnot apply to his business. He did not think that was the maximum paid by other Sydney boot manufacturers. In the United States the operatives worked about 58 hours per week. They earned more money than in Sydney because they worked longer and harder, and only because of that.
– Coghlan tells anotherstory.
– Perhaps so. I know that in New South Wales industrial statistics are collected in the most perfunctory manner, and, therefore, evidence taken on commission must be much more reliable, if ordinary care and skill are exercised. Victoria has hitherto been able, after supplying the requirements of her own market, to export a certain part of her surplus product to New South Wales. I believe that New South Wales would have been in a position to send almost as many manufactured goods into Victoria as Victoria has exported to New South Wales, if Victoria had. not closed her ports against imports from neighbouring States. The Victorian manufacturers may now look for formidable competition from the manufacturers of the mother State.
– That will all operate to the benefit of the consumer ?
– Yes ; but the chief advantage conferred by the federal union will result from the wider market afforded to our manufacturers. They have never had a fair opportunity in the individual States under either protection or freetrade, but with the wider markets open to them from this time forth, they will have a much better chance to succeed. I believe that the opportunities for achieving success will be as great under the operation of a small duty as under the high rates now proposed, provided that the raw materials are admitted at as low a rate as possible. The imports of boots into New South Wales in 1899 included £33,000 worth from Victoria, and in the following year the imports from Victoria were valued at £43,000. The imports from the United Kingdom in 1899 were valued at £145,000, and in 1900 at £176,000. The importations from America increased from £121,000 worth in 1899 to £185,000 worth in 1900. Prom Germany only £16,000 worth of boots were imported in 1899, and only £20,000 in the following year. I cannot see any force in the argument that if we impose only a moderate rate pf duty our markets are likely to be flooded with boots made in Germany, or in any other country where the social conditions of the working people are inferior to those of our own. Success in the manufacture of boots depends largely upon the equipment of the factories with the best machinery, and upon the organization of the manufacturing interests, and I believe that all the conditions essential to success will be brought about in time without undue protection. The futility of protective methods has been amply demonstrated by the experience gained in connexion with the boot-making industry in Victoria. We cannot conclude that high rates of duty will prove beneficial to the trade, unless we are prepared to wholly ignore the statistics.
The boot factories in New South Wales were never in a more healthy condition than at present. They are working to their utmost capacity. Wages have increased, and it is difficult to obtain the services of a sufficient number of hands to enable the manufacturers to execute their orders. Prom 1882 to 18S9 the imports of boots into New South Wales decreased to the extent of 45 per cent., and if the trade is developed upon the same lines within the next twenty years we shall within that period attain the result which all protectionists aim at, and will practically cease importing, boots. This will come about gradually and naturally. I was surprised to hear honorable members speak of the inability of our manufacturers to make the better classes of boots. In one factory in New South Wales which I have had an opportunity of closely inspecting I saw boots being made of as good quality as I ever hope to wear. The manager of the factory says -
The operatives here are certainly as well paid as those in the other States, in proof o£ which I enclose an accurate list of wages paid in the various departments of our factory. These figures we are prepared to verify to you by reference to our wage sheet any time you wish to inspect same, therefore you can quote them with every confidence. They were practically the same before the Tariff was introduced, and, confirming the conversation our factory manager had with you, were considerably higher here under free-trade than in protectionist Victoria. Our factory was started in 1892, and since that date we have added machinery to the value of £16,600, making a total value of £25,000. This was done without any contemplation of duties to assist us ; in fact, we have not added anything during the lost twelve months. We started with less than 50 hands, and now have 250. Our wages were, at the outset, a little over £100 per week ; they now total about £375 per week, and our output is six times greater than when the factory was started. The proportion of locally made goods to imported before the duties came on was 66 per cent, colonial and 33 per cent, imported; since the Tariff was introduced these figures have considerably changed, and, if the present duties are persisted in, we fail to see where revenue of any consequence is to be derived.
It was pointed out in a previous discussion that some of the New South Wales manufacturers were also importers ; but I would remind honorable members that it must add very considerably to the chances of success in any manufacturing business if those engaged in it are able to import lines which they cannot manufacture to advantage. The same staff of men who sell the locally manufactured boots can also dispose of those which are imported, and the same management and the same organization can with advantage deal with both classes of goods. I am informed that the duties proposed represent a protection of 132 per cent, upon the cost of the labour involved in the manufacture of boots, and even though these figures may apply to an exceptional case, the protection given is certainly very much higher than that afforded to the labour engaged in the manufacture of any other article. There is no reason why we should impose exceptionally high duties upon boots. In France the duty upon boots amounts to 2s. 0d. per pair, and upon shoes 9¾d. In Germany the duty is 70 marks, or 68s. 6d., per 200 lbs., and as imported boots on the average weigh 2 lbs. per pair, and shoes 1 lb. per pair, the duty would represent about8d. per pair upon boots and 4d. per pair upon shoes. I have a table here to show very clearly what has been done in New South Wales with regard to the establishment of the boot industry under free-trade conditions. I have selected the figures myself, but in order that there should be no question as to their accuracy, I have submitted them to the statistical authorities of Victoria and New South Wales for verification. They embrace the period from 1891 to 1900. I have divided them into two groups, one of which covers the operation of the Dibbs Tariff, and the other the term of the freetrade regime. The statistics show that in 1891. the population was 1,162,880; the imports represented a value of £640,298 ; there were 60 factories in existence, employing 2,806 hands, and manufacturing 2,634,254 pairs of boots. In the following year, under the Dibbs Tariff, the population had increased to 1,193,780; the value of the imports had decreased to £455,767 ; the factories had increased to 66, the hands had decreased to 2,708, whilst the pairs of boots manufactured had also decreased to 2,500,000. In 1893, the population had increased to 1,218,150; the value of the imports had decreased to £356,280 ; the number of factories had decreased to 54, the hands had increased to 3,090, and the pairs of boots manufactured had increased to 2,545,061. In 1894, the population was 1,244,460 ; the value of the imports had decreased to £286,984; the factories had increased to 68, the hands employed to 3,420, and the pairs of boots manufactured to 2,611,700. In 1895, which was practically the last year of the operation of the Dibbs Tariff, the population rose to 1,269,230, whilst the value of the imports increased to £297,763 ; the factories decreased to 66, the hands slightly increased to 3,743, and the pairs of boots . manufactured increased to 2,721,132. Then in 1896 the State adopted practically a freetrade policy,and under the Reid administration the population increased to 1,286,970, the value of the imports slightly increased to £381,233, the factories took a big jump to 82, the hands slightly decreased to 3,526, and the pairs of boots manufactured decreased to 2,567,169. During 1897, 1898, and 1899, thesame increase in population and the same steady decrease in the value of the imports continued ; the number of factories remained almost stationary, the number of hands employed slightly increased, and the pairs of boots manufactured increased very largely. In 1900, owing to the process of “ loading up,” described by the Treasurer, the imports increased to the extent of £464,691. The number of factories in the same year rose to 94, the hands employed increased to 3,953, the pairs of boots manufactured totalled a record, namely, 3,269,938, and, for the first time in our history, there were 387,156 pairs of slippers made in addition, Summarizing these results, the position may be thus stated : - In ten years the population of New South Wales increased by 201,620, the number of factories by 34, the hands employed by 1,533, the pairs of boots manufactured by 1,073,123, in addition to which there was a new item of 387,156 pairs of slippers. The value of the imports decreased by £175,607. During, the fiveyears covered by the operation of the Dibbs Tariff - and the term mentioned embraces the periods a little prior to the introduction of that Tariff, and a little subsequent to its repeal - the value of the imports decreased to £2,037,092, the factories increased from 60 to 66, the hands employed to 937, whilst the pairs of boots manufactured increased only by 86,878. During the next five years of the Reid administration the value of the exports decreasedto £1,814,448, thef actories jumped from 66 to 94, the number of hands employed increased by 427, and the pairs of boots manufactured by 802,769, exclusive of the slippers. If we cannot regard these figures as of value, what is the utility of statistics ? I have also prepared some figures relating to the progress of the boot trade in Victoria. Prior to 1891 there are no statistics available relating to the number of pairs of boots manufactured in Victoria, but from that date onwards I find that the increase is very slight indeed as compared with the increase in New South Wales. Prom 1896 to 1900 inclusive the population of Victoria increased by 10,287, the value of the exports by £23,188, the number of factories by ten, the number of hands by 724, and the pairs made by 948,522, whilst the imports declined to the extent of £9,349. During the same period the population of New South Wales increased by 77,530, the value of the imports decreased by £83,458, the factories increased from 66 to 94, the number of hands increased by 427, the pairs made by 802,769. These figures show conclusively that a very good industry was successfully established in New South Wales without any Tariff assistance being given to it, if we exclude the short period during which the Dibbs Tariff operated. Of course it is urged by some people that the price of boots has not been very much enhanced by the imposition of increased duties. In this connexion I took the trouble to get a very substantial retail firm in my own district to give me a signed statement which shows that in one case the price rose from 10s. 6d. to 14s. 6d.
