1st Parliament · 1st Session
Mr. Speaker took the chair at 2.30 p.m., and read prayers.
– The Government have received an intimation from the Imperial Government that the contingents already sent by the Commonwealth will greatly strengthen His Majesty’s Government in bringing the South African war to an early, termination, and that, should the Commonwealth Government be agreeable, 2,000 more men would be gratefully accepted upon the same terms as those upon which the last contingent was sent. Having in view the resolutions passed by both Houses of this Parliament in. January last, it is the intention of the Government to comply with the desire of His Majesty’s Government, and I take this, my earliest opportunity, of informing honorable members to that effect.
asked the Prime Minister, upon notice -
Government to the Commonwealth that it wished to carry its own federal members over its rail was as a privilege?
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follow : - 1 and 2. The negotiations for passes for federal members over all railway lines within the Commonwealth were conducted through the New South Wales Railway Commissioners, who represented the railway authorities of all States, and no intimation of such a desire on the part of Queensland has been made to me.
In view of the general order issued by the Secretary for External Affairs to tidesurveyers on 13th January last, to the effect that no Chinese should be allowed to land unless they passed, the education test, why was it that three Chinese were allowed to land from the Curiie liner, Darius, without passing the education test as prescribed by the Immigration Restriction Act ?
– The answer to the honorable member’s question is as follows : -
These men came within the class referred to by me on the 11th ult., and on the 12th inst.
It was shown that they had changed their position without notice of the intention to introduce the Immigration Restriction Bill, they having paid for their passages to Australia prior to the 7th August. In addition, they actually left China on their way to Australia before the 23rd December, on which date the Bill became law Under the circumstances I directed that the test need not be applied.
asked the Minister for Home Affairs, upon notice -
– The information will be obtained as far as possible, and the honorable member informed.
Ordered (on motion by Mr. Glynn) -
That a return be laid upon the table of this
House showing for each State of the Commonwealth the number of appeals to the Judicial Committee of the Privy Council during the twenty years ended 31st December, 1901.
– I desire to lay upon the table a copy of a minute from His Excellency the Governor-General, subjoining a copy of a telegram received from the Secretary of State for the Colonies, dated London, 14th March. The telegram is as follows : -
In reply to your telegram of yesterday’s date, Order in Council, approving Letters Patent substituting Governor-General for Governor of Queensland with regard to British New Guinea, was passed 6th March. Draft Letters Patent are now with Crown, to ho passed under Great Seal. Will telegraph as soon as it is passed.
That telegram was sent in reply to a telegram which I caused to be sent to London, asking whether the statement in the press that steps had been taken to place New Guinea under the administration of the Commonwealth was correct. As soon as the necessary document to which it refers is passed, this Government, through the Governor-General, will assume the interim administration of New Guinea, but other documents and an Act of this Parliament will also have to be passed before New Guinea will finally fall under our administration as a territory of the Commonwealth.
Papers laid upon the table, and ordered to be printed.
Report of the committee appointed to draw up reasons for disagreeing to and amending the Senate’s amendments adopted.
Consideration resumed from 19 th March (vide page 11039).
Division III. - Sugar.
Postponed item 6. - Glucose, per cwt.,8s.
– I understand that, by consent, we are to have a general debate upon the first of the postponed items, though I trust that the debate will not be unduly prolonged. The situationwith which we have to deal is the result of the desire of the Government to ascertain the actual effect upon the revenue of the duties already agreed to. It was thought that before dealingwith the few very important revenue-producing items on the Tariff, we should know exactly the aggregate amount of revenue which has been obtained from the Tariff as at present dealt with, including of course the revenue obtained from the postponed items to which I refer. It is rather a pity that this Parliament is not in possession of better statistical information. I have found it very difficult to obtain the latest returns in connexion with important matters affecting our financial work. For example, I know of no book or document from which I can ascertain the actual importations into Australia from countries beyond the seas during the financial year ending 30th June, 1900. Honorable members in settling the very foundation of the Commonwealth finances should have as full statistical information as is available to members of the State Parliaments. The preparation of statistical information has been brought almost to a state of perfection in New South Wales. The admirable way in which the statistical information relating to that State, and also the comparative statistics of the seven colonies, have been compiled by the department presided over by Mr. Coghlan, has been of immeasurable benefit to us in these debates. The position which now confronts us is this : The Treasurer admits that we are likely to receive £500,000 more during the financial year ending 30th June next than was expected. Following English precedents, we should therefore do nothing to further increase the burdens of the people. I believe that the amount of revenue which it is estimated will be received from the items with which we are now about to deal will be something like £700,000, and if we reduce the duties upon them to rates which would return something like £300,000 we should create a moderate surplus which would answer all the requirements of the financial position. In fairness to the Treasurer and the, Minister for Trade and Customs, it must be admitted that we are dealing with more or less abnormal conditions. No human being could forecast the results of this or any other Tariff during the next two or three years. There are so many complex considerations acting and interacting upon each other, that it is impossible to say how the revenue will be affected by a Tariff which, I am sorry to say, is very complicated. In considering these particular items, the members of the party which I am temporarily leading are willing, as they have been all through, to recognise that we are dealing with a revenue Tariff, and that we have entered into a compact to create sufficient revenue to meet the necessities of the States. I am sorry to say that this compact has not been kept so well as it might have been by many honorable members opposite. On many occasions we have protested against what we have considered to be extreme duties on the necessaries of life, and we have also argued strongly against certain duties which very nearly approached the margin of prohibition. As we have not been able to secure a proper scientific Tariff, and as no direct and simple principles have been laid down for our guidance - such as would have been afforded by two or three rates of duty carried uniformly through the Tariff - we feel that we are placed in a position of difficulty. The great mass of the people of the Commonwealth, and especially those in the interior, have been taxed upon almost every article of food and clothing. This applies particularly to the classes who receive no recompense from protectionist duties. We should have been willing to impose a moderate duty upon almost every line in the Tariff but when the principles which we have advocated, and which we almost entreated the Government to adopt, were flung aside, we felt that we must give some compensation to those people who were being overburdened. Therefore it is not our fault if in dealing with the Tariff we have been inconsistent in some cases. The initial blunder made by the Government is to be found in the statement of my right honorable friend, the Minister for Trade and Customs. I am very glad to see him in his place again.
Honorable Members. - Hear, hear.
– I am sure that we all deeply regret the cause of his absence.
Honorable Members. - Hear, hear.
– To my mind my right honorable friend committed the initial .blunder in stating that out of the volume of imports from oversea we should, owing to the protectionist character of the Tariff, have to deduct at one swoop the sum of £5,000,000. I protested against any such attempt to force the industrial life of Australia. I pointed out most clearly that we could not bring about such a change for many years to come, under any protectionist Tariff. The result has been that instead of the Treasurer being required to draw his revenue from imports valued at £21,000,000, he has had nearer £30,000,000 worth upon which to levy duties. The total imports into the Commonwealth from beyond the seas in 1899 were about £32,000,000, and deducting the narcotics and stimulants and’ the imports on which fixed duties prevailed, it is as clear as possible, as I stated to my right honorable friend, that we should have about £30,000,000 worth of imports upon which ad valorem duties might be levied. The basis of the whole scheme of finance was that after excluding the duties on narcotics and stimulants, and the fixed duties levied under, I think, Division IV., there would be at least £30,000,000 worth of imports to operate on with an ad valorem duty of 10 per cent. With no free list, a 10 per cent, duty would yield the whole of the revenue required. Allowing for a moderate free list, however, 15 per cent, would be the highest point to which it would be necessary to go in order to bring in the revenue required by the Treasurer. Of course it was clear to every-, body that when on some of the items of a revenue character a very much higher rate of duty was imposed, and when many of the fixed duties yielded much more than was estimated by the Treasurer, the revenue would be very much increased. In the face of this very large surplus over the admitted requirements of the Treasurer, are we prepared to pass duties which in the aggregate will yield half-a-million more than the Treasurer requires ? Whilst we are bound under the compact made- with the States to provide for their financial necessities, we are not bound to do more. We know very well that with the complications existing before the Commonwealth was founded we could not give all the States a surplus unless we created a Tariff which the Commonwealth could not possibly endure. I know that under this Tariff, as it is proposed, yielding a revenue which shows a surplus of half-a-million, there are still deficiences in the amounts which will be received by Queensland and Tasmania. I think, however, we ought to pause before we recognise the principle that the whole of Australia is to be burdened in order to create such symmetrical conditions that a surplus will be given to every State. I know that no State would like to be a borrower or a mendicant with regard to the Commonwealth, but we have to deal with a broad national policy in this case, and with all respect to the States, I say that it would be far better for them to give up a certain amount to the Commonwealth as a whole than to dislocate the whole of our finances. Therefore, we have a very serious position to face. As I said in my opening remarks, the whole position must be regarded as more or less abnormal for the next two or three years, and that being so, we are inclined to propose that there should be moderate duties upon these items - not the duties which the Government desires, but such as would at any rate recognise the principle that these goods are taxable. As the years go on, if it is found absolutely necessary to increase these duties, that can be done. We are not inclined, therefore, to ask that either kerosene, tea, or rice, or any of these articles, should be placed on the free list.
– Some of us- will.
– In this matter we do not bind any individual member. We are squaring off the national finances, and must deal with this matter in a broad spirit. I do not know that there is essentially any party question involved in the duty on tea, because we might take up one or the other of two positions. We might say that the duty should be left alone as a sort of stand-by for the Treasurer, to be imposed if, in spite of the duties we have already passed, the Tariff does not yield sufficient to meet the requirements of the States. On the other hand, we might impose a moderate duty which would recognise the principle that tea is a fair subject of taxation for revenue purposes, and this duty could be either increased or decreased as the years go by. I wish this point to be distinctly understood from our side of the Chamber. Free-traders under a simple Tariff of a few items would certainly impose a duty on tea.
– Then there are no freetraders.
– Freetraders as a rule, carrying out the principles of Peel and Gladstone, would make the Tariff comprise only a few simple items - somewhat similar to the Tariff introduced by the right honorable and learned member for Bast Sydney in New South Wales. This, I think, was probably the simplest and best Tariff in the world. The principle, that free-traders hold, as a rule, is that commodities of universal use which are not made or grown in the country, and which cannot, therefore, be made the subject of a duty with a protective incidence, are, above all things, reasonable subjects for taxation. I honestly confess, however, although I intend to vote for a moderate duty on tea and kerosene, that the Tariff will operate unfairly to the great masses of the people of the interior, and that the position is a very difficult one. These people, who contribute £90,000,000 worth of the total of £112,000,000 of wealth which we produce yearly - that great class of toiling people in the interior of this country, away from the luxuries of the cities, who are the real pioneers and makers of Australia - are subjected to so much injustice under this Tariff that if any honorable member, although a free-trader, takes up the position that he must have compensation for these people, it cannot be wondered at. If the Government had been satisfied with a reasonable duty on almost every item in the Tariff, we should have conceded the duties on tea or kerosene, or anything else ; but that has not been done. At the same time I feel that we must adopt a broader stand-point now that we have to deal with the last few items. We have fought strenuously, and, considering the position we occupied, we have succeeded beyond our expectations. We have, I am glad to say, had some of the moderate members on the Government side rallying round us when the Ministerial proposals were so extreme that even protectionists could not swallow them. We have done a great national work, and we have so altered the incidence of taxation under this Tariff that it is at least 50 per cent, better than when it was introduced. Speaking of the Tariff broadly as it is likely to emerge from this Chamber, I say that, in view of the abnormal character of the existing circumstances, and of the greatly differing conditions in the States, we have an unknown quantity to deal with. Although we have not been fairly treated, although great injustice has been done to the working population, still, as a matter of finance, it will, upon the whole,, be wiser for us to allow a moderate duty to be imposed upon these items, and to watch the result hereafter. That is the position which I take up. To some extent I feel that the Tariff is one the results of which it is very difficult for the Treasurer to foresee. It is so complicated by exemptions, and by differential duties, . that I fear very great openings will exist in the future for fraud. It is not a Tariff framed in the interests of the honest trader, and it will be for the Minister for Trade and Customs to deal with the complications which will result from its operation. I am perfectly satisfied, from my little knowledge of business, that many of these divisions are so complicated by exemptions and by differential rates of duty that no Custom-house officer in the world will be able to properly administer this Tariff. While the Treasurer has now shown that the total receipts from its operation will probably exceed his estimate by £500,000, the future still is before us, and it is a very unknown future. I strongly insist that the Commonwealth should not be overburdened with taxation in order to make the Tariff symmetrical for the sake of one or two States, but, nevertheless, that is a consideration which we cannot overlook. We know, for instance, that Tasmania already shows a deficiency of about £100,000.
– A deficiency of £110,000.
– Although the proportion of the revenue derived from the proposed duties which will be returned to Tasmania and Queensland will not make up their deficiency, still a few thousand pounds to a State containing only a small population is a very considerable matter. I do not wish to open up unnecessary debate, because we are all anxious that these, items shall be disposed of during the current week. As far as I am personally concerned - and I believe I speak for a good many honorable members upon this side of the Chamber - I will endeavour to deal with . these items fairly and honestly from a revenue stand-point. At the same time, I shall not consider it inconsistent for any honorable member upon this side of the
House, who, from the character of the Tariff as it has been framed, and from the injustice which has been done, considers it necessary, to vote in an opposite direction.
– I acknowledge that the Treasurer has given the Chamber every available data upon which to base opinions concerning the amount which will probably be derived from the operation of these revenue duties. Unfortunately, though he, has given us all the information at his command, it is not as complete as it ought to be under the circumstances. For instance, with regard to the revenue received during February, there are no figures available other than those for each division.
– I have the manuscript here if the honorable member would like to see it.
-I am sorry that I did not have an opportunity of perusing it an hour ago. Then, again, the accounts relating to the receipts from the duties operating upon oils have been so mixed up that it is impossible to ascertain the extent to which kerosene has been imported. To that degree, therefore, we are at a loss in criticising the Treasurer’s estimate of the revenue which will probably be derived in the future. Just after the introduction of the Tariff, I expressed the opinion that the right honorable gentleman had considerably under-estimated the receipts from it. It seems to me that events have justified the prediction which I, in common with many others, then made. The Treasurer now states that he has to increase his estimate for the current financial year - which covers a little under nine months of the operation of the Tariff- by £57S,000. . I contend, however, that that sum does not nearly represent the almost certain increase in the revenue which will accrue from the Tariff. The Treasurer’s estimate of the receipts from Sth October last till 30th June next has been increased by £578,000. 33ut even this estimate of the probable revenue derivable from the duties comprised in the main part of the Tariff is not a fair one to put before the country. For example, every person knows that when the section of this House with which I am associated put forward a number of items upon which they declared their intention of seeking either to reduce or abolish the duties imposed, a number of importers immediately entertained the fear that they would be left with stocks upon their hands which had paid a high duty if they cleared them at that particular period. The result is that from that date till now, there has been an absolutely restricted output of the articles comprised in the list put forward by the labour party, and the revenue has suffered accordingly.
– It has been a hand to mouth trade with them.
– Exactly. It has been a hand to mouth trade in respect of kerosene. The bonds in New South Wales and Queensland are stocked with kerosene. The importers have been using up their old stocks and living from hand to mouth in the interim. Till a week or two ago the same remark was applicable to timber, and it also applies to rice, tea, and a number of other articles. I will mention to the committee a few of the articles upon which the revenue received during the past five months bears no -proper relation to the amount likely to be received during a normal period. Upon spirits - taking a pro rata estimate by dividing the total receipts by the number of months during which the Tariff has operated - the Treasurer estimated that he would receive £500,000, whereas he actually received £390,000. From the excise duties upon spirits he estimated that he would collect a revenue of £80,000, whereas he actually received only £50,000 from this source. His estimate of the receipts from imported tobacco was £272,000, the actual receipts being £144,000. Similarly he calculated that the excise upon tobacco would yield £100,000, whereas the actual amount collected was £56,000. From the excise upon sugar he anticipated collecting £123,000, whilst the receipts were £77,600. Upon blankets there was a falling-off from £125,000 estimated to £30,000 collected. His estimate of the revenue which would be obtained from oils was £67,000, whereas the actual receipts were £35,000, He also calculated that he would receive £27,000 from medicines, but so far he has collected only £14,000. The estimated receipts from rice were set down at £39,000, whereas the amount received was £26,000 ; whilst the estimated revenue from tea was £147,000, and the actual receipts £64,000.
– The revenue derived from a large number of those articles was received during the first quarter of the year.
– I will come to that point presently. The total difference between the Treasurer’s estimated revenue from the items I have mentioned and the actual receipts represents no less a sum than £649,000. Yet notwithstanding this huge deficiency other items of the Tariff have yielded such a large revenue that the receipts during five months are between £700,000 and £800,000 in excess of the Treasurer’s total estimate.
– But that estimate was for a normal year, and not for this year. The estimate for a normal year was £1,000,000 more than for this year.
– Of course it was. During the first portion of the present financial year New South Wales had no duties operating. A normal year must naturally yield over £375,000 more than the present year in respect of that one State alone. Yet the contention of the Treasurer all along has been that the receipts from the protective duties imposed will be a little less a few years hence than they are at the present time. What I am pointing out is that there is a total difference between the estimate of the Treasurer and the actual amount collected of nearly £1,400,000 in respect of the duties which are likely to be protective in their incidence. Of course, in regard to revenue items pure and simple, upon which it was known that a great fight would occur in this Chamber, and in respect of which every importer held back to the last possible moment, we naturally find a considerable shrinkage in the duty- paid. But surely the Treasurer will not say that there is any likelihood of a large falling-off in the sugar receipts as compared with the position at the present time ! I contend that, if anything, the receipts from this source are likely to increase, because our consumption of sugar grows very rapidly, and the Queensland stocks have been upon the market for some time. The stocks from last season have already been distributed, and clearly there was no opportunity of charging either import or excise duty upon that particular sugar. Having been distributed, this is in the hands of the retailers or consumers, v While the collection of excise on next year’s crop will have the effect of materially increasing Queensland’s receipts from this source, it will not have the effect of materially diminishing imports, unless there is a very large increase of production. The equivalent amount of sugar is on the Queensland market, from the State’s own production, although it has not paid excise up to the present. Then, in regard to timber, I fear that appearances are all against the correctness of the Treasurer’s estimate. I believe the Treasurer has underestimated immensely the amount that is likely to be received at the Customs from this source. Timber was one of the items only recently dealt with, and, therefore, it was bonded during most of the period to which the returns refer. I am informed from the actual records of shipments inwards at the Customs - that is, shipments which have not passed the Customs, but are in bond - that if ,the duty had been collected on the whole of the timber imported into Victoria ‘since the Tariff commenced, the contribution of’ that State from this source would have been £53,000, while the total amount which the Treasurer estimates to receive from the whole Commonwealth is only £119,000. It must be apparent to any one that, if the figures are correct, there has been a woeful under-estimate of the revenue from this particular item. Now we come to the position occupied by the States. So far as the revenue required for Commonwealth purposes is concerned, the Estimates put before us for this year by the Treasurershow that the expenditure, after allowing for certain increases caused by the appointments of officers in connexion with bodies not yet created, such as the Inter-State Commission, is about £1,700,000. Four times that amount is, of course, £6,800,000, and I admit that we must allow for a larger expenditure than that which has to be met at the present time. Allowing for all that, however, I contend that under £8,000,000 of revenue is more than sufficient for Commonwealth purposes. That estimate allows for all reasonable developments, and, if not for an extravagant, for a liberal idea of the extension of the functions of the Commonwealth in taking over departments which have not yet been touched. Taking the Treasurer’s own estimate, and putting aside my contention and the contention of many others that there has been a woeful under-estimate of the result of several large revenue items, I say that if tea and kerosene were made free, which would mean a loss of a little over £500,000, we should still .have a Tariff yielding £8,400,000.
