1st Parliament · 1st Session
Mr. Speaker took the chair at 2.30 p.m., and read prayers.
– As it is beyond question that arrangements could be made by which Australia would in the future be in a position to furnish an adequate and a satisfactory supply of remounts for the British Army, I would inquire from the Prime Minister as to what representations have been made to the English Government with respect to this matter ?
– I am not in a position to state the exact tenor of the communications which have passed between the Prime Minister and the War-office through the Colonial-office ; but the Cabinet has given consideration to the question, and the Prime Minister proposes to devote his attention to it whenhe reaches London.
– Has the Minister for Trade and Customs seen the report in to-day’s Age as to the deputation which waited upon the Premier of Western Australia in regard to the higher duties which are being charged in that State compared with the rates charged during the previous six months ? Why has the right honorable gentleman departed from the practice which has been in force hitherto; and will he reconsider his decision in the matter?
– I think there must be some misunderstanding. I have read that a deputation waited upon the Premier of Western Australia, and that he promised to communicate with the Federal Government on the subject. When we hear from the Western Australian Government, we shall be delighted to give our best attention to the matter. It has to some extent been brought under our notice before, but I wish to ascertain precisely what the trouble is before coming to any definite decision.
– I desire to direct the attention of the Attorney- General to the following telegram, which appears in this morning’s Argus: -
Affairs concerning the pearl-shelling industry at Meruka are now looking very serious. The Dutch authorities are keeping in close touch with the shelters here, of whom a number purpose going across to make arrangements by the steamer Moresby, leaving here on the 15th inst. It is understood that the inducements held out are of a substantial nature. In fact, Burns,Philp, and Co. ore already erecting an establishment, and, with this firm making arrangementsfor themselves, others are expected to follow.
I wish to know, in reference to that telegram, and the reply previously given to a question asked by me on the subject, if the Government have considered, or are going to consider, the position of the pearl shelters of Thursday Island, Port Darwin, and other ports on the northern coast of Australia? Is there any possibility of so administering the Immigration Restriction Act as to enable these people to obtain crews, and to prevent the trade which should belong to Australia going to Dutch New Guinea?
– The Government have had under consideration a communication from the honorable member and a communication from the Government of Queensland, and have decided that the matter calls for investigation. They therefore propose to have an inquiry undertaken immediately, to ascertain to what extent the circumstances call for action on our part, and -whether the provisions of the Immigration Restriction Act will permit such action to be taken.
– PATERSON. - I desire to make a short personal explanation in reference to a circumstance which occurred yesterday afternoon, in regard to which a misunderstanding about a pair between myself and the honorable member for Maranoa was created. I consulted the Government “ whip “ about obtaining a pair to enable me to attend to some very urgent telegrams. The honorable member for Maranoa was sitting beside the honorable member for Eden-Monaro, and in the course of the conversation he observed that he did not think that a division would take place before the dinner hour. Several sentences were spoken by the three of us, and the conversation ended in my saying - “ I shall not leave the precincts of the Chamber unless I am assured that I can safely go away until half-past seven o’clock.” Accordingly a tacit arrangement was made, and I turned to the Government “ whip “ and said - “ Please make misunderstanding of it.” It is in justice to that honorable gentleman that I make this statement. I sincerely regret that a misunderstanding arose ; but it was incomprehensible to me when I came back after the dinner adjournment to find that the arrangement which was entered into in a friendly spirit had broken down.
– The arrangement between the honorable member and the Government “whip”?
– The arrangement between myself and the honorable member for Maranoa. The proposition was that I should pair with him, and I said - “ It is understood that we shall be paired.”
– While I was sitting on the back Treasury benches yesterday afternoon, the honorable member for Brisbane asked me how I felt on the matter under discussion, and I told him that I was quite free. He then asked me if I would pair with him, and I said “No,” and that I understood that a division would not be taken until after the dinner hour. What transpired in the conversation between him and the Government “ whip “ I do not know ; but had I agreed to pair with him I should certainly have kept the pair. I am sorry that a misunderstanding arose. What made me speak about the matter yesterday was that I thought that the Government “whip “ was trying to bounce me into a pair.
asked the Minister for Defence, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follow : -
“Bill returned from the Senate with the following message : -
Mr. Speaker, -
The Senate returns to the House of Representatives the Public Service Bill, and acquaints the House of Representatives that the Senate insists on that part of Amendment No. 10, to which the House of Representatives has disagreed, and disagrees to the consequential amendment made in clause 5, agrees to the first and amends the second of the amendments to Amendment No. 42. does not insist on Amendment No. 45, and agrees to the consequential amendments made in clause 63, does not insist on Amendments Nos. 7, 8, 25, 28, 32, and 61, and insists on Amendments Nos. 9, 13, 24, and 40, as set forth in the schedule herewith .
The Senate desires the concurrence of the House of Representatives in the amendments to the amendment of the House of Representatives, and desires its reconsideration of the Bill in respect of the amendments insisted on. (Signed) R. C. Bakes,
Melbourne, 4th April, 1902.
Ministers laid on the table the following papers : -
Articles of agreement between the Govern.ment of the Commonwealth, and Messrs. Burn3,
Philp, and Company; in reference to the carnage of mails to the New Hebrides, &c.
Return of votes recorded at the by-election to the House of Representatives, in consequence of the vacancy caused by the decease of Mr. F. W. Piesse.
In Committee of Ways and Means (Recommittal.)
Consideration resumed from 8th April, 1902 (vide page 1H4S).
Amendment (by Mr. Kingston) proposed -
Division VI. - Metals and machinery.
That the following new item be inserted : - “70a. Iron, galvanized, plain and sheet, on and after 10th April, 1902, per ton los.”
– When this matter was under discussion yesterday, objection was taken, not so much to the amount of duty proposed by the Government, as to the recommittal of the item itself. The arguments advanced against the action of the Government have not yet been answered, and no reason has been shown for the recommittal of the item. Honorable members will recollect that the duties proposed to be levied upon galvanized iron were discussed in a very full committee, and that by a majority of seven, it was decided to place the article on the free list. If an item of this importance can be recommitted under such circumstances, there are scores of cases in which the Opposition might reasonably ask for the recommittal of proposals which were carried against their wishes only upon the casting vote of the Chairman. It has not been suggested that honorable members misunderstood what was being done when the votes were taken on the former occasion, and it cannot be urged that the duty now proposed is required for revenue purposes. The Opposition have been charged with having delayed the business of the country by causing a waste of time, but the action of the Government in this instance lays them open to even more serious reproach, because it will have the effect of deferring the final disposal of the Tariff. I should like to hear from the Minister for Trade and Customs some reason why this item should be reconsidered. It may be argued that since the duty upon galvanized iron was first discussed the Committee have decided that duties shall be levied on a number of the materials which go to make up galvanised iron, and that it is only fair to impose a countervailing duty of 15s. per ton, equivalent to 5 per cent, ad valorem, in favour of those who are engaged in the manufacture of the iron. It may be supposed that this argument will place the free-traders in a corner, but no embarrassment is felt by me in this matter I decline to acknowledge the right of the Government to ask me to reverse my vote in order to do an act of justice to the galvanized-iron manufacturers. I am not called upon as a freetrader to relieve the Government from the difficulty in which they have been placed by their own bungling tactics. If it can be successfully urged in this case that because duties have been imposed against the wishes of the free-traders upon the articles which are used in the manufacture of galvanized iron we should now support the proposal for a duty upon the finished article, the same argument might be used with equal success in many other instances. The Government may consider that they have made a very astute move in this matter ; but I wish to utter my protest against their attempt to place us in such an embarrassing position. As a free-trader, I throw the whole onus of the present difficulty upon the Government, because they have persisted in levying duties upon the raw material after the manufactured article had been placed upon the free list. I realize thoroughly the dilemma in which the Government are placed by the cry which has been raised on behalf of Mr. Sandford, who owns and carries on a galvanized-iron worksat Lithgow. I can fully understand his claim to be. considered, owing to the duties which have been placed upon the raw materials ; but, as free-traders, we decline to be held in an)’ way responsible for the injustice which may result ‘ to him from the action of the Government. Free-traders will be perfectly justified in adhering strictly to their fiscal views in connexion with this proposal, and whatever injury may be done must be laid at the door of the Ministry. The Government cannot ask us to adopt this duty because of the Commonwealth necessities. It may be urged that a 5 per cent, duty upon galvanized iron is only a small matter, but the Commonwealth is not in such straits that it urgently requires the £33,000 that will be realized. The mere statement of the Treasurer that he will have over £700,000 in excess of his original estimates is sufficient to show the weakness and even the absurdity of any such suggestion. The Government have voluntarily surrendered a large amount of revenue in connexion with duties that have been remitted at the instance of their supporters, and they cannot reasonably plead the Treasurer’s necessities in this case. Honorable members should not be carried away by any specious cry that the imposition of a duty upon galvanized iron is necessary in order to do an act of common justice, and I trust that if any honorable members have signified their intention of reversing their votes, they will reconsider the position and realize that if they are to consider the galvanized iron workers, the operatives engaged in many other industries have equally strong claims. Although in many cases we, as innocent free-traders, may have been caught napping, we are able in this instance to see the cunningly-devised net which the Government have set to catch us, and I wish the committee to understand that we are not to be entangled in such a way that the Government will be enabled to hold us up as an object-lesson before the whole country. If free-traders, by reason of the imposition of a countervailing duty, are to be placed in such a position that practically they are compelled to vote for a tax upon a particular article with which they do not agree, they may be obliged to take up a similar attitude in regard to hundreds of items included in the Tariff. We are told that the proposed tax of 5 per cent, is only a small one, and therefore we are invited to ignore it. But the financial position of the Common wealth is not so desperate that it is absolutely necessary, in order to maintain its solvency, to collect the £30,000 which the Treasurer expects to derive from this duty. The manufacture of galvanized iron is essentially a New South Wales industry. A large factory exists there which has hitherto carried on operations without the aid of any artificial stimulus. Protectionists, however, out of their boundless generosity, now propose to give that industry the large benefit represented by a duty of 5 per cent., as a recompense for the blunder of the committee in placing certain articles which go to make up galvanized iron upon the free list ; whilst Victorian industries have been encouraged by the imposition of a du by of 30 per cent. It is just as well -that New South Wales protectionists should know that their interests are not being ignored by this committee. If 5 per cent, represents the measure of protection which it is necessary to afford to any industry, that industry is upon a very sound footing. When this question was previously under discussion, the honorable and learned member for Indi - who is a strong supporter of the Government - said -
I should like to see the Government place galvanized iron, corrugated, and plain, upon the same footing. I do not think there is any element of protection worthy of consideration in this matter. It is purely a question of revenue. I regard galvanized iron as an absolute necessity, and I think that, treating it as a revenue question only, we are justified in making the impost as light as we can
For once I am prepared to follow the advice of a leading protectionist. Only last night the honorable member for Capricornia - who comes from a State where galvanized iron has hitherto been taxed to the extent of dES per ton - said he thought that a reduction to 15s. per ton was such a substantial one that, even as a freetrader, he would be justified in voting for it. I can quite understand his position; . but I cannot understand the attitude adopted by certain representatives of New South Wales, where, notwithstanding that galvanized iron has been exempt from duty, the industry is an important and vigorous one. Neither can I understand why the honorable member for Gippsland is prepared to tax. this commodity, seeing that in Victoria it occupied a place upon the free list. Surely he cannot claim that his action is prompted- by a desire to be generous to a New South Wales industry 1 Then, again, I ask the honorable member for South Australia, Mr. Batchelor - who has earned a reputation for calmness and deliberation - whether he is prepared to suddenly impose a duty of 5 per cent, or 15s. per ton upon the consumers of galvanized iron in that State?
– Formerly the duty was 30s. per ton.
– I suppose the duty of 30s. per ton constituted such an unwarrantable burden that the people were only too glad to have this particular commodity placed upon the free list. I should be the very last man to declare that a representative of this committee would allow his vote to be manipulated. At the same time the man in the street naturally desires to know why it is that one day there is a majority of seven in favour of a certain proposal, ‘whilst another day there is a majority of one against it.
– The honorable member has no right to discuss the vote of any member of the committee.
– I am always anxious to pour oil upon troubled waters, and therefore I bow to the ruling of the Chairman. I should be the last to suggest that any manipulation of votes has taken place, although possibly some one else might make that implication. To me it is surprising that the Government should have recommitted this partitular item. The honorable member for Wimmera, who is a well-known protectionist, voiced the opinions of the pioneers, settlers, and agriculturalists of Victoria, when he urged that galvanized iron is largely used in the manufacture of agricultural machinery, and that to put this commodity on the dutiable list would mean a severe impost on all concerned in its manufacture and use. The honorable member for Wimmera on these grounds contended that galvanized iron should be admitted free, and if his arguments held good then, they hold good now. The revenue phase of the question did not appear to cross his mind, and I believe that the utterances of the honorable member on that occasion influenced many others who had hitherto steadfastly supported the proposals of the Ministry. Personally I was much influenced by the arguments of the honorable member. Then we have the honorable member for Capricornia, who apparently considers that galvanized iron is not a necessity, although right throughout Australia pioneers and settlers not only roof their houses, but build them of this material, and every representative of a country district must be of opinion that this class of iron should be as cheap as possible. There are many items in the Tariff on which duties could be placed with advantage to my own constituents, but I do not desire to take up the position of being a protectionist in respect of my own electors and a free-trader in regard to the people of other districts. I vote for freetrade for national reasons. If we allow ourselves to drift in the direction of voting for “ spoils,” no man can tell where such a policy will end. Turning from the country districts to the urban and suburban districts, we find that the artisans of our large cities nearly all use galvanized iron for the roofing of their houses, and it is no argument for the honorable member for Capricornia to point to the fact that while duties of 30 per cent, have been placed on wearing apparel, the duty on the commodity under discussion is only 5 per cent. If we have placed heavy imposts on the people of Australia in the earlier portions of the Tariff, there is all the more reason why in the later stages we should see that no unfair burdens are imposed. The imposition of this duty would be against the expressed opinion of many strong protectionists in the House. The honorable member for Indi and others said they looked upon this as a revenue duty, but we know that the Treasurer is in the happy position of having extracted out. of the pockets of the people £700,000 more than is absolutely required for the needs of the Commonwealth. What sagacity is there in asking this committee to consent to a proposal which only tends to further extravagance on the part of the State Governments 1 The honorable member for Gippsland, who is a protectionist, has admitted time after time that 15 per cent, is an absurd duty from a protectionist point of view, and, that at best, it can be considered only a revenue duty. With this opinion before us, and remembering the warnings of the honorable member for Wimmera, surely we should not help the Government in imposing a duty of 5 per cent, on this item. If a 5 per cent, duty means the life of a great New South Wales industry like that of iron, surely the protectionists are very easily satisfied,- in face of the fact that in Victoria duties of 30 per cent, and 35 per cent, are required. The free-trader is as anxious as anybody to see manufactures prosper, but he does not believe in penalizing the whole of the Commonwealth for the benefit of a few. The Minister for Trade and Customs is placing the Government in a most awkward position, because, while the Opposition have been charged with obstruction and delaying the settlement of the Tariff, the charge lies really at the feet of the Ministry, whose action to-night is only aggravating their offence. I ask him not to insist upon this amendment. The Government have not asked the committee to reconsider the tea and kerosene duties, which involve revenue to the extent, of £600,000, and upon which there was a much narrower division than upon the galvanized iron duties, which involve a revenue of only £30,000.
– Last night a very earnest appeal was made by members on this side of the Chamber to the Minister for Trade and Customs to tell us why the duty upon galvanized iron has been recommitted. The committee, by a majority of seven votes, some time ago declared against the imposition of this duty. The right honorable gentleman surely does not wish to reimpose the duty merely to obtain revenue, because the amount which would be obtained from all the States would be only £30,000 ! But, on the other hand, the other protectionist apostles in the Chamber say that the duty is not a protective duty. The. duty upon printing paper, which would have yielded about £35,000, of which amount the greater part would have been extracted from the pockets of the rich newspaper proprietors in the capitals of the various States, was abolished by a majority of only four votes, and-
– The honorable member will not be in order in discussing the duty upon printing paper.
– I have no wish to transgress the rules of debate, as I think most honorable members know from their short experience of my conduct here already; but I submit, with all respect to you, Mr Chairman, that I have a right to contrast the action of the Government with regard to the duty upon galvanized iron with their action with regard to the duty upon printing paper. The duty upon printing paper was abolished by a majority of only four votes.
– The honorable member is not in order in referring to the duty upon printing paper. Standing Order 173 requires a member to confine his remarks to the subject before the chair, which, in this case, is a proposal to impose a duty upon iron, not upon printing paper.
– I submit that an honorable member is in order in making a comparison between the action of the Government in regard to the matter under consideration, and some other similar matter which has been dealt with previously. If we were not permitted to do so, there would be an end to all profitable debate. The honorable member for Coolgardie is merely showing the committee that the Ministry did so .and so in regard to the duty upon printing paper, whereas their conduct with regard to the duty now before us is something quite different.
– With the greatest respect for your desire to keep the debate within legitimate lines, Mr. Chairman, I wish to point out that the consistency or inconsistency of the Government in regard to any matter before the chai)1 must always, to a certain extent, be a subject of discussion by the Opposition. If we could not make a comparison such as the honorable member for Coolgardie is making, we might as well not be in Parliament at all.’ Surely the conduct of the Government in again proposing a duty upon galvanized iron, and their conduct in not re-imposing a duty upon some other article, is a proper subject for observation 1. If the Government proposed a duty upon galvanized iron, and wished to admit timber free of duty, it would surely be competent for an honorable member to criticise the proposal on the ground that both materials are used for building purposes, and therefore should be treated alike.
– I am sure that the experience of the right honorable members for Tasmania and East Sydney must have taught them that there is a time and place for everything.
– Yes, and we contend that this is the time and the place for the comparison which the honorable member for Coolgardie is now making.
– This is not the proper time to give reasons why the Government should have proposed some other duty. The House agreed to a recommittal of the Tariff only for the reconsideration of certain specified items. I am bound, as every other honorable member is bound, by the standing orders, although I have perhaps been too liberal in my interpretation of them and have allowed debate to transgress the limits which they set. Standing Orders 173 and 274, however, provide that a discussion in committee must be confined to the clause or amendment before the chair, and that no honorable member shall digress from the subject-matter under discussion. I have never at any time ruled out of order an incidental reference by way of illustration ; but when an honorable member proceeds to elaborate reasons why the Government should propose some duty other than that before the chair, he is going beyond the standing orders, and is out of order.
– May I ask what are the points to which we shall be allowed to refer ? It would seem from your ruling that
– I have never called any honorable member to order for making incidental references ; but no honorable member can be permitted to elaborate his remarks on subjects other than that before the chair.
– I have every desire to obey your ruling, sir, although I think you are mistaken in this case. As the committee have practically accepted your decision, I do not propose to dissent from it. I think, however, that if you had waited until I hud completed the sentence upon which I was engaged when you called me to order, you would have found that I did not propose to discuss the duty upon printing paper. I merely wished to point out that, whereas the Government have not recommitted the duty upon printing paper, although it was struck out by a majority of only four votes, they have recommitted the d duty upon galvanized iron , which was rejected by a majority of seven votes, upon a division in regard to which every member of the committee was accounted for. Surely if there is no justification for recommitting the one item there is no justification for recommitting the other. I was quite surprised to hear the honorable members for Kooyong and Capricornia say last night that galvanized iron is an article upon which it is proper to place a revenue duty. Their impression seems to be that, because men do not buy galvanized iron every day in the week, they should have to pay heavily for it when they do buy it. I would point out, however, that, although one man may not be buying galvanized iron to-day, some other man is doing so, and the piling up of duties upon articles of universal consumption is making a serious inroad upon the earnings of the people. The honorable member for Kooyong must know that, as the mining companies throughout Australia spend a large sum annually upon surface works, every shilling added to the cost of galvanized iron is so much taken from the amount available for developmental work, the recovery of wealth from the ground. Therefore, I think that in speaking in favour of the duty the honorable member is standing in his own light. Very heavy imposts are being levied upon nearly every article used by the pioneers for opening up this country, and I think the least the committee can do is to allow them to
– In most cases they have to pay very heavily for the conveyance of their goods from the sea-board.