– Upon imported boots?
– Yes ; my’ contention is that the foreigner does not pay the tax, and that the consumer is paying it to-day.
– What has been the increase in the price of colonial-made boots in Sydney since the introduction of the Tariff?
– I admit that upon some rough lines the increase does not represent very much. In a second instance, the price rose from 7s. lid. to 10s. 6d., and in a third from 3s. 6d. to 5s. 3d.
– All of the boots upon which those increases were charged were imported prior to the introduction of the Tariff.
– I do not think that that statement is correct, because the firm in question purchases imported boots week by week. I claim that this tax will be felt by the people, and that there is no justification for imposing such abnormal rates upon boots and shoes, to protect an industry which can be adequately protected by the imposition of one-half of the proposed duty.
– After hearing some of the arguments advanced by Ministerial supporters, I am surprised that one of these modern wiseacres did not submit a proposition, affirming that nobody should be allowed to wear a pair of boots that had been half soled. We all know that nearly every pair of boots gets half soled, but if we passed a law preventing them being subsequently worn, twice the number of boots would be required, and double the amount of labour would thus be employed. After hearing some of the ridiculous assertions made by honorable members opposite, one wonders that they did not proceed to that extreme. Such a proposition as I have outlined, is exact!)’ on a par with the intelligence which they have exhibited in certain of their statements. It seems incredible that in a deliberative body there should be those who advocate a system which leads to such ridiculous conclusions. I am glad that we have heard at last a statement from the Treasurer to the effect that it is not proposed to raise prices more than 5 per cent., even in New South Wales, where previously there was no duty.
– That was only the first resolution.
– I admit that it was only the first resolution, but we may take it as a correct statement for the purpose of my argument. If that be so, how dare the Treasurer now come forward and ask for a duty which runs as high as 60 per cent, and SO per cent.? I protest against the manner in which this proposal has been submitted to the committee. In the first place a composite duty was brought down, and the Government have allowed uncertainty to continue up to the present, now proposing a fixed duty and taking care to fix it at such a high rate that on the lower classes of goods it will mean 88 per cent, in New South Wales. Even in Victoria, as the Treasurer has admitted, the duty will range from 22 per cent, to 45 per cent., and the committee ought to know where they stand. If there are any articles which differ in quality and price more than others, they are boots and shoes, and there ought to be an ad valorem duty so that the people may know exactly what they are paying. The other night I had to protest against a specific duty which was proposed for the purpose of disguising the amount of tax to be paid, and it is perfectly clear that the present proposal has a similar object. If the’ Victorian manufacturer cannot carry on business without an average duty of 40 per cent., how does he propose to meet the competition of his brother manufacturers of New South Wales, who have been able, without a duty, to develop the industry in opposition to the rest of the world? We have sometimes heard it said that Victorians are proud of their duty on boots and shoes.
– Hear, hear !
– I know that all statistics are , wrong when they disclose a bad state of things in Victoria ; but a lot of excellent gentlemen make statements such as that which the honorable member for Southern Melbourne now approves, but which they would not make in cold blood outside this chamber. Putting aside last year, in which there was undue inflation in every direction for a certain time, I should like to ask honorable members whether they are aware that in 1882 there were 3,700 hands employed in the boot trade in Victoria, when the population of the State was only 860,000 people, and that to-day, with a population of 1,300,000, employment is found for only 700 more men, while during the same period the number employed has, in New South Wales, risen from 2,000 to 4,000. The industry, it will be seen, has not kept pace with the requirements of the population.
– The introduction of new machinery accounts for far more than the difference.
– In New South Wales, without a duty, there are about 600 fewer men employed, and yet they turn out on an average 250,000 pairs of boots more than those engaged in the Victorian industry. I admit that the big turnout in New South Wales is largely owing to improved machinery, and the Victorians cannot stop development in that direction. If Victorians do desire to stop that development, the simplest way would be to abolish machinery. I admit that the Victorian duties in the past were not so high as they were at the time of the introduction of the federal Tariff; but in 1895 the duty on boots and shoes was raised to 60s. per dozen, thus far exceeding the German Tariff, which placed the impost at 8d. per pair. It has been urged that we ought to put a stop to importations of any sort ; and that will certainly be the effect of the Treasurer’s proposal, which is even higher than that originally introduced by the Government. A duty of 40s. a dozen will amount to more than the composite duty which, roughly speaking, means 36s. per dozen. The Treasurer, however, did not tell us that the latest proposal means an increase.
– It is higher for the poor man and lower for the rich man.
– That is always the policy of the Ministry. I am speaking of the great bulk of boots and shoes. On the better class of boots worth, say, 30s. a pair, the duty will be a little over 10 per cent., whereas on the working men’s boots, invoiced at 6s. and 7s. per pair, the duty will mean 50 per cent., and even more. The more we examine the figures theclearer it becomes that the proposal of the Government utterly and entirely disguises the real amount of duty that the people will have to pay. If the duty does not raise the price of the article to the extent of the duty, then the latter is to a large extent prohibitive, and is, at the same time, unnecessary from a protectionist point of view. I use the word “ protectionist “ in the ordinary sense, and not as meaning a prohibitionist, just as by “free-trader “ I do not mean a man who would abolish all duties, but one who would remove as many duties as practicable, and interfere as little as possible with trade. The Treasurer admits that the only revenue he expects to receive from this duty is about £70,000 per annum. The imports of boots and shoes into New South Wales in 1900 represented, in round figures, £350,000. Last year, in anticipation of the duties, the imports represented something over £400,000, but I prefer, in considering this matter, to take a normal year. The condition of the people of New South Wales remains very much the same, and if their purchasing power is not restricted, the imports of the Commonwealth will practically amount to £1,000,000. A duty of 15 per cent, would reduce imports to, say, £800,000, which represents a revenue of about £120,000 per annum. It will be seen, therefore, that the Treasurer expects to reduce imports by somethinglike 90 per cent. ; and that really is prohibition. The Treasurer asserts that only 6½ per cent, or 7 per cent, of the boots required will be imported under his proposal and if that is not prohibition, we on this side would like to know what is. What argument can the Treasurer advance in support of his proposal to impose a duty which wi11 have the effect of lessening the revenue to the extent I have mentioned? I have had my figures checked by two or three men interested in the trade, and they reckon that the revenue under the proposed duty will be about £111,000 ; but even that means a loss of over £40,000 a year.’ The cost of the labour employed in the manufacture of boots and shoes ranges from 25 to 35 per cent.