– Including the extra £500,000, we should have a Tariff of £9,000,000.
– I am convinced that without the two items I have mentioned there would be a Tariff of much over £9,000,000. I make bold to estimate that by the end of the financial year following this, it will be seen that the Tariff, even without tea and kerosene, will result in not less than £9,250,000. So many items have been under-estimated - so many imports have been kept back pending the decisions in this Chamber - that it isabsolutely impossible to gauge the volumes of imports by the quantities which have passed the Customs during the last few months. I say, therefore, that for all purposes a revenue of £8,000,000 is more than sufficient. Then we are brought to the position of the smaller States. The position of Queensland will not be nearly so bad as has been attempted to be made out. In the Melbourne Argus of the 18th of this month there were published returns, circulated by the Treasurer, and these show that the actual amount paid to Queensland by way of refund have been £25,618 more than the Treasurer estimated in October last. In the returns referred to there are shown the actual amounts paid over to the various States during the whole year.
– That is not a fair guide to what the States will get during the twelve months. The returns show what they got for some months, but in other months there are certain heavy payments which are not shown, and whichmakeall the difference. I did not publish that statement. The information was asked by a certain newspaper, and I gave it, but I am not responsible for the argument deducted from it. I am responsible for the correctness of the figures, but the use made of the figures is another matter.
– I know the Treasurer is not responsible for theuse made of the figures. We make strange use of figures in this Chamber sometimes, and I should not for a moment hold the Treasurerresponsible for one-tenth of what is done in that connexion. So far as Queensland is concerned, we have to consider the fact that for three months of the present year she; had her own large revenue tariff, which, in somerespects, was heavier than that of the Commonwealth. But Queensland hadno revenue from excise in respect of sugar,whereas now she will have £3 per ton on, I suppose, three-fourths, or, at any rate one-half, of the sugar locally consumed.
– The excise on sugar is credited to the country of consumption and not to the country of production.
– I spoke of the consumption in Queensland ; I do not say that that State will be credited in respect of the sugar consumed in other places. Queensland will have £3 per ton on the consumption of all sugar grown by black labour, and £1 per ton on all sugar grown by white labour. In any case, that is an extraordinary source of revenue.
– That will help to weaken the other States.
– I do not see that it will help to weaken the other States. I am speaking particularly of Queensland, because it is pointed out that that is a State whose finances render necessary the imposition of high revenue duties. I meet that contention by attempting to show that Queensland has an additional source of revenue that will to some extent balance her finances.
– Does the honorable member say that there can be any importation of sugar into Queensland?
– No, I do not. What I say is that Queensland, during the next year, will receive a sum of money in the shape of excise on sugar that she never previously received.
– That is on sugar consumed within her own borders.
– That is so ; and to that extent Queensland has a new source of revenue.
– But that source of revenue will be gradually abolished.
– It will last for five years to come, and we do not know what may happen at the end of that period ; the evil of the day is quite sufficient. I should have liked to hear from the Treasurer some reference toanother point on which the Auditor-General and the Customs department seem to be at variance. That is as to the method of collecting refunds which are to be made in respect of goods re-exported from -State to State, particularly from New South Wales, where duty has not previously been paid, into other States.In the case of exports from Victoria to Tasmania duty has been paid, but the Auditor-General contends, and I think rightly, that although this duty may have been paid a couple of years ago, Tasmania is entitled to be credited with the amount represented by the consumption of dutiable goods within the State. I understand that the Auditor-General is confirmed in his attitude by the Attorney-General. But the Customs department, I am also informed, have not credited the States of Tasmania and Queensland with the sum to which the AuditorGeneral’s decision would entitle them. Forsome time to come such an allowance would make a considerable difference in the finances of both Tasmania and Queensland. It would vitiate, to the extent it operated, any calculations as to the Customs returns of these two particular States. It is evident that if Queensland and Tasmania are at present being supplied from either reserved stocks or recent importations - from New South Wales in the case of Queensland, and from Victoria in the case of Tasmania - they are not paying duty, or getting credit for any consumption represented by importations within the near future. In any case, if they are to be credited with the amount represented by the imports, it will mean a considerable difference - one may safely say tens of thousands of pounds - in the results so far as this Tariff is concerned respecting those States. I should like the Treasurer to give us an estimate later on, if he has the figures, of what is involved in this dispute, respecting the imported goods into Tasmania and Queensland.
– It is utterly impossible to give such an estimate, even if the contention be correct, which is not admitted.
– I understand that the Attorney-General says that the contention is correct, though I am not speaking from private information, but merely from what has been made public.
– It appeared in the press.
– Just so ; and if so we may be sure that the information is not far from correct, and those States will have to be credited with the sums involved. If we have no data, is it not useless to inform the Chamber that Queensland and Tasmania will be bankrupt unless these revenue duties are passed, when all the time their accounts can be so adjusted as to materially alter the position of each of the twoStates? As a matter of convenience and economy, Queensland is largely supplied with goods re-exported from New South Wales, and Tasmania with goods re-exported from Victoria. That fact affects the position of those States very materially. But, after all, the question which we have to consider is : To what extent are we justified in mulcting the taxpayers of the other States, for the benefit, not of the taxpayers of Queensland and Tasmania as a whole, but for the benefit of a few individuals in those States ?
– Who will not adopt uptodate methods of taxation !
– By relying for their revenue solely upon Customs taxation, the men who are best able to pay taxes escape at the expense of the poor. We can understand why the dominant parties in Tasmania and in Queensland cry out against any alteration of the Tariff which may ultimately have the effect of shifting the burden of taxation in those States on to the shoulders of those who are best able to bear it. Tasmania has a land tax and an income tax, but I think thatshe could safely increase her land tax.
-The Tasmanian land tax is the heaviest in the Commonwealth.
– I understand that it is only½d. in the £1. The Premier of Queensland appeals to us to save his State from bankruptcy by imposing duties upon tea andkerosene ; but what he really wants us to do is to save the rich men of Queensland, who now have to pay only a small fraction of the taxes, from paying their fair share. He is prepared to sacrifice the interestsof the people of Queensland as a whole for the benefit of a few who do not pay taxes in. proportion to their means. Therefore, we.are asked by the Government, and by the acting leader of the Opposition, to compel the people of the Commonwealth to pay dutiesto provide revenue which is not absolutely necessary. I am prepared to make some allowance, so far as Tasmania is concerned. If that State has exhausted her possibilities of local taxation, and is likely to have a deficit which economy cannot rectify, I amprepared, during the bookkeeping period, to make her an advance from the funds of the Commonwealth, rather than increase the taxation upon the whole people of the Commonwealth. To hand over £20,000, £30,000, or £50,000 to Tasmania during the bookkeeping period, would cost the people of the ommonwealth less than the raising of 500,000 or £1,000,000 by Customs taxaon in order to keep that State and Queensland in a solvent position.
– How would the honorable member deal with States such as South Australia, which are likely to have a deficit?
– There should be no deficit in South Australia.
– The honorable member makes no allowance for the rebates upon sugar, which come out of the general revenue.
– I understand that the amount obtained from the excise duty upon sugar is the surplus which remains after deducting the rebates.
– No. We simply took the full amount to be collected. That amount will be subject to reduction, year by year, according to the rebates allowed. There is no need to make provision for rebates this year; but next year a certain amount will have to be allowed, and the fact that rebates will have to be granted must be taken into consideration in calculating the probable revenue for next year.
– I certainly understood that the amount derived from excise duties was the net amount, after the rebates had been deducted ; but, in any case, the rebate paid by South Australia will not be very largo upon her consumption of sugar.
– Upon the whole of her consumption it would be £44,000.
– But it is not to be imagined that rebates will have to be paid upon the whole consumption. The duties, independently of those upon tea and kerosene, will be sufficient to make good all the reasonable financial requirements of the States ; because we must take into consideration the fact that there will be a large increase of revenue from the other items upon the Tariff. Therefore, I intend to move, later on, that from and after to-morrow tea be placed upon the free list. I am sorry that a number of those with whom I have voted upon many occasions during the consideration of the Tariff are not prepared to vote for the exemption of tea.
– I wish the honorable member had voted with us more often.
– I voted with the honorable and learned member’s party upon every occasion upon which I saw a justification for doing so. Honorable members of that party, including the acting leader of the Opposition, voted for the free admission of quite a number of articles, in the interests, they said, of the pioneers, the farmers, the miners, and the workers generally. When we began the consideration of the Tariff, they proposed the exemption of nearly every item.
– We had to do that to test the strength of the two parties.
– I should like the party to vote in the same way in regard to the duty upon tea. It will be very difficult for them to justify the votes which they have given to make other articles free, if they vote for the imposition of a duty upon an article which enters more generally into . domestic consumption than, I suppose, any other upon the Tariff.
– What is the annual consumption of tea per family 1
– The importation of tea during 1899 amounted to nearly 29,000,000 . lbs., and during 1900 it was nearly 32,000,000 lbs.
– Do these figures show the net importation, allowing for reexportation 1
– Yes; as I gathered the information from the Statistical Register. The tea imported is worth roughly about fid. per lb.
– That is too low an estimate.
– I think that 6d. per lb. is a very fair invoice price for tea. Tea is frequently sold at auction for as little as 4½d. per lb., after freight and all charges have been paid ; and very little of it brings more than 7 Jd. per lb., though, of course, the brands used for flavouring are much more expensive. Assuming that there are 4,000,000 people in the Commonwealth, the consumption of tea, upon the figures which I have given, would be about 8 lbs. per head.
– Or about 40 lbs. per annum for an average family.
– A little more than that, because our population is not quite4,000,000, and a good many people do not drink tea. It is proposed to place a duty of 50 per cent, upon all tea imported ; because in dealing with the Tariff, the ad valorem rate of a duty has been calculated upon the value of the article at the place of export. Therefore, it is only fair to rate tea” at the price at which it is sold in China, plus the usual 10 per cent. I am convinced that we can very well afford to give up these duties, which considerably affect the most humble classes, particularly in the interior, where so much tea is consumed, and where people, require something to cheer them up in the midst of adverse conditions. Kerosene might reasonably be placed upon the same basis. In the country districts it is the almost, universal illuminant, and even candles do not enter into such large consumption. When the opportunity occurs I shall also move that kerosene be placed upon the free list.
Mr. HIGGINS (Northern Melbourne).As one of those who have consistently supported the Government Tariff proposals as a fair compromise between conflicting principles, I want to show that I am as anxious as are others, who have spoken so much about it, to relieve the people of unnecessary taxation. I intend to support the proposal of the honorable member for Bland to place tea upon the free list. I am sorry that some of those who have declaimed so loudly against taxation on the necessaries of life should now refuse to afford relief. The acting leader of the Opposition has announced that he intends to support the proposal to impose a duty upon tea, and I desire to know where the extreme anxiety of the honorable member to prevent over taxation of the people comes in. I have noticed that any taxes which might incidentally or directly have a protective effect have been loudly declaimed against, but I cannot see any anxiety displayed with respect to duties which must necessarily invol ve increased prices to the people. I agree with the honorable member for Bland, that the revenue will be greater not merely than was formerly estimated, but greater than is at present expected by the Treasurer. In the first place, we have reduced a great many protective duties, and the effect will be to encourage larger importations. As importations increase they will necessarily to some extent involve the destruction of home industries, and the greater the importations the larger the revenue will be. This will be noticed more and more as the months go on, because manufacturers will have to get rid of existing stocks, and as they begin to feel the pressure of the increased importations will probably find it necessary to restrict their output. Then there is also the fact that in regard to tea, and kerosene and other articles, the importers have been 31 t living from hand to mouth. Owing to the uncertainty that has existed during our lengthy discussion of the Tariff they have been simply taking goods out of bond to meet absolute necessities. We already have too many revenue duties. I have been very sorry to see placed upon the dutiable list many articles which were not previously taxed in Victoria. These comprise articles which enter very largely into manufactures, and which are otherwise useful to those who are carrying on business. As the list of taxable articles has been increased, I have felt the greater necessity for keeping the duties on staple lines, such as tea and kerosene, as low as possible. It may be urged that we have to consider the position of those States - particularly Tasmania and Queensland - which have to bear such heavy interest charges. I recognise that we are bound to see that there is no violent dislocation of the finances of any State, and that, however strong our views may be upon any one point, we must accommodate them to the necessity of making the transition from the separate State existence into membership of the Commonwealth as gentle as possible. I find that Queensland is the most heavily indebted of all civilized countries. I am speaking of her actual indebtedness, apart from the means which she may have of paying her debts. No doubt the resources of Queensland are very great, because she has land as rich as can be found in any part of the world but I have no hesitation in saying that she is overburdened with debt, and that she will very soon feel the effects of such huge expenditure as she has been carrying on. I also find that the expenditure per head in Queensland is heavier than in any other State, and that beyond a trifling dividend tax Queensland imposes no direct taxation upon her people.
– There is the land tax imposed by the Divisional Board.
– That is another matter. Every State has municipal taxation, but I am speaking of State taxation. Queensland, as I say, has borrowed heavily and is spending very freely, and yet she has imposed no direct taxation. I do not think, it is our duty to increase the burdens of the people of the rest of the States in order to relieve Queensland from direct taxation. I do not say that I would drive that proposition to an extreme, but we certainly ought not to increase the taxation of the other
States unduly because Queensland has a deficiency. Tasmania has spent, more upon unproductive works than has any other State, and it derives less revenue from its public works in proportion to the money borrowed. This of course has been partly due to the special difficulties with which the people in that State have had to contend. Tasmania has a tax upon land - one of those unwise taxes which discourage enterprise - namely, a tax upon land as improved. I understand that this tax yields about £30,000ayear. I admitthat Tasmania has imposed direct taxation to some, extent, but I do not think that we should be justified in placing a huge burden on other States in order to obviate the necessity for an increase of. direct taxation, in Tasmania.
– Now tell us about South Australia.
– I have not been able to obtain much information about South Australia, except that she has a tax upon land values, and an income tax. I do not see why we should have a customs revenue up to the Tasmanian level, to the disadvantage of all the other States.
– This committee has sanctioned duties above the Tasmanian level.
– The right honorable member was the Premier of a Ministry which passed a Tariff for Tasmania that imposed burdens upon far more articles than, did any Victorian Tariff. Moreover, many of those duties were distinctly protective in their incidence. Some reference has been made to the tax upon tea. I went carefully into this question, some years ago, and after very close inquiry I came to the conclusion that with a duty of 3d. per lb. operating, upon this article - having, regard to the fact that the importer, the merchant, and the retailer all charge a profit which is calculated upon the original price plus the duty - an ordinary family of five would pay nearly an additional 30s. per year for their tea. Of course, the question is disputed whether a protective tax increases the price of the home-made article, but I have always taken the view that a revenue duty increases, the cost of any article. A family of five ought to consume 1 lb. of tea per week, and if honorable members work the matter out they will find that, having a due regard to the two or three profits that have to be made, a tax of 3d. per lb. upon that article will mean about an. additional 30s. per year to them. I can scarcely recognise the right of certain honorable members opposite, including, the acting leader of the Opposition, to call themselves free-traders. I suppose that the honorable member for Wentworth will recognise Mr. Henry George as an undoubted, free-trader ? In the Library I find a book written by him in which he says that the only legitimate excuse for any customs taxation is protection. He puts the position thus : -
All the objections which apply to indirect taxes in general, apply to import duties. Those protectionists are right who declare that protection is the only justificationfor a Tariff, andthe advocates of, ‘ ‘ a Tariff for revenue only “ have no case. If we do not need a Tariff for protection we need no Tariff at all, and for the purpose of raising revenue should resort to some system which will not tax the mechanic as heavily as the millionaire, and will not call on the man who rears a family topay on that account more than the man who shirks his natural obligation, and leaves some woman, whom in the scheme of nature it was intended that he should support, to take care of herself as best she can.
I find also that Mr. H. C. Carey writes : -
A Tariff for revenue should have no existence. Interference with trade is to be tolerated, only as a measure, of protection.
An extraordinary feature is that the archpriest, of protection and the arch-priest of free-trade concur in this opinion. Extremes meet. I want honorable members upon this side of the Chamber, who have been consistently abused for placing, burdens upon the backs of the people, to embrace this opportunity of proving that we are their true friends. At all events, unless it can be shown that the course proposed by the honorable member for Bland will result in a violent dislocation, of the finances of the States, it is my intention to support it.
– I have listened very attentively to the honorable, and learned member for Northern Melbourne, and I congratulate him upon his intention, to vote, for the first, time against the Government, and in favour of reducing the burdens of the people. I think, however, that he might have gone a little further, and. have adopted the principles of Henry George when other items in this Tariff were under discussion. I intend to support the proposal to exempt kerosene and tea from.duty.
– The honorable member opposed the adoption of that course in New South Wales.
– I was not a member of the Government at the time the proposal was made. The duty upon, tea was abolished by the Dibbs Ministry. I admit that, if revenue is required, tea is a very fair article for taxation, but the committee having deliberately decided time and again that duties shall be imposed upon articles consumed by the masses of the people, I am justified in opposing further taxation upon the necessaries of life. I agree with the contention of the honorable and learned member for Northern Melbourne that a tax of 3d. per lb. upon tea for a family of five will probably result in the payment by them of’ an additional 30s. per year to the revenue. In this connexion I should like to know if the honorable and learned member has made any similar calculation in regard to boots and shoes, clothing of all kinds, and mining, agricultural, and refrigerating machinery? Has he considered the effect of the duties upon those articles levied by the Government with his support ? The Treasurer has submitted an estimate of the probable revenue which will be derived from the operation of this Tariff during the present year. His original estimate was that owing to over importations we should receive a revenue of £8,000,000. Yet he now declares that, despite the considerable reductions which have been made by the committee, the Tariff; as it stands, will yield about £8,500,000 this year. In an ordinary year he calculates that he will receive £9,400,000 from Customs, or £1,500,000 more than even the most sanguine federalist predicted when the question of union was first discussed. I doubt whether any man who advocated the Constitution Bill estimated that more than £8,000,000 would be derived’ through the Customs.
