1st Parliament · 1st Session
Mr. Speaker took the chair at 2.30 p.m., and read prayers.
– Is the Minister for Trade and Customs aware that the officers of his department are charging duty upon bicycle wrenches, although the Committee of Ways and Means decidedthatall wrenches shall he admitted free?
– The practice was what the honorable member complains of, but this morning the necessary instructions have been issued, and it has been altered.
– I wish to ask the Minister for Defence if he will, in the face of the widespread interest exhibited by friends and relatives of the troops returning from South Africa, have the names of all men returning telegraphed from Albany, so that the press may publish them, and thus afford those friends and relatives living away from the metropolis an opportunity of welcoming them on their return?
– I will look into the matter, and see what can be done. I might remind the honorable member that we cannot compel the press to publish the names after we get them.
– The newspapers will bo only too glad to publish them.
Mr. BARTON laid upon the Table
Copies of correspondence with the Liverpool Shipowners’ Association, respecting the Immigration Restriction Act, forwarded by the Right Honorable the Secretary of State for the Colonics.
Ordered to be printed.
– Has the Prime Minister yet taken the preliminary steps towards the collection of data for the framing of a Bill for the assimilation of the banking and insurance laws of the States?
– The Treasurer has for some time past been collecting and in receipt of data on that subject. A conference of bank managers was held in Melbourne lost year in regard to the matter, and I think that the results of that conference will be useful. In addition 1 have obtained from Canada minute particulars with regard to the legislation of the Dominion on the subject of banking, the system which has been adopted there, and its results. All this information will, I hope, be of great value in the preparation of a comprehensive measure.
– Has the Minister for Home Affairs any objection to laying on the table all correspondence relating to the issue of railway passes to members by the Governments of the various States?
– I have no objection.
– I desire to move the adjournment of the House to call attention to a definite matter of urgent public importance, namely- “The manner in which section 57 of the Post and Telegraph Act has been carried out in regard to the suppression of official and private correspondence of Mr. George Adams and his employes.”
Five honorable members having risen in their places,
– I should not take this course if I thoughtthediscussion of my motion would occupy any considerable time, and it would not have been necessary for me to move the adjournment if I had been allowed yesterday to finish the few remarks with which I wished to preface the question which I then put to the Prime Minister. I wished then to do what I intend to do now - to call attention to the way in which letters of all kinds addressed to Mr. George Adams- letters of the most private character, letters on business entirely removed from the conduct of “ Tattersail’s sweeps,” and communications from public officials - have been stopped, and either opened and returned, or returned unopened to their senders. I have in my possession a letter of a highly-confidential character, and upon very important business, addressed to Mr. Adams by his solicitors, which was opened and returned to them. I have also letters addressed to him by the Commercial Bank, Hobart, one of which was opened and returned to the bank, and the other returned unopened. But, to my mind, the worst fact of all is that an official letter addressed to Mr. Adams by the Tasmanian Minister of Lands and Works, upon purely official business, was returned unopened. To satisfy myself upon that point, I wired to the Minister, asking if this monstrous charge was really true, and his answer is as follows : -
Replying to your wire, letter on public business, enclosed in official envelope, and franked by myself, was returned, but unopened.
As has been pointed out in the Aryus, it now has come to this - that the only way in which any one can hope to insure a communication reaching Mr. Adams is by taking and presenting it himself. I have known men who would desire, above all things, that their correspondence should be kept from them, but I do not apprehend that that is the case with Mr. Adams. I maintain that the Act is being worked in a way which is unjust and oppressive, and deprives Mr. Adams and others of the common rights of citizens. Having called attention to the wrong that is being done, I must rest content.
Question resolved in the negative.
asked the Minister for External Affairs, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follow : -
A searching inquiry is made of every such immigrant through an interpreter on the follow; ing subjects -
– In asking the question which stands upon the noticepaper in my name, I desire to say that I have been requested by the Joint Printing Committee of the two Houses to ask question 2 with special reference to question 4. I wish to know from the Minister for Home Affairs -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follow : -
asked the Minister for Trade and Customs, upon notice -
– The replies to the honorable member’s questions are these -
Consideration resumed from 15th April (vide page 11741).
