1st Parliament · 1st Session
Mr. Speaker took the chair at 2.30 p.m., and read prayers.
– I desire to know from the Attorney-General if the Government will agree to lay upon the table all the correspondence and papers connected with the negotiations with Messrs. Barns, Philp,. and Co., in regard to the New Hebrides, as soon as they are in a state of completeness ?
– Certainly. They will be laid upon the table at the earliest possible moment.
asked the Minister for Defence, upon notice -
What steps ho proposes taking with regard to the enrolment of men who ore desirous of forming volunteer corps in the country districts ?
– The answer to the honorable member’s question is as follows : -
Pending the submission of a scheme of reorganization of the military forces by the General Officer Commanding, it is considered to be inadvisable to raise new corps.
asked the Minister representing the Postmaster-General, upon notice -
When payment will be made for land at Chatswood, North Sydney, resumed by the State Government for postal purposes prior to the transfer of the department?
– The answer to the honorable member’s question is as follows.: -
ThePostmastpr-General has no knowledge of the matter, but inquiries are being made.
asked the Minister for Defence, upon notice -
Whether he will consider the advisability of furnishing all rifle clubs with a proportion of uptodate rifles, if it be not expedient to fully equip them immediately ?
– The matter is under consideration.
In Committee of Ways andMeans :
Consideration resumed from 4th March (vide page 10590).
Division XII. - Leather and Rubber.
Item 109 - Boots and Shoes, except partly or wholly of lasting or stuff, English sizes to bo 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, 5s. and 15 per cent, ad valorem.
Upon which Mr. Poynton had moved, by way of amendment -
That the words “ and on and after 6th March, 1902, ad valorem “ be added to the duty. “ Men’s sizes, above 5, per dozen pairs, 20s. and 15 per cent, ad valorem.”
– The item before the committee is a very important one, and, like the acting leader of the Opposition, I am astonished that the Government saw fit to make so. vital an alteration of their proposals at the last moment. I do not intend to traverse the whole ground covered by other speakers, but there are ona or two mattors which seem to call for some criticism. The honorable member for Bourke and other honorable gentlemen yesterday informed the committee that America is the most serious competitor of Australia in the manufacture of boots. Formerly we used to be told that the Chinese and Japanese would, by some almost supernatural means, flood this country with the products of their cheap labour ; but now honorable members opposite are driven to make long and’ exhaustive explanations, to show that what we have to fear is, not the cheap labour of eastern countries, but the highly-paid labour of America. In Victoria boot manufactories have been established under the regis of protection, while in New South Wales equally flourishing factories have been established under free-trade, facts which, to an impartial observer, would be evidence that neither free-trade nor protection is essential to the establishment of the bootmaking industry, and that here, as elsewhere, industries whose existence the requirements of the country warrant will flourish under any fiscal system. We have not to/ consider whether the industry would altogether perish if the duty upon boots were abolished, because it is not proposed to abolish it. The Opposition are willing to agree to a high ad valorem duty, a duty higher than the members of the Ministry and most of their supporters when before the electors were courageous enough to say would be imposed, and in this connexion it has been left for the Opposition to again remind the Ministry of their hustings pledges. The Government appear to have made up their mind that a fixed duty is necessary for the salvation of the boot industry, while to me it seems that an ad valorem, duty- would be better and fairer. When .we dealt with an industry cognate to this, in so far that it is concerned with the manufacture of articles of apparel, and has enjoyed no small measure of protection in Victoria - the hat industry - the Government compounded for a composite duty by an ad valorem duty of 30 per cent. I do npt propose to vote for so high a duty as 30 per cent, ad valorem in this case, but I should be prepared to vote for a duty of 20 or 25 per cent., because I think that such a duty would give the industry all the protection it needs and the Treasury the revenue it requires. Indeed, on the showing of the supporters of the Government, no higher protection is required. It has been said that the rate . of wages paid to boot operatives in New South Wales is lower than the rate of wages paid to boot operatives in Victoria, and that the wages paid in America are higher than the wages paid in either Victoria or England. I propose to accept the statement as to the rate of wages in America ; but with regard to the rate of wages in New South Wales, although I do not pretend to speak with authority, I ‘ would point out that, according to the evidence which was given by Mr. James Bennett, the president of the Boot Operatives’ Union of Melbourne, before the Royal commission which inquired into the Victorian Factories Act last year, the rate of wages paid in Sydney ranges from £2 to £2 15s., while in Melbourne the minimum wage fixed by the wages board is £2 2s., except for 30 or 40 cloth cutters, who are paid 37s. per week. In any case, the distance between Sydney and Melbourne is so slight that, if the wages - paid in the two cities differed as much as some honorable members would have us to believe, so that the men in Sydney .received only 25s. per week, and the men in Melbourne £2 2s. - there would be such a rush from Sydney to Melbourne that the competition would quickly reduce the wages here.
– The Sydney operatives could not get work here, because they are not skilled enough. They cannot make high-class boots.
– I do not know anything of my own knowledge of the quality of the boots made in the two places, hut the statement of the honorable member is not consistent with that of a great number of the supporters of the Ministry, who, when it was pointed out yesterday that a specific duty of 40s. per dozen upon boots valued at 3s. 9d. per pair is equal to an ad valorem duty of 88 per cent., stated that the cheaper kinds of goods were made locally, and that only the dearer kinds were imported.- No doubt these conflicting statements arise from the failure of honorable gentlemen opposite to consult beforehand in regard to the arguments which they propose to use in support of their policy. The requirements of the people of New South Wales and Victoria are so nearly identical as to call for the production of the same kind of boots in both States, and in each case manufacturers have been found to make things pay. I have not heard that they have become wealthy, but they have atleast been able to make a living. If there ever has been a difference in the rates of wages’ paid in Melbourne and Sydney it is not likely to have been so much as has been represented by some honorable members. The inevitable tendency of labour to seek the highest market would soon equalize any difference that might temporarily exist. Years ago the advocates of protection in Victoria did not hesitate to ask for protection against the products “ of New South Wales and other States - the products of the men with whom they are now willing to work on equal terms. If harm could result from a pair of boots being brought across the Murray in 1899, surely the same injury would be done to the Victorian workmen if the article were brought over in 1901. If a pair of boots were made in Sydney and brought to Melbourne, there would be one pair of boots less to be made in Melbourne. The honorable member for Bourke said that the Americans have arrived at such a stage of perfection in the manufacture of boots that it would be almost idle to attempt to compete with them, and his explanation was a very good one as far as it went. He stated that they had so specialized the trade that they could defy competition - that the German Tariff had proved quite inadequate to protect the German manufacturers in their home market, although the wages paid in the factories of that country were only one-fourth of the rates paid in America. In addition to that, we are told that the Austrian Government have been alarmed to the extent of buying improved machinery from America, and allowing their manufacturers to use it free of cost in the hope that they may be able to keep the shoe, slipper, and boot trade of Austria for the Austrians, instead of allowing it to be hopelessly submerged by the American manufacturers. The honorable member for Bourke told us that these results were due to the inventive faculty and industry of the American people ; but he did not mention the fact that Americans have free-trade amongst eighty millions of people. The United States are a world in themselves, and the eighty millions of people there are able to freely interchange their products among themselves. The honorable member also said that it was owing to protection that the inventiveness of the American people had been developed. As a matter of fact, however, that cannot be the reason; because, if so, the same thing would have happened in France and Germany. The inventiveness of the Americans is obviously due to the spirit of the people. The cream of the peoples of the world went to America, and their energy has made them the greatest nation on earth. The inventor in England is looked upon as one who has committed a crime ; and if a man invents a gun he does not take it to the War Office, but to France or Germany. In America the inventor is king, and is honored in his own country. The American is pre-eminently the inventive man of the day, and he has devised a machine, which, according to the honorable, member for Bourke, is capable, with the aid of five men, of producing 400 pairs of boots per day. If that statement is correct, one man can. make80 pairs of boots per day. Assuming that six pairs of boots are required by each man, woman, and child during the year - and I think that would be a fair allowance - one man could, with the aid of these machines, make in one day a sufficient number of boots to last fifteen persons for a year. Following the calculation out still further, one man can. in a year make a sufficient number of boots for 3,800 people; and thus all the boots required by the American people could be made by1-3,800ths of the population, and so 1,050 men could make sufficient boots for the whole population of Australia. As 12,000 people are engaged in the boot industry of Australia, it follows that the productivity of the Australian bootmaker is only one-twelfth that of the American bootmaker, and nothingless than a duty representing eleventwelfths of the value of the product would be sufficient to keep American boots out of our market. Allowing for the freight charges, probably a duty representing ninetenths of the value would be sufficient, and’ assuming the value of a boot to be one penny, a duty of 9d., or at least 8d., would be required. This does not appear to present a very hopeful prospect, and the honorable member for Bourke admitted this ; but at the same time he expressed the opinion that a duty of 40s. per dozen would be sufficient. If, however, the productivity of the American bootmaker is twelve times that of the Australian operative, it is clear a duty of 40s. would not be effective.
Now, what proportion does the cost of labour bear to the value of the boots in America ? Supposing that one man makes 80 pairs of boots per day, and earns 10s. per day, he is paid 120 pence for making 80 pair of boots, or at the rate of ld. per pair. If the boots be of the lowest class that we are dealing with, valued at ,3s. 9d. per pair, the operative would get 1½d. out of every 3s. 9d., or l-30th of the total value of the article. That would represent 3^- per cent., and thus the cost of labour is very small in proportion to the price of the article. The freight and charges would represent an amount nearly equal to this, and so Australia could compete on equal terms without a duty at all. I admit that -.these calculations do not take into con- sideration a number of factors which have to be held in view. I acknowledge that the circumstances of the trade are such that since we have to obtain revenue there is no reason why we should not impose a revenue r duty upon boots. The added cost will be in many cases hardly felt* and in other eases may very well be borne by those who will have to pay it ; but I do not think for a moment that /Ull/ existence of the boot industry in Australia is dependent upon a duty. If the duties were abolished tomorrow, the industry would still go on, but the Australian manufacturer apparently proposes to invoke the assistance of the State, instead of buying the improved machinery necessary to enable him to compete with his outside rivals. It : is urged that protection stimulates invention, but it does the very reverse. Protection creates artificial conditions under which the manufacturer is enabled to shield himself from the extreme effect of outside .competition. If we were face to face with the competition of America, either our manu- - ffacturers would have to equip themselves with the most up-to-date machines or their industry would perish. Of course it will be admitted that, generally speaking, the machines used in the boot factories of Aus- -tralia are behind those used in America. It is absolutely essential, if we are to compete with the rest of the world upon equal terms, we must have up-to-date machinery, and that this shall be admitted free of duty, and I presume it is intended to include bootmaking machinery in the list of exemptions. The conclusions at which I have arrived are that the duties I proposed by the Treasurer are unnecessarily high, and that he has neglected to safeguard the revenue. All that has been said about the danger which threatens us if the proposed duties are reduced is rebutted by the fact that in New South Wales a boot industry has been established equally powerful with the “Victorian industry, manufacturing per capita a larger quantity of boots each year, and paying a wage which was at least as high as that paid in Victoria until the establishment of a wages board here. Indeed, I believe that in the majority of cases the wages paid in New South Wales are still as high as those paid in this State. At any rate, whatever benefits the boot operatives of Victoria enjoy beyond those enjoyed by their fellows in New South Wales are directly attributable to the establishment of a wages board, and not to the operation of a protective policy. I wish also to point out that a wages board coexisting with a coddled industry must sooner or later bring about a state of things which will either destroy that industry, or absolutely nullify the benefits derivable from the establishment of such a board. So soon as the wages-board system is ex-“ tended to most industries, the rate of wages will become so high that, -failing an increase of duty, and so an increase of prices, capital will be withdrawn from all industries other than the most productive. We cannot continue to pay an unnaturally high rate of wages, if we assume that what is natural is normal, unless we are permitted to employ our capital in the most productive industries. Now, it is obvious that the boot industry is not one of the most productive, otherwise the manufacturers in times past must have pocketed abnormal profits, because they used to pay a wage of only 25s. per week. Therefore I urge upon those who believe that the establishment of wages boards is a progressive step to refrain in all cases from coddling industries into some semblance of vigour by the adoption of a protective policy. Under a free-trade policy industries will exist only under natural conditions, and therefore, from the stand-point of the manufacturer, the establishment of wages boards would be less injurious in a free-trade State than in a protectionist State. I am perfectly satisfied that the boot industry can be made to pay with the protection which would be afforded it by the imposition of a 20 or 25 per cent, ad valorem duty, which, with other charges, would really constitute a protection of 30 per cent. If behind that Tariff wall manufacturers cannot carry on their operations, the fault is their own. They must bring about more specialization, the industry must abandon all old-fashioned methods, and prepare to compete in the markets of the world. In Victoria the boot industry has already assumed such dimensions that the year before last it was able to export £61,000 worth of boots. It is only a matter of a very few years indeed when Australia will be able to supply all local demands, and will be compelled to seek for markets abroad. When that time arrives how will protection- benefit us? In New South Wales, Victoria, and South Australia there are flourishing factories in existence at the present moment, and under a settled policy such as we may reasonably hope for under the Commonwealth Government, these establishments will double their output within a very brief period. Where, then, shall we find a marketfor our productions? Some honorable members speak about this industry as if it were destined to settle the unemployed difficulty. The question is often asked - “ What shall we do with our boys’? “ I hope we shall find something better to do with them than to place them in a trade which is yearly becoming more mechanical in its operations, and which sooner or later must become almost automatic. If there is nothing better than that to be found for the youth of Australia, it is a very poor look-out indeed, not only for ourselves, but for civilization at large. I am satisfied that no evil will result to the industry from the imposition of a 25 per cent, rate, and I would not lay myself open to the charge of having done harm to any industry. At the same time I do not propose to tax nearly four millions of people for the purpose of conferring a doubtful benefit on ten or twelve thousand, especially when half that number have heretofore been able to live on as good terms at least as the others without any adventitious aid. Therefore, whilst I am prepared to support the imposition of a 25 per cent, duty, I cannot see my way clear to vote for’ a rate of *10s. per doz., or for the sliding scale which is proposed.
– Would not the honorable member go to the same extent as the committee went in regard to hats, and levy a duty of 30 per cent.?
– No. We were told by the honorable member for Yarra that the hat industry in New Zealand has never been an industry worthy of notice, and I believe it. The committee were also informed that in New South Wales the same industry had never achieved other than feeble dimensions, but it cannot be said that the same statement is true of boots. The boot industry in New South Wales is an established one, employing 4,000 people, which fact proves that the manufacturers can. get along very well without the aid of any protective duty whatever. Therefore to ask that similar treatment should be meted out to boots to that which was accorded to hats seems to be asking too much. I am prepared, however, to support a duty of 25 per cent.
