1st Parliament · 1st Session
Mr.Speaker took the chair at half-past 2 p.m., and read prayers. petitions.
Sir MALCOLM McEACHARN presented a petition f rom importers and traders in cotton and linen piece goods; praying that the whole of those articles may be made free, or that an all-round duty may be placed upon them.
Mr. GLYNN presented two petitions from certain electors of the Commonwealth, praying that a scheme for impounding and conserving the waters of the rivers for the purposes of irrigation, and to increase their navigability, may be carried out.
– I should like to know whether the Government have arrived at any decision in regard to the recommittal of the item “ tea.”
– The Government are of the same opinion in regard to the necessity for a duty upon tea as they were before. They hold the strong belief that it will ultimately be found necessary to impose a duty of 2d. per lb. upon tea, in order that embarrassment may notresult to the finances of some of the. States. At the same time, they do not think that they can ask for a recommittal of the item now with any prospect of succeeding in re-imposing the duty. They have decided to watch the working of things under present conditions, and if they have any further proposal to make, it will be made next session.
asked the Minister for Defence, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follow : -
asked the Minister for Defence, upon notice -
What is the amount of the annual disbursement at present being made by the Governments respectively on behalf of the rifleclubs of the various States ?
– I presume that the honorable member refers to the amount of the annual disbursement made by the Commonwealth on behalf of the several Governments of the States. The answer to the honorable member’s question is as follows : -
New South Wales, £2,946; Victoria; £35;638 Queensland, £2,480; South Australia, £4,070; Western Australia, . nil. Tasmania, nil. Total, £45,134.
Ordered (on motion by Mr. Bamford) -
That a return be laid upon the table of this House showing the number of farmers in each sugar-growing district in Queensland who have registered their intentiou of claiming rebate on cane grown by white labour.
– I move -
That orders of the day 5, 6, and 7 be discharged.
It will be necessary, in order that the session may be brought to an end within a reasonable period, that we should not proceed with the Inter-State Commission Bill, the Defence Bill, and the Conciliation and Arbitration Bill this session. I shall have more to say in regard to the remaining business upon the paper after the Tariff Bill has been passed by this House.
– If the Government decide to go on with the Judiciary Bill, will they give a week’s notice of their intention, so that honorable members may prepare themselves for the discussion of that measure ?
– The debateon the second reading of the Judiciary Bill was postponed for a fortnight, which defers it until after the Easter holidays. I think it will be easy to give the House notice of our intention to proceed with it. I may add that I do not think it possible to proceed with the High Commissioner Bill this session.
– What about the Judiciary Bill ?
– I reserve the Judiciary Bill for further consideration.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Consideration resumed from 35th March (vide page 11236).
Division X. - Wood, Wicker, and Cane. Special Exemptions.
Timber, viz. : - Ash, hickory, oak, walnut, undressed. Elm hubs, with or without metal bands. Engraver’s boxwood. Logs, not sawn. New Zealand pine, undressed, of sizes 12 inches x 6 inches (or its equivalent) or over. Shafts and poles, sawn or bent, but not dressed. Spars, in the rough. Spokes, rims, and felloes of hickory, in the rough. Staves, undressed or roughly dressed, but not shaped. Veneers.
– The Government realize that there are a number of honorable members who, if they cannot leave Melbourne this afternoon, will not be able to reach their homes until late on Friday, and as the Easter recess is a very short one, it is not fair to deprive them of any portion of it if we can avoid doing so. We have still to deal with the timber exemptions and the duty upon empty match-boxes, which were postponed, and I have also given notice of my intention to move the recommittal of a number of items. I think that the motion for the recommittal of those items might be allowed to go without debate, because honorable members, by agreeing to it, will not prejudice their right to discuss to the fullest extent any amendments which I may move in regard to the items recommitted. Honorable members have also given notice of their intention to move the recommittal of other items, and we have, as far as we could, incorporated in our proposal all the items which wo think should be recommitted. If honorable members will now let us know what further items they desire to have recommitted, and there are not a very large number of them, I will see if I can meet their wishes by allowing the recommittal to take place without opposition on our part. We cannot be expected to consent to the recommittal of a large part of the Tariff to deal with a great number of small items ; but if. the items which honorable members wish to havo reconsidered arc not too numerous, we shall be pleased to meet their wishes. When the recommittals are agreed upon, honorable members who wish to get away this afternoon will be able to do so.
– I recognise that honorable members should confine their proposals for recommittal to items in regard to which there is a reasonable chance of altering the opinion of the committee. The only items which I wish to have recommitted are - Item 5, to remove the composite duty upon cigars ; item 21, to remove the duty from bananas ; and item 57, in which there are included among “wearing apparel and attire” what are called “articles,” and which I wish to have reviewed.
– I desire to secure the recommittal of item 64, so that cotton hosiery may be placed upon the free list, or the duty upon it reduced ; and the recommittal of item 7 4, so that the duty upon springs may be reduced to 20 per cent. I desire that under item 113, leather, Englishbends should be placed on the free list, and that the duty on straw-board provided for in item 115 should be increased to 2s.
– I desire to exempt patented tanners’ machines, which cannot be made in Australia.
– I wish to have an item recommitted, witha view to placing sausage casings on the free list. I desire to take similar steps with regard to butchers’ tools of trade.
– The constitutional aspect of this matter should not be lost sight of. No private honorable member should be allowed to introduce any motion that would have the effect of increasing taxation.
– That has already been decided.
– There is no reason why the matter should not be again discussed. The Ministry ought to take the responsibility of increasing taxation.
– May I ask whether when an item is recommitted for the sole purpose of dealing with a certain portion of it, the whole of the item will be open for discussion?
