1st Parliament · 1st Session
Mr. Speaker took the chair at 2.30 p.m., and read prayers.
– I wish to know from the Prime Minister if the statement which is attributed to the Premier of Queensland by the press, that the right honorable gentleman sent the honorable member for Herbert to the northern portions of that State, and the honorable member for Maranoa to the south-eastern portions, to fight for his policy in connexion with the recent legislation passed by this Parliament in regard to Pacific Island labourers is correct.
Mr.BARTON. - I did not see the statement in the newspaper this morning; but it was brought under my notice by. a member of the press about one o’clock to-day. I need not assure honorable members that I have not in any way interfered in the State elections of Queensland, and that I did not invite any member of this Parliament to take sides in that election.
– The two honorable members who have been mentioned were sent for by the local organizations.
– Everything that I have said upon the subject of the Queensland elections - and it is very little - has been published in press interviews. If he is correctly reported, I cannot understand how the Premier of Queenslandcame to make such a statement.
– It is a Tozer. In Queensland they know what that means.
– No statement was ever originated or circulated by any public man haying a sense of self-respect which was so far from the truth as this is.
– I understand that considerable delay has taken place, in connexion with the payment of contractors, more especially for work done in connexion with the Postal department. I shall be glad if the Treasurer will give his personal attention to the matter, and see that these men are not put to further loss and inconvenience.
– There should be no delay in paying Commonwealth accounts. These accounts are paid by the various departments, and as soon as advances are asked, for by the officers of those departments they get the. money. I have heard a good deal of these complaints generally, but no specific instance has been brought under my notice. If the honorable member will furnish me with specific cases, I shall have them investigated at once, because I am of opinion that the Commonwealth should pay its accounts promptly.
– I understand that the trouble has occurred through there being no money available to meet loan expenditure;
– If there has been delay in paying, accounts, it is probably in connexion with works which have been carried out by the States. When we took over the departments, it was on, the understanding that the States, if they thought fit, should continue and complete works already begun, and that their expenditure upon such works should be taken into consideration when the valueof the properties transferred to the Commonwealth is being determined. With regard to works carried . out by the Commonwealth, I have, where they are represented to be urgent, made; provision for payment out of my advance account, and in such cases there should be no delay.
-Isit the intention, of the Commonwealth Government to proclaim St. Patrick’s Day a public holiday? The State Government of NewSouth Waleshas done so, and. I should like to know if the Prime Minister can see his way to do the some?
– I make a similar request on behalf of Victoria.
– We shall want St. Andrew’s Day proclaimed a public holiday next.
– The proclamation of public holidays, is a matter which must be determined according to some principle, and months ago the Government came to the conclusion that where a day is specifically named as a holiday in State, Acts providing for holidays it should be observed by the Commonwealth, so far as their departments in the State concerned were affected. But St. Patrick’s Day is not namedin the New South Wales Bank Holidays Act, though, the Act empowers the State Government to, proclaim holidays in addition to those named in the Act. In Queensland, St. Patrick’s, St. George’s; and St. Andrew’s Day are all named as holidays in. the schedule to theAct.
– What about St. David’s Day?
– St. David’s Day is not mentioned ;perhaps because therehas never been a Welshman in a Queensland Ministry.
– Sir Samuel Griffith is a Welshman.
– If we consentedto proclaim holidays beyond those named in the legislation of a State, whenever a State Government didso, we should beentirely in the hands of the, State Governments. Therefore, when holidays are proclaimed in the discretionary exercise of the power given to the State Governments; we have not thought, it right to adopt, them as a matter of course. While there are three saints’ days named as holidays in the Queensland Act, no saint days are mentioned as holidays in the legislation, of any of the other States, and I find that the Premier of New South Wales has stated that the observance of St. Patrick’s Day next week is to be optional, and that over 300 of the principal business establishments in Sydney therefore intend to. keep, open on. that day, their, decision doubtless affecting the action of hundreds of other similar establishments. That being so; we should probably cause grave disappointment and inconvenience to thoseengaged in transacting, the mercantile and, commercial business of the State, if we proclaimed the day a public holiday, and closed the post-offices and Custom-house.
– They have gone holiday mad. in New South Wales.
– That is a matter upon which I shall not express an.opinion, but I think that the Commonwealth Government should take its own course in regard to public holidays, except where; by courtesy, it adopts those named in the legislation of the States. Where public holidays are named in the legislation of a State, it is practically certain that nearly all the business establishments in that State will close on those days, and therefore it would not be worth, while to keep open the. Commonwealth, departments for the small amount of business that, would be transacted. The principle of which I speak has been observed ever since we laid it down, some months ago. In Queensland the position is different. There, St. Patrick’s Day is named as a public holiday, in the State Act, and therefore the public offices will be closed. In the other States there is no reason for preventingthe transaction of business by closing the Commonwealth offices.
asked the Minister of External Affairs, upon notice -
– I intend to immediately lay upon the table two returns, giving the information for which the honorable member asks. Since the passing of the Immigration Restriction Act, on the 23rd December last, the number of aliens admitted into the Commonwealth, has been 378; while the number admitted during the first two months of 1901 - as nearly as possible the corresponding period of last year - was 810, or more than twice as many, and this in spite of the fact that we have respected the permits issued by State Governments, both in regard to the immigration of Japanese into Queensland, and in. other regards - as where persons had changed their position, by booking through passages, or by leaving, their homes, before the date of myspeech upon the second reading of the Bill, on the 7th August last.
asked the Minister representing the Postmaster-General; upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follow -
Mr. BARTON laid upon the table the following papers : -
Return of coloured immigrants admitted to the Commonwealth since the passing of the Immigration Restriction Act.
Return showing number of coloured immigrants admitted to the Commonwealth during the first two months of 1902.
Consideration resumed from 11th March (vide page 10854).
Division XV. - Musical Instruments.
Item 120. - Musical instruments n.e.i., and pianos, parts of, n.e.i. ; musical boxes, pianolas, and other attachments or articles for rendering music by mechanical process, and metronomes, advalorem,1 5 per cent.
– I move -
That the words “and pianos, parts of, n.e.i.,” be omitted.
I propose to deal with the parts of pianos after we have fixed the duty to be levied upon pianos. There has also been a question raised with regard to instruments for bands, and at this stage I may say that I would not object very strongly to reducing the duty upon band instruments to 10 per cent.
Amendment agreed to.
Item, as amended, agreed to.
Item 121. - Organs, pipe, ad valorem, 20 per cent.
Item 122.- Pianos, viz. : -
Grand and semi-grand, each, £12 and 15 per cent. , ad valorem.
Upright, each, £4 and 15 per cent., ad valorem.
– This is a very important item, which deserves consideration at our hands in order that we may do justice all round. I feel that it will not be wise to adopt an ad valorem duty in this case, and we are advised very strongly by our officers that we should have a fixed rate - the importers themselves ask for the same thing - with the object of preventing frauds such as have been committed in the State of Victoria, and possibly in other States, in connexion with under-valuations. In addition to this it is the desire of the importers, and it ought to be the desire of all of us, to shut out what are called shoddy pianos - articles that look very well, but are of little or no use. We ought to encourage the importation, as far as importations are to take place, of the better class of instruments, and prevent the German garret-made instruments from being introduced here. I admit that some of the German instruments are among the best, but at the same time many of them are very inferior. I propose to test the feeling of the committee as to whether we should not in this instance levy a composite duty. A fixed duty alone would press very heavily on the lower class articles, and would not bring in a sufficient amount of revenue from the more valuable instruments. Therefore, instead of adopting a high fixed duty it is better to have a somewhat lower duty fixed, and an ad valorem duty which will work in conjunction with it to keep out the lower grade article, and will enable us to collect a certain amount of revenue from the higher class instruments. So far as the protective incidence of the duty is concerned we know that very large importations take place from Germany. In Canada, and America the piano-making industry has, by virtue of the protection extended to it, become very large indeed, and if we can afford a reasonable amount of protection to local makers we shall probably develop a valuable industry within the next few years. The great trouble of course is the prejudice entertained against Australianmade instruments. People will insist upon, having pianos made by firms well-known in the musical world ; but so far as we can gather the pianos made within the States at the present time are well constructed and good instruments. They are made to some considerable extent in New South Wales, and they are, or will be, manufactured largely in South Australia. I have a letter from a well-known firm of solicitors who are acting for certain people who are prepared to establish the industry in Victoria if a fair duty is imposed. The only fear that they have is that the duty may be taken off after being in operation for a short time. They desire to have a guarantee for seven years, but of course we could not possibly undertake to say that there will be no alteration in the duty within that period, although I think that it will probably be retained. A considerable amount of labour is employed in the manufacture of pianos, and also in the making of the parts that have to be constructed here. We do not wish to impose a duty that will. merely induce people to import the parts and put them together here. I omitted the words relating to piano parts from item 1 20 in order that we might make the parts subject to the same duty that we decide, to impose upon the finished instruments. I propose to except the small action work, which should come in free in the interests of those who are manufacturing the pianos locally. Circulars have been sent out both by the importers and the local manufacturers of pianos. The circular issued by the importers contains a number of figures which have been checked by the officials of the . Customs department, and it is evident that they are considerably exaggerated. They were probably calculated on the old basis when we used to charge for packages and other things, and I am sure that the figures are larger than they ought to be. ‘ From all the inquiries I have made, I believe that if a fair amount of protection is granted we shall not only encourage the development of the industry, which has already been established in New South Wales, but promote similar enterprises in the other States. We shall then have internal competition and competition from outside as well, and we need entertain no fear of monopoly or a large increase in the price of the instruments. I believe that the proposals made by the Government will best attain the objects that we have in view.
– The Treasurer has evidently determined to conquer or die in the last ditch. The committee has set aside the Government proposals for composite duties in every case, except in that of cigars, and he is now seeking at the last moment to secure the application of the principle in regard to an item which does not differ essentially from those in which the composite duties have been abandoned. Some strong influence appears to have been brought to bear upon the Treasurer during the last few days, and his present attitude is absolutely inconsistent. He has told us that serious frauds have been committed in connexion with the importation of pianos under ad valorem duties, and that, therefore, a fixed duty should be adopted. Now he proposes an ad valorem duty of 15 per cent, in addition to a fixed duty. I do not see any difficulty in applying an ad valorem duty to pianos. It is as easy to check invoices for pianos as for anything else. The
Treasurer has laid some stress upon the importance of keeping out the commoner class of instruments ; but experience has shown that the effect of imposing these high duties is to encourage the importation of an inferior article. Until recently, a certain firm in Sydney imported a well-known make of German pianos, which, I believe, were very good, and which were sold at moderate prices. Some week or so ago, a person whom I know made inquiries with the view of having one of these pianos imported for him ; but the importers told him that since the duties had been imposed they had been compelled to give up the importation of that particular make, and to substitute a commoner article. Fixed duties must always operate in this direction, but in the case of an ad valorem duty, the charge is equitably distributed over all classes of instruments. I think that this industry ought to be treated fairly. This morning we had the advantage of reading in one of the foremost journals in Victoria a leading article, which was written entirely with a view of inducing the imposition of a high duty upon pianos for the sake of one particular firm in Sydney. But I think that if pianos can.be manufactured in a free-trade country, anything can be manufactured there. The very fact that this rather intricate and difficult manufacture has been conducted for years in an absolutely free-trade community affords most conclusive proof of the success of that fiscal policy. I do hope that this committee will not stultify itself at the last moment. In reference to articles which fluctuate very materially in value, we have already decided that wherever that value can reasonably be ascertained, the principle to be applied to their taxation shall be that of ad valorem. In this connexion, I would point out that pianos range in value from £15 and £20 to £200 and £300. Therefore, we ‘have an infinite variety of prices presented to us, to which the principle of a fixed duty is not applicable. Moreover, it is not difficult for the Customs authorities to determine the value of a piano if zeal be always exercised to prevent the presentation of false invoices. I think that the committee ought, in the first place, to decide the question whether a fixed duty or an ad valorem rate should be adopted in the present instance. To put the matter in order, I move -
That the words “ and on and after 13th March, 1902, ad valorem “ be added.