– Labour is represented by 33 per cent., and material by 67 per cent.
– Labour is represented by 25 per cent., and it goes as low as 13 per cent.
– That is in the making of “swells’ “ boots.
– I think that the estimate of the honorable member for Wentworth is correct, although possibly it is rather high. Is the Treasurer in such a flourishing condition that he can afford to throw away that amount .of revenue ? If only 5 per cent, would be the amount of the increase in price, by adopting 1 5 per cent., I, for one - though I do not like such a duty, and would like to see none at all - would agree to pass it without further discussion. A duty of 15 per cent, would give the manufacturers a far larger margin than they really have any right to ask for. Why should a man, simply because he is engaged in the manufacture of boots and shoes, be allowed to call upon buyers to pay an increased price for the article ? The Government, in pursuing this policy, are trying to do what the Legislatures of the Middle Ages failed to do, namely, to regulate prices. I regret that the Government have not learned what are those matters with which a Government cannot interfere, and what can be regulated for the public benefit. Their sole object seems to me to be to enable particular classes to derive advantages from duties imposed under the Tariff, and to carry that Tariff through Parliament by force of numbers. I should prefer to see ad valorem duties rather than these specific duties, which really conceal from the public the amount they have to pay through the Customs.
– I wonder what is the reason for the conspiracy of silence on the part of honorable members opposite. I have been waiting to hear some of them defend the infamous imposition now proposed upon one of the necessary articles of consumption, and one which enters into the expenditure of every household throughout the Commonwealth. But, for some reason or other, they prefer to be silent. I do not know whether this conspiracy of silence is the result of a caucus, but it seems strange. Why should this duty be differentiated from all the other duties in the Tariff 1 We have dealt with many other articles of apparel, but have not imposed duties of so high a character as are proposed in this case. Indeed, it seems to me that the Government have adopted the cumulative idea, and that the further they go the higher they want to make the duties. Where is the need for these high duties? We were told when hats were under discussion that the hat industry of Victoria was in a very parlous state, and that unless very high duties were imposed on hats it would perish. We imposed a duty of 30 per cent. Yet the industry has not perished. I believe it is extending at a very rapid rate, and that new enterprises are being established in New South Wales. We have also imposed a duty of 20 per cent, on clothing. Last week we dealt with jewellery. We left the duty at 25 per cent., because articles of jewellery are luxuries. Then we have duties on cosies, furs, and gloves, and on confectionery and trimmings, ranging from 15 to 20 per cent. Yet when we come to boots, an article of common wear and consumption, we are asked to impose a duty ranging from 80 to 100 per cent. ad valorem. Why should this distinction be made between boots and other articles of apparel and consumption ? Is it because the machinery in our boot factories is obsolete and out of date, or because we have no natural facilities for the manufacture oi boots ? The figures show the contrary to be the case. We were told by the Prime Minister, when making his famous Maitland speech, that the only reason why the Tariff should be protective in its incidence was that the bare feet of the people of the continent might not go pattering over the pavements. I do not know whether or not the Prime Minister had in his mind the question of imposing a duty on boots at that time. If, however, these high duties are to be maintained, there will be many bare feet pattering on the pavements. We have been told that these duties are wanted, because, in America, the most uptodate machinery and skilful invention are applied to the manufacture of. boots. I presume that the fiercest competition in this line of enterprise is between England, America, and the Continent. We bear nothing from the protectionists in relation to this item about the cheap labour of the Continent. Honorable members opposite have shifted their ground in connexion with boots. We are now told that it is because of the skill shown abroad, and because of American enterprise, that a countervailing duty is required here. When I interjected in the course of the speech of the honorable member for Yarra as to whether protection stimulated the brains of Americans, he replied that the stimulation of the demand in America had stimulated the inventive faculties of the people.
– - Hear, hear.
– The honorable member for Bourke also actually believes that protective duties help a man to invent machinery for the supply of the demand thus created. It reminds me that I once heard a man solemnly argue that the single tax was a cure for the toothache! That was no more absurd than the statement of the honorable member that ho believes that the imposition of a protective duty on an article will help to bring into existence advanced machinery for the purpose of producing it more” economically. We are told that because inventors in America have enabled boots to be produced with greater facility, we ought to have a duty so as to enable our people to stand up against the brains df America and the inventive faculties of that country. So that it comes back to the old condition of things that I have previously called attention to - that the protective theory goes right in the teeth of all modern invention and scientific progress. Because in America they have greater facilities for the manufacture of boots, therefore we want a duty to protect ourselves from too much inventiveness. This shows how absurd the doctrine of protection is, as applied between countries such as those now under review. I can understand the force of the argument that, because of the down-trodden condition of labour on the continent of Europe, the pauper-like conditions under which the people work, and the low standard of civilization which applies to many of them, a duty should be imposed to protect our labour. But no such argument is being raised in regard to boots and shoes. The protectionists shift their ground to suit the circumstances, and fall back upon the theory of the honorable member for Melbourne Ports, who is always telling us that protection is a “ variable ‘ expedient,” and not a principle. The “ variable expedient “ isnow shifted round from the poverty te the richness, to the skill and ingenuity of the older countries of the world. We are told that because for many years past they have been making more boots with a less expenditure of labour we should build this high Tariff wall against them. We have the raw materials of this industry here in abundance. I presume that honorable members opposite will not argue that in America they get their hides cheaper than we do here. All the raw materials which go to make up these manufactured articles are to be found in profusion in Australia, and to a greater extent than, perhaps, in any other country in theworld. The leather statistics show that. They show that we are large exporters^ of leather, that we make more leather than we know what to do with,, and have to seek a market for it elsewhere. Why should not these articles be made as cheaply here as anywhere else in the world ? I shall be told by the honorable member for Bourke and the honorable member for Yarra that wages are higher here than they are in the old country. They may be to a certain extent, but it has been shown that the difference in our wage rates as compared with European wage rates in connexion with every class of article we have been considering, is less than the cost of importing those articles. The cost of bringing those goods from the older countries to Australia is in every case more than the total labour cost in their manufacture. The Treasurer admits that the total labour cost involved in the manufacture of these boots is only 33 p.er cent. Why then does he desire to impose duties ranging from SO per cent, to 100 per cent. Surely that cannot be because of the difference in wage rates and labour conditions 1
– Thirty-three per cent, is the average cost all round ; but it is more than that upon the inferior articles.
– It is the average I am speaking of. I suppose that in the case of many of the articles, the percentage of cost of labour is very much less than what the right honorable gentleman states -as the average. The estimate of the labour -cost, according to many of the statisticians who have addressed the committee before me, brings it down to less than 20 per cent., but accepting the average cost as 33 per cent, is that any reason why the right honorable gentleman should seek to impose duties of 80 per cent, and 100 per cent. 1
– I seek to impose an average duty of very much less than that.