– That will entirely depend upon the direction to the committee.
– I propose to recommit items only for the purposes which I have indicated.
– In that case I desire to bring under notice the item “ piece goods, coatings, vestings, trouserings n.e.i., flannels and flannelettes, 15 per cent.” Cotton andlinen piece goods were understood by the committee to include everything in the piece made of cotton or linen, but cotton tweeds are being charged as trouserings.
– That was our intention.
– That intention was kept very secret and no mention was made of it, so that honorable members might understand. As a matter of fact trouserings which are wholly of cotton are now being charged at the rate of 15 per cent., whereas the impression of the committee was that all cotton piece goods would be rated at 10 per cent.
– We specially exempted certain lines in order to exclude them from that class - such as moleskins.
– Moleskins have been exempted from duty. The Government have already given notice of the recommittal of the item relating to cotton piece goods, and the exemptions bearing upon it, and I desire to have trouserings dealt with, witha view to determine whether trouserings of cotton shall bear duty as woollen or cotton piece goods.
– I desire the recommittal of the item dealing with fuses, which I believe were placed upon the free list under a misapprehension.
– We discussedthat matter very fully, and the committee felt very strongly upon it.
– They acted under a misapprehension.
– I wish the item “ cotton and linen piece - goods “ recommitted, so that we may deal with it in regard to the removal or imposition of duty in any way we please.
– We intend to propose a duty of 7½ per cent., and the wholeitem will then be under the control of the committee.
– In that case I shall be quite satisfied. Regarding item 18, dealing with coffee, I do not propose that that should be recommitted, unless the Government say that they can make no distinction between coffee in the cherry and in the parchment.
– The honorable.- member had better place it on the list.
– I desire that item No. 18, coffee, should be recommitted, and also the item “ dates,” upon which the present duty is excessive.
– I wish to have item 7 4 recommitted, with a view to exempt . chilled cast plough-shares.
– I wish, to have the item which includes groats re - committed ; also item 80, with a view to exempt sewing-machine oils from duty.
– Steam turbines.have been placed upon the free list, andI think that high speed engines, which cannot be made here, and which are nowcharged a duty of 20 per cent., should be placed upon the same footing. Ishall move in that direction.
– I propose that item 67, yarns, should be recommitted, with a view to having yarns for manufacturing purposes admitted free. Under item 74, I desire that galvanized-iron roofing screws should be subjected to a duty of 20 per cent.
Mr. CONROY (Werriwa). - I shall ask that the item dealing with apparel be recommitted with a view to reducing the duty of 25 per cent, now levied on towels and handkerchiefs, which come under that item.
– With a view to placing an excise duty of 3d. per gross on matches, I wish to have the division relating to excise recommitted ; also item 58, with the object of exempting printers’ blanketing from duty; item 128, in order that corks1 may be placed on the free list ; and item 116, with a view to placing printing ink on the free list.
Sir MALCOLM MCEACHARN (Melbourne). - I hope that the Treasurer will see his way to recommit the item dealing with the duty on straw-board.
– I have it on the list. ,
– I shall ask for the recommittal of item 7, with a view to providing for a rebate on sugar used for manufacturing purposes.
– Under Division TIL, I shall move that electrical, pneumatic, rand hydraulic machine tools be placed on the free list.
– On behalf -of the honorable member for Melbourne Ports I desire to give notice of his intention to move that sewing machine material be placed on ‘ the free list.
– One of my honorable colleagues desires that the item including the duty on condensed milk should be recommitted.
– I have already declined to accede to the recommittal of that item, with a view to the increase of duty:
– I hope that some opportunity will be given to honorable members who are now absent to have further items recommitted.
– I am afraid I shall have to abandon my original intention. I may as well recommit the Tariff from the beginning.
Honorable Members. - Hear, hear.
Mr. RONALD (Melbourne South).I shall also move that glycerine which enters into the manufacture of explosives shall be placed on the free list.
– I have o given notice of my intention to ask for the recommittal of the duty on oysters.
Mr. L. E. GROOM (Darling Downs).On behalf of the honorable member for Laanecoorie I desire to give notice of his intention to move that leggings, knee-caps, thigh pieces, and wristlets be placed on the free list. ‘
Mr. V. L. SOLOMON (South Australia. - Under item 2, dealing with spirits, I desire that words shall be added providing for an allowance on under-proof spirits up to 16*5 degrees under proof. Under item 88 I wish to add a line imposing a duty of 10 per cent, upon empty wine and beer bottles. In item 115, after the word “blotting,” I wish to add “ tinfoil paper,” in order that this article may come in in the same way as other wrapping paper.
– Tinfoil paper is already free of dutv.
– I think the Treasurer is in error. I also desire to recommit item 55 of Division IV., tea with the view of reconsidering the decision of the committee.
– I have put a notice on the paper to the effect that combs and cutters, as well as sheep-shearing machines, shall be admitted free. I am told that combs and cutters are now being admitted free by the Custom-house officers, but to remove all doubt I think the words “ including combs and cutters “ ought to be added.
– Do I understand that the honorable member for South Australia, Mr. V. lt. Solomon, has given notice that the item tea be recommitted ?
– I would ask for the ruling of the Chairman as to whether the honorable member ought not to have given notice to that effect?
– The Treasurer gave notice of his intention to recommit certain items, and then, with the concurrence of the committee, this afternoon, the standing orders have been so far departed from as to allow honorable members an opportunity to intimate what items they also propose to ask to have recommitted. The recommittal must come from the House. Mr. Speaker must decide the point raised by the honorable member for Kennedy.
