1st Parliament · 1st Session
Mr. Speaker took the chair at 2.30 p.m., and read prayers.
– I wish toknowfrom the Prime Minister if anything has been done in connexion with the unemployed kanakas who are now residing in the northern portion of New South Wales. Will the right honorable gentleman give the House any information he may have on the subject?
-I shall have pleasure in doing so. On the 15th February, the honorable member for Richmond handed to me the following telegram : -
Hundred fifty Pacific Islanders here deprived work, without means to subsist or travel. Will Government arrange for our removal at once to Queensland, if work there, or to Islands ? Matter very urgent. Please reply.
The telegram was signed “ Samuel Lindo, South Sea’ Islander.” Upon the receipt of it I despatched the following telegram to the Premier of New SouthWales : -
Am credibly informed that there are 150 Pacific Inlanders believed to be time-expired men from Queensland at Cudgen, Tweed River, New South Wales, wanting work. Can you toll mo whether there is any opportunity for employment for them in your State ?
On the evening of the21st February, the following reply was received from Mr. See : -
Re your wire Pacific Islanders: - There are, I am informed by the Inspector-General of Police, about 50 unemployed Pacific Islanders at Cudgen, Tweed River, all time-expired men. Prospect of employment for them shortly on Cudgen plantation. None destitute. Are very orderly. No disturbance anticipated.
I took no steps after the receipt of that telegram until, on the 3rd of this month, a letter from the Rev. Thomas Lamont was left at my office by the Rev. Mr. Hardie, the convener of the Foreign Missions Committee of the Presbyterian Union. In that letter Mr. Lamont pointed but that there are 100 destitute kanakas who are unable to obtain work at Cudgen. Having read the letter, I telegraphed to the Premier of Queensland the same day, in these words : -
Reported to me there are at Cudgen, Tweed River, New South Wales, a number ofkanakas, variously stated from 50 to 150, out of employment. Can you tell me whether there are any prospects of employment for them in your State ?
To that telegram a reply was received signed, “Thomas B. Cribb, for the Premier,” Mr. Philp being away from Brisbane. Mr. Cribb, I may add, is the Treasurer of Queensland. His telegram was as follows : -
Your telegram re unemployed kanakas at Tweed River : - Matter is one which will necessitate some inquiry and consideration. Reply will be forwarded as early as possible.
I have not yet received a reply, but the following statement appears in to-day’s issue of one of the Melbourne morning newspapers : -
In connexion with Mr. Barton’s letter to Mr. Philp, regarding 50 unemployed kanakas in the Tweed River district, Mr. Philp says he has no instructions on the question to give to the officer of the Pacific Island Labour department, and he leaves the matter in the hands of the Federal Government.
Mr. Philp’s unwillingness to do anything in this matter seems to me, if his statement is correctly reported, to be peculiar, because it would indicate that there is no need for more kanakas in Queensland, and that there has been a serious exaggeration or misstatement in regard to the position of that State in respect to the legislation which the Commonwealth Parliament has passed to deal with kanaka labour.
– So there has been.
– I telegraphed to Mr. Philp to-day to ascertain if the statement which I have just read is a correct one, but I do not think there has been time for him to reply. Section 8 of the Pacific Island Labourers Act says -
An officer authorized in that behalf may bring before a court of summary jurisdiction a Pacific Island labourer found in Australia before the 31st day of December, 1906, whom he reasonably supposes not to be employed under an agreement ; and the court, if satisfied that he is not, and has not during the preceding month, been so employed, shall order him to be deported from Australia, and he shall be deported accordingly.
The word “ agreement “ is defined in section 2 to mean -
Any agreement for service made with a Pacific Island labourer within or under the Pacific Island Labourers Acts 1880-1892 of the State of Queensland.
It is obvious therefore that, putting a narrow interpretation upon the word, it does not refer to agreements under which Pacific Islanders may be working in New South Wales.’ I am of opinion that Parliament in passing the Act did not deal with the Pacific Island labourers that might be found in New South Wales because of the comparative smallness of the number employed there ; but I felt bound to assume that if this position had arisen in Queensland the men would be dealt with under section 8, which I have just read, and that they should be similarly treated although residing in New South Wales, because I think it is incumbent upon us to mete out an equality of treatment in these cases. If the men were in Queensland they could not be disturbed until a specially authorized officer found that they had for a month not been employed under an agreement. My view, therefore, is that they should have the same opportunities for obtaining employment within the month as if they were in Queensland, and that if they fail to do so they should be brought before a magistrate and deported, not to Queensland, but out of the Commonwealth to as nearly as possible the places from which they came, which is the meaning of “ deportation “ under the Act.
– Is there any means of tracing the sureties given in connexion with their importation?
– They must have come from Queensland, and I shall endeavour to have their sureties traced.
– Money must have been lodged in the hands of the Queensland Government to provide for their return.
– Under the Queensland Act of 1880 a fund was established to which all who import kanakas contribute a deposit of £5 to pay for their return to the Islands if they do not re-engage. I shall take steps to find out what money is now available for that purpose, and whether it is applicable in the hands of the Commonwealth. If I find that the Commonwealth cannot establish a title to it, the men will be deported at the expense of this Government, because the intention of the Act that they shall be deported if they cannot obtain employment under an agreement is paramount. But, until they are removed according to the process provided for by the Act, they are entitled to an opportunity to obtain employment up to the time fixed by Parliament for their ultimate withdrawal from the Commonwealth.
– In view of the exist ence of the bubonic plague in the Commonwealth, and the fact that there are many men now in theranks of the unemployed, will the Government begin at once to have the various suburban post-offices sewered?
– The question shall be duly referred to the Postmaster-General.
– Does the Government propose, in virtue of the powers granted to them by section 51 of the Constitution Act, to so amend the present quarantine regulations in force throughout the States as to permit of the adoption of a uniform and effective system throughout the Commonwealth for localizing the disease, and to take measures to prevent it spreading?
– There is no doubt that we have power of legislation with regard to quarantine, and could take over the quarantine services by transfer from the State Governments, but there is an old saying - I think it is Abraham Lincoln’s - that it is not a good thing to swop horses when crossing a stream. The States have in their hands the requisite machinery for dealing with these outbreaks of plague, and the action taken two years ago in New South Wales was most effective. Eruptions of the plague have now taken placein fresh localities, and I have no doubt they will be properly dealt with both in Sydney and Melbourne. I am doubtful whether any real good would be done now that the plague is amongst us, and being dealt with by the State Governments by making a sudden change of administration, but I will think the matter over.
– What I suggest is that the measures adopted by the State Governments should be supplemented by further action on the part of the Commonwealth Government.
– We could not take any action without assuming control of the whole department, and that would cause a dislocation of administration which might lead to further trouble.
– I desire to ask the Prime Minister whether he will cause inquiries to be made as to the irregularities in the deliveries of letters at Parliament House. On several occasions letters posted in adjoining States have not been delivered until after the lapse of three days from the time they were posted. For instance, a letter posted in Newcastle last Tuesday was not delivered here until Saturday, whereas, in the ordinary course it should have been in my hands by Thursday morning. The same irregularities occur in connexion with the delivery of newspapers. Although newspapers may be posted daily, honorable members receive them in batches of three at a time.
– Newspapers have to give way when there is a pressure upon the department.
– I think the circumstances to which the honorable member has called attention indicate serious laxity, if there has been anything more than an accidental omission. I shall communicate with the Postmaster-General, and ask him to investigate the matter.
Consideration resumed from 5th March (vide page 10673).
Division XII. Leather and rubber.
Item 112 - Indiarubber or other hose, and manufactures, n.e.i., in which indiarubber forms a part, including cycle and vehicle tires, act valorem, 15 per cent.
– A great many of these articles, of which rubber forms a part, are used by invalids and hospital patients, and the bulk of them are not made here. I think, therefore, that we should very considerably reduce the duty or extend the list of. exemptions. I understand that the Treasurer intends to exempt masticated and reclaimed indiarubber, but there are other articles which should either be admitted at a very low rate of duty, or else placed on the free list. It will be thoroughly consistent with the policy of the Government to admit free of duty articles which are not made here, and which enter into use under conditions which call for our special consideration.
– I think the Government have inadvertently made a mistake in charging the same rate of duty upon cycle and vehicle tires as upon the materials or parts which go to make up the complete article. A considerable number of people import the materials and parts and make them up into tires for cycles and vehicles, and there should be a difference of at least 5 per cent, between the duty upon the parts and that upon the completed article, in order to give the local manufacturer some slight compensation for the waste involved in making up the materials. In addition to the indiarubber, used for the construction of cycle tires, there is an outer covering of canvas, which is treated with a solution of rubber. The canvas itself is admitted free, but if treated with solution is subject to duty.