– Yes. The honorable member for Maranoa has pointed out that in some parts of Australia the cost of a ton of galvanized iron delivered on the spot is altogether out of proportion tq the cost at the port of shipment. It cannot be said that the Western Australian Government requires this duty, because, as I pointed out last night, Western Australia has already a surplus of over £200,000. The Treasurer told us last October that the taxation of Western Australia was being reduced from £5 9s. 2d. to £3 17s. 7d. per head of the population. Now he comes to us, in April, and admits that the taxation upon, imports of oversea products into Western Australia will amount to nearly £7 per head - that is a very considerable difference.
– Not upon oversea imports, but upon all imports.
– If the right honorable gentleman handled the.population figures in this case as he did in his original estimate
– I handled them quite correctly.
– The right honorable gentleman used one set of figures when dealing with the population of Western Australia prior to federation, and another when dealing with the taxation under federation.
– I used the proper figures in each case.
– The right honorable gentleman did not use the same set of figures. He used one set of figures to show the result of the taxation before federation, and another to show what the taxation would amount to afterwards ; and if he considers that right, he is welcome to the opinion. The Treasurer must know that the taxation of Western Australia has not been reduced under the Tariff ; and although he admits the magnitude of his miscalculations, he makes no movement towards lightening the burdens of the people.
– They can do that themselves.
– Asl have already pointed out, the special Tariff of Western Australia yields only £20,000 per month, whereas the federal Tariff returns over £100,000 per month. So that even if the people of Western Australia gave up their special Tariff, they would not obtain the relief to which they are entitled. The clearer vision and ampler knowledge which time has vouchsafed carry no compensation to Western Australia. On the contrary, we find the Government bringing forward again, amongst other proposals, which affect the western State in a special degree, the duty on galvanized iron, which this House ha3 already rejected by what should have been regarded as a decisive majority. That being so, I feel bound to recall the incredulous attitude of the Treasurer and other Ministers, when last October I assured them that this Tariff would double the tribute hitherto paid by consumers in Westralia on oversea imports. Time has amply verified the forecast. The returns already submitted show that these Federal duties are extracting from the masses fully 100 per cent., more than they paid on an equal consumption of similar commodities a year or two ago. I can only conclude that the Treasurer either deceived himself, or that he was hoodwinked by someone who knew or should have known better. The documents prepared and furnished by the Government last October, if read aright, should have prevented this deception. Any one could have seen at a glance that the Government proposals practically annihilated the free list of Western Australia. They taxed innumerable articles hitherto free, and with some trifling exceptions increased the duties on commodities which had before been dutiable. The Treasurer told us five months ago that this Tariff would in a normal year raise £708,000, and this year some £800,000 from Western Australia. In the sums named he included the receipts from the special Tariff of Western Australia, under which for five years the State is permitted to levy duties on goods received from other States of the federation.
– Not at all. 32 x
– Bub the Commonwealth officers collected the duty.
– We had nothing whatever to do with the special Tariff.
– Does the right honorable gentleman say that in his estimate of £708,000 he did not include the receipts under the special Tariff 1
– Certainly not; and I did not include the extra 2s. duty on spirits.
– That is the solitary reduction that the Government have . made. Will the Treasurer tell me of any article, except spirits, hitherto imported from oversea upon which the duty has not been increased by the Federal Government t
– Spirits are a very big item.
– Yes, no doubt; but a number of items that have hitherto been free under the Western Australian Tariff are taxed under the Federal Tariff. I cannot see how the Treasurer could have arrived at such an estimate if he had considered the documents prepared by his own officers, and submitted to the committee. However, I will accept his assurance that the £708,000 did not include any of the receipts under the special Tariff. The Treasurer’s latest and revised estimate for the year (which, by the way, is not exactly an estimate, since it gives the actual results for nine months) shows that these oversea imports will yield no less than £1,107,321, or nearly £400,000 in excess of the estimate on which this Tariff was framed . As an instance of the stupendous ignorance or recklessness of the Treasurer’s advisers, I may quote a line from the table on page 42 of the Budget papers presented to us in October last. The compiler of this remarkable document assumed that the Federal Tariff would lessen rather than increase the taxation of Western Australia . And in framing the estimate he stated that £109,000 more had been collected under the State Tariff during the September quarter than would have been receivable had the Federal Tariff been in force. In other words, th’is Federal Tariff which, as results prove, has more than -doubled the taxation of Western Australia on oversea goods, was expected by this genius to diminish the taxation by nearly £450,000 per annum. I quote this amazing production so that honorable members may see in proper perspective the gross injustice of imposing upon Western Australia duties whose operation has been so ludicrously miscalculated. There can surely be no more convincing argument for a revision than such an outrageous miscalculation supplies. If the basis of the Tariff is wrong, then the Tariff itself must be wrong. If the original estimates of revenue were erroneous- and this is admitted - then the taxation proposals based on such estimates are palpably unjust. Yet the Government, though conceding the error, intend to appropriate the results of the error. They admit the wrong, but refuse to rectify it. Their present attitude gives shape and substantiality to the suspicion that the effect of these duties was deliberately misstated for an improper purpose. Now I should like to ascertain how the Treasurer regards his October promise - April would have been a more fitting date - ‘the per capita taxation of Western Australia was to be reduced by this Tariff from £5 9s. 2d. to to £3 17s. 7d. I have already exposed his jugglery with these figures. I have shown that on oversea imports, Western Australia never paid anything approaching £5 9s. 2d. per head of her population. It has been reserved for this democratic Government to pile up the burden, and even a greater one, on the workers of that State. The Treasurer’s £5 9s. 2d. included the revenue from InterState goods, but when he came to illustrate his alleged reduction to £3 17s. 7d., he excluded the Inter-State duties, and considered those on oversea imports only. He must have known quite well that the only true basis of a comparison of the operation of both Tariffs was the yield from oversea imports, since our powers of taxation extend only to them. And on these imports the taxation of Western Australia has been doubled. The right honorable gentleman now admits that the per capita taxation of the Western State will under this Tariff ‘be nearly £7, between which and £3 17s. 7d. there is a vast difference, as breadwinners with large families have bitterly found out. The Treasurer very properly added that £7 her head was a huge load, and constituted an abnormal state of affairs, which could not be expected to continue. In that he is right - it will not continue. But I cannot understand the right honorable gentleman contemplating with composure the reason why the people will not continue to pay such taxation.’ He must know that it will be because the people cannot afford to buy dutiable articles. This Tariff has diminished and must diminish the purchasing power of the workers’ wages. It has loaded up every primary industry - agricultural, pastoral and mining - with new burdens, and, by increasing the cost of operations in almost every industrial sphere, has circumscribed activity, reduced the wages fund, and narrowed the avenues of employment. In view of the Treasurer’s admissions, I should also like to know how the Minister for Defence now feels concerning his celebrated despatches to Perth, that this Tariff would raise £2S0,000 less than the local Tariff did in 1900, and reduce the per capita taxation by 28s. per head. How the right honorable gentleman can sit in a Government which puts nearly £7 per head on the people for whom he laboured so Strenuously and successfully in the past, quite passes my comprehension. Is he satisfied with a Tariff which taxes a resident of all the other States, with one exception, at less than £2 per head, while placing nearly £7 on each citizen of his own? He must know that Western Australia does not need all this extra revenue, for the State had recently a sur.plus of £200,000 - a very large sum, considering that the total revenue from all sources of taxation last year was only £-1,136,319. The Treasurer, and now the Minister for Customs, attempt to justify this injustice by saying that Western Australia can surrender the Inter-State duties, to which contention there are two effective answers. First, that taxation of Inter-State goods for a limited period was a part of ‘ the compact under which Western Australia joined the federation. It may be allowable - indeed, quite justifiable - for residents of Western Australia to agitate for the abolition of these duties, but it certainly is not an argument which a federal member or Minister - and especially gentlemen who were themselves parties to the bargain - can employ with consistency or fairness. Having made such a compact, in which Western Australia acted and continues to act in good faith, is it honest to attempt, by a side wind, by means of these heavy duties on over-sea goods, to render it nugatory, and compel the State to abandon the chief safeguard which prompted her to enter the union? The second answer is that the Inter-State duties are trifling when compared with the enormous tribute wrung from the people by new and increased taxes on over-sea commodities. Even if we had the right to ask it, no adequate compensation for the federal duties would be found in the surrender of those levied under the State Tariff. The policy of this Ministry appears to be to victimize the western State in a double sense. The heavy, and in some cases prohibitive, duties on over-sea imports are intended to compel us, whetherwe like it or whether it is to our advantage or not, to buy from Colling wood and Geelong instead of from Manchester and Birmingham, while the abolition of the Inter-State duties is sought so that our markets may be exploited by other producers from the eastern States. The fact that 95 per cent, of our wage-earners pursue occupations to which no Tariff can be of assistance, and that their wages are being cut into for the stimulation of artificial trades elsewhere, gives this Government no concern. Then the Treasurer has appealed for consideration to the necessitous States which require revenue to meet engagements. It is easy to show that the necessities of Queensland and Tasmania will not be relieved by piling up these special burdens, on Western Australia, for the surplus of the one cannot be applied to make good the shortages of the others. As far as Queensland is concerned, I am in agreement with the honorable member for Northern Melbourne that her time to approach us will be when an income tax and a direct tax on land have failed to square accounts. As to Tasmania, many of the taxes which press so heavily on the pioneers in the West - on preserved meat and vegetables, condensed milk,&c. - will be of no benefit. Tasmania’s consumption of such commodities is inconsiderable, and consequently their taxation will not appreciably affect her revenue. For all these articles there is and must continue to be an enormous demand in Western Australia, so that the people there are being penalized by this Tariff without any compensating advantage to thenecessitous States. This is the case, as I see it, for a revision of the duties whichfall with crushing severity on Western Australia. I regret that the Government, having witnessed the signal falsification of their estimates, has not voluntarily re-adjusted those taxes in accordance withthe ability of the people to pay them, and the requirements of the State treasury. They have persisted in proceeding on other lines, and with them rests the responsibility. The stage at which we have arrived in this Chamber gives no hope of sympathetic response to an appeal on behalf of one of the weaker States ; but I am confident that its representatives elsewhere will secure for Western Australia a larger measure of consideration and of justice than this Mouse has seen fit to grant to her. I do not wish to labour this question, but I hope that before we go much further we shall have a statement from Ministers of the exact reasons why they require this duty upon galvanized iron, and why it is that they will not recommit other items, which they would have a good chance of carrying, and which would yield a larger amount of revenue.
– I do not think that upon reflection the honorable member will ask the Government to explain why they wish to raise this money, because they have established a reputation for trying to get all the money they can lay their hands on. That is the position in which the Government stand before the people of Australia. They have brought down a. Tariff which on their own showing is enormously above the necessities of the occasion ; because, in spite of the tremendous reductions made by the commonsense of the committee on nearly all the. important proposals of the Government, the revenue received is vastly beyond their expectations. Therefore, so far astrying to get money out of the pockets of the people is concerned, I think the Government are perfectly consistent in the present case. The only matter about which I am solicitous is as to what assurances of support have been given to the Government to induce them to bring this item forward again ? They have shown in connexion with the duty on tea, that even if they consider a matter to be one of life and death, they will not risk a recommittal unless they are sure of a majority, and I am sure that they would not have listened to any proposal to recommit this item unless some honorable members had induced them to do so by assuring them they would reverse the vote they gave on a former occasion. The duty itself is a moderate one, coming as it does from the present Government. I understand that it amounts to only 5 per cent, ad valorem, and from the point of view of the Government this is a “ dirt cheap “ proposal. But some honorable members look upon all these duties as a vicious interference with the public - both in theirbusiness and in their pockets, and that we should limit such interference as much as we possibly can. The
Government should not have proposed this duty in view of the decision of the committee on a former occasion, by a majority of seven votes, that galvanized iron should be admitted free. If there is to be no finality in matters of this sort, those who suffer most will be the Government themselves. I have not heard any honorable member who voted against the duty on a former occasion say that he is prepared to vote for the present1 proposal, and if any honorable members intend to take up such a position, it is due to the committee and to the country that they should explain why they have altered their views.- The suggestions in connexion with these Tariff proposals are so numerous, and they seem to give so much scope for speculation, that it is highly desirable that our actions should All be as transparent as possible. Honorable members who have changed their minds should not, therefore, leave the committee in the dark as to their reasons for so doing - especially as their reasons may be such as to commend themselves to the intelligence of the committee. In the absence of some reason or explanation we are left quite in the dark as to what this proposal really means. Perhaps some of my honorable friends who took such an active part in securing the removal of the tea duties wish to make up something to the Government in connexion with this item. If so, it would be a very proper filing for them to give that explanation. I Relieve that this proposal will be carried, because I feel sure that the Government would not have proposed it unless they were certain as to the result.
– The information supplied to me is that plain galvanized iron is manufactured within the Commonwealth only in New South Wales, amd the action of the representatives of that State in connexion with this proposal affords -one of the strongest rebuttals of the statement that they favour proposals for the imposition of duties only when they are intended to benefit their own State. This duty would, for the present, be beneficial, to the Skate of New South Wales only, and yet even the honorable member in whose electorate the works are situated is antagonistic to the proposal. If anything could prove the worth of a cause it is the rejection by the free-trade members of a bait such as is now thrown down by the Government. They have absolutely repudiated the invitation offered to them, and have adhered to their principles. I would point out that under the Tariff the revenue derived from this duty will very soon die out. In New South Wales ‘the galvanized iron industry has been carried on very well under conditions of freedom, but it is now proposed to give the protection of a duty of 5 per cent., which .will after a time be converted into a 10 per cent, duty, if the Ministry induce Parliament to declare that the industry is sufficiently established to justify the increase. Under Division VIa, the 10 per cent, duty there provided for will take the place of the 5 per cent, duty as soon as Parliament has declared that the industry is. sufficiently established. The industry is being carried on, and is even now sufficiently established, and, therefore, in .all probability, if there is anything in Division VIa, the 5 per cent, duty will soon be converted into one of 10 per cent. With an increase of duty, imports will be very largely restricted, if not absolutely abolished.
– That will all depend upon what the Bonus Bill provides.
– But the Bonus Bill must follow the provisions of the Tariff as to the rate of duty,- and I think that my present assumption is a fair one. According to the Treasurer’s figures, South Australia would derive between £3,000 and £4,000 from this duty ; but as that amount would gradually disappear, and as the operation of the duty in the meantime would be pernicious, I shall oppose the Government proposal.
– I think the leader of the Opposition made a very fair suggestion when he said that if there were any honorable members who intended to change their votes upon this question, they should give some reason for it. I intend to reverse my previous vote. As most honorable members know, I have been fairly consistent in voting with those who1 favour a set of moderate protective duties. Upon reflection I am disposed to think that I made a mistake in voting for the admission of galvanized iron free of duty. Personally, I should never lay down the rule that a man is not entitled to change his opinion upon any matter, and in this instance I intend to reverse my previous vote, just as I purpose adopting a similar course in regard to the duty levied upon machinery. I think that that duty is altogether too high, and lam prepared to vote for a lower rate. The people engaged in the galvanized iron industry in New South “Wales are entitled to some consideration. They have struggled hard to keep their heads above water, and to that end have been assisted by the New South Wales Railway Commissioners who have imposed a differential rate in their favour, ranging from 20s. to 40s. per ton upon all iron taken either west, south, or north from the metropolitan area. Buteven with this concession the industry has endured a hard struggle, and I fear that when the Inter-State Commission is established - as it shortly will be - it will be deprived of this advantage. From my point of view, therefore, I am quite justified in extending to the industry the benefit of a 5 per cent, protection. The revenue which it is estimated will be derived from this source - some £30,000 - is a very small matter indeed, although I cannot agree with the honorable and learned member for South Australia, Mr. Glynn, that it will be a totally disappearing factor, because the advantage of 15s. per ton, which the Government proposes to extend to the industry will not be sufficient to enable the New South Wales people to send their iron to Western Australia, South Australia, or the northern portion of Queensland. On the other hand, the imposition of a duty of 5 per cent, is not sufficient to encourage the local production of black plate, with a view to galvanizing, and possibly corrugating, iron. It is true that in New South Wales galvanized and corrugated iron is made from locally-made black plate, but there the manufacturers are assisted by local circumstances. They enjoy the advantage of having a coal-mine almost at their furnace door. Altogether the present proposal is such a moderate one that I feel perfectly justified in. reversing my previous vote in connexion with this matter. The people engaged in the industry in New South Wales are entitled to some consideration, and I am prepared to extend it to them.
– From the observations of the honorable member for Bland it appears that he is desirous of granting a concession to the galvanized iron industry in view of the prospective establishment of the Inter-State Commission. But the appointment of that commission is very distant, and altogether I am inclined to believe that the honorable member has not made out a strong case in favour of altering his previous decision. Although the manufacture of iron - galvanized, plate, and sheet - was a thriving and prosperous industry in. New South Wales prior to the introduction, of the Tariff, as soon as that instrument of taxation was submitted to this committee,, the manufacturers increased the price of their product to the consumers by the; amount of the duty. I would further point out that the people who live in cities, as compared with country, residents, use but a very small proportion of galvanized iron. In the interests of the primary producers, and of. those who have to conserve water in the back country, by means of iron tanks, we should allow corrugated iron to be obtained at the lowest possible price In some of the States,, houses are built entirely of galvanized iron. In the suburbs of Brisbane and Adelaide this commodity is used. almost1 exclusively for the roofing of dwellings. The proposed duty therefore constitutes, a tax, more particularly upon the smaller States. In my judgment, the committee acted deliberately when they agreed to place thisitem upon the free list, and, so far, I haveheard no argument in favour of reversing” that decision. It is most unreasonable for the Government to expect that itemswhich have been fully discussed upon a.. previous occasion can be recommitted,, with a view to reversing the decision arrived! at, without strong opposition being provoked. The manufacturer of galvanized! and corrugated iron in New South Wales has become a rich man under the operation of a free Tariff, and yet it is now proposed to force upon him a protection of 5 percent., which additional tax will be immediately passed on to the consumer. I donot think the committee should reversetheir previous decision.
– I have beenasked to reconsider the vote which I gavein connexion with this item, and in view of the facts submitted to me, I felt veryanxious indeed to give the most favourableconsideration to the men engaged in the galvanized iron industry. But after having; given the case very full consideration - more particularly as it affects Western Australia - I feel obliged to carry out the policy which I have consistently adopted, in regard to relaxing the burdens upon the people of that State. It is true that the proposed duty does not represent a great deal as regards the individual, but when I remember the amount of taxation which. this Tariff imposes upon the people of Western Australia, I feel in duty bound to vote in the direction of reducing it wherever it is possible to do so. Therefore, although I should have been glad to have given some support to the men engaged in the galvanized iron industry, I am compelled, in the interests of Western Australia, and of the policy which I have hitherto followed, to vote for the condition of things which prevailed prior to the present Government proposals.
Mr. WINTER COOKE (Wannon).Very late in this discussion we have heard the reason why this item has been recommitted. It seems that in New South Wales an industry exists which deserves protection, although it has hitherto managed to live without any such adventitious aid. The honorable member for Bland says that it has “just contrived to keep its head above water.” But, seeing that it has managed to exist in a free trade State, surely its position is materially improved when it can command the wider market offered by the whole Commonwealth ! The honorable member for Robertson declares that the firm engaged in the industry is a thriving and prosperous one. In view of the conflicting testimony of two New
South Wales’ representatives, are the committee justified in sanctioning the proposed ‘duty, small though it may be ? According to the honorable member for Bland, this duty is not intended for revenue, but for protective purposes. Seeing that the industry has . thrived without the .aid of any protection, surely the consideration which has induced the honorable member for Bland to change his opinion in regard to this matter is not a sound one. “To me it is amazing that he should now seek to impose a duty upon a commodity which is in such general use throughout Australia. I do not wish to repeat the argument in favour of consideration being extended to the primary producer; but, unquestionably, if we impose a tax upon galvanized iron, which is used not only for roofing purposes but for the construction of whole buildings, we might as well impose a duty upon bricks. However, I suppose that the numbers are up, otherwise the Government would not have the temerity to take the action which they have taken, and, therefore, all that members of the Opposition can do is to offer their protest.