– There seems to be a pretty strong feeling in the commit- . tee that as ash, oak, and walnut are used in the manufacture of the better and more valuable class of furniture, they might as wellbe placed upon the dutiable list. I do not include hickory, which is used very largely in the manufacture of vehicles. But, as we are making other kinds of timber, which are used in the manufacture of the poorer classes of furniture, dutiable, there are strong reasons why these woods also should be dutiable. I therefore move -
That the words “ash, oak, walnut” be omitted:
Amendment agreed to.
– I moveThat the words “ logs, not sawn “ be omitted. We have plenty of almost every kind of timber growing in the Commonwealth and need not import it in the log. We can cut our own timber.
Sir WILLIAM McMILLAN (Wentworth). - This is going back too far. I would ask the Treasurer and the Minister for Trade and Customs what they think about the amendment ?
– It is very comprehensive. Teak and other woods that are not grown in Australia are imported in the log.
– I understand that the honorable member for Moreton desiresthat teak shall not be admitted free. I do not see why we should reverse the decision we have already come to. The committee thoroughlyunderstood the principle of what was done, and I must ask honorable members to so vote on this amendment as to prevent timber in the log being removed from the exemption list. I shall certainly divide the committee upon the proposal.
– The attitude of the Government with regard to the amendment is that they will stick to the exemption list as it stands. There is ample protection in other ways in regard to the introduction of logs not sawn. The importation of timber in this form also affords some amount of employment to those engaged in cutting the wood. We have strong view’s with regard to the Queensland timber industry, to which I will refer later on.
– This, seems to be the place at which to move an amendment placing New Zealand white pineupon the exemption list. I move -
That the words “of sizes 12 inches by 6 inches (or its equivalent) or over,” after the words “New Zealand pine, undressed “ be omitted.
My object is to let in white pine duty free. I wish the committee to understand that I am not in favour of letting in kauri and other pines free, but simply that which is used in the manufacture of butter boxes and fruit cases.
– Kauri is used for fruit cases.
– I am not interested in anything but white pine. The proposal of the Government is to allow a rebate on the export of butter boxes and fruit cases, but that does not meet the case. This is a very serious item to the dairying industry of the Commonwealth. No doubt many honorable members will argue that the tax would be very small indeed per lb. of butter, but what makes the success of dairying is the studying of every economy that can possibly be effected. If honorable members were well up in dairying, they would understand that in milking a cow there would be no sense in leaving a coupleof quarts of milk in the udder. The milk must all. be taken away if thedairy farm is to be successful. Similarly in other matters it is necessary to practise the utmost economy, and the added expense involved in the manufacture of butter boxes if this wood is to be taxed willfall heavily upon the butter producers. The timber in question is imported some months before it is used. For instance, a shipment was introduced in a vessel of 233 tons. The duty paid upon the shipment was £250, and other charges made the importation cost £321 in all. The wood of which I speak was brought into the Commonwealth last November, and would not be used until November twelve months. I am aware that there is a proposal on foot to create a timber bond, but that would be unsatisfactory as a solution of the difficulty. This timber is planed in long lengths, and I cannot understand how a timber bond could be created unless the boards were cut up before they left bond to sizes suitable for the making of butter boxes. If that were done it would mean a heavy expense in handling the wood, each plank of which has to go through the planing machine twice. If it had to receive a separate handling in bond it would mean a heavy expense. This duty would amount to 2d. on each box. The Treasurer will admit that that is a fair ^estimate. I am aware that some honorable members will advocate a duty on this box timber. Probably the honorable member for Richmond will do so. I happened to be in his district recently. He had said that the farmers there are protectionists who believe in using everything locally -grown as far as possible. There is a cooperative factory at .Byron Bay. When I was there I asked whether local timber was used for butter boxes, and was told that it was unsuitable. I asked, “ Why not use the local timber ?” The answer was, “ We do use it for the local market, but we are afraid to risk it for export.” There is a certain amount of ‘ doubt as to its ,use for sending ‘ butter to England. There has been a lot of corre-spondence in the local papers on the subject, and the Victorian dairy expert, Mr. Crowe, condemns the Queensland timber, which he considers to be unsuitable. The New Zealand white pine is very useful for the purpose, but the Queensland pine is said to make the butter smell somewhat.” I am aware that it is used in Queensland, but I do not see why the Victorian and New South Wales dairying industry, which has done so much for the prosperity of those two States, should be hampered in order to create a demand for Queensland timber. Perhaps in saying that I may be supposed to be speaking in opposition to the protectionist point of view, but I confess ‘ that I am getting rather tired of free-trade and protectionist speeches. I am certainly advocating free-trade in butter-boxes, and the matter affects my electorate considerably. I hope that the committee will agree to this “timber being placed on the free list. It has been said by many that the tax is a very small one. If it is to be continued, however, the Colac Butter Factory will have to pay £400 a year in respect of the duty, and other butter factories in Victoria will be in a similar position. I understand that New Zealand white pine is delivered in Melbourne at 10s. 6d. per 100 super, feet, whilst Queensland pine is delivered f.o.b. for 13s. per 100 super, feet. To that charge freight has to be added, and -.1 think I am well within the mark in saying that the cost to the butter factories will be fully 50 per cent, in excess of the charge for New Zealand white pine. I have studied that question, having been interested in the dairying industry for a considerable time, and I have also made inquiries as to whether the proposed rebate on New Zealand timber used for butterboxes sent out of the Commonwealth will meet the difficulty. I am led to understand that it will not, and that is my own belief. The manufacturers of the boxes will require interest on their money, and I am sure the duty will result in an increased cost of 2£d. per box. :