– Will the right honorable gentleman tell us why so high a duty is needed 1 Will he tell us first of all why he proposes to make this distinction between boots and other kinds of clothing .and apparel t
– I tried to do that - in a speech of about an hour.
– I am afraid the right honorable gentleman is only telling us what a shocking case he had when after a speech of an hour he was unable to convince the committee as to the necessity for differentiating in the case of this industry, though he is usually very clear. I should be very pleased to hear the Treasurer give some reason for these high duties. I should be glad to hear him say whether he believes that this high rate of duty is necessary in order that the workmen here may be able to compete against the workmen of other countries. Does the right honorable gentleman subscribe to the theory advanced by the honorable members for Yarra and Bourke, that because America has put more brains into -the manufacture of boots, and has invented better machines than we have, that is a reason why we should seek to levy duties which will make up the difference between our backward machinery and the advanced machinery in use in America ? If he is prepared to argue in that way, no more need be said from this side. We have heard from the honorable member for Yarra that he desires this protection against American brains. That is a fine confession for the honorable member to make. Judging by our attitude at times one would think that we had a monopoly of that kind of thing in Australia, and now the honorable member tells us that they have more brains in America, and can apply them to the production of boots in such a way as to produce more with less labour, and we must therefore have stiff duties imposed here. If there is anything which should carry only a moderate duty, it is the apparel of the working people of the community. .It has been shown beyond the possibility of contradiction, by reference to Coghlan’s statistics, with respect to our factories in New South Wales, that this industrial enterprise can be built up without any duties, owing to our isolation from the older countries of the world, and because of the enormous advantages .we have in the production, locally, of the raw material used in the industry. We have built up the industry in New South Wales without the protection of any Tariff duties, and to-day in that State there are more boots made than in Victoria. In addition to that, as showing the profusion of our natural capabilities in connexion with this industry, we are exporting leather to the value of hundreds of thousands of pounds to the older countries of Europe, after having almost supplied the needs of the local market.
– We are also importing some leather.
– Of course we are. We imported leather to the value of about £80,000 in one year ; but we have no duty in New South Wales upon leather, while over here in Victoria they imported £100,000 worth of leather in the face of a stiff duty. Perhaps the honorable member will tell us how the duties brought about importations into Victoria, and how at the same time, in New South Wales, we were able to almost supply our needs without any duties. What a farce it is to put these high duties upon either the raw material or the finished articles, when we are large exporters of everything which enters into the composition of these goods 1 We ought not to be constantly trying to go in the teeth of nature and of science. I hope this committee will not stultify itself at the beginning of this twentieth century, when everything is being done to lighten the toil which goes to make up our necessities, when everywhere we are seeking in some way to lessen the arduousness of human toil, and to bring about greater and better results with less expenditure of labour. When all this is the trend of our modern civilization, why should we seek to interpose these barriers to facility of production and plenty because they are to be found in some other quarter of the world ? Honorable members on the other side tell us, in the most candid way, that these duties should be imposed because there is greater skill in America than in Australia. That admission goes far to destroy their theory, and to show that it is built upon a false basis. Seeing that we are making a Tariff for the whole of Australia, I hope we shall have no such scandalous blot upon it, as there will be, if the duties upon these articles are carried in the way suggested by the Treasurer. Some reference was made to-night to the effect of the Dibbs duties in New South Wales. A very moderate duty was imposed in New South Wales under the Dibbs regime, and if the Treasurer would tell us that he would be satisfied with similar duties here, he would not hear very much from this side. Honorable members opposite are very fond of telling us what was the effect of the Dibbs duties, and how they stimulated enterprise and industry in the neighbouring State. Our answer has been over and over again - “ Give us the Dibbs duties and your Tariff will be through to-morrow night.” It is because you are departing from the moderate duties which were imposed then in New South Wales, and which our people swept away completely, after a trial of them, as being utterly worthless to help the manufacturing industries of the State, that we object. Those were the duties which Mr. Barton had in his mind when announcing his programme to the Commonwealth ; those were the duties in the mind of the Minister for Home Affairs when making his perfervid appeals to the people of the Hume electorate. But we now hear nothing about them. Instead of duties of 15 per cent, we are tonight offered duties of 50 per cent.; instead of moderate duties we are asked to accept extremely high duties. If anything will contribute to the pattering of bare feet upon the pavements of Australia, it surely will be the heavy imposts sought to be put upon footwear in Australia. I appeal to the Treasurer to bring these duties down to reasonable dimensions.
– Fifteen per cent, is what I am offered.
– I think 15 per cent, is a very fair thing, too. Might I remind the Treasurer that 15 per cent, will more than make up any difference in wage rates between those employed in the industry here and elsewhere.
– There are more than wage rates to be taken into consideration.
– Then what more is there to be considered? The argument has always been that we have to compete with the pauper labour of other countries. Will the right honorable gentleman tell us what other factors there are which enter into the problem as he sees it, and which justify the imposition of the very high duties submitted in this Tariff? These duties so far as we know are higher than a»y in protectionist America ; higher than any in Germany ; and higher than any in any other part of the world. I should like to know from the Treasurer why we should impose these high duties in a country which has natural advantages for the production of boots and shoes which cannot be equalled anywhere else in the civilized world ?
– The honorable member for Parramatta says that more boots are manufactured in New South Wales than in Victoria, but upon inquiring from Victorian manufacturers as to the reason for that, I was informed that the quality of the boots manufactured in New South Wales is inferior to that of the boots manufactured in Victoria. What the manufacturers of Melbourne say is borne out by the sworn evidence of the manufacturers of Sydney. For instance, Mr. J ohn Wright, boot manufacturer of Sydney, gives the following evidence : -
What are the wages paid in your factory ? - The highest wages are £2 a week, they range from £2 down to 20s.
How is it they can make boots in Victoria and import them here, and still pay a higher rate of wages than is paid in New South Wales? - Because the output of the factories is larger and more continuous. The Victorian manufacturer has the whole of his State to himself, no one oan trespass on him, but in New South Wales we have not anything to ourselves. We get the imports of all the world. ; they ship to us freely, and the purchasers - the merchants and the shopkeepers here - are always in favour of the imported goods rather than those locally produced ; that is one reason. Another reason is that a better class of goods, and more highly fashioned class of goods is made in Victoria than is the custom in New South Wales, and those goods are imported into New South Wales. We have not the chance to make them - our workmen are not trained to make them ; the material is not produced hi New South Wales. If we want a specially good class of leather we send to Victoria for it…..
What do you pay your clickers ? - From 20s. to £2. The foreman gets £2. That is a very low wage? - Very low. Why is that? - Because of the importations. They pay higher in Victoria ?-
But there is no importation there. I have carried on business the last four years for the benefit of my hands. I have lost money every year.
– Is not the honorable member going to quote the evidence of Messrs John Hunter and McMurtrie ?
– It does not conflict with what I have read. They agree that the better class of boot is imported into New South Wales, and that only the commoner class is made there. Not only are the boot manufacturers and operatives of Victoria asking for this duty, but a similar request comes from those of New South Wales. It has been stated that the proposed duties would increase the expenditure of every householder in the Commonwealth, but it is notorious that boots can be purchased within a stone’s throw of this building for considerably less than the duty imposed on them. When there is a duty of 6s. a pair upon boots, and boots can be purchased locally for 3s.11d., that shows that the duty is not added to the price. Here is a remarkable circular which has just been issued by a Sydney house -
In future, it is our intention to manufacture locally all lines that can be made up here to advantage, thus saving the heavy import duties on apparel.