Division XIII. - Paper and stationery.
Item 115. - Paper, viz,: - Strawboard, per cwt., ls.
N.E.I,, including …. surface-coated paper, ad valorem, . 1 5 per cent.
– I move -
That the words “and on and after 17th April, 1902, 2s.” be added to the duty “Strawboard, per cwt., ls.”
I would make an earnest appeal to the committee to reconsider its decision. I would not take this course if I did not consider that there are some very peculiar and special circumstances in this case. Honorable members will have noticed that I have assumed the position of not a very high tariffist, but a reasonable and moderate tariffist. It is a pleasant undertaking to ask the committee to place an item on the free list, but it is a very up-hill task to ask that a duty be increased. I am not wholly influenced by considerations for the manufacturers. The circumstances of this case have been brought under my attention by the people of Broadford and the neighbourhood adjacent to the Broadford Mill factory, who have a very strong belief that their industrial existence is absolutely endangered by the drastic reduction of the duty to1s. per cwt. I believe that honorable members who insisted upon that wholesale reduction did not adequately realize the tremendous drop in the duty. Under the Victorian Tariff the protective duty on this commodity amounted to no less than 4s. per cwt. Of course I do not propose to justify the continuation of that high rate under the federal system. I believe that this factory could be reasonably expected to submit to a very substantial reduction, and that was expressed in the proposal of the Government to impose a duty of 2s. per cwt. If that proposal had been acquiescedin there would have been no serious complaints on behalf of the factory. Honorable members will agree that a reduction by 50 per cent. was not a nominal but a very substantial one, and the proprietary, although somewhat depressed, were determined to make a big effort to carry on their operations. They hoped that with the wider market of Australia they would be able to double the producing power of their machinery and plant, and thus be able to put up with the reduced duty.
– What is the cost, f.o.b., at the port of shipment ?
– I believe that straw-board costs from £7 to £8 a ton, f.o.b., at the port of shipment.
– No; a little over £5 a ton. From £7 to £8 a ton is the cost of the article landed.
– According to the figures which have been supplied to me the price in London and Germany ranges from £7 to £8 a ton. Formerly in Victoria the price was about £15 a ton, and, as the result of the competition of this factory, it was reduced eventually to about £9 a ton. Probably the price was lower in Sydney because of the competition in which the factory engaged when it got into working order. This is not an ephemeral industry consisting of one man and a couple of boys. It is a very substantial industry in which from £70,000 to £80,000 has been sunk. Of course, onecannot but regret that its operations have not been more successful. That may have been owingto peculiar circumstances - for instance, the limited market available in one State ; but it is hoped by the proprietary, and by those who are identified with the industry, that, with the whole market of Australia at their command, they will be able to continue their operations on a very extensive scale, to produce a much better article, and, as the result, to spend in labour here a large sum which would otherwise be spent in foreign parts. Before I undertook to ask the committee to reconsider its decision, I demanded information as to how much of the cost price paid by the consumer went in labour, because I had heard honorable members in the labour party object to protectionist duties on the ground that only a small part of the primary price went in labour. Assuming that a ton of strawboard costs from £8 10s. to £9 a ton, £1 12s. 6d. is paid for straw, 5s. 6d. for lime, 7s. 6d. for firewood, £3 15s. for labour in the factory, 14s.10d. for freight from Broadford to Melbourne, 15s. for charges, and 6s. 6d. for Melbourne expenses. The total cost of producing a ton of strawboard and placing it on the Melbourne market is £7 16s.10d. That is a very large sum, indeed, to go into the hands of Australian labour. Apart from the people who are engaged in producing the raw material, the factory employs 70 hands, whose wages average £1 14s. 6d. a week, and who if the mills were closed down would be thrown out of work.
– What is the output?
