1st Parliament · 1st Session
Mr. Speaker took the chair at 2.30 p.m., and read prayers.
Royal assent reported.
– Is there any truth in the statement that certain Commonwealth officers are to receive bonuses for services rendered during the Royal visit? If so, to whom are the bonuses to be paid, and what is the amount of them ?
– When it was understood that the Commonwealth would be responsible for the functions which took place on the day and during the evening of the 9th May - the date of the opening of Parliament - I authorized Mr. Jenkins, the Clerk of the Parliaments in Victoria, who afterwards was for a time the Clerk of this House, to form a small committee, comprising a gentleman from each State, to regulate the issuing of invitations and tickets of admission, and the general arrangements for the occasion. Each of the gentlemen appointed was paid his travelling expenses to Victoria, his hotel expenses while in Melbourne, and something beyond ; but in no case was a large sum paid. The only other gratuity is one to Mr. Jenkins, who will receive a sum of the same amount as that given to those who conducted the State celebrations during the Royal visit.
– What is the amount?
– Will the Prime Minister furnish this House with a return showing the imports and exports of the Cpmmonwealth during the year 1901?
– I have no objection to getting such a return prepared.
– I do notask that the return be printed. I shall be satisfied with a statement from the Government which can be recorded in Hansard.
asked the Minister for Defence, upon notice -
Whether, in view of the long and splendid services rendered by many Australians still at the front as non-commissioned officers, arrangements could not be made to have commissions reserved for such of them as may be deemed fit for the positions, in the contingent about to be raised and despatched to South Africa.
– The answers to the honorable member’s question are as follow : -
In Committee qf Ways and Means : ‘
Consideration resumed from 31st March (vide page 1 1198).
Division III. - Sugar.
Postponed item 7. - Sugar, viz., the produce of sugar-cane per cwt. 6s., including molasses, golden syrup, and syrups, n.e.i., per cwt. 6s. ; other, per cwt. 10s.
– It seems to me that, as a matter of fairness and consistency, the duty upon molasses, golden syrup, and other /byproducts of sugar should not be more than onehalf the duty upon sugar itself. Under the New South Wales Tariff the duty upon molasses was only 2s. per cwt. ; in Victoria it was 2s., 5s., or 6s. per cwt. - I presume according to the quality - in South Australia it was 3s., and in Tasmania 3s. 6d., or free. In Queensland the duty was high - 7s. 6d. or 10s. per cwt. - but that perhaps was natural, considering the high duty on sugar which prevailed there. As these by-products are so much cheaper than sugar, the proposed fixed duty upon them must be very much higher ad valorem - probably twice as high as it is upon sugar. In my opinion the duty upon molasses, golden syrup, and syrups, n.e.i., might very well be reduced to 3s. per cwt.
– I have already given notice of my intention to move the reduction of the duty upon molasses and other by-products of sugar to 3s. per Cwt. In view of the rates formerly levied under the State Tariffs, and the determination of the committee in regard to the duty upon sugar, I think that 3s. per cwt. is quite sufficient. I therefore move -
That tho words- “and on and after 26th March, 1902, 3s.,” be added to the duty “molasses . . . n.e.i., per cwt. 6s.”
– The Government cannot consent to the proposed reduction. It seems to us that the duty should be the same upon sugar and upon the by-products of sugar. That appears to have been the practice under most of the State Tariffs. It was so in South Australia, where the duty on both was 3s. ; while in Queensland the duty on sugar was 6s. 8d. per cwt., and the duty upon molasses ranged from 7s. 6d. to 1 Os. per cwt. In Victoria, on most of the by-products of sugar, it was 6s. per cwt., which was the same as the duty upon sugar. In New South Wales the duty was 4s. upon sugar, and 2s. upon molasses and golden syrup. In Tasmania, the duty upon byproducts was in some cases less than the duty upon sugar ; but in New Zealand the duty upon by-products is half that upon sugar, and in Canada it is practically the ‘ same.
– The Minister is ignoring the fact that, although we charge 6s. import duty on sugar, we charge 3s. excise duty.
– If I recollect rightly, the syrups and molasses made from the imported sugar have to pay excise duty. However, it is a matter which we can leave to the committee to decide. I cannot forego the item.
– It is im.portant to know whether the excise duty is charged.
– The duty is charged on the raw sugar, not on the refined sugar. Therefore, the duty of 3s. per cwt. is charged on all these articles.
– The molasses are extracted from the sugar by the time the excise duty is charged, except in the case of low-grade sugars, which are not refined. Some distinction ought to be made between the two things. If there is an excise duty of £3 per ton on sugar and it does not apply to molasses, even taking their own standard, if the New South Wales idea is correct the Ministry ought to charge only 3s. per cwt. on by-products. If we get the full amount estimated on sugar there will be a loss of £450,000 to tho revenue, and if the other loss is taken into account, the people of Australia will be paying £700,000 to the sugar companies. The moment the duty was imposed, even on Queensland sugar, the value in bond in Victoria rose by the amount of £4 15s. a ton, so that taking the quantity at 160,000 tons, we have arise of £800,000 in the value of locally-grown sugar. Until I learn definitely that there is an excise duty charged on molasses I shall favour the proposal to admit them duty free. At the same time, I admit that it would be unjust to admit them free if the sugar refining companies have to pay an excise duty. I should like the Treasurer to postpone the consideration of this item for a few hours, in order to obtain necessary information for the committee. On an item involving such large interests, we ought not to be asked to vote in the dark.
– The excise duty is charged on the raw or manufactured sugar, which is a very different article from the refined sugar. The excise duty is undoubtedly charged on the articles which are contained in the raw sugar. It would be unfair, if we were charging a duty of 3s. a cwt. on the colonial article, to charge only that duty on the imported article.
Sir WILLIAM McMILLAN (Wentworth). - T cannot determine the point whether the whole, or’ only a part, of the excise duty is charged on these by-products. But, supposing that the Treasurer’s contention is correct, and that an excise duty is charged, we have these low-priced byproducts on exactly the same footing as the high-priced products. It seems to me that there ought to be some reduction in the rate of duty on the by-products of the original article. I take it that the molasses and the syrups are about half the value of the sugar which is imported. Suppose the imported sugar were worth £10 per ton, and the molasses £5 per ton. Why should exactly the same import duty be charged ? It all depends upon what is the exact state of the sugar when the excise duty is charged. If it is charged after some of the by-products have been eliminated from the sugar, then, of course, the contention of the Treasurer is not sound, although it may be sound to a certain extent.
– Crude molasses comes out, but the others bear a duty.
Mr. CONROY (Werriwa).- Even crude molasses, I suppose, can be purified to a very large extent by a simple process. Consequently, the company would get all the crude molasses which they could. That would pay no excise duty, and would be placed on the market. Following the course adopted by the committee in other respects, on the assumption that anything crude is not so good as anything pure, it ought to impose a higher duty on the crude article, to limit its use. In view of the fact that the greater part of the molasses comes out in crude form, and pays no excise duty, the Ministry will do well to reconsider the item. I suggest that the committee should reduce the duty very considerably. The Ministry have announced their intention to lay before the House the excise regulations. These will undoubtedly show us when the excise duty is to be collected on the sugar, and probably the quantity of molasses already extracted. The quantity of molasses extracted depends very largely upon the type of machinery used. Taking 10 per cent, cane, I think, with powerful machinery, it would take from thirteen to fourteen tons to yield a ton of sugar, whereas, with the aid of first-class machinery and the new processes, they might get nearly the whole of the sugar in the crystallized form. I shall support the amendment of the honorable member for South Australia, but I would much prefer to see molasses admitted free of duty.
Mr. POYNTON (South Australia).It is not at all likely that crude molasses will be imported, but the duty will afford an opportunity for increasing the prices of molasses and syrups to the consumer. If excise were paid on the whole of the molasses I should not object to the duty, but I believe there is a distinct difference in that respect between molasses and sugar. The Colonial Sugar Company do not pay excise on the whole of the molasses they extract from the sugar, and the least the Treasurer can do is to accede to a reduction of the duty. Molasses in its refined form enters very largely into human consumption, particularly among the poorer classes, as a substitute for butter. I do not think the Colonial Sugar Company should be permitted to derive any advantage from the import duty in respect to an article upon which they do not pay excise.
– The raw molasses is hardly worth saving ; it is the refining process that gives the treacle its value.
– At the same time the duty should be considerably reduced.
– I hope the honorable member for South Australia, Mr. Poynton, will press his amendment. For several years past, and particularly during the last three years, molasses has been used very largely for the purpose of feeding stock, and nothing, should be done towards increasing its price, or making it more- difficult for stock-owners to tide over bad seasons. Molasses forms a particularly valuable stock food when given in conjunction with hay and straw. It is used by stockowners in its cruder form, and some of my constituents tell me that the price has been considerably increased on account of the Tariff. Under the New South Wales Tariff the duty on molasses was 2s. per cwt., and it will be readily understood that the increased duty imposed under the Tariff has made a very serious difference to the consumer, and has operated detrimental])* to those who have great difficulty in keeping their stock alive during seasons of drought. I hope that in the interests of the stock-owners, and also of the poorer classes who use molasses as an article of food, the committee will consent to a considerable reduction of the duty.
– I think molasses and syrups should be admitted free of duty. Crude molasses is used largely for stock feeding purposes; and the refined article enters largely into consumption among the poorer classes of the community. There is no excise involved, and the only result of imposing an import duty must be to increase the price of the article. After having imposed a duty of £6 per ton upon, sugar, we might at least allow a waste product such as molasses to be dealt with without imposing a further tax. If the honorable member for South Australia will withdraw his amendment I shall move that molasses be admitted free.
– I agree with the honorable member for Parramatta that molasses should be admitted free of duty. Having recently travelled over a considerable portion of New South Wales where the stock-owners are suffering very acutely owing to drought, I am in a position to speak as to the importance cif affording every facility to farmers and stockowners to obtain molasses at a moderate price. Difficulty is being experienced by dairymen and stock-owners in keeping up a sufficient supply of milk for the city of Sydney and other large centres, and therefore the committee might afford relief to our dairymen and farmers by placing molasses on. the free list, In addition to this, treacle is largely consumed by the poorer classes of the community. . Some time ago it was urged that the duty in, Victoria should be considerably reduced, because the Colonial Sugar Refining Company had practically a monopoly of the trade, and the reasons which were advanced then may be used with even greater force now. I shall support the honorable member for Parramatta.
– I should like to hear from the Treasurer what relation the duty upon molasses bears to the sugar duties. I am not certain how far its removal may affect the operation of the sugar duties. I do not wish to depart from the understanding arrived at with regard to sugar, but if. it can be shown that without injuring the sugar industry the duty upon molasses can be reduced, I shall be inclined to support a movement in that direction.
– I could understand that being done in regard to crude molasses, but not in regard to the refined product.
– I think the duty even on the refined article might be reduced. Molasses mixed with straw now forms a staple food for stock, and its price has been considerably increased since the- duty was imposed. If we can reduce this duty without injuring the sugar .industry we should do so.
– The excise duty is charged upon the raw sugar, from which a certain proportion of the molasses would » have been extracted beforehand. Some of the molasses would be extracted from the , raw sugar after the payment of excise, and the golden syrup would certainly be extracted afterwards.
– I think the proposed duty upon molasses very much too high. Crude molasses mixed with straw and hay forms a very good food for stock, and as we shall not encourage any local industry by shutting out importations, and as the duty amounts to between 400 and 500 per cent., I think it might very well be reduced. In times of drought it may be desirable to import molasses for the purpose of feeding stock, and it would not be wise to impose a prohibitive duty. The great bulk of the molasses is extracted before the manufacture of raw sugar, which would be subject to excise, and only a small proportion is derived from the refining process. I hope the Government will reconsider their proposal.
Mr HENRY WILLIS (Robertson).I should like to know whether it is intended to differentiate between refined and unrefined molasses. According to a report which I have here, it has been the custom to extract sugar from unrefined molasses, and thereby evade the Customs duty. Owing to this a duty has been charged upon unrefined molasses of 2s. per cwt., and upon refined molasses of 6s. per cwt., and upon molasses refined in bond of is. per cwt. Is it intended to differentiate between crude and refined molasses ?
– The refined and unrefined molasses are subject to the same duty under this proposal.
Mr. WATSON (Bland). - I would suggest to the honorable member for South Australia that he should so frame his amendment that we can vote upon the different articles separately.
Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.
Amendment (by Mr. Joseph Cook) proposed -
That the words “per cvrt. 6s., and on and after 26th March, 1902, free” be inserted after the word “ molasses.”
– We have been discussing the duty on sugar and the kindred subject of black labour for a long time. We have proceeded on a certain basis, as stated in the Tariff. We have dealt with one of these subjects finally, and now it is suggested that we should alter the proposal with reference to the encouragement of the sugar industry in Queensland. We have subjected the sugar-growers to what some of them, rightly or wrongly, consider a disadvantage, and we have proposed to give them some compensation in the way of protection. We cannot lose sight of these facts in regard to the proposal now made to admit molasses absolutely free. There has been no such law in the past in any of the Australian States except Western Australia. - where sugar was free - nor in Canada, or New Zealand. In New South Wales the duty in the past was 2s., in Victoria 6s., in Queensland 7s. 6d., in South Australia 3s., and in Tasmania 3s. 6d. In Canada, the duty on molasses was even a little more than the duty on sugar, and in New Zealand the duty on both molasses and sugar was the same. In view of these facts, it is hardly advisable to revolutionize the system in regard to a little matter such as the importation of molasses.
– It is a big matter to those who are keeping stock.
– There is a disposition - which we cannot avoid - to consider legislation of. this kind with reference to present, though temporary, circumstances, rather than to have regard to the general conditions of Australia. Perhaps, however, there is a half-way mode of meeting the case fairly, and giving satisfaction. to both sides.. Ihope, at least, that molasses will not be admitted free. I am in favour of the maintenance of the proposal originally put before the committee by the Government.
Sir. WILLIAM McMILLAN (Wentworth). - It must be remembered that the bulk of the molasses is not included in the sugar that pays the excise. That being so, 3s. would be more than, an equivalent even if molasses were of the same value as the sugar.
– Molasses is not onefifth of the value of sugar.
– If it were only half the value, and does not pay the excise, the exact equivalent would be1s. 6d. There is a general desire that we should not “make two bites at a cherry,” and I would suggest that the Government should agree to make the duty 3s. all round. That, I think, would be accepted by my honorable friend, the member for Parramatta.
– That is a fair proposal under the circumstances, because molasses is a by-product, the very best of which is only half the price of imported sugar, upon which the duty is £6 per ton. If we were to grade the item in the most liberal way we might make the duties1s., 2s., and 3s., but it would be far better as a matter of simplicity and revenue that the Government should accept an allround proposal of 3s.
– In the New South Wales Tariff the duties were as follow : - On refined sugar, 4s. ; on ordinary sugar, 3s. ; and on molasses, 2s.; that is, as 2s to 3s. The Government offer unrefined molasses free, and ask the House to impose the rest of the duties as proposed.
Mr. POYNTON (South Australia).- We understand now that cattle-growers are to get molasses free ; though molasses is the very article which it was argued contained a certain proportion of dutiable material. But on the syrup, which is extracted from molasses, and the great bulk of which is used in place of butter, the people will have to pay extra duty.