– I did.
– In New South Wales the amount I have mentioned was repeatedly stated to constitute the extreme limit. In the case of Tasmania, the Treasurer anticipates that the revenue from kerosene, tea, and rice will amount to only £24,000, to obtain which he calls on the people of the Commonwealth to submit to taxation amounting to £680,000. The Treasurer justifies those duties by saying that if they are not imposed Tasmania will find herself in an unfortunate position.
– And Queensland, too.
– Queensland has not imposed direct taxation to anything like the amount which is imposed in New South Wales and Victoria. Prom these duties the Treasurer expects to receive in Queensland about £100,000, and in order to bring about that result the Commonwealth is called upon to contribute £550,000. This is not done in order to make the finances of these States balance, because it is admitted that, even after all, there will be a large deficiency. New South Wales, Victoria, and other States have had to re-adjust their own finances, and I do not see that the Federal Government should inflict such heavy duties, which, in New South Wales, mean an additional £900,000, in order to relieve the finances of necessitous States. It would be far better if loans were granted to the States which have deficiencies, and one of the provisions of the Constitution allows of that being done. At the Federal Convention, in order to provide for shortage of revenue in the States, more especially in Tasmania and Queensland, a proposal was made and embodied in the Constitution, enabling the Federal Parliament, instead of calling upon the other States to contribute more than was absolutely necessary, to advance amounts which might be necessary. No one can contend that the duty on kerosene is protective. In my district a number ofmen are engaged in what are, practically, the only kerosene works in the Commonwealth.
– There are no kerosene works in the Commonwealth.
– Thehonorable member thought differently when he advocated and voted for a duty of 6d. on kerosene, in order to help the kerosene industry in New South Wales.
– I never did so.
– That course was advocated lame after time by the protectionists in that State.
– Quite so ; but it does not follow that I did so.
– The honorable member knows that people in the district he represents have done better under free-trade than they would do in twenty years under protection. I pointed out to the people in my constituency that I could not consistently vote for a duty on kerosene, which would mean a tax on the whole community in order to keep one small industry in operation. I have no doubt that the duty of 6d. per gallon on kerosene, which was in operation in New South Wales, meant that hundreds of thousands of pounds were contributed by the public in order to help an industry which never thrived. If the local industry could not compete, with a duty of 6d., how can it be expected to compete under the proposed duty of 3d., which, I contend, can be regarded only as a purely revenue duty 1 Is it not a fact that the Acetylene Gas Co. were able to get all their raw material placed on the free list the other night t The people in towns have the electric light or gas, and yet we are asked to put a heavy tax on the pioneers in the country districts, who are already heavily burdened on all the ne:es.saries of life. We have taxed, or tried to tax, the wood which these people require to build their houses, and we have taxed their galvanized iron, their nails, and their candles. I regret that on this question we, on this side of the House, are somewhat divided.
– So are we on this side.
– Then the honours are divided. I am sorry that some of my friends have not thought it wise to support the proposed reduction, though, of course, they have a perfect right to their opinions. I have voted consistently for relieving the taxation of those least able to bear it, and I shall do all I can to prevent any additional burden in the shape of duties on kerosene and tea.
– I quite admit that this question possibly places honorable members on both sides of the committee in a difficult position. There are those on this side who warned the Ministry at an earlier stage that an unnecessarily high revenue was being demanded, and efforts were made from time to time to reduce the revenue by lowering the taxation on many of the necessaries of life. But with what effect? In many cases those who hold protectionist views, and the honorable member who has intimated his intention of proposing the abolition of certain duties in the list, said that they would not free those necessaries of life, but would place duties on them, in spite of the fact that they thought the revenue demanded was excessive. There were other protectionist members who were perfectly willing to impose taxation in this way - that is, willing to impose protectionist duties which would not bring revenue to the Treasury, but would place taxation .on the backs of the users of the articles. No reasonable man can deny that many of these protective duties which have been imposed on the necessaries of life, while not bringing anything into the Treasury chest, will take money from the people who use the articles, whether those people be poor or whether they be rich. Are those who, like myself, are in favour of a revenue duty on tea, to abandon that duty even if a lesser revenue can be done with than the reduced revenue which has been reached through the efforts of those on this side 1
-The Treasurer says that the reduction will not make so much difference, so far as revenue is concerned.
– If lines are made absolutely free, there must be a reduction of revenue.
– There is nothing to prevent honorable members, if they choose, recommitting any of the other items, and reducing the duties. Where a considerable amount of revenue must be obtained by means of customs duties, I am, and always have been, in favour of a duty upon tea, because of its general application; while, if the rate of duty is sufficiently small, the tax upon any individual is not a severe one. The honorable member for Northern Melbourne endeavoured to show that the proposed duty upon tea is equal to a tax of about 30s. per annum upon an average family of five people, but I think that his estimate is absolutely wrong. According to the figures which have been given by the honorable member for Bland, the consumption of tea per head of population is about 8 lbs. per annum, or about 40 lbs. a year for a family of five. A duty of 3d. per lb. upon that quantity would produce 10s. Allowing 10 per cent, for the profit made by the importer - and that . allowance is a very large one - that would increase the charge to lis., and, allowing still further for the profits of the retailers, an average family would not have to pav more than 13s. or 14s. per annum. Those figures are borne out by the estimate of revenue which has been put before us. That estimate shows that the duty collected will amount to a charge of d. per head per week, or of 2£d. per family per week, which is equivalent to 10s. lOd. per family per annum. Efforts were made to strike off the duties upon arrowroot, sago, and tapioca, and, if they had been successful, £14,000 would have been saved to the consumer. If the duties upon butter and cheese had been removed, that would have saved another £7,000, and would have prevented the consumers within the Commonwealth from being charged unduly high prices by the producers. If the duty upon dried fruit had been reduced by one-half, £76,000 would have been saved ; while £6,000 would have been saved by striking off the duties on grain and pulse, and £34,000 by striking off the duties on matches and vestas. If the duty upon fish had been reduced by one-half, £50,000 would have been saved ; if the duty upon rice were reduced by one-half, £7 1,000 would have been saved ; and if the duty upon tea were reduced by one-third, £128,000 would be saved. Then if the duty upon cotton and linen piece goods were removed, there would be a saving of about £200,000 ; and about £50,000 could have been saved by removing the duties upon certain machinery. By reducing the duty upon kerosene even by onethird, we can save £50,000. In that way a total saving to the taxpayer of £686,000 might have been effected. I agree with the honorable member for Bland that the Government is asking for too much revenue; but I am very much averse to casting away a duty such as this. As the base of a freetrade system of taxation, if revenue had to be obtained through the Customs, duties should be imposed which would have to be paid by every member of the community, but which would press lightly upon all. In addition, there ought to be duties upon articles of luxury, and direct State taxation which would make the wealthy contribute to the revenue in proportion to their means. I am afraid that if we abandon the duty upon tea on this occasion we shall never again be able to impose it. The duty is also to be regarded as a counterbalance to the duties upon beer and tobacco. It produces some equality of taxation by making the teetotaller and non-smoker pay something towards the revenue as an equivalent for what is paid by the beer drinker. For those reasons I have always felt strongly in favour of a duty upon tea, where any considerable customs revenue is necessary, and I have in the State Parliament voted for such a duty. Therefore, while I shall vote for a reduction of the proposed duty, I shall not vote with the honorable member for Bland to wholly remove the duty upon tea. I have come to this determination the more readily because I hope that the Tariff, when it leaves this Chamber, will not be regarded as finished with, and that it will be moulded elsewhere more into the form which a free-trader would desire to see it. But if there is no margin of revenue to go upon, that expectation may not be fulfilled. On the other hand, if it is shown, as the returns month after month should show, that, notwithstanding the reductions which have been made, more revenue is being obtained from the Tariff than ought to be necessary for the requirements of the States, many of the duties to which we have objected, and which, while protective, incidentally yield revenue, may be reduced or struck off altogether. The reduction or removal of those duties will materially benefit the class for whose advantage the honorable member for Bland advocates the removal of the duty upon tea, and it will have the further advantage of getting rid of many complications. For instance, if we remove the duties upon cottons and linens we shall relieve the consumers of duties returning £200,000 of revenue, and which as originally proposed would have returned over£300,000. The relief to the consumers, however, will be still larger than that amount, because the profits made in connexion with those classes of goods are much greater than the profits made in dealing with tea, running up as they often do to 100 per cent. The removal of those duties would also get rid of an enormous amount of Customs work, and would save complications that now occupy the time of Customs officials for hours every day. Nothing can be, more easily collected than a fixed duty upon tea. Tea, although so largely consumed, is, like beer, not an absolute necessary, and its consumption per family is not so great as to make the proposed tax a heavy one. Furthermore, the inspection due to the duty tends to improve the quality of the tea imported. It may be said that we have already agreed to the duties upon cotton and linens, but we can easily recommit the item if the majority of honorable members are in favour of still further reducing them, or of striking them out altogether ; and I am prepared to vote for such a recommittal. I believe, however, that in the long run it will be against the interests of free-trade to wholly remove the duty upon tea, and therefore I shall vote for a reduction, and against the proposal of the honorable member for Bland.
– The honorable member for North Sydney is always listened to with attention by honorable members on both sides of the Chamber. He always speaks temperately, and in the light of an extended mercantile experience, and I confess that we as free-traders have received much information and assistance from him in our fight for the construction of a Tariff upon free-trade lines. I am sorry, however, that I cannot agree with him on this occasion. The Treasurer has indicated by interjection that the supporters of the Government are divided upon this matter, and the acting leader of the Opposition has made a similar admission in regard to the members on this side of the Chamber. It seems, therefore, that the democratic free-traders on the one side, and the democratic protectionists on the other, have come together on this, occasion.. The acting leader of the Opposition and the honorable member for North Sydney belong to the old school of free-traders, between whom and the free-trade democrats there are some important points of difference. The freetraders in New South Wales would not have been so successful but for their democratic ideas. The battle for free-trade was fought in that State by the democrats, and among the members of the labour party here to-day there are four or five representatives who right through the Tariff discussion have thrown in their votes with the Opposition simply because they believe in democratic free-trade. It surprised the democratic protectionists from Victoria at first to see democrats voting as free-traders, but they will now doubtless understand the position. It has been urged that, because the members of the labour party have allowed certain revenue duties to pass, they should support the proposed duties on tea and kerosene, but I do not see .any force in that argument, and it cannot possibly apply to my position, because I have voted for the reduction of all duties upon the necessaries of life to the lowest possible figure. I cannot accept the dictum that the only difference between the free-trader and the protectionist is a matter of 5 per cent., nor can I agree with the proposition that every item in the Tariff must be taxed. If these are to be the lines of demarcation between the two great parties, I do not hope for much from the operations of the free-trade party in the direction of reform. In -the electorate I represent, scores of industries are now being .carried on for which I have not sought any protection, and it is reasonable, therefore, that I should object to the imposition of duties upon necessaries of life which enter into the .daily use of those employed in those industries. Under a free-trade Tariff, the bulk of the revenue should be derived from the duties upon narcotics and stimulants, and the balance of the sum required should be obtained from duties upon luxuries, the necessaries of life being relieved as far as possible. The honorable member .for North Sydney stated that one of his reasons for supporting a reduced duty upon tea was that if the duty were once abandoned it would be abandoned for ever, and the freetraders would not be able to .fall back upon it in future as a source of revenue. As a free-trader, however, I object to the tax on tea, and I cannot see that there is any force in the honorable member’s contention that teetotallers should contribute to the revenue as well as do those who use stimulants. As a matter of fact, the great majority of teetotallers belong to the richer classes, of the community, whereas the taxes on stimulants and narcotics are paid largely by the great masses of the people. We have already taxed the clothing and boots, and food of the masses, and now we are asked at the last moment to add to our already large surplus of revenue by imposing taxes on tea and kerosene. I am stoutly opposed to all duties on food supplies. The leader of the Opposition said that if he were governed by British precedent he would refuse to impose any further burdens upon the people. He has told us that when Gladstone and other leaders of the great free-trade party in England found their revenue requirements supplied they ceased to further tax the people, and I would ask the acting leader of the Opposition to follow their grand example. Although we have a large surplus of revenue, we are told by the acting leader of the Opposition that we should consider the necessities of the States. I would point out, however, that section 96 of the Constitution gives us ample power to make up to the States any deficiency that may exist in their revenue.
– I pointed out that we must not overlook the requirements. of the ‘States, but I was very careful not to commit myself to the principle of excessive taxation simply to relieve one or two States.
– I am pleased that the honorable member has made his position clear, but some honorable members apparently hold the view that in order to maintain the necessitous States in a solvent position the bulk of the people of the Commonwealth should be heavily taxed. I ask honorable members not to look at this matter as representatives of any particular State, but from the point of view of the people of Australia, who, in regard to taxation through the Customs, will stand upon the same plane wherever they may be. It may be said that the States whose revenues are now deficient do not need assistance, and that they would object to place themselves in the position of accepting a grant from the Commonwealth ; but I do not think ‘that any provision made under section 96 of the Constitution should be regarded in that light. We are told that certain items may be recommitted, but the prospect is a very shadowy one.
– I intend to recommit the item cotton and linen goods.
– Does the right honorable gentleman intend to propose a decrease of the duties 1
– I am afraid there is not much chance of securing an increase.
– If the tea and kerosene duties were held in reserve in the event of the revenue derived from other articles falling short of requirements I could understand the position taken up by the Government, but when we know that the Treasurer expects a surplus of £500,000 I do not see why we should impose further taxation to the extent of £600,000. I am glad that the argument that a duty upon tea would tend to give the public a better article by restricting importations of inferior qualities has not been used on this occasion. That has been abandoned. The only argument presented to the committee is that advanced by the honorable member for North Sydney, who declares that if to-night we decline to impose a duty upon tea, such a tax must be abandoned for ever. To-day the States may not be prepared to adopt the true system of taxation, but the time is fast approaching when they will do so. The question of free-trade versus protection has very little hold upon the people if it does not mean the battle of direct as against indirect taxation. I am not afraid to champion the cause of free-trade. Many honorable members upon this side of the Chamber believe in obtaining revenue only from narcotics, stimulants, and other absolute luxuries. They hold that the necessaries of life should escape taxation. I trust that the duty upon tea will not becarried. Something has been said concerning what the Senate may do. If, when the Bill is returned to’ us from the other Chamber, we find that, owing to alterations effected there, the Treasurer is urgently in need of revenue, we can then consider the expediency of levying a duty upon tea. Until then I refuse to consider possibilities. Free-traders have been taunted with having become protectionists, immediately some industry in their electorates was concerned. But there are honorable members upon this side of the Chamber who have courageously adhered to principle at all hazards. I have steadfastly refused to benefit the engineering establishments in my constituency at the sacrifice of my own political principles, although I am as anxious as any member of this Houseto see those industries prosper] but now that I have an opportunity of removing the taxation imposed upon kerosene, starch, and tea, I intend to vote in that direction. Let us not attempt to meet our troubles halfway. It will be quite time to wish the devil good day when we meet him. Noneed exists for levying the duties proposed. The Treasurer is in the happy position of having an overflowing Treasury. His estimate has been exceeded by £700,000, and no possible justification can be urged for imposing additional taxation to the extent of £600,000.
– I quite appreciate the heroics of the last speaker. He urges that we should view this matter from a national and not from a State aspect. That is a very nice proposition for him to urge, representing as he does a State which, under this Tariff, will have a surplus revenue of £1,250,000. If I were in his position I could afford to indulge in similar heroics.
– They are not heroics - they are beliefs.
– I have as strong beliefs as has the honorable member. Notwithstanding what he has said to the contrary, there are times when one must consider matters from a State stand-point. I confess that I do not believe in taxing the necessaries of life. In this connexion I have some difficulty in deciding what course to adopt in regard to the whole of these items. But I must face the fact that under the Tariff as it stands South Australia will receive a small surplus revenue, whereas if we abolish these duties that surplus will disappear. I have also to bear in mind the accumulating expense involved in the establishment of a “white Australia.” According to the latest figures, South Australia will have a surplus revenue under the present Tariff of approximately £63,000. If we abolish the duties upon tea, kerosene, and rice, that surplus will vanish. We have already sanctioned legislation under which the sugar-planters are to be granted a rebate upon sugar grown with white labour. “Upon a very moderate estimate, there will be 50,000 tons of sugar produced next season from cane grown with white labour, upon which we shall collect only £1 per ton excise. That represents a shrinkage in the revenue of £100,000, of which South Australia’s proportion would be £10,000. During the second year, probably 75,000 tons of sugar will be produced by means of white labour, which will mean a shrinkage in the revenue of £150,000. Probably in the third year 100,000 tons of sugar will be produced with white labour, which represents a shortage in the revenue of £200,000. Of this amount, South Australia’s share would be £20,000. Further, the Tariff provides that after five years no excise duty shall be charged.
– But at the end of five years the bookkeeping period ceases to operate, which will be to the advantage of the smaller States.
– It will be very difficult to persuade some of the States at the end of five years to divide the revenue upon a population basis.
– It is very generous to suggest the pooling of the revenue, and its allocation upon the basis of population, but when that period arrives I think very great objection will be raised to the adoption of such a course. Within five years the Treasurer will lose the whole of his excise revenue, which in round figures represents nearly £600,000.
– And Queensland will supply the whole of Australia.
– Yes ; that is the object of this legislation. South Australia’s share of that £600,000 is £60,000. That is in addition to the increased expenditure, which at present is something like £30,000 ; and these are facts that we have to consider. I wish I could see my way clear to put these articles on the free list, because I do not believe in raising revenue on the necessaries of life - a policy which, in my opinion, penalizes those who can least ‘afford to pay. At first I thought it would, perhaps, be better to reduce the duties, seeing that we could not afford to give up the whole ; but I was faced with the difficult question whether the consumers would get the benefit of such reductions.
– The consumers got the benefit when the duties were abolished in New South Wales.
– I am very doubtful of that.
– Then a duty does not increase the price %
– The price is increased by at least the amount of the duty, plus whatever extra the business people may charge.
– Then if a duty be taken off, the price must be reduced.
– No ; the removal of a duty does not always lower the price. A duty may be so small that, when it is worked out in detail, the business man does not take off the fraction which it represents ; as a matter of fact, he may add another fraction to make even money.
– A reduction of a penny would make no difference, but a reduction of threepence would.