Mr. EWING (Richmond).-In view of the fact that it is- proposed to adjourn this afternoon, I do not desire to discuss the abstract question of free-trade and protection, and I shall confine myself to a statement of facts, unvarnished by any rhetoric. If any protection is to be given to our industries, it should be applied all round A solid phalanx of honorable members identified with the city of Melbourne fought for the duty on nails, and when the same honorable members oppose any protection being given to the timber industry of New South Wales and Queensland, those engaged in that industry are inclined to view their attitude with a considerable ‘ amount of dissatisfaction. We have nothing but feelings of the greatest gratitude towards the Ministers in charge of the Tariff. They have done their work fearlessly and valorously in the interests of Australia as a whole ; but the moment we come to a duty that touches some honorable member’s own constituents, we find him thinking only of the position of those constituents, and forgetting his responsibilities to the Commonwealth. The honorable member for Corangamite was absolutely correct in saying that in the northern parts of New South Wales the local pine has not come into general use for butter-box making. Like every other local industry it has had to fight the prejudice of the exporters and of the community generally against everything that is local. The prejudice against New South Wales pine is such that if a Sydney exporter had his way he would not allow a particle of the local pine to be worked up into butter boxes ; and as some of the factories in the northern parts of New South Wales are run by southerners, there is considerable difficulty in overcoming the antagonism to the local article. The facts of the matter are simple. The official reports received by the Government, which I have in my possession, show that the supply of pine available in New South Wales and Queensland is unlimited. Therefore the question resolves itself into one as to the suitability of the timber for butter bos-making. The local article has been used by the Creamery and Butter Company on the Tweed River for the last three years, without any fault being, found with “ it. Tests have been made by the department of Agriculture of New South Wales, and the analytical chemist reports that butter on being taken out of boxes made from the local pine is found to be just as pure and sound as it is when it leaves those made from New Zealand pine. The officer in charge of the northern forests of New South Wales speaks of the -supply of timber as being inexhaustible. If this timber can be supplied at the same price as that charged for New Zealand white pine, and is just as suitable for the purpose of butter boxes, what objection can there be to its use ?
– It cannot be supplied at the same price.
– Those engaged in the industryundertake to do so. The weight of a butter-box made of local pine is 9 lbs. 15 ozs., as against 8 lbs. 12 ozs., the weight of a butter-box made of New Zealand pine, “and that constitutes the whole objection to it. I would point out, however, that the weight of a butter-box made of the local article comes within the limit allowed to shippers. Even if the New South Wales or Queensland pine were found unsuitable, with the result that Victorian dairymen were called upon to pay this duty, the total increased cost would be at the extremest statement onethirtieth of a penny per lb. of butter. The Victorian dairyman has protection for his butter, his bacon, his cheese, and other products ; but when the timber industry of New South Wales and Queensland asks for a tax, which at the very worst can be equal only to one-thirtieth of a penny per lb. of butter, he objects to pay it. I maintain that the New South Wales and Queensland pine will be found suitable, and that the only difficulty which has to be overcome is the prejudice against anything local. Now that the Government offer to allow a rebate on New Zealand pine used for butterboxes sent out of the Commonwealth, I appeal to honorable members to agree to this duty. If this pine were found in Victoria, what kind of a fight would be made for the duty? On behalf of those interested in the timber industry of New South Wales and Queensland, I would go so far as to offer to abandon the demand for a duty on timber used in the manufacture of butter-boxes, but seek protection against imported white pine used for other purposes. The honorable member for Corangamite bases his claim for the remission of this duty on the ground that it will injure the dairying industry. Those of us who are anxious that it should be imposed say - “ Take your timber for butter-boxes free,” and we .offer practically every thing that men who will not stand up to their fiscal principles seek to get. But let us give those engaged in the timber industry of Australia a fair opportunity in a protected market. I would rather see timber required for mining purposes at Broken Hill allowed to come in free, than flood the whole of the local timber market in the interests of that district. In the interests of a great Australian industry, surely honorable members will see that it is not a fair thing that timber coming in free, ostensibly for the purpose of being employed in the manufacture of butter-boxes, should be used for other purposes and destroy the demand for local timber.
– I trust that in this matter we shall be at least consistent, and not make fish of one State and flesh of another. I think the Government can take credit for this : that hitherto they have done what they can for the purpose of treating all the States on the same principle, both in regard to the question of revenue and the question of protection. Where there is an industry worthy of protection in any State, whichever it may be, the Government areprepared to do what they can to protect it. They regard the timber industry of Queensland as one of the most important in Australia, and worthy at least of the encouragement which is proposed. And to what does this encouragement amount ‘? The honorable member for Corangamite has told us that the duty will involve an increased cost of 2d. per ‘butterbox. But the honorable member’s estimate is based on the duty originally proposed of 2s. Gd. per 100 super, feet. As it stands now, however, it is only ls. 6d. per 100 super, feet, so that he will have to reduce his estimate to l-!d. An outcry was raised that the duty would not meet the position of those who use butter-boxes. We put it into its present form, and then, believing the representations, made to us in perfect good faith, that there was no timber to be found in Australia which would be suitable for butter-box making, we consented to a different reading of the duty, allowing timber used for that purpose to come in free. At present the position is that an important industry in the great State of Queensland - third or fourth in magnitude among the industries of Australia - asks for assistance, which at the most would involve an increased cost of11/5d. per bucter-box. What would that be when calculated on the basis of 56 lbs. of butter, which a box of this description might beexpected to contain? The case which is made out against the imposition of this duty is that it will add to the cost of butter-boxes which have to be sent outside the Commonwealth, and that our butter makers have to compete in the foreign market. To meet that objection it is proposed that a drawback equal to the amount of duty paid shall be allowed in respect of the imported timber used in butter-boxes sent out of the Commonwealth. Is it to be tolerated that a Government which has proposed duties such as we have proposed and carried, with the assistance of various honorable members, should be denied the support of those honorable members when seeking to do a small act of justice to such a great industry as this? “ Live and let live “ - what is good for the Victorian manufacturer is good for the Queensland producer. Why should one industry be given consideration and another denied any? As much as possible has been done for the purpose of protecting the butter industry. The States Governments have from time to time taken this industry under their paternal care, and have assisted it by providing bonuses and cheap freight, andin a variety of other ways. Has this interest now to be further coddled at the expenseof another great industry ? Are the principles on which we have acted in dealing with the question of protection in other respectsto be ignored in the present case? I should like to say a good deal more, but we all know the exigencies of the case in referenceto time. The Government, however, feelvery strongly on the question. It is necessary that there should be fair all round treatmentof these national questions, and, having regard to the fact that this is simply temporary protection, we trust the item may be allowed to stand.