– I have not the figures. It has been suggested that there is natural protection against German strawboard. I am informed that it can be landed in Sydney from Hamburg at 27s. 6d. a ton, whilst it costs 32s. 6d. to land a ton in Sydney from Broadford. Again, there is a source of danger in the competition of Japanese labour against Australian labour. I am informed that the Japanese have recently purchased in America six mills of the same type as those at Broadford, and that they are producing in Japan strawboard, which they are selling in Brisbane and Sydney. That may account for the lower price in Sydney to which some honorable members have referred, but I would ask the committee whether it is prepared to allow an Australian industry that has grown up under the fostering care and protection of the Victorian Tariff to be strangled or swamped by the cheap labour of Japan. This is a case which particularly illustrates the importance of the principle laid down by the Prime Minister in his Maitland speech, which was “ revenue without destruction.” A duty of1s. per cwt. would undoubtedly mean revenue, but it would be coupled with the destruction of this important industry. I speak not merely on the authority of the manufacturers - with whom I have had no communication - but on the authority of the employes in the factory, and people in the neighbourhood of Broadford, who are identified with the industry. In their opinion, not only the factory but the township of Broadford and its surroundings, and a large population who have grown up around this industry will be wiped out of existence, unless the duty is increased. One of the strong objections raised against the proposed duty of 2s. per cwt. was raised, I believe, by certain master printers in other States. With reference to the views of the master printers in Victoria on the reduction of the duty from 4s. to 2s. per cwt., I may read an extract from a circular which was sent on the 5th of March to honorable members by the Victorian Master Printers’ Association -
The reduction in Victoria of the duty on strawboards from £4 to £2 per ton, as effected by the proposed Tariff,has been an act of justice, and has afforded great relief to manufacturers and printers in this State.
The Victorian printers complained of the duty of 4s. per cwt., but they expressed their satisfaction at its reduction to 2s., and I greatly regret that honorable members on. the free-trade side were not prepared to acquiesce in the view that it was an act of justice which afforded great relief to master printers. It ill becomes master printers who have asked for duties on commodities in which they are interested, to oppose the protection which was originally accorded to the producers of this Australian article. The original proposal of the Government to fix the duty at 2s. per cwt. has the support, not only of protectionists of Victoria, but of all who believe in encouraging native industries. I have before me a circular, issued by the honorary secretary of the South Australian Protectionist Association, which says -
The State of South Australia is not at present interested in the manufacture of strawboard, but a number of manufacturers here are desirous that an industry which has been so successfully established in the neighbouring State of Victoria, keeping a large number of hands in employment, and bringing the price of strawboard down from £15 to£9 10s. per ton, shall not be swept out in the re-arrangement of the Tariff. The duty was originally 4s. per cwt, ; the Federal Government propose to reduce it to 2s. per cwt. We think that this should be deemed the minimum, and are much afraid that if it is reduced lower than that the Australian mills will have to be closed, and the Japanese coloured labour, and the German semislave, will supply this particular article.
I cite that circular from an adjoining State in support of the proposition, which I earnestly ask the committee to accept. No industry affected by the Tariff has suffered such a severe blow as has the strawboard industry. Theduty of1s. per cwt. at present operating represents only about 12½ per cent., and honorable members who say that it is equivalent to 15 per cent. are under a misapprehension. I put this proposal before the committee, not in the interests of any particular manufacturer, but in the interests of labour, and I earnestly appeal to honorable members to support it.
– Like the honorable and learned member who has preceded me, I have not been approached in connexion with this matter by the manufacturers. The position of the strawboard industry, however, has been brought under ray notice on behalf of the residents of the Broadford district, and more especially of the farmers. This industry is one of the very few that have been established in the country districts, and it appears to me that it is scarcely generous on the part of the advocates of the interests of the primary producers - who have given a reasonable measure of protection to most of the city industries - to refuse to aid the very few industries that are established in provincial districts. The Broadfordfactory is an excellent customer for the produce of the farmers. It purchases a very large quantity of straw, and is also a large consumer of lime, firewood, and other local products. Moreover, the industry is asking for only one-half of the protection which it enjoyed prior to the accomplishment of federation.
Mr.Conroy. -The duty of 4s. per cent. failed to establish it properly.
– It is not a very old industry, and the protection sought is a moderate one. The honorable and learned member should explain how it is that since the establishment of this factory the price of strawboard has been reduced. In the case of every industry which has been established in Victoria the price of the article which it manufactures has been reduced.
– During the past fifteen or twenty years prices have come down all over the world.