– No doubt. If we are to benefit the people we ought to make some of these lines absolutely free, though it does not follow that I am prepared to free all the lines. If we give up the duty on tea. South Australia will lose £34,000, and if we give up the duties on rice and kerosene, that State will lose something like £26,000. It has been said that some of the States have not exhausted their sources of taxation. I do not say that South Australia has exhausted all her resources in this connexion, but the people of that State are taxed very heavily. There is an income tax and a land tax, the latter of which, is id. in the £1 all round. The South Australian land tax is not like the Victorian tax, which is the greatest abortion of the kind in the world. The South Australian land tax, after the first £5,000 in value, is a Id. in the £1, and there is also an absentee tax. I am not prepared to put all three lines under discussion on the free list ; but believing that it is better to put one of them on the free list rather than reduce the duties on all, I shall vote for tea being made free.
– How much difference will it make to South Australia if kerosene is free?
– South Australia will lose £15,000. I am prepared, first, to vote that tea shall be on the free list, though, if that be carried, I shall not vote for the other two items being made free. If tea is not put on the free list, I shall vote for kerosene and rice being made free, as an equivalent to the revenue from tea. I regret that, owing to difficulties in valuation, we cannot apply the ad valorem principle to the duty on tea, because it has always appeared to me unfair to charge a duty of 3d. .per lb., whether the tea be invoiced at 4d. per lb. or at ls. 6d. per lb., or more. I take my present position in the interests of the consumer, though I do not see my way to vote for the whole of these items being made free, because South Australia cannot afford to give up the whole of the revenue
– Although the honorable member for Dalley spoke of “ the necessitous States of Australia,” and said that he did not think it was desirable to meet trouble half-way, the honorable member further said that there was no need for the proposed taxation, as New South Wales had a superabundance of revenue, and did not know what to do with her surpluses.
– I also spoke of Victoria and South Australia.
– The optimistic views of the honorable member for Dalley in regard to these States practically led honorable members to lose sight of the necessitous States, although the fact that there are necessitous States should induce honorable members to have mercy on them.
– Not mercy ; the States can get justice under the Constitution.
– T. do not address myself to the financial straits of Queensland or of Tasmania ; I am regarding the proposed duties from the Commonwealth point of view. It is the first duty of every member of both Houses of this Parliament to make every safeguard for the necessitous States, even if in doing so we throw into the lap of New South Wales and the other more prosperous States, a surplus of £300,000 or £500,000.
– It is a pity the honorable and learned member did not think of that earlier.
-I thought of that, and also of federation, before the honorable member for Parramatta was ever in Parliament.
– But not during the Tariff debate.
– I cannot understand how it is that the mental horizon of honorable members does not extend beyond their own particular States.
– The honorable and learned member is pleading for Queensland.
– I am pleading for the Commonwealth - for the establishment and maintenance of a happy union of all the States. I am sure’ that honorable members had sympathy with the honorable member for South Australia, Mr. Poynton, when he spoke of the vast expenditure that will be requisite in view of the deportation of the kanaka. That is a subject on which the honorable member did not dwell at the length commensurate with its importance. Why is it that Tasmania and Queensland are necessitous? Was it not understood that the Tariff of the Commonwealth would be such as not to injure any State? What was the text of the speech of the Prime Minister at Maitland and of the speeches of the other expectant Ministers throughout Australia ?
– - The honorable member must not forget that we do not all follow the Prime Minister.
– The text of the speech of the Prime Minister at Maitland was accepted b)’ a large number of people who have supported freetrade.
– Not by me.
– PATERSON.The keynote of that speech was that there should be no destruction of industries, and it was certainly never intended that there should be financial chaos in any State.
– There is no industy concerned in the proposed taxation on tea.
– I have been led off the track of my intended remarks. I do not regard tea as a- necessary. There are tens of thousands of people in. Australia who do not think tea one of the necessities of .life, and I have read articles .time after .time urging that tea is destructive of the .human economy. There are people who .have regular tea sprees, which do them far more harm than would the moderate use of spirits. At any rate, the Commonwealth will have to pay :f or the premature robbery of the kanaka .from Queensland, and also to arrange for Queensland, Tasmania, or any other State being ‘maintained in a solvent condition.
– What internal taxation is there in Queensland ?
– PATERSON.There is a great deal more internal taxation in Queensland than in New South Wales. In the latter State the Government never had the pluck to place on the backs of the people throughout the western and central districts the cost .of’ ‘the administration of their own local affairs. In Queensland, on the other hand, all the cost of forming roads and bridges has been borne by the farmers and squatters. Victoria was the first State to provide local government, and Queensland adopted that State as her .model with great benefit. .In these local burdens, apart from the rabbit extermination tax, Queensland .has practically a land tax. In many parts of the country we have had a seven-years drought as disastrous as that in the north-western parts of New South Wales ; but our professed friends here have no regard for that. We have lost millions of sheep and thousands of cattle, and have heavy burdens upon our backs. I wish that Queensland had the big surplus which New South Wales enjoys under the Braddon provision. As a matter of fact, we could do with twice .as much. I advise the New South Wales politicians to use their surplus in reducing the State public debt; Is there never to be a diminution of taxation in these States ? With regard to the proposed duty upon kerosene, it will fall very lightly upon those in the country districts, because we have so much daylight in most of the country parts of Australia that very little artificial light is needed, and very often, when light is required at night, the people are content to use fat lamps. The workers of Queensland, however, are independent and loyal enough to their State to be ready to contribute their share to the revenue derived from duties upon tea and kerosene,” because they know that the money will be expended to secure the protection . of life and property, and to provide what is practically free education for ‘their children. It would be bad for both Tasmania and Queensland if these duties were remitted. Under the Queensland Tariff there was a duty of 6d. per lb. upon tea in bulk, of 4d. upon each 1_lh packet, and of 8d. per lb. upon every packet containing more than £ lb. Surely the reduction which is now proposed is sufficient. In New South Wales there was a State duty of Id. per lb., while the duty in Victoria, South Australia, and Tasmania was 3d. per lb, and in New Zealand 4d. per lb.
– And in England 4d. per lb.
– PATERSON. - In my opinion, the bulk of the electors do not wish to avoid this taxation. No one can say what the requirements of the Treasury will be during the next six months, and it is our duty to maintain the good-will of the States towards the Commonwealth by doing nothing to impair their revenue, and thus bring inconvenience or even disaster upon their financial administration
– The honorable member for Brisbane has referred to Queensland as a necessitous State.
-paterson. - In doing so I was quoting another speaker.
– I have not come here to plead for mercy for Queensland. Queensland can take care of herself. All -she wants is a fair and square deal. The honorable member for Brisbane quotes the Maitland speech, but only three protectionists were returned to the Federal Parliament by Queensland, and they all represent coastal constituencies. The people back in the country are rabid free-traders, and I was returned as a rabid free-trader. The Queensland tax upon tea was introduced by the Mcllwraith Government some years ago, when, I believe, the honorable member for Brisbane was one of the Ministers of the day. For years we have been suffering in Queensland from taxation with the. extent of which very few people are acquainted. Honorable gentlemen can imagine what our Tariff was like when I tell them that Queensland stood to lose £240,000 a year if the Commonwealth
Tariff had been carried in its original form. I come here to speak on behalf of the masses of Queensland who want free “ tucker,” and I am glad that they are going to get it. Some honorable .members say that Queensland is going to the dogs, but she is not, though we are now suffering from the severest drought that we have ever had. In a few years that State will be more flourishing and prosperous than she has ever been before. No one knows better than the honorable member for Brisbane who ran Queensland on to the rocks. Has any of the States progressed so rapidly as to justify the doubling of her public service within the last ten years 1 No. But that has . happened in Queensland. There departments have been created to find positions for society darlings and their friends. That is why Queensland is in its present position.
-Paterson. - What about the drought ?
– The drought is not wholly responsible. Last year Queensland had a deficit of £528,000, and, deducting the loss under the Commonwealth Tariff, there still remains £128,000 which is to be accounted for only by mal-administration. The only direct taxation upon wealth in Queensland is the tax of ls. in the.£l upon dividends.
-paterson. - There is no wealth in Queensland to tax.
– I have a little there, and I am not going to cry “stinking fish” about Queensland. So far as I have seen the other States, I think that Queensland is the best in the Commonwealth. The electors of Maranoa returned me as a free-trader, and I should go back upon my principles if I voted for a duty upon tea. The honorable member for Brisbane talks about the chickens coming home to roost, because we are trying to get rid of the kanaka ; but could the kanaka save Queensland? Is Queensland tied up in the sugar industry 1
-paterson. - No.
– I am very glad to hear it. The honorable and learned member for South Australia, Mr. Glynn, put the matter very forcibly when he said that it would pay the Commonwealth Government to buy out the sugar industry altogether, and I believe it would. I admit that the legislation on the kanaka question has had a disturbing influence upon the sugar industry, but the results have not been so bad as many people foretold.
-paterson. - They have not begun to feel the effects of it yet.
– Then they will never begin. The sugar planters have been . making enough noise and leading every one to believe that Queensland would become insolvent if the kanakas were dispensed with. If the kanaka is necessary for the salvation of Queensland, then the sooner the sugar industry goes the better. The honorable member for Brisbane has stated that the people of Queensland are bearing too much ‘taxation at the present time, and I claim his vote against the duty on tea because it bears very heavily upon them. It may be assumed that the prime cost of tea landed in the Commonwealth is 7d. per lb. The duty amounts to 3d. per lb., and the wholesalers’ profits, reckoned at 15 per cent, to l£d. per lb., whilst the retailers’ profits may be put down at 30 per cent., or 3£d. per lb. This makes a total of ls. 3d. charged to the consumer. If there were no duty, the cost of the tea would be 7d. per lb., the wholesalers’ profit- at 15 per cent, would represent l-05d., and the retailers’ profit at 30 per cent. - :2*45d. This would give a total of 10id. per lb., or a difference between the price of tea subject to duty and tea free of duty amounting to 4d. per lb. Assuming that a family of six would consume 9 lbs. per head per annum, their total requirements would be 54 lbs. which, at 4½d. per lb., would represent .£1 0s. 3d. This is the extent to which each family of six would be taxed under the present Tariff.
– The average consumption of tea per head of l he population is between 7 and 8 lbs.
– Even assuming that half the quantity I have mentioned is consumed, 10s. more per annum would still have to be paid by each head of a family for tea alone. I wish to see everything free, but I know that revenue has to be provided, and I think that we have already sufficiently considered the necessities of the Commonwealth in that regard. Some professing free-traders have voted for the introduction of certain kinds of machinery free of duty, and have strongly urged that many other articles should be exempted, .and they seem to me to be acting most inconsistently in refusing to place tea, which is .an article of universal consumption, upon the free list.
– If the honorable member challenges us, we shall reckon up his votes, and see how inconsistent he has been.
– I do not care what the honorable member does. I have not supported the imposition of protective duties in the interests of Queensland except in the case of bananas. The people whom I represent do not require any protection ; all they desire is a fair and square deal, and they will get it if I am able to secure it for them. I strongly advocate a free breakfast table, and it seems to me that some honorable members who call themselves freetraders, and who are supporting the duty on tea are false to their principles. Although I submitted myself to the electors as a revenue-tariffist, I am here as a free-trader, and I have become a stronger freetrader than ever since the Tariff has been under discussion. The masses of the people of Queensland are free-traders, and I am not at all anxious as to the attitude of my constituents on the subject of direct taxation. I hope that the free-traders who have been consistent in their opposition to the Government proposals throughout will stand to their guns and not desert us in connexion with the duty on tea.
– The honorable member for Maranoa has spoken in favour of a free breakfast table, but I hope he will recognise the fact that tea is not on the free list in Great Britain - a true free-trade country, which has the lightest Tariff in the world. Why should the honorable member talk about freetraders abandoning their principles when they vote for the retention of a revenue duty, pure and simple, the whole of which goes into the Treasury ? If the honorable member desires the people to have a free breakfast table, he should also wish them to have some dinner following their tea.
– In Queensland we all drink tea for dinner.
– But the honorable member does not desire that there shall be a free breakfast table, and nothing whatever to eat at any other meal - that is what he is aiming at.
– We have plenty of “ tucker” left in Queensland yet.
– Then the honorable member ought to be thankful. The honorable member for Bland has told us that Tasmania is to be compensated for her loss of revenue in some mysterious way which he did not attempt to explain. That honorable member, after having declared that out of some nebulous Treasury chest, Tasmania would draw some compensation, proceeded to add that all the surplus revenue derived by the Commonwealth had been absorbed. It has gone. The fund has disappeared, out of which the honorable member for Bland would be so generous to the smaller States, which require revenue more urgently than do the larger ones. The honorable and learned member for Northern Melbourne also indulged in some criticisms, although I do not know that with those criticisms he offered any compensation. Regarding the question of compensation, I should like to say that Tasmania adopts today the attitude she has adopted throughout. That State, recognising the tremendous relative sacrifice which she made for federation, has always desired to stand independently of the Commonwealth in regard to her finances, and has declined to come cap in hand for a pittance to help her through her difficulties. .She has preferred to stand upon her own resources, and to rely upon the justice of the Commonwealth in its taxation measures. The honorable and learned member for Northern Melbourne criticised the administration of Tasmania. He does not speak from any long experience as a Minister of the Crown charged with the duty of regulating the affairs of a State. In speaking out of his inexperience he has gone considerably beyond anything that is justified by facts. Tasmania may have been guilty of weakness in matters of administration, but time and again she has resolutely set her face against financial pressure and stress, and has been raised by the Ministry of the day out of the slough of despond into a state of solvency. She will maintain her position if she only receives justice at the hands of this Parliament. Let me point for a moment to the loss upon a few items which Tasmania has already suffered through the operation of this Tariff. By the reduction of the duty upon kerosene from 6d. to 3d. per gallon she sustained a loss of £4,000, whilst upon cotton goods she suffered a loss of £10,000. But it is in connexion with the excise duties that .her loss is so great. For example, upon still wines Tasmania has suffered a loss of £6,000, upon tobacco a possible loss of £20,000, upon spirits a loss of £10,000, and upon beer a loss of £6,000. The last-named deficiency was occasioned by the reduction of the excise from 4d. to 3d. per gallon. Upon sugar, when the policy of the Government is carried out to its full extent, Tasmania will sustain a loss of £40,000. These amounts represent more than one-eighth of the total revenue of that State. The loss occasioned by these excise duties has in no case been incurred because of any Tasmanian industry. It has been made in the interests of industries in other States. Tasmania makes no wine, does not grow or manufacture tobacco or sugar, and does not distil spirits. Having in view the sacrifices which this State must make, her independent attitude in the matter of finance, and the splendid way in which she came to the front when the question of federation was to be determined, I hope that the committee will decline to throw away revenue duties. Especially do I trust that we shall not sacrifice the duty upon tea, which is a duty that has been borne continuously in England, where it has been reduced only within the last ten years to 3d. per lb. I am aware that it has since been raised to 4d.; but I imagine that even in free-trade England this tax will continue to the end of time.
– The duty in England was imposed when tea was a luxury.
– Has the character of tea altered particularly ? During the time that I was in England the duty upon this article was 6d. per lb. At that period tea was no more a luxury than it is to-day, and its price was the same as it is now.
– In England the present duty upon tea is Gd. per lb.
– It has been raised lately. I know that in 1890 or 1891 the duty was reduced from 6d. to 3d. per lb. I am speaking of a matter of which I have some knowledge. I was in England at the time, I consumed tea, and I paid for it - not being embarrassed by the Federal Tariff - and I paid no more for it than I should pay to-day. It -will be my painful duty to cast a vote against some of the members of nay own party. I shall vote against the reduction of the duty upon tea.
– I do not propose to deal with the financial aspect of this question. It is sufficient to say that I agree with the honorable member for Bland that the Treasurer will get more revenue from this Tariff than he really needs. Even assuming that the necessities of some of the States demand that we should raise every possible penny of revenue, I believe that that revenue can be obtained in a much better and more equitable way than through the Customs. I wish, however, to say a word or two regarding the free-trade speeches which we have heard this afternoon from honorable members upon this side of the House. We have been told in effect that free-trade is identical with revenue tariffism, a statement which the honorable and learned member for Northern Melbourne has combated with a good deal of effect. He quoted Henry George to show that free-trade and revenue tariffism had no relation to each other. He might have gone even to the fathers of the free-trade movement in England, and found stronger evidence of the fact that free-trade and direct taxation are closely related to one another. If he referred to the speeches of Bright, Villiers, or Cobden, he would find overwhelming evidence that these authorities upon freetrade always regarded revenue tariffism as something to which an end had to be put at the earliest possible moment. It was clearly indicated b)’ the leaders of the free-trade movement in England at the time to which I refer, that their object was to relieve the masses from indirect taxation and to restore the incidence of taxation to its proper and equitable basis. We have heard a good deal this afternoon of the sacrifices in which we are going to involve some of the States if we do not impose duties upon the particular articles under consideration. I cannot understand that line of reasoning. There are no authorities upon political economy with whom I am acquainted who defend revenue tariffism as an equitable method of taxation, and if there be any shortage in the revenue of the States, I am unable to understand how honorable members can speak of a sacrifice being entailed upon them when they have absolute freedom to revert to equitable methods of taxation.
– What are “equitable” methods ?
– The equitable method of raising revenue is by direct taxation and not by the indirect method of getting at the consumer which has been so common even in England up to the present time. If the Treasurer levied a tax upon tea and kerosene by causing merchants to place a 3d. stamp upon each pound of tea or each gallon of kerosene, the public would begin to understand the difference- between direct’ and indirect taxation. I feel sure that no Treasurer would have the hardihood to attempt to raise money in that way because the people would not tolerate it. It is only because they fail to realize what indirect taxation through the Customs really means, that they are content” to submit to it. I trust that the’ committee will take this opportunity of indicating that so far as Australia is concerned we are going to adopt equitable and just methods of taxation. The divisions upon these items will prove decidedly interesting, and I believethat to the people they will be very significant and educational. Of courseI exclude the Treasurer from this reference, because his object is to raisemoney by the easiest possible method. But as regards some of the free-traders on the Opposition side, I am pleased that they have to face the necessity of indicating whether they are true to free-trade principles or whether those principles, after all, are not to them simply a hypocritical method of evading just and equitable taxation.
Mr. BATCHELOR (South Australia).I have at all times opposed purely revenue duties, and I shall certainly adhere to my principles on this occasion. It has- been said that the whole of the revenue from the proposed duty on tea will go into the Treasury, but the honorable member for Maranoa has- contended that a percentage will be taken by the middlemen.
– All the duty will go into the Treasury.
– That is so; but the extra cost to the consumer1 will not gointo the Treasury. 0
– Protective duties do not go into the Treasury.