– I confess that this is a subject on which, before this afternoon, I knew nothing, and of which I now know very little. It appears to me, however, after listening very carefully to the discussion, that the case for a reduction of the duty on syrups of various kinds has been made out. The one commodity which, from a protectionist point of view, we should be doubtful about making free, is unrefined molasses. I understand that molasses takes some sugar with it, and to allow the former free would enable some sugar to come in free. I understand that a large proportion of these syrups remain in the sugar at the time the excise is imposed, and, personally, I think that unrefined molasses should bear a duty of1s., and syrups n.e.i., 4s.
– All the information that has been given to the committee this afternoon is inaccurate. The opinions expressed all, of course, depend upon the point of view. Molasses, if used for making spirit, may be of some value. There have been times in the history of the States when molasses has been of no value. There has never been a time when molasses has been very valuable except, for instance, when food was wanted for cattle, and the material was used for sweetening chaff and other foodstuffs which otherwise would not have been used. Molasses is of some value for making spirit, golden syrup, and other products.
– Can the honorable member say when treacle becomes golden syrup?
– I cannot, and I am sure that the honorable member cannot tell the difference between treacle and golden syrup, except from the label. Golden syrup is only refined treacle.
– At what stage of the process does it become golden syrup?
– I do not know ; I only know the result. I would suggest that the Government agree to a duty of 2s. on raw molasses and 4s. on golden syrup and other syrups. So far as I can take responsibility from the sugar-growers’ stand-point, the suggestion I have made would be accepted.
– Have we to consider only the growers ?
– We hear of nothing but the grower and the manufacturer. Where does the consumer come in?
– A member has to represent somebody; we do not represent ourselves. We know the difference between the consumer and the producer, and we know what responsibilities we take. We are all consumers and we represent consumers, and I think the suggestion I make would prove of no danger to either the producer or the consumer.
– It is suggested that the word “ unrefined “ be inserted after “molasses.”
Amendment amended accordingly.
Sir WILLIAM McMILLAN (Wentworth). - I would urge the committee not to increase the number of items in regard to which Custom-house officers will not know how to act. There are quite enough items on the Tariff at present to cause confusion. I understand the proposal to be that there shall be “unrefined molasses,” and then “ molasses,” though it strikes me there must be great difficulty in knowing where one shades into the other. We ought to have some symmetry in the Tariff, so that revenue may be collected.
– What does the honorable member suggest ?
– I prefer to test the question upon molasses as it stands in the Tariff
Amendment agreed to.
Amendment (by Mr. Poynton) proposed -
That the words “and on and after 26th March, 1902, . . 3s “ be added to the duty, “Golden syrup and syrups n.e.i., per cwt., 6s.”
– We have admitted raw molasses free, and we had intended to ask the committee to allow syrups to stand as proposed ; but we think it would probably meet the temper of the committee if we proposed a duty of 4s. It is one thing to make considerable allowances in regard to molasses, which is of small value, and another thing to propose a reduction in regard to golden syrup, which is of considerable value; and the Government consider they are fairly justified in asking for a duty of 4s.
Mr. CONROY (Werriwa).- If we preserve the same proportion as was observed in New South Wales the duty ought to be 2s. There is probably only one great sugar refining company in Australia, and if we fix the duty at too high a rate we shall not promote competition, but only afford the company an opportunity to charge higher prices.
Mr. POYNTON (South Australia).- I am sorry the Government have taken up their present position, and I am positive that before long they will be sorry for putting molasses on the free list. From molasses spirits are distilled, and sugar and golden syrup can be obtained.
– Surely refined sugar cannot be obtained from molasses ?
– Yes, it can. Golden syrup is merely an extract of molasses, and should be placed upon the same footing. My original proposal would have been a better one for the Government toaccept. I shall not agree to a duty of 4s. per cwt. upon golden syrup.
– One reason for charging a higher duty upon golden syrup than upon molasses is that golden syrup is worth three times as much as molasses. If the duty upon golden syrup is fixed at 3s. per cwt., it will be lower in comparison with the duty upon sugar than the comparative rates under the State Tariffs, and in New Zealand and Canada.
Mr. A. McLEAN (Gippsland).- I take the view expressed by the honorable member for South Australia, Mr. Poynton, that a mistake was made in exempting molasses fromduty. There is a large proportion of sugar in crude molasses, and after the molasses has stood in the tanks for some months, a great deal of this sugar is recovered. As molasses can now be imported free of duty, the sugar which will be extracted will compete against imported sugar upon which a duty of 6s. per cwt. has to be paid. I think that it would have been better to impose a duty of 2s. per cwt. on molasses.
Amendment agreed to.
Mr. HENRY WILLIS (Robertson).Will it be legal to refine sugar from molasses 1 A Victorian Royal commission which in 1895 took evidence upon the effect of the fiscal system of Victoria, recommended in regard to molasses that -
In order to prevent any attempt to evade the law, a clause should be inserted making the refining of molasses, or the extraction of sugar from molasses, except in bond, illegal.
If the extraction of sugar from molasses is not made illegal, we shall have happening what has been foreshadowed by the honorable member for South Australia, Mr. Poynton.
– Will it be in order to move an amendment now providing that on and after the 3 1st December, 1906 - the date upon whichall kanakas must finally leave Australia - the duty upon sugar, the produce of sugar cane, shall be 3s. per cwt. ? The policy of the Government is to give a protection of £5 per ton to those who grow sugar cane by the use of white labour only, but I think that that protection should cease when the kanaka is finally expelled from the Commonwealth.
– Has not a similar proposal already been dealt with ?
– I believe that a similarsuggestion was made, but the opinion of thecommittee has not been really tested in regard to the matter. It may, perhaps, be a little late to move the amendment, but I wish to make the suggestion, so that the item may be recommitted. I am not going to repeat arguments which have been conclusively urged by honorable members, but I think it egregious folly to sacrifice £500,000 next year, and, with the growth of population, an increasing amount every succeeding year, merely for the sake of an industry in which, according to the statements of the representatives of Queensland, no vested interest has been created or acknowledged by any Act of Parliament. It would be cheaper to borrow the money, and pay £2,000,000 down. I ask the representatives of Queensland whether they would be prepared, if they were members of the State Parliament, and the matter were raised there, to facilitate the passing of a Bill to expel the kanakas by sacrificing every year something like £30,000 or £40,000 of revenue, which is about the proportion of the loss which. Queensland will have to bear.
– The honorable and learned member is not in order in discussing that question now.
– I should like to know if I can move an amendment to make the duty upon sugar 3s. per cwt. on and after the 31st December, 1906. Is it not absurd that the manufacturers of jam and confectionery will be able to obtain a drawback of £6 per ton on the sugar contained in the goods which they export, although that amount of duty may not have been received by the Treasury? Practically, the locally-grown sugar, which will pay no duty, will meet the whole demand.
– Drawback will be paid only in proportion to the amount of duty paid.
– Do the Government think that they can differentiate between locally-grown and imported sugar ?
– The manufacturers will have to prove to the satisfaction of the Minister that the sugar upon which they wish to obtain drawback was imported.
– I aminformed by men who haveconsidered the question thoroughly that the differentiation on export cannot be made. Apart from the question of drawbacks, it is monstrous that to obtain the withdrawal of the kanaka, the Commonwealth should be called upon to sacrifice revenue which next year will amount to between £400,000 and £500,000, and ten years hence may amount to £7 50,000 per annum.
– Do I understand that the honorable and learned member for South Australia cannot move the amendment which he suggests? We have not yet agreed to the item before the committee, and I do not know any time when his proposal would be more in order than it is at the present time.
– I have not ruled that the amendment would not be in order. The honorable and learned member has not submitted an amendment.
– Having divided the item into separate heads, and dealt with those heads one by one, I submit that we cannot re-unite them, and treat them again as one item for the purposes of a fresh discussion, because that will in effect be going back upon the work we have already done.
Sir WILLIAM McMILLAN (Wentworth). - I think it reprehensible on the part of the Government to have provided for finality in regard to the excise duty ; but to my mind the same objection applies to the amendment which the honorable member suggests. I do not think that we should decide what the duty is to be five years hence. Possibly sugar will be free then. I think it would be better simply to make a protest against the action of the Government in this matter.
Mr. GLYNN (South Australia). - I recognise the force of the remarks of the honorable member and of the honorable and learned member for Corinella, and as I have some doubts myself as to the propriety of moving an amendment, I shall be satisfied with having made a protest against the duty.
Mr. CONROY (Werriwa).- Lest there should be some misunderstanding in regard to the opinions of honorable members in this matter, which may operate against them in the next Parliament, I state now that I do not agree to this Tariff in any respect. I object in particular to theduty on sugar as it stands. Is there any honorable member who can tell me the difference between beet sugar and cane sugar? Not one of them.
-Can it not be ascertained by analysis?
– Not when it is refined. The representatives of Queensland intend to give the grower of beet sugar a protective duty of 10s. per cwt., while a duty of 6s. per cwt. is supposed to be enough protection to the men who grow cane sugar in hot climates under great disabilities. As the Tariff stands, there is an import duty of £6 a ton on cane sugar, but its efficiency is lessened to the extent of £3 per ton, because of the excise duty on home-grown sugar. The grower of sugar in Queensland gets an extra price of only £3 a ton, while the grower of beet sugar gets an extra price of £7 a ton after deducting excise. It may be said that if the Queensland sugar is grown with white labour, it gets a protection of. £5 a ton. If a protection of £5 a ton is all that is required by the white sugar-grower in a tropical country, surely it ought to be quite enough protection to the producer of beet sugar in the temperate southern districts. I understand that some honorable members have a prejudice against beet sugar. When thereisno honorable member who can tell the difference between refined cane sugar and refined beet sugar, and when even chemists admit that they cannot perceive any difference, the committee ought to hesitate before it agrees to this item. Supposing that 1,000 tons of good refined sugar were exported to Australia, and it was subject to a duty of £6 a ton, could any honorable member assert whether it was beet sugar or cane sugar ? If it were beet sugar, he would be able to say that it should pay a duty of £10,000 instead of £6,000 . totheCommonwealth.
– How can the Customs officers tell the difference between beet sugar and cane sugar?
– It is a fraud, a delusion, and a snare, for the officers could detect no difference between the two sugars refined. But supposing, to take the protectionist stand-point, that there was a difference beween beet sugar and cane sugar, then honorable members on the other side are proposing to give a protective duty of £10 a ton. to sugar grown in one State, and a protective duty of only £6 a ton to sugar grown in another State.
Mr. JOSEPH COOK (Parramatta).- If no difference can be perceived between beet sugar and cane sugar, the same rate will be charged to the consumer ; and there is a difficulty in differentiating between the two products. I understand that nearly all the sugar produced in Europe is beet sugar. The imposing of a duty of £10 a ton on that sugar will, I think, have a tendency to enable our sugar-growers to put up their price, not by £6 a ton, but by £10 a ton. That is the danger we have to avoid, and that is the point which I think the honorable and learned member for Werriwa wished to make clear. A quantity of cane sugar is imported from Mauritius, but still it is very small in proportion to the total imports. It would be an easy thing for a richcompany likethe Colonial Sugar Refining Company to make arrangements with Mauritius sugar growers as to the price of sugar, in a word, to pool their interests, and so enable Australian sugar growers to have the advantage of this £10 a ton import duty on beet sugar for the whole of their products. That is the danger I foresee, and therefore I move -
That the words “ and on and after 26th March, 1902, 6s.” be added to the duty “Other, per cwt., 10s.”
Mr. McCAY (Corinella). - The honorable and learned member for Werriwa told us in effect - or else his words have no meaning - that the imposition of a duty of £6 per ton on cane-sugar, and of a duty of £10 per ton on beet sugar, means, that the grower of beet sugar in the southern States will get a protection of £10 a ton, and the grower of cane sugar in the northern States a protection of only £6 a ton, the northern grower having to produce his sugar under certain disabilities with which the grower in temperate climates has not to contend. Surely he knows that the chief competitor with Queensland sugar is the European bounty-fed sugar. That is the reason why this difference has to be made. It is not merely the difference in the price of production, but the difference in the conditions under which the sugar is produced. That is the danger which has to be feared. A duty of £6 a ton on beet sugar when the duty on cane sugar was only £6 a ton would practically destroy the protection which, for good or evil, has been promised to Queensland sugar-growers. I am surprised that honorable members will not recognise that difference. It may be urged that it will be difficult for the Customs officers to tell whether certain sugar is produced from cane or beet. I do not think that much difficulty will be experienced, because they will ask the importer to satisfy them that the sugar is entitled to come in at a cheaper rate, and if there is any doubt, they will wait until such proof is furnished before they accept that rate, It will be very difficult as a rule for an importer to induce the customs officers to believe that the sugar is the produce of cane if it be the produce of beet. I trust that this difference between the sugars will be maintained, otherwise all that has been promised to sugar-growers in the Commonwealth will become a mere farce, delusion, and snare. The difference in the duties imposed on cane and other sugars is merely a rough approximation to the bonus or bounty given upon beet sugar in Europe, and it is not likely that these bounties will be abolished. A proposal was recently made to abolish them, but it was not received with general approval. The war of bounties continues, and we are bound to meet them by countervailing, duties which will equalize conditions and protect our growers.
– The arguments of the honorable and learned member for Corinella are not quite borne out by the facts. He has made no attempt to show that the £4 per ton represents the bounty given by the continental Governments. As far as my information goes that amount is very largely in excess of the amount of the bounty. If, however, we presume that the bounty is £4 per ton, the honorable and learned member argues that by imposing an extra duty of £4 per ton on beet-sugar we shall give that amount of protection to the sugar grower in QueensIan p. I would point out, however, that the sugar bounty is given by the continental powers upon the sugar exported, not only to Australia, but to all quarters of the globe, and that the producers of canesugar, whose product has to enter other countries, have to compete on level terms practically - apart from the very slight preference that is shown for cane-sugar - with the bountyfed sugar. This means that in India, for instance, German sugar, upon which the bounty is paid, is quoted at, say, £15 per ton. Then the Mauritius cane sugar, which finds an outlet largely in India, must be sold at about £15 per ton. Asa result of this competition the production of cane sugar is depressed, and the cane sugar from Mauritius, for instance, and not the bountyfed sugar of Germany, will enter into competition with the Queensland sugar. In support of this view, I would point out that in 1899 New South “Wales imported from all sources 60,000 tons of sugar, of which only 294tons came from Germany. The balance came from Fiji, Hong Kong, Mauritius - a very large quantity - New Caledonia and the United States. This shows that with a £3 duty a very small quantity of beet sugar was introduced, and as a £6 duty would exclude all foreign sugars, I do not think there is any necessity for differentiating between cane and beet-sugar.
Mr. CONROY (Werriwa).- The reasons given by the honorable and learned member for Corinella are in themselves sufficient to warrant honorable members in supporting my proposal. The honorable and learned member argued the matter from a protectionist point of view, but he has shown that the differentiation proposed ought to be done away with. He has admitted that it is impossible to distinguish beet sugar from cane sugar, and that therefore there is neither reason to support the proposal nor practical advantage to be gained from it. £70,000 has already been wasted in Victoria in an attempt to establish the beet-sugar industry, and I mention this to show that the Victorian Government recognised that beet sugar was as good as canesugar. If it is right to encourage the production of beet sugar as well as cane sugar, both commodities should be placed on the same footing. If an increased duty such as is now proposed will not prove efficacious, we have no right to perpetrate a fraud on the public by making a distinction in the Tariff.
Question - That the words “ and on and after 26th March, 1902, 6s.” be added to the duty, “ Other, per cwt., 10s.” - put.