The Clothing Factory. - Owing to the very large increase in this branch of our business, we have been compelled to add two additional stories to our factory, and throughout it is now equipped on entirely modern lines, and able to cope with all demands. Our shirt factory has been established for some three months now, and during that time has been engaged in making-up goods for the new season. These shirts will escape the 27½ per cent. duty on imported lines. In this factory we have already over 100 hands employed.
– Perhaps that is issued only as an advertisement.
– There is no doubt that it states the truth, because the duty on shirts and the duty on boots are not handed on. If anything, boots have been too cheap in Victoria ; cheap at the expense of the merchant who supplied the leather, and of the workmen who made them.
– And of the people who wore them?
– Comparing value for value, every right thinking man must admit that the working classes of Victoria have received as much for their money as those of any other part of Australia. Therefore, to talk about the duty being handed on seems to me idle nonsense. It has been said that there is an immense number of boots manufactured in Great Britain, and that the manufacturers there do not plead for a duty ; but the condition of things in the boot trade in Great Britain is avery sad one. In the report of the Northampton branch of the National Union of Boot and Shoe Operatives, published in the Northampton Mercury of November last, the following statement appears : -
Trade at Northampton is in a worse state than in the previous month, there being now a considerable number out of work entirely, while those on short time can be numbered by hundreds, if not thousands.
In order to mitigate the sad condition of things disclosed in that report, the Mayor of Northampton called a meeting of the magistrates for the borough, and of the members of the Town Council, to consider the advisability of opening a relief fund. The statement is made that the distress existing is heartbreaking, and an appeal was made to the townspeople to subscribe funds for the relief of those concerned.
– Have there never been any starving people in Melbourne ?
– We have had bad times and suffering in Melbourne, but we have never had anything like the condition of things spoken of in the report which I have just quoted.
– Did the honorable member never say that the wages of the bootmakers of Melbourne were only 15s. per week?
– I did say it, and I think I did my part in bringing about a condition of things that helped to remove that evil. It would have been impossible, however, to change it if the manufacturers had not been protected at the Customhouse. My honorable friends opposite appear to be able to understand only one kind of protection - protection at the Customhouse.
– At that time there was a duty of 60s. per dozen pairs upon boots.
– 1896 was the worst year experienced by Victoria, whereas, according to the London Times, 1901 was the best year England has had for many a long day. Yet, in the great centre of the boot-manufacturing industry, in that year hundreds and thousands of men were out of work, and had to beg for sustenance for their wives and families.
– Why was that ?
– Because the boots that ought to have been made in England were being manufactured in India and America. The Australian Leather Trade Journal shows that, whilst the British workmen are literally starving, the British Government, true to its policy, is sending its army contracts to India, to have boots made by workmen paid at rates ranging from 6Jd. to ls. per day of twelve hours. The Leather Trade Journal says -
Indian versus British Boots for the Army. - The unlucky English boot manufacturers, whose difficulties Ave have described in previous issues, have now to reckon with competition from India, as well as from the United States, France, and other quarters. The War-office has contracted to take from Cawnpore factories 100,000 pairs of boots annually during the next three years, for the use of the troops in England and the colonies. The Hindu boot is declared by the Director of Army Contracts to be preferred both by officers and men to the English boot. The superiority of the former was proved in the South African war.
My remedy for this condition of things would be, not a charity list, but the employment of the British workmen to make the boots for the Army, or the manufacture of the boots in India under similar conditions to those which would have to be complied with if British workmen were employed. Some honorable members have spoken of the proportion which the wages paid in the boot trade bear to the cost of production. The cost of labour varies according to the nature of the article ; but upon a number of lines which come into competition with imported boots the labour cost is considerably nearer 4.0 per cent, than 25 per cent., as stated. Besides the cost of the labour engaged in the boot trade, the wages paid to those employed in the manufacture of the materials used in the boot factories, the machinery, and the building of the factories have to be considered. The boot operatives in America work ten hours a day, as compared with the eight-hours day in Australia, and in Vienna they work no less than twelve hours a day. The longer hours in America are accounted for to a large extent by the fact that the operations are carried on under the piecework system, and the employes, therefore, have an incentive to continue at work for long periods.
– In other words, they _ go in for cheap production under protection.
– Yes, and industries have been developed in America that are unparalleled in any part of the world. I hope the committee will deal fairly with the boot industry. It is admitted that it is a very large one, and that its success confers many benefits, not only upon the workmen engaged, but upon the community generally
– Why not give engineers the same measure of protection 1
– The same conditions do not apply to machinery as to boots, because hundreds of pairs of boots can be packed in the same space as one machine, and the natural protection in the case of boots amounts to very little.
– It represents 15 per cent.
– It does not amount to that. Then we have to overcome the prejudice which exists in the minds of a large section of the public against the products of Australian labour. Some people pretend to think that Australian workmen cannot make boots.
– Yes, they can ; plenty of good boots are made in New South Wales.
– All the inferior boots are made in New South Wales, and all the better class of boots are imported, whereas in Victoria boots of the very highest quality are manufactured. In the interests of the manufacturers, of the workmen, of the producers, and of the consumers, I hope the committee will adopt the proposals of the Government.
– The honorable member for Melbourne Ports has stated that the boots made in New South Wales are inferior to those manufactured in Victoria. We have here upon the table an object-lesson which will show at once the great inferiority of the Melbourne boots. I have here a pair of bluchers invoiced by a Melbourne firm at 2s. 9d. per pair.
– Why is not the duty added?
– Because the boots are not worth the 2s. 9d. at which they are invoiced. If the manufacture of boots began and ended in Victoria with such goods as those now before us, the people of Victoria would be pattering about with bare feet. The amended proposals of the Government are worse than those originally brought down. A fixed duty of 20s., with a 15 per cent, ad valorem impost, would be much better in the interests of the poorer classes than a duty of 40s. per dozen. That means an all-round impost of 3s. 4d. per pair irrespective of the value of the boots. Under the original proposal, a pair of boots invoiced at £2 would be subject to a duty of 7s. 8d. If boots were invoiced at 20s. per pair the duty upon them would be 4s. Sd, as against 3s. 4d. under the present proposal ;. if they were invoiced at 10s. it would amount to 3s. 2d. ; and if invoiced at 5s. it would represent 2s. 5d. It is abundantly evident therefore that the present proposal will press more harshly upon the poorer classes of the community than would the original proposition. Indeed it appears as if the proposal under discussion were designed to reduce the duty upon articles which are used by the wealthy in order that an additional impost may be placed upon those used by the poor. The Treasurer has been candid enough to tell us that, as a result of the operation of this Tariff, he expects the importation of the cheaper sorts of boots to cease. Therefore we are to lose all the revenue that would come from the bulk of the boots imported, and to derive only a small amount from the importations of the superior article.
– We shall get more revenue by reason of the goods being made locally and the people spending their money here.
– That is a beautiful figment in which the Treasurer has indulged from time to time, but which he will find it impossible to establish by any proof whatever. He has said that as a result of the encouragement given to local manufacturers the imports will decline to the extent of £5,000,000. How is he going to substitute for that £5,000,000 worth of imports some form of revenue production other than that of importation 1 I am convinced that the good sense of this committee will not tolerate the imposition of a specific duty of 40s. per dozen upon men’s boots, and I hope that we shall finally resolve to levy an ad valorem rate which will afford to the boot industry all the protection for which it can reasonably ask.