– I was hopeful thatwhen theTreasurer made his statement, he would advance some reason why such enormous duties have been imposed upon pianos. Before I sit down I think I shall be able to show that the Government proposals cannot be justified either on the ground that these instruments are luxuries, that the rates which it is sought to levy will be productive of revenue, or that they constitute anything in the nature of a compromise, having regard to the duties which formerly operated under the various State ‘Tariffs. I recognise that some honorable members areapt to be led away with the idea that pianos are a luxury. ButI wouldask whether we ought not to discriminate between a l uxury of this character and a luxury in the shape of jewellery, upon which we have already imposed an ad valorem rate of 25 per cent. ? I would further point out that the manufacture of jewellery affords employment to a large number of people within the Commonwealth, whereas one man only is interested in the manufacture of pianos. Moreover, the natural protection enjoyed by jewellery represents from 5 to 7½ per cent. only, whereas the natural protection enjoyed by pianos averages about 42 per cent. Why has the duty which previously operated in the various States upon this class of instruments been increased by 50 per cent ? If the proposed duties are intended to be protective in their incidence, is it a fair thing - seeing that there is only one firm in Australia engaged in the manufacture of pianos - to levy a tax which represents 70 per cent., taking into consideration the measure of natural protection which they already enjoy ? By adopting such a course, is there not great danger of building up a monopoly 1 I do not regard a piano as a luxury ; if it is, it is one that I should like to see in every man’s home. I believe that if pianos were more generally in use they would be the means of preventing our young people from frequenting the streets late at night. The proposal of the Government seems to me a remarkable one. No State has done more than has Victoria to encourage our young folk to become accomplished in music. This State has establishedconservatoriums, which offer prizes in the shape of bursaries, to those who excel in musical attainments. It holds its annual Eistedfods, and in connexion with its literary societies and A.N. A.competitions, a knowledge of music occupies a prominent position. It is all very well for the Government to declare that the imposition of the proposedduties will lead to the local manufacture of pianos. It will be years before suchan industry can be established.
Mr.Mauger. - There will be a factory established in Victoria in less than two years, if the proposedduties are levied.
– I would point out to the honorable member that for years past therehas been a duty of £15 each upon the large class of pianos imported into Victoria, and a tax of £5 upon the smaller instruments. Yet not one manufacturer hasbeen induced to embark in the industry in this State. It is remarkable that free-trade New South Wales is theonly State in which an attempt has been made to manufacture these instruments: Seeing that hitherto Mr. Beale has been able to successfully manufacture pianos in a free port, he ought to experience no difficulty - if given the benefit of a moderate duty and with the market of Australia open to him - in considerably extending ‘his business. It may be argued that this industry is not in such a flourishing condition as it should be. I admit that in its initial stages it had a somewhat chequered career, but if any reliance can be placedupon Mr. Beale’s recent balance-sheets the industry has now becomefirmly established. Last year this particular firm were credited with a profit over working expenses of 50 per cent. ; in other words they earned £7,800 on a capital of £15,000. Is it the object of this Parliament to penalize people who show special aptitude for music? It costs a parent a large sum to musically educate a child; yet we have imposed a duty of25 per cent. on music, while allowing illustrated midnight horrors of the “ Deadwood Dick “ variety to come in free. Is it desired to reserve music as aluxury for wealthy people ? We ought to have regard to the fact that children who are educated in music and become proficient, devote much of their time and ability to raising money for charitable purposes ; and it is unreasonable to deprive gifted people ofthe opportunity of purchasing instruments at reasonable prices. What was the luxury of yesterday is the necessity of to-day,as is shown by the whole trend of oureducational system. Vocal music is taught in the Stateschools, and who can say that we shall not arrive at a stage when instruction in instrumental music will he imparted ? We have -also ito consider those who become -teachers of music, and it is certainly not a fair thing to’-impose a high prohibitive duty for the purpose of encouraging these particular manufacturers, though I have no objection to encouraging .them, df it be not done at the expense of the whole community. The Treasurer has said that those engaged in the trade have asked for a fixed duty, but I have a circular signed by manufacturers in Melbourne, Sydney, Adelaide, and Perth, and, while it is true that they desire a duty of £15 -on grand pianos, and £4 on upright pianos, they also ask as an. alternative for a duty of 15 per cent.
– In a letter which I have- here the trade say ‘of pianos - “ It is the earnest and unanimous wish of the trade to have a fixed duty.” The 15 per cent, refers to other instruments.
– In South Australia the duty was 15 per cent.- on all classes of instruments ; in Victoria, it was £15 and £5 ; in Tasmania, 20 -per cent. ; in Queensland, £12 and £6 ; -in Western Australia, £15 and £5 ; and in New South Wales, pianos -were free. If the duty, as proposed by the Government ‘be carried, an instrucinvoiced at £23 will pay £8 7s. 8d. “Sir George Turner. - -The proper amount is £7 10s. 7d.
– I presume my informant has paid the amount he mentions. The natural -protection amounts to £9 17s. 9d.; so that, on the Treasurer’s own figures, the protection on an instrument invoiced at £23 will amount to £18. I ought to add that the natural protection on a higher class instrument will be something like £15. In order to show how unfairly the Government proposal will work out, we have only to observe that on an- upright piano, invoiced at £16, the - duty will amount to 41 per cent.; on a medium piano, invoiced at £19, the duty will be ‘37J- per cent.; and on the highest class of uprights, invoiced at £40, the impost will be 26J per cent. People who of necessity buy cheap instruments, will have to pay more duty in proportion. On grand pianos, invoiced at prices ranging from £45 to £90, the duty, on the lower priced instruments, will amount to 43 per cent.; and, on the higher priced, to 30 per cent. The port charges on upright or cottage pianos amounts to 42^- per cent. ; so that “we have charges equivalent. ‘to over
SO per cent, on the cheaper classes of instruments. So-far as I understand the proposal of the Government, all the -material -except frames and the outside -casings -are- admitted free.
– I do -not think that is so.
– I have -my information on the best authority. All the parts connected with the action, including keys, key -frames, strings, and articles of that sorb come in free.
– No; but actions, strings, felts, and hammers should befree. Ivories and veneers are already free,, and I intend to propose that the formerarticles shall also be free.
– I am dealing with “what is already in the Tariff. Felts and cloth are admitted free, if cut in strips, and actions and keyboards are also free” if put together ; but “where these materials come separately, as they are “required to do for repairing purposes, they are dutiable. The most intricate parts of the instrument come in free; and under the proposal of the Government the whole, with’ the exception of “frames and -case work, will be imported from Germany. In fact, the particular firm to which reference has already been made, advertise from whom these “parts are purchased in Germany. We are, therefore,, establishing high duties ‘practically for thepurpose of enabling articles, which are made elsewhere, to ‘be put together in Australia.
– As a matter of fact, the maker asks for duties on the parts.
– Another revelation! Tt is a wonder he does not ask for the abolition of a duty ‘upon %the finished article..His tactics, however, are not the usual tactics of a business nian ‘who ‘knows thathe has an absolute monopoly, and will haveno competition to fear for a number of yearsto come. I trust “that “the committee will -make the duty an ad valorem one, abd not fix it so high as the duty upon articles of luxury, such as jewellery. I do not regard a musical instrument -as a luxury, and the “musical education of our ‘people ‘is a thing which we should try to -encourage. ‘The honorable member for Melbourne Potts would, no doubt, like to place a duty of 100 per cent, upon pianos ; but temperance advocates are “generally the most intemperate men one comes across.
– I hope that the time will soon come ‘when every one will be in the position to satisfy his desire for musical recreation ; but the remarks of the honorable member would lead one to believe that there are no such things as pianos in Canada and America, because of the high duties there. In the United States there is a duty of 40 per cent, upon pianos, and a prominent citizen of this country, who wrote to me recently from America, says -
What struck me most in the suburbs of the large cities of America was the fact that nearly every home possesses either an organ or a piano, andyou will be glad to know, made in America.
In Canada there is a duty of 30 per cent, upon pianos ; but I believe that pianoplaying is part of the ordinary curriculum of the schools there. At any rate, there is a strong agitation to make it so. The pianos in use in Canada, however, are almost exclusively made in the country. Will the Literary Society of Ballarat be put to serious inconvenience if a reasonable duty is placed upon pianos?
– The honorable member’s idea of a reasonable duty is a prohibitive duty.
– I am not now advocating a prohibitive duty. What I want is a duty sufficiently high to give the Australian workman the command of his home market. Surely a poor man can get as good and as sweet music from a home-made piano as from a piano made in Germany ; but if a man must have a German piano, he can afford to pay the duty upon it. Two-thirds of the pianos imported into Australia come from Germany.
– Do they not make excellent pianos in Germany?
– They make excellent soldiers there; but my right honorable friend would not think of joining the German army. We hear a great deal about loyalty, but, where our Australian workmen are concerned, honorable members are always ready to throw up their hats in praise of the Germans and the Austrians. We shall probably have to fight the Germans some day, and let us begin by fighting them in the industrial world. A New South Wales advertisement, which I have here, and which states that flannels are cheaper now than they were under free-trade, shows that duties are not passed on to the consumers.
– Has the honorable member got down to proving his case by advertisements ?
– It is more than an advertisement ; it is a trade circular which has been sent to a large number of retail houses. With regard to the argument that the piano-making trade here really means only the putting together of parts, a circular has been issued which says -
With regard to the proposed duty on parts n.e.i., 15 percent., we respectfully request that this be 33 per cent. , as the putting of the parts tog ether is but of small cost, and already steps have een taken to import the parts separately, put them together, and thus avoid the payment of the piano duty.
Every line in that circular is subscribed to by the New South Wales manufacturer. He is anxious that a duty should be put upon parts similar to that upon the finished article. He says that he has a factory which is sufficiently equipped to make, not only the pianos, but nearly every part contained in them.
Mr.F. E. McLean. - Why, they cannot do that in the American factories !
– Then all the more honour to the Australian manufacturer who can do it. I am of opinion that Australian pianos are as good as any that are made in Germany, and I am the more pleased to advocate this duty, because it will assist a New South Wales industry.
– Which did very well under free-trade.
– Yes ; but it was established under the Dibbs Tariff, and it has been continued in the belief that the Commonwealth would give it a reasonable amount of protection. Even the importers admit that there should be a duty on pianos, and if their proposals are compared with those of the Government, taking into consideration the very different points of view of the two parties, it will be seen that the Government proposals are exceedingly reasonable. But is it fair to the manufacturers to refuse to give them any higher duties than those asked for by the importers ? Does it not stand to reason that if the importers are prepared to accept these duties they must know that their business is not likely to be interfered with ? Music Trades, the leading New York music trades’ journal, in its issue of 16th November, 1901, says -
When asked what effect the change in the Tariff would make in the export of American pianos to Australia, New York manufacturers, whose instruments are sold there, said that it is not likely to cause any falling off in sales.
A very considerable number of American pianos are imported into the Commonwealth, and the attitude of the manufacturers of the United States shows that the Government proposal is a reasonable one. I hope that in the interests of Australian industry, Australianworkmen, and Australian music, the committee will adopt the composite duties.