The committee divided -
Ayes … … … 19
Noes … … … 36
Majority … … 17
Question so resolved in the negative.
Amendment (by Mr. Conroy) negatived -
That the words “and on and after26th March, 1902, 8s.” be added to the duty “ Other, per cwt., 10s.”
Item, as amended, agreed to.
Division, as amended, agreed to.
Division IV., agricultural products and groceries.
Item 34. - Matches and Vestas, viz. : - For each 100 matches or part thereof - Wax, per gross,1s. Wood or other, per gross, 6d.
– I understand that the Government have some proposal to make with regard to an excise duty upon matches. We should have a statement from the Minister for Trade and Customs.
– Of course, this will be a protective duty, but at the same time we think that more revenue can fairly be derived from the local manufacture of matches. Therefore we shall also propose a partially countervailing excise on wax matches, of 4d. per gross of boxes if they contain 100 matches or under, and 4d. extra for every additional hundred contained in the boxes. Honorable members will see that that is a fair enough proposal, but if they want to make the excise higher they will have an opportunity of discussing that point.
– The difficulty I see about the proposal of the Minister is that we shall have passed the import duty by the time we reach the excise. Would it not be well to take the excise first?
– We will give the committee an opportunity of discussing the excise afterwards.
– I have had information supplied to me from various sources which shows that an excise of 4d. will still leave the protection very high on a small industry.
– I do not think so. I have investigated the subject fully.
– I shall be glad if the Treasurer will give the committee some information. In the meantime I will state some of the facts which have been presented to me. I understand that the price of wax vestas, free on board, is from 1s.7½d. to 2s. per gross, according to the brand. If we take the price at1s.7½d., f.o.b., taking off2½ per cent. discount, the total cost of duty paid matches in Melbourne will be 3s.0¼d. Wax vestas are sold in merchants’ parcels in Melbourne at from 3s.1d. to 3s. 6d. per gross, according to brand.
– That is to say, imported vestas?
– There is no distinction made in the information supplied to me. Bell and Co. are the manufacturers, I understand.
– Bell and Co. are both importers and manufacturers.
– At any rate these facts are clear, that the selling price of imported vestas is from 3s.1d. to 3s. 6d. per gross, whilst Bell and Co’ s local price is only a little less.
– The local price is somewhere about 3d. per gross cheaper.
– The price given for New South Wales, where vestas were free, is from 2s.1d. to 2s. 6d. per gross, even when there was an advance in price owing to an abnormal demand in the market. I find that in Victoria, where the manufactory is, there has been a tremendous sacrifice of duty. Prior to the establishment of the local factory in 1894 the duty paid on wax vestas in Victoria was £13,188. In 1899 the duty paid in Victoria was £3,363. There was a shrinkage, not even allowing for an increase of population, of £9,785. I have a calculation which shows that the sacrifice of revenue - applying the Victorian figures to the whole of Australia, and not taking into account the 4d. excise which is now to be proposed - would involve a loss of nearly £56,000.
– The honorable and learned member is taking six times the Victorian shrinkage. He is assuming that all the vestas will be made here, and that none will be imported.
– N ot all, though the chances arethat they will be. Theimports haveshrunk tremendously under the duty in Victoria, and the same will occur all over the Commonwealth. Victoria was in a position only a little better from the point of view of protection than the Commonwealth will be. After making all allowances there will be an enormous sacrifice of revenue, and I would ask the Treasurer what justification there is for a course which will have such a result. I believe the employment given in this industry is exceedingly small. According to the returns furnished for 1900 by the Inspector of Factories, the number of persons employed in the registered factories was only 49, of whom 41 were females. According to the figures supplied by the manufacturers there is employment given to persons numbering 93.
Mr.Conroy. - That includes the manufacture of fire-kindlers.
– I am giving the strongest figures which can be used against the freetrade proposition. The average weekly wage of all employes was only 16s., the males having an average wage of 18s. 8d., the highest being paid to those over 21 years of age, namely, £1 l1s. 3d. per week. Next on the downward grade we have 17s.10d. for those over 19 years of age and under 21, and so the wages run down until we come to 5s. per week for boys of 13. According to the manufacturers, the average wage for males is 18s. 8d., and for females 14s.11d. As regards the employment given and the wages paid, there is absolutely no justification for surrendering revenue which, according to the figures I have quoted, amounts to £56,000 per annum. Even if that figure be divided by two, or reduced to £30,000, there is no justification for a protective duty such as that proposed, which is enormously high and ridiculously out of proportion to the alleged benefits. Even from a protectionist point of view I do not think the Treasurer would be justified in fixing the duty higher than 6d., and I move -
That the words “and on and after 26th March, 1902, 6d.” be added to the duty “Matches and vestas . . . wax, per gross, ls.”
– There may be some reason to doubt whether, if the duty be reduced as proposed, the Government will keep to their proposal for an excise of 4d.
– The Government have stated that the excise of 4d. is conditional on the passing of the duty they propose.
– Then it is evident that the proposal of the honorable member for South Australia, Mr. Glynn, is too high, and I should like to move, in order to test the feeling of the committee, that the article be made free.
Sir WILLIAM McMILLAN (Wentworth). - This is a matter of some importance. The committee may reduce this duty on the understanding that the Government will hold to their policy of an excise of 4d., whereas the Treasurer may take the position that if the duty be reduced the excise should be abandoned. It would be well for the Treasurer to give us some idea of his intentions in this connexion ; otherwise the committee may be placed in an unfortunate position. We desire to decide the net duty, putting aside excise altogether; that is, what is a reasonable duty to give these manufacturers in view of our previous decisions. Whilst holding free-trade views, we know that to make these articles free would be inconsistent with the action of the committee with regard to other industries. There may be something peculiar about this manufacture, which would justify the abolition of the duty, but that question I do not enter intonow. Supposing this to be a legitimate manufacture, what we want to arrive at is a fair and reasonable duty. There is, I believe, only one manufacturer, and that fact may affect the argument ; but, at the same time, we should like to know the attitude of the Ministry in the event of the duty being reduced.
– This matter has given the Government a considerable amount of trouble. Originally the duty was imposed in Victoria as a revenue duty, and a considerable sum was realized. After some years, Bell and Co., which was one of the firms exporting matches to Victoria, established a factory here in consequence of the protective duty ; and the result was a considerable loss of revenue - a greater loss than ought to be suffered for the purpose of assisting any particular industry. A large number of persons are not employed. The industry, however, is established here, and with a fair amount of protection is likely to supply, at all events, two-thirds of the requirements of the Commonwealth. I have had an opportunity of inquiring into this matter, and so far as I can make out, the statement made by the firm that their profit is about 6d. per gross is approximately correct. The Government proposes to allow the firm a margin of8d., but honorable members must not forget that there is a pretty heavy duty on the empty boxes, which are imported. Considering, however, that the firm are getting a considerable amount of protection, it is only fair that Australia should have the benefit of the manufacture of these boxes.
– I thought boxes would be made cheaper in consequence of the duty.
– So I think they ought to be.
– Then there is no reason to help the firm witha duty.
– The firm may have to import material for the making of those boxes if that material cannot be obtained here. I think the firm can do with the protection which the Government have suggested, because they will undoubtedly have the larger market created by federation. The margin allowed is not a Large one, and the revenue collected will be considerable. Assuming that the importation of wax matches amounts to 900,000 gross, one-third of these at a duty of ls. per gross will bring in £15,000, and the other two-thirds at 4d. will realize £10,000. I am not an expert in these matters, but this particular company have placed at my disposal, confidentially, all the information I have asked for, and have assisted me in ascertaining what would be a fair rate of duty. , No doubt the company will not be altogether satisfied with the decision of the committee, but the Government are ‘of opinion that they ought to adhere to an import duty of ls., and an excise of 4d. Some materials . must necessarily be imported, although a large quantity can, and ought to be obtained within the Commonwealth ; and, on the whole, the Government are of opinion that they are not giving too great a margin of protection. If the committee come to the conclusion that the duty should be reduced to 6d., then it is utterly impossible that there can be any excise.
– Would it not be better for the committee to arrange for an excise of 4d., and on that supposition fix the import duty ?.
– Surely the honorable member for Wentworth is not in favour of an excise duty on matches.
– Why not t
– Wooden matches are, of course, dealt with on a different plan. The Government proposal means revenue ; and, make no mistake, the day will come when we shall think we ought to have retained this duty.
– I am very glad to get the excise principle acknowledged.
– This is an article in general consumption.
– The Treasurer is putting this duty on quite a different ground now.
– I am proposing a duty on the ground of protection, and also on the ground of revenue. I have explained that in Victoria the duty was originally a revenue duty, but that it became protective. A protection of ls. per gross is too much for the industry, and unless there be some countervailing excise, there must be be an absolute loss of revenue, which we do not think we ought to bear. A fair amount of revenue ought to be realized from the duty, while the consumer is not called upon to pay extra for the article.
– Will the Treasurer make the excise 6d.?
– No ; if we do that we shall go too far.
– I think it is going too fa to make the import duty ls. per gross.
– If we reduce the import duty we shall have to reduce the excise.
– No ; it does not require a margin of 8d. to carry on this single industry, which pays only £1,700 a year in wages.
– The Government .think that a margin of Sd. is required, and if the import duty be reduced, we shall not be prepared to propose any excise. The Government are of opinion that a reduction of the duty, while it might not altogether close the factory, would seriously injure the industry.
– Will the Treasurer allow a recommittal, in order to test the question of the excise? Supposing, the import duty be reduced to 4d. or 6d.,. and the Government decide that they will, not propose an excise duty - although the committee voted for the reduction on the understanding that the excise of 4d. would be retained - will the Government agree to a recommittal, in order to afford an opportunity to the committee to impose an excise 1
– I am always anxious to give the committee the fullest ‘ opportunity of discussing and dealing with the items. If the import duty be reduced to 4d., or even to 6d., the Government will strongly oppose any excise. At the same time, the Government would not feel justified in refusing the committee an opportunity to impose an excise duty if it be so’ desired. But I wish it to be clearly understood that I think we should be going altogether too far if we reduced the duty to 6d. and attempted to impose an excise. I have personally given some time to the investigation of this matter, and I have come to the’ conclusion that an import duty of ls., and an excise duty of 4d., are reasonable, and will enable the industry to continue without permitting any undue profits.
– It seems to me that a margin of 8d. is as little as the local match industry can exist upon. If honorable members fix the import duty at 6d., and an excise duty of 4d. is agreed to, no revenue will be obtained from the. excise duty, because matches will cease to be made here. I think that the Government proposal goes a little too far.
– Would not a difference of 2d. a gross be enough 1
– I am informed by the manufacturers that it is not enough.
– Victoria has paid too much for this industry already.
– it must be remembered that the manufacturer will have to pay a duty upon the stearine which he uses.
– The honorable member argued that stearine would be all the cheaper because of the duty.
– I have not argued that. Furthermore, a duty of 60 per cent, has to be paid upon the empty boxes imported.
– Could not the boxes be made here’
– Yes, and I hope they will be made here ; and under conditions very different from those which prevail in England, which are particularly cruel.
– Then why encourage the establishment of the industry here %
– The honorable and learned member appears to think that the conditions of workers living 12,000 miles from our shores does not matter. If the industry were established here, we should be able to regulate the condition of those employed in it. When this matter was before the committee on a previous occasion, we were told that the match-making industry is unhealthy, and produces loss of life, phossy jaw, and other complaints. I have here a letter from the Inspector of Factories, in which he says -
I have the honour to acknowledge the receipt of your letter of the 6th instant, and to inform you that, ‘ relying on your assurance that my reply will not in any way be used as an advertisement, I have no hesitation in stating that this department is quite satisfied with the arrangement and conduct o£ the match factory at Richmond. No cases of illness attributable to the process of making the matches has ever been brought under my notice.
The extract from the report of the inspector who visits the factory is as follows : -
I have made inquiries as to the health of the employes, and have not learned of any cases of illness arising from the work.
Therefore the industry as carried on here is not an unhealthy one. I regret that the Government have gone so far. The committee in dealing with this duty must not lose sight of the excise duty of 4d. In my opinion, a margin of less than Sd. will kill the local industry.
– I trust that the committee will not allow a margin of 8d. to, the local manufacturers. One is a little hampered in dealing with this item by the uncertainty as to how other revenue items will be dealt with. A duty of ls. a gross upon matches is, however, rather a heavy one.
– Do those who buy matches pay more for them in consequence of the duty 1
– In Sydney the price of ordinary brands of matches went up Id. per dozen immediately the Commonwealth Tariff was announced. I am willing to agree to a small revenue upon matches in order to reduce the duty upon other revenue items. To insist that a margin of 8d. per gross is necessary for the existence of the local industry seems to me to prove that that industry is not worth having. I am informed that the value of matches, including the boxes, is from ls. 3d. to ls. 6d. per gross, free on board, either at London or at the Italian ports, and that the freight, insurance, and other charges amount to from 12£ to 15 per cent., making the total protection, including the duty, 90 or 100 per cent, ad valorem. The wages paid by the local factory last year amounted to only something like £1,700; and yet it is proposed to charge 8d. per gross extra upon all the matches consumed within the Commonwealth to support the industry. I am willing to vote for an import duty of 6d. per gross and an excise duty of 3d. per gross.
– The local manufacturers have to import their boxes, while those who import matches are able to bring in their boxes free of dutv.
– I presume that the duty upon boxes was imposed to assist the manufacturers of cardboard boxes, who contend that they can produce them as cheaply as the imported article. With regard to the argument of the honorable member for Yarra respecting the duty upon stearine, it seems to me that if stearine cannot be placed upon the local market as cheaply as it can be obtained in Italy, Germany, or any foreign place where matches are made, it is time we shut up shop. I do not see that the duty upon stearine could affect the local match manufacturers at all.
Mr. GLYNN (South Australia).- To emphasize the remarks which I have already made, I should like to give the committee a few figures in regard to the local consumption of matches. In 1900, 107,000 cases of wax matches were imported into all the States, with the exception of Victoria. In 1899, 5,605 cases of wax vestas were imported into Victoria, while’ about 23,000 were imported into Queensland. The Victorian imports decreased from 21,9S0 cases in 1894 - when there was no factory - to 5,605 cases in 1899, showing that the local manufacturers were supplying 75 per cent, of the local consumption. They themselves say that they could, with a very slight addition to their machinery, and a small increase in the number of their hands, meet the whole Australian consumption, so that we may assume that, within a short time, at least 75 per cent, of the whole consumption of Australia will be in the hands of this firm, which employs less than 100 workpeople, and pays wages so low that the average for males is 18s. 8d. per week and the maximum £1 lis. 3d. The Tariff Board stated, in 1895, that if the whole of Australia were supplied by the local manufacturers, the wages paid by them would not exceed £2,500 per annum. These figures should be eloquent as to the meagreness of the industry to which we are asked to grant a protection of 8d. per gross. Applying the Victorian figures to the whole Australian consumption, I find that there will be a loss of revenue of £56,000 a year. On the Victorian figures there is a loss of about £10,000 in that State alone. To apply any further protection to the industry is simply to pitch away revenue. I ask honorable members to impose an import duty of 6d. per gross, and an excise duty of 3d. per gross. In his evidence before the Tariff Commission of 1S95, the manager for Messrs. Bell and Co. mentioned that, with the addition of about 30 or 40 hands with some new machinery, they would be able to supply the demands of all the States, and that that would mean a wage-sheet of £2,500 a year. Making an allowance for increase of population in the meantime, it shows that the benefit to wage-earners is exceedingly small. Less than 50 hands are employed in the registered factories, and the manufacturers say that not more than 90 hands are employed altogether. With a total wage-sheet of £2,500 a year, and about 80 per cent of the employes being women at a small wage, is there any necessity to give this enormous protection of 8d. per gross ? According to figures which have been supplied to me, it would pay the Commonwealth to close the factories, and give £3 a week to the Victorian operatives.