Mr. SYDNEY SMITH (Macquarie).I admit that this question is a very important one, affecting as it does thousands of people within the Commonwealth. Perhaps I may be pardoned if I refer briefly to the inconsistency of the Government in connexion with this matter when they are judged ‘in the light of their utterances during the recent federal election campaign. For instance, the Prime Minister, in his Maitland and other addresses, asked -
Are we going to pile on duties to the cottager or artizan ? Our protection must be moderate. The policy of the Government is revenue without destruction. We must have a Tariff that will raise the revenue we need without discouraging production. We wish to avoid disaster, suffering, and bitterness.
I should like to know how far the Government have avoided disaster, suffering and bitterness? The Minister for Home Affairs, although he has contradicted the statement upon several occasions, and also took the trouble to refer to it at the recent protectionist conference, is reported to have said -
The Tariff would have to be a moderate one of 10 or 15 per cent, in order to raise the £8,000,000 required. Perhaps the most important difference between a protectionist and free-trade Ministry would be in regard to the excise duties.
Then the Vice-President of the Executive Council pointed out that the question of free-trade and protection was a false issue. In support of that view, when asking the electors of New South Wales for their support, he said -
It was a necessity that the revenue should be constant, plentiful, continuous aud reliable. Was it not obvious that if they had duties so high as to keep out articles they would not get revenue ? Therefore they must keep the duties down to a moderate Tariff, which would have a protective incidence, and at the same time bring in revenue. That was the policy that would be adopted either by Mr. Reid or Mr. Barton.
I ask honorable members whether the Government have been true to their pledges and whether they fairly stated the case to the electors of the Commonwealth when seeking their support ? I have looked through the proposed duties and I find that under the amended proposal of the Government the duty upon men’s boots of the cheap kind amounts to 90 percent., upon a second class to 88 per cent., upon a third to 60 per cent., upon a fourth to 52 per cent., upon a fifth to 46 per cent., upon a sixth to 42 per cent., and upon a seventh to 33 per cent. While the 90 per cent, rate will be levied upon the cheap boots, the dearer class of articles will be called upon to pay only 33 per cent. The average duty which it is proposed to levy, represents -57 per cent, instead of 33 per cent., as stated by the Treasurer. Under the composite duties, the Government originally proposed to charge 61 per cent, upon the cheap class of boots, as against 90 per cent, which is now proposed. Moreover, I find, that the duty which it is sought to levy upon women’s boots ranges from 22 per cent, to 55 per «ent., or an average of 38 per cent., whilst under the original proposal of the Ministry, the average was about 39 per cent. Upon youths’ boots, the proposed duties range from 23 per cent, for the best boots to 70 per cent, for the cheapest class, or an average of 45 per cent. Under the composite duty originally proposed, the average was 44 per cent. For slippers the duty ranges from 100 per cent, to 21 per cent., or an average of 53 per cent., as against an average of 44 per cent, under the original proposal. During the debate we have heard much about the duties levied in other countries. I find that for men’s boots here the average duty is 3s. 4d. per pair, whereas, for the same class of boots, the duty ranges from ll£d. to 2s. 6d. in the United States and New Zealand, from lOd. to 2s. 3d. in Canada, and in France from ls. 11¾d. to ls. 7d. In Germany the duty is charged at so much per cwt., and ladies’ and children’s boots, which are much lighter than men’s, pay, of course, a smaller impost per pair. The men’s boots, which were exhibited here last night as a splendid example of the manufacture in Victoria, weighed, I think, about 2£ lbs., whereas the pair of ladies’ boots shown by the honorable member for South Sydney weighed about 1 lb. The average duty payable in Germany is 8-^d. per pair, so that it can. easily be seen that the duty on the lighter classes of boots will not come to more than 4d. or 5d per pair. It is only fair to say that the duty in Germany is paid on all boots, whether for children or for men, but the former, as I have already pointed out, pay a smaller amount owing to the weight. On. youth’s boots the duty proposed by the Treasurer will mean 2s. Id. per pair, whereas in the United States and New Zealand the duty is 9d. to 2s. per pair., and in Canada 8-d to ls. 9f d. In France men’s boots and women’s boots together pay a duty of ls. 11¾d to ls. 2^-d. per pair, whereas under the Treasurer’s proposal the duty on women’s boots will range from 55 per cent, to 22 per cent, or an average of 38 per cent, representing 2s. Id. per pair. In the United States and New Zealand the duty on women’s boots is from ll£d. to 2s. 4d.,and in Canada, lOd. to 2s. 2d. Boys’ boots, under the Treasurer’s proposal, will cost ls. 3d. per pair, or averaging from 55 to 25 per cent., whereas in the United States and New Zealand similar boots cost 6fd. to ls. 3d., and in Canada 6d. to ls. 1½d. Girls’ boots, under the Commonwealth Tariff, will be ls. 6d. per pair, or from 50 to 25 per cent., while similar boots in the United States and New Zealand cost from 9d. to ls. 9d., and in Canada 8d. to ls. 7d. On slippers the average duty under the Treasurer’s proposal is lOd. per pair, or from 100 per cent, to 32 per cent., as compared with 3d. to 11¾d. in the United States and New Zealand ; 2fd. to 10£d. in Canada ; and 5#d. to 4f d. in France. Reference has been made to the great progress of the boot trade in America ; but I should like to direct attention to the trade of Belgium, where the people are satisfied with a duty of 10 per cent, as against the varying duties, up to 100 per cent., proposed for the Commonwealth. It has been said that in the boot trade America has taken the place of England ; that the output and employment are lessening in the latter country. But I shall be able to show that notwithstanding the great improvements in machinery, the export of boots and shoes to England from Belgium, which is practically free-trade, exceeds that from America to England.
– In Belgium the operatives work twelve hours a day
– I shall presently direct attention to protectionist countries like Germany and France, which are frequently referred to by the honorable member. The honorable member for Bourke was very careful to point to the decline of England in this connexion, but he was not fair enough to show the other side of the case. From 1896 to 1900 Belgium exported to England 84,810 dozen pairs of boots, as against 47,607 dozen pairs from America. Even France exported to England over 65,000 dozen pairs of boots, which is a larger quantity than that exported from the United States. Then the value of the boots exported from Belgium was greater than that of the boots exported from the United States. In the face of these facts, what is the use of all this talk about the great improvements in machinery and the strides made in this industry in America ? It is admitted that in Belgium low wages are paid, but we must also remember that in America high wages prevail. The Melbourne Age of to-day contains an article which advises free-traders what they ought, and what they ought not to do. Freetraders pay very little attention to such advice, as they are in a position to think for themselves, irrespective of the opinions of the Age. We have not to account to the Age, but to the electors of the Commonwealth, and that we are quite prepared to do. The Age has been in a position for many years to dictate the policy of Victoria, but it cannot dictate the policy of the Commonwealth, and I am glad to see strong evidence that even Victorian members are not so anxious as hitherto to look to that newspaper for advice and guidance. The Age, in an article this morning, says that the manufacturers of Germany, France, and England, are unable to compete against America. That newspaper has over and over again pointed out the great strides made by France and Germany under the protectionist policy, and yet it admits that, in spite of low wages and long hours, those countries are unable to compete with the United States in the boot trade. I may be pardoned for referring to a statement made by the Minister for Trade and Customs, who has been for many years a strong and consistent protectionist, and has no doubt studied the question from every point of view, in order to ascertain the conditions prevailing in other countries. In the debate on the Customs Bill on 2nd December, 1901, the right honorable gentleman said -
The honorable member may look it up as much as he likes, but he will find that the figures are as I have given them, showing the importation from Germany, Prance, and Belgium, and I sa3’ that as regards these three countries, protection and cheap labour reign supreme.
Where is the paradise that we are told results from the adoption of the protectionist policy? It has been contended that we have only to adopt protection in order to have high rates of wages and short hours of labour ; but here we have the Minister for Trade and Customs admitting that in protectionist countries low wages reign supreme. The Treasurer has pointed to the want of success in this industry in New Zealand under a duty of 2.2 J per cent. ; but will the Treasurer for one moment say that that colony has not succeeded in developing some of her primary industries ? Has New Zealand not developed, to a large extent, her agricultural resorces ? If the Treasurer would adopt the New Zealand Tariff with respect to mining and agricultural machinery, it would be good for the Commonwealth. In New Zealand it is recognised, as the Age newspaper and the Treasurer recognise, that in these primary industries it is necessary to keep pace with the times, and take advantage of the best machinery and labour-saving appliances. We, on this side of the House, have urged over and over again that in order to help the primary industries we ought to encourage the use of the very latest machinery, and have pointed out how hard the Tariff bears on agriculturalists. In New Zealand, where for many years there has been a protective Tariff, more regard is paid to primary industries, agricultural and mining machinery being placed on the free list in order to encourage the adoption of the latest improvements. The Treasurer, however, has endeavoured in every possible way to block the importation of this machinery, though we know that it is necessary f’«r the success of our prmary industries. One boot manufacturer told me that the heavyduty upon machinery had cost his firm over £1,000 on one line of machinery alone. That is not the way to encourage this industry. In New Zealand they have found in the development of the primary industries of the State, more profitable avenues of employment for their people than the making of boots, and therefore, to avoid taxing the primary producers too heavily, they have placed a duty of only 22 J per cent, upon boots, whereas this Government propose duties ranging from 20 to 100 per cent., which I believe are the highest in any part of the world. Yet Ministers went before the people and told them that they were in favour of a system of moderate protection ; that they did not wish to prohibit the importation of goods, and only desired to get revenue. It is wonderful how anxious protectionists are to make the United Kingdom appear to a disadvantage; but an investigation of statistics shows that she is not going back in the boot trade any more than in her other industries. Notwithstanding the fact that nowadays, owing to the increase of laboursaving appliances, fewer men are required to do the work which formerly needed a much larger number, the employes in the boot trade of the United Kingdom, who in 1S95 numbered 83,571 persons, had increased in 1897 to 90,775 persons, and in 1898 to 96,378 persons. Those figures are taken. from the fourth and fifth annual reports upon the conditions of employment in factories, laid before the House of Commons. The Labour Gazette of January last also shows that the persons employed in the trade are getting more wages now than they have done for years past. Although England is a small country as compared with the United States of America, she has progressed in every branch of her trade and commerce at a greater rate than has any other country of the world, while the condition of her work-people is better than is the condition of working people in any other country.
– There are children of eleven years of age working in some of the English factories.
– The honorable member should look through some of the reports laid before the Parliament of Victoria after the duty upon boots which was formerly in force here had been nearly doubled, and see what took place here. The Victorian manufacturers, who were almost completely protected from the competition of the outside world, never gave any part of their large profits to the men whom they employed.
– How many of them made large profits 1
– The honorable member for South Sydney said yesterday that they were all going insolvent.
– If they did not manage their establishments upon business principles, and failed to obtain the latest machinery, as the manufacturers of New South Wales have done, I cannot be held responsible. They should have amassed considerable fortunes, considering the generosity of the State Government to them - a generosity extended at the expense of those who had to buy their boots. Although up to the year 1892 the duties upon boots had been fairly high, a strong agitation took place then for an increase of the duties, with the result that Parliament almost doubled them in some cases. But, even after that happened, all sorts of trouble took place, as may be seen by the records of the Sweating Commission which sat a few years later. The present Minister of Railways in Victoria, Mr. Trenwith, actually moved a resolution condemning the sweating system then rampant. The manufacturers of New South Wales, however, have not come to this Parliament to ask for the imposition of heavy duties upon, boots.
– That is because they are importers as well.
– One firm in Sydney makes more boots than does any firm in Victoria, or very nearly so, and, notwithstanding the competition of the world, the output of boots in New South Wales under free-trade was larger than the output in Victoria under protection.
– I showed last night that that was not so.
– I have a return which shows that nearly 100,000 pairs more were made in New South Wales than in Victoria.
– It must not be forgotten that the population of New South Wales is one-eighth more than that of Victoria.
– The Victorian manufacturers had their home market secured to them for a period of 30 years ; they had hides and leather to their hand, and a generous neighbour who opened her ports to receive their manufactures ; and yet to-day they are unable to manufacture as many boots as are manufactured in New South Wales. The fact that the New
South Wales manufacturers have been able to almost supply the local market without protection shows that there is no need for these proposed heavy duties. In 1899 the output cf boots in New South Wales was 3,207,000 pairs, and in Victoria 2,929,000 pairs; while in 1900 the New South Wales output was 3,269,000 pairs, and the Victorian output 3,246,000 pairs. I do not think that the Treasurer has treated the House fairly in delaying an explanation regarding the intentions of the Government with respect to the alteration of the duties. Ministers knew perfectly well that a strong attempt would be made to reduce the duties, and it was due to the committee and to the country that their intentions should have been announced at the earliest possible moment. They have themselves complained when amendments have been proposed without due notice, and they should certainly have taken the committee into their confidence in this matter. The amended proposals of the Government are very different from those first presented in the Tariff ; but the duties still range very high, and they will operate most unfairly against those who use the cheaper classes of goods. Boots, which cost only 3s. per pair, will be taxed at the rate of about 100 per cent, as against the 20 per cent, charged upon the higher priced goods. That is an unfair way of fixing the duty. The principle which I have always advocated has been that of imposing the duty according to the value of the article, where the variations in price were very wide, as in this case. It would have been ridiculous to propose a duty of £1 each upon watches irrespective of whether they were made of silver, and were worth 25s., or were made of gold, and were worth £50. Although the values of boots do not vary so much as do those of watches, the same principle applies to both cases, and fixed duties will press heavily upon the poorer classes of the community. There is no necessity for high protective duties in the case of boots. The Victorian manufacturers have enjoyed protection for 30 years and have drawn hundreds of thousands of pounds out of the pockets of the consumers. Now it is desired to place upon the whole people of the Commonwealth the shackles of protection in order that these manufacturers may keep their tottering industries going. No such protection is required by the manufacturers of New South Wales, who are prepared to meet open competition. I hope that the committee will, in the first place, adopt the ad valorem principle, and that, in the second place, they will impose a purely revenue duty not exceeding 15 percent.
– I am desirous that we should arrive at a decision with regard to these duties without any further delay, and I think that we have already had sufficient information placed before us to enable us to take a vote at once. The Treasurer deserves our congratulations upon his readiness to recognise the wish of the committee last evening that the composite duties should be abandoned, and I hope the right honorable gentleman will now see that he will- be acting wisely in adopting an ad valorem duty instead of a fixed duty.
– I could not accept 15 per cent, as a protective duty. If honorable members opposite would suggest duties similar to those placed on hats, there might be some reason in their representations.
– I can assure the right honorable gentleman that I do not intend to stultify myself by supporting a 15 per cent. duty. I am prepared to vote for something reasonable and substantial, but not for rates as high as those which the Government now propose. The. boot industry has grow.n up under free-trade conditions and has been carried on satisfactorily in New South Wales, whereas in Victoria it has been bolstered up by duties which have been increased from time to time. Originally the duty on men’s boots in sizes above fives was ls. per pair. In 1887 the duty was raised to 2s. 9d.; in 18S9, to 3s. 9d. ; and in 1892 to 5s. per pair. The proposals of the Government, excessive as I regard them, represent a very considerable reduction upon these rates. The duty originally imposed was equal to 60 per cent., but the amended proposal is equivalent to about 40 per cent. I consider the reduction is not sufficient. I hope that the committee will first agree to the imposition of an ad valorem duty, which would operate with fairness towards all classes of the community, and then agree to a reduction of the rate of duty now proposed. I have taken the trouble to see some of the boot importers and manufacturers. One of the latter told me that he did not care what duty was placed upon boots, so long as glace kid and patent leathers were admitted free.