– I must congratulate honorable members upon the opposite side of the chamber upon their courage in leading what they must recognise to be a forlorn hope, by advocating in the first place the imposition of any duty at all, and in the second the imposition of such a stupendous rate as that asked for by the Treasurer. Surely when the right honorable gentleman proposes to levy from ls. Id. to 3s. 4d. per pair upon every description of boot used in Australia. - when out of the 3s. 4d. which represents the power of taxation that he hands over to the manufacturers of the Commonwealth he will get less than 2d. per pair as revenue - he is reaching the very extremity of a protectionist proposal. Yet he has frequently declared that he is not in favour of prohibition, and desires to see outside competition. That statement, however, is negatived to-night by the duties proposed upon the articles enumerated under this item. How can there be any outside competition when a duty of 3s. 4d. is operative’ upon an ordinary pair of boots? The fact is, that if the duty is put into operation by the manufacturers - and they have power to do this by combination - the wearer of a fair pair of boots will have to give one pair out of every three pairs to the Customs authorities. Not only is the fixed duty upon the cheapest boots equal to that which is charged upon the very highest-priced articles, but the user of the cheaper article will consume more boots in a year than will the user of the more expensive. The working man, who travels chiefly upon foot, and works possibly amidst stone and rock, must require more boots in a year than the ordinary man who wears an article of better quality. Consequently the duty will be exacted from the former more often than it will be from the well-to-do man. There has never been a worse case made out for the imposition of a high duty than has been established in connexion with this particular item. Is there not evidence that if a duty is demanded it should be a comparatively low duty? Is there not evidence that in New South Wales a very large industry has been established ; and that in Tasmania, with a population of not much more than a third of that of Melbourne, three or four factories exist with a 20 per cent, duty? That State can successfully compete against the United States, which the Victorian manufacturers say they fear, unless they are given the benefit of a protective duty of from 50 to 60 per cent. Surely that fact is the best evidence that no such duty is needed, and unless the manufacturers combine to raise prices, no such duty can be taken advantage of. It has been stated that the wages paid in New South Wales are not so high as those paid in Victoria. I am not satisfied that that would be found to be so if one went into all the details. But suppose we accept that statement, the wages represent only 25 per cent, of theoutlay. Thehonorable member for Melbourne Ports has said that the commoner classes of boots only are produced in New South Wales. What does that mean? It means that the wages upon those boots in proportion to the cost must bear a higher percentage. Now, the total quantity of boots manufactured in New South Wales last year was 3,200,000 pairs. If we calculate the cost of that number at the low average of 5s. per pair, it will be seen that they represent a value of £800,000. If we take the returns placed upon the table of the House as to the number of hands employed at the average wage paid in New South Wales, we shall find that the total amount thus disbursed is less than £200,000 ; that the wages are equivalent to 25 per cent, on the aggregate output. That is the full percentage on what has been described as the lower class of boots. In the Boot and ShoeRecorder of Boston, it is stated that the American wages for unskilled labour range from 12 dollars to 15 dollars per week, whilst those of skilled labour range from 13 dollars to 20 dollars. Yet Messrs. Fleet and Co., Boston, whose output represents an expenditure of 4,000,000 dollars for the year, pay 1,000,000 dollars only in wages. Thus in a higher-paid community than this, the wages of the workmen represent only 25 per cent, of the total outlay. If, therefore, a duty of 15 or 20 per cent, is imposed upon boots, it will represent from 50 to 80 per cent, protection on thewages. If we accept the statement of the honorable member for Melbourne Ports that in the United States, in addition to wages being higher, the cost of buildings and the interest upon capital are greater, and say that so much as a quarter of the cost is represented by those charges, we shall still have a protection of from 30 per cent, to 40 per cent, afforded by the imposition of a 15 or 20 per cent, duty; on that part of the work, the cost of which is higher here than elsewhere. If the Treasurer genuinely desires to do what is right, not merely to one State, but to the whole of the States, this matter is really worthy of his attention. The honorable member for Bourke sketched the advance of the American boot industry during the past sixteen or seventeen years. According to the honorable member, that industry is carrying all before it, and he attempted to give some reason why it was impossible for other portions of the world to successfully compete with the United States.
– Without protection.
– I mean, of course, without protection. I should like to show what has taken place in New South Wales during those seventeen years. In New South Wales, in 1882, the imports of boots and shoes per head of the population were valued at 15s. 6½d.; in 1884, at 12s. 7½d.; and in 1899, at 5s. 0¾d.; and conversely wo have a tremendous increase of local production. Under what circumstances has that increase of local production taken place ? The honorable member for Bourke told us of the enormous development of the American boot industry and the cheapening of the product there ; but right in the face of that, and in spite of the competition from America, in New South Wales we have an instance, without a duty, of a steady fall in importation and a steady increase in local production, until now the whole imports of New South Wales are only about one-third of the consumption. Surely, even on the principles of the Treasurer, who says he does not wish to prohibit, but, with competition, to secure for the Australian article the bulk of the Australian trade, that one-third is necessary to maintain the competition which he desires. We have secured the bulk of the trade in New South Wales, and what comes in is only sufficient to maintain competition. I should like to emphasize the fact which has been stated by other honorable members, that the great competitor on this occasion is not a cheap labour country, but is the United States, where the wages are such as I have already indicated. The honorable member for Bourke dwelt on the fact that in the United States there is a duty on hides, a considerable quantity of which has to be imported. Surely that is a drawback to the competition of the United States, especially with Australia.
– I said so.
– Australia exports many hides to the United States, and the fact shows the less necessity for a duty in the Commonwealth as against America.
– But it emphasizes the organization and specialization in America.
– Of course it does ; and the same organization and specialization will take place here in connexion with certain descriptions of boots. But if Australia tries to make boots which are in very small consumption that the specialization and proper organization cannot be applied - if the best machinery cannot be used, because it will turn out too many pairs for a small consumption - then Australia is admittedly going into a trade in which, protect it as we may, money will be lost.
– The trouble is that Australia is in the trade.
– Australia is in the trade, in one State under free-trade, and in another State under a duty of 20 per cent. We are asked to pay no attention to that, but to drive the duties up to the enormous rates of 3s. 4d. to1s.1d per pair. The honorable member for Bourke says that America is irresistible because of her machinery. I do not doubt that it is a fact in New South Wales that the boots produced there are of the ordinary description in most general wear. And why is that 1 Because this description of boots is all that it pays Australia to produce. If a class of boots is in large consumption, we can apply machines which will turn them out at a rapid and cheap rate ; but immediately we begin to try to make boots, which ought to be turned out by similarly rapid machines, when the consumption will not keep such machines going, then surely it is not contended that we must drive up protection to meet that extreme case? The Treasurer has taken an extraordinary action, which is not in keeping with his general clearness of vision. The Minister for Trade and Customs introduced, and the Treasurer supported, a composite duty, and for what reason ? Because a composite duty makes the more expensive article, which is worn by those who presumably can best afford to pay, liable to a higher duty than the cheaper article used for the every-day wear of workmen.
– It did something else, too. That proposal shut out the lowerpriced article, and made the better-priced article pay a higher rate.
– That is prohibition, and not the competition which the Treasurer has always contended for.
– There is plenty of competition amongst ourselves.