Mr. CONROY (Werriwa).- From my examination of the various statistics, I am in a position to say that every figure quoted by the honorable and learned member for South Australia, Mr. Glynn, is absolutelycorrect. In Victoria the duty of ls. per gross was imposed neither for protective nor for revenue purposes, but in order to discourage the use of wax matches. In support of that statement I shall quote the following passage from the report of the Tariff Commission of 1895 : -
It will be remembered that when safety matches were made free of duty, the tax was left on wax vestas, neither for revenue nor protective purposes, but to discourage their use, as it was considered that in this country they were a source of danger.
What applies to the imported wax matches applies equally to locally made wax matches. It was pointed out in their report by the Tariff Commission that -
If the local maker obtains command of the market the loss to the revenue will be about £12,000 a year, and the tax intended to be prohibitive will be of less value than formerly.
When I mention that the revenue in IS 94 was £13,200 and in 1899 only £3,400 it will at once be seen that that statement was borne out to a very large extent. While the revenue in 1899 was less by £9,800 the amount paid in wages was £1,300. What Victoria had to pay for the establishment of the factory was, in addition to “the wages, £9,800. The Tariff Commission stated in 1895 that the wages were roughly £24 10s. per week. Last year the wages stood at a very low rate, indeed. The inspector of factories reported that the average wage of the males . was 18s. Sd. and that of the females, 14s. lid. He included those engaged in the manufacture of fire-kindlers, but I think their wages stand in about the same proportion. He also showed that in Victoria only 49 hands were employed, of whom 41 were females. For the sake of 41 female and 8 male employes, we are asked to throw away the enormous revenue which has been derived by the other States. Last year New South Wales imported 69,000 cases of wax matches ; Queensland, 22,000 cases ; and Victoria, 5,500 cases. If we go back to 1894 to ascertain the quantity of matches used in Victoria, we shall find that it ought to be not less than 30,000 cases. Putting all these figures together we shall find, if this factory succeeds in achieving its object, what bonus will be paid to it by the Commonwealth. Supposing that we doubled the number of hands employed at the factories, we should then have wages paid to the amount of from £3,000 to £3,500, while the cost to the Commonwealth would not be less than from £60,000 to £65,000 a year. I ask honorable members to consider the significance of these figures. Surely, even from the protectionist point of view, that is paying too dearly for the whistle. Honorable members on this side have been asked to give a high duty to this firm, because they say that all the materials they use bear heavy import duties. The honorable member for Melbourne Ports, the honorable member for Yarra, and a dozen others on the other side, have risen here time after time and told us that the imposition of a duty cheapens the price of the article. I was rather amused by an article in the Age which pointed out that the protection previously afforded in Victoria was greatly reduced by the taxes on raw materials. It pointed out that the duty on stearine was 1^-d. per lb.; paraffin wax, 1^-d. per lb.; wrapping paper, 6s. per cwt. ; glue, 2d. per lb. ; Paris white, ls. per cwt. ; machinery, special, 25 per cent. ; empty vesta boxes, 3d. per gross, or i£ made of straw-board, 2s. per cwt. When it was trying to get an increased duty on wax matches the Age said that the price of every one of those articles was raised’, but time after time when it wanted a duty imposed on those articles it pointed out that the price of them would be much cheaper to the consumer by reason of its imposition. If that is so, then clearly there is no necessity for us to take into consideration the amount of duty placed on the raw materials. I do not think that the duty on stearine seriously affects the price of that article, because the tallow, which forms the basis of its manufacture, is locally produced. Of course, if trusts were formed to control the market for stearine the price might be increased to the extent of the duty ; but it is not suggested that anything of that kind is likely to happen. The manager for Messrs. Bell and Co. admitted before the Tariff Committee- that he obtained his stearine from Messrs. Kitchen and Co., and that he also purchased glue locally. ‘ The Age represents that the protective effect of the duty upon matches is very largely reduced by the imposts levied upon the raw materials used in the industry. We find, however, that the duties upon Paris white, glue, and stearine,. under the Federal Tariff are exactly the same as were previously levied in Victoria. Wrapping paper was subject to a duty of 6s. per cwt. under the Victorian Tariff, whereas only 3s. per cwt. is charged now. Upon straw-board, the material used in the manufacture of boxes, 4s. per cwt. was levied previously, but now the duty is fixed at ls. The manager for Messrs. Bell and Co. told the Tariff committee that if there were noduty upon stearine, he would import it, provided he could procure it more cheaply, but he appeared to be doubtful about that. The fact that all im- ported matches have to be packed in tin or zinc-lined cases, whereas the locally produced matches are packed in wooden cases, affords the local manufacturer a considerable amount of protection. The local manufacturer would be very well served if the import duty were fixed at 6d., and the excise duty at 3d. We must not forget that if .all our matches were imported, the revenue realized under a duty of ls. per gross would amount to between £60,000 and £65,000 per annum. This sum would, however, be very largely diminished if we allowed one manufacturer, exempt from the payment of excise, to control the whole output of the Commonwealth. The Treasurer has asked us to support his proposal because he needs revenue, but as I estimate that even with the duty removed from tea, the Tariff will yield at least £10,000,000 per annum, I do not attach much importance to the Treasurer’s request. Otherwise, if revenue considerations were to prevail, I should support a moderate duty upon matches, because it . would press lightly upon those who use them.
Question - That the words “ and on and after 26th March, 1902, 6d.” be added to the duty “ Matches and vestas, wax ; . ; . per gross ls.” - put. The committee divided -
Majority …. … 4
Question so resolved in the affirmative.
Amendment agreed to.
– Will the Minister for Trade and Customs consider the propriety of allowing persons who importboxes of matches containing fewer than 100 matches to pay according to the number contained in the boxes ? At present, if the boxes contain less than 100 matches each, duty has to be paid as though they contain 100. Complaints have been made for some time on that account. There may be some reasons in the Customs administration for this practice, but if so I should like to know what they are.
– Would the honorable member allow a varying number ? Surely he would not tax the boxes differently if they contained 60, 70, or 80 matches ?
– Yes ; why not? If the boxes contain 102 matches the same difficulty is presented in regard to ascertaining the number in order to charge more duty. If, on the other hand, importers choose to bring in boxes containing fewer than 100 matches each, why should they be charged as though the boxes contained 100?
– Would not the result be that the boxes would become smaller and smaller, and that the consumer would get fewer matches for his money?
– There is something in that argument, perhaps !
– I understand that the proposal made with regard to taxing matches on the assumption that each box contains 100 is on the principle of the duty with regard to reputed pints and quarts of ale and stout. If bottles are reputed to contain a pint they are taxed as containing a pint, even though they may contain less. Similarly with spirits, there is no distinction made on any diminution below proof. As the Treasurer has observed, this helps to protect the public by maintaining a standard measure.
– It will be necessary to add a few words to make the item clearer. The heading alludes to matches and vestas. I am not expert enough to know the exact difference between them ; but there appears to be some difference. To make it clear, I move -
That the following new line he added to the item : - “ Vestas to be charged at the same rates as matches.”
Amendment agreed to.
Item, as amended, agreed to.
Item 45. -Rice, viz. : -Uncleaned, per cental, 5s. 3d. ; for manufacturing starch, under departmental by-laws, per cental, 6s. 3d. ; n.e.i., per cental, 8s. 4d.
– I wish to explain the alterations proposed by the Government in this item, so that honorable members may know what we are discussing. I propose to ask the committee to add to the item that on and after to-morrow dressed rice shall be charged at the rate of 6s. per cental. Under the original proposal it was charged at 8s.4d. per cental. Then we propose that undressed rice, when dressed in any bonded warehouse, shall be charged upon the quantity of dressed rice produced, at the rate of 4s. per cental. The original proposal on undressed rice was 5s. 3d. The new proposed duties, 6s. and 4s., leave a difference of 2s. in favour of dressing within the Commonwealth. The difference works out about the same as the difference in the duty originally proposed, of8s. 4d. on dressed rice, and 5s. 3d. on undressed rice ; because the 5s. 3d. was charged on the unclean rice, whereas we propose that the duty of 4s. shall be charged upon the quantity of rice actually dressed. Then, with regard to the manufacture of starch, we propose to let in rice for that purpose free of duty, and to put on an excise of1d. per lb. on all starch manufactured within the Commonwealth from any material ; because starch is made from materials other than rice. We propose to leave the importduty on starch at 2d. That, of course, the committee will deal with later on. The effect of our proposal with regard to rice will be to leave the margin at 2s. in favour of the dressing within the Commonwealth. This is not looked upon so much as a protective duty, but more as a compensatory duty, as it may be called, to allow of the work being done here. I have no doubt it would leave some margin of profit to those who undertake the work, but not a very large one. I move -
That the words “and on and after 26th March, 1902, rice, 6s. “ be added to the duty, “Rice, uncleaned,per cental, 5s. 3d.”
– I understand that the proposal now is that the duty of 8s. 4d. disappears, and that the duty n.e.i. is 6s.?.
– Yes ; the old duty was too high.
– And 4s. is to be charged in bond upon the undressed manufacture ?
– Upon the rice made from the undressed rice.
– In other words, the cost of manufacturing and bringing the bulkier material to the Commonwealth is supposed to be an equivalent for the 2s.?
– Yes, leaving a fair margin of profit.
– It costs more to bring the uncleaned rice to the Commonwealth than the cleaned rice, inasmuch as it is a heavier material, containing a percentage of waste and so on. I am not sufficiently an expert to know whether a difference of 2s. is fair, but with the material in my possession, I had calculated that 5s. 3d. on uncleaned rice, as previously proposed, amounted to 52 per cent. I know that this is a revenue duty.
– The duty is now brought down by more than one-fourth.
– Then, so far as I understand, the Treasurer is looking on this entirely as a revenue duty.
– Itis practically a revenue duty.
– Then we may take it that the duty on the manufactured article is, as nearly as possible, an equivalent of the other ?
– It is practically, so far as I can work out the figures. This is not what we can call a really protective duty.
– I understand that the Treasurer considers that the difference between 6s. and 4s. makes up for every contingency of manufacture, and he regards this as entirely a revenue duty, which gives no advantage to the manufacturer excepting some small profit. I am not prepared to express an opinion at this moment.
Mr. WATSON (Bland).- I should have liked the Treasurer to bring before the committee the difference in respect of starch, so far as revenue is concerned. I do not think there will be any difference in the revenue by putting an all-round excise duty on starch, when a penny is taken off the starchmaker’s raw material. There is the extra expense of keeping an officer in the starch factory.
– The factories have to bear that expense ; that is one of the difficulties of the excise.
– I do not see that there would be any difference, except that a little excise might be collected on some material which otherwise would not be imported.
– I explained that what we wanted to do was to reach all starch made from all materials.
– In regard to rice, I am prepared to give a reasonable amount of revenue ; that is, unless it is found subsequently there is any ground for the rumblings we hear as to a possible alteration in the attitude of the committee in regard to the duty on tea. If extra duty has to be paid on other things, then it is probable we shall endeavourto recommit the item of rice, but under present circumstances, it is only fair to ask people who use rice to contribute something to the revenue. But I do object to the difference which is proposed in favour of the local dresser. In company with a number of other honorable members I had an opportunity a few days ago of inspecting one of the rice cleaning mills in Melbourne, and I must thank the proprietor of the mill for giving me that opportunity. The work was mostly of a mechanical nature, and in itself involved very little manual labour, except, of course, in connexion with looking after the machinery, and bagging and carrying the rice. This was an up-to-date mill, and in view of what I believe to be the fact, that 15s. per ton more than covers the whole labour cost, I doubt whether it is worth while proposing a difference of £2 per ton in favour of the local dresser.
– Does the honorable member say that labour only costs 15s. a ton?
– According to the statements of those interested in the mill, the number of men employed in turning out a ton per hour was fifteen ; and it is a very liberal estimate to say that these men are paid ls. per hour. The cost of machinery and interest, and depreciation in connexion with the establishment generally, is the same in this mill as in a mill in Japan or any other country where rice is dressed ; indeed, these expenses may amount to a little more in Japan. If the local manufacturer or rice-dresser gets more than the total wages cost - not merely the difference between the wages paid here and the wages paid in Japan - he ought to be in a position to compete.
– What are the rates of wages ?
– Let the local manufacturer have all the wages, and assume that men in Japan work for nothing ; even then the cost here is not more than 15s. per ton.
– Does the honorable member make any allowance for waste ?
– No ; because we do not propose to charge duty on waste.
-paterson. - What about bad debts?
– Have not Japanese manufacturers the same chance of making bad debts as have Australian ? The question is - What allowance has to be made to cover the extra cost of wages ? I say that here the admitted cost is 15s. per ton.
– Does that include bagging?
– Bagging has to be supplied in Japan, and the amount of labour in supplying sufficient for a ton of rice is not much.
– Why should some allowance not be made for waste - for material paid for, carried here, and then lost?
– That opens up an argument which shows the utter idiocy of attempting to bring into existence an industry such as this, even from a protectionist stand-point. Freight has to be paid on a lot of material which, after it gets here, has to be thrown away.
– I am not speaking from a protectionist stand-point.
– This is not an industry that under ordinary circumstances can appeal to protectionists. All we can say is that it has been brought into existence under protection.
– I wish the honorable member would argue like that in regard to some other matters.
– I have done so; the honorable member’s memory is at fault. An industry has been brought into existence, and we must remember that a certain amount of capital has been invested.
– More than wages has to be taken into consideration ; there are fuel, rent, and bond expenses.
– Of course; but my contention is that in Japan, or wherever rice is cleaned or dressed, the cost under these heads will approximate to those in Australia ; the only difference is in regard to labour. I admit that the local dresser loses something like17½ per cent. on useless material ; but I still contend that if we allow 15s. as the cost of labour per ton, we cover the full wages cost. With a difference of ls. per cental, there will be a handsome margin. I am quite prepared to believe that at 9d. per cental, there is sufficient margin to carry on, but, at any rate, the committee should not pass a difference of more than ls. Here is a remarkable statement included amongst those presented to me by some of the people engaged in the industry. It is pointed out that one firm has continuously sold this product at. from £1 to £1 10s. per ton less than the imported article under the old Victorian proposal.
– That is extraordinary, if it is true.
– Yet in the next breath it is said that unless there is a difference of £2 odd per ton, the local firms cannot compete. These statements do not tally.
– They certainly do not fit in.
– A gentleman representing a Sydney firm, which is about to engage in this rice-dressing business, waited on me to-day.
– The firm represented by that gentleman asks for a differonce of 2s. 6d.
– But that was under the old conditions, when they were charged on the undressed rice.
– No ; it was since the new proposal, and they said that anything less that 2s. 6d. would not be sufficient ; that a duty of less than 2s. 6d. would not allow them to start.
– Then these people speak with two tongues. They wrote to
Die stating that under the old conditions 2s. 6d. would enable them to carry on. It would probably be remembered in New South Wales that the labour party proposed that a difference of ls. 6d. only should be allowed, but the firm wrote stating that anything less than 2s. 6d. would mean ruin. Now, when the Commonwealth Treasurer brings iti a proposal which does not involve the old conditions the firm still ask for a difference of 2s. 6d. There is such a wide distinction that I think there must be some misunderstanding, or that the firm are not dealing fairly with honorable members.