– The honorable member for Yarra proposes that canvas treated with rubber solution should be admitted at 10 per cent., and I have agreed to that.
– The rubber which is used in the construction of the tires should also be admitted upon the same basis, if the local manufacturer is not to be placed at a disadvantage.
– It is my intention to move in the direction indicated by the honorable member for Bland. I shall at the proper time propose that the component parts of cycle and motor tires, including outer rubbers, inner tubes, not valved, canvas or fabric for lining outer covers, valves, tire tapes, buckles, valve catches, and tire wires, shall be subject to a duty of only 10 per cent. These articles form part of the raw material of the cycle manufacturer, and there should be a difference of at least 5 per cent, duty between the raw material and the completed article.
– The request made by the honorable member for Bland and seconded by the honorable member for Melbourne seems a very reasonable one, because the manufacturers who are asking for a reduction of the duty only desire that a difference of 5 per cent, should be made in their favour. It is sometimes alleged that protectionist manufacturers want their own articles protected, and all other articles admitted free ; but here we have an illustration to the contrary. The rubber tire manufacturers are showing a reasonable amount of consideration forthe rubber manufacturers.
– But that would allow the other manufacturers only 5 per cent, as against the imported article.
– I am speaking of those who manufacture pneumatic tires, and who at present are not afforded any protection, because they have to pay the same duty upon their raw material as is charged upon the finished article.
– Masticated and reclaimed rubber is to be admitted free of duty, and the Dunlop Company are manufacturing rubber here.
– The Dunlop Company are not likely to part too freely with their rubber to rival tire makers. It is proposed to give 15 per cent, protection to the rubber-maker, but none to the maker-up of the articles of which rubber forms a part. A certain amount of waste is involved in the making up of rubber goods, for which the manufacturers receive no compensation, and they will lose largely upon all the raw materials they have to import. This will place them at a great disadvantage compared with the foreign manufacturer. I am not opposing the imposition of a duty upon indiarubber, but I contend that if the manufacturer of that article is to be protected, the individual who converts it into a tire ought also to be protected. The raw material used in the manufacture of tires is taxed to the extent of 15 per cent., and a similar charge is levied upon the importation of the finished article ; but it is only fair to allow the local maker 5 per cent, upon the process of manufacture.
– I recognise that there is great force in the argument which has been advanced by the honorable and learned member for Corinella, although it was somewhat difficult for me to follow it for a moment. As I understand the matter, it is urged that the made-up tire is liable to a duty of 15 per cent., whilst the material from which it is manufactured is also liable to a similar impost. Therefore, the local manufacturer of that material would enjoy the benefit of a protection of 15 per cent, as against the foreign manufacturer. Then it is urged that those who have to make up the tires locally might not be able to get their material made within the States. So far as I can understand, the Dunlop Company, which has recently been established in Melbourne upon a very large scale, intends entering extensively into the manufacture of rubber and tires. Instead of imposing a 15 per cent, rate we are now asked to limit it to 10 per cent., and give 5 per cent, plus the extra amount which may be placed upon the manufactured article in consequence of the work done to it, to the local makers of the tires. After hearing the arguments which have been advanced, I do not think that the adoption of that plan would constitute an unfair distribution. It will certainly, to some extent, reduce the protection which the people who make the rubber will get, but considering the conflicting interests of the two trades I cannot say it is an unfair way of dealing with the difficulty that has been raised. Unless some honorable member can show me reasons for taking a different course I shall accede to the request.
Sir MALCOLM McEACHARN (Melbourne). - Do I understand that the Treasurer will accept a 10 per cent, rate upon the whole of these fittings ? They are exactly upon the same footing.
– The honorable member says that it is a waste of time to argue in the House.
– The acting leader of the Opposition is always misrepresenting me. I did not say it was waste of time to argue in the House, but I did say that it is a little too much for the honorable member to speak twice in succession, for the purpose of repeating his arguments.
– I repudiate that accusation.
– There is not an honorable member of this committee who repeats himself more frequently than does the acting leader of the Opposition.
Mr. WATSON (Bland).- I think it would be better, perhaps, to include cycle tires and parts in a new item. The only parts involved in the making of a tire are solutioned canvas, rubber covers, and tubes. Rubber enters into the composition of each of these articles, and it would be wise perhaps for either the Treasurer or the honorable member for Yarra to move the inclusion of these articles in a new item, and to allow the item under discussion to pass in its present form.
– Do I understand that there is only one factory in Victoria which makes these articles?
– There are two factories in this State, the Pioneer Company and the Dunlop Company.
– I am informed that under the old Victorian Tariff indiarubber was admitted free of duty, so that a sudden jump to a 15 per cent, rate is a very big one indeed. I think that a 10 per cent, rate would be quite sufficient to impose. Certainly it is as much as ought to be granted at the present time. There is absolutely no reason why any particular encouragement should be given to this industry at the expense of the entire community. At any rate, I hope that the duty upon rubber hose will be reduced to 10 per cent.
Item agreed to.
Amendment (by Mr. Tudor) agreed to.
That the following new item be inserted, to follow item 112: - “Canvas or tire fabric, made waterproof with indiarubber, tire rubber, and inner tubes, not valved, ad valorem 10 per cent.”
Item 113. - Leather manufactures, n.e.i., leather out into shapes, harness, razor strops, footballs, and parts thereof, and whips, including keepers, thongs, and lashes, ad valorem 20 per cent.
Mr. CONROY (Werriwa). - I would point out to the committee that the bulk of the leather used in Australia is manufactured within the Commonwealth. Indeed, a large quantity is exported from the various States. The rate which it is proposed to levy upon manufactures of leather seems to me to be extremely high. Indiarubber manufacturers have been given a duty of 10 per cent., and that rate appears to me sufficient for the present item. I am aware that there may be a disposition on the part of honorable members, in view of the high duty which has been carried in favour of the boot manufacturers, not to lessen the duty on leather manufactures, but it would be departing from my principles if I did not move that the impost in the present instance be reduced to 15 per cent.
Sir WILLIAM McMILLAN (Wentworth). - We cannot very well view this item except in conjunction with the following item of “ leather, n.e.i.,” which is placed at 15 per cent. It would be unreasonable, after having imposed a duty of 30 per cent, on boots and shoes to propose a reduction of the duty on leather, although this class of manufacture is of a very simple character and cannot be described as a great industry.
– It is a very good industry.
– Considering the previous votes, it would be only fair to leave leather at 15 per cent. ; and in view of the fact that there is a certain process of manufacture in connexion with harness and other commodities, the duty on leather manufactures might be allowed to go at 20 per cent. The whole responsibility rests on the Government, and it is my anxiety to save time that leads me to accept the duty proposed.
Mr. CONROY (Werriwa).- It would be a departure from the principles I hold, if, because one trade had been unduly favoured by the Ministry, I allowed myself to countenance a higher duty in this instance than is justifiable. I have no doubt that this rate would not have been proposed, had it not been for the fact that the Government are well aware that the export of leather largely exceeds the imports, and that there is a strong probability that the duty will not have the effect of increasing the price. Unless a ring is formed by the chief tanners, prices must be regulated by outside markets ; and no manufacturer will export if he can get a higher or the same price here as abroad. If we leave the duty as proposed, it will be used only as an argument for putting equally high duties on other articles, as was the case in connexion with boots, in view of the extreme duty which had been placed on hats. The division on the item of hats was taken when the Opposition were unable to carry a lower duty ; but I hope that will be rectified on recommittal. There are other manufacturers besides harness-makers to be considered. The imports of leather into New South Wales are valued at £83,000, as against £120,000 for Victoria, while the. exports of leather from New South Wales are valued at £386,000, as against £275,000 for Victoria, the total exports from the Commonwealth being valued at £700,000, as against imports valued at £260,000. Under the circumstances I do not see that the leather manufacturers will be benefited by the duty proposed, which, as has been pointed out,
Ought to be considered in conjunction with the next item. In leather manufacture the number directly employed in New South Wales is 1,014, not including 1,2-40 people engaged in fellmongering and woolwashing whereas in Victoria the total number employed in these combined industries is 1,820 odd.
– I move-
That, after the word “harness,” the words 1 ‘ composition belting “ be inserted.
At present composition belting is on the free list, but I find that it would be of great advantage to make it dutiable because it can be made in the Commonwealth, and is certainly classed as leather manufacture. It is important to remember, too, that leather belting utilizes natural farm products, whilst composition belting is made of imported rubber.
– I desire to support the amendment without any reference to the rate of duty, which I consider high. Whatever duty is placed on leather belting should also be placed on composition belting. Leather belting is made both in Victoria and New South Wales of as good quality as that made in any part of the world. Composition beltingis no better than leather belting, and is only used as a substitute ; and I hope that theTreasurer will accept the amendment, which is desired, not only by leather manufacturers, but by belting manufacturers and; others.