– Is not that gentleman a free-trader?
– He is a manufacturer. This gentleman, -with others -whom I saw this morning, assured me that the cheaper classes of boots will continue to be manufactured within the Commonwealth, irrespective of any duty which may be imposed upon them. They are made locally, not because of the duty which has hitherto operated, but because of the absence of finish in the leather used. It was explained to me that Australian leather for the cheaper boots could not bear the expense of being sent to England, the Continent, or the United States for the purpose of having it finished. That fact in itself, so far as the cheaper classes of boots are concerned, constitutes an effectual and permanent protection. I do not wish my position to be misunderstood. I believe that in Victoria this industry has been fostered under exceptional conditions. Money has been invested in it, and it employs a large number of men. I have no desire to see it demolished at one fell swoop, because it is obligatory on the part of the Commonwealth to see that industries, although bolstered up in the past, are not demoralized, by the imposition of a duty so absolutely out of keeping with the conditions which formerly obtained, that disaster must ensue to those engaged in them. The Treasurer has hitherto been able to accurately gauge the pulse of the committee, and it will simplify matters very considerably if he will immediately recognise that the feeling of a majority is in favour of the imposition of an ad valorem rate.
– This is a question which concerns not only the manufacturers of New South Wales and Victoria but those of the other States of the union. So much has been said about the wages paid in connexion with the boot trade in New South Wales and Victoria, that I think a word or two ought to be uttered in regard to the other States, and especially in regard to South Australia, where quite as good boots are manufactured as those which are imported from England. The boots imported from England are the best upon the market. I plead guilty to having worn English boots for a considerable period ; but recently I had offered to me an American article which has supplanted the English boot that is sold at 25s. per pair. The price of the American article ranges from 16s. 6d. to 17s. per pair, but it is not to be compared with the English article f pr wear.
– I think it is.
– I can say, confidently, that the Beehive brand of boot is a better article than is the boot imported from America. Its quality is far superior. The English boot is manufactured of calf leather, whereas the American article is made of leather which has had the fibre cut, and anyone in the trade knows that in America such leather is invariably “ buffed.” It is blackened on the opposite side to that upon, which the leather imported from England is finished. The result of “ buffing “ is to cut the fibre upon the other side, which has the effect of making the American leather more porous than is the English leather. Moreover, the former article is made from an inferior class of raw material, namely, cow-hide. There was a time when I was able to wear boots made in Australia, for which I paid 2os. per pair. They were superior even to the Beehive brand, and were made of Australian leather. Indeed, leather can be produced within the Commonwealth equal to that which is manufactured in any part of the world. The leather in the boots- to which I refer was made from Kangaroo Island wallaby, the skin of which has a very close texture. It is very thick, whereas the wallaby in other parts of Australia has a thin skin. As a result, the curriers are able to put a very fine face upon it. There was a time when this leather was sold at ls. per oz., or 16s. per lb. Tasmania produces a similar class of leather, though not quite so good. These facts go to show that very fine leather can be produced in Australia, provided there is a sufficient demand for the higher class of boots. But the calf leather of Australia is not equal to English calf, for the reason that the hide of the animals, owing to our hot climate, has a more porous fibre. Consequently, the local production does not carry the same finish as does leather grown in other parts of the world. Australia cannot produce sufficient material to make the superior class of boots ; it is necessary to import some of the better class of leather. Consequently, the leather made here is much cheaper than is the imported article from the old world, and we have always to recollect that the freight and other charges represent from 10 to 15 per cent, upon the value of the importation. We have also to consider that whilst there are more hides in Australia than we can possibly consume, those hides in America have to pay an ad valorem duty of 15 per cent. Anyone familiar with the trade will know that that represents a tax of quite 7^ per cent, upon the finished article in America, so that the local manufacturer enjoys a further advantage over the American, inasmuch as the latter has to pay that amount extra for his raw material. I would further point out that the mimosa bark exported from Australia goes to all parts of the world. Victoria, however,* does not grow the bark which will produce the highest percentage of tannic acid. In South Australia, the best mimosa is grown, but a very fine specimen of black wattle is to be found in this State in the neighbourhood of Portland. In New South Wales the mimosa bark contains a smaller percentage of tannic acid, and in Tasmania it contains a still lower percentage. But the tanners in all these States have an advantage over the consumer of the mimosa bark, which is used in America and England very largely. We must remember that the best class of sole leather cannot be produced in England or elsewhere by the use of oak bark in less than, perhaps, eighteen months, whereas with the Australian mimosa bark, and the use of valonia, which is a very expensive tannic commodity, it can be produced in about the same time as in Australia. But in America and England, the manufacturer of leather has always to pay more for the raw material than the manufacturer in Australia; and the 7 J per cent, to which I have referred, combined with freight and charges amounting to 15 per cent., gives a very high natural protection to the local industry. Honorable members talk about high-class goods as if they could be made at will ; but such goods can only be produced with highclass material. Throughout Australia there is a very small percentage of hides fit for highclass sole leather. There was a time when New Zealand produced large quantites of hides and shipped them to Australia. New Zealand being a cold country, those ox hides ‘ were very much thicker in the locality of the shoulder, where the hide falls away in the Australian animal, and the result was that a better class of leather could be produced for the best class of boots. But in New Zealand the hides are now tanned, and this superior leather is used up locally, as in every other State. The effect of my argument is, that we make to-day as many pairs of superior boots as we are able to make with the raw material at our command. We find, however, that there is a demand for the better classes of Australian-made boots, and that causes shipments of better classes of leather to be brought from America. Such leather is, I believe, called Cronz, and is a very fine article ; but, as has been pointed out, there is in America a population of some eighty millions, and the manufacturers there import hides from all parts of the world at higher prices than are paid here. We always find exporters in Australia buying for the foreign market ; and America has a large supply of leather for the manufacture of superior classes of boots for exportation. It is found possible with, the latest invented machinery to export to Australia a better class of boot at a very much lower figure than a similar article could be produced for locally. There is a falling off in the better class of the material used, and I make the definite statement that while Australian calf is the best leather to be found in any quantity in Australia, it is not equal to the imported calf which comes chiefly from Prance and Germany. If we wish to make a superior class of boot, we must import from those countries leather which is commonly known as French calf. When it is said that we have sufficient raw material for the requirements of Australia, I indisputably assert that it is impossible to make better class goods here’ without importing the necessary material. The tendency here has been to compete with the importations of lower and medium class goods, and in order to do so successfully we must make a class of leather similar to that used in America and. elsewhere. It was from America that we first heard of leather known as tweed, satin, and other fancy names. Tweed is what otherwise would be called kip, but is shaved or split very thin. The fibre is absolutely cut in every part of the leather, and when it is “buffed” - that is, a thin shaving taken from the grain side, on which it is finished, and . then blackened and sized - tweed is the result. It is worthless leather for wearing purposes, and I ask the honorable member who caused me to go into this dissertation to note that, with the fibre cut on both sides, it is impossible for the material to wear like leather such as English calf of the “ Beehive “ brand. A similar class of goods is brought out from Northampton to Australia, and we were told repeatedly yesterday - first, I think, by the honorable member for Yarra, and subsequently by the honorable member for Melbourne Ports - that the operatives of the boot industry in that town were starving when every other trade was flourishing. The honorable member for Yarra gave an answer, I think, to the honorable member for Melbourne Ports, when the former quoted figures to show that the importation of the better class of goods from that part of England was within a few hundred gross of the, importation from* America. That goes to show that there is always a demand for the best class of goods ; but there is also an increased demand for the attractive boot which comes from America, but which does not, for the reasons I have explained, wear half so well as does the English boot. In the course of the debate we have been told that the artisans of America are paid high wages, though we have also been informed that they are not paid high wages, and that they work long hours. I have seen a good deal of America on more than one occasion, and I am of opinion, from observation and conversation, that the workmen of that country are not better off than are those of Australia, whether as curriers or bootmakers. The artisans of America are paid high wages, as was shown by the honorable member for Yarra, who has, I believe, lived in that country. How does it come about that the Americans are able to compete successfully with the lower and medium classes of boots in England, Australia, and elsewhere? The reason, is that in America they have the most improved machinery for the manufacture of leather and of boots.
– And a good stiff duty.
– That does not affect the question. Twenty-five years ago, what is known as the American Union splitting machine first came to Australia, though it had been in operation in the United States for many years. Even before that machine had found its way to Australia, another had been invented in America known as the Band splitting machine, which did not tear the fibre so: much as the former. In the Union machine, if the knife is not very sharp, the material is strained almost to tearing point.
This is apparent in the making of tweed, satin, and such like leather ; but satin is, I think, more often made now from calfskin, where there is enough of the latter. Yearling skin and cowhide are, however, still used for this purpose. By the use of the Band machine the leather is not torn, and, consequently, a better finish can be shown. But the same objection remains, that both sides of the fibre are cut in the splitting, though the material carries a good finish, and to all appearance on the outside is a useful article. Any one, however, who has worn that class of goods will know that there is very little service in them, just as there is not much wear in tweed leather manufactured in Australia, and made up into those classes of boots which are sold to the working people for Sunday wear. There is one objection in the making of this class of goods in Australia. The skin or hide is left thick, so that it shall not be so porous, and for the further reason that there is not the machinery to work it into use in the same way as manufacturers are able to do in America. The skin, owing to being left thick, is more easily broken or cracked, but the Americans get over that difficulty by using the Band machine - which is also used in South Australia to some extent - and they produce an article which appears to be much better, than that manufactured in Australia. The inner side of these hides is known as split leather, and last night the right honorable member for Tasmania, Sir Edward Braddon, showed a sample which is used in the making of the uppers of boots. The split from the offal of the hide is also put into the sole of the boot, and the offal of light sole leather is put on the outside, thus producing a very inferior article, which we find made in Victoria. The same class of goods is made in New South Wales, and, I think, in every State of the union excepting South Australia and Western Australia. But goods of that kind would not be made if there were no demand for them. In. Victoria, however, there has been a very large demand for them. A boot manufacturer came from Victoria to New South Wales who, according to his-own statement, is a philanthropist who keeps his factory open for the benefit of those employed in it - he has told a Royal commission that he has been carrying on his business at a loss. That gentleman has been turning out a class of goods similar to those which he and others have been making in Victoria, but’ as there is very little demand for them in New South Wales, he has found that his business has left him. His name is Mr. John Wright, and I hold in my hand a sample of the kind of boots that he makes. He has even gone the length of telling the members of a Victorian Royal commission that he pays lower wages in New South Wales than are paid in Victoria, and that he finds it difficult to obtain in New South Wales material cheap enough for the boots which he manufactures, and has, therefore, to send to Victoria for it. The material which he requires is usually burned in all properly conducted tanneries; but, no doubt, the New South Wales tanners, who are as smart as those of any other State, will readily sell it, as the Victorian tanners have done, if they find that there is a demand for it. According to the statistics which have been supplied by the Government in compliance with the motion submitted by the honorable member for Kooyong, I find that in 1900 the New South Wales factories, although employing fewer hands than the Victorian factories, made more boots, and that in the previous year, which was taken by the Treasurer for the purpose of his calculations as a normal year, the output of the New South Wales factories exceeded that of the Victorian factories to a still larger extent, while employing, fewer men by some hundreds. How does it happen that the New South Wales factories were able with fewer hands to make more boots and shoes, and boots and shoes of as good quality, as were made in Victoria ?
– Because they are better equipped.
– That is the answer. In New South Wales the manufacturers use up-to-date machinery, just as the American manufacturers do. Although there are fourteen more factories in Victoria than there are in New South Wales, the value of the machinery in use in Victoria is less by some thousands of pounds than that in New South Wales, notwithstanding the fact that, by the operation of the Victorian duties upon machinery, at least 20 per cent, was added to the cost of all machinery imported into Victoria. The New South Wales manufacturers, instead of bavins: their home market secured to them, have had to compete with the manufacturers of the world, and therefore they have procured machinery of most modern design, similar to that used by the manufacturers in Belgium, Germany, Prance, and America, and as they can get the raw material more cheaply than the manufacturers of those countries can get it, they have been able to compete successfully with them. The manufacturers of Victoria, however, have been at a disadvantage, because they have had to pay heavy duties upon all the machinery which they have imported, and upon all the raw material required for the manufacture of goods of superior quality. Notwithstanding that fact, however, Victorian manufacturers have been able, after paying freight, commission, and all other charges, to sell in the New South Wales market, against the competition of the world, boots and shoes the work of no fewer than 300 men. That being so, I contend that a duty of 10 per cent, should enable them to compete successfully in their own market with the manufacturers of other countries. I think that if the acting leader of the Opposition is willing, as a compromise, to vote for a duty of 15 per cent, ad valorem, he will by doing so act generously to the manufacturers of Victoria. Such a duty will enable them to look about, and to replace their obsolete machinery with machinery of modern design. It is only by so doing that they will be able to withstand the competition of the New South Wales manufacturers, but if they do it they will be able to produce an article which for quality and price will rival that of the imported productions of America and other countries. The proposals of the Government must, I think, arouse the greatest indignation in the minds of those who have studied this subject. While the. Victorian duties ranged from 20 to 57£ per cent., the duties now proposed range from 20 to 100 per cent., and a3 the Victorian duties were practically prohibitive, these may be regarded as wholly so. We “were given to understand that the Ministry would introduce a tariff which would be a compromise between free-trade and protection, and would provide sufficient revenue to meet the financial exigencies of the States. But they have broken faith with the people, and the States of Tasmania, South Australia, and Queensland will actually lose revenue by the high duties which they have proposed. These duties impose burdens upon the people of New l South Wales to which they have not hitherto been accustomed, and which they resent, and I believe the people of Victoria will also resent them when they understand that to raise the price of the articles which they require reduces the purchasing power of the wage-earners. Even if the operatives in the factories of this State received before federation as much as those in the State of New South Wales, they were not so well off, as they could not purchase so much for the money they earned under a high protective system. If the Government persist in their proposal to impose a duty equal to 100 per cent. ad valorem upon the boots used by the poor man, as against the 20 per cent, which will be charged upon the better class of goods, I hope the committee will show its resentment of such an outrage upon the industrial community of Australia.