– In the interests of Australian music I take a view quite opposite to that of the honorable member for Melbourne Ports. The honorable member advances most curious arguments, and has given usan example of his eccentricity in his references to German pianos. These are largely used because of their superiority. The Germans have introduced the iron-frame system of construction, and other mechanical improvements, which have added to the usefulness and stability of the instruments and have led to their extensive use. It must be conceded that pianos have a humanizing and improving effect in the homes of our people. We are proving that we are among the nations in which song and music are very strongly dominant forces, and the more we can encourage these elements and make the homes of our people happy, the better for the people and the better for the State. The honorable member for Melbourne Ports has spoken of the great benefits that have accrued to Canada from the imposition of a duty upon musical instruments. In Canada they have imposed a duty of 30 per cent., which is considerably below the rates which the Government propose. The Government would have acted more reasonably if they had followed Canadian lines, and still better if they had taken example from New Zealand or Tasmania.
– They do not make any pianos in Tasmania.
– They make as many as are made in Victoria, and proportionately use more of them. I hope the committee will take a reasonable view of this duty, and will entirely ignore all protectionist considerations. The industry of piano making has been carried on in New South Wales under free-trade conditions, and no protection is needed. In the interests of common sense and of the revenue, I would urge the adoption of a small ad valorem duty, which would fall equitably upon all classes.
Mr. BATCHELOR (South Australia).I intend to support the adoption of the ad valorem principle. Pianos are articles which vary greatly in price, and as the cheaper instruments are used by persons with small incomes, it would be unfair to impose a fixed duty upon all pianos irrespective of value. I would urge the Treasurer to accept an ad valorem impost of 20 per cent, which would be a fair rate of duty for revenue purposes, and would afford the local manufacturers as much protection as they would be entitled to in view of the consideration extended to those engaged in other branches of industry.
– We have not had any sound reasons advanced for the adoption of composite duties. The arguments used by the Treasurer against ad valorem duties on the ground that they lend themselves to fraud, apply equally to the composite duties, and either the Treasurer has not proved enough or he has proved too much. The honorable member for Melbourne Ports told us that importers of pianos will not be affected by the imposition of these duties, and in the same breath expressed the opinion that within two years large factories will be established in Victoria. Why have these factories not been established before this ? There was nothing to prevent their establishment prior to the introduction of the Tariff, and if, as the honorable member states, importations are not to be interfered with by these duties, no special encouragement will be offered to local manufacturers if the Government proposals are adopted. I do not regard the ordinary cottage piano as a luxury, consequently it ought not to be taxed as such. I believe that if it is not an absolute necessity, it is a very great one. Art culture in connexion with our industrial life is just as necessary as is ordinary industrial education, and it will become increasingly so as competition grows keener and human ingenuity as applied to mechanical science becomes more acute. I do not think that we should regard every little embellishment in the home of the artisan as a luxury. Indeed it is most difficult to accurately define the meaning of that term. Very often luxuries are a matter of environment and circumstances. For example, a blanket would constitute a luxury at the North Pole, whilst ice would constitute one at the equator. A piano in the cottage of an artisan who is removed from the civilizing influences of the city should be regarded not as a luxury, but as an absolute necessity. I would further point out that nearly all the pianos imported into Australia are -of a modest order. Last year, for example, Victoria imported only -39 grand pianos, as against 4,000 cottage instruments. Clearly, therefore, we need not tax the latter class-of pianos to reach the rich ‘man, who wants a musical instrument of a very high order. The cost of the importation of these instruments ought in itself to constitute a sufficient protection to Australian manufacturers. We are told that the cost of importing an ordinary cottage piano, which is invoiced ;at £30, is £10. Thus the measure of natural protection enjoyed by the manufacturer of such an instrument is 33 per cent. I have yet to learn that that does mot represent a -sufficient margin to compensate for the difference which exists between the wages paid in Germany and Prance and those ruling in Australia. The elaborate circular which Mr. Beale has issued to honorable members upon the opposite side of the Chamber, contains two or three statements which, in my opinion, give his case away. For example, he admits that he can manufacture a superior article to the imported piano for the price charged for- the latter. Where then is the necessity for giving -him protection? I -should like to observe in passing that this gentleman turns out both very excellent pianos and sewing machines. According to his own circular he can manufacture pianos with advantage to himself. The size of his works, as indicated in the sketch at the -head of the circular, affords the ‘best proof of how he has prospered under a free-trade policy. He says -
The statement -has been frequently made to us that we cannot successfully manufacture pianos in Australia, because,of the high wages of workmen, and because of their independence and unreasonableness. As to the former argument, we hold that because people earn good wages they are able to buy our pianos.
Honorable members will note what ‘an admirable free-trade argument follows : -
Our artisans, ore much better paid than those of Europe, -and even than those of America. True, they work shorter hours, but they work well, and take a personal pride in .turning out creditable ‘goods, which ill-paid and half-fed men are not likely to do.
That is a splendid free-trade proposition. Honorable members upon this side of the Chamber are constantly asserting that high wages do not necessarily mean a high cost of production, and it is ‘beyond cavil ‘ that such wages -can he associated with a very low cost of (production. Mr. Beale also admits the .accuracy -of a statement contained in the circular of the . agents of foreign piano manufacturers, that the average .duty under this Tariff upon the upright pianos which were imported into Victoria during 1901 would represent 62per cent. That is a great admission for a man in Mr. Beale’s position >to make.
– This is a quotation from a statement by a foreign -manufacturer.
– Exactly ; but since Mr. Beale adopts it for -the purpose of making a comparison between ‘pianos manufactured by himself and those which are imported, he must believe it to be correct. He goes on to say that a piano - which is invoiced abroad at £29, costs £9 17s. for importation, and -pays duty to the amount of £8 7s. 8d. - ‘its landed price in Australia being £47 4s. 8d.- is being made ‘at his factory for £40. Mr. Beale, in his letter, says -
A specimen of our pianos is in Parliament House. Our .retail price is £40 -for a similar instrument - -action, materials, and workmanship - with plainer case. On comparison with the German article, ours will be found superior.
It will be seen that Mr. Beale says that he can make for £40 an instrument superior to that which costs £39 2s. ; and as he has been competing for many years under a freetrade policy, I cannot see the basis for his present appeal to this committee. The honorable member for Melbourne Ports says that there is to ‘be no diminution in the importations.
– I did not say that.
– But Mr. Beale says that he requires this duty in order that, by shutting out importations, he may supply his allegedly superior pianos. In combating the idea that he has prospered, Mr. Beale goes on to show that he at one time combined importing with his manufacturing business, and he says -
All the time the cost price of our goods was higher than that at which we still continued to import similar goods. We finally ceased importing, because, though dearer, the quality of the Australian article is indisputably, higher.
Here we have a strange confusion of ideas as to value. When <a person wants to buy a piano, he considers the price, not by itself, but in connexion ‘with the value of the instrument; and the value determines the price. Mr. Beale admits in his circular that prices have already been raised by reason of this duty, so far as the imported articleis concerned ; and thatis a statementof actual fact to which I should like to draw the attention of the Minister for Home Affairs and the honorablemember for Melbourne Ports. Here we have Mr. Beale, with charming simplicity, telling us that, in regard to pianos, he is going to be the one and only philanthropist ; but he ought not to try to impose on our credulity in that way. We take him to be a keen business man, who trys to get as muchas possible for his goods ; and, although the duty has not as yet been added to his prices, it is abundantlycertain that it will be if importation be restricted.
– Importers have raised their prices.
– Importers have to do that, but they would not do so if they thought such a step would injure their business. Importers, acting on business lines, withsafety and prudence, will continue to selltheir articles, and Mr. Beale will also be bound sooner or later to add the duty to his price. The fact that he has not done so as yet isonly proof of his good sense; he wants a big duty and does not desire to do anything to prejudicehis case. But Mr. Beale also tells us that itdoes not now pay him to make his instruments, and says that the cost of his goods is higher than that at which he imported similar, goods ; in other words, he says that his industry is not a paying one. If that be so, and he does not increase his prices, it cannot be long before he will be in the Insolvency Court, unless protectionists assist him in his philanthropic business. Mr. Beale, however, will have to “ paddle his own canoe,” as other men ‘have to do, and it would have been well for his case had he omitted those contradictory statementsfrom his circular. Cottage pianos ought to bear a fair revenue duty of, say, 15 per cent.; but we ought not to look on these instruments as luxuries. The duty proposed by the Government will not make any difference to the welltodo man, but will fall withcrushing effect on the poor man ; and I am afraid that some honorable members haveerroneous ideas as to what are luxuries, in connexion with musical instruments at any rate, and are of opinion that while a grand upright piano is right enough for a rich man, a Jew’s harp is good enoughfor apoor man. It is good to make available to every man the means of embellishing hislife with music, and of giving his children the means of cultivating their higher faculties, the result of which will react on our industrial and national life.For these reasons I hope the composite duties will be abolished.
Sir EDWARD BRADDON (Tasmania). - I only rise to make a short explanation on the subject of the Canadian duties on pianos. The duty appears in the Canadian schedule at 30 per cent., but owing to the fact that there are preferential rates for British manufactured goods, the duty on these goods is only 20 per cent.
– That applies to a number of other articles in the Canadian Tariff.
Mr.SALMON (Laanecoorie). - No article in the Tariff presents a better subject than pianos for the imposition of a composite duty. I do not care about such duties in their general application ; but there are certain articles which are used by the community, and which are of such varying money value and varying actual worth in regard to durability, that it would be well if a number of them were kept altogether out of consumption. Yesterday we had an opportunity of dealing with a number of articles of exactly similar character. In America certain vehicles are produced at an extremely low price, and sent to various parts of the world. I have seen some of those in use, and after use, in Australia, and I find they are manuf actured from materialwhich is not altogether suitable for this climate. Exactly the same argument applies to a number of low-priced pianos which are imported from the Continent of Europe. I know Victoria from end to end, and the honorable member for Parramatta surprises me when he says that therewere 4,000 cottage pianos imported into the State last year. The majority of pianos in use in Victoria are upright instruments, and not cottage pianos, the latter term, in its general acceptance, having regard to size rather than to shape. These instruments, weare told, are imported and sold at about £25, and if the honorable member for Parramatta is serious in his desire that the musical education of the masses should be assisted, he ought to vote for a considerable composite duty. He should vote for a substantial fixed duty tobeginwith, inorder that the masses may not have palmed off upon them an inferior instrument which, in our climate, will shake to pieces within twelve months. If the honorable member for Parramatta, and those who agree with him, really desire to assist the musical education of our people, they cannot do it more effectually than by preventing the importation of cheaply made jimcrack instruments, which tend rather to demoralize the splendid musical taste which they undoubtedly possess than to develop it. No one can become a good piano player unless he has a decent instrument to play upon. Probably no articles are imported into the Commonwealth upon which a larger profit is made than is made upon pianos. The instruments are manufactured very cheaply, especially in Germany, and the large demand for them - which is greatly owing to the fact that the inferior instruments go to ruin and have to be replaced by new ones - enables the agents and importers to charge very high prices.
– A working man could not afford to pay £40 for a piano.
– The working man who pays £25 for the instruments to ‘ which I refer will find at the end of a year that his money has been absolutely wasted. I have not the honour of Mr. Beale’s acquaintance and I have not read his circular until today ; but I was surprised and pleased at some of the statements in it, and more especially at the statement that nine-tenths of the material in his pianos is produced in Australia. I understood the honorable member for South Australia, Mr. Poynton, to say that the parts were all manufactured in Germany, and were merely put together here.
– The action is imported from Germany.
– The accessories to which the honorable member refers are an inconsiderable part of the whole instrument. The honorable member for Parramatta has made a strong appeal for what he calls the embellishment of the artisan’s home with musical instruments ; but we, on this side, appeal for duties which will give the artisan the means of earning his livelihood - a much more important thing.
– That is what the duties have not done. They have driven people out of Victoria.
– For one person who plays the piano, there are hundreds who can only listen to piano-playing by others.
In the circular to which I allude, we have evidence of the establishment of an industry, which bids fair to capture the home market, and. to give employment of a remunerative character to our people. It is pointed out that a patent has been invented which any one who has had to do with pianos, especially in the country districts, knows is a very valuable one.