– The letter I have here is dated 10th February, and I am under the impression that I received another letter the other day.
– A difference of a shilling per cental will be quite sufficient, and will not involve any material loss to those who are engaged in the business of dressing rice, or place them in an unfair position. I trust that the committee will not agree to a larger difference.
– I originally proposed a difference of 3s. Id. per cental.
– Yes ; 2s. 6d. was put forward by those interested, as against the labour party’s proposal of ls. 6d. So far as the revenue aspect of the question is concerned, I am prepared to vote for a duty of 6s. per cental upon undressed rice, reserving to myself the right to vote, should circumstances justify me in doing so, for a recommittal of the item.
– I should like to help the Treasurer, and therefore I ask him if he is prepared to give us a sort of semi-guarantee to-night that there will be no attempt to recommit the item of tea ? I am prepared to vote for a fair duty on rice to enable the States to recover the loss which they will sustain by reason of the exemption of tea ; but we must consider the two items together. The duty upon rice affects, not so much the white people, as the yellow people in Australia.
– The Minister for Trade and Customs has pointed out to me that, under the wording of my amendment, undressed rice, which is not taken to a bond, will be able to come in free. To guard against’ that, I propose to say, “dressed or undressed, 6s,” and then to propose a lower duty upon the rice dressed in bond.
Amendment amended accordingly.
– The duty as amended is fairly high.
– It will amount to about d. per lb.
– That is equivalent to something like 60 per cent, on undressed rice. Since the Treasurer already has such a large revenue, he cannot fairly ask us to vote for this duty as a revenue duty. The Tariff is aleady producing far more revenue than the Commonwealth requires for its’ own needs. If we cannot withstand the pressure of two small States, what will happen when, two or throe years hence, the other States have spent all their money, and we have to meet the pressure of six States ? If we do not look out, we shall be trying to pass laws without having a penny with which to pay for their administration, or to carry out necessary works. It must be remembered that we are now drawing upon the taxable reserve of the Commonwealth. The proposed duty will contribute to the revenue something like £140,000 per annum, because I think the original estimate of the Treasurer too low.
– My estimate was for a normal year, when the dressing of rice will be largely done within the Commonwealth, so that the quantity of dressed rice imported will be small. According to the experience of Victoria, two-thirds of the rice imported will be dressed here.
– It seems to me that if we put a duty of 4s. upon dressed rice all round, or accepted the proposal of the honorable member for Bland, and made a difference of ls. per cental, we should do more than enough. Upon the Treasurer’s own showing, the revenue from the Tariff will amount to more than £9,000,000, and as representatives of the people we should fight against extra taxation. The members of another House, who are elected to represent State rights, might argue that they have to look at these matters from the point of view of the States, and not from the point of view of the people ; but if they did, I think we should know how to answer that argument. To go on imposing duty after duty merely because they are proposed in the Tariff is to act without rhyme or reason. If the duties already imposed will bring in the revenue which the Treasurer estimates to obtain, we should strike out every other revenue item, unless the Government are prepared to adjust the Tariff so as to diminish taxation in other directions. When Ministers went for election they proposed to raise only £8,000,000 of revenue per annum. Even the Prime Minister did not venture to suggest that more than£8,500,000 should be raised. Now we have a probable return of £9,500,000, and still the Treasurer is not satisfied. I believe, because of what I know of the deficiency in the stocks of spirits, tobacco, woollens, and other big lines, that he has under-estimated ‘the probable revenue. He has already had to admit an under- estimate amounting to £500,000, and I think he is still another £700,000 short of the actual amount which will be received. The revenue from certain items has been anticipated to a very large extent. From an ex animation of the Tariff, I believe that the revenue will amount to £10,000,000. The Prime Minister never gave any indication in New South Wales that a revenue of more than £8,000,000 would be required. It was only recently that he went so far as to assert that a revenue of £8,500,000 might be asked. for. But we are now asked to grant a revenue of practically £10,000,000. I am not undervaluing the position of the representatives of the smaller States, who recognise that their States will have a difficulty to face. But it was one of the first difficulties which were foreseen. The bulk of the revenue from the duty on rice-will be derived from three
States- £48,000 from New South Wales, £40,000 from Victoria, and £28,000 from Queensland. It may be pointed out that the duty will fall on certain classes in Queensland who otherwise would not contribute to the revenue. That is a very important matter from the State point of view, but it ought to be represented to us from that point of view alone. If that is found to be correct, it may be an excellent argument why the Ministry should recast the Tariff, and strike off many items. But it is no reason why the committee should consent to this largely increased taxation. All forms of taxation are bad, and are only to be acquiesced in by a Parliament when the money is absolutely required for the purposes of sound administration. If it could be shown later on, possibly next session, that the revenue of certain States was deficient, it should be an excellent reason for the Treasurer to ask that these duties should be imposed. But, from my point of view, the committee should refuse to sanction fresh taxation to the amount of £150,000, when no necessity for its imposition has been shown. Every penny we take from the people more than is absolutely required goes back to some of the States. The great bulk of that money will undoubtedly be wasted - at all events it will not be spent upon reproductive works. I have never seen money spent productively by a State except in very few instances. Therefore, just as much injury arises to the community as if the money were thrown into the sea, or used for building a breakwater which must be washed away in the course of a few hours. There is a good deal of protective incidence about the duty on rice. I shall vote to materially lessen the amount of the duty, but I shall wait to hear the representations which, I understand, several honorable members have to make before I submit an amendment.
Sir WILLIAM McMILLAN (Wentworth). - In this matter of revenue I wish to deal fairly with the Government. I believe that the estimate of £10,500,000 made by the Government is probably a low estimate. At the same time it must be recollected that we have surrendered the tea duties, which would have yielded £400,000. We intend to put kerosene on the free list, and that means a further loss of £150,000 to the revenue. By placing tea and kerosene on the free list we reduce the estimated revenue by £550,000. We ought to deal with this item of rice entirely on its merits. It is undoubtedly a revenue duty, except as regards the little manufacturing arrangement which the Treasurer proposes. We have to consider whether such a duty on an article which enters so largely into our household economy may not be too high. I consider that under all the circumstances even the reduced duty on cleaned rice is too high. Although we have cut down the revenue considerably we ought not to make any particular item, such- as rice, which goes so freely into consumption, pay the piper for what we have done. A sufficient case is made out to allow a reasonable duty. From 4s. 6d. to 5s. per cental on the cleaned rice would represent a very fair ad valorem duty. According to the statistics for New South Wales, the original duty was equivalent to 52 per cent, ad valorem. The new proposal is an unfortunate one. It would be far better to adhere to the original plan of charging so much on the uncleaned rice and so much on the cleaned rice. This method of charging the duty when the manufactured article comes out of bond is a clumsy one. If we omit uncleaned rice as an article for import duty, and charge a duty of 4s. on the cleaned rice as it comes out of bond, we practically put the uncleaned rice which does not go into bond under the n.e.i. condition. I take it for granted that uncleaned rice comes here to be cleaned. If we impose no duty on uncleaned rice it cannot go into bond, and if it comes under the n.e.i. condition, it is subject to a duty of 6s. I fail to see why the Treasurer should have complicated this arrangement by his last proposal. It would be far better to determine on a fair import duty for each description of rice as it comes in. Under some circumstances we have to resort to this system of bonding, but there is always a great danger of leakage. I suggest to the Treasurer that he should abandon his proposal and let us arrive at a fair duty in each case. The duty on cleaned rice is now to be reduced from Ss. 4d. per cental to 6s. I think it would be very reasonable to impose a duty of 4s. 6d. on cleaned rice and 2s. 6d. or 2s. 9d. on uncleaned rice. A duty of” 4s. 6d. would give a very large ad valorem percentage, and although it may be urged that this is a revenue duty, we must fix even revenue duties at a fairly reasonable rate. As we have reduced the
Tariff considerably, and as rice is a fairly dutiable article, we might levy some impost upon it. It is impossible for any one to forecast what revenue will be yielded by the Tariff. I believe that ‘a very large amount will be derived this year, but beyond the current twelve months no one can predict results. It will, therefore, be better for us as free-traders to agree to a reasonable duty upon a revenue item such as this. If the Tariff should yield more revenue than we require, we shall have all the greater claim for a reduction of some of the extortionate duties which closely approach prohibition. I shall propose the reduction of the duty on cleaned rice to 4s. 6d. per cental.
– I regret that the Treasurer has abandoned his original proposals, because I think that they provided for only moderate revenue duties. If the suggestion of the honorable member for Wentworth were carried out, we should have the Commonwealth inundated with rice from Japan and China, grown by very servile and cheap labour. A very large quantity of the rice imported is consumed by Chinamen, and the article is, therefore, a fair subject for a revenue duty. Every member of the committee would like to see rice and many other commodities placed on the free list, but we are not yet in a position to carry out any such policy. Rice culture has attained considerable proportions in Queensland, and affords employment for white labour only. The Queensland Chamber of Agriculture has passed the following resolution : -
That, in the opinion of this chamber, it is undesirable that the proposed duty of £7 per ton upon rice should be reduced, because the growth of rice in this State is developing as a farm product, and is carried on in many parts of Queensland, from the extreme south to the tropics, and the development of the industry would be seriously retarded thereby.
Rice is being successfully cultivated in the Nerang, Logan, Maroochie, Nambour, Pimpama Island, Bundaberg, Mackay, Port Douglas, Mourilyan, Johnston River, Cairns, Cook, Mareeba, and Herberton districts. The industry is capable of great development with a reasonable amount of fostering care. Mr. Frederick William Peek, who has taken a great interest in rice culture, says -
In the first place take the cropping. In ordinary situations, with only fair cultivation, from 30 to 40 bushels of 60 lb. of paddy can be obtained per acre, which is double the wheat yield, the average crop of wheat being from 15 to 20 bushels per acre. I know, in some instances, these quantities have been exceeded in both crops, but I givea fair average for comparison. The value of wheat per bushel ranges from 3s. to 3s. 6d., whilst the value of rice sold to the local mill averages from 4s. to os. per bushel delivered at the mills.
The following is taken from the Brisbane Observer of 29th June, 1901 : -
We were to-day shown a sample of rice grown at Pimpama Island, Moreton Bay. It resembles Patna rice in shape of grain, but is darker in colour. Qualified experts who have seen the samples say that it is the first really high-grade lice that they have seen grown in this State, and as it oan be marketed at from £18 to £18 10s., should command a ready sale. The commonest quality of imported rice, Rangoon, fetches £19, duty paid, here just now, while for Japan rice, £24, duty paid, is asked by the distributing houses.
Under all these circumstances, I hope the Ministry will not accept any duty less than they have proposed.
Mr. JOSEPH COOK (Parramatta).Bice is an article of general consumption among all classes, and the honorable member’s remarks as to its use by Chinamen will have no weight with the committee. The honorable member seems to assume that because rice can be grown at two or three places in Queensland we ought to impose a heavy duty upon it. If rice can be successfully grown in Queensland, it is surprising that such large quantities should be imported into that State.
– They do not yet grow enough to supply their own requirements, but the industry is growing.
– No justification is afforded for the imposition of a high duty upon dressed rice, or for any special differentiation between dressed and undressed rice. The import returns .for 1900 show that rice is very largely used in the back blocks, where vegetables are difficult to obtain. New South Wales imported 92,000 cwt., Victoria 156,000 cwt., Queensland 72,000 cwt., South Australia 15,000 cwt., Western Australia 27,000 cwt., and Tasmania 6,000 cwt. The two States in which the most rice is consumed proportionately to population are Queensland and Western Australia.
– The large numbers of Chinamen in the Northern Territory of South Australia account for the great consumption of rice there. It is probably the same in Queensland. 32 c
– The Chinaman uses rice, but so does the Australian. It is used extensively by the miners as an article of food. It is particularly used in the far back parts of the country, where people cannot get a good supply of vegetables and other necessaries of life. The tax would, therefore, fall most heavily upon the people who should be let off most lightly under any system of taxation. The Queensland imports, notwithstanding the heavy duty imposed by that State, and although rice is grown there, are nearly as high as those of New South Wales with twice the population. That is a very striking fact, which shows that this article is consumed by all classes of the population, and particularly by the poorer classes. Some of us believe in a revenue Tariff, but this is a duty which ranges between 50 and 75percent.,and therefore not a fair revenue duty. I thought that 15 per cent, was the duty most in favour with revenue tariffists. The duty now proposed is monstrous, and out of all proportion with our system of taxation. I have figures showing that the price of dressed rice in Rangoon is £7 per ton. How the honorable member for Oxley makes the price £19 per ton duty paid I do not know. I confess that I would make the article free if I thought there was the slightest chance of carrying an amendment to that effect. My idea is that since there is a surplus we should dispose of it in such a way as would be right so far as concerns the incidence of taxation upon the mass of the toilers of the continent. I think the surplus should be disposed of because’ it will only be wasted - in some of the States, at any rate. lc will not do any of the States any harm to give them a dose of economy in the management of their finances. I have yet to learn that the Federal Parliament has no say in the amount of money we shall distribute among the States. I have yet to learn that it is merely our function to “foot the bill” which may be presented to us by the State Treasurers, no matter how extravagant that bill may be. We have the responsibility of taxing the people, and I do not believe that it was ever contemplated by the framers of the Constitution that we should find the money without having the slightest say as to whether the demands made were extravagant or not. From that point of view we should cut down the duty. I shall move to make the duty on rice 3s. per cental:
– I moved the amendment before the chair in order that honorable members might deal with cleaned rice first. Personally I should prefer the item to stand in the form in which it originally appeared in the Tariff, because it would save a lot of trouble in regard to bonds, and would save the expense of lockers. The. only reason I had for altering the form of the item was in order that the duty might be calculated upon the different kinds of rice on the same footing. But I have no objection to allowing the item to stand as originally proposed. I therefore suggest that the amendment be withdrawn, and that we first decide the duty on rice n.e.i. As originally proposed, .the amount was 8s. 4d. per cental. I now suggest 6s. The honorable member for Parramatta intends to move that it be 3s. We can take a division on that, and having decided it, can fix the rate on un- cleaned rice. Rice n.e.i. is the cleaned rice.
Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.
Amendment (by Mr. Joseph Cook) proposed -
That the words, “and on and after 26th March, 1902, 3s.,” be added to the duty “Rice, n.e.i., percental, Ss. 4d.”