– The speech of the Minister for Trade and Customs is really an attempt, if I may be permitted to say so, to mislead the committee. The right honorable gentleman talks about giving protection to the butter industry ; but can he, or any honorable member, show me that under the Tariff protection is given to anybody connected with the butter trade in Australia ? From start to finish everything has been done to saddle those engaged in the dairying industry - to make them pay as much taxation as possible. It is absolutely impossible to raise the price of butter one single penny by means of protection, seeing that the industry depends on the export trade to England and other parts of the world. We have to deal not only with boxes for butter which goes into the markets of the world. All butter sent from one part of a State to another, or between States,- has to be conveyed in boxes in the same way as butter sent to England ; and, therefore, the industry has to bear a tax not only on the boxes, on which a rebate is proposed, but on all boxes used in Australia.
– Supposing that be so, what does the tax amount to ?
– It amounts to a considerable sum. If the honorable member for Richmond consulted the dairy farmers in his district, I fancy he would not advocate this duty. The dairying industry has done far more’ for the prosperity of New South Wales and Victoria than has timber growing.
– The dairymen of my district would be ashamed of me if I put the case in any other way than that in which I have put it.
– I do not think so. I know that in my district there is a number of dairy farmers who have expressed great dissatisfaction with the proposals of the Government in this connexion. The objection comes not only from the dairy farmers of New South Wales, but also from the dairy farmers of Victoria. Some time back when the Minister for Trade and Customs was waited upon with reference to this matter, he promised that, provided Dr. Wollaston agreed with the representations made, he would remit the duty upon pine. Dr. Wollaston agreed to the remission, but, strange to say, we now see the Minister for Trade and Customs standing up in support of a duty which will bear very heavily on an important section of the community.
– What has Dr. Wollaston to do with remitting duties ?
– T can only take the reports I have read, and point to the fact that no denial has been given by the Minister, or by anybody else on behalf of the Government. This appears to me to be a class tax which will bear very heavily on one of the large producing industries of the Commonwealth. There has been a series of droughts which dairymen have had to fight and have fought cheerfully, and they have had their labour troubles to an extent equal to, if not greater than, has been experienced in other industries. We have seen from time to time during the last six months that a large number of dairy farmers have given up the industry in consequence of difficulties in obtaining labour, and, on the top of all these troubles, it is proposed to impose this tax. And why is the proposal made? Simply in order to develop the timber industry of Queensland. Protectionists and free-traders alike would be glad to see that timber industry progress and flourish ; but we object to see it flourish at the expense of another, and, perhaps, more important industry. It is said that the Queensland pine is just as suitable for butter-boxes as is New Zealand white pine, and the honorable member for Richmond has alluded to the fact that the local timber has for some time past been used for this purpose in the northern part of New South Wales. It is, therefore, contended that the whole of the Commonwealth ought to use the Queensland pine. We know, however, that in the north of ‘New South Wales this timber is grown right alongside the factory, and would be used irrespective of the fact whether there is or is not a duty. It will be admitted by every representative of Queensland that the pine forests of that district are a considerable distance from the sea-shore. The honorable member for Wide Bay has mentioned that the large revenue of £85,000 odd is paid to the Government by those engaged in the timber industry - that is in bringing timber to Brisbane for exportation and for other purposes. But it must be remembered that the New Zealand forests are immediately on the sea coast ; and the freight for bringing pine from New
Zealand to the Commonwealth must, in consideration of the commerce between the countries, always be smaller than that nt which it would be possible to bring pine from Queensland to New South Wales or other States. New Zealand sailing vessels bring over this pine timber at an average freight of 3s., and are always certain of a return cargo, there being a big trade in salt, coal, and other commodities. On the other hand, for vessels from Queensland there are not these advantages, and the lowest possible freight, from Queensland to Melbourne, for example, is 5s. by a sailing vessel.
– Still, we can provide butter-boxes at the price of the boxes made from imported timber.
– I know the honorable member for Richmond is prepared to do a lot, but what he says can be done, has not been done so far. At the present time the mills in Queensland are capable of supplying only 1,500,000 feet of timber, whereas the requirements of the Commonwealth are about 22,000,000 feet.
– Nonsense !
– I am taking official records. What would be the position of the dairy fanners if there were a shortage of timber for this purpose, and they had to depend on the supply from Queensland? While the dairying industry has done much in building up the prosperity of Victoria and New South Wales, I can assure honorable members that there is a very small margin of profit to those w.ho are interested, and every imposition such as that now proposed tends to make their lot harder. One factory in my district uses 100 boxes every day, about one-third of which are for export ; and taking the tax at Id., this would mean £200 per annum.