Sir WILLIAM McMILLAN (Wentworth). - Whilst there may be something in the arguments advanced in favour of theamendment, it is due to the committee thatthe Treasurer should tell us why composition belting was placed on the free list. Weare now asked to take an article out of thefree list and make it dutiable to the extent of 20 per cent., which isa tremendous jump I have no practical knowledge of this industry, but I am informed that the most reliable belting is that imported. I take it for granted that in connexion with machinery a great deal depends upon the belting, which, above everything, ought to be thoroughly sound and reliable. If it were not possible to get really good belting in Australia, there might be some reason for allowing composition belting to remain on the free list. Before we make this article dutiable, we should have some idea what the duty is to be, because an honorable member might be willing to make composition belting pay 10 per cent., though, if there were no alternative between the free list and 20 per cent., he might prefer to leave it free. There is some differentiation between this and the other items on the 20 per cent, list ; otherwise the Government would not have placed it amongst the exemptions. The Treasurer may be able to tell us that on second consideration he thinks there ought to be a duty,, and that he is willing to an imposition of 10 per cent.
– My colleague and myself, when preparing the Tariff, could not obtain as much information as we should have liked to get, because we were afraid to make certain inquiries lest it might be said that hints were being given to people as to what we intended to do. Since the Tariff has been framed, however, I have discovered that there are three factories in Victoria, one in New South Wales, and one in Queensland, which make composition belting. My original idea was that, as this belting is very largely used by factories and in connexion with mining enterprises, it should be placed upon the free list, but, now that I know it is made here, I think that it is only fair that the locally-manufactured article should have some protection from the competition of imported belting. Of course, leather belting is made here very largely from locally-made leather.
– It seems to me that as composition belting is not a manufacture of leather, it should not be placed in this item. I should not like it to go abroad that the leather belting made in. Australia is not really good. In my opinion, it is quite equal to the imported belting, and I have used it for many years, though I do not say that that is any reason for placing upon it the high duty here proposed. If quality is to be taken into account in the fixing of a duty, a good deal of our leather will have to be excluded from protection, because, although it is not all inferior, some of it is.
Mr. MAUGER (Melbourne Ports).The statement of the honorable member for North Sydney is another instance of his’ fairness. Professor Warren, of the Sydney University, who has made a comparison of the breaking strains of leather belting, has found that the best English leather, as claimed by the leading makers, will stand a strain of 5,746 lbs., the best foreign leather of 4,974 lbs., and “Pioneer” leather of 6,468 lbs., or 722 lbs. more than the best English, and 1,494 lbs. more than the best foreign leather. One of the reasons for making composition belting dutiable is that it comes into competition with Australianmade leather belting. In my opinion it should be dutiable.
– There can be no doubt that excellent belting is made here, but there is an imported belting known as Balata, which must be imported, and which is very largely used at Broken Hill, in Western Australia, and in Queensland, and found exceptionally serviceable. While I do not think it should be admitted duty free, I do not think so high a duty as 20 per cent, should be imposed upon it.
Amendment agreed to.
Amendment (by Sir William McMillan) negatived -
That the words “on and after 7th March, 1902, 15 percent.” be added.
Item, as amended, agreed to.
Item 114. - Leather n.e.i., including green- hide for belting purposes, ad valorem 15 per cent.
Sir WILLIAM McMILLAN (Wentworth). - I should like some information from the Treasurer in regard to the position of glace kid and patent calf, and also in regard to skivers.
– Skivers are used in book-binding, and will he admitted free if in the rongh.
– As a duty of 30 per cent, has been placed upon boots, we cannot reasonably oppose the proposed duty on leather.
Sir MALCOLM McEACHARN (Melbourne). - As several honorable members have informed me that whilst they were prepared at one time to support the free admission of these materials, they are now under the impression that they can be manufactured here, I feel that it would be futile for me to press the amendment. At the same time I am afraid that the committee may be making a mistake. Whilst we are assured that glace kid and French calf are manufactured here, they are being made to such a small extent that we shall be really penalizing those who have hitherto imported the materials free. We know that all the goat skins used in making glace kid have to be imported from Persia and India, and although they have been admitted free of duty in the past, there has been no large local manufacture of glace kid. Theimposition of duties upon these materials will certainly add considerably to the cost of boots, and I regret that the committee are against me.
– Glace kid and French calf are being made here, and, in addition, a large firm in Dunedin wrote to me some time ago, stating that in consequence of the proposal to impose a 15 per cent, duty on glace kid, they had arranged to transfer their manufacturing business to Australia. As we have given a very considerable measure of protection to the boot manufacturers, it is only fair that we should also consider the claims of the tanners, and I think that a 15 per cent, duty is a fair one.
– I feel that I ought to explain my position. Some time ago a deputation waited upon me in Adelaide, and asked me to support the free admission of glace kid. They represented that the free introduction of the material was essential to the cheap production of boots ; that as glace kid was being made almost exclusively in the United
States, any duty imposed on it would add to the price of boots. These arguments had a great deal of weight with me at the time, but I must confess that I am now disposed to take a different view. Having imposed a duty of 30 per cent, on boots, we can, I think, very reasonably subject glace kid to a small impost, especially in .view of the possibility of developing its manufacture within the Commonwealth. I have a letter from the president and secretary of the Master Tanners’ and Cur riers’ Association of South Australia. They say -
We have the honour, on behalf of the Master Tanners’ and Curriers’ Association of South Australia, to call your attention to the fact that certain boot manufacturers and importers in the various States are objecting to the proposal of the Barton Government, to place a 15 per cent, duty on all leathers, among which are glacé kid and patent calf leathers, and it has been asserted that no attempts have been mode in any of the States to manufacture such leathers ; to this we give an unqualified denial. For years South Australian leather manufacturers have more than held their own in the leather world, but owing to these particular leathers being on the free list, no encouragement has been offered to the manufacturers in this State to expend their capital in erecting special appliances, importing the raw material, and introducing skilled labour, to enter into competition with such goods. It is hoped and fully anticipated that by the retaining of the proposed. 15 per cent, duty, every encouragement will be given to the local manufacturing of these particular lines ; and our association view with very great alarm the proposed removal of such la per cent. duty. The leather manufacturers in South Australia desire to be reasonable in their views on the Tariff1, and fully believe that with even the slight encouragement of a 15 per cent. Tariff, within a short time there would be no necessity to seek from foreign markets such particular leathers as glace kit! and patent calf. Our association representatives, with those of the New South Wales and Victorian tanners, in conference, unanimously decided that a 15 per cent, duty on all leathers would be a moderate rate of protection to the tanning industry in the Commonwealth, and would also give a good revenue-producing duty from a Government point of view, and in fairness to tanners and leather dressers in this State, who have already given special attention and expended considerable capital to meet the fullest necessity of the boot manufacturers, we would ask your very serious and careful attention to the retaining of the 15 per cent, duty on all leathers, with the exception of rough tanned East Indian goat and sheep skins, hog skins, and ski vers in the crust.
Mr. KNOX (Kooyong). - In connexion with the statement I made last evening it is only right that I should, inform the committee that it has come .to my knowledge since the House met to-day that glace kid is being manufactured in my electorate. I think it is only right that the existence of such a manufactory should be made known. I hold the view expressed by the honorable member for South Australia, Sir Langdon Bonython, that, inasmuch as the committee have granted a very high rate of protection to boot manufacturers, the tanners are entitled to reasonable consideration.
Mr. G. B. EDWARDS (South Sydney).I never thought that I should stand here as an advocate of a protective duty, but the high duties imposed upon boots necessitate our considering how far we should extend similar treatment to manufacturers of other goods. I represent a district in which a large number of tanneries are carried on, and I have a sheaf of letters asking me to vote for the imposition of duties upon leather, and to oppose the exemption of glace kid and calf. Yesterday morning I was not inclined to yield to the request, but as such high protective duties have now been imposed , upon boots, the manufacturers can well afford to pay an advanced price for their leather. I am told that a manufacturer of glacé kid who has been carrying on his business for some years in New Zealand intends to start a factory at Botany, near Sydney, and hopes to employ 60 men. For all that I cared yesterday he might have employed them without any protection, but since the duties upon boots have been agreed to, a sense of justice impels me to refuse to place glace kid and French calf on the free list. Although I think the duty proposed is somewhat high, I shall vote for it rather than for no duty at all.
– I have bad two skins handed to me as samples of the material turned out at one of the tanneries in my own electorate. I believe that the manufacture of glace kid will develop into a very large industry now that the Americans have lost the run of the market which they previously enjoyed.