Mr. REID (East Sydney). - I am glad the honorable member for Bland has taken the course he has, because it is the course which every honorable member ought to take when he changes his public decision in a matter affecting the Tariff. But it is. most remarkable that the New South Wales brigade, in the Ministry - the Prime Minister, the Minister for Home Affairs, and the Vice-President of the Executive Council - could not do anything for this great iron industry at Lithgow. An unofficial member from New South Wales now comes forward, and even he proposes only a miserable 5 per cent. duty. Would such a duty have satisfied the tinsmiths and all those other people who are making all sorts of things in Victoria ? There would have been a riot in the Ministerial ranks if 5 per cent, had been proposed for hats, boots, shoes, crockery, and teapots, which are all made in and about Melbourne. We have an affecting disclosure now from my friend, the moderate protectionist, that he can screw up enough courage to give 5 per cent, protection to a New South Wales industry, which he himself says is struggling for existence. I simply want to point out that in order to have an industry thoroughly protected, that industry must be either in Adelaide or Melbourne. That is the plain English of the matter. I do not speak of any improper motive - it is merely a geographical slice of good luck. The men who look after South Australia are differently built from those who look after New South Wales. Prom the protectionist point of view, New South Wales has been treated with abominable meanness and unfairness. Unfortunately our hands are tied. Even when we see the principle applied unfairly, we have to go on practically aiding the injustice that is being done, for the reason that we are accustomed to deal with the interests of the great body of the taxpayers and not with the interests of any particular manufacturer, who may have been able to- button-hole us in the street or elsewhere. Unfortunately we cannot vote to give a little encouragement to this most worthy gentleman at Lithgow, for whose enterprise I have always had the greatest respect. He has worked his way up in a way which would, indeed, command the respect of every one. It is one of the hardships of the belief we have that we must act impartially, and that we cannot pick out men,- however deserving, for any special favour. If we did so in the case of one we should feel bound, by all the rules of fairness, to do so all round ; and in the general interests of the community we are unable to help this gentleman. The Government now come forward, and say that the present proposal is not to help the New South Wales industry - the Government would not deal with a trifle of that sort. I understand that the Minister for Trade and Customs said yesterday that it was for purely revenue purposes the item had been reintroduced. It would appear, therefore, that this little crumb of protection is given to the New South Wales industry, not by the Minister for Trade and Customs, but by the honorable member for Bland.
Mr.E. SOLOMON (Fremantle). - It had not been my intention to speak on this item, but I think that every honorable member should give the reasons for his vote. I intend to vote in the same direction as before, namely to place this item on the free list. It has struck me very forcibly that while, on the one hand, the Government have not considered the desirability of recommitting many items which were decided by a small majority they have proposed the recommittal of other items such as that under consideration, which it was decided, by a majority of seven, should be placed on the free list. It appears to me that the Government are rather afraid of trusting these matters in the hands of the Ministers in another place. The course which the Government have taken has. been the cause of a lot ofdelay which might have been avoided, had they trusted to their Ministers in the Senate to re-introduce many of the items determined by this committee. If a suggestion were made in another place, it would come before us again ; if, on the other hand, no suggestion were made, we should hear no more of the matter. The Government have been in error in bringing forward many of these items for reconsideration. The people generally are taxed upto the hilt, and the pioneers, who have been the mainstay of Australia from the early times, are now being made to pay for theconfidence they have placed in the people who advocated federation. I hope the committee will stick to their colours and show that, having voted in one direction, they are determined to maintain their position.
– Are the Ministers at the table going to ignore the appeals made from this and other parts of the House for an explanation as to why they have recommitted this item? The least the Ministry can do is to explain more fully than was explained last night by the Minister for Trade and Customs, who said that this re-committal was “ for financial reasons.” How has the financial position changed from what it was four months ago ?
– The revenue has been diminished.
-I understand that the revenue has come in much better than the Government expected, and that we are now in a better position to forego duties. It is singular that the Government should choose this item for recommittal, seeing that the decision to place it on the free list was carried by such a large majority. There is a good deal of talk about “ lobbying “ and “ touting “ in connexion with this item. I do not say for one moment that the charges conveyed in this talk are correct, but in the interests of those who are accused, the least the representatives of the Government might do is to afford the explanation for which Ihave asked. If the Government recommit items carried, as this was,by a large majority, the Opposition may be tempted to endeavour to recommit numerous other items, which were decided by only one or two votes ; and the result will be that the Tariff discussion will be endless. At present the discussion appears to be a sheer waste of time. Even if this duty be reimposed, there is a freetrade majority in another place.
– The honorable member is not in order in referring to what may occur in another place.
– I merely wish to say that it is a waste of time to again bring forward this item. No matter what may be done in this Chamber - even if the Government be successful - the matter will not end here, but will be discussed once more at some future time. I should like to appeal to any honorable member who intends to alter his vote to give the committee an explanation of his reasons. So far only one honorable member has given anything like an explanation. That is the honorable member for Bland, who deserves credit for standing up and giving us his reasons in a manly way.
Mr.Reid. - All the reasons mentioned by the honorable member for Bland were in existence at the time when the division was taken previously.
– I do not agree with the position taken up by the honorable member for Bland, and it seems to me that if there was any incorrect information before us when the matter was previously decided, it was incorrect information which might lead honorable members to vote in favour of the duty. I for ons was mislead by information that was supplied in a report presented by the Government. In response to a request by the honorable member for Kooyong, a ‘return of the number of hands engaged in the various industries was supplied, and in that return it was distinctly stated that over 200 men were engaged in the galvanized iron industry in Queensland, in addition to over 200 other men employed in New South Wales. It is well known now that there is not a single individual engaged in the galvanized iron industry in Queensland ; and, consequently, if there was any misrepresentation it was on the side of the Government. The honorable member ‘ for Bland stated that he took his present course in the interests of the men employed in the industry of New South Wales. It must be remembered, however, that these men were employed when the industry was under freetrade conditions - that the industry was established and maintained under free-trade conditions. It will be seen, therefore, that by making this commodity free, we are not taking anything from those interested in the industry in the adjoining State. This industry is on an altogether different basis’ from one which has been built up under protection, and which may have some claim for consideration or pity. The honorable member for Bland seems to altogether ignore the fact that galvanized iron has hitherto been free in New South Wales. When speaking on this question previously I ventured to say that about 200 men were engaged in this industry in New South Wales, and it ‘ seems that these are the actual figures. The honorable member for Bland interjected, however, that I was wrong, and that there were only 40 men employed in this branch of the industry. It would appear then, from the point of view of the honorable member for Bland, that, because these 40 men are employed he would increase the price of galvanized iron to the tens of thousands of people who use it all over Australia.
– The honorable member for Bland was entirely wrong as to the number of those employed.
– I am merely repeating what was said by the honorable member for Bland, and a reference to Hansard will show that I am correct.
– There are 140 men employed in the industry.
– Even if there were many times that number it would be a shame for the sake of so few to sacrifice the interests of the much greater number who use galvanized iron. There can be no doubt that the duty, if imposed, will increase the , price of galvanized iron. The ‘ result of the original duty was to increase its price by £1 per ton, and the consequence was that those to whom it is almost an absolute necessary for the construction of houses, the conservation of water, and numerous other purposes, were heavily taxed. I trust that the proposal of the Government will not be agreed to, and that before a division is taken, Ministers will give a fuller explanation of their reasons for again making it, and will contradict the unsatisfactory statements which are in circulation as to lobbying in regard to this item having gone on both inside and outside the chamber.
– It will be gratifying to a great many honorable members if Ministers tell the committee what really actuated them in proposing the recommittal of the item. The Minister for Trade and Customs would have us believe that the duty is again proposed merely to obtain revenue, although the amount which it is estimated it will return is only £30,000. If he really desires more revenue, why does he not again propose the duties upon tea and upon kerosene 1 We have been informed that a certain amount of lobbying in regard to this Fern has been carried on by two representatives of a New South Wales firm. Are we to believe that their object is merely to increase the revenue ? No. We know “ very well that their desire is simply to secure some measure of protection for their industry - an industry which was carried on under free-trade with such success that we are informed that those connected with it were able to make very large profits from it. Whatever may be the motive of the Government, it is undesirable, in the interests of finality of legislation, that we should have items recommitted time after time merely because some change has been wrought in some way or other, fairly or unfairly, in the opinions of some honorable members. Any blame attaching for delay in this matter is blame from which the Opposition are entirely free, and which must fall wholly and solely upon the Government.
– To me it is somewhat strange that the duty upon galvanized iron should be .again proposed, and that so little reason should be given for its reimposition. Ministers profess to regard it merely as a revenue duty, possibly to make up in some measure the loss sustained by the revenue through the remission of the duties upon tea and kerosene. In any case, however, the amount that it would return would be very small. The objection I took to the duty upon a previous occasion - and which, to my mind, still holds good - is that those engaged in the primary industries of the Commonwealth have so much to do in battling against the adverse forces of nature, in the subjugation of the wilderness, that they should not be unduly burdened with taxation ; and it must be remembered, moreover, that they derive little or no protection from the Tariff. Therefore, I endeavoured, and I shall again endeavour, to secure the exemption of galvanized iron from duty. I quite recognise, however, that the galvanized iron industry is one which gives promise of becoming a national industry. The iron industry of New South Wales is in the hands of a gentleman who deserves every encouragement that can legitimately be given to him in his efforts to develop it, and I am prepared to give it every fair and reasonable consideration. I am not, however, prepared to unduly increase the burden of taxation upon those least able to bear it - the producers of the community. I am prepared to vote for a bonus to promote the further development of the iron industry, so as to enable those connected with it to get over the initial difficulty of establishing it upon an extensive basis. But I do not believe in either the justice or the expediency of a protective duty, although .the iron industry is one which is better entitled to consideration from the protectionist stand-point than are a large number of the mushroom industries located in or near Melbourne which have received so rauch attention from the committee. We have placed high protective duties upon articles the manufacture of which can never become national industries. Such a duty is the duty upon nails. How can the making of nails ever become a national industry 1 No one, however,, can deny that if the Commonwealth is to- progress upon safe lines, it must do all that it can for the development of its resources - particularly for the development of its iron resources. The Government, however, do not regard the duty now before the committee as likely to have any protective effect, and as they propose it solely as a revenue duty, I fail to see that I am called upon to reverse the vote which I gave in regard to it on a previous occasion.
– I should like to hear from the Minister for Trade and Customs the reason why the Government desire to have this duty reconsidered. I am anxious “to learn how the right honorable gentleman has managed to persuade several honorable members to reverse their votes. The honorable member for Tasmania, Mr. 0’M.alley, has admitted to me that the whole of his constituents on the west coast live in houses made of galvanized iron, and I do not know how he will be able to face them after voting for this duty. The Minister for Trade and Customs must have some special charm which has enabled him to wheedle the honorable member.
– I have not spoken to him on the subject.
– Some one must have spoken to him, because the honorable member tells me that he has promised to give his vote with the Government. Then there is the honorable member for Southern Melbourne, who has on other occasions loudly denounced revenue duties and yet has expressed his intention to vote for this impost. I would ask the Minister for Trade and Customs whether New South Wales or any other State has asked for this duty. Even the honorable member for Bland, whom I look upon as one of the most solid men in the Chamber, has seen fit to change his attitude on this subject, and it seems to me very curious that so many honorable members should be ready to reverse their votes without being able to give one solid reason for doing so. The honorable member for Yarra also is as silent as the grave on the subject of “his change of front in regard to the galvanized iron duty. What can we gather from the silence of Ministers and honorable members, except that some unholy compact has been entered’ into between the Minister for Trade and Customs and the runaway labour representatives 1 If the principles of the labour members are to be changed as quickly as their votes have been, God help the labour party. This duty concerns my constituency more than any other part of the Commonwealth. Every house in the district I represent is built of iron, and this duty practically amounts to a tax upon improvements - an impost which was not in any way foreshadowed in the Maitland speech.
Question - That the following new item be inserted - “Iron, galvanized, plate and sheet, on and after 10th April, 1902, per ton, l5s.” - put. The committee divided -
Ayes … :.. … 33
Noes … … … 25
Majority … … 8
Question so resolved in the affirmative.
Amendment agreed to.
–I wish to know whether it is intended to post the names of those on the other side who have reversed their previous votes?
Honorable Members. - Chair, chair.
– The Government and their supporters should advertise themselves as much as possible as open log-rollers.
– Order. The honorable member must not cast reflections upon the votes of honorable members.
– As a consequential amendment, I move -
That the words “except as to iron, galvanized, plate and sheet,” be inserted after the word “meantime” in the introductory paragraph of Division VIa.
It is declared in Division VIa. that as regardssome of the duties there provided for, which are to come into force at a certain time, the goods shall be free from duty in the meantime. It is necessary to exempt “ iron, galvanized, plate and sheet,” from the operation of this provision. The effect of the amendment will be to declare that, notwithstanding anything contained in the division, what we have just done shall stand.
Amendment agreed to.
– I move -
That the following new item be inserted : - “ Sheet lead and lead-pipe, on and after 10th April. 1902, per ton, £2.”
The Tariff originally provided for a duty upon lead, sheet and piping, but for some reason or other it was omitted. I do not know the circumstances under which the duty was surrendered, but I believe it was done under a misapprehension. From 5,000 to 6,000 tons of Australian lead are annually used in this industry. The raw material is very largely produced in New South Wales, and also in Queensland and Western Australia. I am anxious to avoid occupying unnecessary time, and I shall therefore content myself by moving the insertion of the item.
Item 74. - Manufacturers of metal, viz. : . . . traction and oil engines, free.
– I move-
That the words “ and oil “ be omitted.
As this item at present stands, traction and oil engines are admitted duty free. When this matter was discussed on a former occasion the Government had no objection to allowing traction-engines to be exempt from duty, but a misunderstanding occurred in regard to oil-engines. To me it is perfectly clear that whatever duty is imposed upon gas.engines should also operate in the case of oil-engines. The former at present bear a duty of 20 per cent. I am informed that oilengines of very good quality are being made in two or three of the States, and are being largely used. It has also been pointed out that oil-engines can readily be converted into gas-engines, and vice versa. We have already declared that gas-engines shall be protected, and we shall simply be destroying that protection if we allow oil-engines to be admitted free of duty.
– I regret that the Government have not brought forward their proposal in a different form, as it touches the question of the duty which should be levied upon both gas-engines and oil-engines. It is worded in such a way as to preclude any honorable member from moving to have gas-engines placed within the Same category as oil-engines, either by making them free or dutiable at a lower rate. I think it will be generally conceded that 20 per cent, is a ridiculously high rate to impose upon them. I do not know how to test the question whether the two articles should not be placed upon the free list. Why should a distinction be made between them? Oil-engines are chiefly used in the country, whereas the use of gas-engines is largely limited t« cities. I believe that both oil and gas-engines are manufactured in Victoria, and that the total number of persons employed in the industry is 35. I have been informed that the locallymanufactured engines are made upon expired patents - that is, upon models of machinery the patents for which have expired. Consequently, they are not of the latest patterns, and the new engines, I am assured, effect an economy of about 40 per cent, as compared with them. I would point out that both classes of engines enjoy a natural protection of about 20 per cent. The oilengines are chiefly used in the country for irrigation and mining purposes, whilst gas-engines are used in the city, principal]) by small men, who are anxious to become manufacturers. To a large extent the latter are used by small printers. Although the Government have exhibited a desire to assist the large printers by placing linotypes, monotypes, and monolines upon the free list, they now propose to levy a tax of 20 per cent, upon the small printers. To my mind no duty upon either oil or gas engines is justifiable. I may mention that when gas-engines were admitted free - as they were in South Australia, prior to the introduction of this Tariff - a contract was about .to be entered into for the supply of a gas plant and engine for mining purposes, valued at £5,000 ; but immediately the duty of 25 per cent, was imposed, the contract had to be abandoned, because the cost of the plant was increased by £1,350. That is one instance of the iniquity of this Tariff. Even a 20 per cent, rate is practically prohibitive. I think that the Government should accept the vote upon this matter as a test of the feeling of honorable members in regard to both classes of engines. If they do not do so, I shall move for the recommittal of item 74, with a view to rendering gas-engines dutiable at the same rate as oil-engines. As a matter of compromise I suggest that the Ministry might accept a duty of 10 per cent, upon both. Considering that only 35 persons are engaged in the industry in Victoria, and that these engines already enjoy a large measure of natural protection, I ask the committee to reject the amendment.
– I ask honorable members to facilitate a speedy vote being taken upon this matter. It is not worth debate. I think that the honorable and learned member for South Australia has under-estimated the number of persons engaged in this industry. I only rose for the purpose of contradicting the statement that the imported engines are better than those manufactured in Australia. It has been alleged that there is a saving of 40 percent, or 60 per cent, of motive power in the use of the imported engines as against those made here ; but I can give the name of a firm in Victoria who manufacture engines more effective and more economical than those imported. During the last twelve or eighteen months I have been inquiring into this matter, with a .view of substituting a gas-engine of Victorian manufacture for a gas-engine which I use for pumping purposes in my own city.
– - Would it be patriotic to desert the Brisbane makers for Melbourne makers ?
– PATERSON. - With our vast area, and our small population in Queeusland, we have not reached that stage of manufacture. The right honorable member for East Sydney would not expect the manufacture of pianos olgas - engines to be conducted on spots where Burke and Wills camped ? Several special inventions in connexion with gasengines have been made in Victoria, and, being patented, cannot be used in any part of the world.
– A patent does not require protection.
– I hope there will be no more talk about this miserable little tax. Gas is being discarded as a motive power in favor of electricity ; and, I believe, that in five years’ time the former will not be much in use. I think the modest duty proposed is necessary to cultivate the manufacture of the articles under discussion.
– What does the honorable and learned member call “ a modest duty “ -100 per cent.1?
– I think the proposal of the Government is one that should have the support of the leader of the Opposition.
Mr. CONROY (Werriwa).- Even from a protectionist point of view oil - engines ought to be free, or, at any rate, admitted at a very low rate of duty. In the case of steam-engines, where shafts and pulleys are attached, there must be sufficient power generated to carry on all the work at all times. If the engine be capable of giving 50 horse-power, that power must be there, although all that is required is 25 horse-power. With oil-engines, the tendency will be to decentralize to a large extent manufacturing work, which will be carried on in country towns and other places of small population. Such a result, from a protectionist point of view, ought to commend the free admission of oil-engines. In many manufactures it is of great advantage to be able to get an engine of, say, 5 or 10 horse-power devoted to the particular work in hand, rather than to have engines of unnecessarily great power. It is argued that there are certain persons engaged in the manufacture of these engines in Australia. That is true, but if the price is to be raised 20 per cent., the duty proposed is far too high, and one which the committee have shown by a previous vote they did not intend to impose. Recollecting how advantageous are these engines in all parts of the country,
I trust the committee will adhere to its previous decision, and not consent to the amendment.
– This is another of the items the recommittal of which is calculated to cause a good deal of surprise amongst members on this side of the Chamber.
– I have said two or three times that it was my mistake to allow this item to go on the free list, and that I intended to recommit the item.
– What the Treasurer should have done, in order to rectify the original blunder, was ito put gas-engines on the free list. This is a Victorian industry, pure and simple, there being no oil-engines manufactured to any- extent elsewhere. When this matter was previously before us, I showed that the chief manufacturer of oilengines, Mr. E. Coulson, of Melbourne, was a man who actually used an imported engine to drive his own machinery.
– The manufacturer absolutely denied that statement immediately afterwards.