– That competition may or may not last. The proposal of the Treasurer means handing overthe market to certain men to do what they likewith. It gives those men the opportunity to tax people to the extent of 3s. 4d. on every pair of boots, and tells them that if they do not do that they will be considered very reasonable. As regards the proportionate duty, the Minister for Trade and Customs and the Treasurer were very strong on the desirability of putting a heavier burden on the dearer articles, even if only to the extent of 15 per cent. One would think that when the Treasurer came to the duty, with that in view–
– I had the other in view as well.
– One would think that when the Treasurer changed his proposed duty, he would put on a percentage and not a fixed duty so as to tax the higherpriced article in proportion to its value.
– I had to choose the lesser of two evils.
– But the Treasurer did not choose the lesser of two evils. He threw away the ad valorem duty and proposed what to me seems as high a duty on the average. He proposes a fixed duty, so that the smaller-priced article will pay as much as the higher-priced article.
– Much higher than the two combined.
– I said the duty was on the same lines.
– The new proposal is at least as high as the other, and on certain classes of boots it is higher. I have calculated that men’s boots costing11s.1d., youths’ boots costing 5s. 6d., boys’ boots costing 2s. 9d., women’s boots costing 5s. 6d., girls ‘ boots costing 3s. 4d, girls’ smaller boots costing 2s. 3d., and slippers costing 2s. 9d. per pair, will practically pay as high a duty under the amended as under the original proposal. It is of no use the Treasurer expecting honorable members to accept the calculation, which I understood him to make, that the duty is only about 33 per cent.
– I said the duty was only 28 per cent on the boots we imported into Victoria.
– Just look at the hollowness of that calculation. Victoria, first of all, by means of a 60s. duty, shuts out all the cheap goods, and, in fact, all medium goods ; and the Treasurer calculates the average fixed duty, not over all qualities of boots, but simply on the small quantity of dearer boots which were still imported under the heavy Victorian Tariff.
– I said deliberately that this calculation was based on the goods imported into Victoria.
– But it is such an unfair calculation.
– No, it is not.
– The calculation does not represent the percentage of duty on boots in general, but simply the duty on the small quantity of high - priced boots, which the high Tariff of Victoria allowed to come into the market. I do not desire to repeat the figures placed before the committee by other honorable members ; but I should like to point to the delightful trust which the Treasurer has in those to whom he hands over this power of taxation. The Treasurer has just stated that the reason protection is specially needed in the Australian boot industry is that theAmerican makers, after supplying their own market - and supplying that market at their own. prices - have surplus stocks, which they ship at extremely low rates to such markets as our own. There is the one reply to that statement - that practice has not killed the boot trade in New South Wales. The Treasurer also said that he hoped Australian manufacturers would send their surplus to other places.
– Some day.
– That could never be done if other countries acted on the Australian principle, and refused to admit the goods. But supposing that Australian manufacturers did export their surplus, what would it mean ? Apparently it would mean the , repetition of what very often takes place in America, where, owing, to the farming out of the high duties to manufacturers, high prices prevail within the country, and low prices without the country, so that the output, however large, may be disposed of. I am simply dealing with the Treasurer’s arguments. I am showing that the very system which he says obtains in America, only obtains under a high protective Tariff, and if such a Tariff is adopted here, it may obtain within our own borders. I would also point out most emphatically that the Treasurer, while he has frequently declared that his desire was fairly to average the duties of the States, has in this case, attempted no average whatever. He has put Victoria against the rest of the Commonwealth.
– I have taken more than a third of the duty off Victoria.
– I do not wish, and have not tried to dwell upon State differences, but we cannot be silent when theTreasurer by his acts creates such preferences. The highest duties in the several States other than Victoria before federation were those in Queensland and South Australia, which were practically the same and compared with the present proposal are 33s. against 40s., 25s. against 35s., and so on. Even the duties of Queensland and South Australia were considerably below the duties now proposed by the Treasurer. The duty in Tasmania was only 20 per cent. ; in Western Australia it was 10s. or 18s. a dozen pairs, or 15 per cent., and in other cases on girls’ boots and slippers, 15 per cent. Where, then, is the average? New South Wales, with no duty at all, is not considered. A duty of 15 or 20 per cent, would have shown some consideration, and some approach to an average. But the Treasurer, on behalf of the Victorian manufacturer, simply says to the rest of Australia, “Whether you need these duties for your manufacturers or not, you shall have duties which are higher than have ever been imposed on the people of Australia outside Victoria.” That is not only unwise, but unnecessary. I do not believe that Victoria requires these high duties. I believe that she is just as well able to compete as any of the other States. If she is not, it is because her machinery is not up to date. Her people are well able to compete, but if we assume they are not then Victoria will have to go down in competition with other States which have shown their ability to manufacture under lower or no duties. I would also point out, in reply to the honorable member for Melbourne Ports, that his speech, in one part, was the most absolute condemnation of the proposal that could have been made by any honorable member. He stated that in 1896 he had given evidence to the effect that men were working, in the boot trade in Victoria for 15s. per week.
– I never said anything of the kind.
– The honorable member stated that that was the case in 1896.
– That is different from saying that I gave evidence.
– If I used the word “ evidence,” I merely meant to say that he had put forward that evidence, though whether he put it forward in Parliament or before a committee I do not know.
– I can assure the honorable member that that was not a statement made by me.
– It is no use denying the fact, because the honorable member has already admitted that in 1896 bootmakers in Victoria were making boots for 15s. a week, and he says he was doing his best to raise them from that wage. Here is the statement to which I refer -
Mr. S. Mauger, M.H.B.., Secretary of the Victorian Protectionists’ Association, speaking on November 10, 1896, at the South Melbourne Town Hall, said: - It was said that the bootmakers wages were only los. per week. If that was true it was due to unrestricted competition in the trade. It was the very success of protection which produced the reduced wages in the boot’ trade, because every journeyman operator was able to start for himself, and so increase the cutthroat competition.
At that time of distress the duty was 45s. per dozen pairs, or 3s. 9d. per pair which is higher than the duty which the Treasurer now asks us to impose. If the higher duty could save the worker, why did it not save him then 1 It did not. Low as the wages may have been in free-trade New South “Wales they never reached so low a level as that. Now, I will allude to another statement made by the honorable member for Bourke. He said that what enabled America to compete so successfully was the large home market. Is it not a peculiar thing that when the boot industry has reached such a level in New South Wales without any duty, and lias been successful in Tasmania with only 20 per cent. - in spite of the competition of Victoria, New South Wales, and the United States - a higher duty is required just when we are enlarging our home market ? We are enlarging the home market, so far as concerns Tasmania, from a reachable population of 200,000 people to 3,500,000. We are enlarging it for New South Wales from, we will say, 1,500,000 to 3,500,000 ; for Victoria, from 1,250,000 to 3,500,000 ; and for South Australia, from less than 400,000 to 3,500,000. Is it not an extraordinary thing that when we are doing that the Treasurer proposes largely to increase the protection in Tasmania, in South Australia, in Queensland, and in Western Australia ? Surely a duty even less than the duty which satisfied small Tasmania would be sufficient for the enlarged home market of Australia. I do not wonder at honorable members opposite not being able to get up and support this proposal. It is a credit to them that they let their consciences influence them to that extent. I only hope that the working of their consciences will affect those of Ministers, and that the latter will accept a much lower duty than that they now propose.