– I desire to enter my protest against the very poor attendance of honorable members whilst this important item is under discussion. It is most disheartening, and very unfair to those honorable members who do not accept the Government proposals, to have to speak to a* beggarly array of empty benches, and then find honorable members rush in when the division bell rings, to vote without reference to any arguments adduced in the course of the discussion. Although, no doubt, the endurance and patience of honorable members has been sorely tried during the debate upon the Tariff, the people pf the Commonwealth have a right to expect their representatives to remain in the chamber whilst an . important debate like the present -is proceeding. Those honorable members who have been defending the proposals of the Government have, as usual, wandered very far afield in order to find some justification for them. The inevitable comparisons between the United States and Great Britain have been instituted, but I think the honorable member for Macquarie has shown that ‘very little reliance can be placed upon any statements with regard to the decline of British as contrasted with the progress of American trade. When we were fighting for federation in Western Australia, I remember that amongst those opposed to us were many connected with the boot-making industry who objected to being brought into competition with the boot manufacturers in the Eastern States. In Western Australia, the manufacturers gave higher wages than were paid to the workmen in the Eastern States, and their factories were by no means well equipped with machinery. The duty in Western Australia did not exceed 18s. per dozen upon boots worth less than 10s. per pair ; and yet in spite of the high wages paid to the local workmen, and the indifferent equipment of the factories, the manufacturers were able to hold their own against their rivals abroad. Surely that should be sufficient to show that the proposals of the Government are utterly preposterous and unnecessary. I do not contend that we should adopt “a low revenue duty. The boot industry has no doubt assumedvery considerable proportions in Australia, and particularly in Victoria, but I should, be very sorry to see throughout the Commonwealth the same conditions that prevail in Victoria, because they afford a very fair indication of the objectionable results which follow from high duties. For a little while everything went well, and capitalists rushed into the industry to participate in the very high profits that were being made behind the wall of protection. The trade however was overdone, and within a comparatively short time, both the worker and the employer- experienced the evil results of competition, and over production, under protection. The Government evidently desire to bring about the same condition of affairs in all the States, and as a representative of labour I cannot conscientiously indorse their policy. I do nob believe in taxing machinery, or in preventing its use, but those who are asking for a high duty, are playing into, the hands of those who have capital at their command, and who will be able by utilizing the best machinery to create a monopoly. The boot industry requires our consideration apart from the fiscal issue, and I am prepared, in the interests of the workers, to support even avery high revenue duty, which, of course, would be incidentally protective, if the Government .will modify their proposals in that direction.
– The subject now under discussion is so important that I cannot give a silent vote upon it. The amended proposals of the Government provide for duties which will be equivalent to from 22 per cent, to SO per cent, ad valorem, and it seems to me that the interests of the people of all theStates, excepting those resident in Victoria and New South Wales, have been entirely ignored. In Western Australia the duties upon boots have ranged from 10s. to 18s. per dozen, equivalent to about 15 per cent, ad valorem, and the boot industry has made very material progress. In 1899 the number of factories was thirteen, and in 1900 seventeen. The average number of employes in 1899 was 295, and in 1900, 342. These figures may not seem large, but when the population of Western Australia is considered they compare very favourably with the statistics of the eastern States. The output of the Western Australian boot factories in 1897 was 171,307 pairs; in 1898, 207,957 pairs; in 1899, 217,416 pairs ; and in 1900, 249,786 pairs. Thus there has been a steady increase of production. The lowest wage paid to bootmakers there is 30s. weekly, and the highest £4 - an average of £2 10s. per week - which compares very favourably with the rates paid elsewhere. I would further direct attention to the fact that in Western Australia the revenue received from boots and shoes in 1900 totalled £17,887. In the light of these figures it seems strange indeed that the Government should, under the operation of the high duties proposed, estimate W estern Australia’s contribution from this source at only £4,500. This estimate, if well founded, furnishes conclusive proof that the policy proposed, is destructive of revenue. I heartily endorse the remarks of the honorable member for Perth, regarding the statements made when the question of federation was before the people of Western Australia. At that time a secret Tariff was outlined by the Argus, showing that the Government proposed to levy duties upon boots and shoes amounting in some instances to about 100 per cent. That Tariff was subjected to much ridicule by those who were supposed to knowsomethingaboutthematter. These people declared that the Government intended to impose merely revenueproducing duties upon the articles in question, and that these duties would not exceed 15 or 20 per cent. I am sure the committee must recognise that the smaller States will be the chief sufferers fromthe operation of the excessive imposts proposed. I think that the Government should give way upon this matter, and I am convinced that if they do so, they will be supported by a large majority.
– In most of the speeches hitherto delivered, a great regard has been shown for the interests of the importer and the manufacturer. I propose to address myself to this question, chiefly from the stand-point of the consumer. Of course we have been told that the operation of high duties stimulates internal competition, and thus tends to reduce prices. But if we take the articles which have been exhibited in this Chamber by the right honorable member for Tasmania, Sir Edward Braddon, we can readily perceive the position into which this competition will lead us. It will inevitably induce our manufacturers to become fraudulent - that is, men who are prepared to deceive the public as far as possible. I have in my hand a boot which is covered with a flimsy piece of leather, whilst the inside is stuffed with paper. That boot came from New South Wales. I also have a Victorian boot, into the sole of which all the rubbish imaginable has been thrust. If the desire underlying the adoption of a national policy is to deceive the public, the sooner something is done to straighten up the offenders the better. Certainly action should be taken in the various States to promptly bring to book any manufacturer who attempts to deceive the public in this fashion. J ust as we have Health Acts for the purpose of safeguarding the health of the community, so also legislation should be enacted to prevent our manufacturers from imposing upon the people. I doubt very much if any one but an expert could discern from the outside appearance of these boots, whether or not the sole was composed of leather. Every person who purchases a pair of boots of this description is practically defrauded of the money which he pays for them, because they are worthless. Neither of these pairs of boots would serve a man upon a rainy day, because the moment he got into the wet they would fall to pieces.
An Honorable Member. - Is that the result of protection?
– I am not here to defend either protection or free-trade. I leave others who know less about economics to pose as fiscal champions. We have been told by protectionists that the American manufacturers, who pay their operatives from £4 to £5 per week, are capturing the boot trade of England, and that the Australian manufacturers also fear the competition of the United States. But the fact that the American manufacturer can pay such high wages and compete with the English manufacturer in his own market cannot be attributed to protection. It proves rather that the American factories possess special facilities for the manufacture of boots and shoes in. the matter of equipment. Of course we all know that the American manufactories are much better equipped than are our own. But I do not suppose that any manufacturer, who can get along with the measure of protection afforded to him by the Commonwealth, will be likely to introduce new and expensive machinery. He is just as keen a business man as is the ordinary person, and does not intend his industry to be a philanthropic institution. He runs it to make money, and if he can induce Parliament to impose a duty sufficient to enable him to do so without the aid of uptodate machinery he will not introduce such machinery. I am pleased to know that in Victoria a wages board regulates the pay of the operatives ; but in New South Wales an Arbitration and Conciliation Act has recently been passed which is an improvement even upon a wages board. I hope to see similar Acts in operation all over the States sooner or later. In Queensland, where they had a high protective duty, the wages paid in this industry are the lowest in any skilled trades throughout the States. It is very difficult for men there to earn as much as 30s. or 33s. per week.
– Are the men organized?
– The men’s organizations have been broken up from time to time by combinations of the employers.
– In Victoria, the organization of the employers has always had the opposite effect - it has been met by organization on the part of the men.
– In Queensland wages have been brought down to the lowest amount upon which a man can live. Under the circumstances, we ought to consider well before we impose the enormous duties proposed, which can only lead to one of two things - the employers will combine to keep up prices, or, if they do not, they will manufacture such goods as have just been exhibited to us. The Treasurer looks to competition as a means of keeping down prices, but, in my opinion, such competition is one of the worst tilings that could possibly happen. Competition, carried out in its true form, can only lead to the payment of the lowest possible wages en which a man can exist and perform his daily toil; and if such competition be allowed to go on unchecked, we can only expect such manufactures as those to which I have already referred. In Western Australia, in the Northern portion of Queensland, and in the back blocks of New South Wales, the people who have to wear such boots earn very small wages. A workman who is out of work has to pay £2 per week for his board, while in work he may receive a wage of only 30s. That is a common occurrence in such districts as I have mentioned, and the bushmen and shearers are even worse off, because they earn only from 24s. to 30s. per week. I have yet to learn why these classes should be singled out and told that they must wear such boots as the Australian manufacturers choose to supply. If it be good for a well-to-do man to have decent and comfortable boots, it is just as good for the bushman and the shearer. There has been too much putting of high duties on so-called luxuries, and prohibiting comforts and conveniences to the poorer classes. If we had a reasonable duty of 15 per cent, all round, or 20 per cent, at the outside, that should be sufficient to meet the requirements of the Treasury, while it will afford an opportunity to the poorer people in the community to obtain desirable commodities. I have received a letter from a boot and shoe manufacturer in Queensland, who says -
As a Queensland manufacturer, after giving the whole subject very careful thought and consideration, I strongly urge the abolition of all composite duties on boots and shoes, and suggest instead, say, an ad valorem of 15 per cent, or 20 per cent. Further, all infants’ boots and shoes, from 0 to 6, should certainty be free, or not more than a duty of 5 per cent, ad valorem on them. These goods cannot be made in Australia, and should certainly be on the free list.
This is a member of the trade who must be very liberal minded as compared with his brethren in Victoria.
– Some of the Victorian manufacturers would be satisfied with a duty such as that suggested.
– I am very pleased to hear that statement. I have here several samples of children’s boots, which will pay 25 per cent, under n.e.i., though I am told that these articles are not manufactured to any extent in the States.
– Hundreds are manufactured in Victoria.
– I am told by men in the trade that they would never dream of making this class of boots, because there is no profit in their manufacture.
– One firm in Victoria makes 2,000 pairs of such boots per week, and employs 60 hands.
– And here are samples of the local manufacture.
– Then I must have been misinformed; but I was told that while a number of manufacturers had attempted to make such boots, only small quantities had been produced. In any case, it is a scandalous shame to think that a parent, who may have four or five children to provide for, should not have such goods admitted free, or, at any rate, at a merely nominal duty. Even supposing such boots, are made here, the duty ought not to be more than 5 per cent. These boots, I may add, are not classed in the ordinary way as slippers, but will, I understand, be charged as shoes, and I have a lot of letters from different people in Queensland, who live in districts where manufactories do not exist, and who request that the duty should be reduced to reasonable proportions. These people are producers of commodities which cannot derive any benefit from protection. It is said that protection, will cheapen these goods, but I look on the ordinary manufacturer as a keen man of business, who expects to make something out of a duty of 25 per cent, when it is given him. If he does not make something out of the duty he is a born ass.
Mr. RONALD (Southern Melbourne).I have received the following letter from Mr. S. E. Edwards : -
I wish to introduce to your notice a few samples for the guidance and consideration of your colleagues and yourself re boot Tariff. These are only a few. I make 129 different sorts. I make up over 2,000 pairs per week and employ over 60 hands. I wish to point out that there are over 15 manufacturers in Melbourne making up a lot of these lines. If the duties 30 per cent. ad valorem are kept on these lines - infants’ sizes, 0 to 6’s - there is a wonderful future for this industry. My business has now been established five years,and is weekly increasing since Inter-State free-tr ade.
That is sufficient answer to those who have made pathetic appeals on behalf of babies’ boots, which are made as well here as elsewhere, as I, who have fourteen feet to cover, can testify. As good a boot is manufactured in Australia as can be obtained in England, Ireland, Scotland, or America, and for less money.
I speak of this, not as a matter of theory or trade lists, but as a matter of personal experience. I am inclined to favour the ad valorem principle, which certainly has the advantage of compelling a rich man, who insists on gratifying his prejudices, to pay for the privilege. Apart from that, however, the contention that protection will raise the price of the poor people’s boots is the greatest fallacy and absurdity ever conceived by man. I cannot understand how men can fail to see that if local production supplies the local demand the duty can have no such effect. A strange doctrine has been preached by free-trade labour members. The honorable member for West Sydney said that because in Victoria protection has been supplemented by wages boards, therefore capital is being driven out of this country. The honorable member added that industries were coddled in Victoria by wages boards and protection, and affirmed that no good could be accomplished by such means. That is a most extraordinary doctrine for men who believe that wages and the distribution of capital can be regulated by law. It is said that protection puts money in the pockets of the manufacturers, but it must be remembered that before money can get into the pocket of the employe it must first get into the pocket of the employer. I have always held and preached that protection without a Factories Act to regulate the distribution of wealth is utterly futile. If we attempt to foster an industry which is in its infancy, honorable members opposite say that we are taxing the community to support a mere handful of workmen ; but when we ask for protection for an industry whose employes are numbered by thousands, we are told that it should be in a position to compete with the rest of the world. Honorable members seem to forget that in imposing these duties we are not legislating against normal competition, but against abnormal competition. It is easy for the manufacturers of America, of Germany, and of the other great manufacturing countries of the world, to create a surplus stock, and to sell it here at ruinous prices, in order to destroy our manufacturers, and to obtain possession of the market.
– Do our exporters do that with their butter, wool, or hides?
– If they could secure the control of a foreign market by doing so, no doubt they would do it.
Mr.Fowler. - Who would begin?
– If the manufacturers of other countries intended to continue to supply ourmarket with boots atless than cost prices, I would have no objection ; but I know that they are not fools, and that, once the local manufacturers are crushed they will sell at their own prices.
– Is there no competition among the foreign manufacturers ?
– Whenrings are formed by foreign manufacturers, in order to obtain possession of our marketsit behoves us to protect ourselves, and honorable members know that what I have been speaking of has been, done over and over again. I do not call the proposed duties too high, and if an attempt is made to flood our markets with the surplus stock of other countries, it will be found that they are hardly high enough. It was said by an honorable member opposite that the proposed duties were equivalent to 50 per cent, ad valorem; but the next speaker on that side spoke of them as. equivalent to 65 per cent; ad valorem, and so they jumped up to 88 per. cent., and even to 150 per cent, ad valorem. On the cheaper, kind of boots, however, no duty at all will be paid, because the purchasers, finding the locally-made article as good as the imported article, will ref usetopay more for the imported article. Ninety-nine per cent, of the citizens of Australia, will find their feet comfortably encased with the locally-made article; which will wear well and will look well; but where a man fancies that, the colonially-made boot, is not good enough for the delicate feet of a gentleman, he ought to be prepared; to pay a fair rate of duty upon, theimportedarticle For that reason. I should be in favour of an ad valorem, duty. The boot-manufacturing industry is, in every senseof the word, an industry indigenous to.Australia. We can produce all the raw material required by it, and, in reply to the argument that, our machinery is antiquated; I say thatthe only way in which to get up-to-date machinery is to prevent the local market from being utterly swamped by the productions of foreign manufacturers. I admit that the boot industry of Victoria, has had its bad times; but honorablegentlemen oppositeha ve pointed outthat Victoria, during the last decadelost 150,000. citizens, and of course that has created a corresponding loss of business to those who deal in boots.
– Was not protection adopted in order to keep people here ?
– Yes, but. it has not proved omnipotent. Those who went away were enterprising men, who went to Western Australia and the other States to better themselves, and to develop theresources of Australia.
– Victoria gained in Western Australia a market larger than she lost by the decrease of populationto which the honorable member refers.