– Protective duties may or may not go into the Treasury, but very often the cost is not added- to the’ price charged to the consumer. In every case of a revenue duty, however, the duty, plus the middleman’s percentage, is invariably added to the cost. It cannot for a moment be contended that tea will be grown- in Australia, or that by the establishment of a local industry the price will be reduced. In the case of a protective duty a great deal less than the amount of the duty- is generally paid by the consumer, and in many cases the articles are cheaper than if there were no impost at all. I always maintain’ that it is better in creating revenue to impose protective- duties, which are frequently less burdensome than revenue duties. I know that what I say is rank heresy according to theoretical free-traders, but, at the same time, I believe it represents a sound policy, which we can very safely carry out. My opinion is that we can afford to -place tea on the free list. Revenue is coming in better1 than most of us’ expected, and ‘better than the Treasurer anticipated’ ; and I see no reason why we should not give the people what, in South Australia certainly, they have long been crying out for - the benefit of free tea. The honorable member for South AusAustralia, Mr. V. L. Solomon, knows that in that State the policy of a “ free breakfast table” has been advocated for years; and that an absolute majority of the Legislative Assembly has been returned pledged to abolish the duties on tea, coffee, and cocoa, in addition to kerosene.
– The majority were pledged to that policy when the finances of the colony were in a sufficiently elastic state to permit of its being carried out.
– I know solve honorable members “ hedged “ in that way. As a matter of fact, there have been some very good surpluses in South Australia, but no relief was given to the people in this direction.
– They have generally been paper surpluses which would not stand examination.
– The honorable member ought not to say that, because I recollect that one Government, of which he was a supporter, brought down a very handsome surplus.
– We gave free education instead.
– An opportunity is now afforded of giving the boon of a “ free breakfast table.” The revenue of South Australia has “ panned out “ quite as well, if not better, than was anticipated. I do not approve of placing a tax on tea, with no other object than to unnecessarily take money out of the people’s pockets.
– A South Australian advocating free tea !
– I have advocated free tea ever since I have been in politics, and I sincerely hope that honorable members who are anxious to lighten the burdens of the people will be found voting, against the imposition, of this duty. They have an opportunity now cf showing, that they really mean, what they- say, and I am- perfectly confident that the result of this- discussion will be to give- the people throughs out the length and breadth of Australia that for which they have been asking for many years - free tea.
Mi-. HUGHES (West Sydney).- I have been unable, in. consequence of. a temporary disability, to follow some of the speeches made during the earlier part of the sitting. have only been able to gather from the honorable member for South Australia, Mr. Batchelor, that there- has been shown in the speeches of some honorable- members who were returned as free-traders a disinclina-tion to vote for the abolition of- certain revenue duties. I do not see exactly how their failure to vote for the abolition of those duties can be reconciled with the attitude of consistent free-traders, although I know that it is a very poor and unconvincing argument to say that a man, is wrong because he is short of absolute consistency. Still, I do agree- with thehonorable member for South- Australia, Mr. Batchelor: - with whom I have rarely an opportunity of agreeing on such matters - that it is rather inconsistent for men who speak of their burning desire to lighten the burdens of the people, to stop short when au opportunity of this sort presents itself. It is not for us to say where or where not the revenue is to come from, but it is pretty clear, even from the statement of the Treasurer, that, at any rate, the whole of these duties are not required.. The Treasurer’s prognostications have been, falsified from time to1 time, and- he can hardly blame us if we now decline- to take his pessimistic view of the future. The Treasurer and those associated with him have told us, with wearisome iteration, that, if we refuse to impose certain heavy burdens of. taxation, the revenue will suffer and . the country be ruined. But, as proved- by theTreasurer in his statement the other day, the very reverse is the. case. Every poor person, and, I suppose, every rich person in Australia, uses kerosene,” and I do not deny that the revenue to be derived from the proposed duty is considerable: Keroseneproduction is not a native industry, or, if.it hi, it is only so in New South Wales, and I am. very certain that, that fact does- not trouble the Treasurer very much. Now, I understand that there is a combination of gentlemen on both sides- of the House - a combination which means, that both sides involved must depart from lifelong pledges j which are -to be implied from professions of.political faith. I am sorry to learn that there is any doubt in. the minds of those who call themselves free-traders as- to what course should be- taken, from what the honorable member for- South Australia, Mr. Batchelor says, I understand that certain honorable members have- declared their intention of voting in favour of the proposed duties on tea and. kerosene, but, whoever those honorable members may be; and. wherever they may sit, their action shall have my unswerving opposition.
– -The items in the Tariff, which we are now being called upon, to discuss have- such an important bearing upon the interests of the various States that I feel that it would be unfair- to, my constituency and to the committee if I were to give a silent vote in regard to them. This is an occasion upon which I must differ from a good many of. my friends on this side of the Chamber, who desire to exempt from taxation all necessaries of life.. I feel that the time is inopportune for sacrificing so large an amount of revenue as would be lost by remitting.. the duties upon tea;, kerosene, and the-other items to which reference has been made. The- Treasurer has informed us that the revenue of the Commonwealth has so far been more buoyant than he originally anticipated,, though the’ records of: Hansard will show that many on this side of the Chamber were- of the opinion, when he made his Budget speech, that he was exercising too extreme- a caution. If my memory serves me right, he allowed something, like £5,000,000 for what he called “ loading,-up,” and about £4,000,000, or 10 per cent, on the £40,000,000 of previous trade, for increased value of imports. It is pleasing, to all- sections of the committee that his anticipations have not been realized We find now that upon the basis of the returns for the- last four months, the New South. Wales estimate of revenue will be exceeded by something, like £350,000, and the- Victorian revenue by about £14,000; while in Queensland there will be a shortage of £122,000. The honorable member for South Australia;
Mr. Poynton, was under a misapprehension when he said that the Treasurer’s estimate of the South Australian revenue would be exceeded by £60,000. I find, upon looking into the figures carefully, that it will be exceeded by only £18,900. That being so. we must consider closely what would be the result to South Australia if the large revenueearning duties upon tea, kerosene, rice, and other items, were removed. Some honorable members on this side, whose consistency in the free-trade cause I admire, seem to think that free-traders should go what is vulgarly termed “ the whole hog,” and place all the articles I have named upon the free list. It must be borne in mind, however, that the Treasurer’s estimate of the revenue for the year is to a great extent guesswork, and, still further, that it is based upon the assumption that the duties of which I speak will not be removed.
– Has the Treasurer estimated what amount of revenue will be lost if these duties are removed ?
– The duty upon rice is estimated to return £124,000, the duty upon kerosene £157,000, and the duty upon tea £384,000.
– The return from the duty upon tea will be slightly reduced, because we intend to propose a reduction in the rate.
– Yes ; but there can be little doubt that, if these duties are removed, the anticipated surplus will disappear. While I should view such a contingency with some uneasiness, from the Commonwealth stand-point, I am bound by pledges to my constituents to do what I can to prevent the State of South Australia from being placed in a difficult nancial position. We must approach this subject in a common-sense way, and make allowance for the necessities of the States, both before federation and at the present time. We cannot therefore take the risk of riding the free-trade hobby to death. As the honorable member for South Australia, Mr. Batchelor, has pointed out, the majority of the members of the Legislative Assembly of that State were pledged to secure a free breakfast table so soon as the revenue of the State became sufficiently buoyant to permit of the duties upon the necessaries of life being removed ; but the honorable member was a member of a Government for sometime, and other honorable members who were pledged in the same way were also members of Governments, without proposing a revision of the Tariff to allow their pledges to be carried out. On the one occasion, during a series of years, when there was more than a paper surplus in South Australia, the money was devoted, not to making good any deficiency, which the removal of the duties upon necessaries of life would have created, but in providing for the free education of the people. Notwithstanding the kindly references which have been made to the numerically smaller States, which may be in a difficult financial position, and the need for treating them charitably and reasonably, I shall be no party to compelling South Australia to come as a pleader or mendicant to the Commonwealth. I would rather uphold the independence of that State than place her in such a position that her representatives might be told year after year that they occupied a position inferior to those from other States which were solvent, and not indebted to the Commonwealth. Honorable members who represent States whose finances are not very flourishing may depend upon it that if these duties are abolished, the time will come very shortly when they will have to come, cap in hand, to the Commonwealth.
– The honorable member can speak for his own State and not for Queensland.
– How can the honorable member judge as to the position of Queensland?
– I judge from the figures we have before us.
– The honorable member’s special pleading comes rather late.
– It does not come late. When I was before the electors I expressed myself as being in favour of a revenue Tariff, and of the maintenance of the solvency of the various States. I never posed as a free-trader, or as a single taxer, or as a direct land taxer, but I always pledged myself to do my best, as I did in the local Parliament, to prevent any unjust increase .of direct taxation, which is already strained pretty well to its utmost in the State of South Australia.
– Put the taxes on the working man.
– The honorable member knows very well that his vote and mine have been cast side by side in trying to relieve the working men of taxation upon his tools of trade, his clothing, boots and shoes, and nearly everything he uses. When, however, we are considering tea, sugar, and kerosene, we must admit that these have been recognised throughout Australia as legitimate subjects for revenue duties, to which even free-traders might agree. The duties upon kerosene, tea, and rice cannot be dispensed with at present. The position of the Commonwealth finances is not such as to admit of it, and the abolition of these duties would place South Australia in a position which would be regretted by the greater number of the electors in that State, and also by many of those who are now disposed to remit the duties in the interests of the working man. Taking the returns for 1900 as a guide, the abolition of the tea duty would represent a loss to South Australia of £40,951, and the duty on kerosene, £13,061, or a total of £54,000. During the past few years, South Australia has had all she could do to make both ends meet. If that State were in the position of some of the others which have not yet exploited all their means of direct taxation, the case would be different, but South Australia has been about the foremost of all in adopting every possible form of direct taxation, including probate and succession duties, a progressive land tax, an absentee tax, and a progressive income tax. The taxation imposed upon the land-owners and farmers, and particularly upon the latter class, is just about as heavy as they can bear. In addition to having to face this loss, South Australia will have to provide for increased expenditure. The expenses of the Defence department have gone up by leaps and bounds, and up to the end of the present financial year they will amount to pretty nearly twice as much as was estimated at the time that federation was recommended to the people of South Australia. Then again, South Australia will have to face a heavy loss in connexion with the sugar duties. In 1899-1900, South Australia imported 15,000 tons of sugar from Queensland, and derived from it in Customs revenue with a duty of £3 per ton, £45,000. It is now apparent that the revenue from sugar when imported from Queensland will probably be reduced to £1 per ton, owing to the fact that there is to be a rebate of £2 per ton allowed on all sugar grown by European labour. Supposing that only one -third of the total quantity of sugar is grown by European labour, then the loss would still be very considerable.Then, I have just alluded to the increased expenditure in connexionwith the Defence department, which will constitute a heavy burden upon the people of South Australia. I would further point out that the additional outlay involved in the payment of the minimum salary of £110 per year to adult officers in the clerical division of our public service represents about £35,000 for the present year, with the probability that next year it will amount to £45,000. South Australia’s proportion of this expenditure will be about £5,000 per annum. This brings the total amount up to £65,000. The present position of that State is not such as to warrant me in voting for the abolition of these duties. The Barrier traffic has decreased very considerably during the past few months, and the probability is that the loss which South Australia will sustain in this connexion during the year will approximate £100,000. I do not think there is a representative of that State present who - if the determination of this question rested with the local Parliament - would to-day vote for the removal of the duties upon kerosene and tea.
– I should certainly vote for the removal of the duty on kerosene. In fact, I moved in that direction in the State Parliament.
– I know that the honorable and learned member did salve his conscience with a little oil, even though it was kerosene oil, and voted for what was then a very popular measure, namely, a free breakfast table. There were members who voted for that proposal, and others who promised to do so; but always with the proviso that the revenue of the country was sufficiently elastic to permit of the alteration. That is my proviso in regard to the abolition of the duties upon tea, kerosene, and other items which I consider are fair revenue-producing items.
– Does the honorable and learned member adopt a similar attitude in regard to the Commonwealth finances?
– Well, the Treasurer has a surplus of £600,000.
– The Treasurer calculates that the receipts from the Tariff will exceed his estimate by £578,000 if the Government proposals are agreed to. If we abolish those duties that surplus will not accrue.
– What is the use of overtaxing the people t
– I do not think that they are over-taxed ; at any rate, I have had no hand in over-taxing them. Although I was returned to this House as one who would always have the solvency of the States before him, I have voted consistently with the free-trade party in favour of reducing the burdens upon the people wherever it was possible and reasonable to do so. But the abolition of the duties upon these items would involve several of the States, including South Australia, in a serious loss. Therefore I feel bound to part company with some of my friends upon this side of the House. I shall vote for the retention of these duties solely because I believe that with all our increasing expenditure - expenditure the extent of which we are unable to calculate at the present moment - the time is not ripe for a free breakfast table. If, in a year or two, the result of the union of the States is an increase of our trade, of our productive wealth, and of our industries, I shall be one of the first to assist in remitting all duties upon the necessaries of life.
Mr. RONALD (Southern Melbourne).I should like to point out some reasons why the Government should abandon their proposal to tax tea. I am opposed to placing a duty upon that article; because it would constitute purely a revenue duty. At the outset of this prolonged debate upon the Tariff I declared that I was opposed to all revenue duties, and that if I went to the logical extreme of the free-traders, I should insist that no customs duties were required except for protective purposes. The honorable member for South Australia, Mr. Solomon, has made a very extraordinary confession. He says that he has been fighting for cheap clothes, cheap boots, and cheap machinery for the working man throughout this continent, and yet he declares that he cannot give him cheap tea. It mattered nothing to that honorable member how many Victorian industries were destroyed. He never raised the question of whether an article could be produced here or not. But tea is an article which cannot be produced within the Commonwealth, so that the protectionist element does not enter into the consideration of this question. The proposed duty is a purely revenue duty, and I affirm that a scientific system of customs taxation will eventually show that Henry George is right, and that we want customs duties for protective purposes or not at all. We can raise money in a country like this in many other ways than through the customs, and we shall have to adopt other means some day. I would further point out that the Treasurer is not in financial straits. Those who know him are aware that he always errs on the safe side. He is not prone to exaggerate. Consequently it will be found that his estimate is up to the mark, but not very much above it. If, however, he found himself in straits, I would point out that there are numberless luxuries which are being admitted free. The superior wines pay nothing like the amount of customs revenue that they should pay. Such articles as Madeira, port, and choice champagnes, and Burgundies ought to bear the burden of taxation. The ground-work of all democracy is that luxuries should be taxed, whilst the necessaries of life and raw material should, as far as possible, be free. Tea is essentially one of the necessaries of life in Australia. Perhaps it would not be an unmixed blessing if people drank less tea ; but whether that be so or not, the people themselves have come to the conclusion that it is an absolutely indispensable beverage. Consequently this would be one of the most unpopular of taxes; and if we are short of revenue there are endless sources of taxation. In this discussion we have an exhibition of what would have happened if revenue tariffists had been in a majority. We should have had the same fight over the duty to be imposed on every necessary of life. I feel perfectly sure that if these articles are not admitted free there will be a material reduction in the duty, and a boon thus conferred on the people. It is not the time to enter into the question of the duty on kerosene, although that Gomes within the same category as tea. In a number of protectionist countries, notably Canada, tea is free; and Canada has been the model for us in many instances. ‘The more we see of the advantages of a protectionist Tariff the more shall we follow that model ; and revenue duties are no part of a protectionist policy, but the very opposite. We can experiment in producing those articles of which we have the initial elements, but tea is not one of these. I ask the Government, if they are short of revenue, to consider the numerous luxuries which are open to taxation, and in the meantime not to insist on what, I feel sure, is an oppressive tax. I am sorry the duty on tea has been large in many of the States, and no doubt the Government, in their desire to be fair, have struck an average in their proposal of 3d. per lb. It would, however, be a greater advantage if the Government would gracefully and ungrudgingly remove this duty as an instalment of a “free breakfast table.” If they do that I have hope that sooner or later we shall reach the ideal of having all necessaries free of duty and all luxuries taxed.
An Honorable Member. - What is a luxury ?
– A non-necessity. Everything that is necessary is not a luxury, and everything that is not necessary is a luxury. I shall vote for placing tea on the free list, because I am against all revenue duties, and in the hope that sooner or later we shall find a scientific method of taxation on the lines I have indicated.
Mr. JOSEPH COOK (Parramatta).Unlike the honorable member for Southern Melbourne I am in favour of revenue duties, though I am not in favour of revenue duties plus protectionist duties. It is about time the distinction was made clear between honorable members on this side of the Chamber and honorable members on the other, who to-night are found together advocating the abolition of these duties. One reason which impels me to vote for the abolition of the duties is precisely the reason urged by the honorable member for South Australia, Mr. Solomon, for his support of them. The honorable member referred to the increased and increasing expenditure of the Commonwealth, and I regard that as a reason for trying to prevent the surplus which the Treasurer has stated will be the result of the year’s operations. Ought we to be piling up duties when the cry for retrenchment and reform is heard throughout the States? The expenditure in the various States is too high at the present time, and it would be almost criminal to frame a Tariff so as to guarantee at the year’s end a surplus of £700,000 or £800,000. The Treasurer has furnished us with some particulars concerning the operation of the duties so far, and we are now dealing with items which were postponed in order to see how the Tariff worked. The only effect of the postponement has been to show the absolute non-necessity for these items, from a revenue point of view at any rate. The Treasurer estimates a surplus of £580,000, and for the next four months he anticipates a revenue averaging £237,000 per month. Why does he estimate so low a revenue ?
– Because the winter months are coming on.
– But the revenue in the short month of February was £250,000 odd. Does the Treasurer mean to tell us that the revenue for the next four months will not come up to that figure ?
– March is a good month, but April, May, and June are known to be bad for revenue purposes.