– What is the percentage on the box ?
– I have not calculated the percentage. If this expenditure be extended over the whole of the industry, it is very heavy. In 1901, according to the latest statistics, there were manufactured in New South Wales 41,000,000 lbs. of butter, of which 10,000,000 lbs. were exported, and in order to provide boxes at the rate I have calculated, many thousands of pounds sterling would be required. The dairying industry has been a big success, not only in New South Wales and Victoria, but also in Tasmania and Queensland. It is a remarkable thing that, although they have in Queensland the enormous forests of pine, to which honorable members have referred, and are able to produce suitable timber for the making of butter-boxes, a very large quantity of New Zealand pine was, notwithstanding the duty of 4s. per 100 feet, imported into that State during the years 1900 and 1901, to be made into butter-boxes ; and in 1901 one New Zealand firm alone imported into Queensland over 7,000 boxes. Not only were the direct importations from New Zealand very large, but a great deal of New Zealand pine was supplied to Queensland from Sydney. Those facts are very remarkable, in view of what has been said as to the superiority of Queensland pine over New Zealand pine, and the facilities which they have in Queensland for making up the timber. I feel very keenly upon this subject, because from start to finish, throughout the Tariff, those engaged in the primary industries have been heavily saddled with the burdens of taxation, and they have been given no compensating advantages. We cannot assist the dairyman by imposing duties upon his produce, and I, therefore, object to attempts to make dearer the materials which he has to use.
– The question with which we are now dealing is a very important one, because it affects one of the most valuable industries in the Commonwealth - the butter industry.
– And the meat, the tallow, and the fruit industries.
– I think that nothing should be done to prejudice the butter industry, though, at the same time, I am anxious to do justice to the State of Queensland by assisting its timber industry. It appears to me that the proposal of the Government does not meet the case. I understand that they intend to allow a drawback upon the export of butter-boxes equal to the amount of the duty on the timber used in their manufacture ; but as a large number of small dairymen have their own separators and make their own butter, they will have to pay the duty, while the merchants who buy it and export it will obtain the drawback. If the Government can devise a means which will secure the payment of the drawback to the individuals who pay the duty, I shall be prepared to support their proposal; but, if they cannot, I shall not feel justified in jeopardizing an important industry for a doubtful advantage, because I do not know that it has yet been proved that the Queensland pine is as suitable for butter-boxes as is the New Zealand pine. I understand from the honorable member for Corangamite that, although they have white pine on the Richmond River, the local butter factories do not use it for their butter-boxes.
– Yes, they do.
– I am willing to give the Queensland timber the benefit of any doubt as to its suitability ; but, unless the Government can provide against the injustice to which I have referred, I must vote to place New Zealand pine upon the free list. A very little matter seriously affects the butter industry, and during last year a few adverse circumstances vastly reduced our export of butter.’ Every State is interested in this industry, and it is an industry which has done a great deal to keep people in the country districts during the years of depression which have prevailed in the past. I hope the Government will look carefully into the matter, and, if necessary, postpone the consideration of the exemption, to give an opportunity for obtaining a solution of the difficulty.
Mr. THOMSON (North Sydney).- The Minister for Trade and Customs seems to be very contemptuous in regard to the effect of increasing the cost of butter-boxes by 2d. each ; but I know that to increase their price by 2d. or 3d. is enough, under certain circumstances, to cut Australian butter out of the London market. The Government say that if drawback is allowed upon the boxes exported the whole trouble will be avoided ; but I wish to point out that the drawback allowed on the timber used in the boxes will not represent the duty originally paid. To the duty per 100 feet on imported timber, there must be added the holding charges to allow for seasoning, the loss through deterioration by cracking and in other ways, the off-cuts in makingup the boxes, the reduction by sawing and planing, and other expenses for which the Minister’s proposal makes no allowance. The butter industry has been referred to as though it were the only one affected, but there are other large exporting industries which also depend for their success upon getting cheap timber. New Zealand pine is used in making meat cases, tallow casks, fruit cases, and for other purposes in connexion with industries which have to struggle hard in foreign markets against the competition of the world.
– Perhaps it would be all right if they could get a little more cheap labour.
– I do not know if the honorable member thinks that the labour employed in New Zealand is cheap labour, but if so I may tell him that the saw-mill employes of New Zealand are even better paid than are those in the Australian States. I have no desire to do anything that will injure the Queensland timber trade, but I have already shown that the present duty upon Queensland timber, instead of encouraging that trade, seems to have had rather the contrary effect, because the Queensland output of soft woods was, in proportion to population, greater before the duty was imposed than it is now. I would further point out to the representatives of Queensland, that the Government proposal, instead of benefiting the Queensland timber industry, is likely to prove harmful to it, because the makers of butter boxes will not stock two different kinds of timber for the purpose. They will be required to supply boxes for local use, and boxes for export, and that being so, they will hold only timber upon which they cun obtain drawback. While the Ministry have considered one large importing industry to some extent, though not fully, they have not considered our other large exporting industries at all, and they seem prepared to allow the expenses of those industries to be increased at a time when no increase can be afforded.
– I think it would be somewhat unfair to let the statement that the Queensland pine is unsuitable for the manufacture of butter boxes for export pass unnoticed. When the subject was first discussed in this Chamber, the main issue was the unsuitability of Queensland pine for that purpose, but that has been abandoned, and to-day no one says that it is unsuitable.
– It has been stated to-day that it is unsuitable.