– The right honorable member should show what is the cause of the reduction in prices. When my friends opposite admit that prices have come down all over the world they admit the claim of the protectionists. What has pulled down the prices? Is it the protectionist or the freetrade countries?If honorable members would look into these matters a little closer, and not assume that a duty is necessarily a tax, they would not make quite so many mistakes as they do. But putting aside that consideration, the broad fact remains that the price of strawboard is considerably lower at the present time than it was prior to the establishment of the industry.
– The price was first forced up.
– The price is always forced up by the importers when the power is entirely in their own hands. When the strawboard industry was established in the Broadford district, nearly all the workmen engaged in the factory purchased little homes, and I am sure that honorable members do not wish to see those homes uprooted and the men turned adrift. That, however, would be the necessary result of the closing of the factory. I hope that even those honorable members who advocate freetrade will recognise that this industry has been established under a high protective duty, and will ‘not begrudge, for the purpose of sustaining it, one-half of the duty which formerly operated, especially as this is the first country industry which has been brought under the notice of the committee.
– The honorable member for Gippsland, who is generally very clear in his statements, is certainly extremely mixed upon this question. In one breath he stated that he did not appeal on behalf of the men in the factory, but on behalf of the farmers who sold straw to them, and yet in his peroration he included the factory employes with the farmers, which is a much more logical way of putting the matter. When we effected a very sweeping change in the Tariff of New South Wales my ears were filled with doleful predictions that all the manufactories would close upon the day following its introduction. I was not a bit frightened by these prophecies. I did what I said I would do, and none of the factories closed their doors. On the contrary, more men have been engaged in New South Wales’ factories since that terrible swoop of desolation came over the land than- were employed previously.
– If my honorable friend will deny that he will simply quote scripture in the interests of the evil one, because statistics show that there has been a substantial increase. Thousands of hands more were employed in the New South Wales factories five years after the fiscal change to which I I refer was effected than there were before. The manufacturers, who are good business men, will always be dying if they can get a Id. per lb. more protection by declaring that they are going to die. They are like the man who meets with an accident upon the railway. He never gets well until he has obtained a verdict from the jury, but it is astonishing how rapidly he recovers afterwards. The same remark is, applicable to protected industries. We always hear the same story concerning them. They are constantly declaring that they will die if the State does not go to their assistance. The strawboard industry has had the advantage of ‘ a protection of 4s. per cwt. for fifteen years, besides having the straw at hand and the farmers for neighbours. Surely, by this time, it has learnt how to do without the aid of such a duty ; otherwise, it must be patent that this burden upon a large number of industries is to be perpetual. There are very few who will contend that we should impose a perpetual burden upon a large number of industries because there is one factory in a country district in Victoria which has engaged in an industrial enterprise, and which has no prospect of ever producing strawboard in competition with the world. Protectionists are asking a good deal when they ask the other industries of the Commonwealth to carry the strawboard industry upon their shoulders for all time. If the industry has no prospect of ever being able to sell its product at a normal price in the open market, a protective duty must have the effect of being a tax upon the consumers of the Commonwealth.
– If this industry had been a city one the duty would not have been reduced to 2s. per cwt.
– That is a remark which the honorable member must address to some other quarter of the Chamber than this. We have to act fairly in the matter.
– Upon the last occasion that this matter was under discussion, I submitted an amendment in favour cf making the duty 9d. per cwt. A division took place upon which, by the casting vote of the Chairman, that amendment was rejected, and strawboard was made dutiable at ls. per cwt. The honorable and learned member for Bendigo tells us that the Victorian duty which formerly operated was 4s. per cwt., and urges that an impost of ls. per cwt. represents a substantial reduction. It is just as well, therefore, to. remind the committee that in four of the States, strawboard previously occupied a place upon the free list. Any comparison which is sought to be instituted ought, therefore, to be instituted with the four States where this article was admitted free, and not with Victoria, where there was an excessive protection given to a very small industry. When this matter was previously discussed, I find that I was too generous in my statement regarding the number of hands employed in the industry. I put that number down roughly at 100. Since then, however, I have ascertained that the total hands employed number only sixteen. At the Broadford strawboard factory, which is the only one in existence, I understand that six men and five boys are employed, while another four or five men are engaged in carting straw and firewood. It is a wonderful industry. We could pack the whole of those engaged in it in the Speaker’s gallery, and indeed I do not know that it has not been done. Let us see how the matter works out on the figures given to us by the honorable and learned member for Bendigo. I understood him to say that there was a sum of £70,000 or £80,000 invested in this industry. I believe the present trust bought the whole factory for £5,000. We will say, however, that they paid .£10,000 for it; and on that basis let us see what consideration these gentlemen, who desire to tax so many trades for their own particular advantage, are entitled to.