– We give all credit to the inventor for his discovery.
– By preserving the home market for local manufacturers, we shall stimulate the ingenuity of our own people, and this will probably lead to the invention of further improvements. The probabilities are, that if there had been no piano factory in Australia, the particular invention to which I alluded would never have been discovered, because the want of ii would not be brought before the inventor. It is pointed out in the circular that the pianocases which are made here are carved by hand, while those imported from abroad are carved largely by machinery. Wood-carving is an avocation which can be taken up by people who are unable to follow more arduous employments, and thus this industry offers assistance to persons who find themselves no longer able to engage in employments which tax their physical endurance to the utmost. I do not suppose that any large number of men will find occupation in the carving of piano cases, but the work will give employment to some, and means of education to more.
– Is there not an old-age pension system to provide for persons who are unable to earn their own livelihood ?
– I have always been a strong advocate of the old-age pension system, but I think it is still better to find employment for our people, so that, no matter what their age or condition, they can earn their living.
– I rise to urge upon the Government the abandonment of the proposed composite duties ; but I shall not enter into many of the arguments which have been so well put forward by those who are ‘endeavouring to obtain a lower duty. Of course, it is hopeless to expect the committee to agree to the admission of pianos free of duty. The honorable member for Laanecoorie declares that his desire is to provide work for the artisans of Australia. Honorable members on this side of the House have exactly the same desire, but we find that work has- been provided in connexion with this industry not in the protected States, but under free-trade conditions in New South Wales.
– Only in connexion with importations.
– No, not only in connexion with importations, but in the manufacture of the instruments. The factory in New South Wales is turning out hundreds of pianos. As to the idea of the honorable member for Laanecoorie of turning exhausted coal-miners into wood-carvers, .ill I can say is if that is part of the policy of protection it is a very poor policy indeed, and I do not wonder that the adoption of protection has had the effect of driving people away from Victoria. Surely all the arguments are in favour of either a low duty or no duty at all. The industry has existed for years without a duty. Every credit is due to the manufacturer who has succeeded in establishing the piano-making industry in Sydney. His success affords evidence that brains and energy will overcome any natural difficulties that may present themselves. This manufacturer has stated, in reply to an interviewer, that although a protectionist and of opinion that free-trade was unjust, he did not care, so far as his manufacturing was concerned, whether a duty was imposed upon pianos or not.
– He absolutely denies that.
– In the course of the article, from which I have just quoted, the writer says -
The output of the factory is said to be over 500 pianos a year. The industry does not consist merely of putting together imported parts. The pianos are genuinely manufactured on the premises at Annandale. Only the keyboards and the actions are imported, and pianoforte* makers do not usually make their own keyboards and actions. Their manufacture are subsidiary and separate industries. The actions for the locally-made pianos are manufactured by Iserman, of Hamburg, a maker of high standing.
– Those instruments were not manufactured at a profit.
– Then the object of the duty is simply to compel the public to pay higher prices for-their pianos.
– No, not that; but to afford the manufacturers a larger market.
– That advantage has already been given by the abolition of Inter-State barriers, and the sole object of the protective duty is to enable the manufacturers to charge higher prices. If we admit, for the sake of argument, that some duty should be imposed, we have to consider how far we ought to go in that direction. Proposals for composite duties have been rejected by the committee in connexion with items to which they might have been applied far more appropriately than to pianos. In the case of vehicles, for instance, it was urged that composite duties would have the effect of excluding certain classes of buggies of an inferior, and, therefore, of a dangerous, character. Something might be urged in favour of the composite duties on that ground, but it cannot be said that any particular harm is likely to befall the man who plays upon an inferior piano. On the other hand, thousands of pianos, which have been sold in Australia at £25 each, have lasted for many years, and have afforded their owners infinite pleasure. I know one such instrument that has been played upon for 25 years. These cheap pianos, although they may not satisfy aesthetic ears, tend to make many home circles attractive ; and that is what we need almost more than anything else in Australia. It would therefore be wrong to discourage the importation of cheap pianos, which, although they may not be, perhaps, as good in workmanship, appearance, or tone as the better-class pianos, still last for many years and afford real enjoyment to many thousands of people. The Government proposal will work in the direction of excluding this class of instruments, or of making it more difficult for those with small means to obtain pianos. Under the Government proposal a piano costing £10 would be subject to duty amounting to £5 10s., whilst an instrument valued at £20 would have to bear a duty of only £7, and a £50 piano would be dutiable to the extent of £11 10s. Thus an instrument costing five times asmuch as the £10 piano would be subject toonly’ double the amount of duty. The Treasurer says that his officers inform him that it is not easy to check the invoice values of pianos. If any such statement were made it is absolutely incorrect, becausethe values’ of pianos can be checked even more easily than the value of many articles which are- subject to an ad valorem duty, , and which can only be appraised by the keenest of experts. In spite of his objection the Treasurer asks us to adopt an ad valorem rate as part of the composite duty, and the composite duty is therefore on the ground of difficulty of valuation, as much open to objection as a purely ad valorem impost would be. For the reasons I have advanced,, I hope the Treasurer will abandon, the composite duties, and apply the ad valorem principle to pianos. The honorable member for Melbourne Ports really amuses me. Upon one day he will employ arguments which are diametrically opposed to those which headvances upon another occasion. He urges that a high duty should be placed upon pianos, because of the difference which exists between the wages paid in Germany and elsewhere, and those which are paid in Australia. Yesterday, however, when the committee were discussing the duty which, should be levied upon, vehicles, he declared that the competitor we chiefly had to fear, in that particular line was the United. States. It was no part of his argument then to declare that the wages paid in that country were higher than those paid in Australia; I maintain that any difference between the wages which, obtain, in countries where pianos are manufactured, and those paid, in Australia, is fully compensated for by the cost of carriage. Under these circumstances a lower rate than that proposed by the Treasurer should be adopted, and the composite character of the duty should, be abolished.
– The honorable member for North Sydney has. completed, the appeal which has been made to the Treasurer. Of course I can understand why the latter turns a deaf ear to the suggestion, that the composite duty should be swept away. He knows that that form of, duty is a pet one of the. Minister for Trade and Customs, and loyalty to his colleague probably prevents, him from, agreeing towithdraw it, notwithstandingthat the committee have abolished, the composite duties in every case except, that of cigars. The love and attachment of the, Minister for Trade and Customs to these, particular, duties will surely earn political fame for him at the hands of those who deal in musical instruments. If the present proposals of theGovernment be carried, they will probably make him famous by the refrain, “ Composite, Charley, is my name “ I would, further point, out that the piano industry, which has been, established byMr. Beale in Sydney, and. in which higher wages are paid than those obtaining, in Germany, America, and Great Britain, has been built up without any State assistance. That, industry is located in the electorate which I have the honour to represent. Indeed, some of the largest industries in Australia are to be found in that constituency, and it is a compliment to their robustness and enterprise that noneof them, have asked for any artificial aid in the shape of protective duties. I was surprised to learn that the honorable member for Parramatta was in possession of a circular from . Mr. Beale, who did not pay me the compliment of forwarding me a copy, although I am told that these circulars can be picked up in thousands, in the neighbourhood of the Government whip’s room. From Beale and Company’s circular I gather that they have successfully established, their industry and made an enormous profit.
– That is a wild assertion to make.
– Their last balance sheet shows a profit of £11,000 upon, a paid-up capital of £50,000; I am aware that, that profit has not been derived exclusively from the manufacture of pianos, but certainly the major portion, of it has.
– Their capital, is over £100,000.
-That shows, that they were willing to invest even a larger amount than I credited them with in an endeavour to establish this industry in a free trade State. The honorable memberfor Laanecoorie, who is a medical man, amused me very much when he appealed to the committee to be patriotic, and to allow a miner in his old age an, opportunity of finding, employment in themanufacture of pianos. In other words, he asks thatthe miner shall be allowed to exercise his stiff muscles in the manufacture of an article requiring the most deft manipulation. The thing is absurd. I contend that the only effect of this duty will be to give an additional bonus to an existing, industry; at the expense of those who purchase pianos for the purpose of earning, a livelihood. Of course I am aware that, in the time of George III., the capacity to play the piano was regarded as, a great accomplishments. To-day, however, it is an essential, in the studies of almost every youth in the community. Personally I favour, the imposition, of a 1 5 per cent, rate upon these instruments.
In making such an offer I believe that, as a f ree-trader, I am stultifying myself, but that was the duty which, prevailed inSouth. Australia. We have already fixed organs at 20 per cent, ad valorem., and as the question; of the compositeduties has beenfought over and over again, I trust that the Treasurer will give way.
– The appeals of the honorable member for Dalley are almost irresistable, and he has several times nearly dragged me over the line. On this occasion, however, I have another reason for giving way, and, it is a reason, which often actuates myfriends of the Opposition. When they know that the numbers are against them they do not persevere ; and on this occasion I happen to know that the numbers are against me, and, in order to save time, I shall agree to an amendment to. omit the composite duties. But I cannot agree to. anything like a duty of 15 per cent. In my opinion 25 per cent, is a reasonable rate.
Mr. WILKS (Dalley). - I am pleased to hear the statement of the Treasurer, andI regard this as a glorious victory for the Opposition, and as another illustration of the usefulness of the free-trade party in obtaining a workable and liberal Tariff I make a further appeal to the Treasurer, namely, that in fixing the ad valorem duty, he will make it as close, to 15 per cent, as possible, seeing that, there is only one firm engaged in manufacturingpianos in Australia, and thatit will be years before another firm can, be in a position to compete. Beale and Company have been in business for eleven years, and we admiretheirenterprise and energy but their business has been conducted in free-trade New South Wales in preference to protected Victoria, and, with a duty of 15 per cent., they ought to do very well in the enlarged market presented by. federation. I would, also urge, the Treasurer to caref ully regard this questionf rom, a revenue point of. view.
Amendment agree to.
Sir WILLIAM McMILLAN (Wentworth). - I am, actuated by a desire to prevent, unnecessary discussion, and as I think, that 20 per cent, is likely to be the duty the committee will vote for - although under allthe circumstances, such a dutyis in my opinion excessive - I move -
That the words “20per cent.” be added.
– I trust the committee will see the wisdom of accepting the; compromise suggested by the acting leader of the Opposition. This industry has, been fairly established, and we all must give credit to Beale and Company for the way in which they have pushed ahead in the face of all kinds of difficulty. But up to the present this business has been carried: on without any protection, and. a duty of 20 per cent. represents very liberal treatment. This duty will, yield a large, amount from, articles which it is just to tax when we are compelled to go to the Customs for revenue.
– In, my opinion a duty of 20 per cent. is quite sufficient. Personally, I should be inclined to give my vote for protecting an industry established in New South Wales, and the course I have endeavoured to pursue, when in doubt as to what a duty should be, has been to support the Victorian impost. But the Government proposal is far and away in excess of the duty previously imposed in this State. I find that the total imports of pianos into Victoria in 1900 amounted in value to £113,000, the duty on which was £24,000.
– The importers were evidently “ loadingup,” because those figures are far above the ordinary import.
– That may be. The original proposal of the Government would have meant something: like 55 per cent, on, the Victorian imports of 1900, or a revenue, of £39,380; and these figures in themselvesare an argument in favour of the 20 per cent., duty
– TheVictorian, duty was purely a revenue duty.
– It was quite, high enough for a protective duty. If we impose a duty of only 25 per cent., on vehicles, which represent a much moreimportant; industry, we have no right to make the duty on, pianos any higher than, 20 per cent. A large number of these, pianos are used by the poorer sections of the community, the lower class instruments soldi representing somethinglike 80 per cent. ofthe total consumption.