– That does not affect my argument. Last night the honorable member wanted to know what is the good of paying large salaries to statisticians, if we do not accept their returns; butto-day, when it was pointed out that America under protection is outstripping. Great Britain in the manufacture of boots, and that thousandsof bootmakers are starving in Northampton, the centre of the English bootmaking industry; we were told by honorable gentlemen opposite that statistics: which show that the trade of Great Britain is declining must always be distrusted. I affirm, without fear of contradicttion; that the bootmakers of protectionist Victoria have been, better paid than the bootmakers of free-trade New South Wales or free-trade Great Britain, and I attribute that entirely to the fact that we have not allowed our market to. be flooded by the sweepingsof the foreign manufactories.
– Has the New South Walesmarket been, so flooded?
– It has been shown over and over again that the New South Wales manufacturers have been carrying on business at a loss; in anticipation of the establishment, under federation, of a uniform Customs Tariff:
– The honorable member is quite mistaken.
– I hope that all those who believe in protection will defend its application, to the boot industry, which, is an. industry well worth, protecting. The honorable member for Kennedy would like to see Government supervision in regard to the articles manufactured by our factories, but that could, not be accomplished under free-trade. Would the honorable member propose, to send inspectors to America to ascertain the quality of the leather put into the boots made there? If we were wholly dependent upon foreign supplies we could not haveany controlover the manufacturers ; but men who put inferior material into their productions should be prosecuted, and their goods confiscated. If honorable members are not prepared to give a general support to this industry, they will, by their action, declare that they prefer the rubbish of a foreigner to the productions of their own people. In Australia, boots can be bought as cheaply as in any partof the civilized world; and the man who is unwilling to pay the price demanded for them does not deserve to have boots to wear. The local manufacturers have not increased their prices because of the duties, and the Tariff has been used simply to prevent the importation of rubbish from foreign countries and the bringing down of wages to a starvation point. Considering that the duty on boots in Victoria was formerly 60s. per dozen pairs, the proposed duty of 40s. per dozen pairs must be regarded as a very fair reduction.
– Thepopulation of Victoria is only one-third of that of the whole Commonwealth.
– I hope that honorable members will liberally apply the principle of protection to the boot industry, which is deserving, of generous support. There are 10,000 employes interested, and the duties are not likely, to in any way increase the price of. the boots required by the poorer classes. It can be demonstrated beyond doubt thatneither the miners nor the settlers in the backblocks will be affected injuriously by high duties, but that they will be able to procure a better article than if they were entirely dependent upon foreign manufacturers. If the working classes were wholly dependent upon foreign importations, they would get fifth-rate articles at first-class prices, because that has been the unvarying experence where local trade has been in the hands of foreign monopolists.
– I am surprised that the Government have not seen fit to hasten the decision upon this subject by expressing their willingness to adopt the ad valorem principle. The Treasurer has already expressed himself as willingto agree to a 30 per cent, ad valorem duty, and in view of the fact that fixed duties operate most unfairly in regard to the lower-priced goods, the Treasurer would have saved time and acted wisely if he had accepted the suggestionof the Opposition.
– I was offered 15 per cent. only.
– I do not suggest that the right honorable gentleman should have accepted that offer; but he might have adopted the ad valorem, principle, which has been applied to many other similar linen in the Tariff. The injustice of charging the same fixed duty upon articles which are invoiced at 40s. to 60s. per dozen as upon goods invoiced at 120s. per dozen is so obvious that I cannot conceive of the committee agreeing to the Government proposal. If a fixed duty is adopted, those who use the higher-class boots will receive benefit at the expense of the poorer people. I am quite sure that an ad valorem duty would not only operate more fairly towards the general community, but would be of greater benefit to the revenue, because the high-class boots, which are not made within the Commonwealth, would contribute in far higher proportion to the Customs. Honorable members are quite mistaken in saying that the cheaper classes ofboots are not imported. I could show the committee boots of the cheaper class which, although of good appearance, do not compare in quality with the higherpriced goods, and it would really be an absurdity to subjectthemto the same rate of duty as boots such as Bostock’s, which are sold at from 25s. to 30s. per pair. A 30 per cent, ad valorem duty would really mean 33 per cent, duty, because 10 per centhas, to be added to the invoice value to cover freight and other charges, and upon that the duty is levied. I trust that the ad valorem principle will be adopted by the committee, and that the duty will be fixed at a reasonable rate.
– The difficulty I have seen all along with regard to the adoption of the ad valorem principle is that, unless the duty is fixed at a high rate, we shall undoubtedly admit large quantities of the poorer classes of goods, which pan and ought to be made here. When we were discussing the duties on hats, I desired to adopt a composite orfixed duty, but we ultimately agreed to accept an ad valorem duty of 30 per cent If the same course had been followed with regard to this item, I should have been satisfied, because that rate would have given a fair measure of protection on the lower-priced goods, and would have brought in a larger amount of revenue from the better class of article.
If honorable members will now agree to fix the duty at 30 per cent, ad valorem all round, I shall be perfectly satisfied. If we cannot do that, I hope that, as we have discussed the matter from all points of view, we shall at once go to a division, and that we shall vote upon the question of rates without very much further discussion.
– I do not see why the Treasurer should take up such a position as he has done. The matter of the rate of duty rests entirely with the committee, and if they think 30 per cent, is a fair rate they will support it. I cannot understand why he cannot see his way clear to at once adopt the ad valorem principle, at the same time intimating that he regards 30 per cent, as a proper, rate of duty. I believe the committee will be in favour of the ad valorem principle, but I do not wish to press the matter to a vote against the Government unnecessarily, and it would be better if the Treasurer were to adopt the ad valorem principle, and leave it open to honorable members, as on former occasions, to propose such rates as they think proper. We have our principles to fight for equally with the right honorable gentleman.
– Of course we have been fighting, and I will not say that the time occupied in this discussion has been wasted. We have had a very interesting debate, and have gained a large amount of information. I admit that we ought to make the higher class of goods contribute more to the revenue than the lower class, and that is why I endeavoured to get the composite rates adopted. But I think I may rely upon the fairness of the committee to extend a substantial protection to this industry. That being so, I will not discuss the matter further, but will accept such an ad valorem rate as the committee may determine.
-I cannot allow the Treasurer’s remarks, in connexion with the action of the committee, In imposing a 30 per cent, duty upon hats to pass without some rejoinder. In the first place I would point out that through a misunderstanding no division was taken upon the question as to whether that amount of duty should be levied upon hats. But altogether apart from that fact the Treasurer must surely recognise that the hat trade occupies a very different position from the. boot trade. The former has given no proof that it can exist without a considerable protective duty, and an appeal was made to honorable members not to destroy an industry which had been established under the operation of a high Tariff. But in the case of the boot trade the most ample evidence has been given that the industry can not only exist, but can grow and thrive without the aid of any duty whatever. Because, under very different circumstances, a certain duty was levied upon hats, are we to be asked to impose a similar rate upon boots, when it has been proved that without any adventitious aid, the boot industry has flourished in Australia ?
Amendment agreed to.
– I move -
That the words “ 15 per cent.” be added to the duty, “Men’s sizes above 5, per dozen pairs, 20s. and 15 per cent, ad valorem,” as amended.
To my mind 15 per cent, constitutes a fair duty, and will supply all the protection that up-to-date machinery requires for the successful production of boots and shoes. Moreover, such a duty will be in accord with the delarations of Ministers when before their constituents, which is one of the most important matters that we have to contemplate. It is of the utmost importance that the hustings pledges of Ministers should be translated into the statutes of the country.
– I am glad that the Ministry have at last seen fit to agree to the substitution of an ad valorem rate for a specific duty. One can only blame them for delaying their action so long. Five months ago they determined to abandon the composite duties in many cases, though it was not till yesterday that they announced their decision in regard to this particular item. To me it is perfectly clear that if the imposition of a 15 per cent, duty is absolutely necessary to Victorian manufacturers - as is asserted by some - they cannot carry on operations against the competition of New South Wales, where the manufacturers have hitherto been able to conduct their operations without any ad ventitious aid whatever. When we find the Treasurer declaring that the operation of certain duties will not enhance the price of boots more than 5 per cent., we may well ask why a 5 per cent, rate is not a sufficient impost to levy. If his own argument is a sound one, what possible reason can there be for the imposition of a higher duty ? No one has yet asserted that the operation of the proposed duties will benefit the working man. Employment will not be increased, as is evidenced by the fact that in 1892, when the Victorian rates of duty upon boots and shoes were considerably raised, there was a decrease in the number of men engaged in the factories, of 768. A large percentage of the operatives were thrown out of employment. It is argued that protection tends to steady the home market and give employment. But why should we ask the people to pay a heavy duty on commodities such as these, unless at the very time when they otherwise would be thrown out of work, protection will provide for them? Protection has utterly failed in that direction in Victoria ; because, after the duties were raised to -45s. and 60s. per dozen pairs of boots, there were 768 fewer employes in the industry. Protectionists, from their own point of view, ought to be astounded at the result.
– The decrease in the imports at that time ought to be taken into account.
– There was a decrease in the imports of boots and shoes to the extent of only £6,000 or £7,000, but I do not regard that as a fair comparison, because the duties were practically prohibitive.
– Do the facts not show that the home market was smaller ?
– I think not, because there had been variations in former years, and there were variations in subsequent years. The people of Victoria were asked to adopt protection for the encouragement of infant industries which would afterwards be established on a firm basis and reach the export stage of development. But that prophecy has not been fulfilled ; the infant industries of 30 years ago are the infant industries of to-day. If, after all these years, protection in this connexion has failed in Victoria, why should we believe the statements that are now made that if the policy be continued, this will become an export industry? Where is the sound manufacturer who is asking for such a high duty as that suggested ? The honorable member for Kennedy read one or two letters from Queensland manufacturers showing that all they desire are duties ranging from 1 5 to 20 per cent. We see the indifference with which honorable members on the Government side regard the imposition of an extra shilling in the £1 when the goods of the masses of the people are concerned ; but how would those honorable members welcome a proposal to impose a similar tax on their parliamentary incomes ? It is clear that this tax will fall on articles which are largely used by the people, the greater number of whom in any community are always comparatively poor. The Treasurer has said that the- price of the article will be increased by only 5 per cent. ; but if that be so, why should the Government propose a duty of 30 per cent. ? In my opinion, the 15 per cent, proposed by thehonorable member for Parramatta is far too high ; but . in the face of the attitudeof the honorable members on the otherside, I see no hope of carrying a moremoderate proposal, and we shall esteem, ourselves fortunate if we are successful with the amendment. In connexion with the woollen and other industries the duty is. only 15 per cent., and I see no reason why. the boot industry should be treated differently. It has been stated that the amount of labour involved in the production of boots and shoes is less than that in other industries, and does not amount to more than possibly 25 per cent., though I myself think that in the estimate of 2 5 per cent. , which I gavelast night, I was overstating the proportion. Is there an honorable member who in his. heart believes that any manufacturer will) give a single penny more in wages to his. employes if the proposed duty be imposed?.” Even if the duty were 100 per cent., would one operative benefit to the extent of onepenny ? The result of the Victorian duty was to deprive a large percentage of the operatives of employment, and only a month after the State Tariff had been increased, wages were reduced by 12^ per cent. The contention that an increase in the rate of duty upon any article does not benefit the workers who are employed in manufacturing it, is borne out by the statements of those who are the strongest advocates of protection. Honorable members opposite are always ready to fall down and worship any one who is called an employer, but I look forward to the day when an employer will be as thankful for having good workmen as workmen for having a good employer. It should be obvious that the rate of wages depends upon the competition for employment.
Where workmen are scarce, wages must rise; but where work is scarce, wages must fall. It is stated in the Age of 22nd January, 1900, that protection does not give any guarantee to the worker that he will receive his fullshare of the profits of the industry in which he is employed; and whenthe organizing committee of the Trades Hall started to inquire into this matter they found, to their surprise, what anysixpenny book upon political economy would have told them -
That it in no sense necessarily followed that the employes -
In industriesthat were “ well protected “ - were enjoying any better conditions, working fewer hours, or receiving more pay than previously existed.
What, then, becomes of the contention of honorable members opposite, that duties are imposed for the benefit of employes ? I am supported in my view by the utterances of Mr. Beazley and of Mr. Trenwith. Mr. Beazley, at a meeting held at the town hall, Collingwood, statedthat -
Heunderstood that a reduction of 40 per cent, had been made in the prices paid, and this affected the lives of a large section of the community.
Mr. Trenwith, on the occasion referred to, moved the following resolution -
That this meeting views with intense concern the rapid extension of the pernicious sweating system in one of our largest and most profitable industries, i.e., bootmaking, resulting as it hasin the employment of large numbers of children for excessively long hours, under the most unhealthy and brutal conditions, thus throwing out of employment scoresof honest workmen.
-How many years ago was that? Do those conditions apply now?
– At thepresent time, every man in a factoryhas to work aswell as the besthand in it,or he is turned away, and his place taken by boys or girls. Fortunately for the operatives of Victoria, under the free-trade Tariff of New South Wales, the bootindustry there employed men at higher rates of wages thanprevailed here, whilst the living expenses wereless, and large numbers ofmen availed themselves ofthe opportunity of betteringtheir conditionby leaving VictoriaforNew South Wales.What the committee is reallyasked to do is to impose a duty of 3s. in the£1 for the benefit of perhaps 90 or 100 employers, to the disadvantage ofthe 4,000,000 people who have to buy theboots which they manufacture. Why should we be asked to guarantee the manufacturers a return upon the capital which they have invested? We do not guarantee to their workmen continuous employment, or make provision for them if they fall sick ; and why then should we give special concessions to men who aremuch better able to help themselves? The representations of the miners ofBroken Hill were not attended to by honorable gentlemen opposite, and we know, from the way in which the farmers and miners of the country have been treated, that the operatives in the boot factories would be given no consideration if those who employed them were not interested in obtaining high duties. The honorable member for Southern Melbourne told us that high duties were necessary to prevent our markets from being flooded with the surplus stock of the manufacturers of foreign countries ; but he did not tell us what manufacturer, or what set of manufacturers,is prepared to sell his or their productions at a lossin order to destroy the manufacturers of this country, andthen throw open the local market to the manufacturers of the world. Clearly it is ridiculous to expect that any manufacturer, or any body of manufacturers, would sell at a loss in our markets to crush the local manufacturers, when, even after the local manufacturers were crushed, there would be no means of preventing the competition of foreign manufacturers. A duty of 15 per cent, should be quite high enough for all concerned. If we addto thatduty the cost of importation,which amounts to 12 per cent, or 15 per cent., wefind that the total protection given to thelocal manufacturer as nearly 30 percent.,and as has beenpointed out, he also enjoys the advantage of being able to obtainall the hides and other material thathe requires on the spot, at very cheap rates. The fact that New South Wales under freetrade was able to manufactureboots very largely, shows thata duty is not necessary for the establishment of the boot industry, and Iknowfrom thebest authority that many of thesoundest firms in Queensland and, New South Wales do notask for a higher duty than 15per cent. Why then should we give them anythingmore ? I would notblametheboot manufacturers if they were to ask for as much as they could possibly get in theway of protection but there is no reason why we, as guardians of the interests of the great bulk of the people, should sacrifice their interests. I believe that the revenue, under a 15 per cent, duty, -would amount to £120,000 per annum, or, roughly, £50,000 more than the Treasurer expects, and we should not voluntarily yield up this large sum of money in order to:give opportunities- to manufacturers to raise the prices of their goods. The representatives of New-South Wales are conceding quite as much as can reasonably be ^expected of them when they consent to the imposition of a 15 per cent. duty.