– I shall give the Treasurer an opportunity of hearing what the manufacturer’s denial amounts to. This gentleman had the impertinence to write to me concerning my remarks in this committee, remarks which he calls personal. In a letter, dated 13th January, he . writes : -
With reference to your personal remarks made before the House of Representatives on Wednesday, 12th ultimo, when discussing the item, oilengines, I am sorry you should have seen fit to use my name without first having my sanction « to do so, or ascertaining from a direct source if the remarks made were true. I am a machinery merchant in so far as dealing in second-hand gas-engines is concerned. I am frequently called upon to remove imported gas-engines to make room for those of my own manufacture. These engines I convert to my own system of working, which is simpler and better than that employed in engines of other makers.
If that be so, why does he want to be bolstered up with a duty 1 His letter proceeds : -
These exchanges cause me to have as many as six or eight gas-engines of -other makers by me at one time, and it sometimes happens that I let the engine of my own manufacture go to prevent a buyer waiting-
Mark the value of his denial : – and for a few days’ work my factory with a second-hand engine of another maker, but under no other circumstances. I have never at any time imported either a gas or ap oil engine. “J have never at any time used or worked my factory by imported engines of any description, excepting under the conditions stated ; ‘ and certainly never from any -want of faith in my own. The engines I sell I make, and they are my own absolutely, and I hold letters patent in this and other States. As to my faith in my own engines, will you be good enough to peruse the testimonials herewith relating to both classes of engines.
We all know what testimonials are worth, and how easily they can be obtained.
The sale of my engines is increasing fast, and at times, as last week, I had to borrow an engine of another maker to run my shop while I completed some of my own in progress of manufacture.
The authority from whom I had my information answers that letter, and having read what Mr. Coulson has to say, I had better read the. statement of my informant..
– Who is he?
– I have no hesitation in saying that he is the agent for the Crossley oil-engine.
– Interested in imported engines.
– He is an unfortunate importer ; but surely his word is as good as that of the local manufacturer.
– It is no better.
– I am not claiming that his word is better ; my desire is to give both statements. My informant writes : -
– Which of the two witnesses, admitting both to be of equal value, is more likely to know the facts 1
– I may tell the honorable and learned member for Corinella that the information which ram reading is basedon facts gleaned from workmen in the establishment to which it refers.
– From traitors !
– Are men traitors simply because they tell the truth 1
– I have no doubt that the honorable and learned member for Bendigo will magnify this matter into a great scandal. My informant proceeds -
It is known that he has never imported an engine. He had no need to ; and, besides, no man would let him have one, unless he went about it in a back-handed way. Ho has magnificent opportunities for copying without any expense.
Mr. Coulson says
The engines I sell I make, and they are my own absolutely, and I hold letters patent in this and other States.
The answer to that statement is this -
No one disputed this, but it is disputed when he says they are his own ideas. They are really imported gas-engines of ten years ago. The following comparison will illustrate the difference. The amount of power given ona fourteen nominal horse-power gas-engine of to-day is much greater than one of ten years ago.
The best of it is Coulson and other makers, with out testing their engines as. they should do, sell, say, a 14 nominal horse-power engine, which gives possibly 23 horse-power, as a 36 -5 horse-power engine, which is equivalent to one of the latest imported engines of one of the best makers. They have, of course, to compete with these, and this is how they do it.
The number of persons employed in this industry throughout the Commonwealth has been set down as 35. I believe that Coulson has at times employed about 25 men, and these are the particulars which I have ascertained concerning them -
The average number of men and improvers he employs is ten. Only three of these would be tradesmen, and earning full wages ; the balance receive only ?1 10s. and downwards per week.
This is the industry which honorable members are so anxious to protect.
– Was the information gained in the same way as the other ?
– I .hope that the honorable and learned member, when he gives information to the committee, will be as explicit as I am about its source. j
– I am asking a fair question.
– The honorable and learned member has never asked me a fair question to which I have not given a fair answer. The information which I am quoting has, I understand, been obtained from workmen in the establishment. It continues -
The largest number of men he has ever employed making engines is 24, and this only for a short time on a day and night shift. Only eight of these were tradesmen earning full wages ; the balance received £1 10s. and downwards per week. The largest oil-engine they have ever made is a 14 maximum brake horse-power,- and the largest gas engine 22 brake horse-power.
Mr. Coulson says that he has turned out some 700 engines, aggregating nearly 4,000 horse-power ; but my information is that he has turned out approximately only 200 engines, and that he has used a Crossley “ Otto “ slide gas - engine to drive his machinery, and has used an engine of his own make only on a few occasions. The honorable and learned member for South Australia, Mr. Glynn, has pointed out that oil-engines are largely used by persons in the country districts. They are people who are already sufficiently burdened with taxation, and should not be called upon to pay more taxes. But, while the 5 horse-power oilengine of the country newspaper proprietor, who employs only three or four men, is to be taxed at the rate of 20 per cent., the fine machinery used by the big metropolitan newspaper proprietors - the monotypes, the monolines, the linotypes, and the printing presses - is admitted free. I cannot understand this differentiation in the treatment given to those who reside in the interior, and have to fight against all sorts of adverse conditions, and that given to the more favoured residents of the town ; and I do not see why the proprietors of the big metropolitan newspapers should be given free printing paper and free machinery, when the poor country -newspaper proprietors are taxed. However, as I have read these extracts, I shall not go over the ground which other honorable members have traversed, and no doubt honorable members who follow me will be able to deal more fully with the subject.
– The dispute about which the honorable member . for Coolgardie has given us so much information, while perhaps interesting, has not very much to do with the question -Should oil-engines be taxed? The fact that the local manufacturer of these engines himself uses an imported engine may only show that the demand for his engines is so great that he has to place them all upon the market.
– That suggestion may be creditable to the honorable member’s ingenuity, if not to his good sense.
– The point I wish the committee to consider is whether any difference should be made between oilengines and other engines which do similar work. The honorable member for Coolgardie seems to forget that the steamengines which drive the printing machinery of the metropolitan newspapers are taxed at the rate of 20 per cent.
– But both portable and stationary engines are affected by the duty which the Government now propose.
– It has not been proposed that portable oil-engines shall be admitted free, while stationary oil-engines are taxed. It seems to me unfair, when a duty of 20 per cent, is placed upon steamengines, to allow oil-engines, which, it is claimed, do better work, to come in free.
– All engines should be admitted free.
– No doubt that is a consistent position to take up, but it is not proposed to exempt steam-engines. If it can be shown .that there is something in the construction of oil and gas engines which prevents them from being made within the Commonwealth, they should be admitted free ; but otherwise there seems to me no reason for treating them differently from other engines.
– It is the Ministry who made the distinction.
– The Ministry originally made a distinction between gas and oil engines, owing to a misapprehension, and they have since stated that they will endeavour to place them both upon the same footing. Before the committee agree to exempt oil-engines some reason should be given for treating such engines differently from gas-engines, or for treating either oil or gas engines differently from steam and electric engines. It seems to me that, whatever we do, we should treat all kinds of engines alike.
Mr. GLYNN (South Australia). - Of course honorable members cannot know what actuates the Ministry in their various proposals. We can only infer the causes from the facts themselves. They proposed a duty of 15 per cent, on oil-engines, and of 25 per cent, on gas-engines. I could not understand why such a distinction was made, because both engines are used for the same purposes, though oil-engines are more largely used in the country than are gasengines. Gas engines are being used owing to. their greater economy and safety. “Why do the ‘Ministry make this distinction ? Victoria is the only State which turns out oil engines.
– They have started making them in Sydney since the inauguration of the Federal Tariff.
– Victoria is the only State in which the oil-engine making industry has been established, and it is somewhat significant that the duties previously levied in the States upon this class of machinery do not average more than 5 per cent. In New South Wales, Queensland, and South Australia it was admitted free, in Tasmania a duty of only 10 per cent, was levied, and in Western Australia only 5 per cent. In the last named State I believe oil-engines were admitted free of duty for a considerable time until an all round duty of 5 per cent, was imposed upon machinery.
– A 10 percent, duty was levied upon repairs which could be locally undertaken.
– I do not know anything about that. In Victoria the duty on gasengines was 30 per cent., and upon oilengines 15 per cent., and the Government wished us to adopt duties of 25 and 15 per, cent, respectively in order to continue as nearly as possible the protection previously afforded to the 35 persons who are engaged in the manufacture of these engines in Melbourne. I find that out of these 35 operatives only three men and a boy are engaged in the manufacture of oil engines. The Treasurer probably thought that even a protectionist could not approve of a proposal to impose a 25 per cent, duty upon oilengines in order to protect such a small industry, and therefore made a distinction by reducing the duty to 15 per cent. The oilengines made in Victoria are of a an old pattern and give results 40 per cent, lower than do imported engines of modern pattern. Is it fair to tax the farmer. the irrigationist, the printer, and even the miner to such an extent as the Government propose in order to protect such an insignificant industry ? The proposition is preposterous, and I appeal confidently to the more moderate members who have hitherto been following the Government to support me in this matter. I have several letters here which show the small number of men employed in making oil-engines, and also the low capacity of the locally-made article. These letters came principally from importers, I admit, but they are written by men who certainly ought to know their business. They state that the local manufacturers buy second-hand machines of which the patents have expired, and adopt them as models, and the inevitable result is that their product is considerably behind the times. We should endeavour to place all such articles upon the free list, but 10 per cent, upon both classes of engines would be accepted by the Opposition as a reasonable compromise.
Mr. MAUGER (Melbourne Ports).- As usual, my honorable f riends opposite are depreciating in every possible way the’ colonial-made article. According to them we have no engineers in Australia, and our engines are made according to old patents, and are 40 per cent, lower in capacity than the imported article. I hold here a certificate from the engineer of the Herald, dated March 18th, 1902.
– Is that a protectionist newspaper*! ‘
– I do not know that it is.
– I think it leans a little bit that way.
– This certificate reads as follows : -
This is to certify that, as the result of a test made to-day between an imported 16 horsepower gas - engine and an Australian - made 14 horse-power engine, the advantage was very much in favour of the colonial manufacturer, seeing that the imported article consumed 10 per cent, more gas in doing the same amount of work. The comparison was 27 ft. of gas used for printing 1,000 papers, against 30 ft.
This is signed by Mr. McNaught, engineer of the Herald, and is -witnessed by Mr. Campbell, the secretary of the Society of Amalgamated Engineers. Mr. Campbell gave me a letter to read to the committee urging on behalf of the Amalgamated Engineers that the Government proposals should not be reduced. Mr. Campbell came with Mr. Coulson to see me, and said that the statements made against Mr. Coulson were absolutely untrue. I am ashamed to hear some honorable members depreciate our colonial industries in the way they do. I contend that we can make oil-engines equal to any in the world.
– Hear, hear ! The manufacturers do not need any protection.
– They would not require any protection if they were fairly dealt with. We have to compete with Japanese and all other kinds of labour.
– It is not Japan but America that we have to compete against.
– I am perfectly right in mentioning Japan, because one of the most recent industrial developments of that country has been the manufacture of this particular class of engine. The Amalgamated Society of Engineers specially appeal to us to impose these duties.
– We are acting on behalf of the producers, who have to pay.
– I am sure that it will be to the interests of the producers to have their requirements met by local manufacturers. I regret that some honorable members, for whom I have the highest possible respect, and whose integrity and earnestness I do not for a moment impugn, cannot see eye to eye with me upon this important matter. I am satisfied, however, that the time will come when they will realize that if this Commonwealth is to be great in any sense of the term it will have to encourage varied occupations. We cannot do this unless we extend the all-important industry of engineering. I do hope that the proposal of the Government will be adopted.
– I do not know whether I am one of those towards whom the honorable member for Melbourne Ports holds such very friendly feelings, but I can assure him that my views in regard to this particular item are precisely similar to his own, only we look at the matter from different stand-points. I am equally anxious with him that Australia shall be developed in every possible respect, but I. am of opinion that those who, like himself, wish to see duties placed upon items of this kind are starting at the wrong end. Many conflicting statements have been made during the course of this debate, and honorable members must undoubtedly experience great difficulty in arriving at a conclusion as to which are reliable. I do not intend to traverse any of those statements, but wish to adopt for a little while the a priori method of investigation, and I think I shall be able to show that the conclusions arrived at by the honorable member for Coolgardie and others are reasonable. We are told that the manufacturers of colonial engines ought to be able to produce an article quite equal to that imported. I cannot subscribe to that proposition. If any one has a good original idea in connexion with oil engines - an idea which is worth patenting - does he confine his attention to Australia 1 Certainly not ! He goes further afield - to the manufacturers, who export engines all over the world, and who will gladly pay him a good price for his idea. As a result, we find that the manufacturers in Great Britain and America are in possession of the best ideas in connexion with matters of this kind. Any one who has visited any of the large engineering establishments in the old country, such as Crossley’s, of Manchester, will realize that it is practically impossible for any colonial manufacturer, under the conditions which at present operate in Australia, to compete with those firms. The latter have magnificent and costly machinery, by which they systematize the production of their engines, and reduce their cost to a1 minimum. It has to be remembered also that their manufactures are sufficiently ‘good to create a demand for them in any part of the world. People prefer to pay the duty which is imposed, and to get the imported engines rather than to be content with the antiquated ideas which are necessarily adopted by Australian manufacturers at the present time. I cannot understand the attitude taken up by those who insist that the local manufacturers of these articles are in a position to produce an article as good as is the imported. I fail to see that they have even a chance of doing so-.
– When will they have the chance, if the)’ are not encouraged ?
– They will have the chance when the population justifies their output, but unless we adopt some methods for attracting population to Australia by allowing people access to the natural resources of the country we shall never be in a position to offer the local manufacturer that market which will enable him to compete successfully. We are starting at the wrong end of the economic ladder when we attempt to foster industries which are not in a position to withstand the competition of the outside world. Let us concentrate our energies upon the natural wealth of the country, and we shall then be able to attract a sufficient population to enable our manufacturers to compete successfully. I cannot agree with those who ask that the proposed duty should be levied in the interest of a handful of people who are engaged in the industry in Melbourne. To penalize all the users of these engines, in order to assist a few struggling operatives here, would be grossly unfair. I trust that the Government proposal will not be accepted.
– I am unfortunately compelled to oppose the Government upon this item. I know that oil engines can be made in Victoria, New South Wales, and Queensland, but I confess that they cannot be manufactured in any part of Australia to the same degree of perfection that characterizes the imported article. The argument has been used that a certain number of men are engaged in this particular industry, and that Australians should therefore be compelled to use the locally-manufactured engines. My opinion, however, is that more men are employed in distributing the engines which are made elsewhere than are engaged in the industry in Victoria. It has been well said that Australia is a country of magnificent distances. We have coal and timber in certain parts of the Commonwealth, but I would point out that we have immense plains where there is neither timber nor coal for fuel purposes. It is in such places that the oil engine becomes so serviceable. There are millions of acres in Australia which are destitute even of a solitary tree. We shall be committing a grave wrong if we handicap those people who are settling the so-called “waste” lands of Australia in the slightest degree. I do not decry the mechanical abilities or the inventive genius of Australians. I believe that both in inventive and mechanical genius Australia will assert herself in the time to come. But for the sake of providing employment for a few mechanics in the machine-shops of Southern Melbourne or of Sydney, why should we handicap a bigger industry 1 I represent an agricultural constituency of vast dimensions. I can get into a train and travel from daylight till dark before reaching the end of it. In that district many cream -separators and chaffcutters have to be worked, and oil-engines supply the best power for the purpose. Indeed, one of the big factors in its present prosperity is that the people have been able to obtain oil-engines to do the work which would otherwise be done by horses, and that without consuming the farmers’ produce. People who live in concentrated populations like those of Sydney or Melbourne do not know how great is the value of the motive power of kerosene. On the plains of Queensland, where there are 100 miles from tree to tree - with 10 feet of black soil over the whole of the land, every foot of which is fit to grow cereals or lucerne - kerosene as a motive power is invaluable, lt is absolutely necessary that every penny that comes out of the soil should go into the pockets of those who till the soil, and it is not fair to handicap them in favour of the mechanics of South Melbourne. I do not think I have given a vote in this House that was not strictly a protectionist vote, but I have always voted with a view to the development of all the industries of Australia. At the root of all our industries is the agricultural industry - the whole source of our wealth is labour applied to the land.
– Agriculturists have received less consideration under this Tariff than have any other class except miners.
– I differ from the honorable member for Macquarie in that respect. I recognise that it is better for the local producer to have a local consumption if he can get it ; but it is not wise to handicap the local producer, in order to pamper the local manufacturer.
– How are the dwellers on those plains benefited by the Tariff?
– The man who owns large areas is generally in a position to exercise whatever purchasing power he likes. The man for whom I am speaking is limited in his purchases, and desires to get cheaply, even a half-horse power or a half-man power, whether from gas or oil, to turn his cream separator and his chaff cutter. To handicap such men is to handicap those who are developing the resources of the continent. We do not yet know the producing capacity of the western plains, not only of Queensland, but of New South Wales and other parts of Australia. These are plains, which will yet grow wheat for the whole world, and we should encourage and not hamper the people who go there to develop the as yet unrealized possibilities of those parts of Australia.
– The local consumption will not bring about that development.
– I know that in cereals and similar products Australia has to meet other countries in the markets of the world. My information is to the effect that there are more people engaged to-day in distributing the Hornsby oil engines than there are employed in Melbourne in making both gas and oil engines.
Mr.MAUGER. - Surely the honorable member does not think that a good thing.
– If there are as many men engaged in distributing imported engines as are engaged in making other similar engines here, and there are more men engaged in working imported engines than in working locally-made engines, we are justified in bringing engines from abroad. The question is whether we are to hamper the development of various industries throughout the Commonwealth in order to pamper up a few manufacturers in Melbourne.
– That question has . been asked from this side time after time during the discussion of the Tariff.
– But that question does not apply in every case. Oil-engines can be made more cheaply and to better advantage abroad than in Australia, though steam-engines can be made as cheaply here as anywhere else in the world.
– What is there peculiar about the mechanism” of the oil-engine 1
– I do not know ; but the fact remains that as yet an oilengine has not been made here to compete with the imported article. I will go further and say that in Victoria there cannot be made a steam-engine to compete with the engines which can be made by Walkers’ Limited in Queensland. I stand here as an Australian, and a protector of Australian industries, but in this case we should be hampering big industries for the sake of the small number engaged in making this class of engines. I am in favour of retaining oil-engines on the free list, and hope the Government will be defeated in their present proposal. There are only one or two factories where these engines are made, and I have letters showing that thousands of men require oilengines at as cheap a price as possible, ; in order to carry on their business. If the competition in this manufacture were sufficiently keen to insure an article cheap and good as the ‘ imported engine, I should be with ‘ the Government. But I can show from letters in my possession that English and American machines can be put on the market more cheaply than can those manufactured in Australia.
– Surely the honorable member will not “barrack” for the Ameri-can manufacturers ?
– I “barrack” for neither American nor English manufacturers, but for the men in Australia who have to use these engines, and I shall be reluctantly compelled to vote against the Government proposal.
– It will be admitted that the honorable member for Moreton has made a most sensible speech. The more we hamper the primary indus- tries the more we injure the whole of the people of the Commonwealth. As the primary industries progress, however, the associated manufactures, which tend to develop those primary industries, must also progress. My regret at the present time is that, on the ground of consistency, I find myself in accord neither with the honorable member for Moreton nor with many of my friends on the Opposition side of the Chamber. I cannot from my knowledge of the various engines see airy marked difference between an oil or a gas engine and an engine driven by steam or any other motive power.
– Is there no difference between engines in regard to the accessi-bility of fuel?