Mr. BATCHELOR (South Australia).I am glad that the Treasurer has not yielded to the pressure brought to bear upon him. I resisted the reduction of the duty on boots because I thought that, with a high duty on those articles, an opportunity would be presented of also affording protection to the tanners. It would be absurd to allow the boot manufacturers to enjoy protection to the extent of 30 per cent, against their American rivals, and to deny the manufacturers of leather a small measure of consideration in the same direction.
Item agreed to.
Boots and Shoes, viz., Gum Boots. Boots and Shoes, minor articles for: - Bristles. Buckles, not for adornment. Nails, viz. : - Bills, Sparrow and other, Clog, Hob, Hungarian, Nugget, Pinpoint, Screw or Ice, Spike, Cricket, Running, Sprigs, Tacks lasting, Tips, Tingles, and Rivets. Pegs and Pe°r wood. Indiarubber Manufactures, viz. :- -Indiarubber, crude or powdered, rubber waste, hard rubber in sheets, rubber thread, boot and apparel elastics. Belting (composition). Harness, Saddles, and Whips, minor articles for : - Mountings, including haines, bits, and stirrups, not plated, gold or silver. Leather, viz. : - Crust or rough tanned hog skins, goat, and Persian sheep.
Mr. THOMSON (North Sydney). - I move -
That the words “ not for adornment,” lines 2 and 3, be omitted, with a view to insert in lieu thereof the words “not being gold or silver, or gold or silver mounted.”
If the Treasurer will refer to the minor articles used by saddlers he will find that the distinction is made in the form I propose. There should be a clearer definition of what it is intended to exempt, because some confusion is at present arising in the administration of the Tariff. For instance, solid nickel buckles are being admitted free of duty, whilst nickel-plated buckles are being charged duty.
– I shall support the amendment, which anticipates one which I had intended to propose.
– I am willing to accept the amendment.
Amendment agreed to.
Amendment (by Sir George Turner) proposed -
That the following exemptions be added : - “Masticated and reclaimed rubber.”
– I should like to know whether the Treasurer has made any inquiries with reference to the exemption of dental rubber 1
– I had no opportunity of inquiring into the matter, but I would point out that, with regard to dentists’ gold-filling and dental rubber, the exemption of dental appliances is provided for iri the miscellaneous division, and that we shall be able to deal with the matter when that . is being considered. In the meantime I shall inquire whether it is possible to meet the honorable member’s wishes.
Mr. POYNTON (South Australia). - I also wish to point out that the nails used in the heels of boots were made subject to duty under the head of “ nails “ in division 6. The ordinary eyelets are free, but those used towards the top of the boots, with a catch for laces, are subject to duty.
– The nails used in the heels of the boots are exempt. I know that ordinary eyelets are free, and the others mentioned by the honorable member ought to be. If I find that they are subject to duty I shall see that they ave exempted.
Amendment agreed to.
Amendment (by Sir George Turner) agreed to -
That the words “belting (composition),” lines 10 and 11, be omitted.
Amendment (by Mr. Thomson) agreed to-
That the word “ leatherware” be inserted after the word “saddles,” line 11.
Mr. GLYNN (South Australia). -I think that the word “all” should be inserted before the word “ mountings.” The intention of the Government appears to be to include in the free list all minor articles used by harness or saddle makers. That object, however, has not been accomplished. I therefore move -
That the following words be inserted before the word “mountings,” line 12: - “Buckles, not being gold or silver, or gold or silver-plated.”
Mr. McCAY (Corinella). - I was certainly under the impression that buckles were included under the head of “ mountings.”
– The Customs authorities are charging duty upon them at the present time.
– They ought not to do so. Buckles are certainly “ minor articles,” just as much as are other mountings, and if the department is charging duty upon them, it is interpreting the word “ mountings “ in a much more limited sense than would most people. I think it would be a pity to cast a doubt upon the comprehensiveness of that term by introducing other special words.
– I hope that the honorable and learned member for South Australia, Mr. Glynn, will not press his amendment, because, as has been pointed out by the last speaker, if we limit the meaning of the term “ mountings,” the Customs authorities may infer that articles which are not specially mentioned in the Tariff under this heading are dutiable.
Mr. GLYNN (South Australia). - I quite agree with what the Treasurer has said, and I therefore ask leave to withdraw my amendment.
Mr. BATCHELOR (South Australia).I would point out that some harness is literally covered with small mountings for purposes of adornment. Are we going to allow these mountings to be admitted free? I do not think that we ought to include them in the list of exemptions.
Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.
Mr. GLYNN (South Australia). - I move -
That the word “spurs” be inserted after the word “ stirrups,” line 13.
I do not know whether these articles are taxed under any other portion of the Tariff.
– I trust the honorable and learned member will not persist in the amendment. I think that spurs can well afford to pay some duty.
Mr. THOMSON (North Sydney). - Might I point out to the Treasurer that he has already exempted spur boxes from duty. Doubtless that was a concession made to the bootmakers. Spurs and spur boxes practically go together, and as very little revenue will be derived from this source, spurs might as well be admitted free.
– I would point out to the committee that whips - which are dutiable - and spurs are used for very similar purposes. If the desire of the honorable member for North Sydney were carried out no whips would be used, and people would resort to the more cruel article of torture. I am very fond of a horse, and, personally, I should like to see a prohibitive duty imposed upon spurs.
Amendment (by Mr. Glynn) agreed to -
That the word “plated,” line 13, be omitted; and that the words “or gold or silver plated “ be inserted after the word “ silver,” line 14.
– I wish to alter the verbiage of the last line of the exemptions in order to include rough skivers in the free list. I therefore move -
That the word “ and,” line 15, be omitted, and that the words “and rough skivers” be added after the word “ sheep.”
Amendment (by Mr. Salmon) proposed -
That the following exemptions be added : - “Indiarubber syringes, enemas, injection bottles, urinals, invalid beds, air and water.”
– I am glad to hear it proposed to place these highly necessary articles on the free list.
– Since notice of this amendment was given I have made inquiries, and, although these articles are being made in Australia, I think the balance of evidence is in favour of their being exempted from duty.
Amendment agreed to.
Mr. GLYNN (South Australia). - I move -
That the following exemptions be added : - “Litho. roller-skins, saw-benches for printers, rubber-stamp apparatus.”
Some of the Adelaide and Melbourne printers have drawn my attention to the necessity of placing these commodities on the free list. Roller-skins are used for rolling ink. Saw benches, I believe, are made of iron, and rubber-stamp apparatus is used for turning out rubber stamps.
– I am in the dark in regard to these particular items. I fancy saw-benches and rubber-stamp apparatus come under another heading, and I am not sufficiently acquainted with litho. roller-skins to say that they ought to be placed on the free list. I regret I cannot agree to the amendment.
– The association of printers has suggested that these articles be exempt from duty, though not the slightest reason is given by them for the proposal, so I cannot explain.
Special exemptions, as amended, agreed to.
Division, as amended, agreed to.
Division XIII. - Paper and Stationery.
Item 115. Paper, viz., : -
Manufactures ofuframed, for advertising purposes, including price list, catalogues, fashion plates, and all printed or lithographed matter for such purposes, per lb., 3d.
White, printing (uncoated), in sizes not less than 20 x 25 inches, ad valorem, 10 per cent.
Writing, cut less than 16 x 13 inches, and paper, toilet, in rolls or packets, per lb., 2d.
Browns, grey, blue, sugar, cartridge, and blotting, per cwt., 6s.
Strawboarcl, per cwt. , 2s.
Bags,per cwt. , 7s 6d.
N.e.i., including cardboard, pasteboard, pulpboard, millboard, greyboard, leatherboard, and woodboard, clothlined boards and paper, floor paper and paper hangings, ad valorem, 15 per cent.
Vesta and match boxes, empty, per gross, 3d.
Cards, playing, in sheet or cut, per dozen packs, 3s.
– I understand that the honorable member for Wentworth is desirous of leaving for Sydney, and as he desires to speak on the proposal in regard to white printing paper, I suggest that that item be first considered.