– The members-of the Opposition have not only been acting as guardians of the people-generally but as the champions of fiscal -freedom. The people of Australia are now suffering from three plagues - =the Tariff,’ the bubonic plague, and the drought ; and the Tariff is about the greatest of them all. The doctrine of compromise has been preached by the Treasurer and the Minister of Customs, and.I would point out to them.that between the absolute free-trade which has hitherto prevailed in New South Wales and their proposal for the imposition of 30 per cent, duties, a 15 per cent, duty would be a true and just compromise. If the Treasurer has a proper regard for the revenue, and or the interests of the community generally, he will accept the amendment. Assuming that the cost of the labour involved in the manufacture of boots represents 25 per cent, of the value of the finished article, a 15 per cent, duty would give the manufacturers an advantage to the extent of 60 per cent. Such a high degree of protection has not been proposed for the benefit of any other. industry. We have imposed a 15 per cent, duty upon furs, upon coatings, upon shirtings, rails, reapers and binders, jewellery stock,:mixed metalware, trimmings and velvet, arid if the Government wish to preserve >.the symmetry of the Tariff they will agree to adopt that rate in -regard -to boots. .
Mr. MCDONALD (Kennedy).- At an earlier stage in the discussion I stated that very few childrens’ boots in the sizes from 0 to 6 were, made in Victoria. . Later. on, a letter was- read to honorable members stating that one firm in Victoria employed 60 hands who turned out 2,000. pairs -of children’s boots per .week. I have since made inquiries, and I i repeat most emphatically what I previously stated, and that an attempt was made to deceive the committee by producing the letter referred- to. I find that the cost of making children’s boots ranges -from 3£d. to 3d. per pair, but assuming that ‘the rate is as high as 4d. per pair, the total cost of making 2,000 pairs would be £33 6s. Sd., or at the rate of lis. per week for each of the 60 operatives alleged to be engaged in their manufacture. We know perfectly well that the Victorian wages board would not permit such low wages to be -paid, and I .submit that the statements made in the letter-read to the committee were untrue.
– This debate has already been . a protracted one, and I think it is desirable that the committee should arrive at an early division. At the same time I cannot allow the discussion to close without defining my position in regard to this particular matter. I am pleased to know that the arguments of the Opposition have had some weight. The proposal for the imposition of a 15 per cent, rate will have my hearty support.
Sir WILLIAM MCMILLAN (Wentworth). - J would suggest to the honorable member for Parramatta that he should withdraw his amendment, and substitute 20 per cent, for the 15 per cent, rate proposed. Although the latter ,rate is one which we,, as free-traders, regard as a fair compromise, J do not .think there is any chance of it being carried, and I wish to avoid taking unnecessary divisions. Before sitting down I wish to ;make one more remark. We ..understand, from both sides of the chamber, that, irrespective . of what duty may be imposed, the lower class of boots will.not -be imported to. any considerable extent. Tf that be .so, the committee ought not to fix a high rate, if it .imposes any. Seeing- that these boots are imported in small quantities only, the . duty ought to be. a reasonably . low one. .But when we come .to. deal with the higher-priced boots which are imported, the duty imposed should become, to a large extent,, revenueproducing, and the proposal of the Treasurer to fix a 30 i.per . cent, rate would simply destroy revenue. The only .-way in .which revenue can be derived from this . item is by the -imposition of a moderate duty upon those boots which are-imported. After the fullest consideration,.! think that, a 20 per cent, rate constitutes. a fair.. and reasonable compromise.
-(Parramatta). - I have great pleasure ‘in acceding to the request of the acting leader of the Opposition.
I realize that it is of no use attempting to secure the imposition of a 15 per cent. rate. Perhaps a duty of 20 per cent, will have a greater chance of being carried, and I therefore ask leave to amend my amendment in the direction indicated.
Amendment amended accordingly.
– As a moderate free-trader I was not altogether in favour of a 15 per cent, duty, but I am thoroughly in accord with the proposal to levy a 20 per cent, rate upon men’s boots, because I believe it will yield revenue, and incidentally confer quite sufficient protection upon this particular industry. When once we begin imposing duties the difficulty is to know where to stop. Our aim, however, should be to ascertain the proper balance, and to levy such a duty as will yield revenue, without discouraging production. I congratulate the Treasurer upon having abandoned his proposal to levy a specific duty upon boots, because I think it is much more sensible to impose a tax according to their quality, class, and value, than to charge it upon their size. Last night the Treasurer mentioned certain specific duties, and stated that they were equal to 30 or 35 per cent. Lest the committee should be misled as to what those duties really meant I took the trouble to go into the Victorian statistics for 1900. In that year I find that Victoria imported 122,789 pairs of boots, valued at £31,278, upon which the amount of duty paid was £12,17211s. 3d. That, roughly speaking, represents an all round duty of 39 per cent. Now, it would appear as if the Treasurer were extremely modest in submitting a proposal in favour of a duty of 30 per cent. But let us examine the matter in the light of his previous proposition to adopt a sliding scale of specific duties upon boots commencing at 40s. per doz. or 3s. 4d. per pair, and running down to10d. per pair. We have to find out what percentage this represents in relation to the value of the boots. Taking the Victorian records as the standard, the value of the men’s boots imported last year was 12s. per pair, and the specific duty of 3s. 4d. which was proposed was therefore equivalent to 27½ per cent. Upon youths’ boots valued at 10s. the duty proposed was 2s.1d., which represents only 21 per cent., whilst upon women’s boots valued at 9s. 9d. a similar duty was equivalent to 21½ per cent. Upon boys’ boots worth 5s. 6d. per pair, the duty of1s. 3d. represents 23 per cent. The tax of1s. 6d. per pair upon girls’ boots was equivalent to 17½ per cent., and upon girls’ boots of smaller sizes worth 5s. 5d. per pair the duty of1s.1d. represented 20 per cent. Similarly a duty of10d. upon slippers valued at 3s. per pair amounted to 27¾ per cent. The average of these duties does not exceed 23 or 24 per cent., and it is a little absurd for the Treasurer, after offering free-traders a specific duty equal to 23 or 24 per cent., and finding that they were not pleased with it, to attempt to propitiate them by raising it to 30 per cent. It is just as if the right honorable gentleman said - “ Well, you reject the duty of 3s. 4d. because it is too high, how will a 4s. rate do?” I hope that the Treasurer will reconsider his proposal, and that the committee will adopt a lower duty than that of 30 per cent, which is an altogether preposterous rate.
Question - That the words “ 20 per cent.” be added to the duty “Men’s sizes above 5, per dozen pairs, 20s. and 15 per cent, ad valorem,” as amended - put.
The committee divided -
Majority … 9
Question so resolved in the negative.
Amendment (by Mr. Joseph Cook) proposed -
That the words “23 per cent.” be added to the duty “Men’s sizes above 5, per dozen pairs 20s. and15 per cent, ad valorem,” as amended.
– The amendment proposes the same duty as is placed on other goods in the Tariff.
– I think the Treasurer might reasonably accept the proposed compromise.
– Let the committee decide.
– The Opposition have often given way to the Government, and as a fair return for our generosity, the Treasurer might adopt the amendment. I do not often make an appeal like this, and I think the Treasurer ought to give way.
Mr. SYDNEY SMITH (Macquarie).I hope the Government will accept the amendment, seeing that 25 per cent, has been agreed to as the duty on other items in the Tariff.
– But on different classes of goods.
– This is a general item comprising all classes of boots, and 25 per cent, is very high, seeing that that is the duty which has been imposed on jewellery and other articles of luxury.
– I said I was prepared to leave this matter entirely in the hands of the committee, and I think both sides ought to be satisfied with that. I do not know how the vote will go on the amendment.
– But the Treasurer carries 25 members with him.
– That is not fair. I said I would leave it in the hands of the committee,my opinion being that the duty should stand at a certain rate; and I cannot do more.
Question - That the words “ 25 per cent.” be added to the duty “Men’s sizes above 5, per doz. pairs 20s., and 15 per cent, ad valorem,” as amended - put. The committee divided -
Ayes … … … 21
Noes … … … 27
Majority … … 6
Question so resolved in the negative.
– I should like the Chairman’s ruling, whether it is in order for a Minister of the Crown to interfere with the independent action of an honorable member when he is going to vote ?
– I have not noticed any Minister take such action, and perhaps the honorable member for Wentworth will specify the honorable gentleman to whom he alludes.
– To carry out the suggestion I previously made, I should now like to move that the duty be 30 per cent.
– I desire to submit another amendment. I move -
That the words “27½ percent.” be added to the duty “Men’s sizes above 5, per doz. pairs, 20s., and 15 per cent, ad valorem,” as amended.
– When the freight and othercharges, amounting to 10 per cent., are added, the impost willreally be 30 per cent. If ‘the duty be made 30 per cent., as suggested by the Treasurer, the amount actually paid will be 33 per cent.
– It is well that this amendment has been moved, because it will give an honorable member who intended to vote on. this side an opportunity, now that he is not within the shadow of a Minister of the Crown, to act independently. I must say that I have neverseen an action of thekind taken before in a legislative body.
– Who is the honorable member ?
– The honorable member for Darling.
– The honorable member for Darling denies anything of the sort.
– Will honorable members kindly allow the honorable member for Wentworth to proceed ?
– I am glad that a proposal to make the duty 27½ per cent, hasbeen, submitted, because it will give an opportunity to honorable members to reconsider their position, if therehas been any improper influence.
– That is an insult. It is cowardly.
– ask the Minister forHome Affairs, who ought to be the last man to accuse anybody of cowardice, to withdraw his words.
-I shall not do anything of the kind. What I have said is true.
The CH AIRMAN. - The Minister must withdraw the expression if thehonorable member forWentworth considers it offensive.
– The honorable memberfor Wentworth made an insinuation upon which only one construction could be put, and which, if made outside the chamber, would be treated in quite a different way. I regard his conduct as cowardly, but, of course, ifhe objects to the use of that word, I must bow to your ruling, and withdraw the expression. I should be exceedingly sorry to make, in regard to any other honorable member, the insinuation which has been made in regard to me.
– I do not regardit as complimentary thatthe acting leader of the Opposition should insinuate that I am liable to be influenced in my voting by any Minister of the Crown. I voted as I thought right, and, as I do notbelong to the Opposition, I am not bound to account for my actions to the honorable gentleman at the head of thatparty.
– If in a moment of heat I imputed any improper conduct to the honorable member for Darling, I did wrong, and I apologize. I think, however, that it is very unusual and very undignified conduct on the part of a Minister of the Crown, to attempt to influence the vote of an honorable member while a division is actually taking place.
– In replyto what, the honorable member forWentworth has just stated, I desire to explain that, having been paired in the division before the last,I entered the Chamber when the last division took place,and proceeded to where the honorable member for , Eden-Monaro was sitting, to ascertain if I was paired in that division also. As it happened, he was sitting near the honorable member for Darling, but I didnot go to that part of the Chamber to speak to the honorable member for Darling. Iscarcely said a wordto him in regard tothis matter.
– After the explanation of theMinister, it is my duty to withdrawwhat I said,and I do so unreservedly, but tomehis action had the appearance which Istated.
Question- That the words “27½ per cent.” be added to the duty “ Men’s sizes above 5, per dozen pairs 20s., and 15 per cent, ad valorem” asamended-put.The committee divided -
Ayes … … … 23
Noes … … … 27
Majority … …4
Question so resolved in the negative.
Amendment (bySir George Turner) put -
That the words “ 30 per cent. “ beadded to the duty “Men’ssizes above 5,. per dozen pairs20s., and 15 percent, advalorem,” as amended.
The committee divided.
Majority … … 6
Question soresolved in the affirmative.
Amendment agreed to.
– I propose to accept the decision of the committee, and apply it to all the other lines in this item, making the whole of them subject to a duty of 30 per cent. I therefore move -
That the words “and on and after 6th March, 1902, 30 per cent, ad valorem” be added to the duty “Youth’s sizes above 1, per dozen pairs - 15s., and 15 per cent, advalorem.”
– If it were wise to make a distinction between the rates of dutyupon men’s boots and those worn by boys, women, and children, why should we apply a uniform duty to all lines? It is true that the differences inthe fixed duties were in accord, to some extent, with the variations in price of the various lines of boots ; but boys’ and girls’ and children’s boots did notshow the same percentage of duty as was applied to men’s boots. A duty of 30 per cent, ad valorem willbe much more heavilyfelt in regard to girls’ and boys’ boots than a similar impost upon men’s footwear. It is admitted that very few men’sboots of the cheaper sorts are imported into the Commonwealth, but girls’and children’s boots are largely introduced, and a revenue duty of 25 per cent., which would really amount to 27½ per cent, would beample.
– Up to the present moment a very marked distinction has been drawn in the Government proposals between men’s boots and those now under consideration. No doubt there -was some justification for adopting this course, and, unless some honorable member moves in the matter, I shall propose that the duty upon youths’ boots be reduced to 25 per cent, ad valorem.
– In the original Tariff proposals it was recognised that men’s boots, in sizes above 5, were on the whole more expensive than youths’ boots, in sizes above 1, and we are carrying out the same principle in applying an ad valorem duty of 30 per cent, all round. We are adjusting the actual duty paid to the value of the goods more closely than could be done by means of the composite duties. If the theory of the honorable member for Canobolas were carried out in regard to all goods of varying qualities, the ad valorem duty would not apply fairly, because the cheaper qualities would be subject to a lower rate of duty than the better class of goods. A duty on an ad valorem basis adjusts itself to the value of the goods, and we should diverge from the principle contained in the proposals first submitted by the Government if we varied the rate of duty according to the price of the article.
Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.
Amendment (by Mr. Joseph Cook) proposed -
That the words “and on and after 6th March, 1902, 20 per cent, ad valorem,” be added to the duty “ Youths’ sizes above ], per dozen pairs, 15s. and 15 per cent, ad valorem.”
– The Treasurer might explain what was the groundwork of his first proposal. There are differences in this list which cannot be explained by differences in value. If the right honorable gentleman had some reason for making these differences, he might state what it was to the committee ; if he had not, he might also apprise the committee of that fact.
– The object of the Government was to obtain a rough approximation of ad valorem value for the whole of these articles, taking into consideration the fixed rates which had been operative in the various States. Whilst we might adopt a fixed rate upon the varying sizes, it would be absurd to say, if we are to have an ad valorem rate at all, that the same rate should not be applicable all round. The very object of an ad valorem duty is to insurethe cheaper class of goods paying only according to their value.