– I venture to say the Treasurer, as he always does, has underestimated his revenue, and that the result of the year’s operations will show a surplus of nearly £700,000, which corresponds with the amount derivable from tea, kerosene, and rice. To pile high duties on those articles of common necessity, with a view to obtaining such a surplus, is reckless financing. I admit there has been some trouble in the small States, and I do not quarrel with honorable members who are concerned as to the effect of the votes of this committee on the revenue of the States. We are told by the representatives of Queensland that the revenue of that State is much behind, and the representatives of South Australia also tell us that if we take off these duties the finances of that State will be prejudicially affected. But whose fault is that 1 Is it the fault of honorable members who have steadily tried to reduce duties so as to increase their revenue-producing capacity ? We have no right to take the responsibility for the muddle which the Government have brought about in the small States by reason of their vicious system of taxation. The honorable and learned member for Brisbane told us that we ought to look at this matter from a Commonwealth point of view, and when I interjected that he should havedone so himself, he promptly told me that he had taken that view before I was born. Why did the honorable and learned member not take that view the other night when, in his most perfervid way, he told the committee that he hoped there would not be another buggy or sulky imported into Queensland? We were then trying to arrange the duty on such articles as to bring in a little revenue for the Queensland Treasurer. But the honorable and learned member did not want revenue of that kind, and now he comes whining to this House about the condition of his own State, after having voted steadily to reduce the possibility of revenue. The honorable and learned member now pleads that if we surrender these revenue duties we shall be doing an injustice to Queensland. But the honorable and learned member has brought about the injustice by his action in connexion with other duties ; and we cannot by any possibility take the slightest responsibility for the condition of the finances of Queensland or the other small States. The members who have voted steadily to reduce duties, can have no responsibility for the muddle into which the finances have fallen by reason of the Tariff. There is the broad fact that as the Tariff stands at present there will be a surplus at the end of the year of £700,000 ; and if we remit the duties on tea, kerosene, and rice, there will still remain to the Treasurer as much revenue as he, at the beginning of the financial year, calculated on getting. If the Treasurer’s present estimate is maintained, and if those dire results happen to the various small States, is that our doing, or is it the doing of honorable members on the Government side, who have steadily striven to reduce the revenue-producing capabilities of the various items ?
– How could any revenue Tariff get rid of the inequalities in the revenues of each State ?
– I thought I had made that point clear in connexion with one item, which is representative of the others. If the honorable and learned member for Darling Downs and others had voted steadily to reduce the protective duties, more revenue would have been produced.
– By shutting up all our local industries ?
– These industries would not have been closed up.
– Then it is inevitable there would have been no revenue.
– The industries would have been subject to healthier conditions, and would have lived on as industries do elsewhere. This cry about shutting up works, so far as Victoria is concerned, we have heard ad nauseam, and I jam afraid it is a very empty cry at this time of day. It is my bounden duty as a representative of New South Wales to take care that there is no large surplus of revenue. In view of a surplus, an opportunity is given to me to remit taxation on the common necessities of life, and if good effects rather than ill will occur by reason of my vote, I am under the obligation to try to relieve people from burdens whicli otherwise may be imposed on them. It has been said that in discussing these proposals we should have regard for the necessities of the various States. That is a perfectly true remark which applies to the whole Tariff; but I should like to know if honorable members opposite applied it when they were trying to impose high duties whenever they thought they could protect local industries. The interests of the States, and the interests of the Commonwealth as a whole, have hardly been considered at all in dealing with the Tariff. If they had been, we should have had a,Tariff far more equitable in its incidence, and much more productive of revenue. Some honorable members on this side of the Chamber propose to vote for the duties on tea, kerosene, and other articles of large domestic consumption, upon the ground that they are purely revenue duties, and should form the basis of any revenue Tariff. That may be admitted ; but is this a ‘revenue Tariff? Has not everything been done to make it a highly-protective Tariff? We are under no obligation to vote for duties which might have found a place in a Tariff entirely different from that which the committee has framed. If the Government had proposed a revenue Tariff, I should have consented to the imposition of a small duty upon tea, ; but I feel under no obligation to vote for the inclusion of revenue duties in a highly protective Tariff.
– The duties which the honorable member is discussing properly belong to a free-trade Tariff.
– They properly belong to a revenue Tariff, and a revenue Tariff may as well be called a free-trade Tariff as the bastard Tariff which the honorable and learned member supports may be called a . scientific protective Tariff. I do not think these duties form part of a proper protective Tariff. Honorable members opposite are going to vote for them because they have destroyed the possibility of revenue being obtained from duties on other articles by making those duties highly protective. In any case, in my opinion, the Government have sufficient revenue already, and I think I shall be acting in the true interests of the States, by compelling them to exercise proper economy in the management of their finances, if I decline to vote for these duties.
– Personally, I should have great pleasure in voting to place tea and kerosene upon the free list ; but I am afraid that the condition of the finances of South Australia just now is such as to render such a course quite out of the question. It is feared - and 1 am making the statement upon the best possible authority - that the disastrous effects of rust on the last harvest, and the shrinkage in .the value of silver, copper, and lead, will cause a deficiency of at least £150,000 in the railway revenue of the State this year. Under these circumstances, it seems to me that it is my duty to support the proposals of the Government.
– It is to be regretted that the Government proposals have created a split in what is probably the finest political fighting force ever brought together in Australia. I am not disposed, however, to sink what I consider a principle in order to vote with my party. I have always considered that what we have to do in framing the Tariff is to raise sufficient revenue to meet the requirements of the Commonwealth, and to raise it by inflicting the least possible amount of hardship upon the taxpayers. My idea has been that that result can best be obtained by a system of low duties, designed to return the maximum amount of revenue. We have already imposed a great many duties which will yield little or no revenue, but which will nevertheless tax the people very heavily. Now, however, we have to deal with a number of items which can be made the subject of purely revenue duties. The £400,000 odd, which it is estimated will be returned by these duties, is practically the whole amount that they will cause to be taken from the , pockets of the people. As a revenue-tariffist, I think that they are ideal duties, and, therefore, from the very first I made up my mind to vote for a moderate tax upon tea. My idea of an ideal Tariff at this juncture is a Tariff of compromise - the Tariff which was promised in the Maitland manifesto. If that Tariff had been offered to us, the Tariff fight, would have been finished this session, and we should have heard no more of it for ten or twelve years to come. But, under the present circumstances, I believe that it will be continued throughout Australia during the whole of that period. I wish for the imposition of a duty upon tea because I firmly believe that we, on this side, will presently have an opportunity to determine how the taxation of the Commonwealth shall be arranged, and, when the opportunity comes, and many of the duties against which we have been fighting so earnestly are removed, we shall want the revenue which the duty upon tea will produce. I am sorry that I ‘ have to address my remarks upon this subject to my political friends rather than to the supporters of the Government. The honorable member for ,North Sydney gave us a logical, clear, and conclusive reason why we on this side should vote for a duty upon tea. He pointed out that the framing of the Tariff cannot be regarded as finished immediately the Tariff Bill leaves this Chamber, and that “ we cannot expect that that consideration will be paid in another place to the revenuetariffist’s point of view which we desire should be paid if this duty is eliminated. Honorable members opposite, and notably the honorable member for Southern Melbourne, took up the position that a duty upon tea is a burden upon the poor man. But did he or the members of the labour party raise their voice in the interests of the poor and struggling when the Government were heaping other taxes upon them ? If we adopt, as I hope we shall, a duty of 2d. per lb. upon tea, the tax which the poor man will have to. pay will be about a Id. per week. But honorable members opposite have placed much heavier taxes upon nine out of ten of all the articles he uses or consumes . He will have to pay four or five times as much upon his boots, his hats, his groceries, and many other things, but the full amount of the tax will not go into the pockets of the State ; whereas practically the whole of the revenue derived from the duty upon tea will reach the Treasury. I am aiming at the establishment of a Tariff of compromise, and the revenue which a duty upon tea will produce will be required, if ever we get such a Tariff. We shall not rest content with the result of our labours this session, but the consideration of the Tariff will be re-opened before very long, and we shall then endeavour to remove some of the heavy duties now imposed. When we secure their remission, we shall require the tea duty in order to retain our finances upon a sound footing. The fact that the Treasurer expects a surplus of over £600,000 has been used as an argument in favour of abolishing the duty on tea. We must, however, proceed quietly in regard to this surplus. The wisest of us cannot foretell what the effect of the Tariff will be, but if we have such a surplus when the full effects of the Tariff are felt, the best use the Treasurer could make of any such money would be to apply it to the purposes to which the proposed loan is to be devoted. We could not better employ any surplus than by using it so as to avoid the necessity for adopting the borrowing policy which has been the curse and bane of all the States in the past. If we have any surplus we shall know what to do with it. Economy in the States will have to be enforced by the citizens of those States, and we ought not to speak about remitting duties in order to reduce the expenditure of the State Governments. Then, again, we should be wanting in the federal spirit if we did not pay some attention to the financial necessities of such States as Queensland, Tasmania, and South Australia. The deficiency in the finances of Queensland is so large that I venture to say many Queenslanders must be looking forward with apprehension to the consequences. Tasmania also lias a deficiency which, although it may seem small to many of us, is certainly a very grave one, and that State will have difficulty in meeting it. In South Australia, we are told that the Government have been able only to barely make ends meet with their present revenue, and that if we decrease it by such a large sum as that expected to. be realized from the duty on tea, we shall upset their financial arrangements. It is the duty of this committee, without sinking its principles, to, as far as possible, provide for the financial needs of the States, ‘and I think we should be proceeding in the wrong direction if we were to remit the duty on tea, because, although the Tariff may supply New South Wales with a surplus, it will not yield more than sufficient to meet the requirements of the other States. For these reasons I shall support a duty of 2d. per lb. upon tea. The proposed duty upon kerosene brings us. face to face with a different set of circumstances. Whilst tea is consumed by every one throughout the Commonwealth, kerosene is used only in the extreme suburbs surrounding the large metropolitan centres or in the country districts. It is upon the residents in the country and the outlying parts of- the cities that in many instances the Tariff will impose the heaviest burdens, and it would be scandalous if we, after having remitted the duty to some extent upon the light used by the people in the large cities, were to impose a special tax upon the only illuminant that can be used in the country districts. For this reason I shall vote against the duty on kerosene.
– Before I was elected to this Chamber I stated it was my intention to vote for the admission of tea free of duty. If, for the purpose of calculating the percentage of this duty upon the value of the article, we adopt the price of tea, f.o.b., at the port of shipment, we shall find that it amounts to from 75 to 100 per cent. The average price of tea, f.o.b., at the port of shipment may be stated at from 4d. to 5d., and the tea used by the poorer classes of the community would scarcely be worth as much as 4d. per lb. Yet honorable members who objected to 25 per cent, duties in many cases, are now ready to support this heavy impost.
– The honorable member voted for a duty of 180 per cent, in one case.
– I should vote for a duty of 180 per cent, upon goods which could be manufactured here, and if we could grow tea and regulate the conditions under which it was prepared, I should vote for an even higher duty than that now proposed. It is only because this duty has no protective incidence that I am opposing it. I am given to understand that there will be a large majority against the introduction of free tea, and that many honorable members who have opposed taxes of a far less oppressive nature intend to support the duty upon an article which is consumed in every house in the Commonwealth. It has been urged that unless we impose a duty of 3d. or 4d. per lb., we shall have large quantities of adulterated tea imported into the Commonwealth. I do not think, however, that we need have any fear on that score, because we have provided in the Customs Act against the importation of adulterated and exhausted tea. I hope that kerosene will be admitted free, for reasons very similar to those which I have advanced in favour of the exemption of tea. The value of kerosene, f.o.b., at the port of shipment, would he from 6d. to 7d. per gallon, and the duty proposed would represent a very high percentage on its value - equal to 50 per cent. Many honorable members have expressed themselves as opposed to the imposition of any duties representing a higher percentage than 15 percent., and lam curious to see how many of them will be found supporting the Government in regard to the duties now proposed which range from 50 per cent, to 100 per cent. The division list will show who are the real friends of the workers in this community. It has been urged that we should take care that the revenue realized by the Tariff is sufficiently large to maintain the solvency of all the States, but I contend that the Commonwealth has no duty in that respect. All we have to do, according to my reading of the Constitution, is to return to the States three-fourths of the duties we collect. The State Governments, would be in a particularly happy position if we have to find all the money that they spend. In Victoria the daily newspapers are urging the necessity of economy in the State expenditure in the public offices, and possibly the same thing might with equal advantage be impressed upon the Governments of other States, especially with the higher paid officials. If the doctrine preached by some honorable members this evening be a sound one, then the Commonwealth is under an obligation to provide all the revenue which the States may desire to spend. That would be a very happy position for the States to occupy. They would get credit for all the new roads and bridges which were constructed, and for all the railways which were built, without having to provide the money for those undertakings, because we provide all the money and incur all the odium and displeasure of the ratepayers, as we impose the taxes. I claim that we are not compelled to preserve the solvency of any State. All that we are required to do under the Constitution is to return to the States three-fourths of the revenue which we collect. If that revenue be not sufficient for State purposes, the State Governments have an unlimited field for taxation. Let those States that are short go in for a land tax. Honorable members are well aware that since the labour party announced their intention of fighting for the remission of the duties upon tea and kerosene very little revenue has been collected upon those articles.
During the past four months the duty upon tea has returned only £64,000, although it would need to yield twice that amount to realize this Treasurer’s estimate. But despite the fact that very little revenue has been collected upon tea and kerosene, the Treasurer anticipates that the receipts for this financial year under this Tariff will exceed his estimate by £578,000. Therefore, honorable members can vote for the remission of the duties upon the articles named without entertaining the slightest fear that by so doing they will bring about a deficiency in the accounts. I hope that honorable members will show that they are in favour of giving the workers an instalment of that free breakfast table of which we have heard so much.
Mr. CONROY (Werriwa).- The more one looks at the Treasurer’s estimate of the revenue which will be raised under this Tariff the more it becomes apparent that the amount will approximate £9,750,000. This is a very serious matter, when we recollect that every £1,000,000 extracted from the people deprives 10,000 men of constant employment at £2 per week. Every penny raised in taxation limits the amount of capital available for productive work. It is, therefore, to the interest of the Commonwealth to keep the amount collected from the people down to the lowest possible point. When federation was inaugurated, it was estimated that the customs revenue required to be raised would amount to £7,800,000. Assuming that another £200,000 were derived from this source, the total would represent only £8,000,000. Now we are told by the Treasurer that he expects to receive £9,400,000. I believe that the revenue collected under this Tariff will not fall far short of £10,000,000. Of course honorable members are told that we must consider the necessities of the States, but I have yet to learn that the people of the States are not the people of the Commonwealth, and that any injury inflicted upon the latter is not felt by the former. Yet the extraordinary argument has been presented that, because Tasmania or Queensland require a certain amount of revenue, we should impose the taxation proposed. When we are asked to consider .one State, why not another? Why not consider that four States are receiving far more revenue than they actually require? I am sure that if the Government returns to the States as little money as it should consistently with sound administration, the people of the Commonwealth will thank us for enforcing economy upon the State Governments. Nobody can view the increasing expenditure of the various States without alarm, and if this Parliament insists upon the Governments of the States oV serving rigid economy we shall have the people of Australia thanking us, and regarding us as their saviours. They would then say that we had discharged our duty. But if we continue to levy taxation in the way that is proposed, how can it be said that we are performing our duty ? Before I entered this Parliament I had never heard it suggested that taxation was a blessing. Honorable members opposite, however, have spoken throughout ‘the Tariff debate as if it were a blessing. I claim that taxation is an evil, though I admit a necessary one, and, being an evil, we should take care that in no particular do we overstep the bounds of moderation. It has been said that unless we impose this additional taxation two of the States will not receive sufficient revenue. We are now asked not to deal with that phase of the question, but with the request of the Government to grant them this large extra sum of>£680,000, though it is not required. It has been urged that it is perfectly right in order to raise £35,000 through the Customs in Tasmania, and £150,000 in a similar way in Queensland, to tax the whole Commonwealth to the extent of £1,000,000. That is not what we were sent here to do. I regret that there are certain clauses in the Constitution which, while giving us power of life and death over the people, do not allow us to deal with mere financial matters. The men who were so short sighted as to frame those clauses injured their own States, because they prevented those States being helped in the way this Parliament would wish . to help them. It would have been far better if we could have said to the people of New South Wales or the other States not requiring such revenue returns that, while it was true the Commonwealth Parliament was imposing extra taxation, it was also true that the burden of taxation was otherwise being diminished throughout Australia. It has been said that the wealthy people of Tasmania cannot pay any more taxation, and the whole argument of those who take that view is that therefore the poor people can afford to bear an extra burden. Surely an extraordinary argument to put forward. The more we look into this matter the more clearly it is seen that those who are fighting against the extravagance of the Government are doing their duty to the Commonwealth.
– Does the honorable and learned member not know that money raised in his own State goes back to that State?
– What would the honorable member say if, in reference to goods which usually cost £10 for carriage on the Tasmanian railways, the commissioner were to charge him £20 on the ground that the money all went back to the State? I am sure that the honorable member would prefer to pay the lesser sum; and that is exactly the position we are discussing. I have so much sympathy with the smaller States that, in order to save the rest of the people extra taxation, I should support a proposal to take over the whole cost of the Postal and Defence departments, always providing that there was no repeal of the 87th section of the Constitution before the next general election, seeing that it would be expensive to take such a step before that time. I am surprised to hear protectionist members voting for free tea, on the ground that tea cannot be grown here. Tea can be and has been grown in the Inverell and Clarence districts, and if a duty of ls. or ls. 6d. per lb. were imposed, it would soon be successfully and profitably produced. I am also informed that tea is grown in Western Australia and Queensland, and the honorable member for Yarra was entirely wrong, from a protectionist point of view, when he spoke of sweeping away the duty in the interests of the working man, as, judging from his arguments on other items, the duty would make it cheaper. In connexion with boots, hats, and other commodities, the honorable member was perfectly willing to impose duties, amounting in some instances to over 100 per cent., in order, as he pretended, to make them cheaper : and while I am glad that he is voting in the same way as myself on this occasion, I dissent from the reasons he gives for his action. If these are the only reasons the honorable member can give, he ought to turn round and tell the people that with a duty on tea, they would be just as well off) if not better off, seeing that it is the foreigner, who would be in this case the much-abused aliens, the Chinaman and the
Hindoo, who pays the tax. The Treasurer talks about raising a loan of £500,000, but I suggest that if he insists on retaining the duty on tea, it would be better to devote the revenue thus raised to the purposes of the loan, rather than embark on a career of extravagant borrowing.
– What would New South Wales say ?