– That is a question which will require a very great deal of consideration. I should like to know what is the Ministerial definition of an oil-engine, because very shortly oil as a fuel will be very largely used. Oil in the engine which is commonly known as an oil-engine is used in a direct way, whereas oil hereafter may be used for creating steam in a boiler ; and these latter under the Tariff might be regarded as oil-engines. That is a point, however, which can be regulated by the department in its interpretation of the Tariff. As I intend subsequently to ask the committee to consider the propriety of reducing the duty upon engines and boilers used in connexion with mining and other machinery, I cannot consistently vote for the present proposal of the Government, and I fail to see that any satisfactory reason has been adduced for placing oil and gas engines in a position different from that occupied by other engines. I believe that whatever duty is imposed upon oil-engines should he imposed upon gas-engines, because a small alteration in the valve will convert one engine into the other. If a compromise were arrived at in regard to the suggestion of the honorable and learned member for South Australia, Mr. Glynn, and both oil and gas engines were to be charged at the rate of 10 per cent., I should vote for it, though I cannot consistently vote for placing these engines on the free list. A duty of 10 per cent, would give the Government the revenue they require ; but, although I am in favour of such a duty, I reserve to myself the right to vote for a duty of 15 per cent., because I intend later on to move for the reduction of the duty on other engines to 15 per cent.
– I intend to vote for the omission of the words “and oil” ; but I wish it to be understood that, although on a previous occasion I voted for a duty of 20 per cent, upon engines, I am in favour of placing a duty of 15 per cent, upon both oil and steam engines, if it can be done.
– I have previously explained that oil and gas engines are convertible by a slight alteration of their parts, and I strongly contended that therefore whatever duty is placed on the one kind of engine should be placed upon the other. In my opinion, however, the community should be allowed to obtain these engines as cheaply as possible, seeing that they are so largely used by such an infinite variety of manufacturers. As a fair compromise I would suggest the placing of a duty of 15 per cent, upon both oil and gas engines.
– Say 10 per cent.
– I would willingly suggest 10 per cent, if I thought there was any chance of carrying it. Certain of my constituents are very much interested in this matter, and on a previous occasion I spent a considerable amount of time in arguing it before the committee ; but at the present stage I think we should conserve our time as much as possible, and I am of opinion that time would be uselessly and unnecessarily occupied in discussing a duty of 10 per cent.
– I am of opinion that there is a sufficient number of honorable members in favour of a duty of 10 per cent, to enable us to carry it.
– I would support a proposal to make the duty 10 per cent., but I do not think it could be carried.
– I wish to compliment the honorable member for Moreton upon his speech. He pointed out with great force, and with great reason, that the farming population in his district suffered considerably from the high duty originally imposed upon these engines, and that their costliness hampered them in their struggles to place their produce at a cheap rate upon the markets of the world. That state of things is one which is seldom alluded to by honorable members on the Government side of the Chamber ; but we on this side have constantly pointed out that the farmers, who gam practically nothing from protection, should not be taxed upon the machinery and implements which they require to profitably carry on their operations. To show how greatly the duty has affected the price of these engines, I propose to quote some of the prices charged for the Hornsby Patent Safety Oil Engines when the duty was in existence and since it was removed. When the duty was in force the price charged for one class of stationary engine was £90, while the price since the removal of the duty is £80. An engine of the second class formerly cost £105, and now costs £92; a third class of engine which formerly cost £120, now costs £108 ; and a fourth class, which formerly cost £146, now costs £127. Then, with regard to portable engines, one class which formerly cost £140 now costs £127, and another class which formerly cost £155 now costs £140. Similar reductions appear all through the price list, so that it is plain that the abolition of the duty has caused a reduction of at least 15 per cent, in the price of the engines. Honorable members have shown what great advantages there are in using oil-engines, and how largely they are used for chaffcutting, dairying work, irrigation work, and many other purposes by farmers, pastoralists, market gardeners, and producers of all kinds. I hope that the committee will see the necessity of doing something, even at this late stage, to help the primary producers. If they had to depend upon their home market, they might perhaps be assisted by protective duties on the articles which they produce.
– What would be the position of the farmers if they had to depend upon the foreign market for the prices they get for wheat ?
– Our farmers are able to hold their home market without protection, and we could not impose duties which would give them better prices for their surplus produce. The Government should give us some sound reasons for recommitting this item, and making oilengines dutiable, but they have not done so. When the Government proposals were debated on a previous occasion, protectionists and free-traders alike realised that the primary producers should be assisted as far as possible by placing oil-engines upon the free list, and I cannot understand the sudden change in the attitude of some honorable members. We have often heard of manufacturers going to the Treasurer, and telling him that if certain duties are -imposed important industries will be encou raged here.
– They do not come to me, because I refuse to see them.
– They send in letters, stating that important industries, which will give employment to two or three men and a boy, will be encouraged if certain duties are imposed ; and we are then asked to tax the whole of the people of the Commonwealth. The honorable and learned member for Corio has pointed out the extent to which certain industries are affected by the duties imposed upon tools of trade, and there is no doubt that a duty upon oil-engines will very seriously affect the primary producers, by increasing the cost of their machinery, and possibly compelling them to put up with an inferior article. The farming and mining industries have already been seriously handicapped by the Tariff, although no classes in the community have deserved so much consideration, and have at the same time received so little at the hands of the Government. The (honorable member for Moreton has shown how the farmers and pastoralists of Queensland will bo placed at a serious disadvantage, -df a duty is imposed upon oil-engines, and I hope his statements will have due weight with honorable members, and induce them to vote against the Government.
– I quite agree with the honorable member for Macquarie that, in formulating the Tariff, we should give all sections of the community fair consideration, but I am not in accord with him when he contends that those engaged in primary production have had no consideration extended to them. The honorable member has been one of those who have consistently opposed the interests of the producers in dealing with the Tariff. Great stress has been laid upon the statement of the honorable member for Moreton in support of retaining oil-engines upon the free list, but it does not seem to be realized that the honorable member placed himself in a most illogical position. He informed us that at the Maryborough Engineering Works steam-engines are being produced, which are as efficient as any in the world, and which are being used in Queensland in preference to the imported article. He said further, that the locally manufactured engines were as cheap as those introduced from abroad. Does it not follow, as a matter of course, that if the engineers are able to make one class of engine they will, when the demand arises, make other classes of engines just as successfully? In Victoria oil-engines have been made which meet the requirements of those who use them equally as well as do the imported article. The manufacture is only of limited extent at present, because oil-engines have only recently come into vogue, but their use is being gradually extended owing to the advantages they offer in fuel economy and safety from danger through- sparks. As the demand for these engines increases, the manufacturers who are now engaged in making steam and gas engines will turn their attention to the manufacture of oil engines, and will doubtless produce a highclass article. I admit, as all protectionists do, that when a duty is imposed, in order to secure the establishment of an industry, the cost of the article may be increased slightly in the first instance, but as soon as the industry is established I have no fear of the result. Even adopting the figures quoted by the honorable member for Macquarie, showing the relative cost of oilengines before and after the imposition of the duties, as being .£127 and £140 respective^, I would point out that the difference of £13 in the prime cost is not so very great when one considers that these engines last for many years, and that the extra cost may therefore reasonably be spread over a long period. I absolutely deny that the imposition’ of a duty upon oil-engines will hamper the primary producers in the slightest degree, and consequently I am prepared to support a reasonable tax upon these articles.
– What does the honorable member call a “ reasonable “ duty ?
– I think that 15 per cent, would be reasonable, seeing that our manufacturers have the whole of the Commonwealth to cater for.
– I pointed out earlier in the evening that these particular articles were exempted from duty owing to an inadvertence on my part. As the matter now stands gas-engines are dutiable at 20 per cent, whilst oil-engines are included in the free list. It is admitted by everybody that the duty upon the two articles ought to be the same. I do not think it is the desire of the majority that they shall be admitted free. The honorable and learned member for South Australia, Mr. Glynn, has suggested that a duty of 10 per cent, should be imposed upon them, whilst others have declared that a 15 per cent, rate would not be unreasonable. If we refuse to strike out the words “ and oil,” oil-engines will be admitted free, which I am quite sure is not the desire of this committee. Therefore I propose to ask honorable members to allow the Government proposal to be carried tentatively. That will have the effect of rendering gas and oil engines dutiable at 20 per cent. If the committee agree to temporarily adopt that course, I will undertake to submit a proposal at a later stage to tax gas and oil engines at 15 per cent.
– I have no objection to the Treasurer’s proposal, upon the understanding that when the Government proposition is submitted the committee will occupy the same position that they now occupy. I think that the Treasurer’s suggestion will expedite a settlement of this matter, but of course we reserve to ourselves the right to endeavour to impose a less duty than 15 per cent.
Mr. GLYNN (South Australia).- I desire to know when the Treasurer will submit his proposal in favour of a 15 per cent, duty? It will be rather hard if these engines are taxed for a fortnight at the rate of 20 per cent.
– I will introduce the matter immediately we have disposed of the recommittals.
– Then ‘the Treasurer proposes to operate retrospectively on the Tariff as originally framed. I would point out that a 15 per cent, duty was collected up to a certain date, and if we now omit the words “and oil” that duty will have been wrongly collected.
– I would point out to honorable members that it is not within my province to give an opinion as to the legality or otherwise of the course which has been taken.
Mr. THOMSON (North Sydney)’.- Does the Treasurer intend to collect this duty of 20 per cent, immediately ?
– We will not collect more than 15 per cent.
– We have no assurance yet that 15 per cent, will be carried. Would it not be better, therefore, to allow these articles to remain upon the free list until the matter is definitely decided ?
– There is no reason why the matter should not be finally decided within a day or two.
– No loss of revenue could accrue from the adoption of the course which I suggest, because it will be known that this item is to be recommitted. Why come to a tentative decision now, when we shall be deciding the whole question within a day or two ? .
Amendment agreed to.
– I move-
That the following new line be inserted: - “Mining machinery n.e.i., on and after 10th. April, 1902, ad valorem 20 per cent.”
When this matter was previously before the committee, I made certain remarks which went further than I had intended them te go and which apparently misled some honorable members. Thereupon I promised to give the committee another opportunity of discussing mining and electrical machinery and appliances. I submit, the present motion in order to redeem that promise. The motion simply affirms the duty which is at present in operation.
Mr. KNOX (Kooyong). - I move -
That the’ motion be amended by the omission of the figures “ 20,” with a view to insert in lieu thereof the figures “ 15.”
I have no desire to occupy time in traversing any of the arguments which were so fully laid before the committee when this matter was discussed previously. Honorable members will recollect that when a proposal was made to fix the duty at 15 per cent, the Government won by a majority of two. Simultaneously they indicated their preparedness to allow honorable members considerable freedom in submitting lists of articles which they thought should be included in the exemptions, but’ in the end only one list of importance was submitted. With all respect I claim that upon the former occasion the Government majority was secured under the impression that the exemption list would be a pretty comprehensive one. On reference to Hansard I find that in presenting the list to the right honorable gentleman I was particularly careful to indicate that I did so against my own desires, and only in deference to his own wish, believing as I did that a duty of 15 per cent, all round was preferable, with a view to avoiding difficulties at the Customhouse, and preserving a uniform method throughout the Commonwealth. But the Minister has divided the item - I acknowledge his courtesy in consulting me in the matter - and this allows a distinction to be drawn between the electrical machinery, and purely mining machinery. At this stage I do not intend to deal with electrical machinery, but only with mining machinery. 1 ‘The importance of having uniformity is evidenced by the fact that the committee have agreed to a duty of 15 per cent, on agricultural machinery ; and I have never yet heard any reason advanced why that machinery should be placed on a different footing. There is not an honorable member who doubts the great importance of the mining industry to the Commonwealth. We have had from members on the Government side representations in the interests of the employes of various” manufacturers in all parts of the States, some of these employes being very limited in number ; and surely the great number engaged in mining deserve consideration, particularly at the present time. Mining interests from one end of the world to the other are suffering very much from the depreciation in the prices of the various me tails - copper, lead, and silver having declined so much that a profitable working margin is rapidly vanishing. In the case .of Broken Hill, which was particularly referred to by the honorable member for Barrier, the services of large numbers of men have had to be dispensed with in consequence of the fall in the price of lead, and on that ground there is justification for asking the committee to give as favorable a duty as is consistent with the necessities ‘of revenue. But there is another important point which was referred to earlier in the evening. The products of the mines have to compete with products from other parts of the world, all the silver, copper, and lead being sold abroad. That competition has to meet with cheaper labour and more complete appliances, and on that ground alone the mining industry deserves the fullest sympathy and help. It must be remembered that mining has contributed £500,000,000 to the wealth of Australasia. Of the total production of wealth in Australia in 1899, amounting to £137,000,000, mining produced £24,858,000, and manufactures £33,316,000. These figures show that mining produced nearly one-fourth of the primary production of Australasia, or was nearly equal to the production of agriculture, which amounted to £25,247,000. I am indebted for these figures to the Australian Mining Standard, the recent articles in which, on the mining industry as it is affected by the duties, are most powerfully written, and claim the attention of any honorable member who desires to study this subject for himself. In asking for a reduction of the duty to 15 per cent., I am as desirous as any honorable member to see engineering works in successful operation. I can speak with confidence of the excellent work which has been done by the eminent firm at Maryborough, Queensland, and by firms in Sydney, Castlemaine, Bendigo, Melbourne, Gawler, Adelaide, and Launceston. From every one of these works I have had machinery which has proved serviceable and satisfactory. There is no doubt that in a great many instances, the firms to whom I have alluded are indebted to patterns introduced here from the United States and other parts of the world, where engineering works arc necessarily in a much more advanced condition. It would be idle to deny that great works such as there are in the various parts of the United States, Canada, and England, where the demand is great, are in a much better position to supply more perfect and complete machinery than are the works in Australia. In asking for a reduction of the rate, I am practically asking for a reduction on the higher-class machinery. I have already shown that of the £1,250,000 spent on machinery at Broken Hill, one-fourth only went for imported machinery, and I have found by “further figures that that proportion is practically maintained in all other large enterprises where machinery of a special character is required. I, therefore, claim that I am now asking for what is only a reasonable duty, or, if honorable members like, a reasonable protection for the local manufacturer. During the last week I have gone through a series of invoices of machinery which has been imported by various companies in which I am interested, and I have found that the cost of freight, insurance, and landing amounts to at least 10 per cent., though, in some cases, it amounts to as much as 20 per cent, with the addition of the ad valorem duty. Surely the local manufacturers should be able to carry on their operations with such .a large protection in their favour.
– A manufacturer has to pay 10 per cent, for the iron he imports.
– I do not think the iron imported costs anything like 10 per cent., find I know that large quantities of pigiron come out as ballast at very cheap rates. The total wealth produced in Western Australia during 1899 was £10,215,000, of which amount 60 per cent., or £6,346,000, was contributed by the mining industry. The total wealth produced in Tasmania during the same year was £5,090,000, of which the mining industry produced 50 per cent., or £2,539,000. Surely, then, the imposition of a duty of 20 per cent, on mining machinery is a serious matter to those States. The’ honorable member for Barrier has dealt exhaustively with the conditions prevailing at Broken Hill, and it has been pointed out that under the present Tariff for every £1,000 spent upon mining machinery the Government will mulct the mining companies to the extent of £200. In Victoria-
– We are accustomed to being bled. .
– Yes. But the manufacturers whom the honorable and learned members for Bendigo and Corinella particularly represent have now the whole of Australia for their market, instead of only Victoria and New South Wales as formerly. Surely that must compensate them for any imaginary loss of protection. The Minister for Defence knows how greatly this duty affects Western Australia, and I have been informed that he has received from the mining community there a strong appeal for its reduction. I have also presented to the House requests from the Chambers of Mines in the various States for an allround duty of 15 per cent. I have pointed out the inconsistency of placing a duty of 15 per cent, on agricultural machinery, and 20 per cent, on electrical and mining machinery ; and I wash now to point out to the Minister for Trade and Customs that if a uniform duty is proposed, his department will be relieved of the confusion _ and difficulty which must otherwise be occasioned in the interpretation of the Tariff, and of the trouble which will be occasioned in seeing that the machinery imported is used for the specific purposes for which it is imported. If a duty of 15 per cent, all round were imposed, I should be quite, willing to leave it to the Minister to declare by proclamation what special machinery should be placed upon the list of exemptions. I again ask the committee to remember what a large number of miners throughout the length and breath of the Commonwealth are affected by the present duty.
– And shareholders, too.
– Yes; and if there were no shareholders, a great many mines would be left undeveloped, so that the demands of capital must be taken into consideration as well as those of labour. Before sitting down, I wish to refer to two matters of a somewhat personal concern. The honorable and learned member for Corinella promised to make inquiries regarding a statement of mine as to some tenders.
– I am only waiting the opportunity to inform the committee of the result of my inquiries.
– The other matter to which I wish to refer is the exemption list which I submitted; I am satisfied that honorable members on both sides will accept the assurance, which I repeat now, that I have no pecuniary interest whatever in any firm importing mining machinery, and that I am moving my amendment simply to effect what I believe to be in the best interests of one of the greatest and most important of our industries. I have had the privilege to be associated with some of the large mining undertakings in the Commonwealth, and I therefore claim that if the duty be reduced the local manufacturers of mining machinery will not suffer, because in addition to the protection which will still be afforded them, they will retain the great advantage which they have in the preference of mining companies for machinery constructed within .the States within which they carry on their operations. My own influence and that of my associates in mining enterprises has always been exerted in favour of the local article where it would do the work as efficiently as the imported machinery. The shorter time within which the machinery can be delivered and the greater facility with which extra parts can be obtained has always induced us to prefer the local article. The mining industry is deserving of the very fullest encouragement. At no time in the history of Australia did it require more consideration than at present when every metal with the exception of gold is at a very low price. I ask the committee therefore to very seriously consider the amendment which I have proposed.
– I do not propose to discuss at any length the general question of the propriety of imposing this duty, because I assume that practically every honorable member has made up his mind how he is going to vote. Some time ago I stated that certain tenders had been called for by a ‘Broken Hill mining company, and that the contract was given to an American firm, although an Australian tenderer had offered to carry it out at a lower price. The honorable member for Kooyong courteously supplied me with a statement made by the secretary of the company concerned, showing the actual amounts of the tenders, and on making further inquiries I discovered that my prior information was incorrect.Whereas the Australian tender amounted to £6,150, the American offer was £2 or £3 under £6,000 ; so that as a matter of fact the Australian price was the higher by £150. Without going into details, I may say that I also showed the honorable member for Kooyong correspondence, which satisfied him that my informant was misled by a mistake for which he was not accountable, and that the information had been supplied to me in as perfect good faith as that in which it was repeated by me to the committee. However, I was mistaken, and I take this opportunity of openly informing the committee. I sympathize largely with the Minister for Trade and Customs and the Customs officials in the difficulties they encounter in interpreting this or any other Tariff, but it seems to me that we are somewhat capriciously and gratuitously proposing to make it more difficult for them to administer a section of the Tariff which is already sufficiently troublesome. It is proposed to impose a duty upon “ mining machinery,” and I would ask first of all what is meant by that. Does it mean machinery thatcan be used only for mining, or machinery that is in the ordinary course used only for mining purposes ; or does it mean machinery that is actually to be used for mining purposes ? If the latter definition is adopted we shall once more be legislating with regard to the purposes to which articles are to be put. This is the very worst way in which we can frame a Tariff, because we cannot trace articles to their destinations without an undesirableamountof espionage and expense. In the third place, does mining machinery mean machinery that can be used for mining ? There is a large class of machinery that can be used for mining purposes, but which is applied to other purposes. If a man imports an engine that can be used for mining or for any one of a hundred other purposes, will that engine come under the description of mining machinery ? Supposing the duty on mining machinery is fixed at 15 per cent., and the impost on other machinery remains at 20 per cent., is the engine referred to to be admitted on the payment of 15 per cent, duty because it can be used upon a mine, or subject to satisfactory evidence being given that it is to be sent to a mine ? Furthermore, is the additional 5 per cent, to be collected in the event of the engine not being sent to a mine; oris machinery of this kind to be charged 15 per cent, only when it is consigned to a mining proprietary? The difficulties that will be raised if the duty fixed for mining machinery is different from that imposed upon other classes of machinery will be so enormous that no Customs officer, however expert or however cautious, will be able to discriminate sufficiently. Other machinery is now dutiable at 20 per cent., and there is no proposal to alter that. Engines generally are now subject to an ad valorem duty of 20 per cent., as also are “ machines and machinery, n.e.i.,” and if we fix this duty at 1 5 per cent, serious questions will arise as to the classification of certain kinds of machinery.