– No proof has been given in support of that statement, and, on the contrary, we have testimony from London that Queensland butter exported in Queensland boxes has brought the highest prices in the market. The farmers and dairymen have excellent advocates in this Chamber, and their interests are not . likely to suffer on that score. I admit the statement of the honorable and learned member for Illawarra that the freight on timber is higher from Queensland ‘to Victoria than from New Zealand to Victoria, but, with a larger trade, the Inter-State rates will be reduced, and Queensland timber will then be obtainable at more reasonable prices than those prevailing now. The whole question is whether Queensland pine can be obtained cheaply enough to allow it to become a substitute for New Zealand white pine. I have no doubt that in time Queensland pine will wholly supplant New Zealand pine, because we have the testimony of our own dairymen that it makes better and stronger boxes, and that the butter exported in such boxes brings higher prices than the butter exported in boxes made of New Zealand pine. It has been urged that even if the users of butter boxes are granted a drawback in respect to boxes used in connexion with the export of butter, the concession will not be sufficient, because a large number of boxes are used in the distribution of butter for local consumption. That may be quite true, but if we are correct in saying that Queensland timber is stronger and better than is the New Zealand pine, the boxes of which it is constructed, instead of being destroyed, will be returned, and will in the end prove very much cheaper than those made of New Zealand pine.
– ‘Does not the honorable member think that the dairymen would find that out, without a duty upon New Zealand pine 1
– I do not wish to interfere with the dairymen in conducting their business. I look upon the farmers as a most intelligent and able body of men who ave quite competent to look after their own affairs, but it is our business as representatives of Queensland to brush aside the erroneous statements which have been made with reference to Queensland timber, and to support the reasonable proposal of the Government. The honorable member for Illawarra attached great importance to the fact that 7,000 butter boxes had been imported into Queensland, but I would point out to him that the Lowood Creamery Company alone are using over 1,000 boxes per week, .all made from Queensland pine. They say -
This timber (New Zealand white pine) splits with little or no cause ; goes mouldy very quickly ; does not present half as bright and clear a surface, and is otherwise greatly inferior to the Queensland pine, which latter on the other hand we find is fairly dense, very tough and strong ; rarely splits, stands any amount of rough usage in transport without damage; does nottaste or discolour the butter : is just under regulation weight, and makes an ideal box for the export of butter. Our company holds excellent reports from London as to the quality of the butter, and the superior quality of the boxes is specially mentioned.
The chairman of the Silverwood Dairy Factory says -
We have found the Queensland pine very much better than the New Zealand pine for shipping, as the boxes hold the nails well, and being a harder pine it does not crack so readily as the New Zealand article.
Here is a statement made by the manager of the Logan Co-operative Butter Factory, Woolloongabba -
The Queensland timber we have found to be quite free from injurious flavouring’, and the butter has been opened in the London market sweet and free from injury in this respect, bringing the highest price for colonial butter in December, 1 900. We would certainly not export butter in New Zealand pine boxes under any circumstances, even if supplied here much cheaper than Queensland pine boxes.
There is noquestion as to the superiority of the Queensland timber, and there should be no hesitancy on the part of the committee in imposing a duty, even from a strictly revenue point of view.
Mr. JOSEPH COOK (Parramatta).- No electorate in the Commonwealth will be more seriously affected by this duty than that which I represent. The proposal of the Ministry would have the effect of penalizing the fruit-growers and dairymen to the extent of at least1½d. per box, which is equivalent to from 4d. to 6d. per acre on dairying land, and from 5s. to 6s. per acre on orchard land. According to the “Victorian estimate of the yield of orchards, the value of the fruit derived averages £11 per acre, and, if in order to market £1 1 worth of fruit, an additional outlay of at least from 5s. to 6s. will be involved, as the result of this duty, I think honorable members will see that we shall be penalizing an important industry in a manner entirely inconsistent with sound ideas as to what is needed to produce national prosperity.
– We cannot finally settle this matter to-day, and, under the circumstances, I suggest, with the consent of the honorable member for Corangamite, that we should pass the exemptions as they stand at present, on the understanding that we shall continue the administration on existing lines, and that we shall recommit the exemptions at a later stage.
-If it were agreed that New Zealand white pine should be admitted free of duty, would it be competent for me to move that mining timber should also be admitted free ?
– It will be quite competent forthe honorable member to move in that direction.
– I understand that the Government are not asking the committee to arrive at a decision to-day ?
– We are asking the committee to pass the exemptions as they stand pro forma, because we are bound to dispose of them before we can have them recommitted.
– There seems to be some doubt as to the facts of the case, and I should like to know if the Minister could give us some details as to the suitability of Queensland pine for the purposes of butter and fruit packing - more particularly for butter packing - as to thequantity that could be supplied, and as to the possibility of granting a drawback in all proper cases. It will not be sufficient to provide for a drawback only in respect to boxes used for packing butter for export unless some proper substitute can be found for the New Zealand pine. Not only the export but the home market trade will have to be provided for.
– I shall supply the committee with all possible information upon the points mentioned by the honorable and learned member for Indi. On behalf of the honorable member for Corangamite, I shall ask leave to withdraw his amendment, and request honorable members to agree to the remainder of the exemptions pro forma, as they will afterwards be recommitted.
Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.
Exemptions agreed to.
Division XIII. - Paper and Stationery.
Postponed item 115 - Paper, namely ….
Vesta and match boxes, empty, per gross, 3d.
Sir MALCOLM McEACHARN (Melbourne). - I think this is the proper place at which to deal with the duty on strawboard.
– We are not dealing with straw-board now.
– I understood the Treasurer agreed to the recommittal of straw-board.