Sir WILLIAM McMILLAN (Wentworth). - I do not propose to enter largely into a general discussion, but the proposal of the Government opens up some curious and anomalous consequences, which do not appear in other divisions.We are asked in this and a series of other items to put a duty on a material which, when brought here in the shape of books, is absolutely free. A’ book is made up of “binding, gum, printers’ ink, paper, and other accessories, and comes in entirely free, because it would be a shock to the feelings of an ingenious or ingenuous people to have a tax on what we may call literature. In view of this anomaly, we ought to deal very carefully with this division, and in a very different way, so far as the duty is concerned, from that proposed by the Government. There is also an element here with which we have had to find fault on one or two previous occasions, namely, the introduction of the term “ manufacture,” when there is really no manufacture involved. There is a duty on paper under certain sizes, and that is simply imposed in order to enable people in this country to cut up a large paper into smaller dimensions. Possibly some people may say that freetrade can be carried to a reductio ad absurdum, but certainly that can be done with protection. To say that because a snip of the scissors is applied to a piece of paper, that paper then leaves the category of raw material and becomes manufactured, is an absolute and complete reductio ad absurdum. The paper, to which to some exextent I have to confine my remarks, is that which I think the common sense of the committee will decide to place on the free list. Printing paper is intended to disseminate literature, and surely if we allow novels and other books to come in free, we ought also to place on the list of exemptions the paper by means of which the literature of the world and of the Commonwealth is distributed to us. In voting on this particular item, we might give an indication to the Government of what ought to be a reasonable duty on other classes of paper. For instance, if we strike out the duty of 10 per cent. on printing paper, then the duty of anything like 25 per cent. on other classes of paper will’ be inconsistent and anomalous. Unfortunately I have to leave Melbourne this afternoon, and I do not desire to create an unreasonable and general discussion, seeing that each item will have to be dealt with. The Opposition are as anxious as the Treasurer can be to get through this Tariff, and the history of events during the past fortnight shows that we have no obstructive tactics. The effects of the uncertainty in commercial circles are bad enough already without our doing anything to prolong or increase the present disastrous conditions. I ask the Treasurer not. to be bound by the antecedents of Victoria or any other State.
– Printing paper was free in Victoria.
– I am now speaking generally of stationery and other classes of paper on which high duties are proposed. Printing paper is a commodity on which a highly protective duty ought not to be allowed. We know to what extent paper and envelopes, combined with cheap postage, enter into the domestic economy as well as into the commercial life of a civilized nation, and it would be an iniquity - I donotuse the word with any disrespectto put any high duties upon this class of material. The principle that literature should not be taxed applies here. I move -
That the words “and on and after 7th March, 1902, free,” be added to the duty “White printing (uncoated) … ad valorem 10 per cent.”
– I agree with the leader of the Opposition that printing paper should be admitted free. I have made inquiries, both in Melbourne and from those connected with the Liverpool Mills in New South Wales, and I find that there is not the faintest chance of printing paper being manufactured here within the next quarter of a century.
– I trust that the committee will not agree to the amendment. I. know that an agitation has been started, and circulars have been sent right and left from a particular centre in Melbourne, to prove that this duty will mean ruin to the proprietors of country newspapers ; but the duty is really a light one, and is put on in order to obtain revenue. I do not see why printing paper should be more sacred than anything else.
– Should we discourage the production of local literature ?
– I am certain that the imposition of a duty of 10 per cent, upon printing paper will not discourage the publishing of books or pamphlets within the Commonwealth. The proposed duty, besides providing £25,000 of revenue, will give encouragement to the large mills which are now starting in New South Wales. If the committee wish to strike out revenue duties, there are other items which can more fairly be amended.
Mr. GLYNN (South Australia).- The proposal of Idle Government seems to me a most retrograde step. One of the biggest fights ever made in the Imperial Parliament was that for the abolition of the duty upon paper.
– The honorable and learned member is referring to the Stamp duty, which was quite a different tiling.
– I am referring to the paper tax, which was imposed in 1712 and abolished in 1861. The proposal for its abolition was strenuously opposed by the conservatives, and was carried in the House of Commons by only nine votes, while it was blocked in the House of Lords for two years more, before it finally took effect. The effect of the proposed duty will be that the proprietors of radical newspapers, persons who have not fattened upon the prejudices of the people, and, instead of following, have endeavoured to lead public opinion, will suffer. I have here two instances in which the tax, even if confined to roller paper, will fall particularly heavily upon other than metropolitan newspapers, owing to the class of machines that they use, and I am informed that it will tell against the excise of economy in printing. Why should we tax the raw material when the finished product - the book or magazine - is admitted free 1 In a circular issued by the Metropolitan Press Association, it is pointed out that, while a duty of 10 per cent, will have to be paid upon the paper used in publishing the Australian Review of Reviews, the English Review qf Reviews will, come in free, and thus the local publisher will be at a disadvantage. A good deal of nonsense was talked upon election platforms about taxing the big newspaper proprietors, and the Ministry in a spirit of mock courage have proposed this duty. The duty cannot be regarded as protective, because we cannot manufacture this paper in the Commonwealth. The quantity manufactured in Sweden and Norway has, owing to the destruction of a certain kind of wood there, become very limited, so that now it is only in the United States and in Canada that the manufacture of this paper is very large. Although there is a duty upon the paper, there is no duty on the wood pulp from which it is manufactured, but I believe that the actual operation of converting the pulp into the manufactured article would employ not more than a very few hands in the whole of Australia. The operation is a very simple one, and the protection given in proportion to the capital and labour employed would be enormously high. I hope the Government will not take the retrograde step of reimposing a tax upon knowledge.
– I generally agree with the Treasurer, because I know that he does not make up his mind without full inquiry and due consideration, but I regret that I cannot support him in this matter. I do not know of any other case in the Tariff where the finished or manufactured article is admitted free and the raw material is taxed. We know that literature is admitted free all the world over, and to impose a tax upon the raw material which enters ‘ into the production of literature would be a retrograde step. The small printers and country newspaper proprietors would have . to bear the brunt of a.tax upon paper, and probably no other class of the community would be less able to bear it. The duty in this case would be a tax, because the raw material for the production of paper is not procurable within the Commonwealth. Dealing with this matter from the revenue stand-point, we should have regard to those who will pay the duty. The prices of the newspapers have been fixed for years past, and any increase in the cost of the raw material would have to be borne by the proprietors. In many cases the proprietors of country newspapers have to carry on their business by utilizing the services of all the members of their families, and they cannot do anything more than make a bare living even then. Where an article is used by everybody a moderate revenue duty may well be imposed, because while the tax is highly productive it will not press heavily upon individuals. In a case where the duty has to be paid by a comparatively small number of people, however, as in this case, it becomes a class tax, and I believe that, if it were not for the cry which has been raised in favour of taxing the large newspapers, it would never have been proposed. My right honorable friend the Treasurer wished to show that he was not afraid of the press, and I do not believe he is.
– Some honorable members are.
– I do not think the country members can be said to study the newspapers in any way. If all the printers and newspaper proprietors could afford to pay as well as could the proprietors of the large morning newspapers, I should vote for the imposition of a stiff revenue duty ; but those who could bear the impost without being seriously burdened, could be counted upon the fingers of one’s hands. I hope, therefore, it will not be persisted in.
– I desire at the proper time to propose the omission of the words “ in sizes of not less than 20 x 25 inches, with a view to insert the words “ in rolls.” My friend the honorable member for Melbourne Ports has fairly shocked my conscience. I have sat here, and have heard him advocate the protection of every conceivable interest, but when it comes to a matter affecting the millionaires, he is false to the doctrines which he has previously preached. I assure the honorable member that the deluge of my compassion pours out upon him, because I feel sure that he will live to deeply regret his action here to-day. I quite agree with what the honorable member for Gippsland has stated, as far as the small newspaper proprietors are concerned, and the object of my amendment is to exempt them from taxation, because they are carrying on a great battle in every part of the country. The country newspapers are not printed on paper which is imported in rolls, but on the ordinary paper, and therefore the amendment I propose would meet their case. The large newspaper proprietors make from £30,000 to £50,000 per annum, and if they had to pay a small proportion of their income into the Treasury, they would not be ruined. Is it to be supposed that my friend, the proprietor of the Age, would retire from business and shut up shop, or that the Argus proprietors would close their office, and go up country ? No, not a bit of it. Let us be consistent and stand to our guns. We must grant that free-trade honorable members have been consistent throughout the discussion of this Tariff. They have fought their battles like men and heroes. But now we find the honorable member for Melbourne Ports, the high priest of protection, surrendering his guns. I do not believe that it is because the honorable member is frightened to fight, but he certainly desires to run away without fighting. Neither free-traders nor protectionists helped me to get into Parliament. On the other hand they would have been glad to see me defeated. I am one of the independent members of this House, and I wish honorable members to be consistent, as I have been. If it should happen that the small newspaper proprietors cannot pay the duty, we might grant a sum of money for their assistance.
Mr. WATSON (Bland).- I suppose it is almost hopeless to expect the committee to support this proposal as a revenue duty. When on a previous occasion I proposed something that would have had a similar effect as far as the newspapers were concerned, there was an immediate scuttling of honorable members to the side of the newspapers, and it would almost seem as if a number of honorable members are held in terror by them. The lobbying done in connexion with this item and kindred matters by some of the newspaper proprietors has been disgraceful.
– The New South Wales proprietors are entirely responsible for it.
– That does not matter ; they represent the whole of the big proprietors.
– They are not singular in that respect.