– I am very sorry that the distinguished stranger who graced our debate this evening for a short time is not now present. I refer to the Prime Minister. It is an unusual pleasure to see him here during the Tariff debate, and I am exceedingly sorry that he did not see his way clear to remain for a longer period, so that he might learn what is being done in connexion with the duty on boots and shoes. I should like to remind the right honorable gentleman of that famous speech which he delivered at Maitland, and which was carefully read throughout the length and breadth of the Commonwealth. Every word of that, speech was weighed carefully, and, rightly or wrongly, the right honorable gentleman led us to believe that he was the Prime Minister of a Government who would not favour anything in the nature of extremely high duties. He appealed to the sympathies of his audience and the people of Australia, and talked pathetically about “ the pattering of bare feet.” When speaking about the pattering of bare feet, he did not tell the people that his Government was going to propose a duty of 111 per cent, upon the poorest class of boots worn by the community. The duty we are now considering ranges from 22 per cent, to 111 per cent. It is now proposed by the Treasurer to substitute for the composite duties a duty of 40s. per dozen pairs, and if honorable members work that out they will find that, upon boots worth 3s. per pair, that duty will amount to 3s. 4d. per pair, or 111 per cent. On boots worth 4s. per pair, the Government proposal will mean a duty of 88 per cent. ; on boots worth 6s. per pair, 66 per cent. ; on boots worth 10s. per pair, 33 per cent.; and on boots worth 15s. per pair, 22 per cent. So itwill go on until the more expensive boots willbe very slightly taxed indeed. I think we may say that the result of the federal elections would have been very different if the Prime Minister, at Maitland, in the same breath in whichhe talked about “ the pattering of bare feet,” had said he was going to propose a duty of 111 per cent,upon the poorest class of boots used. We, on this side, are regarded, I suppose, as extremists, because we advocate an ad valorem duty of 15 or 20 per cent. Surely that is not an extraordinary proposal when we remember that a duty of 20 per cent, has been carried upon perfumeries and fancy goods, which are the luxuries of the rich. I should like particularly to refer to the statements made by the honorable member for Melbourne Porte in, the speech he mode within the past hour. He referred to the very deplorable state of things that exists in England, and especially to the sweating in the boot trade at Northampton. When I interrupted him to remark that sweating also existed in Victoria when a high duty was imposed in that State, the honorable member could not see that the interjection had any application. He said that the sweating in Victoria was due to something altogether apart from protection, and that protection was not the beginning and the end of the progress and prosperity of a nation. Why did the honorable member not apply that argument when he was trying to saddle free-trade with the sweating existing in England ? He carefully avoided applying, in the case of England, the argument which he applied with so much satisfaction to himself when dealing with Victoria. When he talked so much of the existence of sweating in England, the honorable member should have told us something of the condition of things existing in Victoria under high protective duties. I should like to refresh his memory on the subject, and in order to do so I will quote from a paper that is highly esteemed by the honorable member. This appeared in the Melbourne Age of August 16, 1894. It refers to the state of things in the boot trade in highly protected Victoria at that time -
Wages in the boot trade, as in every other industry, has seen an enormous decline during the post few years. …. Accordingto the report of a meeting, supplied by the secretary of the Bootmakers’ Union, the speeches indicated a shocking state of affairs in connection with the non-union shops, allegations being made that the worst forms of sweating were practised in the attempt to get wages down to the lowest possible limit. The men affirm that they cannot be much worse off even with no work than they are at the present starvation rate of wages.
So much for high protective duties in Victoria. There is further a report of a meeting of operatives and others interested called to protest against the sweating in the boot trade. That meeting was held in July, 1895, and the report of it appears in this estimable journal, The Age. We are told that Mr. Trenwith, M.P., bootmaker, and leader of the labour, as well as of the protectionist party, moved the first motion at that meeting, which was -
That this meeting views with intense concern the rapid extension of the pernicious sweating system in one of our largest and most profitable industries, namely, the bootmaking, resulting as it has in the employment of large numbers of children for excessively long hours under the most unhealthy and brutal conditions, thus throwing out of employment scores of honest workmen.
This was all under protective conditions. When I mentioned a statement made by the honorable member for MelbournePorts concerning the wages in the boot trade in 1896, the honorable member replied by saying that 1896 was the boom year, when the trade ought to have been flourishing.
– No; I said that 1896 was the year when the crisis came as the result of the boom.
– I understand that the honorable member’s contention is that it was the year when Victoria was suffering from the effects of the boom, and consequently was a time when the trade was perhaps in the worst possible condition. It is singular, however, that the honorable member carefully omitted to mention another fact which operated considerably in connexion with the boot trade in Melbourne in that particular year. If he wishes a verification of what I say, he will find it in a report by the chief inspector of factories. What that gentleman Bays is that during that particular year an exceptionally large trade was done with Western Australia. It was at that particular time that the boom in Western Australia was at its highest, and a very large trade was done between Victoria and Western Australia in that year. That should have counteracted any bad effects of the collapse of the boom, which were made so much of by the honorable member. The quotation which I particularly desire to refer to in connexion with the honorable member’s speech is one taken from a speech delivered, at the SouthMelbourne Town Hall, on 10th November, 1896. In the course of what I am sure was a very eloquent and able speech, the honorable member for Melbourne Forts, who has so much to say about the benefits of protection in connexion with the boot industry, said -
It was said that the bootmaker’s wages were only 15s. per week. If that was true it was duo to unrestricted competition in that trade. It is the very success of protection which produced the reduced wages in the boot trade, because every journeyman operative was able to start for himself, and so increase the cut-throat competition.
I know that the: honorable member said in this House that he is in favour of the abolition of competition altogether. That is one of his political beliefs; but here is anadmission by the honorable member that the very success of protection produced the lowering of wages, and brought about cut-throat competition, and that is what he asks the Commonwealth Parliament to apply, not to the State of Victoria alone, but to the whole Commonwealth. I understand that the number of persons engaged in the boot industry in the whole of the Commonwealth is something like 10,000, or at the most 11,000. From the remarks of a number of honorable members opposite, it would be thought that we are legislating merely in the interests of those 11,000 individuals. I would remind honorable members that, of that 11,000, nearly 4,000 are employed under free-trade conditions in New South Wales, and would not in any way be affected by the free-trade I certainly should like to see established throughout the Commonwealth in boots and shoes. In Tasmania they have the protection of a duty of only 20 per cent., and in Western Australia of a duty of only 15 per cent. What I sayis that itmight be thought that this Parliament was legislating merely in the interests of the 7,000 persons engaged in this industry under what might be calledprotective conditions. I prefer that, in legislating on the subject, we should take into consideration theusers of boots, who numbernearly 4,000,000. A great deal has been said to-night about the importation of American boots. I understand that when the question was before the New South Wales Parliament, the cry was that Japanese boots were going to come in. The Japanese boots did not come in,and now we have the cry raised that American boots are going to come in. It seems after all that there are a number of members of this committee who think it would be ft, great misfortune to have cheap boots sold in the Commonwealth. To follow the protectionist argument to its logical conclusion, it would appear that the greatest misfortune that could come upon the Commonwealth in connexion with the boot industry would be to have imported boots distributed free in this country. I suppose the honorable member for Melbourne Forts would be thoroughly disgusted at that, and would seek to prohibit the free distribution of boots. I do hope the Government will favour the fixing of this duty upon ad valorem lines, and that the duty proposed will not be higher than 15 percent. I shall certainly vote with the honorable member for South Australia.
House adjourned at 11.1 p.m.
Cite as: Australia, House of Representatives, Debates, 4 March 1902, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/hofreps/1902/19020304_reps_1_8/>.