– I have it on my list as one of the items which it is desired to recommit, but I shall not consent to any alteration of the duty.
– As the Treasurer says that he will vote against the alteration of the duty it will be useless for me to proceed. I feel that a great injustice is being done in this matter.
– We are not dealing with straw-board now, but simply with empty match-boxes. The honorable member will have another opportunity of bringing up the matter when the recommitted items are under discussion.
Item agreed to.
Resolved (on motion by Sir George turner) -
That the standing orders be suspended, so as to allow the resolutions to be recommitted this day.
-I trust that the committee will follow me in what Ihave now to say, because I do not want to have any misunderstanding hereafter. Honorable members have in their handsthe printed list of exemptions proposed by the Government. I desire to add to them one other exemption, so as to alter the wording of item No. 134. I desire to make it read - “distilled from barley, malt, molasses, or maize, either wholly or mixed with grape-wine.”
That is to meet a difficulty which has been experienced. I now turn to the printed list which has been circulated, and desire to move the recommittal of some of the items therein mentioned, together with the other items of which notice of recommittal has been given this afternoon. Those are - the notices given by Mr. Kennedy, for a rebate of 3s. percwt. on sugar used in certain manufactures ; by Mr. V. L. Solomon, to add words providing for an allowance on under-proof spirits up to 16-5 under proof ; by Mr. R. Edwards, to deal with a proposed duty on oysters ; by Sir Malcolm McEacharn, as to sausage casings ; by Mr. Salmon, as to leggings and other articles ; by Mr. Glynn, as to printers’ blanketing ; by Sir John Quick, as to cotton hosiery; by Mr. Crouch, as to woollen piece goods ; by Mr. Sawers, as to combs and cutters; by Sir John Quick, as to springs ; by Mr. Joseph Cook, as totauners’ machines; by Mr. V. L. Solomon, as to empty wine and beer bottles ; by Sir Malcolm McEacharn, as to butchers’ tools ; by Mr. Kennedy, as to hickory spokes; by Sir John Quick, as to “ English bend “ ; by Mr. V. L. Solomon, as to tin foil paper ; by Sir John Quick, as to straw-board ; by Mr. Glynn, as to printers’ ink, and as to corks; by Mr. Wilks, as to electrical, hydraulic; and pneumatic machine tools ; by Mr. Mauger, as to materials for sewing machines ; by Mr. Ronald, as to unrefined glycerine ; by Mr. Page, as to saddle trees ; by Sir William McMillan, as to cigars and bananas, and the articles mentioned in item 56 of DivisionV. ; by Mr. Watson, as to coatings, vestings and trouserings, n.e.i. ; by Mr. Ronald, as to fuses ; by Mr. McDonald, as to certain artists’ brushes ; by Mr. Thomson, as to raw coffee and dates ; by Mr. Hughes, as to sewing machine oils ; by Mr. Knox, as to high speed engines, to be treated the same as turbine engines ; by Mr. Tudor, as to yarns imported for manufacturing purposes ; by Mr. Conroy, as to cotton towels and handkerchiefs, to be treated as cotton piece goods; by Mr. Glynn, as to an excise on matches ; by Mr. Sydney Smith, as to surface-coated paper and varnish ; by Sir Malcolm McEacharn as to bevelling machines for glass-making ; by Mr. Kirwan as to garment drafting machines ; by Mr. Batchelor as to glass jars. The timber exemptions are also to be recommitted ; and to make perfectly certain that no mistake is made, and in order to meet the desire of the honorable member for Barrier, we also propose to recommit timber undressed, so as to allow an amendment to be moved with regard to Oregon in. sizes 12 inches by 6 inches and over. Another item which it has been suggested should be recommitted is tea. I do not know whether the honorable member for South Australia, Mr. V. L. Solomon, desires to proceed with that item. If so, the Government have already intimated that they will have to vote against the motion.
– I shall have to call for a division if tea is asked to be recommitted.
– I intend to ask for - the recommittal of all the items I have mentioned, with the exception of tea.
– I gave notice of a desire to recommit various items of electrical machinery. . .
– I have included machinery, and it will be competent to deal with that matter then.
– I gave notice that leaf foil should be subject to a duty of 15 per cent. It is at present on the free list.
– We shall vote against that, and it is of no use for the honorable member to press it.
– I have asked for the recommittal of a matter of some importance. That is in regard to spirit distilled from rye and other articles of that kind.
– The Government could not agree to that alteration. The matter was previously brought up as far as I recollect, and we came to a compromise vote upon it ; and when a compromise has been arrived at, we are not favorable to altering it.
Resolved (on motion by Sir George Turner) -
That the resolutions bc now recommitted to the Committee of Ways and Means for the reconsideration of certain specified items.
-I am in rather an awkward position in regard to tea, but as the honorable member for South Australia has given notice of a motion to recommit the item, I formally move -
That item 55, tea, be also recommitted. I shall, however, have to vote against the motion.
Question resolved in the negative.
Tariff recommitted proforma.
Resolved (on motion by Mr. Deakin) -
That the House, at its rising, adjourn until Wednesday next.
– I move -
That the House do now adjourn.
I desire to express the hope that the short respite that honorable members have so well earned will enable them to return to their duties on Wednesday next in a spirit that will enable us to dispose of this protracted debate in the shortest possible time.
– I desire to say “ ditto “ to the words of the AttorneyGeneral.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
House adjourned at 4.30 p.m.
Cite as: Australia, House of Representatives, Debates, 26 March 1902, viewed 7 November 2016, <http://historichansard.net/hofreps/1902/19020326_reps_1_9/>.