– Perhaps not. It seems to me that the newspapers ought to be prepared to bear their fair share of the general burdens that are being imposed. So far as the small newspaper proprietors are concerned, this duty will not involve a large tax. I know something of the economy of small newspaper offices, and I am sure that a 10 per cent, duty will not impose upon them a very heavy burden. I do not suppose it will represent an additional cost of more than a few shillings per week for an ordinary bi-weekly paper such as is published in the country districts. It will, however, amount to a very considerable sum so far as the larger newspapers are concerned ; and I do not see why the proprietors should not be asked to bear some burden in connexion with the Tariff. We have passed duties of a revenue character which will be an absolute burden upon people who are much less able to bear it than are the newspaper proprietors of Australia. I admit that it seems rather hard that job printers should pay a duty of 10 per cent, on printing paper, whilst books are allowed to come in free, and I should be prepared to vote for some alteration in the direction of permitting job printers to procure free of duty the paper necessary for the printing of books. No newspapers are imported into the Commonwealth, and therefore it cannot be said, so far as they are concerned, that we are taxing the raw material whilst we are admitting the finished article free of duty. Some honorable members say that the duty will be a tax upon knowledge, but God help the people of the Commonwealth if they had to depend for their knowledge upon the newspapers. The average news: paper is not a leader of the people to-day, but a misleader, and in some cases it is absolutely corrupt as well as a misleader.
– It is surprising how eager politicians are to read them every morning.
– That is only in order that we may see what “the other fellow” is saying about us. The more unscrupulous one’s adversary is the more necessary it is to watch him. I deny that there is any similarity between the proposed duty upon printing paper and the tax that existed in England many years ago upon publications generally, such as pamphlets, newspapers, &o. The price at which news paper is put upon the market to-day is so low, that a 10 per cent, duty will not constitute a heavy tax upon it. Even during the last five or six years its price has been . reduced by onehalf, and within the past decade a considerably greater reduction has taken place. I do not agree with the Treasurer that there is any likelihood of the proposed tax proving protective in its incidence. The spruce wood from which the paper used for newspaper purposes is made is not grown in Australia, and it is impossible to ‘produce paper made from any product other than wood at anything like the price at which the article so made can be placed upon the market. I do not think that there is a wood growing prolifically in Australia out of which paper can be produced at three times the price which is now paid for the article used by newspapers. I do not argue this matter from the protectionist aspect ; but I do think that when we are attempting to derive revenue from every possible source it is only fair to ask the newspapers of the country to bear their share of taxation. The amount which the proprietors of the ordinary struggling weekly or bi-weekly newspapers will have to contribute under this proposal is so small that it is hardly worth bothering about. One or two friends of mine who conduct small newspapers declare that they are quite prepared to bear their share of the proposed taxation. I know that some honorable members have been frightened into opposition to this proposal by the wails of the big metropolitan dailies, which have sought to impress upon the public that if this proposal be carried they will suffer, and not the newspapers. The honorable member for Gippsland has urged as a reason why the proposition of the Government should not be adopted, that this is a tax which the newspapers cannot pass on to the public. To my mind that supplies a very good reason why such a duty should be imposed. The knowledge that the newspaper proprietors themselves will have to pay this tax affords a little balm to my feelings.
– But it constitutes a class tax.
– There are a number of other taxes which could be included within that category. For instance, the honorable member for Melbourne Ports neither smokes nor .drinks, whereas I do both. Thus he escapes a great deal of taxation which I have to pay, and if the argument of tlie honorable member for Gippsland be sound, I should be justified in objecting .to the taxation, of whisky and tobacco, upon the ground that such an impost would constitute a class tax. Indeed, if one were to follow out the proposition that this is class taxation to its logical conclusion, one could object to a great number of the votes of honorable members of this House being registered upon almost any question. Nearly every indirect tax is a class tax, because one set of persons consumes certain articles upon which - duty is charged, whilst another set does not. As the question involved is one of raising £30,000 by the taxation of printing paper, in preference to obtaining it from some other source, I think we. ought to adhere to the Government proposal. I shall certainly view with no little curiosity the action of some honorable members who will probably vote against the imposition of a 10 per cent, duty upon printing paper, whilst supporting proposals to levy revenue duties upon other articles which are of much more moment to people in very poor circumstances. I trust that the Government proposal will be carried. .
– The honorable member for Gippsland has very delicately told us something about the genesis of this proposal. I propose to tell it more broadly, and by way of triumphing upon something which has been gained by the leader of the Opposition. To my mind, the Government have yielded to the arguments that were used many months ago by the right honorable member for East Sydney, when he pointed out how veryfeeble was the Age upon the question of protection, where its own particular business was concerned. He showed that everything which that newspaper imported for its own use was admitted duty free -that the Age was one of the strongest free-traders where its own interests were concerned, whilst posing as the champion of protection in regard to everything else.
– We shall have the right honorable member’s vote, then ?
-I shall vote for admitting printing paper free. My action is not influenced by either the Age or the Argus, but by a regard for the many small newspapers throughout the Commonwealth whichwill be penalized to some extent by this impost. In my opinion it is absurd to admit a printed book duty fee, whilst levying a tax upon the raw material of the literature of the great bulk of the population.
– How many daily papers are imported?
– We import books, which do not reach the masses of the people, who are served only by the newspapers. Personally I would do everything in my power to cheapen the cost of the literature which does circulate amongst the people in the back blocks, both as regards the matter of postage and the cost of material. I am not concerned with what may be said by any newspaper. If I were to vote in an opposite way to that in which Iintend to vote, the newspaper criticisms would not trouble me greatly. Hitherto printing paper has been exempt from duty in four out of the six States, and I shall support the proposal of the acting leader of the Opposition to allow of its free admission into the Commonwealth.
– I should like to call attention to the fact that the Government proposal is to tax only “ white “ printing paper. I intend to move for the omission of that word, so that honorable members may be at liberty to deal with the greater question which is involved. I need not enlarge upon that point. Honorable members are well aware that printing paper is not confined to white paper. Many newspapers are published upon pink or other tinted paper. I know of some very excellent provincial newspapers which are issued upon pink paper. For a long time past I have been resolved that when the opportunity offered I should vote in favour of placing printing paper upon the ; f ree list. It is all very well for the Government to bring down this proposal. The Treasurer declares that he does not see why a revenue duty should not be imposed upon printing paper. But the right honorable gentleman was for many years Premier of Victoria; yet I do not find that in this State paper was subject to any duty. The idea of the honorable member for Bland that honorable members are being terrorized by the metropolitan newspapers of Sydney and Melbourne, is, in my judgment, verywide of the mark. Personally, Idonot care a snap of my finger for any metropolitan newspaper, or indeed for any newspaper within the Commonwealth. I simply intend to perform what I consider to be my duty, and in this connexion I sympathize deeply with the struggling provincial journals. These people feel very strongly that this tax will be a further burden on them; and I thoroughly agree with the honorable member for Gippsland that there are many newspaper proprietors who, with their families, are struggling under exceptional difficulties to earn a living in the country districts. This is entirely a revenue duty, for in the absence of the raw material it is nonsense to talk about printing paper being produced in the Commonwealth. It was only after considerable reflection that I made up my mind to vote for making printing paper free. I voted against a duty on certain articles, such as sheep-dip, which are used by my constituents, and I shall not vote for a duty upon paper, which is the raw material of the newspaper proprietor. I should be glad if the present amendment were temporarily withdrawn to give me an opportunity of moving that the word “ white “ be omitted.
Mr. THOMSON (North Sydney).- In spite of the terrible insinuation of the honorable member for Bland that we are influenced by, and afraid of, the big metropolitan journals, I intend to vote for the excision of this duty. I take this course irrespective of the newspapers, which, in my own city at any rate, have neverbeen of much assistance to me ; indeed, I have sometimes had to fight newspapers of my own party. We ought not to allow these considerations to enter into the question. We ought to keep ourselves altogether free from that feeling, which we have experienced when some newspaper, say a protectionist one, has been exceedingly objectionable, that we should like to give the proprietors a dose of their own policy. There is the Age, for instance, in the city of Melbourne.
– Or the Argus.
– Oh ! the Argus advocacy is in another direction.
– The Argus is a great deal worse than the Age.
– We are all human, and there is a tendency in us to have the desire I have indicated : but on calmer thoughts we ought not to let such considerations guide our policy in tins House. The objection which I have to a tax on paper is that which the honorable member for Bland raised to a previous item to-day. Considering that we are letting in so much printed matter absolutely free it is not fair to the preparers of such matter in Australia to inflict this tax.
– The argument I used does not apply to newspapers.