– From what source did the honorable and learned member obtain his figures 1
– From a man on whose authority I have found that I can rely. I have received the circular letter from South Australia to which the honorable and learned member for Bendigo has referred, and out of all the letters I have received, this, which is the only one against the reduction of the duty, has been printed in the cheapest possible way. The fact may perhaps indicate that those who issued it do not care very much about their case. The statement that the duty in Victoria brought, down the price of strawboard from about £15 to £9 10s. per ton, and the point in reference to the Japanese, to which we have become accustomed in connexion with so many items, comprise the arguments urged by the Protectionist Association of South Australia, upon whose epistolary authority, mainly, the honorable and learned member for Bendigo relies. Thehonorable and learned member said that there was really no natural protection, as freights from Germany were very low. The freight of 27s. 6d. per ton, to which reference has been made, may be fairly low, but I believe that this material is imported and shipped, not b)’ the ton, but by measurement. Therefore the committee will have to put down the freight, not at 27s. 6d. per ton, but at £3 or £4 per ton, which is the equivalent, according to measurement. We have been told also - and what I am about to put before the committee will show that free-traders are justified in analysing the arguments of honorable members on the other side of the committee - that there are 70 hands employed in this factory at an average of 34s. 6d. per week. The output of the factory is 1,000 tons, and at the rate of £3 1 6s. per ton the total wage fund, out of which these men have to be paid, is £3,800. In other words this extraordinary manufactory, which must have been founded by one of my fellow-countrymen, is in receipt of a total nf £3,800 per annum, and out of that is able to pay £6,300 per annum in wages. I have heard of one of my countrymen who, when asked how it was that he could sell whisky under cost price, replied that it was the quantity which made the money. I suppose that is the case with the Broadford factory. Let me deal a little more closely with the financial position of this manufactory, which makes such a forcible appeal to the benevolence of the committee. Its expenses - including the wages of 10 men, according to my information, at 30s. per week, £750 : five boys at 10s. per week, £125 ; salary of a manager, £250 a year; together with other costs of management, and the cost of 1,000 tons of straw - amount to £5,525 per annum. Its annual income on an output of 1,000 tons at £7 10s. per ton, which is the duty free price, would be £7,500, so that it would thus make a profit of 39 per cent. Therefore, those interested in it are not entitled to very much consideration. If a duty of 9d. per cwt., which was the proposition that I submitted to the committee on a former occasion, were . imposed, the price would be £8 per ton, and the profit on 1,000 tons would be £2,475, or 49 per cent. If the honorable and learned member for
Bendigo succeeds in carrying his proposal for a duty of 2s. per cwt., the price will be £8 15s. a ton, and the profit on an output of 1,000 tons will be £3,225, or 64 per cent.
– The honorable and learned member has omitted to consider the cost of the raw material - the cost of the straw.
– I have not. I have put down the cost of straw required for making the. strawboard at £2,000.
– They say that they use 1,500 tons.