– I do not see that there is much to be gained by again dividing the committee. We have made our protest, and the responsibility for the outrageously high duty proposed rests with the Government. I would, therefore, recommend the honorable member for Parramatta not to press his amendment.
Mr. HENRY WILLIS (Robertson).There seems to be a very good reason for the varying rates which were formerly operative in the different States. For example, I find that in Victoria youths’ boots were rated at 33 per cent., whilst the duty upon men’s and women’s boots ranged from 32½ to 39¼ per cent. These duties appear to have been graduated in such a way that women’s, youths’, and other boots paid a lower percentage as they declined in price.
– All the other States had the same ad valorem rate throughout.
– But they were very low rates. If the Treasurer will sanction the imposition of a 20 per cent, duty upon youths’ boots, I shall be quite satisfied, but 1 certainly think that some reduction on the present proposal should be made.
– I was under the impression that the high-water mark of protection under this Tariff was 25 per cent ; but it has now risen to 30 per cent. My chief purpose in rising, however, is to point out that the ad valorem equivalent of the specific duty previously proposed by the Government upon youths’ boots represented only 20 per cent. I therefore ask the Treasurer to reconsider his position. It seems to me that he will be justified in doing so, because of the distinction which he himself had drawn between the duties previously proposed upon the different articles covered by these items.
– I think that the honorable member for Kooyong is in error in declaring that a 30 per cent, rate represents a higher duty than the composite duty originally proposed by the Government. In this connexion the figures published by Senator Sargood have never been controverted. Those figures showed conclusively that the composite duties proposed by the Government upon the various articles enumerated under this item ranged from 33 to 58 per cent. I fail to discover any point in the argument that a lower rate should be charged upon youths’ boots than that which has been imposed upon the previous line, seeing that the committee have adopted the ad valorem principle.
– I should like to remind the honorable member for Kooyong that the question of what constitutes an extreme duty or a moderate duty is a mere matter of relation. He thinks that 25 per cent, is a revenue duty.
– I do not.
– The honorable member told Opposition members to-night that they were extremists, and said that he . would support the imposition of a 25 per cent. rate. If he advocated such a duty in New South Wales he would be called a gluttonous protectionist. In this protectionistsaturated air, however, we see things in a different relation, and we come to Victoria to find that duties of 25 and 30 per cent, are only another name for freetrade.
An Honorable Member. - Mr. Murray Smith advocated the imposition of a 25 per cent, rate as a revenue duty.
– When Mr. Murray Smith was in the protectionist dovecot he probably had to shape his course accordingly. We see an example of that in the case of the honorable member for Kooyong, who has been rating Opposition members because they were extremists. He is prepared, as a good, sound, honest free-trader, to vote for the imposition of a duty of 25 per cent. When we reach that rate it seems to me that it does not much matter if we go to 30 per cent. As, however, the- committee seem to be against the importation of anything in the shape of foot-wear for the people of the continent, it is of no use fighting the matter further.
Mr. KNOX (Kooyong).- The honorable member for Parramatta has’ made one or two statements under a misapprehension. My own feeling was that if we were Suecessful in securing a 20 per cent, rate, we should have gained a reasonable compromise, and I thought that 25 per cent, should constitute the high-water mark of protection even from the point of view of my honorable friends opposite. When, therefore, they secured a vote in favour of levying a 30 per cent, duty they obtained a regular tidal wave. I repeat that my own feeling was in favour of the imposition of a 20 per cent, rate.
– I rise because it has been stated that Mr.
Murray Smith contended that 25 per, cent, constituted a revenue duty. But I would point out that that gentleman only favoured such a duty under the conditions which existed in Victoria prior to federation. I am perfectly certain that if he were in the Chamber at the present time he would not be found supporting such a duty for the Commonwealth of Australia.
Mr. HENRY WILLIS (Robertson).- I have looked into the matter further, and I find that taking the duty paid in Melbourne for the last ten years, the average ad valorem rate works out on men’s boots, sizes 6 to 10, 42^ per cent. ; women’s boots, 39 per cent. ; youths’ boots, 33 per cent. ; boys’ boots, 57i per cent. ; girls’ boots, 44 to 40 per cent., and slippers 33 per cent.
– It all depends on the amount of imports. If there were a uniform rate there might be a different rate of imports.
– We find that for ten years the duty has not been a uniform rate. I feel disinclined to abandon the fight simply because we have had to submit to humiliation in connexion with the 30 per cent, dirty. I hope the honorable member for Parramatta will not withdraw, but that the committee will divide on the amendment. I am prepared to fight every line in the Tariff; and I regard the proposed duty as an outrage on the people.
Sir WILLIAM MCMILLAN (Wentworth). - We have passed a duty of 30 per cent., and it has been shown that there is a differential rate of 20s. for men’s boots, and 15s. for youths’ boots, the proportion being probably about 22J per cent. I should advise the honorable member for Parramatta, if he wants to test the question, to propose that the duty be 25 per cent., which is a fair proportion on the Government’s own showing. Considering the state of Australia at the present time, I do not want to add to the trouble and commercial distress. I desire to save time, and get the Tariff through as quickly as possible commensurate with fair debate.
– I have been trying to find the ground for differentiation, and the Treasurer seems to have hit on what was my first idea, namely, that it was to give a rough approximation to the ad valorem method of taxation.
– Taking into consideration the fixed rates in the various States.
– But the approximation cannot be adduced from the figures before us. In Victoria, for instance, theduties on boys’ and women’s boots were 30s. to 45s., while in Queensland they are given as from 17s. 6d. to 19s. 6d., so that the proportion is altogether different. I cannot quite make out the ground for differentiation, but it strikes me that the Government were, perhaps; alittle considerate to families. There can be only one father, but there may. be five youths ; and whoever originally hit on thismethod of taxation may have taken into account the fact that the consumption of youths’ and boys’ boots may be three times as great as that of boots worn by the heads of families. As the Treasurer seems in a difficulty, I offer this as a possible solution for his consideration.
– No doubt if the Government had been able to carry their first proposal, their argument in support of thislower duty would have been that they were dealing, with this question on a scientific basis, and as they would have been in the position of victors, we should have had to accept their statement. Now, however, we shall try to persuade the Government to continue on the lines on which they started. The committee have attained the highwater mark of 30 per cent, and so far as one can judge, 25 per cent, will about meet the difference which the Government themselves proposed under the composite duties. The Government ought to accept the proposal of the Oppositions and submit to some instruction on a matterabout which they seem to know but very little. The Government could have had. no other argument in favour of their first proposal, except that they were proceeding on a scientific basis; and I trust we shall succeed in carrying theproposal of 25per cent. This will show that we do not propose to ask youths, who are unable to earn their own living, to pay as much taxation as those who are in a more independent position ; and this argument should appeal even to protectionists:
Mr. JOSEPH COOK (Parramatta). - I regret that I do not see my way to submit an amendment making the duty 25 per cent., which seems to me to be a monstrous proposition, considering that it means the imposition of that high duty on children’s boots. We in New South Wales know that prices are being constantly increased because of the duties, and I regard a proposal of 25 per cent, in this connexion as altogether unworthy of civilized legislation. Where are the New South Wales members while these duties are being proposed? On the faith, of their promises on the hustings, the Government received tens of thousands of free-trade votes in New South Wales. Where is now that doctrine of moderation which was subscribed to throughout that State?
Sir WILLIAM McMILLAN (Wentworth). - This is reallyamatter of business: The committee have passed a duty of 30 per cent, and we are bound by the decision of the majority. The Government by their ownscheme have plainly shown that they do differentiate between the classes ofgoods; and inorder to test the questionI shall move that the duty be 25 per cent, not because I believe in such an.impost, but in order to connect the decisions of the committee.
Amendment (by SirWilliam McMillan) put -
That the words “ and on and after 6th March, 1902; 25 per cent. advalorem “ be added, to the duty, “Youths’ sizes, above 1, per dozen pairs, 15s. and 15 per cent, ad valorem.”
The committee divided -
Ayes……. … 22
Majority … … 8
Question so resolved in the negative.
Amendment (by Sir George. Turner) agreed to: -
That the words “and. on and. after 6th March, 1902, 30 per cent, ad valorem” be added to the duty “ Youths’ sizes above 1, per dozen pairs 15s., and15per cent, ad valorem.”
– Whatever may be the force of the argument that a duty of 30 per cent, should be imposed upon youths’ boots, upon the ground that they are able to purchase theirown, I would point out that boys cannot be expected to purchase the boots which they wear, and that a duty of 20 per cent, on such boots is quite high enough. I therefore move: -
That the words “ and on and after 6th March, 1902, 20 per cent, ad valorem “ be added to the duty “ Boys’, 7:l, per dozen pairs 10s., and 15 per cent, ad valorem.”
Amendments (by Mr. Conroy) negatived -
That the words “ and on and after 6th March, 1902, 20 per cent, advalorem” be added to the duty “Girls, 7-10, per dozen pairs 9s., and,15 per cent, ad valorem.”
That the words “ and on and after 6thMarch, 1902, 25per cent, ad valorem “ be added to the duty “Girls, 7-10; per dozen pairs 9s., and 15 percent, advalorem.”
Amendment (by Sir George Turner) agreed to -
That the words “and on and after 6th March, 1902, 30 per cent, ad valorem “ be added to the duty “Girls, 7-10, per dozen pairs 9s. and 15 per cent, ad valorem.”
Mr. POYNTON (South Australia).The rates charged upon slippers’ under the State Tariffsare different from the rates on boots and shoes. In two of the States the duty was 25 per cent., in another 20 per cent., and in another 15 per cent., while the duty in Victoria was 18s. per dozen; and in New South Wales a State which contains a third of the whole population of the Commonwealth, there was no duty at all. Under these circumstances I think that 20 per cent: is a. fair compromise, and I therefore move -
That the words “ and on and after 6th March, 1902, 20 per cent, ad valorem” be added to the duty “ Slippers, leather, per dozen- pairs 5s., and 15 per cent, ad valorem.”
Question put. The committee divided -
Ayes … … … 21
Noes ………. 31
Majority … … …. 10
Question so resolved in the negative.
Amendment (by Mr. Poynton) negatived -
Thatthe words “and on and after 6th March, 1902, 25 per cent, ad valorem” be added to the duty, “ Slippers, leather; per dozen pairs, 5s. and 15 per cent, ad valorem.”
Amendment (by Sir George Turner) agreed to -
That the words “ and on and after 6th March, 1902, 30 percent, ad valorem “ be added to the duty, “ Slippers, leather, per dozen pairs, 5s. and 15 percent, ad valorem.”
Item, as amended, agreed to.
Item 110 - Boots and shoes, n.e.i. (including indiarubber), goloshes, slippers, n.e.i., boot and shoe uppers and tops, clogs and pattens, wading boots, slipper forms in the piece or otherwise cork, leather, or other socks or soles, ad valorem, 25 per cent.
– So far as I can understand most of the goods included in this item are imported, and the duty will be of a revenue character.
– A very large quantity of these goods are made here, and indiarubber, which enters into the composition of many of them, is made dutiable at another rate.
– This item would include sand-shoes, which are not made within the Commonwealth. Twenty.Ave per cent, would be an extremely high rate of duty to impose upon such articles, and would tend to discourage their use. Fifteen per cent, would be a sufficiently high impost for revenue purposes, but as it is hopeless to expect the committee to agree to such a reduction, I move -
That the words “and on and after 6th March, 1902, nd valorem, 20 per cent.” be added.
Sir WILLIAM McMILLAN (Wentworth). - I am inclined to think that- the bulk of these goods are imported.
– That is not so. Goloshes and slipper forms are the only things that are imported.
– Still, I think that the duty will be very largely a revenue impost, and although a duty df 15 per cent, would be more reasonable, I shall support the amendment as a fair compromise. I find that wading boots were free of duty under the Victorian and New South Wales Tariffs, and that the average of the duties imposed by the States would not exceed 10 per cent. Slipper forms were also subject to a much lower rate of duty on the average than 25 per cent., and the Government appear to have selected for all articles included in this item the highest possible rate without any regard to the average duty hitherto imposed by the States.
– If the honorable member includes the whole of the lines he will find that a fair average has been struck.
– I do not think so. The Treasurer has not treated the other States fairly, because all duties of a truly revenue character should be fixed at rates very much below those hitherto prevailing in Victoria.
– Sand-shoes, which would come under this item, are very largely used by the poorer classes, and as they are not made in Australia, they should certainly not be subject to such a high duty as 25 per cent.
– I could take the honorable member to a factory in Collingwood where they make 1,000 pairs of sandshoes per week.
– They are not made in New South Wales at all events, and as the demand for this class of goods is enormous, large quantities will require to be imported. Messrs. Hordern and Sons, of Sydney, inform me that fully 75 per cent, of the sand-shoes sold by them - and they sell a great number - are disposed of to the working classes. Some concession should be made to that large section of the people of New South Wales who use sand-shoes. I hope that the Treasurer will reconsider the matter.
Mr. CONROY (Werriwa).- It cannot be urged by honorable members on the other side that this is a protective duty. On this article they require a duty of 25 per cent., but they cannot tell us how much revenue they expect to get. For the first time I notice a certain amount of deception in the estimate of revenue. On a previous occasion they said that they would get a revenue of £68,000 from boots and shoes under item 109, but now we find that that estimate includes the revenue to be got under the two next items. On one the duty is 25 per cent.; but on the next it is only 20 per cent. Do honorable members expect to discourage the use of sandshoes 1 Do they not know that in Sydney, before the Tariff was brought down, sand shoes could be bought retail at from ls. 9d. to ls. lid. per pair? I have played many a game of tennis in a very fair pair of rubber sand-shoes that I bought for ls. lid. This information may come as a revelation to people in Victoria where such things have been prevented from entering the ports. I ask the committee to take care that we get the maximum amount of revenue. By not accepting a 15 per cent, duty on the former item, we lost £o0,000 to the revenue, but if the estimate is to include the revenue to be raised under the next two items, the loss will reach between £60,000 and £70,000 a year. I do not see how the Treasurer can expect any honorable member on this side to support any revenue duties he proposes, when he is deliberately preventing the money from going into the Treasury. On this line we are asked to sacrifice £8,000 or £10,000 a year to the revenue.
– I interjected just now that I could take the honorable member for Robertson to a factory in Melbourne where a thousand pairs of sand shoes a week are made. Perhaps he inferred from my remark that I alluded to rubber sand shoes. I was referring, not to rubber sand shoes, but to leather sand shoes.
Mr. HENRY WILLIS (Robertson).Since the honorable member for- Bourke made that interjection, I have looked up the matter, and I find that rubber sand shoes are not made in Victoria. In their letter, Messrs. Hordern and Son3 refer to the anomaly in these words : -
Gum boots are on the free list, but sand shoes are heavily taxed. Both these items are made from the same material and cannot be produced in the Australian colonies. Why sand shoes should not be on the free list is difficult to understand. They are purely a workman’3 commodity, and in a dry climate like ours, a great economical insistance to a poor man with a large family. We get through’ over .10,000 pairs per annum in our establishment, and fully 75 per cent, of these go to the working classes.