– Thehonorable member asked for fairness in connenion with bicycle parts and fittings. It was pointed out that the people who bring this material in free and make it up here were placed, to some extent, at a disadvantage compared with those who import the partially completed article, and the honorable member claimed and obtained for them differential treatment. Then why not be fair to the general printer? I venture to think that the printing doneoutside newspaper offices exceeds that done in them, so that it is a very far-reaching tax which the Government proposes. On the Commonwealth Christmas Annual, which was issued in Sydney, the duty for the one issue only on the paper used would, under the Government’s proposal, be £39 17s. 6d., exclusive of the duties on ink, board, or coated paper, and other articles, which would bring the amount up to £52 4s. 3d. Australian literature has quite enough to contend with without our inflicting further disabilities ; and it is, on the principle urged by the honorable member for Bland, unjust to admit magazines and books in enormous quanties free, and to tax the paper which is the basis of the finished product.
– Hear, hear ! I admit that, in this instance.
– The honorable member for Bland showed that his desire is to “ get at” the big newspaper proprietors ; and so far as the honorable member wishes to make those proprietors pay in proportion to the contributions of others in the Commonwealth, he is perfectly justified. But by this Tariff we have not attempted to get at particular individuals, but have considered the items as they affect the community at large. If we impose this tax for the purpose of reaching the big newspaper proprietors, we shall tax every newspaper on the quantity of paper used, irrespective altogether of the profits made. Is that a fair system of taxation? I donot agree that we ought to try to annex profits by means of the Tariff, but if we do tax them, we should be sure that the method we adopt bears some relation to those profits.Under the proposal, we may tax a newspaper, which has difficulty in carrying on, to the same, extent as another journal, the proprietors of which are rolling in wealth. The proper way to tax wealth is through an income tax, which means of raising revenue we have left at present to the State Governments. It was declared that the Commonwealth policy was not to interfere with State sources of taxation. Are we going to indirectly, and not straightforwardly and honestly, try to tap one of those sources ? The State Governments, if they know that certain people are making very large sums annually, can, and in some cases do, put in force a graduated income tax ; andwhyshould we in an indirect, irregular and unequal manner try to tax the profits of these newspaper proprietors? For these reasons, I cannot see my way to support this duty. In any case, the proposal would not equally touch newspaper proprietors, and in trying to reach them we should do an injury to the large printing business which is done outside newspaper offices in Australia. - 1, as a free-trader, - cannot see any justice in a course which would have that effect, and I wonder at protectionists finding themselves able to support the proposal. If this tax be imposed, we must, to be just, put an equivalent tax on imported books and magazines. Tha.t I am not in favour of, because it would be a retrograde step. Those considerations have convinced me as to the proper course to adopt, and I have not been influenced, and would, I trust always, refuse to be influenced, by representations by interested parties.
– If we follow the argument of the honorable member for North Sydney we shall be placed in the position of having to vote against all revenue duties, and I do not know that the committee can afford to adopt that doctrine. I am inclined to think that the paper used in large printing offices is quite as good a subject of taxation for revenue purposes, and in some respects better, than tea, - or, say, kerosene, which is the poor man’s light. But in taxing paper as proposed, we land ourselves in the difficulty which was pointed out by the honorable member for Bland, and emphasized very clearly by the honorable member for North Sydney. I refer more particularly to the book trade. We might, however, come to an arrangement whereby paper used as the raw material in the bookmaking trade might be placed upon the free list, the balance being left for taxation for revenue purposes. It is most unfair and improper to charge 10 per cent, on the raw material of the trade, and admit the finished product free. Some 18 months ago a company was formed in Victoria for the purpose of printing books for local consumption, and samples of the work produced have been sent to me. The small book I have in my hand is entitled A Friend in the Kitchen : What to Cook, and How to Cook It. Unfortunately, I have mislaid the figures, which showed the relative cost of labour and material, but paper was the chief item, and a duty of 10 per cent, just constitutes the difference between having a book printed, published, bound, and issued within the Commonwealth, and having it published in America or the old country, and imported here free as the finished article. A more pretentious and better bound book which is issued by the firm to which I allude is entitled A Home Handbook qf Hygiene and Medicine. The firm started here comparatively recently. Their plant cost £20,000, and “they spend from £7,000 to £8,000 a year in salaries and wages. The establishment here is really a branch of a great English house, which has another similar establishment in Africa, and, I believe, in New Zealand. The directors at home recently gave instructions that the Australasian and African work should be carried out from the head-office in Victoria ; but that order has been cancelled since the Tariff was proposed, and until the duties are finally determined upon, nothing will be done. We want to give as much encouragement as we can to our own people, and to the publication of books in our midst, and we also want to obtain revenue. Under these circumstances the only suggestion I can make to the Treasurer is to exempt super-calendered and machine-finished writing papers, allowing the paper which is used in newspaper offices to be taxed. I do not see why newspaper proprietors should not be taxed. I have been informed that upon an average circulation of 3,000 copies per week the proposed duty will not make a difference in cost of more than 10s. per month, and, as we tax every other person in the community, I think we should tax newspaper proprietors.
– Is the type from which the books to which the honorable member has referred are printed set up here, or are the books printed from imported stereos 1
– Some of their books are written by local writers, printed from type set up here, bound, and finished in the State. An instance of such a book is a semi-religious work which is being sold throughout the Commonwealth at 21s. per copy. Other books are bound here, and other books again are printed from stereos sent from England or America, and bound and finished here. The whole business of this firm is book publishing ; but they say that if this duty is continued they must put an end to their operations here. With regard to printing paper, as the honorable member for Bland. has pointed out, spruce pine is the wood from which it is made, and that wood cannot he obtained in Australia. Not only is the wood not obtainable here, but I question if we have anywhere a sufficiently large supply of water to perfect it, and make the pulp a marketable commodity. It has been suggested that the pulp might be brought out in bulk, but, as it would be necessary to bring it out damp, that arrangement would make the freight very heavy, and I doubt whether it would be found to answer under any circumtances
Mr. G. B. EDWARDS (South Sydney). - The honorable member for Bourke has indicated a way in which we can get out of our difficulty. It is an anomaly to tax paper and to allow the books in which it is used to come in free. In my opinion, a distinction should be made between the paper used in books and pamphlets and that used by newspapers, and experts ought to have no difficulty in framing a provision which would enable this to be done. There has been so much discussion on the fiscal question, and on other matters during the consideration of this Tariff, that we have almost forgotten that its main object is to raise revenue, and there is no article upon which revenue might more fairly be raised than the paper used by the proprietors of the metropolitan and provincial newspapers. It has been said that such a tax is not fair, inasmuch as it cannot be passed on to the consumers ; but we have already agreed upon many such taxes. With regard to the sugar duties, I know that in my business I shall pay over £2,000 more for the sugar I use, while I shall not be able to pass on the tax, because of the competition in the trade. Similarly, I think, the bootmakers will be unable to pass on .the duty upon leather, and the furniture makers the duty upon timber. A great deal has been said by those on one side of the chamber about the enormous fortunes which are made by manufacturers, and by those on “the other side of the chamber about the enormous fortunes which are made by the importers ; but no class Of men, as a whole, make such large fortunes as newspaper proprietors. The honorable member for Gippsland spoke about the duty on printing paper as a tax upon literature ; but one might just as well describe the duties on paints as a tax upon art. If we have any divinely gifted persons amongst us, the increased cost of printing paper will not prevent them from finding expression for their thoughts. 30 s
There is no justification, except the fear of annoying the proprietors of the great metropolitan journals, for refusing to place a duty upon printing paper. I do not care a fig what any journals think of me. We should tax the newspaper proprietors in the same way that we do those engaged in other enterprises. On a previous occasion we agreed to exempt the large journals from the payment of duty upon their linotypes, whereas we imposed a tax upon the machines used by the poor up-country newspaper proprietors. There is as much justification for this duty as for 99 out of 100 of those which we have agreed to. I am not sure that it would be right to tax paper in one form and not in another, but I think it would be possible to differentiate between the paper used for making books, and that which is used in the broad sheet. The large newspaper proprietors ought to be taxed, and can very well afford to pay, and we should not exempt them from contributing to the revenue because a few honorable members may be frightened of them.
– Some exception has been taken to the remarks of the honorable member for Bland to the effect that there were honorable members in this Chamber whose votes would be influenced by their fears of the newspapers. I do not attach much importance to these remarks, because there cannot be very much truth in them. We know perfectly well that according to the views we may hold we shall meet with the approbation or condemnation of certain newspapers, and I think the honorable member spoke out of pique, resulting from the vote which was given against him on a former occasion in respect to type-setting machines. I take exception to the remark of the honorable member - “God help the people of the Commonwealth if they depend for their knowledge upon the newspapers.” The newspapers of the Commonwealth are a credit to us. I have some acquaintance with the newspapers of Great Britain and America, and I say without hesitation that the newspapers published in the State of V Victoria - and I believe also in the State of New South Wales - are not to be surpassed, for the information which they supply. Putting aside their political views, there are no papers in any part of the world that would excel the Saturday issues of the Melbourne daily newspapers, or the Australasian or Leader.