– The New South Wales people would at once say that what they want to see throughout Australia is economy. The free-trade party naturally object to any duties which can be done without, and I only regret that half-a-dozen members on this side have departed from the sound principle that all taxation is an evil. Led away by what they think are the necessities of the States, and forgetting that we represent the Commonwealth, they have intimated their intention to, in certain cases, support the Government in these duties. Like other members of the free-trade party, I can only fight against such a policy. If the Government had been able to say that the revenue was so small that they could not carry on, they would have established a sound case for these duties ; but that is not the position. The great bulk of the working people are perfectly prepared to take their fair share of taxation, and the man who is not willing to take his share ought not to have a vote ; but no man should pay a single penny more than, is absolutely necessary. A very different state of affairs prevails here from that which prevails in England, where the proportion of direct and indirect taxation is, roughly speaking, 50 per cent. each. When Lord Salisbury uttered a warning to the people in this connexion it was taken as a protectionist statement, but it had a very different meaning. Lord Salisbury said that the two different methods of taxation had arrived at such a point that if any further revenue had to be raised it must be by broadening the area of taxation. That meant that if another million had to be raised it would have to be raised directly and indirectly in equal proportions. But here it is proposed by some of the wealthiest men in the community to take £10,000,000 out of the pockets of the poorer classes of , the community in one form only. I do not think the English proportion can be preserved in a newly-settled community. Here direct and indirect taxation ought to be represented by 40 per cent, and 60 per cent. respectively. That disproportion, however, should disappear as the country becomes more thickly populated. What we have to consider is that if we raise £10,000,000, of that sum £6,000.000 ought to be raised directly and £4,000,000 indirectly. The principle we are fighting for is that each man shall contribute taxation according to his means ; but every sound rule known to political economists seems to have been departed from by the Government. Is it a wonder that honorable members on this side are almost tired of explaining to the Government what is the proper course to take. I am afraid that some of the honorable members on the Government side will never learn, because we see that they allow the interests of the privileged few to out-weigh the interests of the great bulk of the. people. It is quite sufficient for a man to say that lie is a manufacturer, even if he employs only two or three hands, to at once receive from this Government an amount of consideration that thousands of workmen never would receive. When we consider all that has taken place in this committee, it is essential to prevent any further taxation. If the Government desire to carry these duties they ought to reconsider other items in the Tariff and make reductions. Let the Government, at any rate, give some promise to reduce the revenue, which is at present so large that it can only lead to extravagance on the part of the various States. Every penny that we have been returning to the States has been spent by them, and those States which are receiving a surplus have plunged into a career of violent extravagance. In the future we shall find that the States will still be asking for extra revenue, and if we are not very careful we shall not have sufficient funds to provide for the administration of our own legislation. . We must pass Acts and must provide funds for their administration, and if all the money is handed over to the States we shall create demands for further taxation from six States, instead of as now from only two. The difficulty is one which must be met sooner or later. What the Government should have done was to take care that the revenue raised did not exceed £8,000,000. A revenue of £7,250,000 would have given the States of New South Wales, Victoria, and South Australia even more than they required, thus providing for the requirements of nearly 3,000,000 out of the 3,700,000 persons in the Commonwealth. The removal of the duty upon kerosene has been advocated by an honorable member on the other side of the Chamber on the ground that it will make kerosene cheaper. He forgets, however, that kerosene can be produced in New South Wales, and that the kerosene industry there formerly employed nearly 300 men. If the argument which he has been urging in support of other items of the Tariff, but which no one outside of a lunatic asylum would believe, be correct, he ought to ask us to vote for a protective duty on kerosene to encourage its local manufacture, and to make it cheaper. I am sorry that some of those on this side of the Chamber feel that they must pay so much regard to the necessities of the States as to vote for these duties. They are departing from the principles of the great party to which I belong, and, as I do not agree with the reasons which they have given, I cannot follow them in this matter. I say that where taxation is not necessary it should not be imposed. We should look upon unnecessary taxation as an evil to be strenuously guarded against, and to be voted down on every opportunity.
Mr. L. E. GROOM (Darling Downs).I intend to support a duty upon tea, because I believe that, unless the smaller States receive back a fairly large amount in cus- toms and excise duties- =almost as much as they were obtaining from that source of taxation before joining the Federation - they will consider that this Parliament has been guilty of a breach of faith towards them. During the elections, the leader of the Opposition said that it would be necessary for the Commonwealth Tariff to produce at least £8,000,000, and the Prime Minister was of opinion that even a larger sum would have to be raised. Before that time, and previous to the taking of the referendum, it was pointed out that there were provisions in the Constitution which would secure the solvency of the smaller States, and prevent their financial embarrassment, and that a sufficient amount would be returned to them from customs and excise duties to make their financial position in that respect similar to what it was before they joined the union. We must now look upon the Tariff as a whole in considering the returns of the revenue. I do not think that honorable members opposite, if they were in power, could deal differently with the smaller States. Owing to their varying
Tariffs, each State was dependent for its revenue upon that source of taxation to a different degree, and it therefore follows that, in trying to meet the requirements of Queensland, which depended more than any other State upon its customs and excise duties, we must increase the revenues of the larger States. Thus, we must obtain more from New South Wales than that State, which was least dependent upon its customs and excise duties, requires. The statement of the honorable member for Parramatta, that the Government are responsible for what he terms “ this muddle,” is incorrect. Whatever Government we might have in power would have the same problem to face - how to provide sufficient revenue for the smaller States. Queensland and Tasmania are obviously at a greater disadvantage than the other States. While many of us may consider direct taxation a fairer means than customs taxation of obtaining revenue, and look upon the imposition of customs duties rather as a means of encouraging and fostering native industries, we must have regard, not so much to our own fiscal opinions, as to the expectations of the people of Australia when they voted for federation.
– Then why has the honorable member been voting against revenue duties 1
-I have not been voting against revenue duties. I have voted for many revenue-producing duties, which are incidentally protective, and I have also voted for distinctly protective duties. I feel, however, th’at, no matter what our fiscal views, we must consider the financial position ‘of the smaller States.
– Is the solvency of Queensland likely to be imperilled 1
– No. But, on the 1st August last, the Queensland Treasurer, in making his financial statement, relied upon receiving from the Commonwealth nearly as much as the State had formerly received from customs and excise duties.
– There is no provision in the Constitution which requires that to happen.
– No. But the idea in the minds of the people who accepted the Constitution was that means would be taken to maintain the existing financial condition of the smaller States. Queensland had previously been obtaining £3 4s. 2d. per head of population from customs and excise duties, but the Commonwealth Treasurer estimated in the first instance that she would receive only £2 lis. 6½d. per head from the Commonwealth Tariff, a reduction of nearly ten shillings per head. The Tariff now produces less than the Treasurer’s estimate. That being so, I think that it would be a mistake to materially reduce the proposed revenue duties. The Queensland Treasurer last year, before the introduction of this Tariff, expected a receipt of £1,524,934 from customs and excise duties. That, in my opinion, was an unreasonably large revenue to expect. The Commonwealth Treasurer, however, now estimates the probable receipts in Queensland at £1,281,421, which will give on the figures of the Queensland Treasurer a shortage of £243,513. The Treasurer of the Commonwealth estimates Queensland’s shortage at £280,000. But the Queensland Treasurer is reported to have said the other day that his shortage, in revenue will actually amount to about £400,000. He cannot blame the Commonwealth Government for the whole of that deficiency. Some of it must be due to a decline in the other local sources of revenue. Last year in Queensland they had a deficiency of about £528,000, but notwithstanding that fact, they are incurring almost the same expenditure. I believe that when rain falls and the grass grows, and the stock increases, the revenue will improve very rapidly. The honorable member for South Australia, Mr. V. L. Solomon, however, referred to Queensland as one of the insolvent States of the Union.
– I think he said that under certain circumstances Queensland might become insolvent.
– The honorable member said that Queensland might have to come to the Commonwealth for assistance. If Queensland should be insolvent, and under the necessity of coming to the Commonwealth under the provisions of the Constitution, from what fund could such assistance be given ? Surely it is reasonable that the Treasurer should make some allowance for a surplus from which he would be able to meet any such claims. I do not believe that Queensland will ever need to ask for such assistance. We have a State with unbounded natural resources. During the period from 1895 to 1901, Queensland suffered from one of the worst droughts ever known, but notwithstanding this her revenues have kept up wonderfully. In the financial year 1895-6 the revenue amounted, in round numbers; to £3,641,000 ; in 1S96-7 to £3,613,000; in. 1897-8 to £3,768,000; in 1898-9 to £4,174,000; and in 1899-1900 to £4,58S,000; and in 1900-1901 to £4,096,000. The trouble in Queensland has been that there has been an increase in the expenditure in excess of this continually expanding revenue. The State Government will not be justified in ascribing the whole of their deficiency to this Parliament for reducing the revenue from customs and excise. Still I think we should endeavour to keep the revenue of Queensland as nearly as possible at the figure at which it stood when the Federation was inaugurated. lc is ot, as stated by the honorable member for Werriwa, the duty of the Commonwealth Government to practically dictate to the States how they shall carry on their business. If we attempt to assume any such function we shall create a great deal of unnecessary friction. We have to consider the necessities of the Commonwealth as a whole, and try to keep faith with the smaller States. The way in which the States spend their money is a matter entirely for the consideration of their own people. The present duty upon tea represents a reduction of 50 per cent, upon that previously levied in Queensland. In 1900 the duty on tea in Queensland realized about £87,800, whereas the Treasurer estimates that the present duty will realize in that State £52,000 ; so that considerable relief has been granted to the consumers of tea in Queensland. The duty on” kerosene represents to Queensland only £16,000 per annum, and as the tax would fall upon the residents of the outlying country districts, I shall support its abolition.
– I may at once conciliate the honorable and learned member for Werriwa by declaring that if he will move that sugar, glucose, matches and vestas, rice, starch and starch flours, and kerosene be placed upon the free list, I shall support him. I cannot, however go with the honorable and learned member as regards tea. As a free-trader, I have always held that, when we are readjusting the Tariff, free-traders are bound to diminish, and, if possible, abolish duties which have a protective incidence, and I contend that this can only be done by the retention of the purely revenue duties. If we surrender the purely revenue duties, of which tea is one, we shall simply play into the hands of the protectionists, and send to another place a Tariff which is indirect in its incidence, and protective in its character. For these reasons I must differ from the honorable and learned member as to what ought to be the free-trade policy with regard to these duties. It is not in accordance with the best spirit of free-trade traditions to destroy purely revenue duties, and by diminishing the revenue to give a pretext for the levying of protective duties. For that reason I consider that tea should bear a duty, and I would point out that the comparative pressure of such an impost upon the poorer classes has been much exaggerated. It is estimated by Coghlan that the consumption of tea amounts to about 7 lbs. per head of the population, and, assuming that a family consists of four persons, the total amount paid in duty upon the tea consumed by them would not amount to more than 7s. per annum. Even admitting- that it amounts to 10s. per family, we may inquire, what is the general incidence of the Customs Tariff ? It is stated as being equal to over £2 per head, so far as the results to the revenue are concerned. According to Mulhall, however, a contribution of £2 per head to the revenue means a burden of six times that amount upon the taxpayer. If £2 per head is contributed to the revenue, a family of four would contribute £8 per annum. Taking Mulhall’s calculation the total burden, being that paid to the revenue and the higher profits to protected industries, would amount to six times £8, but if we double the amount, instead of multiplying it by six, we find that the total incidence of the Tariff upon a family of four would amount to £16 per annum. All that is asked for by those who support the remission of the duty on tea is the reduction of this amount by at most 10s., and I submit that those honorable members who are opposing the duty are directing their attention to the wrong item. If we have to levy customs duties, I look upon the impost upon tea as easily levied, and one of the least burdensome ; and it may also be said in its favour that it has been sustained as a revenue duty in England for the last 200 years. I do not follow on all points the reasoning of my honorable colleague, Mr. V. L. Solomon. I arn not afraid for the financial condition of
South Australia. The Treasurer told us that he estimated that the revenue of South Australia from customs and excise would amount to £683,000, or £19,000 more than was first estimated, and £44,000 more than was received in 1899. In 1896-7 the customs duties produced £S6,000 less than the estimate for this year; in 1897-8 . the receipts were £11 0,000 less than for this year; and in 189S-9 £S6,000 less. I contend, therefore, that there is no ground for any such fears as my honorable colleague entertains, and that from the point of view of solvency, the. figures I have mentioned will compare favorably with any figures which may be quoted for any other State in the Union. The South Australian revenue is now larger than it ever was. It is not from any fear that South Australia would be financially cramped that I support the retention of this duty, but simply because it is a revenue duty, and the least burdensome of all duties in its incidence. With regard to kerosene I may mention that in the South Australian Parliament not only did I express myself in favour of the abolition of the duty upon it, but I supported a resolution with that object. I honestly believe that we ought to retain the duty upon tea, because it is easily collected, and because the incidence of the taxation is extremely light. For example, compare the incidence of that duty with the outlay by the ordinary head of a family upon beer. The tax upon beer is far more burdensome.
– But the beer is consumed by only one member of a family.
– Does that fact make any difference to the financial outlay involved 1 The incidence of the beer duty, taking the average weekly outlay on it, is far heavier than the incidence of the duty upon tea, and if I were to charge any members of the party with which I am associated with inconsistency, I should say that they are inconsistent in not asking that the poor man shall have his beer duty free. I shall support the proposed duty upon tea, not because I believe in indirect taxation, but because I think that, while we are re-adjusting the Tariff, we ought first to deal with the most burdensome or protective duties.
– The honorable and learned member for South Australia, Mr. Glynn, certainly supplied some original matter to this discussion when he said in effect that £16,000,000 are extorted from the people in order that the Commonwealth may secure a revenue of £8,000,000. If honorable members believe that statement, I think the earliest opportunity should be afforded them of smashing the whole Tariff, and of collecting from the people, by some easy system, only the amount necessary to carry on the government of the country. I should not have risen but for the statements which have been graciously made, that the necessities of Queensland are so great that unless the proposed duties are sanctioned, that State will be compelled to knock at the door of the Commonwealth for assistance. Queensland, I affirm, is not in the position of a mendicant. Her financial position, notwitstanding the serious droughts which she has suffered during the past few years, is the best of all the States. Certainly she has the greatest resources, and under proper administration would soon become the greatest Australian State. A mere temporary deficit is not going to destroy Queensland, which contains more good land in one district than is to be found in the whole of Victoria. I do not think that the proposal to levy a duty upon kerosene can be justified. Such a tax will fall almost entirely upon the pioneers and people who are resident outside of towns. In most instances the residents of towns consume either gas or electricity. Very high rates are charged for the carriage of kerosene upon our railways. Surely, having regard to all these circumstances, the Commonwealth will not insist upon placing a duty upon this article. In connexion with the financial condition of Queensland, I would ask if it is likely that a State which receives an announcement by its Treasurer of a deficit for the last financial year of £528,000 without a shudder, will fall upon its knees and beg assistance from the Commonwealth if we withhold from it £52,000, which represents its proportion of the revenue derivable from tea, and £25,000, which covers its share of the revenue collected upon kerosene? I wish also to point out that attempts have been made by public men in Queensland to give people the impression that if the Commonwealth remits these duties, the other States will derive all the benefit therefrom at Queensland’s expense. That is the kind of teaching which has been going on in Queensland. The citizens of that State are led to believe that the revenue is being reduced for the advantage of the other States.
– Who says that ?
– I say that public men in Queensland who know better, though not making the statement in direct words, cunningly contrive to leave the impression that the reduction of customs duties is to the disadvantage of that State and to the advantage of the other States. If we reduce the duty upon any article, the deficiency thus created will certainly not be collected from the people of Queensland. Why should we impose a revenue duty upon tea when the consensus of opinion in Australia is that that article should be admitted free ? The honorable and learned member for Darling Downs has said that we must respect the compact which was made with the States. I admit that we should endeavour to carry out that compact as far as possible. In the case of Queensland, however, it is impossible to do so, because of the high taxation which existed there prior to the establishment of the federation. In my judgment we should not abstain from remedying the anomalies which appear in the Tariff simply because Queensland, as the result of recent droughts, is temporarily in financial difficulties. This Tariff will probably stand for years, and we should legislate accordingly. I shall cheerfully vote in favour of exempting tea and kerosene from duty. If onlyone of these articlescan bemade duty free I hope that it will be kerosene. Every one will pay his proportion of the duty on tea ; but in the case of kerosene the persons least able to pay the increased price are those who are doing the best work in Australia, and those whose lot in life is the very hardest. The Premier of Queensland has stated that if we take off the duty on rice we shall do a great injustice to Queensland’s revenue. The duty, he says, will lead to the production of rice in that State.. That is delightful reasoning. I am only giving the statement as Mr. Philp is reported to have made it. As far as my opinion is worth anything, Queensland requires no commiseration in this matter. She is not in need, nor will she ever come to the Commonwealth for help. I believe, indeed, that if there is to be any appeal for help it will be made by some of the people of the other States to Queensland. I take this opportunity of saying that if there are, in distress, in the other States of Australia, people who desire to prosper on good land, let them go to Queensland as early as possible, because, under’ good government, I know of no other place where there are such opportunities for industrious men to succeed.
Sir WILLIAM MCMILLAN (Wentworth). - I am anxious that there should be a vote to-night, but I cannot allow the remarks of the honorable member for Dalley to pass. I think I have been very closely associated with the party with which I am now connected for the last six or eight months, and this is the first time I have known that we were anything but a united party. There are sects within the court of the Gentiles, and there are some people who are known as the exclusives, but this is the first time that I have ever heard of an exclusive sect of free-traders. The honorable member has described the ideal of the free-trade party, and I have little exception to take to that description. He knows well enough that there is a tradition of free-trade in New South Wales under what is known as the Reid Tariff - which ultimately would have been one of the most free-trade Tariffs in the world - supplemented by an income and a land tax. In other words, it was a Tariff made up of duties on stimulants and narcotics, with two or three other duties of a purely revenue character, supplemented by direct taxation. That is free-trade pure and simple ; and I tell my honorable friend that those are the principles of the freetrade party in this Parliament assembled. But we have known that we could not get that absolutely pure free-trade under the existing conditions of the States. I agree that there was, at any rate, an implied contract or compact that for a few years we should so mould our financial policy that the States should remain in the solvent condition under which they entered the Commonwealth. We do not cavil at a certain volume of taxation through the customs - say, £8,000,000 of money. What we have cavilled at and dissented from is the incidence of that taxation. The Treasurer has shown that instead of £8,000,000 of money as he expected being forthcoming, with the duties that we were willing to give in order to keep the States in a solvent condition, he finds that he will probably receive £8,500,000.
– A long way more than that.
– We are dealing with one of the ablest and, in many respects, one of the most accurate Treasurers we have ever had in Australia, and I have no official data upon which to base a contradiction of his estimate. But at the same time I believe he has under-estimated. And it is a very good thing for a Treasurer to under-estimate; It is one of the cardinal principles of finance to under-estimate your revenue, and at the same time to overestimate your expenditure. There are two courses before us. We find that, roughly speaking, the amount of the duties that we are considering to-night is about the same as the surplus that the Treasurer has estimated. The question is : Shall we cut the Treasurer down to the bare margin of £S,000,000, which every one agrees is the amount necessary for the necessities of the different States ; or shall we leave him any margin whatever ? Many honorable members on the opposition side of the Chamber consider that a duty on tea - a simple duty on an article that cannot be produced in Australia, and which goes into the expenditure of every household in Australia - is a legitimate duty, if moderate, to be distributed throughout the whole population. I do not want now to go into the question of the recommittal stage, and to allude to how we may deal with the duties on linen and cotton goods. I am taking the Tariff simply as it stands. Suppose we give the Treasurer 2d. a lb. on tea, refuse to give any duty on kerosene, and cut the duty on rice down by one-half, we shall reduce the surplus of £500,000 by £350,000, and leave the Treasurer £150,000 over the amount which nearly all of us have agreed is reasonable for the present necessities of the States. The future must take care of itself. I hold that no Treasurer can possibly compute the revenue of the future under a complex Tariff like this, with the varied conditions of Australia and the many factors that we cannot now take into consideration. Therefore, I would say to the Government, in the friendliest possible way, that if they would make a compromise such as I have suggested it would be satisfacfactorv. We should make kerosene free, because it stands on a very different footing from tea. There is also the fact - I do not know whether it has been referred to in the debates, but it has been mentioned to me by one of my honorable friends - that we have actually made free the materials which produce acetylene gas. It seems . very inconsistent to make this material free and to impose a tax on kerosene, which is used throughout the length and breadth of Australia by the very men whom we ought specially to protect, if we protect anybody. Residents in the city have gas made from coal, the product of our own soil, and which is not taxed. If the Government will accept the compromise I have suggested, they will retain a fair margin over the revenue necessary, and will commend their proposals to the committee.