– I trust the Treasurer will accede, to the request, made, from all parts of the Chamber, to agree to the compromise of 20 per cent. I feel thatas arevenueduty, irrespective of the question of protection,. 15 per cent, would be quite sufficient, and seeing that these manufacturers have not enjoyed any such benefit before, they would consider themselves handsomely treated if this lower duty were imposed. This industry has been carried on with a certain amount of success without any protection, and the suggested compromise, although to my mind too liberal, is so reasonable from a protectionist point of view that it ought to be accepted without hesitation. The honorable member for Melbourne Ports interjected a contradiction of the report of a newspaper interview with Mr. Beale, which was quoted by the honorable member for North Sydney. According to the honorable member for North Sydney the words of the interview were -
Mr. Beale informed us that although a protectionist himself, and of opinion that free-trade was unjust, he did not care, so far as his manufacturing was concerned, whether a duty was imposed on pianos or not.
I have here from the publishers of the newspaper, in which the interview appeared, the words which Mr. Beale himself asked should be added to, or substituted, for those I have read. Mr. Beale’s correction is as follows : -
He would make pianos in any case, but declared that it was in spite of, and not because of, free imports. What he laid special stress on are the fresh opportunities open to him and all other producers by Inter-State free-trade.
That is just the position of free-traders.
– Mr. Beale would probably import all the parts, as he did before.
- Mr. Beale has been manufacturing the iron frames and the cabinet portions of pianos, and I suppose every honorable member is proud of the industry that has been established by that gentleman. So far from showing any desire to ruin an industry of the kind, I think we have exhibited a spirit of compromise in being prepared to accept 20 per cent., which is far and away above any duty which might be imposed for revenue purposes, because a duty of 15 per cent, will be quite high enough for that purpose. There should be no hesitation on the part of the Treasurer in accepting a duty of 20 per cent, for the benefit of an industry which has been able to withstand the competition of the world without assistance, and has now the whole market of Australia to exploit.
– I intend to vote for a duty of 25 per cent, upon pianos. I do not say that pianos are a luxury in the sense that many other things are luxuries ; but I am of opinion that people can afford to pay higher duties upon articles which they buy only occasionally than upon those which they have to purchase every day. If a person buys an imported piano, and has to pay 25 per cent, duty upon it, he will probably get an article which will last for 25 or 30 years. It is urged that a duty of 25 per cent, is a very high duty, but we have imposed a duty of 30 per cent, upon hats, which people are always buying.
– That was because the hat industry was established under protection, and could not continue without it.
– It is scarcely correct to say that the piano-making industry was established under free-trade, because there were duties in force in New South Wales in 1891 and 1892. Every one who has lived in that State knows that the importers of pianos have enjoyed a great monopoly there, and have been able to obtain very high prices from the purchasers.
– The auction rooms in Sydney are full of pianos.
– The time -payment system often makes a cottage piano cost, not £25, but nearly twice that amount, and it is impossible to get a decent instrument for the country without paying £40, £50, or £60 for it. We should either allow pianos to come in free, or place upon them a duty which will lead to their manufacture by our own people, and thus bring down the artificially high prices which have been charged by the importers.’ It has been shown that five out of six imported pianos come from Germany, and it cannot be urged that the labour conditions prevailing there are anything like those prevailing here. This is a big market, and it is one worth capturing. The duties which have been placed upon pianos in the various States have not been tempting enough to induce persons to manufacture them within their borders. In Canada, the duty upon pianos is 30 per cent., and they not only supply their own wants, but have an export trade as well. I agree with those who say that we should develop the musical talents of our people, and I shall always be willing to lend a hand in efforts of that sort ; but I think the music which they get from their pianos will be all the sweeter to them if they know that the instruments were made by their fellow-citizens.
I do not know a great deal about the piano industry of New South Wales, but I know that it has been subjected to great persecution. It has been stated that its profits are earned upon a capital of £50,000 ; whereas we have it on the best authority that nearly £100,000 is invested in the enterprise. That such treatment should be given to an industry says very little for the existence of the spirit of fair competition in commercial circles. I think we ought to be able to make pianos here which will suit our climate better than do those which are sent to us from across the sea. Thepiano-making industry is one which is worth encouraging, and I do not think its encouragement will inflict any hardship upon those who desire to cultivate the musical art.
– I am sorry that, notwithstanding the desire expressed by the Prime Minister the other evening to finish the Tariff as soon as possible, so much time has been wasted today by the action of the Government in persisting with these composite duties, which the committee has defeated over and over again. I hope that this will be the last time when such duties will be proposed, because they have been condemned by honorable members in the strongest terms. Now, however, it is agreed that the duty should be an ad valorem one, and we have to consider merely what the rate shall be. Honorable members opposite wish to place a high duty upon pianos, in spite of the fact that they have been manufactured successfully in New South Wales without a duty. The circular issued by the manufacturer himself shows that there is absolutely no necessity for protection. He has hitherto had to compete against importations from Germany and other places upon even terms, but he will now have an extended and protected market. If we give this industry the advantage of a 20 per cent, duty we shall be making a most liberal concession. We have to consider the effect, not only of the ad valorem duty, but of the enormous natural protection afforded by the packing, freight, and other charges upon such bulky articles as pianos. The import charges upon pianos of values ranging from £16 to £20 brought from Germany or America would amount to fully 25 per cent, on the invoice cost.
– Thirty-three per cent.
– Even assuming that the charges do not exceed 25 per cent., a 20 per cent, duty would increase the protection to the local manufacturer to 45 per cent. Surely the most ardent protectionist would not require more than that. The Treasurer will do well to bring this matter to a conclusion by agreeing to accept the proposal of the leader of the Opposition.
– There is very little difference between a 20 per cent, duty and a 25 per cent, duty so far as protective incidence is concerned, and I cannot congratulate the free-trade party upon fighting for a mere 5 per cent. If they were true to their principles they would endeavour to secure the admission of pianos free of duty. The pianomaking industry employs hundreds of people, and is likely to assume enormous proportions. One statement which has been made by Mr. Beale has not yet been quoted. He says -
No pianos are imported into the United States, where duties are heavy, and nowhere are pianos sold more cheaply retail, whilst thousands of very high quality are exported annually. Sixty-one American piano manufacturers have branches in London, yet twenty years ago the hope of adequate home production and export was ridiculed by German agents in America, as German agents in Australia ridicule the idea here now.
Mr. Beale also points out that if the pianos required by Australians were made by Australian artisans, their cash value would exceed £600,000 a year - a large annual distribution in our community. The piano industry appears to be one that is worth doing something for, and I shall support the Government proposal.
– I consider that a duty of 20 per cent, ad valorem would be sufficiently high to impose upon pianos. It may be argued that as we have voted in favour of a 25 per cent, duty upon boots and upon vehicles, we should impose a similarly high duty upon pianos, but whereas the bootmaking and coachbuilding industries are carried on to a greater or less degree in almost every country town in Australia, the pianomaking industry cannot assume anything like the same large proportions. On the other hand, I am afraid that if we impose a very heavy duty, we shall encourage monopolies, which would operate to the disadvantage of the people. I think that a 20 per cent, duty would serve for revenue purposes, and that beyond any incidental protection that might be given by such an impost the industry is not worthy of consideration. We shall have to look to Italy and Germany, the great homes of music, for our best musical instruments for many years to come.
Question - That the words “ 20 per cent.” be added - put. The committe divided.
Question so resolved in the affirmative.
Amendment agreed to.
Amendment (by Sir George Turner) agreed to -
That the following new item be added - “ Parts of, n.e.i., on and after 13th March, 1902, 20 per cent.”
Amendment (by Sir George Turner) proposed -
That the following new item be added : - “ Military band and orchestral musical instruments, on and. after 13th March. 1902, 10per cent.”
– I think that these instruments should be admitted free. In this connexion I would point out that musical instruments for bands are included in the list of miscellaneous exemptions. Most bands are organized for the purpose of playing in the open air, and the proceeds of 95 per cent, of their performances are devoted to charitable purposes. Consequently, I see no reason which would justify us in levying a duty of 10 per cent, upon their instruments. I think that they should be admitted free.
– I cordially support the remarks of the honorable member for Melbourne. Most men have to undergo a very self-denying ordeal in order to become efficient bandsmen, and many of them are using instruments of which they would gladly dispose, if they could only afford to purchase better articles. The little money which they earn does not nearly compensate them for the expenditure that they incur. We cannot manufacture these instruments within the Commonweal th, and I fail to see any justification for levying a duty upon them.
– Personally I feel that to vote for a duty upon any kind of musical instrument is little short of an act of vandalism. Bands render so much valuable service to the public, especially in the country districts, that we should exempt their instruments from taxation. I have in my hand a circular issued by the Victorian Band Association, which contains a few very good points. It directs attention to the fact that; as a rule, bandsmen are recruited from the working classes. A great many of their performances are given for charitable purposes, and honorable members must recollect that their equipment involves a large expenditure.
– As this is a duty from which very little revenue would be derived, I will agree to the suggestion to admit these instruments free, and therefore I ask leave to withdraw my amendment.
Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.
Sir MALCOLM McEACHARN (Melbourne). - I hope that bagpipes will also be exempted fromduty. I would point out that a Scottish regiment has been formed in Victoria and other States, and I am doubtful whether bagpipes are covered by the term “ Military instruments.” I think these instruments should be admitted free.
– I wish to direct attention to the fact that there are instruments other than those enumerated here which require some consideration at the hands of the committee. For example, there is an instrument which combines the piano and pianola, which, under the present proposal of the Government, will be admitted at a lower rate than is chargeable upon the piano. I am not aware of the technical name of this instrument, but it is worked with a pianola attachment. Is it fair to admit that instrument at a lower rate than is levied upon the piano 1 It is not a musical box, and the value of some of these instruments ranges from £600 to £700.
– There is a good deal of force in the contention that the combined instrument should not be allowed in at a lesser rate of duty than the piano, and the only way to meet the difficulty is to move -
That the following new item be added : - ‘ Pianos, whether worked mechanically or otherwise, on and after 13th March, 1902, 20 per cent.”
Amendment agreed to.
Musical instruments, parts of, viz. : - Action work in separate pieces.
Amendments (by Sir George Turner) agreed to -
That the words “Action work in separate pieces” bo omitted, with a view to insert in lieu thereof the words “Actions, strings, felts, hammers, and ivories, “
That the following exemption be added: - “ Metal pipes for pipe organs.”
Amendment (by Sir George Turner) proposed -
That the following exemptions be added : - “Military band and orchestral musical instruments.”
– I suggest that bagpipes should also be added to the special exemptions. I fancy that under the words “ Military band,” bagpipes would come in free, because there is a band of bagpipes in connexion with every Scottish regiment. It would be unfair to Scotchmen if English musical instruments were admitted free, and
Scottish musical instruments were made dutiable.
– I have pleasure in supporting the suggested amendment of the honorable member for Melbourne. At a great Scottish gathering in America I heard a man say that Scotch music had driven all the Scotchmen to that country, and as they are good colonists, we want them driven to Australia.
– Do I understand that this exemption is limited to instruments for military bands?
– No; that is the technical name for the instruments.
– I support the suggestion of the honorable member for Melbourne, though for a reason different from that which he gave. Bagpipes are used in regimental bands for the production of national music, and they ought to be available for every Scottish regiment in the Commonwealth. If we look deeply into this matter we shall find that a tax on bagpipes will be a tax on bravery. Scottish regiments fight bravely in all the campaigns of the Empire, and, by a process of induction, I am led to the conclusion that the members of those regiments would rather meet the enemy than stop behind to listen to the music.
– I do not think there is any need for the honorable member for Melbourne to press his suggestion, seeing that bagpipes will come within the category of military band instruments. If there is any doubt as to whether bagpipes are a musical instrument, we might add the words “including bagpipes.”
– I am quite willing to include the words “ and bagpipes “ in my amendment.
Amendment amended accordingly.