Many of the country newspapers also supply very readable information, and compare favorably with similar publications in much older countries. The honorable member for Gippsland said that the newspaper proprietors could not pass on to their subscribers the additional cost that would be involved by the imposition of theduty. They will, however, be able to compensate themselves by supplying inferior paper and possibly printing their papers in a less finished manner. I remember hearing of a gentleman in Melbourne who had a grudge against the Aye. Somehow or other he discovered that the Saturday issue of the paper was published at a loss, and he bought a copy of the Age every Saturday as a means of getting even with the proprietor. We cannot deal with this question by considering the claims of the smaller newspaper proprietors as against those of the more wealthy proprietors. I believe the newspapers in Sydney are quite on a par with the Melbourne dailies.
– They are, indeed ; they lie equally well.
– Apart from the political views expressed by them, we must come to the conclusion that the leading newspapers of Sydney and Melbourne are published in better form than any newspapers in the United States. Years ago I sent an Australasian to a very highly educated gentleman in Canada, who expressed the opinion that it was one of the best productions he had ever seen. If we impose a duty upon printing paper, we shall induce newspaper proprietors to pass the tax on to either their employes or to their subscribers.
– Or to pay it out of the profits.
– It will not come out of the profits, because competition is so keen that the newspapers are bound to supply the very best publication they can.
– Therefore they will not be able to cut down their publications.
– If we curtail the profits of the newspaper proprietors, they may all have to cut down expenses. I do not believe that this duty is required for revenue purposes, because from the first I have held that the Tariff would bring in a sufficient amount of revenue for all the purposes of the States and of the Federal Government. In view of the desirability of encouragingthenewspaper proprietors to produce the very best possible publications, we should not impose the duty.
Mr. CONROY (Werriwa).- The arguments used by the honorable member for Gippsland were just such as one might have expected from honorable members on this side of the House. The honorable member has always argued that we should studythe matter of affording employment without any regard to the cost of the article to be produced. The honorable member told us that paper could not be produced here, but he was mistaken. A factory has been started in New South Wales to carry on the manufacture of paper, and the promoters of the company looked forward to obtaining a certain amount of protection through the imposition of a duty. The prospectus of the company, which was promoted before the Commonwealth itself was formed, contained the following statement -
We shall be able to effect a saving in the cost of coal and raw material over the English and foreign manufacturers of fully £2 per ton. Freight and other charges amount to £4 per ton. Estimating the new Commonwealth duty at £3 per ton, shows an advantage of £6 per ton without any duty, £9 per ton with £3 duty. On a weekly output of 45 tons would show - without anyduty, £270 weekly, £14,040 yearly ; with £3 duty, £405 weekly, £21,060 yearly, without taking into consideration the ordinary profit of making and selling.
The company propose to make all kinds of paper, and the honorable member for Gippsland, instead of voting against the imposition of a duty, should have been willing as in other cases, to support a duty of fully 50 or 100 per cent, if necessary in order to afford protection to the manufacturers. The honorable member was quite willing to go to this length where the boot manufacturers were concerned, but in this case he holds that no duty should be imposed, because the opposite view would meet with the disapproval of the newspapers. The honorable member has also stated that there was no material here from which paper could be manufactured. There are, however, plenty of Australian timbers from which paper can be made, the only difficulty being that the production of the pulp would involve the employment of four or five times the amount of labour required to produce the material in other countries. The honorable member was not, ho wever, deterredby any consideration of that kind when he wished to encourage the beet-sugar industry by the imposition of a duty.
– The honorable member is making a statement which is not true. What did I propose in regard to the beet industry ?
– According to the protectionist doctrine, even if the production of a suitable printing paper from Australian wood cost four or five times as much as the imported article, good would still result, because the money would remain in the country. Moreover, as the taxation of any article tends to reduce its price, why do honorable members opposite not immediately propose a duty of 50 or 100 per cent. upon printing paper?
– The honorable and learned member is talking nonsense.
-I am glad that these arguments, when repeated by others - although the honorable member cannot detect their fallacy when he urges them himself - are described by him as “ nonsense.” It is the first evidence we have had ofhis reformation. I can quite understand the desire of the honorable -member for Melbourne Ports to admit printing paper free of duty, because in one of the law courts he acknowledged having consulted Mr. Syme, the proprietor of the Age, in regard to the selection of candidates to contest certain parliamentary elections. Unquestionably, if I occupied. Mr. Syme’s position, I should fight for the free admission of printing paper. But when that gentleman realizes that he will be called upon to pay any duty which may be imposed upon that article, why is he not frank enough to admit that the great bulk of the people have to pay the taxes which are levied upon the articles they consume. Of course Mr. Syme may urge that printing paper cannot be produced in Victoria ; but I have a very distinct recollection that in one of his publications he boasted that the Age was printed upon paper made in this State. Thehonorable member for Gippsland argued thatthe proposed duty, if carried, will constitute a tax upon knowledge. To a certain extent it will, but does not the honorable member recognise the dangerousposition in which such an admission places him? By abstaining from taxing knowledge, people may become enlightened, and when they do, they will refuse to submit to the methods of taxation which have been resorted to by the present Government. There is no country in the world wheremen with scientific knowledge hold the views which the honorable member -advocates. Of course, I recognise that there are men who allege that customs duties should be imposed, because they enable the State to collect a large revenue with less discontent than would be engendered by any other form of taxation. If the” Treasurer had urged that view honorable members would probably have listened to him, and given the subject that attention which it deserves. But when I remember that last night over £50,000 was diverted from the Treasury into the pockets of a particular class of individuals, I claim that honorable members upon this side of the chamber are not called upon to support the Government even upon a revenue proposal. When they sacrifice revenue in that fashion they convince me that they do not require it. The very moment that the Treasurer took up a bold stand in reference to the proposed duty upon printing paper the thought suggested itself to me that he expected the tax upon this article to be remitted. That suspicion was confirmed when I noticed that the revenue which he expects to derive from this source is estimated at £40,000 only. Upon the basis of the former importation of printing and other paper into New South Wales I estimate the value of the probable importations into the Commonwealth at £800,000. Under no circumstances do I believe that it will be less than £650,000 ; consequently a 10 per cent. duty all round should yield a revenue of nearly £70,000 per annum.
Mr. BARTON (Hunter- Minister for
ExternalAffairs). - It becomes my painful duty to move -
That this House do now adjourn.
I do so out of respect to the memory of one of its members, of whose unfortunate death we have but lately heard. Mr. Piesse was a universally respected member of this House.
Honorable Members. - Hear, hear.
– His courtesy, his patience, and his kindly demeanour evoked universal esteem and regard. He was a most painstaking legislator, always careful, and fully informing himself of the subjects upon which he intended to speak; -and I am sure I can say, with the approval of every honorable member, that he was ever animated by a conscientious and high sense of duty.
Honorable Members. - Hear, hear.
– I feel his loss, as I am sure all those who surround me do, as one which deprives the whole Commonwealth of a capable, honest, and honorable legislator. I am sure that every one of us will feel the deepest sympathy with those whom our friend has left behind, and that when I express - as I have expressed - to his relatives, through Sir Philip Fysh, the condolence of thisGovernment and Parliament, I shall have the concurrence of all who sit here. I cannot move the adjournment of the House over to-morrow, owing to the state of public business, but I think that honorable members will be with me in saying that if we adjourn now - having received an intimation of this great loss only such a short time ago - we shall, in view of the work before us, have done our duty.
– It is my painful duty - a very painful duty, indeed - to second this motion. Mr. Piesse was intimately associated with me through several years when I was Premier of Tasmania. He worked then forthe love of work, and with indefatigable determination to do what was right, and to do his best - always conscientiously, always with admirable effect, and always with the result of earning the esteem and regard of those who were associated with him. The loss by his death is a great one to thisHouse and to Tasmania. We can only deplore that in the very spring of life Mr. Piesse should have been cut off in a career which was always honorable, always admirable, and which would have ended, I have no doubt, in distinction won from the public by worthy service.
– Every member of the House will join in the expressions of regret that have fallen from the Prime Minister and the right honorable member for Tasmania, Sir Edward Braddon, at the sad event which has taken place. For myself, I can only say that there were few men in the Chamber whose personality, in the short space of time during which we had the pleasure of his acquaintance, grew upon honorable members to a greater extent than did that of Mr. Piesse. He invariably showed an anxiety to do the best for the Commonwealth, coupled with a due regard for the interests of his own State, commending himself to every one as a thoroughly conscientious, able, and responsible representative of the people. I can only add these few words of regret to those already uttered.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
House adjourned at 6.20 p.m.
Cite as: Australia, House of Representatives, Debates, 6 March 1902, viewed 7 November 2016, <http://historichansard.net/hofreps/1902/19020306_reps_1_8/>.