– There is a great deal in what the honorable member for Parramatta has said with which we can all sympathize heartily. None of us desires to see extravagance in any of the States. We are citizens of the States, and from that point of view, we wish to see economies effected’. Further, none of us desires to incur the odium of raising money for the spending of which other people are to get the credit. But when all is said and done we must remember that whatever may be the exact or the approximate amount to be raised by this Parliament through the Customs, and whatever view we may take as to the implied contract on our part, and as to the position in which we are to leave the States after the Tariff is settled - whether we leave them enough to carry on in practically the same position as they were, or whether we simply > raise enough for Commonwealth purposes - we must recognise that there must be some items of general consumption on which- we must raise a considerable amount of revenue. I, as a protectionist, just as -the honorable member for Parramatta’ as a free-trader, do not believe in revenue duties. They do not harmonize with ‘ either”- of the ‘two fiscal theories of free-trade or ‘protection. But we all recognise that there are occasions .when circumstances are stronger than any fiscal theories, and this, I venture to think, is one of them. Of the three great revenue-producing items, tea, kerosene, and rice, we have already made one free. I understand that the Government do not propose to recommit the item tea. Kerosene also is apparently to be made free. The people of Australia will recognise that we have done our best in connexion with these matters, consistently with the circumstances, when we have made these two articles free, even if we have to make rice dutiable. Rice is an article of general consumption any duty on which must be borne by the consumers. There is no possible way in which the payment of the duty can be escaped, except the philanthropic way, which does not prevail in business as a rule. Under these circumstances we are justified not only in asking for a substantial revenue duty on rice, but for a duty which will be high. The acting leader of the Opposition has taken up a position that sounded curious to me when I remembered what he said last week, when speaking on the Government proposal to impose a duty of 3d. per lb. on tea. He voted against making tea free. He was prepared to vote for a duty of 2d., although the difference between 2d: and 3d. would have made scarcely any difference to the consumer, because the price of tea runs in threepences. People do not buy tea at lid. or ls. Id. per lb., but at 9d., or ls., or ls. 3d. The honorable member was then prepared to vote for a duty which on many common classes of tea would have amounted to 50 per cent.; but now he is opposing a duty on rice which will amount to between 30 and 40 per cent. I am aware that he has referred to the revenue as apparently going to be considerably higher than the Treasurer anticipated. What I complain of in his- remarks was that he seemed to ‘ imply that those who feel bound - not because they like it, but because they think they ought - to support a duty of 6s. on cleaned rice are taking up an attitude of hostility to the bulk of the consumers throughout the community. That is an unfair aspersion. If I had my way I should make undressed rice free ; but that raises the old issue, to which I do not desire to refer. Upon articles in common consumption, which practically are not produced in the Commonwealth, I am just as anxious as any honorable member to see duties removed. No step would be more popular to-day, though when the States began to feel the pinch a different view might be taken. We have given away half-a-million of sure revenue, and it is time to consider whither this post-haste in removing duties may lead us. To make further concessions would bring down the estimate of the probable revenue to something very little, if any, over what is considered necessary ; and under all the circumstances I feel it my duty to vote for the Government proposal of 6s. per cental. I am glad the Government have reduced the duty from 8s. 4d., which was too high. I take it that the amount set down in the table submitted to us as being received from rice is the total amount which would now be received, if every ton imported, with our present population and consumption, paid the full duty of 6s. per cental. That is not likely to be the case if a reasonable margin is left between dressed and undressed rice. As the reduction from 6s. to 3s. would mean the sacrifice of £60,000 or £70,000, I am not, in view of reductions in other directions, justified in saying to the States that we will cut away revenue producing items until there is nothing left, and force them to resort to direct taxation.
– I desire to point out a difficulty which arises in connexion with the Northern Territory. In South Australia, a duty of 3s. per cwt. on rice returns £1,995, and it is not, therefore, a revenue item of much consequence to that State, apart from the Northern Territory. I should be inclined to support rice being free, but in the Northern Territory there is a separate Tariff of1d. per lb. or 9s. 4d. a cwt., and that means a revenue inroundfigures of £5,500. The total revenue of the Northern Territory amounts to £60,000 or £70,000, or about one-half the expenditure, and £5,000 odd is too much to lose. It must further be remembered that there is an accumulated deficit in the Northern Territory of £900,000 ; and if revenue is not derived from rice, that part of South Australia will be placed in an awkward position: We have no power under the Constitution to deal separately with the Northern Territory, and though my own desire, as I say, would be to place rice on the free list, still, as amatter of duty, I must point out that financial embarrassment would follow in that particular part of Australia. The loss would have to be borne by South Australia, although the policy is a Commonwealth policy.
– After consideration, I am prepared to regard rice as a revenueproducing item. I am anxious to see tea and kerosene free, and, although I do not agree with the honorable and learned member for Corinella in respect to the obligation which rests on honorable members - on this side of the House, at any rate - to give the Government revenue in the precise fashion they wish, I recognise that, while this as a revenue-producing Tariff is far from what it ought to be, we have to make the best of it. Simply as a matter of encouragement to the Government to persevere in their intention, as indicated by the honorable and learned member for Corinella, to make kerosene and tea free, I shall support a duty of 6s. on rice in the hope that the Government will take the hint, and that the revenue from rice will be found sufficient to overcome any difficulty they may feel in regard to the other two items.
Sir WILLIAM McMILLAN (Wentworth). - After this discussion I suggest to the honorable member for Parramatta that a fair compromise would be 4s. 6d., which is the amount I originally proposed. That would be somewhat in line with the duties already imposed on other items, and would certainly be lower than many of the duties we have passed. We have cut down the Treasurer’s estimate by practically the whole of his surplus, although I believe that the surplus was understated.
Mr. JOSEPH COOK (Parramatta).- It would appear that I have not the slightest chance of carrying my proposal for 3s., and, therefore, I have great pleasure in acting upon the suggestion to move that the duty be 4s. 6d. per cental.
Amendment amended accordingly and negatived. .
Amendment (by Sir George Turner) agreed to -
That the words “and on and after 26th March, 1902, 6s.,” be added to the duty ; “Rice, n.e.i., per cental,8s. 4d.”
– I move-
That the words “and on and after 26th March, 1902, 3s. 4d.,” be added to the duty ; “Rice, uncleaned, per cental,5s. 3d.”
It >lias been suggested that it would be wiser to keep to the old scheme of showing a difference of 2s. between the two duties. We have agreed to a duty of 6s. on uncleaned rice, and if we make the duty on the other item 3s. 4d., we shall keep exactly the same proportion as in the original proposal. If any honorable member desires to lessen the proportion he can move a higher duty than 3s. id.
Mr. WATSON (Bland).- The proposed difference is too great, and I am sorry that at the last moment the Treasurer has departed from his proposed method of dealing with the matter, because the changes work against our getting a fair idea of the relations between the various sets of figures. A little while ago I contended that with a charge of 17^ Pei” cent, for waste, a difference of ls. was quite sufficient to cover the extra cost of local treatment.
– The honorable member desires a difference of ls. as against the proposed difference of 2s. 1
– Yes. A number of us have sunk our convictions in regard to there being no need for extra revenue, and have agreed to a duty of 6s. per cental upon cleaned rice, to meet the views of those who have taken up the other side of the question, but now the Treasurer proposes to reduce the duty upon uncleaned rice to 3s. 4d. per .cental.
– The duty of 3s. 4d. per cental upon uncleaned rice is equal to a -duty of 4s. per cental upon the rice when cleaned. If the honorable member wishes i;o provide for a difference of ls. per cental, he should propose the reduction of the duty upon uncleaned rice to 4s. 3d. per cental.
– Under the Treasurer’s proposal the revenue will practically receive a return of 4s. per cental. The revenue aspect does not appear so important to the Treasurer to-night as it did a few nights ago when we were considering another matter.
– But I want to .encourage the cleaning of rice within the ^Commonwealth.
– I have seen the machinery which is used for the dressing of rice in one of the factories here, and I am convinced that 15s. per ton would more than cover the cost of the labour employed. I am prepared, however, to go a little further than that, and to agree to a difference of ls. per cental, in order to make some allowance for freight and waste of one kind and another. Very few people are engaged in this work. There are fifteen in one factory in Melbourne, and a few more employed by one or two other firms which dress rice here. In Sydney there is a machine which will employ fewer hands in proportion to the quantity of rice dressed than the Melbourne machinery employs, because it embodies all the latest improvements. I intend to move the reduction of the duty upon undressed rice to 4s. 3d. per cental.
Mr. McCAY (Corinella). - It seems to me that a duty of 4s. 3d. per cental upon undressed rice provides too small a difference. I think that we may fairly say that where an employer of labour in Australia would pay shillings, a Japanese employer would pay pence. Furthermore, it is stated that for every ton of dressed rice that is cleaned by the local merchants there are 375 lbs. of waste, and upon that waste freight, insurance, and other charges have been paid. The freight, insurance, and other charges upon a ton of undressed rice amount to about 37s. 6d., which would be nearly 9s. upon the quantity wasted. Adding that sum to the 15s. per ton which the honorable member for Bland allowed for labour, we get a total cost of 24s. per ton, which is more than ls. per cental, since ls. per cental is equal to less than 22s. 6d. per ton. There are other circumstances, too, which should be taken into consideration, though, if I begin to discuss them, I am afraid I shall afford an excuse to other honorable members to go into the question in detail.
– But this is supposed to be a revenue duty.
– It is undoubtedly a revenue duty, and if the work of dressing rice had not been commenced here I am not prepared to say that the industry could be termed a great natural industry which should be fostered. But as the work is already employing a number of our people, I think the industry should be allowed to continue in existence, and for that purpose a difference of ls. per cental is not enough. I do not ask for protection for the industry ; I merely ask for a difference between theduty upon dressed rice and that upon undressed rice which will compensate for the difference between labour conditions here and in Japan, or other foreign countries from which the rice is exported. I shall vote for the proposal of the Treasurer.
Question - That the words “and on and after 26th March, 1902, 3s. 4d.” be added to the duty, “ Rice, uncleaned, per cental, 5s. 3d.” - put. The committee divided -
Ayes … … 30
Noes … … 25
Majority … … 5
Question so resolved in the affirmative.
Amendment agreed to.
– I move-
That the words “ and on and after 26th March, 1902, free,” be added to the duty “Rice, for manufacturing starch under departmental bylaws, per cental 6s. 3d.”
I ask the committee to make this amendment so that rice for that purpose shall be admitted free, and an excise duty charged on the starch, for reasons which I gave early in the evening.
– We have been talking about revenue, but here is a proposal practically for prohibition. In 1899 New South Wales imported 2,437,000 lbs. weight of starch, which at 2d. per lb. would yield £20,311. Originally the Treasurer estimated to derive £1,334 from a duty of 2d. per lb. on starch. His present proposal makes very little difference in the policy connected with this item, that is practically to prohibit the importation of starch. We wish the Treasury to get some revenue from this article. We talk about revenue without destruction, but this is certainly destruction of revenue with a vengeance. We shall object to the policy of making rice duty free for the purpose of the manufacture of starch, because we hold that while it may be the policy of the other side to give a reasonable protection, we do not wish all at once to jump to absolute prohibition. I do not desire to commit myself at this moment, because this is a matter on which I am quite willing to listen to any arguments which may be used. For the present, I put aside the proposed excise duty on starch. W e are not at all certain whether it will ever be imposed. There ought to be a revenue duty on rice which is to be manufactured into starch. I do not think that the manufacture of starch is a very laborious process. I do not see why the duty upon this manufacture should be taken out of the category of duties which may bring in a reasonable amount of revenue, and produce a reasonable amount of competition. I am a little puzzled by the variations of the Treasurer. Previously we had a duty of 6s. 3d. per cental on rice for manufacturing starch under departmental by-laws, and a duty of 8s. 4d. per cental on rice n.e.i. Surely it is a tremendous change of front to admit rice for manufacturing purpose free? The duty of 2d. per lb. on imported starch is retained, and the Treasurer proposes to levy an excise duty of1d. per lb. on home-made starch. Does he mean to tell me that is not a more favorable arrangement for the manufacturer of starch than a duty of 6s. 3d. per cental on rice, without an excise duty on the starch ? Surely it is. We are willing to take a test vote on the proposal to admit the rice duty free.
Mr.Kirwan. - The Treasurer ought to explain to the committee why he proposes to reduce the duty from 6s. 3d. per cental to nothing.
– I have given an .explanation two or three times, both today and the other . night. We propose to abandon the import duty on the rice, but to levy an excise duty of 1 d. per lb. on starch, which can be made not only from rice but from wheat, potatoes, and other substances. If we are to have a revenue at all in connexion with starch we ought to get it from all starches - -not to have some starches paying excise duty, and others coming in free, and competing with the home-made article. I wish to keep as nearly as possible to the same rate. I forget how the figures worked out, but when we come to deal with the proposed excise duty it will be for the committee to say whether it shall be Id. or ltd. or Of d. per lb.
-In the United States corn starch is a much commoner article of production than rice starch, and if we charge a duty on rice for the purpose of starch manufacture, and let other starches escape import duty and excise duty, the result will be to drive rice starch out of existence, and bring in for common use other starches, which are very good, though not so good as rice starch. Corn starch is the chief opponent that rice starch has to fear. If an excise duty be imposed on all starches, we shall secure a revenue no matter from what substances they are made, and methods of avoiding the revenue and altering the incidence of trade will be prevented. Allowing for loss in the process of manufacture, a duty of Id. per lb. on starch is almost equivalent to a duty of 6s. per cental on rice. It is a very good return to get 70 lbs. of starch from 100 lbs. of rice. The starch made in Australia is not made out of dressed or undressed rice, but is made out of Rangoon rice which is imported in a partially - dressed form. So far as rice starch is concerned, the result will be the same to the revenue under the new scheme as under that originally proposed, but by adopting the excise duty we shall be able to collect revenue on starch made from materials other than rice.
– I should like some information from the Treasurer as to how the proposed alteration will effect the revenue.
– The duties will work out exactly the same as under the scheme originally proposed.
– Then where is the necessity for the alteration ?
– By adopting an excise duty we shall derive revenue from starch made from materials other than rice.
– The original proposal seemed to be the simpler one, and I shall support the proposal of the honorable member for Wentworth.
Sir WILLIAM McMILLAN (Wentworth). - Looking at this matter even from the Treasurer’s point of view, it seems that under the proposed new scheme we shall be in exactly the same position as before.
– Yes, except that we shall obtain revenue from starch made from any kind of material.
– Under the original proposal we were giving a protection of 50 per cent, to the local manufacturer. Supposing that we imposed an import duty of 30 per cent, on an article, and determined to impose an excise duty of 15 per cent., would that not be an unreasonable amount of protection to afford ? That is exactly what we are being asked to do in this case. Under the excise proposal we shall be giving protection to the local manufacturer to the extent of double the amount of the excise duty ; and I cannot see any reason for making the change-
– I cannot understand the position taken up by the acting leader of the Opposition. There is no difference between the two proposals, from the revenue point of view. We first proposed to charge a duty on the rice, which would be equivalent to Id. per lb. upon the starch made from the rice. Then the duty on the imported starch would be 2d., and that on the home-made starch Id. Under the amended proposals we shall be doing exactly the same thing. We shall make the rice introduced for starch-making free of duty, but we shall subject the starch to an excise duty of Id. per lb. If, when we are discussing the starch duties, the committee decide to admit the imported starch free of duty, I shall not propose the excise duty ; but, in the mean time, I do not see what objection there can be to the free introduction of the undressed rice. The committee will probably agree to impose a duty upon imported starch, and when that is fixed we can determine the rate of excise. The object of imposing an excise duty is to enable us to derive revenue from starch made from materials other than rice.
– The new proposal of the Treasurer will work out in exactly the same way as the original proposal, but the starch manufacturers will be under the necessity of paying for the attendance of a Customs officer during the whole time that their manufacturing operations are being carried on, instead of simply having to pay for his time whilst the rice is being cleared from bond. They will thus be placed at a slight disadvantage compared with the position they would have occupied under the Treasurer’s original scheme.
Sir WILLIAM McMILLAN (Wentworth). - I still contend that the duties proposed upon starch are prohibitive. In 1898 a very small quantity of starch was imported into Victoria, and if that were the result of the duty, how can the Treasurer expect to derive any revenue from importations of the article.? The manufacture of starch is a simple operation, and we should not assist the Government in imposing prohibitive duties which will give a practical monopoly to a few manufacturers.