Sir MALCOLM McEACHARN (Melbourne). - To use the words “including bagpipes “ might be thought to cast a reflection on that instrument. Perhaps we ought to use the words “ also bagpipes.”
Mr. RONALD (Southern Melbourne).This is a case where bagpipes might pray, if they had that power, to be saved from their friends, because it is only turning them into ridicule to add any qualifying term. There is nothing in the wide world more clear than that bagpipes are part of a military band.
Mr.sawers. - And musical instruments?
– And are musical instruments ; in fact, one set of bagpipes is a whole military band. The traditions of the Scottish people are such that, if we expect them to be fightersand to defend the country, the bagpipes are altogether indispensable. I emphatically protest against there being any invidious distinction such as is involved by the use of the words “ including “ or “ also.” As to there being any doubt about the bagpipes being a musical instrument, I would point out that the fact that a violin is not a musical instrument to a bull is not the fault of the violin, but the fault of the bull.
Amendment, as amended, agreed to.
Exemptions, as amended, agreed to.
Division, as amended, agreed to.
Division XVI. - Miscellaneous.
Item 123. - Bags, baskets, boxes, cases, or trunks, including fittings, viz.: - Fancy, hand, sporting, travelling, picnic, toilet, dressing, glove, handkerchief, collar, and work : satchels, reticules, valises, and companions, ad valorem 20 per cent.
– I am particularly anxious that the Tariff should be disposed of, and the Bills relating to the customs and excise duties passed and sent to the other Chamber before the Easter adjournment, in order that the members of the Senate may have an opportunity of studying them during the holidays, and be able to proceed at once with their consideration after the holidays. I do not include the Bonus Bill, because, perhaps, that will be too debatable a measure to allow it to be passed before Easter. I, therefore, ask honorable members to assist me in passing this division to-night. Personally, I shall be glad of a little relaxation, because the pressure upon me has been rather heavy during the last three weeks, and if I have two or three clear days I shall be able to look into the various items which I have promised to reconsider, and to get ready more quickly the figures which I wish to place before honorable members to show what has been the effect of the Tariff upon the revenue. It is only fair, too, that honorable gentlemen, before proceeding to deal with the amendments in the Public Service Bill and the Postal Rates Bill, should have an opportunity to look into those measures. Therefore I shall propose, if we finish this division to-night, to adjourn until Tuesday next.
– I understand that the proposal of the Government is to finish the division to-night, and then adjourn until Tuesday next, and that the Tariff is not to be brought up again next week.
– I should like to bringit up again about Thursday next, if that is possible, but I promise not to bring it up before that day, and to give notice on Tuesday of what we propose to do.
– I understand further that Tuesday’s and Wednesday’s sittings will be devoted to the consideration of the Senate’s amendments in the Public Service Bill, and to the consideration of the Postal Rates Bill.
– Yes ; and the Attorney-General may introduce the Judiciary Bill, though the debate upon the second reading of that measure will not bo proceeded with.
– In that case I think I can promise for those on this sideof theChamberthatif my right honorable friend is in a conciliatorymood, we shall pass the division to-night. I shall do all I can to induce honorable gentlemen to curtail their speeches.
Amendment (by Mr. Conroy) negatived -
That the words “and on and after 13th March, 1902, 15 per cent.” be added.
Item agreed to.
Item 124. - Boats, launches, and yachts imported in any vessel, including all fittings, ad valorem 20 per cent.
Sir WILLIAM McMILLAN (Wentworth). - I find that the value of the boats imported into New South Wales from outside the Commonwealth during the last year for which statistics are available was about £2,000, and that only thirteen boats were imported, five of which came from New Britain. Surely a duty of 20 per cent, is not necessary to protect the boatbuilding industry. I move -
That the words “and on and after 13th March, 1902, 15 per cent. “ be added.
Amendment agreed to.
Item, as amended, agreed to.
Item 125. - Brushware, viz. : - Carpet sweepers, hair brushes and combs (toilet), and tooth brushes, ad valorem 15 per cent.
N.E.I., including brooms, mops, crumb trays and brushes, ad valorem 25 per cent.
– Itseemstome that a duty of 10 per cent, would be quite high enough for carpet-sweepers, hair brushes and combs, and tooth brushes ; but I shall not further discuss it if a 15 per cent, duty upon all brushware is proposed, and if the Treasurer is willing to abolish the distinction between the articles I have named and the articles upon which he proposes to charge a duty of 25 per cent. I think that such an arrangement would save a lot of dispute and trouble at the Custom-house.
Sir WILLIAM McMILLAN (Wentworth). - I would point out to the Treasurer that he is proposing a duty of 25 per cent, on painters’ brushes and artists’ brushes, which are really tools of trade. It would certainly simplify matters, and give less inducement to fraud, to adopt the suggestion of the honorable and learned member for Werriwa. Brooms and mops, upon which a high duty is proposed, are things which are very easily manufactured, and do not require a high protection. There are articles included in the item which should really be on the free list, but for the sake of simplicity I am willing to agree to an allround duty of 15 per cent.
– The duty of 15 per cent, upon carpet-sweepers, hair brushes and combs, and tooth brushes, is a revenue duty ; but the duty of 25 per cent, upon all other brushware is a protective duty, which has been put on for the protection of an industry which employs 500 or 600 persons.
– Under the Victorian Tariff some of the articles included in this item came in free; others were charged 10 per cent. ; and others 30 per cent. ; so that an all-round duty of 15 per cent, would be a fair compromise.
– In Victoria we did not find it necessary to impose merely revenue duties. I cannot agree to an all-round duty of 15 per cent. ; but if there are certain articles which honorable, members think should be placed on the free list, I am willing to consider their proposals.
– Will the right honorable gentleman place paint brushes, which are tools of trade, upon the free list?
– I do not know about artists’ brushes ; but ordinary paint brushes are made here very largely.
– The Treasurer proposes a duty of 25 per cent, upon all brushware not specifically mentioned, and therefore that duty will be imposed upon millet brooms. I would point out to him, however, that we have already agreed to a high duty upon millet, and that as there is not sufficient millet grown within the Commonwealth to manufacture all the brooms we require, the makers of these articles will be at a considerable disadvantage. I am with the honorable member for Wentworth in his suggestion that brushes which are tools of trade should be placed upon the free list.
Amendment (by Mr. Conroy) negatived -
That the words “and on and after 13th March, 1902, 10 per cent.” be added to the duty “Carpetsweepers, hair brushes, and combs (toilet), and tooth brushes ad valorem 15 per cent.”
Sir WILLIAM McMILLAN (Wentworth). - I think the duty upon the next line should be reduced to 20 per cent., and that we should afterwards exempt from duty painters’ brushes.
– I am willing to exempt artists’ camel and badger hair brushes because they are not made here.
Amendment (by Mr. Conroy) proposed -
That the words “and on and after 13th March, 1902, 15 per cent.” be added to the duty “ n.e.i., including brooms, mops, crumb trays and brushes ad valorem 25 per cent. “
– I think that a duty of even 20 per cent, would be rather a heavy one to impose upon the articles included in this line. I do not care much about artists’ brushes, but we should certainly exempt from duty brushes such as those used by house painters.
– I trust the committee will hesitate before reducing this duty, because it is necessary for the protection of the brush-making industry.
Mr. O’MALLEY (Tasmania). - I hope honorable members will recognise that the brush-making industry is a very important one, and that those engaged in it should be protected against foreign competition.
– I would point out to the Treasurer that hog-hair brushes are amongst the most important of those used by artists.
Amendment (by Sir William McMillan) put -
That the words “ and on and after 13th March, 1902, 20 per cent.” be added to the duty, “n.e.i., 25 per cent.”
The committee divided.
Majority … … 2
Question so resolved in the negative.
Item agreed to.
Item 126. - Coke, per ton 4s.
– I should like to know why this duty is proposed. Prior to the introduction of the Tariff, coke was admitted free into all the States excepting Queensland, where a duty of 25 per cent, was levied. The Government cannot expect to derive any revenue from this duty, and it certainly cannot have any protective incidence, because the cost of importing coke amounts to 30s. per ton, and an addition of 4s. to the expense would not have any appreciable effect in checking importations. Coke is used chiefly in the smelting operations carried on in connexion with the mines of Western Australia, Broken Hill, and elsewhere, and no good object can be served by imposing a duty upon it. I therefore move -
That the words “and on and after 13th March, 1902, free,” be added.
Sir WILLIAM MCMILLAN (Wentworth). - I hope the Treasurer will see the desirability of giving way in this matter. The importations of coke are very small, and we should not afford the slightest excuse for increasing the price of an article which is used so largely in smelting operations.
– The importations of coke from abroad into the Commonwealth have been restricted almost entirely to South Australia and Western Australia. South Australia imported last year from beyond the Commonwealth 36,000 tons of coke, of which 11,000 tons came from Germany. During 1900. South Australia imported 36,000 tons of coke from the United Kingdom, and 34,000 tons from New South Wales. I understand, from the information which has been furnished to me, that this industry provides a very large amount of employment in New South Wales, especially in connexion with small coal, which probably would be of little value for other purposes. In view of this fact the Government thought it proper to impose a duty of 4s. per ton upon coke, which certainly cannot be described as a high impost.
– What rate does that represent 1
– I understand that the landed price of coke is about 25s. per ton. I hope that the committee will agree to afford this industry a reasonable measure- of protection.
– I shall certainly support the amendment of the honorable member for Kalgoorlie, to place this article upon the list of exemptions. If there is any industry in Australia which ought to be developed without the aid of a protective duty it is surely that of coke. The- Treasurer has referred to the fact that 36,000 tons of coke were imported by South Australia during 1900 ; but there is no doubt that nearly the whole of that quantity was imported by the Broken Hill Proprietary Company for its smelting works at Port Pirie; As evidencing the fact that there is absolutely no need for the proposed duty, I may mention that the coke industry has recently been developed to such an extent that Australia is now practically supplying her own needs. Only last year the output of coke in New South Wales totalled 128,822 tons. The reason why so much coke was imported in former years was that the quality of the local article was inferior to that of the imported, and consequently the mining companies preferred to buy the latter, although they had to pay a higher price for it. The English and German coke contained only 7 per cent, of ash, whereas the colonial article contained about 14 per cent. The difficulty with the local coke has been that it was not of sufficiently good quality to meet the needs of the smelters. Of recent years, however, some of the large mining companies have erected their own coke works, and in other ways the quality of the article has been improved, so that at the present moment all the Broken Hill mines are purchasing colonial coke. The annual coke bill of the Sulphide Corporation represents £10,000 a year, and they draw the whole of their supplies from Newcastle. The Block 14 mine consumes 200 tons of coke per week, all of which is manufactured within the Commonwealth. At the present time the Broken Hill Proprietary mine uses 1,000 tons of coke per week, 500 tons of which was formerly imported. Now, however, they have erected their own plant, which turns out that quantity weekly, so that in future they will need to import none. In my judgment the proposed duty of 4s. per ton upon this article will, if carried, be inoperative, especially as the freightage from Germany is equivalent to the value of the coke at the mine. I hope that the Treasurer will agree to admit this article free.
– I would point out that if the Treasurer insists upon the proposed duty he will seriously affect certain mining industries which require to use coke of a different character from that which is now being manufactured within the States. Various classes of ore have to be treated, according to their fusibility, in different ways. There is a certain class of coke required. It must support the burden of the ore to such an extent that the heat is diffused through it gradually, in order that certain chemical combinations may be effected in the charges. By the establishment of works at Illawarra, on behalf of the Mount Lyell and the Broken Hill Company; we believe that we have surmounted the difficulty which has been experienced in the past. But production at Newcastle or Illawarra might prove insufficient to meet the necessities of any large field which may be discovered, say, in Western Australia; requiring this special class of coke ; and it would be a great injustice to prevent importation.