– It is my intention to vote for a duty on tea, which I hope will be 3d. per lb., and also for the other proposals of the Treasurer. I do not do this as a representative of Tasmania, but as a member of the Commonwealth, and because I believe tea is a fair, and legitimate subject for taxation. As a resident in the country I have used* kerosene all my life, and can speak feelingly on the subject ; nevertheless I think it is a fair subject for taxation. I rose particularly to refer to some remarks which have been made in regard to one or two of the smaller States. Representatives of the richer and more populous States have said that the smaller States should not be considered -at all - that the fact that a smaller State requires a few thousand pounds of revenue is no reason for imposing taxation amounting to £500,000 on the rest of the Commonwealth. But no State in the Commonwealth ha,s received such small consideration as Tasmania. “When the crY was raised for a “ white Australia “ in connexion with the sugar industry in Queensland, the Treasurer, in order, I believe, to placate the labour party, proposed an excise duty on sugar. Do honorable members know what the people of Tasmania have to pay in order that Queensland sugar may be produced with white Labour 1 For the present year the people of Tasmania, for the benefit of the people of Queensland, have had to submit to taxation to the amount of £23,000. Next year this taxation will be £39,000, and when the kanakas are completely abolished, the amount will be £46,000 per annum.
– How is that for the benefit of Queensland ?
– The excise duty on sugar was proposed for the benefit of Queensland, and for no other reason;
– But the Tasmanian people get the excise if they consume the sugar.
– We do not ; and we have also to pay a certain amount for the benefit of the sugar producers of New South Wales. Tasmania has never been considered on any occasion by the members of this committee. I have no desire to continue the debate, because no new point can now be touched on. I sincerely trust the Treasurer will stand to his guns and will not retreat as he has done on other occasions.
– Most of the honorable members who have spoken seem to have devoted their attention to Queensland and Tasmania, and have, in fact, endeavoured to show that these States are the two financial vagrants of the Commonwealth. The bookkeeping provisions of the Constitution are a huge mistake. What benefit would it be to me to become the partner of a Rockefeller or a Rothschild, if I had to “go broke” in the partnership. That is exactly the position of Tasmania and Queensland, which came into the Union to better their condition and to assist in bettering the condition of the whole Commonwealth. Tasmania will lose £20,000 if we make kerosene and tea free, but look at the immense revenue that New South Wales obtains from those commodities. The difficulty in the Commonwealth of Australia is that Ministers seem to be afraid to tackle this question like straightout business men. When we evolved this Constitution it was the result of compromise with stipulations. The idea was that the Ministers’ selected should be capable of grasping the situation, and formulating a scheme in accordance with the environment and conditions of the people. I have lived in a country where there would be no difficulty in adjusting the whole matter; but here Ministers seem to be bound by red-tape to the eternal conditions of their forefathers. The trouble with every British country I have been in is that the Government seems bound by relics of the dark ages. It is proposed that we should tax the people of this great Commonwealth to the extent of thousands of pounds in order to prevent Tasmania from losing revenue to the extent of £20,000, and Queensland from losing revenue to the extent of £77,000. Boodle Governments have for ages been squandering the people’s money, and nothing has been said. They have built fortifications to keep out rabbits, bandicoots, and snakes. They have borrowed thousands, and wasted the money in every direction. Now, the working man is being called upon to make this loss good. But I propose to the Government an expedient which I would have no hesitation in adopting if I were running the show. Instead of raising extra taxation from the whole Commonwealth, I would hand over .£20,000 to Tasmania, and £77,000 to Queensland, out of the immense surplus that New South Wales is to receive ; charge them with it during the bookkeeping period ; and, in balancing the accounts, forgive them the debt. That is the way in which the American people are treating the State of Nevada. The whole system of Christianity is founded upon two practical maxims - “Love God, and love humanity,” and a second which springs from the first - “Let the strong bear the burdens of the weak.” I quite agree with the sub-leader of the Opposition that it would be a good thing to reduce the duty upon tea to 2d. per lb.; but it is better to have no duty at all. The Treasurer is one of those who would follow a sovereign all over the earth. When he hands you a coin, it has a string attached to it, so that he gets it back before you can take hold of it. He was very much below the revenue-producing powers of the Commonwealth in the calculations which he made, and I should be quite willing to take the extra amount, and clear out of this House for ever. Look how they are taxed in England. We have no taxes upon titles here, though I think that our friends who accept titles should be willing to pay a couple of thousand pounds to the revenue. Then in England they have a heavy tax upon coat-of-arms, and upon carriage crests, but we have no such tax here.
– The honorable member is now discussing something quite apart from the Tariff.
– Yes, but I am trying to illustrate the fact that we have not nearly exhausted our resources of taxation, and every man must speak according to the intelligence which God has given him. In conclusion, let me say that the time has come for the Commonwealth Parliament to do something for the strugglers of Australia - for the sovereign democrats on the West Coast of Tasmania, and the people everywhere throughout this great country. Let the poor women out in the back-blocks - on the mountain tops, in the valleys, and by the side of our little streams - get their tea free, and let them have free light, so that their children may ses to drink that tea That is all I ask.
– I do not propose to detain the committee to any great length, because there is no doubt that this matter has been thoroughly thrashed out from all points of view. No one would have a claim to this particular duty on pro:tectionist grounds. We need not therefore be surprised to see a split on both sides of the Chamber. Our friends on the Opposition benches are not unanimous, any more than are honorable members sitting on this side, and the proposal ought not be regarded as a party question in any shape or form. This matter, I admit, is purely one of revenue, and I look at it solely from that point of view. As a revenue tax I think that a duty on tea is perfectly j justifiable. We find it in existence all over the world. I believe that they have no duty ‘ on tea in Western. Australia or in the United States, but it is generally resorted to as a fair and legitimate tax, which falls upon all classes of the community. It is all very well to talk about our having a surplus of £500,000 ; but, unfortunately, honorable members will look at the total amount, and not at the individual States. That is where the trouble arises. We may have this large surplus, but whilst £8,000,000 might be enough for the individual States, we have to give £1,000,000 out of what we may raise to New South Wales in consequence of her having previously adopted a freetrade policy. That is what creates all the difficulty. If New South Wales had been previously raising large sums through the Customs that difficulty would not have arisen. . If the Convention had indorsed the views I entertained with regard to the distribution of the moneys raised through customs and excise, and if the representatives of New South Wales had then held the same views as the honorable members from that State now appear to entertain, there would have been no difficulty. We should not have had the bookkeeping clauses, and there would have been no necessity to raise this large amount of revenue. It would, however, have been hardly fair at the start to ask one or two States to contribute the whole amount required. Although it might have been strictly in accordance with the federal spirit, I am afraid it would have been very difficult to persuade the people of New South Wales that they ought to make such a sacrifice.
– The representatives of Victoria and New South Wales were agreed upon that point.
– No ; some of the representatives of New South Wales said they would not mind helping the practically insolvent States to the extent of £300,000 or £400,000, but that they would not go any further. The Constitution ties us down to a certain amount of expenditure and, therefore, we have to consider what revenue has to be raised in order to maintain the States in as nearly as possible the same position that they occupied in the year before federation was entered upon. I venture to say that if we had told the States which have been loyal to the federal movement from first to last that their finances were to be disarranged to a considerable extent, we should have found that they would not have entered into the Federation at all. If little Tasmania, the most loyal of all the States, after perhaps South Australia, had been told that there would be a heavy loss upon her customs revenue to the extent of something between £100,000 and £120,000 per annum, it would have been very difficult to convince her that she should enter the Federation. The States, however, did enter on the distinct understanding that this Parliament would do all it could to maintain them in as nearly as possible the same position, as far as their finances are concerned, that they occupied before they entered into the federal bargain.
– There was no such bargain.
– There was undoubtedly.
– Why did not the right honorable gentleman think of that when he brought down his first Estimates of Revenue ?
– I tried to provide for it. I pointed out that in the first yearit would be impossible to judge what we should receive, but that some of the States would probably have to go short of a large amount. I stated, however, that in future years, when the Tariff had been reduced to working order, we should probably collect about £1,000,000 more than during the current year. There is no doubt that during this year the States will have to go short. It is not only two States, but four, that are interested in this matter. Queensland and Tasmania are undoubtedly deeply interested, but South Australia, as has been fully pointed out by the honorable member for South Australia, Mr. Solomon, is also concerned, because the surplus which we expected that State would receive will probably be converted into a deficiency if we strike out these duties. In Victoria also, the abolition of these duties will make a difference of £161,000 per annum.
– Yet the right honorable gentleman will be paying them more than they formerly received.
– No; we have to take the year 1899 as the proper guide in this matter. Whilst we are making estimates for the current year we must not assume that we are going to receivemore than we require in future years. We should not look at the total, but at the amounts which will be returned to each, individual State, and in view of this, I feel that we have no right to strikeout the duties on tea. It is all very well to say that if we abolish these duties the money that would have been raised will be left in the pockets of the people. We all know that it is not easy to get money out. of the pockets of the people. All this talk about direct taxation is splendid. Theoretically, it is magnificent, but when the matter is put to the test it will be found that the people will say, “It is all very fine if you put the tax on the other fellow, but do not put it on me.” That is the general feeling of those who favour direct taxation. I tried it in Victoria, and everything was right whilst the exemptions relieved nearly everybody from the operation of the tax but when I wanted to make an exemption that would leave nearly everybody in, I was told that the scheme should not be adopted. It is not so easy to levy direct, taxation as some honorable members seem to think.
– We carried it in New South Wales.
– With a good margin.
– It is only £240.
– That exempts a large number. So far as the price of tea is concerned, I do not believe that if we ____ t_ make the article free the consumers will receive very much benefit. They may receive some benefit, but I feel perfectly certain that by far the larger proportion of the remission will go into the pockets of other than those whom we regard as the consumers. That has been our experience with regard to the remission of duties in Victoria. Duties have been struck off, but the prices of the articles have remained practically the same. The acting leader of the Opposition says that with a Tariff yielding from £8,500,000 to £9,000,000 the Treasurer will be left with a margin of from £1 25,000 to£l 50,000, but that is not a sufficient margin. I may point out that any estimate made at the present time cannot be regarded as reliable, because we cannot know what the revenue results will be upon the completion of the Tariff. When we made our first estimates we had to compile them for six States in regard to a Tariff of which it was impossible to gauge the operation. The estimates on the whole have, however, come out fairly correct. It may be that we shall receive a larger amount nf revenue than we expect, but it is impossible to say how long that state of .affairs may continue. We have no right to run great risks ; we have no right to cut the revenue too fine, and perhaps leave the States without that amount of money which we believe we ought to give them. The committee must be careful to be on the safe side. If a year or two hence we find that the Tariff is returning more revenue than is required to carry out what I think was the bargain made with the States then, and not until then, will it be reasonable to reduce the taxation. I am told that it will be time enough to impose these duties on tea and kerosene when any shortage actually occurs j but when that plan was tried in the case of the duty on tea in New South Wales, the Treasurer of the day found it impossible to carry the rate which he desired to impose. He secured only the imposition of a very low rate, which was of small benefit to him from a revenue stand-point.
– That was because he refused to fight the Council, and abandoned his probate duties.
-My honorable friend knows that on the occasion I refer to, the Treasurer of New South Wales attempted to impose a duty of 3d. per lb. on tea, but had to be satisfied with a duty of ] d, per lb. Once the article is allowed to come in free, the Treasurer will find it impracticable to place a duty upon it. The duties on tea and kerosene are both necessary, but if either duty has to go, I should prefer that the tax on kerosene, which falls only on a portion of the community, should be removed, rather than that the duty on tea, which falls on every one, should be struck off. I hope the committee will not take the extreme step of striking off this duty. I hope that honorable members will follow my advice. Let us impose the duty and retain it for a while. When we find that the amount collected is more than necessary for our purposes, no one will be better pleased than I shall be to assist the Government of the day in removing it. Until we know from actual experience covering a year or two what the effect of the Tariff will be we ought not to run any risks. No one can tell at the present time how it is going to work out. If, as we hope, manufactures largely increase, then the revenue derived from duties on imported goods will fall considerably,’ and so far as the revenue duties are concerned we shall have to be dependent upon the greater consuming power of the people in order to secure what is required. I urge the committee not to take the extreme step of striking off these duties, thus leaving us in a position in which we should be unable to return to the States that which we have a right to give them, and which they have a right to expect.
Mr. WATSON (Bland).- With regard to the statement just made by the Treasurer, I should like to say that in my opinion no bargain whatever was made with the States. A demand was made by a number of people, occupying leading positions in the States, that an amount about equal to the Customs revenue which they received prior to federation should be returned to them, but there is no ground for the inference that in the absence of the assumption that that would be done the people would not have voted for federation.
– The question of making up this deficit has been discussed in Tasmania over and over again.
– Yes, and also in Queensland. Those at the head of affairs in the States do not wish to be associated with the imposition of fresh taxation. They desire that the’ odium of imposing shall fall upon members of this Parliament. The Treasurer urges that we have no right to risk a deficit, and he asserts that we could remove this duty if it were found later on that we could do without it. My experience is that it isten times more difficult to remove a duty than it is to impose it, for the simple reason that the only idea of a Ministry is to spend every cent upon which they can lay their hands. The mere fact that revenue is in existence is very often put forward as an excuse by those who ask for advances.
– Fancy a State Treasurer appealing to the Federal Treasurer to reduce the amount returned to his State !
– It is very unlikely that that bird will fly. If we find later on that this duty is absolutely necessary, I do not think that there will be a voice raised against its imposition, provided that those who are conducting the affairs of the States interested first make a legitimate effort to see how far direct taxation will go towards making good the deficiency in revenue. When that has been tried and proved unsuccessful, I shall be prepared to vote for some compromise in the matter of the duty on tea and kerosene. The Premier of Queensland has said that rather than impose a land tax he would; sell every acre of Crown lands. It is a fine idea of economy to part with the capital of the State rather than impose a little direct taxation. As soon as the people of Queensland come to vote on the matter no doubt they will insure that no such prodigality in regard to the disposal of Crown lands shall take place.
– New South Wales has been doing that for a long time.
Mr.WATSON.- Even the people of New South Wales have awakened to the iniquity of the practice, and recently we have materially diminished it. Another point raised by the Treasurer was that the consumers would not benefit by the reduction of the duty. We can certify that in New South Wales as soon as the duty on tea was removed the. consumers benefited.
– Did they secure the same class of tea?
– They obtained a better class for the same money where an arbitrary price was fixed, and, in addition to that, the same class of tea was placed on the market at a reduction equal to the amount of the duty. We had a line of tea sold in New South Wales at 9d. per lb. which is now being retailed in Melbourne at1s. per lb., and which is practically the lowest grade, plus the import duty. The package tea affords the easiest and most certain method of testing the difference. There can be no doubt whatever that the remission of a revenue duty of this kind is an immediate benefit to the consumer, because it gives rise to competition amongst the local salesmen leading to a reduction in the price. That is why the big tea merchants desire to see a duty imposed. They believe that it wouldshutout the competition of the small intruders who disarrange their business. They make a profit on the duty. Thehonorable and learned member for South Australia, Mr. Glynn, made a statement that the tea duty was a very unimportant matter so far as the taxpayer was concerned. The amount received from stimulants and narcotics under the Treasurer’s estimate is equal to about £1 4s. 6d. per head. The amount received from other items in the Tariff is £1 2s.6d. per head, and those other items include tea, kerosene, and articles of that sort. On the basis of the computation, which the honorable member for North Sydney has made, and which I think is an exceedingly low one, the tea duty alone, without counting the extra charge for interest that the merchant and retailer impose, amounts to 10s., or one-eleventh of the total amount of taxation per family. Surely it is an important matter by one vote to free the heads of families from one-eleventh of the whole taxation per family outside of that on admitted luxuries, such as narcotics and stimulants are. I have been twitted by the honorable member for Dalley and the honorable member for South Sydney, with not going the “ whole hog” in respect to other items in the Tariff. Perhaps I have been seduced from the straight path of political rectitude by the example of some honorable members on the opposition side. They have departed from their own principles so far as to declare for the free importation of many lines on which they admit that they would be constrained to impose moderate duties if their own party were in power. In some cases I have had to oppose the absolute freeing of lines where a large number of men were employed, but even on the question of hats we found a compromise arrived at, and accepted by the Opposition generally through their acting leader, to impose a 30 per cent, duty, and I followed humbly in the rear. On many of these things I followed the lead of the honorable member for Wentworth . I do not wish to shelter myself behind that statement,because I have better reasons to offer for any action I have taken. It does not become these honorable members to cast ‘stones at me because I have voted so frequently with them. To that extent I presume that I have been wrong. I trust that the committee will see the absolute wisdom and justice of freeing the community generally from this tax on tea.
– I suggest that we postpone any items prior to that of tea, which we have been discussing all day, and take a vote now.
Items 6, 7, 34, 45, and 51 postponed accordingly.
Division IV. - Agricultural products and groceries.
Postponed item 64. - Tea, per lb, 2d. and 20 per cent, ad valorem.
Tea in packets, per lb. 3d., and 20 per cent. ad valorem.
Amendment(by Mr. Watson) put -
That the words “ and on and after 21st March, 1902, free” he added to the duty “ tea, per lb. 2d., and 20 per cent, ad valorem.”
The committee divided -
Question so resolved in the affirmative.
Amendment agreed to.
– As a result of the decision of the committee I think it must follow that “tea in packets” should also be free.
Amendment (by Mr. Watson) agreed to -
That the words “and on and after 21st March, 1902, free” be added to the duty “Tea, in packets, per lb. 3d. and 20 percent, ad valorem.”
House adjourned at 11. 15 p.m.
Cite as: Australia, House of Representatives, Debates, 20 March 1902, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/hofreps/1902/19020320_reps_1_8/>.