Amendment agreed to.
Item, as amended, agreed to.
Item51. - Starch and starch flours, including rice meal, and rice, tapioca, and potato flours, per lb., 2d.
Sir WILLIAM McMILLAN (Wentworth). - I think we might.very well reduce this duty to1d.
– Then there would be no excise.
– Then we should be in exactly the same position as before.
– But where would the revenue be ?
– I thought the right honorable gentleman did not expect to derive any revenue from starch.
– I hope to derive a good deal of revenue from it.
– I do not believe that any revenue will be derived under a duty of 2d. per lb. In 1899, New South Wales imported 2,437,372 lbs. starch, valued at £24,702. The revenue from this quantity, at 2d. per lb., would be £20,311 ; and yet all that my right honorable friend expects to derive from the duty on starch imported into New South Wales under the Tariff is £1,334.
– The honorable member must not forget that the balance of the amount is represented in the rice item.
– According to the right honorable gentleman’s own figures, he expects to reduce the importations into New South Wales by 93 per cent. Surely that is not a reasonable thing. It is a pure monopoly, and we have no right to carry out a scheme which practically means prohibition. I move -
That the words “ per lb. 2d., and on and after 26th March, 1902,1d.” be inserted after the word “ Starch.”
Mr. McCAY (Corinella). - I would draw attention to the fact that under item 22, the duty on corn flour was reduced to½d. per lb. What was meant was corn flour for edible purposes. But corn starch is only corn flour. If a man came along with a consignment of corn flour starch, I do not see how the Customs, authorities could refuse to allow it to be imported at½d. per lb. A laundry starch is being put on the market now in powdered form. It would be desirable to make it quite clear that item 51 includes starch from whatever material made.
– Would not the Customs Act give us power to charge the higher duty ?
– . Probably ; but in the United States and Scotland corn starches - that is, starches made from maize - are largely made and used.
– My honorable friend the acting leader of the Opposition takes up the position that I am not going to get any revenue from this particular item, and he has given us the amount that would be received from starch in New South Wales under the present proposal. But he forgot to give us the amount that would be received under our proposal from rice imported for the purpose of making the starch. When these two items are put together the result is a considerable amount of revenue. It is a very different thing from a revenue point of view to say that you are going to collect 2d. on a certain quantity of material that comes in, and1d. on another quantity of material that is made here ; and to say that you are going to collect1d. only on what comes in and nothing on what is made here-. That surely is not helping the revenue. We desire to give assistance to a reasonable extent to those who are making starch in these States., I believe that within a couple of years the greater portion of the starch consumed in Australia will be made here. It ought to be so. There are certain brands of starch which no doubt will always be imported, and we want to derive Customs revenue from them. But we also want to derive revenue from starch made in the country, and for that purpose I intend to propose an excise duty. If honorable members think for a moment they will see that my honorable friend’s proposal will not give us the revenue we shall get from the proposal I make.
– When does the Treasurer intend to propose the excise duty?
– At the recommittal stage. We have a total consumption of 8,000,000 lbs. of starch per annum. That is about 2 lbs. per head all round. If the whole quantity of starch were imported, the amount would not come to much for each individual. It would not ruin anyone.
– It is the pennies and the twopences that make up the ten millions.
– “Bang -went saxpence !” The revenue from starch will amount to £60,000. But my honorable friend’s proposal would cut that down to one-half. The inddustry is already established in three of the States. It cannot be said on this occasion that I am standing by the Victorian duties, because here we had a duty of 2d. per lb on starch, the manufacturers of which got their rice free. Now we are cutting them down to a penny difference, which is not an unreasonable amount when we find that in Victoria, South Australia, and Queensland there was a duty of 2d. on imported starch. Under these circumstances the proposal we are now making is far more in the interest of the revenue than my honorable friend’s proposal, which would only give us about £30,000.
– Will the Treasurer make the excise 1½d. if we consent to a duty of 2d. ?
– We think that a penny is a fair excise. If, however, when we reach the excise, the committee does not think the industry deserves the amount of protection that we propose to give to it riley can increase the amount, and consequently increase the revenue which will be derived. That, however, in my opinion would not be a proper thing to do. If we study the revenue we shall certainly not cut I this duty down to Id., because if we do we must cut down t ehexicise. The revenue will then suffer largely, and I am sure that honorable members opposite do not desire that that should be the case.
Sir WILLIAM McMILLAN (Wentworth). - Does not the Treasurer think that a duty of ½d. per lb. would be a sufficient protection for the starch manufacturer ? In other words, why should we not make the import duty Id., and the excise idi I would agree to make the import duty 2d. if the Treasurer would consent to make the excise 1½d. I want to be fair to the industry, which, however, does not involve an elaborate process, and does not employ a very large number of the hands. lt is not like an industry which gives work to thousands of men. I have read a great deal of the literature on the subject, and I learn .that the manufacture of starch is a simple process employing comparatively few of our citizens. If there is anything in the industry which gives it a claim for a larger amount of protection, will my right honorable friend say that a duty of 2d. and an excise of Id. is not an excessive protection 1 I do not care whether we test the subject on the excise or not.
– That is the proper place to test it, because if the committee, reduce this item, we must move for a lower excise.
– A duty of 2d. and an excise of l£d. would be better for the revenue. I have no objection to’ an excise. We shall have to consider questions of excise in regard to many articles.
– In a few years’ time we shall have to do so.
– There are many items dealt with in this Tariff which will be sources of revenue from excise in the future, especially if the protective policy advocated by my honorable friends opposite serves its legitimate purposes. If the committee will give their mind to the question, they will see that the proper time to test it would be when we consider the excise.
– If the duty be fixed at Id., I should not propose any excise. I think the protection ought to be a penny.
I might test the question on a proposal that the duty be 1 Jd., and I ask that my amendment be so amended.
Amendment amended accordingly.
– I hope the committee will not agree to any duty less than that proposed by the Government. It is a great mistake to suppose that there- are not many hands employed in this industry, because I know of one firm alone which employ a hundred of hands. More than that, the local manufacturers are subject to exceedingly unfair competition, Colman’s starch being placed on the Australian market at a price £10 per ton less than that at which it is placed on the London market. If we allow Australian industries to be closed down, that difference between the price in London and here will be removed, and the consumer will suffer.
– The industry gives employment to a lot of people in making boxes.
– And in other indirect ways. The Government proposal is a reduction by one-half on the duty which previously prevailed in Victoria, and surely that is drastic enough. It requires men working night and day in shifts of eight hours for fifteen days to produce a ton of starch, and yet we are told that the employment given is a matter of little importance.
– It would appear that the Treasurer desires to give protection amounting to Id. per lb. to this particular industry.
– And to get as much revenue as I can.
– In order to raise revenue it is proposed to impose an excise duty. On the customs duty the revenue must necessarily be very small, because the importations do not amount to more than one-third of the total consumption of starch within the Commonwealth. A duty of Id. per lb. is equal to 50 per cent., so that the duty of 2d. would mean 100 per cent., in addition to the natural protection which represents 15 per cent.
– But there is the excise duty of Id.
– In any case a duty’ of Id., together with the natural protection, means 65 per cent., and that is too much for this particular industry.
– If this duty be reduced, I shall propose to reduce the excise by an equal amount, and that means a considerable loss of revenue.
– We do not wish to lose revenue, but we do not desire the manufacturers to benefit to an extent which they could not have hoped for.
– If the committee think there is too much protection in my proposal for an excise of Id., the excise can be made ltd. or lid., and the revenue by that means retained.
– But the Government have a majority which makes it necessary for honorable members on the Opposition side to urge that this industry shall not receive more protection than that to which it is entitled. Even the proposal of the leader of the Opposition means 75 per cent., which, with the natural protection, amounts to 90 per cent. When we come to deal with the excise, we on this side will have to fight on behalf of the revenue, which the Government are neglecting for the sake of protection. I hope the Government will not insist on going to a vote on their proposal for a duty of 2d., when such a liberal proposal has been made by the acting leader of the Opposition.
– I am sure that nobody interested in the manufacture of starch will ask for a duty so high as 2d., seeing that some time ago the honorable member for Melbourne Ports pointed out that in consequence of the duty the commodity had become very much cheaper than formerly. Now, however, that honorable member says that the industry cannot be carried on without a duty of 2d., and he is continually contradicting his argument that duties cheapen prices. I do not desire that the committee shall impose a disability on any individual, and as the honorable member for Mernda, who is an authority, has also pointed out that starch has been much cheaper since the imposition of the duty of 2d., it is clear that the committee have acted unjustly towards manufacturers, and ought to at once remove the impost. The duty proposed by the Government is a great deal too high . The Treasurer has stated that he is looking as this question from both the protective and the revenue point of view. I should like the Treasurer to bear in mind the statement made by Arthur Young at the beginning of the century, which was quoted with a good deal of approval in the House of Commons by the late Sir George Cornewall Lewis, who was Chancellor of the Exchequer from 1855 to 1858, that taxation should press upon an infinite number of points, but that upon each point it should press extremely lightly. Are we adopting that system of taxation 1 No. In regard to the duty upon starch, we are pressing extremely heavily upon those who have to pay the tax. The Treasurer informs us that he intends to propose an excise duty of 1d. per lb., but that does not lessen the force of my argument. An import duty of 2d. per lb. is equivalent to something like 115 per cent. ad valorem.
– And helps to increase the price of starch.
– Yes. I do not think the committee should impose duties which will raise the price of articles beyond what is a fair amount. To my mind, if it is thought desirable to give protection to the local manufacturers of starch, it is less objectionable to do it by decreasing the excise duty than by increasing the import duty. The proposal now before us would give a protection of something like 9s. per cwt. to the local manufacturer, seeing that rice used for manufacturing starch is to be admitted free. That is a very big protection. “We should remember that all these duties increase the taxation which the people have to pay.
– What would the honorable and learned member propose ?
– I would propose an import duty of1d. and an excise duty of¾d. per lb. I have heard honorable gentlemen opposite, who are interested in the manufacture of this commodity, say that nothing matters so long as the money is kept in the country. That being so, they should not object to pay any amount of excise duty, because as the money will remain in the country, they, according to their own arguments, would be as well off as they were before. If I were interested in the manufacture of starch, I should do all I could to get the committee to give me this high duty, and I should be very glad to get it, but I should be very surprised at their action in putting the money into mypocket. Seeingthatallthe starch used in the Commonwealth cannot be manufactured here immediately, I suggest, from the protectionist point of view, that the import and excise duty be each fixed at1d. per lb., with the intimation that next year the import duty will be raised to 2d. per lb. That would prevent the consumers from being at the mercy of one or two local manufacturers for at least another year, and. might lead to competition later on. If the committee . were dealing with its own money, they would not think of voting these large sums to individual manufacturers. We do not guarantee to the farmer, the miner, or > any of the producers or workers of the community, a profit upon his exertions, and why should we guarantee to the manufacturer, who still less requires our assistance, a profit upon his capital? I shall vote for the amendment, though the duty proposed by the honorable member for Wentworth is higher than I like to see imposed.
Mr. JOSEPH COOK (Parramatta).The honorable member for Melbourne Ports has told us that hundreds of men are employed locally in the manufacture of starch ; but he afterwards altered his statement to . one hundred.
– I said that one firm employs over 100 men.
– No firm in Victoria employs 100 men in the manufacture of starch alone.
– I obtained my information just before I spoke from a person interested in the business.
– I feel certain that the information is wrong. The honorable gentleman also told us that Messrs. . Colman, the English firm, sell their starch here at a price £10 perton less than they get for it in London.
– Colman has a monopolv of the market.
– If that statement, be correct, there is an excellent opportunity for protectionists to make their fortunes by forming a syndicate to buy up the starch here, ship it to London, and re-sell at a profit of £7 or £8 per ton, and in that way make Colman and Co. contribute to their own undoing. It is true that a manufacturer who has a monopoly of his home market will sometimes sell his surplus production in a foreign market more cheaply than in his home market, where he can extract high prices from the consumers. That has been done by Victorian manufacturers of starch, who have sold more cheaply in New South Wales than in Victoria, and strange to say the moment the duty was imposed, that moment the Victorian manufacturers of starch put up the price in Sydney from £26 10s. per ton to £32 10s., at which I understand it is always sold in Melbourne. In proof of my statement, I shall read an extract from a letter from a firm in Sydney. The writer says -
Silver Star starch was sold a day or two before the duty came on at £37 per ton and the day after the quotation was £37!
– Yes, but that was accounted for by the imposition of the duty on rice, which previously had been dutyfree here. Naturally they had to increase the price of the starch which was made out of the dutiable rice.
– A duty of Id. per lb. on rice would not make a difference of .-£10 per ton on the starch.
– It would be very close to £10.
– I am merely suggesting that the moment the duty was imposed in Sydney, the price of the commodity there responded in the most sensitive way. A little fact like this disposes of all the theorizing we have heard from the other side, that a protective duty does not raise the price of an article. In Melbourne, after the Tariff has been finally passed, there ought to be a slight reduction of prices to correspond with the reduction of the duties ; but in Sydney there has been an increase in the price, which in every case has corresponded with the amount of the duty proposed. I should like to see starch placed on the free list. The natural protection is quite sufficient for all purposes. The cost of transit from Japan is more to London than to Australia. The cost of the raw material in London would be more than the cost of the raw material in Melbourne ; consequently the local manufacturers ought to be able to compete on equal terms with Mr. Colman, or any one else in London. It occurs to me that the lower the price of an article is in the market, the higher is the duty imposed. Why that is done 1 do not know, except it be on the principle suggested in the Age, that the smoother course in collecting duties should always be taken. A penny does not look much when it is imposed on a pound of starch, but 50 per cent, on an article which is valued in the market at £10 or £20 would look a great deal. It may be that because it is the smoothest way of raising revenue, a high duty is imposed in nearly every case when the market value of the commodity is low. I appeal to honorable members to fix the duty at a reasonable rate.
Mr. TUDOR (Yarra).- The honorable, member for Parramatta wondered how it . was that the price of starch was raised by £10 per ton in Sydney when the Tariff was brought down. But the Treasurer has explained that the imposition of a duty of 6s. 3d. per cental on rice made a difference of over £9 per ton in the manufacture of starch, and that, therefore, the manufacturers were compelled- to increase the price of starch here. The question has been asked whether boys or adults are employed in the starch factories. I went through Lewis and Whitty’s factory a few months ago, and I found that the employes were practically all adults. Between 40 and 50 adults were employed at this work. We have been told by honorable members on the other side that the process of manufacture is a very simple one ; in fact they appear to think that the rice is put in at one end of the machine and the starch comes out of the other end. It takes at least six weeks to manufacture starch with the most approved methods known to the world. The machinery and the plants in use are up to date, so that no argument can be brought against the manufacturers on that score. It may be assumed by some persons that the starch manufacturers will get the whole advantage of the import duty of 2d. per lb., but under the Treasurer’s proposal they will be compelled to pay an excise duty of Id. per lb. We have been told by some honorable member’s that they are prepared to vote for a high excise duty if a heavy import duty is imposed. Al-, though they have been preaching for the last month that we are raising so much revenue that we do not know- what to do with the money, they are prepared, in . order to penalize the starch manufacturer, to place a high excise duty upon his product. The establishment of this industry has proved that protection has been an advantage to this State. Prior to its establishment, consumers were compelled to pay 6d. per lb. for their starch, but since the manufacture of the article has been perfected here the price has been reduced considerably. I believe the time will come when we shall produce our own rice. I agree with the honorable and learned member for Corinella, that the Treasurer should . frame this line so as to include all sorts of starched flours. There is in use a cornflour which is just as good for the purpose of making starch as is rice. I do not think it is the intention of any honorable member that any trader should be allowed to evade the payment of whatever duty is imposed. I trust that the proposal of the Treasurer will be agreed to.