Cardiff coke goes to all parts of the world, though I hope we are successfully overcoming the difficulty which has been a bar to the more general use of Australian coke. No revenue will be derived from the imposition of this duty, which might have the effect of considerably hampering the mining industry. Therefore as this is a nominal impost which will benefit no particular industry, I hope the Treasurer will see that it is not worth fighting about, and will remove another obstacle in the way of such an important interest as that of mining.
– I trust that the Treasurer will stand by this duty. According to the honorable member for Barrier, no coke is imported; and if that be so, nobody will suffer from the proposal of the Government. There are enough people engaged in this industry in the Commonwealth to insure competition sufficient to keep prices down to a reasonable figured and, as a matter of fact, coke manufacturers in New South Wales have had a very precarious existence. The question whether this coke is of a quality acceptable to the mines at Broken Hill is one f&r the managers themselves to consider, but I know that as far back as 1901 coke was being produced just as good as that produced to-day. Even under a 10 per cent, duty in New South Wales there was a gradual diminution of imports, until they came within £26,832 in’ value ; but when the duty was removed in 1896, the imports jumped to £135,000. I have not the figures in relation to New South Wales in subsequent years, but the imports of coke into the Commonwealth in 1901 were valued at £44,921. This is a primary industry, which employs a great number of people, particularly in New South Wales, and it is worthy of some assistance. We are told that proprietors of mines who require coke are about to manufacture for themselves, and, if a duty will hurry them on, the better it will be for all concerned.
– There was no coke im- ported into New South Wales last year.
– There was very little imported ; but the removal of the works from Broken Hill to Port Pirie may have had some effect, as is shown by the large quantity of foreign coke imported into South Australia during the year 1900. We have been protecting industries right through this Tariff, and here we have a genuine primary industry, by means of which we ought to be able to supply all the coke required in Australia. The honorable member for Barrier says that coke good enough in quality for the requirements of Broken Hill is being made here, but the honorable member for Kooyong contends that special coke is required for certain work ; and we hardly know which statement to accept. When the duty was remitted in New South Wales in 1895, and contracts were being entered into, the objection raised to the colonial coke was that it contained 1 per cent, more ash than the German coke.
– Ten per cent.
– If that objection has been overcome, and it is the intention of persons, who require this coke, to enter on its manufacture, they will not be hampered by such a duty as that proposed. The industry in the district which I represent has not had that pleasant history which some people would like us to believe. From time to time works have been closed down and restarted as circumstances demanded, and there has been a struggle against the competition of the importations from abroad. I have not with me the exact figures as to the charges for freight, but to send coke from Newcastle round to Broken Hill costs as much as to bring coke to Adelaide from England or Germany. The duty, when analyzed, is not so high as duties which we have passed in connexion with other industries. I understand it amounts to nearly 20 per cent., and in accepting the proposal of the Government, we shall have the satisfaction of knowing that we are supporting an industry which employs a large amount of labour.
Mr. CONROY (Werriwa).- I hope the committee will not agree to this duty, which will bring in no revenue. Coke is merely coal from which the volatile constituents have been removed, and the trouble is that there is always a certain amount of ash and other residuum. The quality of coke depends entirely on the quality of the coal, and there are certain classes of coal that we have not in New South Wales, or any part of Australia. Coke of certain kinds must be imported, even if only to mix with other coke, and it would be absurd for us to quarrel with what nature has ordained. Are people engaged in the mining industry to have no consideration at all ? It is admitted that the proposed duty is practically prohibitive ; but if imported coke cannot be obtained, certain classes of ores cannot be effectively smelted, and that will cause a great number of miners to be thrown out of employment The honorable member for Kooyong pointed out that some kinds of imported coke are much more able to bear the weight of the ore placed upon them than are other kinds, and are therefore necessary for certain smelting operations.
– I hope that the Government will not insist upon this duty. We have already placed a heavy duty upon mining machinery, and the proposed duty will still further hamper the mining industry. It costs 30s. to land coke in Western Australia, and it has then to be taken some 300 miles to get it to the mines. Therefore it will be almost impossible to pay the proposed duty upon imported coke, though a great deal of it is absolutely necessary for smelting operations. The Government must realize that the duty is a prohibitive one, because they do not expect to receive any revenue from it. The mining industry should receive some consideration, not only because of the number of men to whom it gives employment, but because the whole Commonwealth is, to a. great extent, dependent for its wealth upon the development of our mineral resources.
– The honorable member for Newcastle, who supports this duty for the protection of what he calls a primary industry, must know that it will have absolutely no effect upon that industry. But when we, on this side, were endeavouring to have the duty upon mining machinery and machinery “used in the coke industry reduced, he and other honorable members resisted our efforts. It was only with great trouble, and through the representations I made to the Minister for Trade and Customs, that I was able to have placed upon the free list an important piece of machinery used in some of the coke works in Illawarra, upon which the duty at the rate proposed would have amounted to about £350. It might be thought from the honorable member’s remarks that- the Dibbs duty of 10s. per ton on coke produced an immediate boom in the coke industry, but as a matter of fact the industry began to go down directly that duty was imposed, and to prosper by .leaps and bounds when it was taken off again, although, of course, I do not contend that either the duty or the absence of a duty was responsible for that state of things. According to Coghlan, the quantity of coke made in the northern districts of New South Wales in 1890 was 15,886 tons, and in 1898, 34,422 tons, while the quantity made in the southern and south-western districts in 1890 was 15,211 tons, and in 1898, 47,800 tons. The total quantity of coke made in- 1890 was 31,097 tons, and in 1898, 82,222 tons. On the other hand, in 1890, 38,174 tons of coke were imported, and in 1898 only 4,000 tons; while last year, I believe, no coke was imported. The coke industry, wherever it has been established, has been established without the aid of a duty. What we want in New South Wales to insure its prosperity is, not a high duty, but the free admission of mining machinery, and of the machinery used in the manufacture of coke.
– The honorable member for Illawarra says that he was instrumental in having a certain coke-making machine placed upon the free list ; but I venture to think that the company which asked him to have that done also told him that a duty upon coke was necessary for the encouragement of their enterprise.
– No. I have not been asked to vote for a duty upon coke.
– I have received communications from a number of people, asking me to support the placing of certain machinery - and among it coke-making appliances - upon the free list ; and to vote for a duty upon coke. I think that as we have listened to the representations of the coke manufacturers in regard to the exemption of coke-making machinery, we should also listen to their representations in regard to the imposition of a duty upon coke, and vote for the Government proposal.
Mr. O’MALLEY (Tasmania). - While listening to the honorable and learned member for Illawarra, I began to think that free-trade created the coke industry, and that without it not a ton of coke would have been produced on God’s earth. As a matter of fact, however, the coke industry of New South Wales rests upon the genius of the Americans who invented the coke ram and the ovens in which the coke - which is merely roasted coal - is treated. This continual fiscal rivalry between the representatives of New South
Wales and Victoria is the most deadly enemy of the stability of industrial facts.
– I wish to again point out to the Treasurer that, notwithstanding the duty, Cardiff coke must continue to be imported. At Port Pirie they use a ton of Cardiff coke to a ton of Newcastle coke, because the Cardiff coke is able to sustain the weight of the fluxes and ores better than the Newcastle coke. That is the reason they imported £36,000 worth from abroad. But for the fact that they require some of the Cardiff coke to blend with the Newcastle product, they might obtain all their supplies more cheaply from New South Wales.
– I agree with what has been said by the honorable member for Illawarra, that if those engaged in the coke industry of New South Wales could be relieved from the burdens imposed upon them by the Tariff they would not require any protection. It has been shown by the honorable member for Newcastle and the honorable member for Barrier that New South Wales can easily compete with the f oreign coke, because of the special natural advantages which she enjoys. Coal is obtainable as cheaply in New South Wales as in any part of the world, and more cheaply than in England. The natural protection afforded by the freight charges upon coke amounts to at least 75 per cent, upon the cost of the article, because coke is very light and takes up a great deal of space. The prime cost of coke in England would not amount to more than 10s. or 12s. per ton, and the duty would therefore represent fully 30 per cent, of the value of the commodity. Under all the circumstances, the duty is entirely unnecessary.
Mr. G. B. EDWARDS (South Sydney). - I cannot see any reason for imposing this duty. It cannot have any other effect than that of penalizing some Of those engaged in our largest mining enterprises, and it certainly cannot act as a protective impost. It has been pointed out that some of the mining companies must have Cardiff coke, even though they may have to pay more for it, and they will cease to use it only when the- cost reaches such a high figure that smelting “operations can no longer be profitably carried on. This is not a New South Wales question, because the people of that State are scarcely interested, and I was rather surprised to hear the remarks of the honorable member for Tasmania, Mr. O’Malley. That honorable member ought to know that the duty on coke will, in years to come, press more heavily upon Tasmania than upon any other State. Tasmania is destined to be the most important mining centre in the Commonwealth, and smelting furnaces will before very long be studded all over the west coast. Tasmania is now using New South Wales coke, to a very large extent, but she may shortly require to import coke from abroad as well, and it is no part of our duty to hamper thosewho are engaged in enterprises which we all desire to see developed.
– I hope the Treasurer will abandon this duty. As has been pointed out, five out of the six States in the Commonwealth have hitherto admitted coke free. It has also been mentioned that Australian coke is almost invariably used for ordinary purposes. There are circumstances, however, under which it has been found necessary to use coke of a higher quality than that locally produced, and the only effect of the duty will be to impose a penalty upon those engaged in an important primary industry. The revenue derived from, the duty cannot be very large in any case, and no useful purpose will be served by imposing it. We were told by the Prime Minister, when he spoke at Maitland, that it was not intended to discourage any of the existing industries of the Commonwealth, and we shall be making a very wide departure from that policy if we impose the duty now proposed.
– I desire to emphasize the remarks of the honorable member for South Sydney with regard to the effect of this duty upon Tasmania. I feel sure that my honorable colleague, Mr. O’Malley, who may be said to specially represent the west coast of Tasmania, would never dream of imposing a duty which would injure his constituents.
Mr.Watkins.- Tasmania imported only 250 tons of coke from beyond the Commonwealth last year.
– The honorable member must pay some regard not only to what has taken place in the past, but to what is likely to happen in the future. A duty of this kind would have the effect of increasing the cost of coke to the consumer in Tasmania, and I hope the committee will not agree to it.
Mr. O’MALLEY (Tasmania). - I would point out that only 258 tons of coke were imported into Tasmania last year from parts beyond the Commonwealth. I do not care whether a duty is imposed upon coke or not, but I think perhaps the Treasurer might accept 2s. The duty will have no effect whatever upon miningoperations on the west coast of Tasmania.
Mr. CONROY ( Werriwa). - I would remind the honorable member for Newcastle that many of the ships which bring coke here from abroad, afterwards proceed to Newcastle to take in large quantities of coal, and thus indirectly give employment to a large number of miners.
– Not one of them.
Question - That the words “and on and after 13th March, 1902, free” be addedput. The committee divided.
Majority … … 5
Question so resolved in the negative.
Amendment (by Mr. Kirwan) put -
That the words “and on and after 13th March, 1902, 2s.” be added.
The committee divided.
Majority … … 3
Question so resolved in the negative.
Amendment (by Mr. O’Malley) negatived.
That the words “ and on and after 13th March, 1902, 3s. “ be added.
Item agreed to.
Item 127. - Cordage and twines, n.e.i., including macrame twines, fleece thread, and brushmakers’ and mattress twines, engine-packing in rope form, and halters and other articles manufactured from cord or twine, including nets and netting,ad valorem, 20 per cent.
– I would point out to the Treasurer that under this item fishermen’s nets are dutiable.
– I propose to make themfree.
– I wish to direct the attention of the Treasurer to the fact that macrame twines are included in this item. I understand that these are cotton twines which are not manufactured in the Commonwealth, but stand upon the same footing as do crochet twines, which the Minister has exempted from duty. For that reason I think that they should be placed upon the free list.