– I intended that mining machineryshould comprise machinery exclusively used in mining - a definition similar to that adopted in regard to agricultural machinery.
– Agricultural machinery can as a whole be interpreted as machinery specially adapted for agricultural purposes. Although ploughs may occasionally be used for purposes other than agriculture, it is not likely that any large importation of ploughs will be made for any but agricultural purposes. As a matter of fact, however, if a man imports an engine which is to be used for agricultural purposes, he has to pay duty upon it as an engine apart from the purpose to which it is to be devoted. The honorable member for Barrier seems to think that mining machinery n.e.i. would include anything that could be used in mining, that is, any machinery of the class that could be used in mining.
– Machinery exclusively used in mining is what is meant.
– I understand that the object of the proposal is to make dutiable only machinery specifically of the class used in mining operations and in no other.
– That would be the construction put upon the item by the Customs officials.
– I wonder if that would be the construction put upon it by the High Court. We can easily avoid any difficulty in this matter by retaining all the duties at a uniform rate of 20 per cent.
– We might insert words to make our intention more clear.
– The intention should certainly be made perfectly clear. I regard 20 per cent, as better than 15 per cent., and I shall certainly vote for it. I believe that, except on special occasions, such as those to which the honorable member for Kooyong has referred, when machinery of a special kind which cannot be made here because of the patent rights is introduced, Australian makers can supply all the Australian mining machinery that is required as efficiently, as effectively, and as cheaply as it can be obtained from abroad. So far as patented machinery is concerned, we are all agreed that, whatever rate is fixed, we cannot distinguish between machinery that is protected by patent rights and that which is not. We can supply mining machinery as cheap and as effective as that which is imported ; the reason why I say it can be done is that it has been done. One honorable member suggested that I represented the manufacturers of metals. He is entirely mistaken.
Miners constitute the most numerous class in my constituency, and then come farmers, traders, and manufacturers in the order named. The experience of Australia is that mining machinery can be manufactured locally. Irrespective of what duty may be imposed upon it, I submit that the internal competition is sufficiently great to insure that prices will be kept down In 99 cases outof 100 these goods are supplied to tender, and not to order, and just as often those tenders are the result of honest competition. In my opinion 20 per cent, is not too high a margin to insure that the source of supply shall remain Australian. Therefore I intend to vote for the retention of the present duty, which I have no hesitation in affirming will not injuriously affect” the mining community.
– I quite agree with those honorable members who have declared that, in discussing this matter, it is unnecessary to traverse old ground. The honorable member for Kooyong has delivered a very able speech, in which he fully stated the case for a reduction of the duty. With that speech I thoroughly agree. There is a matter of some importance, however, which has not yet been brought before this Parliament, although it should have been. I refer to a petition which was prepared in London at considerable trouble - a petition which comes from a very influential quarter indeed. That document was presented to the Agent-General for Western Australia, who promised to .forward it to the Minister for Defence, whom I am glad to see present. I understand that the petition was forwarded as far back as the 19th February. I have been in possession of a copy of it for the past two weeks, and I should like to know whether the Minister for Defence has yet received the document ; if so, why has it not been presented to Parliament? The signatures to the petition are those of men who have invested no less than £13,000,000 in Western Australia. They are not interested in an industry which employs three men and a boy. They do not plead for additional taxation upon the people. They do not represent any of the paltry manufactures to be found in the suburbs of Melbourne, for the sake of which we are sacrificing the primary industries of the Commonwealth. They do not employ a handful of operatives at a starvation wage, but they provide employment for more than 10,000 men, at an average wage of £i weekly. It will thus be seen that in wages annually they disburse over £2,000,000. Surely the representations of these men are worthy of consideration. I owe nothing to them personally ; they did not assist me in my election campaign, and I “did not hesitate to oppose them when I thought they were wrong. Now, however, that they have a good case, I am perfectly ready to present it to this committee.
– Has the honorable member a copy of the petition 1
– I have, and as I shall not have another opportunity of presenting it, I wish to refer to the statements made by the representatives of English companies which are interested in the gold-mines of Western Australia’. The document is addressed to the Parliament of the Commonwealth, and is in the usual form, so that no objection whatever can be taken to its wording. It brings under the notice of Parliament -
The disastrous effects which the Commonwealth Tariff will have upon the trade and future prosperity of Western Australia, and the hardships which it will impose upon the businesses carried on by your petitioners. Your petitioners are large importers of machinery, railway, and tramway material, and their various business engagements for the supply of such material have been based upon the rates of duty existing prior to the Commonwealth Tariff coming into force, and which provided, on machinery of all kinds, unless specially mentioned or exempted, 5 per cent., ad valorem, and upon rails, fastenings, and rollingstock for railways and tramways, free.
The petition goes on to compare the conditions which existed prior to the introduction of the Federal Tariff with those prevailing at the present time. It proceeds -
Your petitioners are astonished to find that under ohe Commonwealth Tariff the duties on the articles enumerated, which are absolutely necessary to the future development of various industries of that State, have been increased to an enormous extent.
– I must ask the honorable member how he intends to connect his remarks with the item before the chair. The honorable member ought to read the petition in order to give the Chairman an opportunity of knowing whether it is relevant.
– I understand the question under discussion is whether or not mining machinery shall be at the rate of 20 per cent, or 15 per cent., and this is a petition which should have been presented to this Parliament before. The petition has been published in the London press, and surely I may quote from it anything in support of a reduction of the rate of duty ?
– I have the petition here, and I will presently lay it on the table.
– That is just the admission I wanted. It is most peculiar that the petition should not have been presented to the House before now.
– Wait until I explain.
– I call the attention of the honorable member for Kalgoorlie to Standing Order 26S, which reads -
No member shall read extracts from newspapers or other documents referring to debates in the House during the same session.
This matter was dealt with by the committee in the early part of the session, and it was laid down strictly that the reading of strictures on the debates in this House from outside sources should not be allowed. I wanted the honorable member to afford the Chairman an opportunity of knowing whether the extracts he proposed to read were or were not strictures on the debates.
– With all respect, I claim that this petition is not a stricture, but simply a statement made by certain men who are very much interested in the Commonwealth - men who have largely invested in mining industries in the Commonwealth, and are entitled to be heard. Surely I may read a statement that has been made by those gentlemen in favour of a reduction of the duties on mining machinery ?
– I am sure the honorable member will sec the necessity of complying with my wish, namely, that he will state what is the substance of the petition before he reads any extracts.
– I suggest that as the petition is now here, some means be found of placing it properly before honorable members, so that we may discuss it. This seems to be a matter of considerable importance, and we ought, before coming to a decision, to have the fullest information possible. It was the intention of those who compiled the petition to have the information before the committee in time to have their representations considered.
– I suggest that the honorable member for Kalgoorlie should temporarily give way to the Minister for Defence, in order that the petition may be placed before us.
– That cannot be done in committee ; the time has passed.
– Perhaps the committee will allow me to make a short explanation. Some time ago it was published in the newspapers that this petition had been presented to the Agent-General of Western Australia, and I received a telegram giving the purport of the petition. I tried my best, under the rules of the House, to have this message placed on the table, but was unsuccessful ; I had to wait until the petition itself arrived. The petition was addressed by the Agent-General of Western Australia to his Government, and forwarded by the Premier of that State to me. It was only last night that I received the letter from the Premier of Western Australia, and but for the unfortunate fact thatI was absent when the House met today it would have been possible for me to have laid this petition on the table. I was not aware, however, that this item would come up for discussion to-day. I have made arrangements for the petition to be presented both in this House and in the Senate to-morrow. The letter from the Premier of Western Australia, which is dated the 26th March, reads : -
That is the whole of the information I have in regard to the petition, four copies of which were sent, and two of which I have given to a representative in the Senate to present to that Chamber. The honorable member will see that, excepting to-day, there has been no delay on my part. Although there is not much in the petition, the document is important. The petition sets forth, first of all, that the duty on mining machinery in Western Australia has hitherto been 5 per cent., and that now the Commonwealth proposes to impose 25 per cent.; and then the petitioners point to the hardships under which they will suffer in regard to contracts and other matters.
They pray that any increase in the import duties under the Commonwealth Tariff, as compared with the previous rates, shall remain inapplicable to contracts and engagements entered into prior to the date of such Tariff coining into force, in the same way, as they say, His Majesty’s Government deal with coal contracts in the United Kingdom in relation to the export duty upon coal. The petition is signed by representatives of all the mining companies doing business in Western Australia, and having their head offices in London. I shall have very much pleasure in placing this petition on the table as requested, and in the meantime the letter of the Premier of Western Australia and the petition itself are open to the perusal of any honorable member.
Mr.V. L. Solomon. - Is it not competent for an honorable member who quotes from any document to lay that document on the table whether we are in committee or in the House?
– If I can do so, I shall be very glad.
– The Minister for Defence can please himself whether or not he lays this document on the table of the committee, but officially it can be laid on the table of the House only.
– Under the circumstances I shall lay the document on the table of the committee, and present it more formally in the House to-morrow.
Mr. KIRWAN (Kalgoorlie).- The Minister for Defence, according to his own statement, might have presented the petition this afternoon, when we should have been in a position to fully deal with it. Surely in such an important matter the right honorable gentleman might have seen that the document was presented. It is rather a lamentable thing that the petition should be laid on the table of the House to-morrow which happens to be just a day late.
– Why did they not send the petition to the honorable member?
– I shall answer that question. When some mining companies of Western Australia were in the wrong, and tried to rob the diggers of their rights, I fought against them, as I would to-morrow ; but now whentheminingcompanies are in the right it is I who am fighting for them, and it is the right honorable gentleman who throws them overboard. The companies now look to the right honorable gentleman and endeavour to get his help, but he throws them over as he threw over the diggers and the masses of the people of Western Australia in the past.
– I must ask the honorable member for Kalgoorlie to confine his remarks to the item before the committee.
– I shall certainly confine myself to the item, and my last few words were only drawn from me by an interjection of the Minister for Defence. Now that the petition is on the table I should like to know whether I have permission to read portions of it.
– On the previou occasions I only wished the honorable member to give me the substance of the petition, in order that I might know whether it was relevant. The honorable member may now proceed.
– The petition compares the former duty of 5 per cent., and the freedom of rails, fastenings, and rolling-stock, with the Federal Tariff of 25 per cent, on mining , machinery and 15 per cent., on rails, &c. The petition calls attention to the method now employed by the officials in collecting the duty by which 10 per cent, is added to the invoice value before the ad valorem, duty is applied. In the case of machinery, the effect is to impose a total taxation on the manufactured value of 27½ per cent. Since the petition has been prepared there has been a reduction in the rate of mining machinery by 5 per cent, so that the total taxation now is 22½ per cent. The petition goes on to say that the petitioners cannot see any reasan for this arbitrary and unusual method of altering invoice values. It is further stated -
The development of the mining industry of Western Australia must for the future lie largely in the direction of dealing with large quantities of comparatively low grade ores by the means of extensive crushing, smelting, and reduction plants, which must be economically installed, and extensive tramways, sidings, &c, will be required for cheap haulage of the ores. The imposition of these heavy duties must seriously hamper such a development.
The petition therefore asks that the import duties, so far as the State of Western Australia is concerned, shall be re-considered before the Bill containing the Tariff becomes law.
– “So far as Western Australia is concerned.”
– The petitioners are interested chiefly in connexion with Western Australia, and the right honorable gentleman ought not to draw attention to what is a mere slip on their part. The words “ so far as the State of Western Australia is concerned” can be easily understood. We have not yet got accustomed to the Federal idea, and each individual who is interested in a particular State naturally thinks of that State. We often hear similar remarks in Parliament, and we cannot expect that the Federal idea should have more hold in the old country than it has yet been able to secure in Australia. This petition, as has been mentioned, was presented to the Agent-General for Western Australia. The petition was presented by Mr. Waddington, an influential and well-known man in the mining world. In presenting it, he pointed out that the signatories represented no less than £13,000,000 registered for investment in the industrial development of the State of Western Australia.
– In the petition which I have, the sum represented follows each signature, and the aggregate of these amounts is only £2,180,000.
– I have a printed copy of the petition, and it is signed by persons representing £13,000,000 of capital.
– Perhaps those who drafted the petition thought that they would obtain signatures from persons representing £13,000,000 of capital, and afterwards found that they could not obtain the signatures of persons representing more than £3,000,000.
– It is not likely that those who presented the petition to the Agent-General of Western Australia would say that those who signed it represented a larger amount of capital than was actually the case. This petition was published in the London newspapers, and none of the companies concerned had any corrections to make. The whole of the circumstances under which it reached this House are very extraordinary.
– I find, on comparing the petition which we have with the printed copy to which the honorable member refers, that there would appear to have been four separate petitions, so that in the aggregate £13,000,000 may have been represented.
- Mr. Waddington, addressing Mr. Lefroy, the Agent-General for Western Australia, said -
I understand that a copy of this petition has already been handed to you, and you will have observed that the signatories represent about £13,000,000 of capital registered for the industrial development of the State of Western Australia. This capital represents many thousands of investors in this country. Had we had sufficient time, it is possible we should have trebled the weight of representation that we bring before you to-day.”
He further stated that -
Many investors appear to regard their investments in British countries in the nature of contracts, to which theGovernments of those countries are parties. They regard the Governments as saying - “Here we are with rich resources inviting capital for development. Here are our just laws, reasonable regulations, and moderate taxes. Your security is assured, and your burden will be light. “Invest your money under the British flag, which assures protection and justice to every one beneath it.” Assuming that the £13,000,000 which we represent to-day was invested by people who reasoned in this way - and I know they were many - what will be their views when they realize the excessive character of this prohibitive taxation ?
He concluded his speech with this observation -
I regard this Tariff Bill as calculated to not only shutout that capital and enterprise, but also likely to alienate the good-will, sympathy, and cooperation of those merchants and capitalists in this country who have hitherto been Western Australia’s best friends.
Mr. Oliver Wethered supported Mr. Waddington, and he said that -
They all hoped and expected that an end would shortly be put to the present war, and it was a fact that with many investors it was a question of Africa versus Australia as a field for investment. He feared that much money would be diverted from Australia to Africa by the natural advantages of the latter continent without the Australians imposing further taxation. He would instance a Western Australian company with which he was personally connected, which dealt with ore of a low grade. That company had already installed 20 stampers of a proposed battery of 100 stampers, and another 20-head would by now have been on the way had not the local manager cabled that the duties were heavily increased by the proposed Tariff.
There are some people who say that the Tariff will afford employment, but there we have a special instance of the way in which it will preventmen from being employed in Western Australia. It is not some paltryfactory near Melbourne, employing half-a-dozen men and a boy, that is concerned
– The honorable member must not get angry.
– I am sorry that there are men like the honorable member, whose views of the whole Commonwealth are obscured by the smoke of the Melbourne factories. Mr. Wethered went on to say -
Under the circumstances they were sitting on the fence, and it was hard to say when the second twenty stampers would be despatched if the heavy duty was persisted in. He had nothing more to add except that he supported the petition in its entirety.
Mr. Lefroy, in replying to the deputation, said -
I fully recognise the influential character of the deputation, and also the fact that the development of Western Australia, which during the last ten yearshas been born again, has largelybeen achieved by the investment of outside capital. I feel that the investment of capital from outside should be encouraged in every possible way, not only by Western Australia, but by all the other Australian States. Having said that, I am fully in sympathy with the deputation. I would not be justified in entering into the controversial side of the matter, and discussing protection and freetrade. At the same time, I trust that your petition will bear some considerable weight.
I ask the committee to give this petition consideration. Surely those who have invested such a huge amount of money in the development of what was previously a desert, and have assisted to add what is virtually a new province to the Commonwealth, are entitled to consideration. There is one other matter to which I should like to refer. In the comparative table showing the duties formerly in force in the various States and in Canada and New Zealand, no mention is made of the fact that in New Zealand machinery for gold-saving purposes and for mining purposes generally, including machine pumps, but not dredging machinery, is on the free list. That being so, we ought not to heavily burden the mining industry in the Commonweal th. The only j ustification that there can be for the recommittal of an item is that the vote originally taken upon it was taken in a thin committee or under a misapprehension of facts. In this case honorable members may well be pardoned for reversing their previous decision, because it was come to on the distinct understanding that patented machinery and other machinery which cannot be manufactured in the Commonwealth would be placed upon the free list. I hope, therefore, that the amendment of the honorable member for Kooyong will be carried. I should like to see the duty made less than 15 per cent., but as there does not appear to be any hope of carrying a lower rate, I intend to support the proposal now before the committee.
– - I regret the heat that has been displayed by the representatives of Western Australia. Nothing but calmness and Christianity prevails amongst the representatives of Tasmania. I should like to ask the Minister for Trade and Customs not to further postpone the settlement of this question, but to come down before we shoot. There is no question that the majority of the committee are in favour of the reduction of the duty, and by yielding now the Minister will save unnecessary and acrimonious debate. It is of the- utmost importance to the whole Commonwealth that mining machinery should be admitted at as low a rate of duty as possible, so as to enable our mines to be developed with advantage. The honorable member for Kooyong has presented the case in a very effective way, and it is scarcely necessary for other honorable members to do more than acquiesce in his remarks. We have fixed a 15 per cent, duty for other classes of machinery, and I see no good reason -why a higher rate should be imposed upon mining machinery, which is the most important of all.
– As I read the provisions of the Tariff, the engineering, trade generally will receive protection under the heading of engines, boilers, pumps, machines and machinery to the extent of 20 per cent. That will be a general protection on engines and all des.criptions of machinery, whether used for mining purposes or in flour mills or factories. The object of the duty now proposed is to provide for a duty of 20 per cent, on mining machinery, n.e.i. ; that is, machinery used exclusively in connexion with mines. I think it will be found that this sub-division will include only a very limited class of mining appliances, such as gold -saving machinery, and that it will not have the wide scope contemplated by the honorable member for Kooyong. A reduction of the duty, however, would go to some extent in the direction he desires, and to that degree I can see my way to support a reduction of the duty to 15 per cent.
– I am much surprised to hear one honorable member after another express himself in favour of a duty of 15 percent, upon mining machinery. When this question was discussed some months ago, it was shown that the engineering industry required no. protection, and it was therefore proposed that mining machinery should be placed upon the free list. In free-trade New South Wales, mining machinery has been imported from every State and has entered into successful competition with the best machinery in the world. In Western Australia also, a large proportion of the machinery employed was imported from Victoria. Honorable members are advocating the imposition of a duty of 15 per cent., di.sregardful of the importance of the mining industry, which has produced £500,000,000 of wealth for this community. Mines innumerable, in every State, are lying idle at the present time for the want of machinery such as would permit of their being worked at a profit, and the imposition of a high rate of duty would have the effect of discouraging investment in mining enterprises. If people hesitated to spend their money in mining machinery when it could be imported free of duty, they will be much less likely to invest their capital if a 20 per cent, duty is imposed. The mining industry at the Barrier is languishing for want of machinery, which .’t is now proposed to render less accessible than ever, and there are a number of mines in the district I represent that are lying idle for a similar reason. It is our duty to avoid doing anything that will tend to increase the cost of developing our great mineral resources. This is not a revenue, but a protective duty. It is robbery for any man to vote in favour of imposing 20 per cent, upon the machinery which is used in these mines, when hitherto the people engaged in its manufacture have been able to successfuly compete in an open market. The proposal to levy a tax of 1 5 per cent, upon mining machinery is quite unworthy of this committee. I am very sorry there is not likely to be a majority against the Government proposition, so that this class of machinery might be placed upon the free list.