In face of the statement of the honorable member for Bourke, that sand shoes are not made in Victoria, and the ‘ representation of Messrs. Hordern and Sons, a highly respectable firm, I hope that the Treasurer will make some concession.
– We are told that they are worth about ls. lOd. a pair, and as only 10,000 pairs are consumed in a year, it is not a very large item.
– Ten thousand pairs a year are consumed by only one firm ; but there is a place called Victoria where the children would be glad of an opportunity to get sand shoes. I hope that the Treasurer will place these sand shoes on the same footing as gum boots. They are extensively used by the working people, and a man will have some assistance in shoeing a large family at a reasonable cost if the duty is reduced. If they are shod with leather boots the cost will be very much greater than they have had to incur hitherto. I hope that the Treasurer will accede to this request.
Mr. CONROY (Werriwa).- In this item there is an- article, wading-boots, which are to be taxed 25 per cent. It is perfectly clear that wading-boots are not made in Australia. Those who use them are a certain number of miners - though not many, because they generally use gum-boots - and fishermen. Certainly fishermen are not engaged in a protected industry. Whatever duties are imposed cannot enable them to catch more fish or put more fish into the sea.
– Fishermen use the gum-boots also.
– -Wading-boots are more likely to be used by fishermen than by others. The gum-boot is much shorter than the wading-boot, as a rule. Then, how are. we to deal with clogs and pattens ? Are clogs used here 1 I have heard honorable- members speak of certain parts of England where people walk about in clogs, but theyare rarely seen in Australia. I supposethey are used only in mines, where the mineral water would destroy leather too quickly. I am informed that the cost of importation alone in respect of clogs and pattens amounts to about 35 per cent., so that with a duty of 25 per cent, the cost would be increased by something like 60 per cent. I trust that the whole item will be cut down, to 25 per cent.
– The honorable and learned member for Werriwa suggests that the duty in this case is not protective, as many of the articles are not madein Australia. If he turns to this evening’s . paper, he will find that to-day a deputation was introduced to the Secretary for Landsby Lt.-Col. Reay, who stated that some - 9,000 people are out of employment in Victoria. As there is so much distress, probably the Government think that the ira- - position of this duty will give work bv opening up a new industry.
Mr. CONROY (Werriwa).- As there are only 9,000 unemployed working men in Victoria at present, the probabilities are that the Government will increase the number by the duties they are imposing. Perhaps they think that imposing duties on boots will enable the unemployed to purchase boots and so benefit the community !
– My honorable friend, the member for Robertson, has represented that a certain class of rubber sand shoes are not made in Australia.
They seem to be more largely used in New South Wales than elsewhere. Under the circumstances, I shall have no objection to putting that line at 20 per cent.
– Make it 15 per cent. Why make two bites at a cherry ?
Item, as amended, agreed to.
Amendment (by Sir George Turner) agreed to -
That the following new item be inserted, to follow item 110: - “Rubber sand shoes, 20 per cent.”
Amendment (by Mr. McDonald) proposed
That the following new item be inserted, to follow item 110a: - “Infants’ boots, shoes, and slippers, sizes 0 to 6, ad valorem, 10 per cent.”
– I understand that the sizes we have been accustomed to in regard to this class of goods are 0 to 3. At all events these boots are made very largely within the Commonwealth. They are manufactured from imported material upon which duty has to be paid, and it would be very unfair to impose a tax of 10 per cent, upon the manufactured article whilst levying duty upon a large number of the materials used in its production. Whatever rate may be fixed, I certainly cannot accept the suggestion in favour of a 10 per cent, duty, because that could not be regarded as in any way protective in its incidence. I am, however, prepared to meet the honorable member by agreeing to the imposition of a 20 per cent. rate. Taking into consideration the fact that the materials used in the manufacture of these particular articles are imported, I think that my offer is a very fair one.
– I wish to point out that these boots are not largely made in Victoria. Indeed, I am credibly informed by a manufacturer that he used to make these particular goods, but that he discontinued doing so because their manufacture did not pay. . I repeat that whilst some of these boots are made in Victoria they are not manufactured in large quantities, despite the fact that for many years they have enjoyed the benefit of a protective duty.
– Sizes 0 to 3 are not largely made because they were exempt from duty, but the other sizes are largely manufactured in Victoria.
– In any case I think it is only fair to admit these boots at 10 per cent. If they require the protection afforded by a duty of 20 per cent., it is a downright fraud to impose a 30 per cent, rate upon the other lines, because it is well known that there is a less margin of profit upon the smaller sizes of boots than upon the larger sizes. I will amend my amendment by omitting the rate of duty.
Amendment amended accordingly -
That the following new item be inserted : - “ Infants’ boots, shoes, and slippers, sizes 0 to 6, ad valorem.”
Mr. HENRY WILLIS (Robertson).- I feel assured that if the committee were satisfied that these boots could not be successfully made in Australia, they would place them upon the free list. The author of the letter’ from which I quoted earlier in the evening corroborates all that the honorable member for Kennedy has said in reference to this matter. He writes -
Take infants’ strap shoes, sizes 1 to 6. Twentyfive per cent, ad valorem upon this class of goods is very unreasonable. These goods are generally made by girls in factories that lay themselves out for this class of work only. We cannot compete with them for many years to come, and at present we can hardly make any kind of decent small shoes. Surely a duty of 10 per cent. ad valorem would be sufficient in thiscase.
Here we have testimony that in Australia there cannot be manufactured so good an article of this description as can be imported, and that the trade could not be supplied even if the duty were made prohibitive. The honorable member for Kennedy has made out a strong case, and his suggestion would not affect the revenue, and would show that we have some regard for the children of the poor.
Mr. BROWN (Canobolas).- There is a great deal in the contention of the honorable member for Kennedy. Only the other day a lady informed me that prior to the introduction of the Federal Tariff she was accustomed to buy boots of this description in Sydney at 3s. 3d. per pair, but that subsequently she was called upon to pay 3s. 9d. Further, during a recent visit to Melbourne, she had to pay 4s.11d. for the same make and size at one of the large retail establishments. In the Australian Leather Journal of 15th October, the views of leading Melbourne and Sydney men are given on the trade as affected by the Tariff which had just then been proposed. Mr. R. Hurst, who is described as a boot and shoe manufacturer of Melbourne, and who is, I believe, entitled to speak with authority on these matters, is reported as saying -
Infants’ boots cannot be made here with profit, and the Victorian duty of 8s. 6d. per dozen pairs of the sizes four to six enabled the retailer to place them in the hands of the public at1s.11d. per pair. Under the present Tariff, however, it will be impossible to sell these goods at less than 2s. 6d. per pair. In this instance the public will suffer to the extent of the difference in price.
– To reduce the duty from 8s. 6d. per dozen to 20 per cent, is a big drop.
– But Mr. Hurst says that under the present Tariff it will be impossible to sell this class of goods at less than 2s. 6d., whereas previously the price was1s.11d.
– It is marvellous to hear the honorable member arguing that the higher the duty the cheaper the article.
– Whether or not that state of tilings is attributable to the Tariff, I cannot say, but from the practical experience of the lady who spoke to me, there seems a considerable difference between the prices ruling in Sydney and those ruling in Melbourne.
Amendment agreed to.
Amendment (by Mr. McDonald) proposed -
That the words “ 10 per cent.” be added to the duty “Infants’ boots, shoes, and slippers, sizes 0 to 6, ad valorem.”
Sir WILLIAM McMILLAN (Wentworth). - I think the amendment is reasonable. I understand that sizes 0 to 3 were free in Victoria, and sizes 4 to 6 were dutiable. Twenty per cent, is the idea in regard to the higher line, and if we strike the difference between the two, we arrive at 10 per cent.
– Sizes 0 to 3 were not dutiable in Victoria, and are made here to a very small extent, but sizes 4 to 6 were dutiable at the rate of 8s. 6d. per dozen, and are manufactured largely in Australia. This class of goods would have been dutiable at 30 per cent, as leather slippers, or at 25 per cent, as boots and shoes. I think I met the committee very fairly when I said I would make a special line and put the rate at 20 per cent. I do not think we ought to discuss this matter at any great length, but I ask the committee to agree to 20 per cent, not as a revenue duty, but as a reasonable protective duty, in order that these goods may be made within the States.
Question - That the words “10 per cent.” be added to the duty “ Infants’ boots ad valorem “ - put.
The committee divided -
Ayes … … … 20
Noes … … … 21
Majority … … 1
Question so resolved in the negative.
– I think it is due to the committee to state that I forgot that I had paired with the honorable and learned member for Indi, and that I inadvertently voted in the last division.
Amendment (by Sir George Turner) agreed to -
That the words “ 15 per cent.” be added to the item, “ Infants’ boots, shoes and slippers, sizes 0 to 6, ad valorem.”
Item, as amended, agreed to.
Item 111. - Cloths made waterproof with indiarubber, ad valorem, 20 per cent.
– I think that we practically settled this item some time ago, when we determined in dealing with textiles to impose a duty of 10 per cent, on ‘ the raw material, and 15 per cent, on cloths made waterproof, as we had 25 per cent, on the made-up article. Under the circumstances, I move -
That the words, “and on and after 6th March, 1902, 15 per cent, ad valorem, “ be added.
– I should like to draw the attention of the Treasurer to the fact that the promise to make an alleged difference between 10 per cent, on the raw material, and 1 5 per cent, on the waterproof article, may be kept in the letter, but practically is not kept in the spirit, of the law. The departmental bylaws under which the 10 per cent, duty is imposed are so onerous that the additional expense of complying with them is equivalent to the difference. I should like the Treasurer to bring that fact under the notice of his colleague, in order that those who are engaged in making waterproof clothing may have an opportunity of obtaining, at any rate, some portion of the alleged advantage of 5 per cent.
– The honorable and learned member for Corinella mentioned this matter to me, and as he puts it, I think there is a good deal of force in the position which he takes up. The desire of the committee was to give these varying protections in this particular industry, and as soon as the Minister for Trade and Customs returns I shall take an opportunity of consulting with him, and seeing whether some other method cannot be devised to avoid the heavy expense said to be incurred by those interested in this matter.
– One point which may have escaped the notice of the Treasurer is that canvas is free, but that canvas used in making tires for bicycles will be charged 15 per cent, under this proposal, I should like to know whether the Treasurer would deal with it in a separate item. I know that there are firms who have been paying 20 per cent, under this particular item. If the duty is fixed at 15 per cent, on canvas made waterproof by the addition of indiarubber, so as to convert it into bicycle tires-
– But this item applies to cloth made waterproof with indiarubber.
– Canvas made waterproof has been charged duty under this very item. The work of making bicycle tires can be done here. It is a wrong principle to impose the same duty on the raw material as that which under the next item is levied on the manufactured tire. If 5 per cent, is sufficient margin in the other case it should be sufficient in the case of canvas-made waterproof. We have made canvas free under textiles, and canvas used in making up the coverings of bicycle tires to which the indiarubber is to be attached, is also free, but directly the indiarubber solution is attached to it it comes under this line at 15 percent. We are allowing the whole of this 15 per cent, duty for doing this particular work here, because the raw material is free.
– We could get over the difficulty by making canvas dutiable, which is what the committee would not desire.
– I do not desire that there should be a duty imposed upon canvas, but I think that the duty upon canvas madewaterproof should be less than 1 5 per cent.
Mr. McCAY (Corinella).- The completed article for which this canvas is practically the raw material is placed under a duty of 15 per cent. The canvas rubber covering is used as material in making bicycle - tires.
– I will give the honorable member an opportunity of moving a new line for canvas made waterproof, and I will get some information on the subject in the meantime.
– I am not quite sure whether the Treasurer expects this to be a revenue duty or a protective duty.
– A good protective duty.
– Whom is it going to protect? According to a statement I have here there is only one factory in the Commonwealth for proofing cloth, and it is also said that twenty persons could turn out the whole of the proof cloth required in Australia.
– Those are the statements of the people ,who have 25 per cent, protection on the made-up articles, and they will not permit others to have the protection of a duty of 20 per cent, for making them.
– Are we going to hand over the whole of the revenue to one factory in Melbourne ? I prefer that the item should be made free, so that a better class of article could be introduced. The Melbourne firms complain of the quality of the article turned out by the local factory. Surely honorable members would sooner make this item free than put it upon the dutiable list for the protection of twenty men throughout Australia, and thus sacrifice the whole of the ‘revenue the Treasurer anticipates from the item 1 If the honorable member for Yarra had moved that the item should be made free, I would have supported him.
– The honorable member for South Australia, Mr. Glynn, is slightly in error in saying that this is a protective duty, and if the Treasurer says so he is also in error. In dealing with apparel and textiles, at ray instance, the committee put a 10 per cent, duty upon the raw material. I had intended moving that waterproof cloth should be free, but in view of the revenue aspect, it was arranged by the committee to put a duty of 10 per cent, upon the raw material, because waterproof doth is made here, and to put a duty of 15 per cent, on the made-up article. That leaves an apparent margin of 0 per cent., but the actual margin does not amount to much, because the masticated rubber in solution which is used has to pay- duty also. Personally, I do not think the industry is worth protecting, because there are so very few employed in it. It seems to me, however, that the revenue aspect of the question is worthy of consideration, because there is annually about £500,000 worth of waterproof cloth or coats imported into Australia, and the revenue duty upon that amount is worth considering. When the matter is worked out it will be seen that there is really no advantage to the local manufacturer in the proposal now before the committee.
– I do not wish the honorable member for Bland to be under any misapprehension. Masticated rubber at the present time is dutiable, but when we come to deal with the exemptions I propose to make it free. I look upon this as a protective duty to a very small extent. We had to shape it in this way, because we put 10 per cent, upon the textile fabric, 15 per cent, on the cloth with the rubber covering, and 25 per cent, on the made-up article. If the opinion of tho honorable member for Bland would in any way be altered by knowing that I propose to admit masticated rubber free, I desire that he should be under no misapprehension with regard to it.
– I was not aware of that, but I do not think the difference of 5 per cent, sufficiently important to worry about.
Mr. JOSEPH COOK (Parramatta.).We have here another illustration of the troubles which como upon the honorable members opposite when they wander away from the Maitland manifesto. 1 think it is time the Prime Minister took a hand in this Tariff, and insisted upon the moderation which he claimed for Australia being adhered to. In attempting to protect industries we find that the made-up article of one industry is the raw material of another, and if we had agreed to the moderate duty of 15 per cent, all round, which was so frequently advocated during the elections, we should have been saved all this trouble. I think the Treasurer might very well have put this item upon the free list.
– We have an admission now from the Treasurer that after all these protective duties do increase the price of an article. He has admitted that a duty of 10 per cent, upon the cloth used as the raw material in the manufacture of waterproof cloth increases the price of that article.
Amendment agreed to.
Item, as amended, agreed to.
House adjourned at 11.2 p.m.
Cite as: Australia, House of Representatives, Debates, 5 March 1902, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/hofreps/1902/19020305_reps_1_8/>.