– I have instituted special inquiries in regard to macrame twines, and am informed that they are manufactured in Melbourne. The honorable member for North Sydney is well aware that crochet cotton is used by all classes of the community, whereas macrame twine is an entirely different article, which is used principally in connexion with fancy bags.
Mr. G. B. EDWARDS (South Sydney).I would remind the Treasurer that most fishermen’s nets are made from cocoanut fibre, and that at an early stage in the discussion of the Tariff the question of the quantity of binder twine used per acre in agricultural operations was raised by the leader of the Opposition. The accuracy of the large figures mentioned upon that occasion has since been disputed. Immediately afterwards I recollected the twine was largely used for the training of hops, and upon making inquiries I found that the quantity of string used for this purpose very much exceeded that used per acre in connexion with the reaper and binder. In support of my statement, I wish to quote a communication from Mr. W. E. Shoobridge, which reads as follows : -
In reply to your telegram to-day about string for hops, I have not had much experience yet, but this year I did about 16 acres with string made of coir (cocoanut fibre) at a cost of £72 for 48 cwt. - say, 3 cwt. per acre at 30s. per cwt.
Agriculturehas received too little consideration under this Tariff.
– If the honorable member is speaking of what is known as coir yam, that article is not made dutiable under the Tariff, but I have no objection to mentioning it in the exempt list.
Mr. CONROY (Werriwa). - I am surprised that the honorable member for
Gippsland should have made the proposal he did with regard to fishermen’s nets.
– Fishermen’s nets are not made here.
– Does the honorable member mean to say that the intelligence of Victoria is not equal to the manufacture of fishermen’s nets? I think the honorable member is much more impressed by the fact that such nets are used by certain of his constituents whom he would find it impossible to persuade that they did not pay the duty.
Mr. WILKS (Dalley).- Engine-packing in rope form has to bear a duty of 20 per cent., while engine-packing in sheet form is placed on the exempt list. I know that the Treasurer does not wish to hamper industries, though I can assure him that that will be the effect of this duty in connexion with engine and boiler repairing. A large quantity is used at Mort’s Dock and other engineering establishments. There are three kinds of engine-packing in rope form made here known as chalk, soapstone, and flax packing, and though they are cheap, they are very little used. The brands generally used by the trade are known as asbestos wick, asbestos plaited, Blake’s pump, and Turk’s core packing. Formerly rope-packing - which is purely a technical trade term - was free in New South Wales, free in Queensland, 10 per cent, in Tasmania, and 15 per cent, in Western Australia. The Treasurer expects to receive from this item, “ Cordage and Twines, n.e.i.,” only £11,300 for the whole Commonwealth, so that to place rope packing on the free list would not mean much loss of revenue. I should like to know what prompted the Treasurer to place one kind of engine-packing on the free list and the other kind on the dutiable list.
– Simply because I understand that sheet-packing is not made here, while rope-packing is very largely made locally from pure hemp and flax.
– As a compromise, I move -
That the words “20 per cent., and on and after 13th March, 1902, 10 per cent.” be inserted after the words “Engine packing in rope form.”
Mr. SAWERS (New England). - The honorable member for Dalley draws a distinction between the two kinds of ropepacking.
– Only as a compromise.
– I have not much knowledge of these articles, but I have had to buy and use engine-packings, and I should be inclined to move that both classes be placed on the free list. If enginepacking, in sheet form, is not made in Australia, that is a good reason why it should be placed on the free list. I do not think that the local packing is of anything like the good quality of that imported.
– Does this item include sewing twine which is used by graziers for their woolpacks, and by farmers for their wheat sacks? This twine has to be of great strength and durability, and, so far as I know, it is not made in Australia.
– There are quantities of it made locally.
– I am not prepared to support a duty of 20 per cent., if it means any special increase in the price of such twines as I have mentioned, which I should like to see included in the amendment of the honorable member for Dalley.
Mr. JOSEPH COOK (Parramatta).I would support an amendment that engine packing in rope form should pay only a very small duty, because it is necessary in several large industries in New South Wales.
– I am told that this packing is largely made in the States. I think that the proposed duty is a fair one, if the article to which the honorable member refers is made in the Commonwealth. If he can prove to me that it is not, I am willing to consider a suggestion for reducing the duty.
– I do not ask that the article be placed upon the free list. I am quite content that it should pay a revenue duty, and it seems to me that 10 per cent, is quite high enough for all cordage and twine. In New South Wales the manufacturers of these articles appear to have done very well without the assistance of the duty. The honorable member for Dalley has referred to the large quantity of engine packing used by the Mort’s Dock establishment, and I would point out that the Clyde Engineering Works, which employ hundreds of hands, also use a great deal of it.
Mr. CONROY (Werriwa).- I ask the honorable member for Dalley to withdraw his amendment, to enable me to discuss the proposed duty upon sewing twine.
Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.
– I know from what the Treasurer has already said that, if there were only one manufacturer of twine in the Commonwealth, it would be absurd to ask him to consider the interests of the consumers, and as there are three such manufacturers, no doubt his desire to retain the proposed duty is increased threefold. The duty will fall very heavily upon the farmers, and upon all selectors and pastoralists throughout Australia ; but, as they do not combine to bring pressure upon their representatives, they are not considered, while the manufacturers have only to walk up here and say, “ We want a duty,” and honorable members opposite seem to think it proper to give it to them. Twine is very largely used by our farmers and pastoralists, because every bag of wheat or oats or potatoes that they send away has to be sewn up first, and every bag of wool is enclosed in canvass and sewn.
– The duty would not make a difference of a farthing upon a bale of wool.
– In the aggregate it will mean a very large sum. If the duty were a low one, the revenue yielded by it would all go into the Treasury ; whereas, by imposing a high duty, we allow a large amount of money to be diverted into the pockets of the manufacturers. But honorable members dare not go before their constituents and tell them that. I trust, however, that the electors will take the earliest opportunity to show them what they think oftheir conduct. In the present temper of the committee, and knowing that the Government are able to command a majority, I think it is useless to propose the exemption of all cordage and twine, but I propose to move, later on, the reduction of the duty to 15 per cent.
Mr. BROWN (Canobolas). - I wish to point out to the committee that the twine to which the honorable member refers is extensively used by both graziers and farmers, and must combine thinness with strength, or otherwise a great deal of inconvenience is suffered by them. I have known of farmers having to sew their bags and their bales twice over, because of the inferior quality of the twine with which they have been supplied, and it is necessary therefore that they should be able to obtain cheaply twine of the best description. They are already asked to pay heavy duties upon many of the things which they use or consume, and we should therefore give them some consideration in this matter. I am afraid it would be useless to move the exemption of sewing twine ; but I intend to propose that the duty upon it be reduced to 10 per cent.
– I will give the honorable member an opportunity of doing that later on ; but I should like a proper definition of the article to which he refers. “Sewing twine “ is too wide a term.
Amendment (by Mr. Wilks) proposed -
That the words “engine packing in rope form” be omitted.
Question - That the words proposed to be omitted stand - put. The committee divided.
Majority … … 7
Amendment (by Mr. Wilks) put -
That the words” 20 per cent. , and on and after 1 3th March, 1902, 10 per cent.” be inserted after the words, “ engine packing in rope form.”
The committee divided.
Majority … … 9
Question so resolved in the negative.
Amendment (by Mr. Conroy) put -
That the words “ and on and after 13th March, 1902, 15 per cent.” be added.
The committee divided.
Majority …. … 7
Question so resolved in the negative.
Item agreed to.
Mr. BROWN (Canobolas). - In pursuance of a previous intimation, I move -
That the following new item be inserted to follow item 127 : - “ Seaming twine, on and after 13th March, 1902, 10 per cent.”
This twine is commonly known in the farming and grazing districts as “ sewing twine.” I need not trouble the committee with arguments which have already been used, and I content myself with moving the amendment.
– My attention was directed to this item at an earlier stage, and I now ask those who have spoken as if a duty would be a serious imposition upon the users of this class of twine, and particularly the farmers’ representative from Werriwa, to consider what it will actually amount to per annum, assuming that a duty of 20 per cent, is imposed ? A farmer must be in a pretty large way who uses 12 lbs. weight of this twine in a year. The retail price is10d. per lb., which would make 10s., and therefore a 20 per cent, duty upon the article would amount to a tax upon the farmer of 2s. per annum. However, I do not believe for a moment that the cost of the twine would be increased to the farmer by the imposition of this duty. Those who are always contending for the interests of the primary producers have now an opportunity to give them material assistance. It is assumed by many honorable members that this is entirely a foreign product, but I may remind them that in Australia we can grow flax for the manufacture of this twine equal to anything that can be grown in the world, and we can alsoconvert it into fibre, and afterwards into twine.I will ask the honorable member for Canobolas to examine these samples of flax fibre, and of the finished article, and I have no doubt that experts will tell Mm that this is as good a sample of seaming twine as can possibly be obtained. The growth of this product need not be confined to any particular part of the Commonwealth, as it can be grown successfully in every State in which the climate and soil is suitable. It is true that, like all novel enterprises, those who experimented in this industry lost a little money in the earlier stages of its development, but I can give the committee the experience of a gentleman who is engaged in growing flax at the present time in Victoria. He writes -
My brothers and myself are often asked personally and by letter whether the growing of flax for fibre will pay, and as I know that the widelycirculated Leader is ever ready to publish matters of interest to the farmer, I take this means of answering the inquiries. We feel it our duty to make our experience known because we are convinced that the industry has a great future in this country, both in supplying our own wants, which run into thousands of pounds worth of fibre, and when that limit has been reached, the markets of Europe are open to us to the same extent as for wool or other textile fabrics. We have even now offers from German and Irish spinning mills to ship as many tons as we can raise at a very satisfactory price. This is not ignoring the firm who are the recognised buyers of flax fibre in Melbourne, and who alone absorb 300 tons annually, worth about £15,000. . . . We started by sowing a few pounds ofseed received from the department of Agriculture in 1891, and now for this coming season our area is 150 acres. Through ignorance and too close adherence to European methods in manufacturing the fibre, we made a loss on the first four crops (which were small ones), until, by adapting our methods to Australian conditions resulting in a great saving of expense, we averaged £16 per acre off a 10-acre field in 1899, leaving a clear profit, after paying wages’ at from las. to 25s. per week and keep, of £7 per acre, inclusive of bonus at the rate of £2 per acre. Last season’s crop of64 acres which we are now manufacturing is turning out equally well and thus has induced us to sow so largely for the coming season, namely, 150 acres.
The writer then goes on to explain in detail the system adopted in the cultivation of the soil, the planting, and harvesting of the flax, and its reduction into fibre ready for manufacturing into twine. In the light of that information the committee need, not hesitate to give the industry all the assistance asked for in this form. Those who have used this twine, and I have used it myself in all seasons of the year, know that they can get none better or cheaper. The duty proposed can never be a tax upon those using the twine, because in a very short time we shall in Australia supply our own requirements, and then as demonstrated by the gentleman to whom I have referred, we shall have the markets of the world open to us for the products of this industry.
Item 128. - Corks, bungs, net floats, cork mats, and other manufactures of cork, ad valorem 15 per cent.
Amendment (by Sir George Turner) agreed to -
That the words “ net floats “ be omitted.
Mr. CONROY (Werriwa).- It cannot be. pretended that there is any local industry involved in this item, and, therefore, I move -
That the words “and on and after 13th March, 1902, 10 per cent.” be added.
Item, as amended, agreed to.
Item 129. - Explosives, viz.: -
Ammunition and cartridges, n.e.i., advalorem 20 per cent.
Fireworks, ad valorem 20 per cent.
Cite as: Australia, House of Representatives, Debates, 12 March 1902, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/hofreps/1902/19020312_reps_1_8/>.