– When this matter was discussed upon a former occasion, I declared that in my judgment the duty imposed should not exceed 15. per cent. I contended that the mining and the farming industries should be placed upon the same footing, and before voting for a duty upon agricultural machinery, I took care to see that the articles which it was proposed to tax could be locally manufactured. I realise that the pastoral, agricultural, and mining industries constitute the great backbone of the country, and where it is possible to encourage those industries we should do so. At the same time we ought not, for the sake of fostering a few manufactures, to increase the cost of commodities to the consumers as a whole. We should not compel our manufacturers of mining machinery to compete against the advanced machinery of the old world without affording them some measure of protection. I should like to see them given the same encouragement as has been extended to the manufacturers of agricultural implements. I would protect mining machinery which can be locally manufactured by the imposition of a duty of 15 per cent., whilst admitting machinery which cannot be produced within the Commonwealth free of duty.
– A good deal has been said upon this question by those who know a great deal about it, and by those who know very little. It is a singular circumstance that when a 20 per cent, rate was imposed, the only outcry against it came from a number of speculators in London, who declare that their interests will be ruined unless this Parliament adopts a different course.
– Their interests are identical with the interests of the whole of the people of Western Australia.
– Only a year or two ago the whole of the speculating interests were directly opposed to the interests of the miners. Indeed, some of the latter, who are now Members of Parliament, were imprisoned for endeavouring to assert their rights. The honorable member for Gwydir declares that he desires to do nothing to injure the miners. I ask him whether he has heard of any protest against a 20 per cent, duty ? He also affirms his readiness to assist established industries. Is not this an established industry? Everybody recognises that as good mining machinery can be manufactured within the Commonwealth as can be imported. The honorable member for Kooyong gave his own personal testimony in this connexion. He said that three-fourths of the expenditure incurred upon machinery for the- Broken Hill mines has been absorbed in the purchase of locally-made plants, and that he has been well satisfied with the results. Surely that is conclusive evidence as to the suitability of locally - manufactured machinery ! I contend that agricultural machinery is not upon the same footing as mining machinery, inasmuch as the implements required in connexion with the agricultural industry are more numerous, and their manufacture does not require the establishment of such extensive foundries. Mining is a speculative industry which frequently brings large wealth as well as large losses to those who invest in it. I have participated in those losses. But it would be a bad thing if this Parliament took any action which would have the effect of reducing the number of engineers or ironworkers within the Commonwealth. The honorable member for Robertson expressed the hope that mining machinery would be admitted free, yet an extreme free-trader like the honorable and learned member for Parkes stated to a large number of New South Wales electors, at a meeting which was attended by the leader of the Opposition, that he was prepared to encourage established industries by the imposition of a 15 per cent, duty.
– Does not the honorable member think that W alker Brothers could get on without a 20 per cent, duty ?
– I represent substantial gold-fields. Those engaged in this in-; dustry in Queensland are able to compete with any part of Australia. They have sent their manufactures to New South Wales and South Australia.
– They sent one engine to South Australia in 25 years.
– At any rate, under the Government proposal, all the States will benefit equally. It is something to be able to say that as far north as Maryborough there is the best-equipped foundry in Australia. I believe that a majority of this, committee desire to preserve the engineering industry. It would be wise, therefore, not to reduce the existing duty. If in subsequent years it is> found necessary, for the preservation of the mining industry, to decrease the duty of 20 per cent., I shall cheerfully vote in that direction. But I ask for evidence that any injury is being done to the miners. Have they protested against this high duty?
– Has the honorable member heard of any miners who asked for it ?
– Yes. In Gympie they say it is desirable that a reasonable duty should be imposed upon mining machinery. “The honorable member for Kooyong mentioned that the average cost of importing machinery represents about 1 0 per cent. Surely he forgets that our local manufacturers have to import their raw material 1 I venture to say that both pig and wrought iron cost far more than 10 per cent, to import. There is no natural protection, so long as the raw material has to be imported, and I trust that the duty will not be reduced. Australia has been well served by the establishment of these foundries, which are capable of turning out the classes of machinery that are required.
– Are there no engineering works in New South Wales ?
– I believe there are, and it is with a view to their continuance that I am now pleading for them. No country can be great without a large engineering population, and the fact that the industry in New South Wales has prospered without protection is not conclusive evidence that it would not have prospered more if there had been a duty or a bonus. The leader of the Opposition, who is a thorough-going free-trader, has said that he is in favour of doing something for the iron industry, but that he prefers a bonus to a protective duty. That is confirmation of my view that this is an industry which should be conserved if not protected. I hope that we shall continue the duty of 20 per cent., because if the duty be reduced the engineers will probably suffer in wages.
– The honorable member need not expect any such result.
– I understand that this duty will have a protective incidence.
– The duty cannot help having a protective incidence.
– And it ought to have a protective incidence. I am as strong in freetrade principles as are many other honorable members, but should the engineering works of the Commonwealth fail, I should -strongly advocate their being taken up by the States or the Federal Government. The industry can only succeed by paying high wages and getting competent men, and it is for the committee to say whether that end should be brought about by a protective duty or a bonus. The honorable member for Kooyong has stated that he can buy good and cheap machinery at the present rate of duty, and I do not see why he should advocate a reduction.
Mi. Knox. - Because it is the higher class of machinery we desire to bring in.
– The honorable member admits that three-fourths of the machinery he uses is made in the Commonwealth, and that it is satisfactory ; and if he desires that only the higher classes of machinery should be imported, he should specify what that machinery is. I appeal to the committee not to reduce the dutv below 20 per cent.
– I have previously addressed the committee at some considerable length on this item, and if all honorable members exercise their right of speech the discussion of the Tariff will be dragged out much further than it ought to be. I shall content myself by saying that when this question was previously before the committee I fought hard to have this machinery placed on the free list as the best means of serving the great mining industry. I fail to understand the logic which asserts that a 4 prohibitive duty cheapens the article to the consumer ; and, in view of our failure to get mining machinery on the free list, I shall support the proposal of the honorable member for Kooyong. Honorable members on all sides will recognise a great similarity between mining and agricultural industries, so far as the effect of the Tariff is concerned. Both are primary industries, and both have to be carried on in the different States under very adverse conditions. The committee have decided to put agricultural machinery at 15 per cent., and as a matter of justice no distinction ought to be drawn between this and mining machinery.
Mr. FOWLER (Perth).- The honorable member for Wide Bay is evidently in a state of great alarm. He thinks the engineering industry of the Commonwealth will be extinguished if anything less than a duty of 20 per cent, be imposed on mining machinery. I can assure the honorable member that in Western Australia, where there was no protection worth speaking of on machinery, there is a larger number of engineers in proportion to the population than in any other State, and, moreover, they are paid higher wages than engineers elsewhere within the Commonwealth. The honorable member for Wide Bay has said that none of the working miners have protested against these duties, but it is a fact that all over Western Australia they have protested by every means in their power. Not only the miner, but practically everybody in the State of Western Australia, is anxious that these duties should, if possible, be reduced to the old Western Australian limit. The people recognise that their welfare is bound up with the mining industry, and that they cannot afford to take any risks. In Perth, without protection, there has been a steady growth of engineering enterprise. I have seen small works, started merely as repairing shops, enlarge their sphere of action until now they are turning out very fair mining machinery. All this goes to show that the principal factor in determining the existence of any trade is the sufficiency and proximity of consumers. Other things being equal, the man who is nearest to his consumers has an immense advantage, and I believe that under the present ordinary circumstances, a large portion of the mining machinery required will always be made within the Commonwealth. But it is the necessity for the best machinery being available at the lowest price that makes me anxious to see this duty as moderate as possible. If there be a high duty there is, as we have seen in Victoria, a temptation to carry on the industry in a less progressive way than would otherwise be the case. It is important that the committeeshould realize that it isnot so much a matter of what machinery is produced within the Commonwealth, as a mutter of allowing the admission of the best possible machinery, in order to keep the local manufacturer up to the mark. Honorable members for Victoria and South Australia are fully aware of the tremendous benefit which the Australian mining industry has been to their States in connexion with the large consumption of produce on the gold-fields. It is admitted that, but for the great development of mining in Western Australia, Victoria and South Australia would have been in a very low state indeed. There are industries now flourishing in Victoria and South Australia which would not have been existent but for the fact that they found their best markets in Western Australia. We have it proved by the honorable member for Kalgoorlie that so far as the English investors in Western Australian mining is concerned - and the old country is the principal source of the capital for our mines - they regard with alarm these heavy duties, the undoubted result of the continuance of which will be to render more difficult the placing of our mining shares on the London market. That would be a blow to the development of the mining industry of Western Australia. But while this duty will seriously affect the mining industry in Western Australia, it will to the same degree affect those who in Victoria and South Australia depend upon the Western Australian gold-fields for a market. Therefore I ask those who are interested in the Melbourne and Adelaide factories to consider whether they will not be better off with a low duty upon mining machinery. Whatever encouragement is given to mining in Western Australia will lead to an increased consumption of the productions of Victoria and South Australia, and for that reason alone we are justified in asking the representatives of those States to give consideration to an industry which, vast as is its development in Western Australia, is only beginning to show its possibilities, and has a practically unlimited field of development before it, so that it should ultimately become the greatest industry in the Commonwealth.
Mr. MANIFOLD (Corangamite). - I am one of those who voted for a duty of 20 per cent, on mining machinery, because I misunderstood what the Treasurer said in regard to the exemptions. I understood that the list of exemptions would be a very heavy one, and in fact that all mining machinery which could not be made here better than in other parts of the world would be exempt. As that is not so, I intend now to vote for a duty of 15 percent., because I do not wish to over-burden the mining industry.
Mr. KIRWAN (Western Australia). - I wish to ask the Treasurer if he has discovered that the statement of the Minister for Trade and Customs that the signatories upon the petitions to which I have referred do not represent capital to the amount of £13,000,000 is incorrect? He appeared to think that the four petitions which have been referred to are duplicates, whereas they are four separate petitions.
– I have already stated that there appears to be four separate petitions, and that they probably represent capital to the amount of £13,000,000. A mistake arose through the wording of the letter which we received from the Premier of Western Australia, who said that he enclosed four copies of a petition presented to the Western Australian AgentGeneral. We naturally assumed that the four copies he enclosed were copies of the one petition, and two of them were given to the representatives of the Government, in the Senate, while the other two were retained here. The Minister for Trade and Customs, when he said that the signatories represented something under £3,000,000 of capital, was under the impression that the petition to which he referred was the only petition. Subsequently the honorable member for Kalgoorlie allowed me to see the petition from which he was reading, and we found that the signatures to it differed from those to the petition which we had. I immediately called attention to the fact that there appeared to be four separate petitions, and that it was therefore probable that his statement that the signatories represented a capital of £13,000,000 was correct.
– As the representative of a mining constituency, I desire to intimate that I am going to vote for a duty of 15 per cent. I should have liked to see the duty reduced to 10per cent., or done away with altogether, but as it is probable that if such a proposal were moved it would not be carried, I shall be content to vote for a duty of 15 per cent.
– I visited Mount Morgan only last year, and when there I saw thousands of pounds worth of machinery which was not being used. When I asked why it was lying idle, I was told that almost every year improvements are being discovered, and that, therefore, what is practically new machinery, has constantly to be replaced by machinery of still later design. The world knows that the Mount Morgan mine is a very large one, and therefore the money which those connected with it expend upon machinery must be very large. The honorable member for Wide Bay says that the miners do not ask for this reduction of duty ; but I would point out to him that within the last five years the number of men employed at Mount Morgan has been doubled. What is happening at Mount Morgan is happening all over the Commonwealth.
– Does the new machinery come from Walker’s foundry?
– Most of it is imported, though some of it is made in Rockhampton.
– Was there not a duty upon machinery under the Queensland Tariff.
– That is no reason why we should continue to tax the mining industry. Queensland would be in a very queer position to-day if it were not for her mining industry.
– Queensland is in a queer position.
– Things will be far worse there if we retain this high duty upon mining machinery. It might be argued that these big mining companies should be forced to contribute more largely to the revenue ; but by improving their methods of working, and thus increasing their output and the number of men employed, they very largely increase the revenue indirectly. I should like to see mining machinery admitted free, and I shall certainly vote for a reduction of the present rate of duty.
Question - That the figures “ 20 “ proposed to be omitted stand part of the item, “Mining machinery, n.e.i.” - put. The committee divided -
Ayes … … … 21
Noes … … … 28
Majority … … 7
Question so resolved in the negative.
Amendment of the amendment agreed to.
Amendment, as amended, agreed to.
– The Minister for Trade and Customs has given notice of his intention to impose a duty of 20 per cent, upon electrical machinery, but in view of the decision just come to I move -
That the following new line be inserted : - “ Electrical machinery, on and after10th April, 1902,ad valorem 15 percent.”
– I should like to know whether it is contemplated to add to the exemptions electrical rock drills, which cannot be made here, and regarding which I have made representations to the Government.
– If the rate had been fixed at 20 per cent, some further exemptions might have been made, but with a 15 per cent, duty we do not propose to add to the exemptions already in the Tariff.
– I am not satisfied to impose a duty of 15 per cent, upon electrical machinery. There is a great difference between electrical and other machinery, and I think that it should be admitted free. The great motive power of the future, if not of the present, is electricity, and all the great nations of the world are using electricity, inorder to cheapen production. We are also beginning to utilize electrical power very largely in Australia, but we are not making electrical machinery here. It cannot reasonably be expected that for at least a generation we shall be able to compete in this department with the great manufacturers of the old world, and we should therefore introduce the machinery free of duty. We find that, notwithstanding the heavy protection extended to the engineering industry in Victoria, and in some of the other States, nearly all the machinery used in our largest and most important factories has been imported. There are at least 34 electric lighting plants in operation in the various States, and every one of these has been imported. The New South Wales Government has during the last few years spent £350,000 upon electrical machinery, and, notwithstanding the fact that a large proportion of this has been purchased by protectionist Administrations, the whole of it has been imported. It is very desirable that in all our industries we should utilize the very best and most modern appliances, in order that the cost of production may be so cheapened as to en able us to enter into successful competition in the markets of the world. Imove -
That the amendemnt be amended by theinsertion of the word “free” after the figures “1902.”
– The honorable member for Barrier says, in effect, that if we continue to use steam instead of electricity we shall be left behind in the industrial race. If, however, we are to admit electrical machinery free, and are not to afford opportunities for the establishment of electrical machinery works in Australia, our steam appliances will gradually become displaced by imported electrical machinery, and we shall have no engineering establishments left in Australia. It is absolutely essential that in the fight between steam and electricty, both classes of machinery should be placed upon the same footing. According to the honorable member’s own showing, if we were to admit electrical machinery free of duty we should bring about the distraction of our engineering establishments.
Mr. JOSEPH COOK (Parramatta).The honorable member for Corinella has assumed that we cannot do anything unless we have high duties to help us. I wish to know why we cannot make electrical machinery here without any such assistance. Does the demand for a duty come from men who are down-trodden in the world, and who are struggling for an existence ?
– The machinery comes from the highly-protected country of America.
– It is said that we cannot compete with older countries. Why? Are our brawn and brain of an inferior character ? The honorable member for Melbourne Ports would not subscribe to that theory.
– We have not population enough.
– Will the imposition of a 20 per cent, duty give us the population ? I protest against the assumption that we cannot do anything here unless we impose high duties. In the first place we cannot expect to make this machinery because we have not the population to create the demand, and in the next place we cannot make it until the patent rights run out. I therefore hope that we shall have this article placed upon the free list.
Sir EDWARD BRADDON (Tasmania). - It would have been better if the Government had replied to the honorable member for Barrier, instead of allowing their case to be put by a sort of devil’s advocate, who dashes in at the very outset of the debate with the idea, I presume, of keeping Ministers straight on the protectionist path.
– We have told the committee what we are going to do.
– But we “have not yet reached the stage when an autocratic Government can tell the commit”tee what it is to do. It rests with the committee to decide for itself.
Mr. THOMAS (Barrier). -The honorable »nd learned member for Corinella says he is prepared to vote for a duty oh electrical machinery, because, according to my showing, without it the engineer would practically have to go. But that would not necessarily follow. If it did, what does it mean 1 The argument reminds me of a statement I heard in the New South Wales Parliament from the present Premier. When the Reid Government brought down a resolution with the object of having an electrical tramway established betwe’en Circular Quay and Redfern, Mr. See opposed it on the ground that the building of an electrical line would do away with the omnibuses, that bus-drivers would be thrown out of work, and that a number of people engaged in growing maize to feed the horses would have their trade taken from them. But no injury will be done to the engineer. We have no Niagara in Australia, and consequently the power to generate the electricity must be steam. I am not asking for the removal of the duty on the machine that generates the electricity, so that there will be a large amount of work in that direction. To show how important it is that we should have up-to-date electrical machinery I may mention that not long ago I went over a factory in Melbourne owned by a protectionist member of this -House. I suggested to him that instead of using steam for his motive power he might employ electricity. His answer was that he contemplated doing so, and he admitted that by installing electricity he would save SO horse-power upon 300, involving a saving of £300 a year. I might also mention that this gentleman admitted that his engines were imported, and that he had preferred to pay £1,500 in duty upon them rather than use locally-made machinery. I see in to-day’s paper an account of the Boulder Perseverance mine in Western Australia, where they have introduced an electrical rock-drill. They had been previously using an air compressor, and are now able to do with two horsepower what they previously did with twelve horse-power. That is a saving of S3 per cent. Instead of placing an embargo on the people who want to use up-to-date machinery and plant, I would rather give them a bonus. I remember hearing it said that the man who was able to make two blades of grass grow where there was only one before did good to mankind. If that is so, any person who can help us to produce our minerals and other produce cheaper and more expeditiously is conferring a benefit not only on himself but on the community at large. I believe that electricity will do this. There are, I understand, about 70 or 80 people employed in the manufacture of electrical machinery in the Commonwealth, but there are between 500 and GOO men employed working electrical machinery which has been imported, and that could not possibly have been made in Australia. If this machinery had not been imported, many of these men would have been sand shifting, or engaged in some other occupation. No one is surely prepared to grant a protective duty for the benefit of persons who are using out-of-date a.nd obsolete) machinery. Surely we are not prepared to grant to our sugar-mills or any other mills a protection equal to not only the difference in the current rate of wages, but also the difference arising from the use of obsolete instead of the most uptodate machinery.
– I represent a district in which an installation of this machinery has lately been made. I refer to the Gold Estates Company’s Deep Lead mines in the Moolort and Charlotte Plains district of my electorate. At the time the machinery entered this State I was administering the Customs department, and an application was made for the remission of the duty. I expressed the opinion that as it was the first machinery of the kind introduced into the State, I was favorable to a special grant being voted by Parliament for the purpose of reimbursing the importers, because the machinery would serve as an object-lesson to the people of the State, and would stimulate the ingenuity of our people, in which I have a greater belief than has the honorable member for Parramatta.
– The honorable and learned member has not a greater belief.
– We have only to recognise the necessity to find a means of applying it. If we follow the honorable member for Barrier we shall lay it down as a principle that we are not to be self-supplied in this regard, but are for eternity to be dependent upon other parts of the world. The shares in the company to which I alluded are held in the old country, and following the practice which was adopted in Western Australia by English investors, the greater part of the machinery for such companies is sent out from the old country as a matter of business, and I may say as a matter of commission in very many cases. An engine was sent to this field, and it was found that it did not work up to specification. The Phoenix Foundry Company, of Ballarat, received an order to manufacture another engine, which they did, with improvements planned by Mr. Reid, the local engineer. The improvements resulted in a better article being turned out, and it was capable of doing better work, as it is today. I cite this case as an illustration of what is possible if the patterns are only available. The honorable member for Kooyong, I feel sure, will agree with me, that when Mr. Kelly, of Lewis and Kelly, gives it as his opinion that the locally-made engine is superior to the imported one, there is some force in the argument frequently advanced from this side of the Chamber, that we simply require an opportunity to show, not only that we are abreast of other parts of the world, but that with our better knowledge of local conditions, we can outstrip them. 1 would urge those who desire to see the electrical machinery industry established and developed to give to it the same protection as has been given to other mining machinery. I am perfectly satisfied that the result will be that we shall have a stimulation of the ingenuity of our people.