– We have heard a great deal about how the interests of the manufacturer and bis employes should be conserved, but has the consumer no interest to be considered by this committee in fixing the rate of duty ? The amount of the import duty practically regulates the price of the article to the consumer. If a high duty is imposed it will result in an increase of the price to the user. Starch is used in the laundry business, in which a great number of very poor persons are engaged. Whilst we are considering the manufacturer, and according to the honorable member for Melbourne Ports, the hundreds of employes in the factories, the consumers are entitled to some consideration at our hands.
Question - That the words “ per lb. 2d., and onand after 26th March, 1902,1½d.,” be inserted after the word “Starch” - put. The committee divided -
Ayes … … … 17
Noes … … … 33
Majority … … 16
Question so resolved in the negative.
Item agreed to.
Division, as amended, agreed to.
DivisionVII. - Oils, paints, and varnishes.
Item 80. - Kerosene per gallon, 3d.
– I think that honorable members have made up their minds with regard to this duty. We could not consistently impose a duty upon kerosene after having rejected the duty on tea, and this matter is one upon which we can very soon come to a vote.
– Pursuant to notice, I move -
That the words “ and on and after 26th March, 1902, free,” be added.
I think that I shall have the support of the great majority of the committee, and it is therefore unnecessary for me to make a long speech upon a subject which has been well discussed during the last three or four weeks. I do not think that the Treasurer deserves any consideration, so far as the revenue is concerned. Only a few minutes ago we agreed to give him a duty of 6s. per cental upon rice, and he immediately afterwards threw away 2s. 8d. of that amount. Some time ago he also refused to increase the spirit duties, and thus augment the revenue to the extent of £60,000 per annum. It has been pointed out that Queensland, Tasmania, and South Australia will suffer considerably if kerosene is placed on the free list. During the last few years Queensland has collected the largest revenue ever derived in that State, but she has also had a most extravagant Administration. The abolition of this and other duties, which will cause a diminution of the revenue, will not inflict any serious injury upon Queensland, but will rather furnish a much-needed incentive to economy on the part of the State Government. I hope the committee will give expression to the sympathy which they have so often professed for those who live in the back-blocks by voting for the amendment.
– I realize that the feeling of the committee will be against the Government proposal, but I think that I am entitled to have a division taken, in view of what may happen in years to come in regard to these revenue duties.
– I thoroughly approve of the amendment. The Treasurer has assured us that no further revenue is required, and as the abolition of the duty will afford great relief to many residents in the country districts, I hope the amendment will be agreed to.
– I cannot allow the remark of the honorable and learned member for Werriwa that no further revenue is required, and that I have assured the House to that effect, to pass unchallenged. I have not done anything of the kind. I quite realize that in the aggregate more revenue is coining in than would be required if we could distribute it amongst the States upon a population basis. But, looking at the interests of the individual States, I do not admit that we shall obtain more revenue than is required. As Treasurer I have a duty to perform to the States, and I do not wish it to be supposed for a moment that I acquiesce in the removal of these duties, and the consequent loss of revenue that would be of immense value to some of the smaller States.
– I should like, as a representative of South Australia, to enter my protest against kerosene being placed on the free list. Under other circumstances I should have had much pleasure in voting to make kerosene duty free, but there is no doubt that South Australia will, this year, have a deficiency of £200,000, and, in face of that probability, I shall certainly have to vote for retaining the duty.
– I refrained from speaking when the duty on tea was before the committee. Rightly or wrongly, I consider that a blunder was committed upon that occasion. I then decided that I should vote for free kerosene, and the responsibility of the revenue being adversely affected by the vote thus cast must rest upon those honorable members who voted against the proposal of the Government in regard to the tea duty. I do not feel bound to depart from my original intention, which was to cast my vote for free kerosene.
– I also was prepared to vote for the imposition of a duty on tea, but inasmuch as by the decision of the committee, tea has been placed upon the free list, and Queensland, South Australia, and Tasmania will be deficient in their revenue, and as I am bound to consider the necessities of those States, I cannot bring myself - much as I should wish to do so - to vote for making kerosene free. If there had been a duty on tea - which is consumed throughout the Commonwealth - I should have voted for placing kerosene upon the free list ; but I cannot do so now, having regard to the necessities of the States which require revenue. The Government estimate that they will receive £157,000 from the duty on kerosene at 3d. per gallon. I should be happy to vote for an amendment to reduce the duty to one half, which would bring in half the amount estimated by the Government. I can only say on behalf of the bush population, whom I represent, that I am quite prepared to take the responsibility of my vote in this matter, and I believe that they will not grumble at paying 1 Jd. per gallon on kerosene to assist the revenue of the Commonwealth.
– -I do not wish to give a silent vote on a matter of so much importance to the revenue of the Commonwealth. Honorable members have been somewhat emphatic in impressing upon those of us who have listened to their speeches, that the Treasurer’s anticipated surplus justifies all kinds of cutting into the revenue estimates. The)’, therefore, propose to knock off another £150,000, making £490,000 on the two items of tea and kerosene from the anticipated surplus of £587,000. When we have dealt with another line or two we shall have completely swamped all the Treasurer’s expected balance. Let me put it to honorable members that at the time that this estimate of the Treasurer’s as to the revenue from customs duties was made, the outlook for the whole of the States was very much more promising than it is to-day. One only has to go amongst the commercial and producing classes of our population to know that the coming winter, throughout the length and breadth of Australia, is likely to be one of the most trying winters to those engaged in industrial and commercial pursuits that this country has ever had.
– Is that a reason why the honorable member is going to vote to tax the people ?
– The outlook is such that the revenue ought not ruthlessly to be destroyed. The amount received in Customs from the people is dependent upon their prosperity and spending power. With bad seasons, with our pastoral, mining, and agricultural interests suffering, and with a black outlook for the coming winter, there is every probability that the Customs receipts will be decreased. In prosperous times, with good wages, good harvests, and good prices for our lead, copper, silver, and agricultural produce, the spending power of the people is greater, and their contributions to the revenue are proportionately larger. But in bad times the consumption of narcotics, wines, spirits,, and luxuries of that kind, which contribute the great bulk of our Customs revenue, must be very much less. In face of such an outlook it is unwise, from the standpoint of the smaller States like Tasmania, South Australia, and Queensland, to decrease the revenue.
– Never mind Queensland ; she can look after herself.
– I do not know that honorable members are here exclusively to look after Queensland or any other State. They are here to look after the interests of the Commonwealth. Certainly I do not intend to leave Queensland or any other section of the Commonwealth alone in dealing with such matters as are now before us. I would also point out that Victoria is going to lose a large amount of revenue, both in regard to tea and kerosene, which the State Treasurer says she can ill-afford to lose, large as her population is. The loss to South Australia through the striking off of the duty on tea will be no less than £40,000 per annum. I hope that that vote will be reversed by the committee, or, at any rate, that an attempt will be made to reverse it. Certainly I intend that such an attempt shall be made. If the Government do not propose it, I shall do so myself. Tea is- a perfect revenue item, a duty on which would’ be felt to a very small extent by the population. Now we are called to ‘impose upon South Australia a loss of £13,000 or £14.000 more by making kerosene free of duty. The duty proposed would not be a heavy tax upon the community, as the quantity of kerosene consumed per head is not considerable from a taxation point of view. For these reasons I cannot give a silent vote upon the subject, but must express my protest in order that it may be recorded in Hansard.
– I had not intended to say anything on this subject, and should not have done so except for the interjection of an honorable member who has said that Queensland can take care of herself. That observation implies, and was probably intended to convey to the minds of honorable members, that a certain section of the representatives of Queensland in this House have been taking care of the interests of that State. Quite the opposite is the fact. There is no section of this committee whose duty it is to take special charge of any State of the Commonwealth. We are here, of course, to make comments upon the results that will accrue from the fiscal policy which may be adopted, and we have a right to do so. It is our duty to say whether, in our opinion, the policy adopted will be successful or otherwise, or will be prosperous or disastrous in regard to the States affected. Certain honorable members who claim to have taken care of the interests of Queensland have voted against the maintenance of a duty on tea, and now appear disposed to put kerosene on the free list. They are representatives of that State who, during the elections, never declared in speech or writing that they were in favour of the course they now intend to take.
– I did so.
– PATERSON. - Then let the honorable member for Maranoa produce a speech of his to that effect. I say unhesitatingly that this is a premeditated vote for the express purpose of having revenge on a certain class of the community, in Queensland and elsewhere.
– Is the honorable member for Brisbane in order in saying that honorable members for Queensland are acting in a spirit of revenge towards any particular section of the community ?
– The honorable member1 for Brisbane will recognise that if his remark is considered offensive it is his duty to withdraw it.
– I intend to’ be as offensive as possible in a political sense. When the leader of the Opposition rises to reply to Ministerial statements he rises iu a spirit of retaliation ; and, perhaps, it would be better to substitute the latter word. There has been an unwarrantable importance attached to the determination of the caucus of the labour party, who have allied themselves with malcontents on the Government benches, pints members of the free-trade party, for the purpose of annihilating the duty on tea, and depleting the Treasuries of some of the States.
-Members of the committee are quite mistaken if they think that I shall have any wordy warfare with the honorable member for Brisbane, who is much too entertaining to be interfered with. What I said was that Queensland representatives were quite capable of looking after the interests of that State; and if we are not, the electors of Queensland are competent to send others in our places. They purchase more Hansards than all the rest of the people of Australia put together, thus showing that they are an intelligent body of electors.
An Honorable Member. - That is questionable proof of intelligence.
– If that be so, it is a reflection on the Parliament. The committee and the electors of Queensland have to decide between two parties. There is the party the members of which object to kerosene being made free. That is the party which reigned long in Queensland, and by high duties compelled the’ pioneers to pay more revenue than they were ‘justly entitled to pay. It is said that the tax upon tea means only 10s. a year to a man with a family of four; but to a man with a family of nine or ten the tax means £1 a year. The honorable member for Maranoa made an interjection about gas ; but it would be more equitable to impose a duty of ls. per 100 cubic feet on gas than to impose this duty on kerosene. Lamps are already taxed 20 per cent., and it is now proposed to tax the oil, which of all things should be free. No one knows better than the honorable member for Brisbane the high carriage paid on kerosene to the back blocks of Queensland, owing to the dangerous character of the freight. The Government would be right to withdraw the proposal for a duty, because their action would cause no trouble at all in Queensland. There are temporary difficulties in that State, but those who think that Queensland will be a mendicant knocking at the door of the Federal Parliament, very much mistake the resources and the powers of the people. I shall cheerfully vote for kerosene being free, and risk all the consequences which have been foreshadowed by the honorable member for Brisbane.
– The honorable member for Brisbane has said that the action of some of the representatives of Queensland has been determined by the conclusions of the labour caucus. As a matter of fact, the decisions arrived at by the caucus in regard to this and other items were a matter of pure mutual agreement,no pressure of any kind being used. The members were so horrified at the idea of the pioneers of Queensland being called upon to bear an unfair share of taxation, that they spontaneously came to the conclusion that they must do their utmost to have this impost removed. I ask the committee to reconcile the latest position of the honorable member for Brisbane with his previous professions. A few nights ago that honorable member told us that Queensland was almost bankrupt, and that the only thing to save her was to tax her people to the extent of 3d. per lb. on tea. To-night, when the opportunity presented itself to tax the Chinaman’s rice the honorable member voted for the lower duty on the undressed article, with the result that Queensland will lose thousands and thousands of pounds of revenue. Yet the honorable member has now the effrontery to stand up and ask for consideration for Queensland.
– The honorable member will see that the term “ effrontery” is not a proper word to use.
– I used the word merely in a “ Pickwickian” sense ; in any other sense I withdraw it.
– I represent a State that will lose £20,000 by the removal of the duty on tea and kerosene, but the people of that State are prepared to make sacrifices for the benefit of the pioneers of the Commonwealth. I cannot understand how the honorable member for Brisbane can desire to have Queensland in darkness, because all evil Ls done in darkness, arid we desire ‘ light on this question. The State of South Australia is better off to the extent of £83,000 than she was last year at this time, and yet her representatives stand here and weep like children over the losswhich they say she is going to sustain. I hope that the proposal to make kerosene free will be carried.
Question - that the words “and on and after 26th March, 1902, free” be added to the duty “Kerosene per gal. 3d.” - put. The committee divided -
Ayes … … … 36
Noes … … … 14
Question so resolved in the affirmative.
Amendment agreed to.
Item, as amended, agreed to.
Motion (by Mr. Barton) proposed.
That the House do now adjourn.
– Is it the intention to keep the messengers of the
House at work about the premises on Saturday and Monday next? As those days are public holidays, I think the buildings should be closed, and the messengers relieved from attendance.
– I should like to offer a further suggestion. On several occasions I have found a number of the messengers in attendance here as late as 6 o’clock on Saturday afternoons. I do not think that honorable members require their services, and as it is usual to permit those employed in Government offices to have a half holiday on Saturdays, I do not think an exception should be made in regard to the parliamentary attendants.
– I understand that the arrangement is that one messenger attends here on Saturday afternoon, so that the representatives of Queensland and New South Wales may obtain their correspondence, which they otherwise would not receive until Monday. This is a great convenience to many honorable members. I believe that every other part of the building is closed on Saturday.
– Would it not be advisable to pay the man who attends extra ? There is no democracy about taking holidays ourselves and refusing to give them to others.
– It is known to honorable members, from an explanation which I made a few days ago. that the Commonwealth Government have determined to observe the holidays named in the Bank Holidays Acts of the States, but not necessarily to keep all holidays proclaimed under the provisions of those Acts, because to do so would be in a measure to place the public service of the Commonwealth under the control of the State Governments. Good Friday, the following Saturday, and Easter Monday are public holidays in Victoria, and, I think, in four or five of the six States, and the Commonwealth offices here will, therefore, be closed on those days. I am quite sure that I can reckon upon the good feeling of honorable members in making the recommendation to you, Mr. Speaker, that beyond the employment of a messenger to receive members’ correspondence, there shall be no obligation on the part of any of the parliamentary attendants to come here on those days.
– And the messenger who is obliged to come should be paid extra.
– I am sure that you and the President will agree in making. the necessary arrangements for the receipt of g letters and that otherwise the offices, the refreshment rooms, and all other parts of the building will be closed upon those days, because I am sure that honorable members will be only too glad to abstain from visiting the House then.
– The control of the arrangements for the Senate side of the building, and of the refreshment rooms is in the hands of the President, and, therefore, with them I have nothing to do ; but so far as the library and that part of the buildings occupied by the House of Representatives is concerned, I have already determined that only one messenger shall be here to receive the correspondence of honorable members, and to attend to the needs of those who may desire to come here, and that otherwise the premises shall be closed. On Friday they will be wholly closed. The arrangements on Saturday afternoons are such as the honorable member for Wentworth has detailed. One attendant only is retained to distribute the postal and other matter requiring the attention of honorable/members.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
House adjourned at 11.15 p.m.
Cite as: Australia, House of Representatives, Debates, 25 March 1902, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/hofreps/1902/19020325_reps_1_9/>.