– The more we import, the more that is likely to happen.
– “Unrestricted competition does not mean stimulation but strangulation. I believe that no one is better qualified than is the honorable member to give a striking and lurid account of the effects of unrestricted competition in the labour market. As it is my desire that we should go to a vote I shall not say anything further.
– We shall not have a vote yet. We have to answer the honorable and learned member’s slanders.
– The honorable member compels me to continue my remarks. Whom, have I slandered 1 If I have slandered anybody I am extremely sorry. This is the first time such a charge has been made against me. Perhaps the honorable member has lived in such an atmosphere that he discovers these things when they do not exist. I am sorry for his frame of mind, and for the atmosphere. If honorable members desire to see the electrical machinery industry properly established and developed, it must not be placed at a. disadvantage as compared with the ordinary mining machinery industry. The duty of 15 per cent, on ordinary mining machinery was not imposed as a revenue duty, but with the view of protecting the industry. If that be so, surely honorable members are not going to place the other industry in a worse position. The time has gone past to talk about the value of horses and maize. Those are antideluvian arguments, and are not worthy of consideration. We do not desire to see the primary work of furnishing; this machinery done by those living outside the Commonwealth. We do not desire to send from year to year a large tribute to other countries. I am not speaking in favour of this duty for revenue purposes, but with, the view of giving employment to our own people. We should not close to them any avenue of employment, more especially such a profitable avenue as the manufacture of this machinery must be in the future, when it will be required by so many persons, and when the advancement of the country will so much depend on its use.
– The last speaker said he spoke on behalf of a district that uses this machinery. I wish to say a few words on behalf of an electorate that possesses the best equipped engineering establishments in Australia, and to discuss whether they are capable of manufacturing electrical machinery. There is not a single engineering establishment in Australia that will not ask for an ordinary machine tool electrically driven to be placed on the free list. If these well - equipped engineering establishments are not able to manufacture such a tool, how can we expect them to
I manufacture the most complex plant, as they will be called upon to do ? The last speaker said he did not look upon 1 5 per cent, as a revenue duty, but as an incentive to engineering works to produce electrical machinery requiring the most expert knowledge and the most superior plant for its production, because it is all specialized. We find America, Germany, and the United Kingdom successfully competing in certain specialized articles. Germany makes a certain line of this machinery which no other country can make, and America does likewise with an enormous capital at its back, and with an up-to-date plant with which no other nation can compete. But am I to understand from the last speaker that a 15 per cent, duty will enable the engineering establishments of Australia, which have not a plant, and which cannot make a machine tool electrically driven, to produce the most complex electric machinery? We have been told that a 30 per cent, duty is almost low enough to ruin the industry. If the hat-makers of Aus-, tralia cannot compete with the hat- makers of other countries when they have 30 per cent, protection, how can we expect our engineering establishments to compete with other countries when they have only 15 per cent, protection? Is the Minister for Trade and Customs prepared to penalize those who wish to use electric plants and to stop the use of electric machinery for the sake of obtaining revenue ? If that is the point we can thoroughly understand why the imposition of this 15 per cent, duty is supported for the purpose of obtaining revenue when we know that there is no necessity for revenue. If there is an item which should be made duty free it is electric machinery. It is said that our engineers have not an acquaintance with electric machinery. Every man who is passing through our schools takes good care that he is well instructed in electric engineering. At the technical colleges the first object of the engineer who wishes to be uptodate is to acquire a good knowledge of electric machinery, not for the purpose of manufacture, but for the purpose of repair. I would further point out that to-day nearly every portion of the poorest class of ship is a network of machinery, and consequently the imposition of the proposed duty will constitute a heavy, burden upon the ship-building industry.
Mr. JOSEPH COOK (Parramatta). - I should not have troubled the committee, but for the initial remark of the honorable member for Laanecoorie, who declared that he had not such a low opinion of Australian workmen as-
– Will the honorable member permit me. I could not understand why he used the term “ slanders,” but the remark which he has just made explains it. I did not say what the honorable member attributes to me. What I did say was that I have a higher opinion of the ingenuity of Australians than he has.
– That was not my impression of what the honorable member said. However, I am quite satisfied to accept his explanation, although I deny that he has any better opinion of Australian ingenuity than I have. I did not reflect upon the ingenuity of Australians in any way whatever. I- merely stated that the demand for complicated electrical machinery did not exist here, and that until it did exist, we should not be able to manufacture it in the way it is manufactured in more thickly - populated countries. The honorable member for Laanecoorie has himself shown that no necessity exists for the imposition of the proposed duty. He told us about a certain machine of inferior quality, which was imported, and declared that in the far-famed workshops of Ballarat a better article was produced. If that be so, why does he desire the imposition of a duty to act as a shield between our manufacturers and their competitors abroad.
– The honorable member knows the effect of the gospel of cheapness.
– I do not understand the inane interjection of. the honorable member. . I have not been brought up in the atmosphere in which he has been reared. He has already pitied my state of mind tonight, but I will not reciprocate by pitying his. I content myself with repeating that he himself has furnished the most incontestable proof that the proposed duty is not required.
– In the course of his remarks the honorable member for Laanecoorie declared that he was in favour of imposing a duty of 20 per cent, upon electrical machinery for the purpose of providing employment, although the honorable member for the Barrier has assured the committee that there are from 600 to 800 men engaged in working such machinery, while 40 only are employed in its manufacture. If the honorable member for Laanecoorie were sincere in his statement, he would be desirous of reducing rather than of increasing the duty upon electrical machinery. When he was a Minister of the Crown in Victoria, he found that the duty upon electrical machinery was excesssive, and accordingly recommended that a large portion of it should be remitted. In his administrative capacity, therefore, he did himself justice. He could see that the imposition of a high duty upon this class of machinery rendered it too expensive to import, and that the development of our mines was thus retarded. If he would return to his former frame of mind, he would realize that we are not warranted in adopting the Government proposal. In Australia we want to be able to secure electrical machinery at the lowest possible cost to assist in the development of our industries. Something has been said about the power of generating electricity at Niagara, but I would point out that we have the same means of conserving that wonderful force in Australia. In the Blue Mountains, New South Wales, there are numerous waterfalls which could be utilized in the same way. If we admit electrical appliances free of duty, our own engineers will be enabled to keep pace with the latest advances in electrical science and ultimately to compete successfully with foreign manufacturers. I see no reason to assume that they will not ultimately be able to succeed, but for many years to come we cannot expect our local engineers to compete with those of America, who have had quite 15 or 20 years’ start, with a vast population. People in places, remote from centres of population use electrical machinery largely, and the business of electrical engineering in Sydney is growing rapidly. Electrical appliances are being improved month by month. I have passed through towns in America where immense plants have been discarded and replaced by others more up-to-date. No doubt we shall have a similar experience here, and we cannot keep pace with the times unless we admit free the most approved appliances.
Mr. SALMON (Laanecoorie). - As a matter of personal explanation, I desire to state that the reason which actuated me in reference to the reimbursement of the duty referred to was not that advanced by the honorable member for Robertson. My reason was that this was the first machinery of the kind imported into the State, and that it was desirable to have it as a pattern.
– And I commend the honorable member for doing so.
– I did not urge the reimbursement of the duty in order to cheapen this particular machinery, which was intended for a wealthy company, who could well afford to pay for it.
– But the effect would be to cheapen the machinery.
– On the machinery referred to by the honorable member for Laanecoorie the duty was £6,000. The Government of Victoria deputed an inspector of mines to report, and he reported that the machinery could have been made within the State. Thereupon the Government refused to give a rebate. The honorable members of the Opposition pride themselves on being perfectly fair to all trades ; yet they wish to give an advantage to electrical machinery, which the honorable member for Barrier is of opinion will shortly supplant other machinery. I trust the committee will not reduce the duty.
– Surely the honorable member does not desire to keep the old plants.
– Then let those who want the newer machinery pay the duty.
– Does the honorable member not want up-to-date machinery for the manufacture of hats.?
– The manufacturers of hats pay the duty, and do not growl, and they have imported machines which they have used as patterns.
– There is not much ingenuity about that.
– But hat manufacturers have also had some machinery on a new system made entirely in Victoria, for the making of which there would be no opportunity if honorable members on the other side had their way. We ought to agree to a duty of 15 per cent, on all classes of machinery without exemptions.
Mr. THOMAS (Barrier).- The amount of the duty payable on the plant which was imported for the Charlotte Plains Company was £6,000. The company did not ask to have the duty remitted merely in order that there might be an object lesson, but because they felt that they ought not to pay £6,000 duty on a plant that could not be made in the State. I am with the honorable member for Laanecoorie in the desire that the duty should be remitted in order to provide an object lesson ; indeed, I should like to see a thousand plants imported with that end in view, because they are not imported unlesspeopleare employed in working them. The mining inspector sent by the Government of Victoria stated that a similar plant had been manufactured for the Koch’s Pioneer Mining Company. The Brush Electrical Engineering Company had stated that they would be unable to supply a similar plant under fourteen months, because of other heavy orders they had to fulfil, and George Weymouth and Company, of Melbourne, who are the only people in Australia who pretend to be able to make this class of plant, said they could undertake to complete the contract in four months. The tender was signed, and one condition was that the Koch Company should be paid £5 a day as a penalty for every day’s delay over the four months ; and about a month ago the delay amounted to 643 days.
– Was it the electrical part or the steam-engine part that would not work?
– George Weymouth and Company undertook the contract, and if it was the mechanical part that would not work, that part also was made in Victoria.
– But by somebody else.
– I am informed by the secretary of the Koch’s Pioneer Company that they have paid £600 for firewood used in the efforts to make the machinery work. I have been given to understand on very good authority that the mining inspector has been asked to give a second report, and that he is more favorable to the refund of the £6,000 duty. I understand, further, that some time ago there was to be a meeting of the Koch’s Pioneer Company to decide whether a demand should be made for the penalty of £5 per day under the contract. It will be impossible for us to make this machinery in Australia for years to come, and the imposition of a duty of 15 per cent, will have no effect in bringing such an undertaking into existence. Therefore this is wholly a revenue duty, and to try to raise revenue by hampering the development of our resources is absurd. What we should do is to assist the development of our resources, and obtain revenue by the increased consumption which will be created by the employment of a larger number of people.
– I ask the honorable member for Barrier not to press his amendment. He has uttered a very strong protest against the proposed duty, and has made out a good case for its reduction, and even for its abolition ; but we must be consistent, in this matter, and it seems to me that under the circumstances a duty of 15 per cent, may be regarded as a reasonable compromise. I wish to remind the Minister for Trade and Customs that a deputation representing £20,000,000 of capital invested in the great electrical works in the United States, Germany, and England, waited upon his department, and stated that they regarded a duty of 15 per cent, upon machinery, such as dynamos, motors, and generators as a reasonable one, but that they thought that a certain list of exemptions should be agreed to, and at a later stage I wish to have something to say in regard to these exemptions. I know from the time that the honorable member for Barrier has taken to collect his information that in his remarks to-night he has hardly done himself justice, but as he has made his protest I ask him now to consent to the proposal of the Minister. When we come to deal with the exemptions, we shall ask the Minister to give favorable consideration to certain representations.
Amendment of the amendment,by leave, withdrawn.
Amendment agreed to.
Amendment (by Sir George Turner) agreed to -
That the following new line be inserted : - “ Electrical appliances, n.e.i., on and after11th April,1 902, ad valorem 15 per cent.”
Mr. TUDOR (Yarra) : I move-
That the following new line be inserted : - “Galvanized iron roofing screws, on and after 11th April, 1902, ad valorem 20 per cent.”
The committee on a former occasion decided that all screws should be admitted free of duty, because nine-tenths of the screws in use are carpenters’ screws; but the screw to which my amendment refers is a screw which is manufactured in Australia, and patented here. I have it upon the authority of the patentee that if the duty is not agreed to he can manufacture the screws in England and send them out here. Honorable members know the conditions under which work of this kind is performed in the manufacturing centres of England, and they are not such as we should like to see here. If the screws continue to be made here, we shall be able to regulate the conditions under which they are made.
– How many men are there employed in the industry ?
– I cannot tell the honorable member.
– Although the Government ‘ sympathised and voted with the honorable member on a former occasion, the matter was so thoroughly thrashed out then that we are inclined to think that it is inadvisable to try to alter the decision of the committee in regard to it.
– I move -
That the following new line be added : - “Springs, on and after ]lth April, 1902, ad valorem, 20 per cent.”
I have moved the amendment for the honorable and learned member for Bendigo, who I am sorry is not here, because he had strong reasons to urge for his proposal, and what he had to say would have come with additional weight, owing to the fact that he originally voted, for the reduction of the duty. He has since been convinced, however, that the industry is an important one, and that the reduction of the duty has had the effect of throwing a number of men out of employment.
– The Ministry must oppose the amendment for the same reason as that for which they opposed the amendment of the honorable member for Yarra. This proposal was defeated on a former occasion by 31 votes to 14, after the matter had been thoroughly thrashed out.
Mr. JOSEPH COOK (Parramatta). - I move -
That the following exemptions be added : - “ Tanners’ squeezing machines, staking machines, shaving machines, sawyer measuring machines, fleshing, scudding, and unhairing machines, whitening and blackening machines.”
I should like to know if the Minister has looked into this matter?
– Yes ; and my information is that these machines are made here.
– Has the Minister anything to show that the local manufacturer makes any one of these machines ?
– I have the officer’s report, in which I place the utmost reliance, hat the local manufacturer has furnished direct proof that he makes or has made all these machines, or others that do the like work.
– “Others that do the like work.” I am surprised that the Minister should be satisfied with a statement of that kind. All the machines I have enumerated are patented, and the local manufacturer says that he has old machines that will do the work as well. Upon the strength of this, the Minister is prepared to tax the new and improved machines out of use in favour of the obsolete machines which have been largely superseded. They are not now being used throughout the trade, and if the duty is retained upon modern tanners’ appliances we- shall be taxing science and progress, and continuing the old order of things from which it should be our aim to emerge. The locally-manufactured machines will no doubt do the work, but not so cheaply or so efficiently as the improved imported articles. I am now asking the Minister to decide whether he will compel tanners to use obsolete machinery of local manufacture in preference to the up-to-date appliances employed in other parts of the world. The tanning industry is in a very depressed condition, as little or no profit has been made by those engaged in it during the last five or six years. Their products have to compete in the markets of the world, and it is necessary that they should be equipped with the most improved appliances in order that they may be placed on an equal footing with their outside competitors. Perhaps one or two of the machines named in my amendment are made here, but the bulk of them certainly cannot be locally manufactured, because they are covered by special patents. These machines are a few out of the many which were rejected on a previous occasion when I urge( the Government to make some additions to the free list, and I would strongly impress upon the committee the desirability of adopting my proposal.
– I hope the Government will reconsider this matter, and that it will be borne in mind that the tools of trade used in a great number of highly protected industries carried on in Victoria have already been exempted from duty. (Committee counted.) The Government have been ready enough to comply with the requests of some of their own supporters for the exemption of tools of trade, used in industries in which they were specially interested, and in view of the strong case made out by the honorable member for Parramatta, I hope that they will be equally considerate in this case. The tanners have greater difficulties to contend with than have those engaged in most other industries. They export a large proportion of their product, and compete in the open markets of the world, and in order that they may be able to carry on successfully it is desirable that they should be equipped with the best of appliances, including many patented machines which cannot be made here. We have had no evidence that machines as suitable to the trade as those imported can be locally manufactured. One of the Victorian manufacturers, who has been most loudly calling for a protective duty has his establishment equipped entirely with imported machinery, upon which he had to pay duty to the amount of £1,500. He could not obtain this machinery from local makers, and the tanners are in a very similar position.
– I understand that the honorable member for Parramatta specially desires that certain of these’ machines should be exempt from duty, and perhaps we may be able to meet him to some extent. I am prepared to concede to the honorable member that squeezing machines, shaving machines, and whitening and blacking machines shall be admitted duty free.
– I shall be happy to take all I can get.
Amendment amended accordingly, and agreed to.
Mir. KNOX (Kooyong). - I desire that high-speed engines shall be treated in the same way as turbines. They are used for the same purposes in electrical machinery ; that is, for securing a high amount of speed for the dynamo. That cannot be secured by any such machine at present made in Australia. I am indifferent whether the machines are placed upon the free list or are made subject to a duty of 15 per cent., but in justice to the various electrical companies with agents in Australia, it is of importance that these motive powers, which are necessary to the high speed of electrical machinery, should be in the same position. Of course I should prefer to see the high-speed engines on the free list ; that is not what I am concerned about. The engines are confined, and protected from the slightest grain of sand, and so delicate are they that they run in oil. Their revolutions average 300 and 500 per minute. Of course they cannot possibly be made in Australia. I move -
That the following exemption be added : - “High-speed engines.”
– A mistake was made in putting turbines on the free list. I agree that it would be wise to treat both turbines and high-speed engines as being on the same footing, but we are not prepared to admit them free. It is too vague altogether to say that high-speed engines be placed upon the free list. I suggest that both turbines and high-speed engines be dutiable at 15 per cent.
Mr. THOMAS (Barrier).- I hope the Government will not propose that turbines be made dutiable. They cannot be made here, and surely the protectionists themselves would desire that they should be admitted free.
– We have declared that electrical machinery shall pay 15 per cent., and I am quite willing that these machines should be treated on the same footing.
– No one seriously contemplates high-speed engines being made here, and they should not be taxed.
Sir EDWARD BRADDON (Tasmania). - It would simplify matters if the honorable member for Kooyong would amend his motion. I take it that what he wants is that high-speed engines shall be admitted duty free. A division upon that point would settle the matter.
– Those who know a little about machinery will be exceedingly anxious to know what are included under the head of high-speed engines. I know a little about engines, and I am inclined to think that under this definition I could bring in any kind of engine I liked. No one could tell what is a high-speed engine or what is a low-speed engine. I do not know what the honorable member for Kooyong meant when he drafted his amendment in this way.
Mr. KNOX (Kooyong). - I wish to avoid what I believe to be the undesirable practice of mentioning makers’ names, or stating any special characteristics in the Tariff. It is known all over the world that high-speed engines will run up to 300, 400, and 500 revolutions of energy. We have not succeeded in making them here. The honorable member for Wide Bay is running away with the idea that the ordinary engine can be brought up to that speed. Any engine which exceeds 150 revolutions a minute is a high-speed engine. I came here to-day believing that it was a fair thing for the Government under the circumstances to ask for a 15 per cent, duty on high-speed engines as well as turbines, and so avoid any difficulty or complication. My desire is to secure simplicity in the interpretation of the Tariff. I appreciate the very great difficulty there is in defining what is a highspeed engine unless we give the names of the manufacturers) who have a world-wide reputation.
– Could it be done by fixing the number of revolutions ?
– I do not feel myself qualified to-night to answer that question, but if the Minister will afford me on opportunity to consult with engineers on the subject, I may be able to do so in the afternoon. My feeling is that it would be better to impose a 15 per cent, duty on both lines.
Mr. FISHER (Wide Bay). - I am glad that the honorable member for Kooyong has made this explanation. I agree with him that if the object is to get revenue, the fewer exemptions we have the better. As he desires that turbines and high - speed engines shall be put on the 15 per cent, list, that will get over the difficulty very easily. It is desirable that they should be taxed at the same rate as other machinery. If they are not made here now, I hope that they will be made here soon. I trust that the Government will accept the suggestion to impose a 15 per cent. duty.
Mr. SYDNEY SMITH (Macquarie).- I hope that the Treasurer will adopt the suggestion of the honorable member for Kooyong to adjourn, so that he may have an opportunity to get the necessary particulars to distinguish the engines. We do not propose to debate the question at any great length to-morrow if an adjournment is granted.
Houseadjourned at 12.53 a.m. (Thursday).
Cite as: Australia, House of Representatives, Debates, 9 April 1902, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/hofreps/1902/19020409_reps_1_9/>.