– I have taken the figures supplied by a man upon whose accuracy experience has taught me to rely. That is the position as regards the factory. I believe that the industry is in the hands of a trust. The Australian Paper Mills Company is described as a paper trust, and for the sake of a very small concern we are asked to tax all who make any article out of strawboard, with the exception of Messrs. Sands and McDougall Limited. I believe that firm organized this trust, and I am informed that they own about one-third of the shares in the Broadford factory. They require strawboard as part of the raw material used by them in the manufacture of other goods, and they are the only manufacturers of other commodities who will not be penalized by the imposition of this duty, the reason being that they take a profit, in any event, as shareholders in the factory. Before the Tariff was introduced on 8th October last, the price of unlined strawboards of from 12 to 16 ozs. in weight, was in Melbourne, £9 10s. per ton : but in Sydney, £7 13s. per ton : while lined strawboards in Melbourne cost £11 pelton, as against a charge of £9 9s. made on strawboard required for Sydney. I have invoices here showing that the duty on strawboards has increased the price to the manufacturers of boxes. In regard to the question of freights, I would inform honorable members that I have before me particulars relating to one shipment of 27 bales, aggregating 6j tons. The cost at the port of shipment was, at £5 10s. per ton, £37 2s. 6d., but the total charges before clearing here amounted to £27 6s. 2d. ; so that the expenses of importation amounted to 73 per cent. I think the honorable and learned member for Bendigo’s proposition is ridiculous, and will not be supported. The honorable and learned member for Bendigo gave us one remonstrance against the reduction of the duty. I have received the same statement from the protectionist manufacturers of South Australia. I have also received communications from Sydney and from South Australia, Messrs. Silver and Company, manufacturers of boxes in South Australia, who telegraphed a strong protest against the proposition now before the committee, on the ground that it will hamper the trade to a large extent, and, perhaps, considerably restrict the success of their industry in that State. With these facts before me, it is clearly my duty, not only to oppose the amendment, but to resubmit the proposal which I made on a prior occasion. I move -
That the amendment be amended by the omission of the figure “2s.,” with a view to insert in lieu thereof the figure “ 9d.”
– The direction to the committee in this case is “ that the duty on strawboard be increased to 2s. per cwt.” The direction is only to increase, and therefore I cannot receive the amendment.
– Surely if a matter is brought under discussion, it is competent for the committee to deal with it in any way they may think fit.
– If the honorable and learned member dissents from my ruling there is only one course open to him. I gave a similar ruling on a previous occasion. I am bound as every honorable member is bound, by what the House directs the committee to do. The House has not directed the committee to review the item but to increase it. Where the intention has been that the committee shall deal with an item without restriction, the order has been to review the item. The only direction to the committee in this case is to consider an increase of the duty from ls. to 2s. per cwt. The honorable and learned member for South Australia, Mr. Glynn, submits a proposal to reduce the duty, which has already been decided upon by the committee, and I am bound to rule - as I have previously ruled - that the amendment is not in order.
Mr. RONALD (Southern Melbourne).The honorable and learned member for South Australia, Mr. Glynn, cannot have the usual wit of his countrymen, or he would have seen that he must be making some blunder in attempting to take the greater out of the smaller in regard to wages. There is an explanation of the matter to which the honorable and learned member referred, and it is that the number of hands employed in the Broadford factory prior to this year were 47, and when the mill was about to work two shifts, 33 additional hands were taken on, and that brought the number up to 70. They were not counted in the wages for the formeryear, 1900, and that explanation must convince the honorable and learned member that there is no Hibernianism about the matter at all. There are at present employed in the factory, not the six men and five boys that the honorable and learned member spoke of, but 70 working men. I have had a petition signed by 67 of these men sent to me as a labour member, asking me to do what I could to protect them against absolute ruin. The honorable member forGippsland explained thatthis is mill was the only industry that could possibly keep the township alive, and that the. men employed in it had their homes established. That is true, but it is not the whole of the truth. It must be added that the men have bought their homes on time payments, which are not complete, and the closing of the mill will mean that the men will lose not only their homes, but the savings of years which have been sunk in them. To bring such a thing about would be a piece of gross cruelty, which I am sure no member of the committee would ever be a party to, if his eyes were fully opened to the fact.
Mr.Reid. - Is this to go on for all time?
– The right honorable gentleman told us that when he carried out his iconoclastic policy in New South. Wales, he was inundated with all kinds of petitions from people who said they were going to be ruined, that their industries would expire, and so on. And he went on to say that the adoption of his policy was followed by none of the evils predicted. It must be remembered that in New SouthWales the industries had not a consistent policy of protection, but had experience only of spasmodic protection, and possibly thay did not feel the withdrawal of the protective support in the way in which it would be felt here, where the industries have had the advantage of protection for a number of years. It is neither wise nor fair, nor is it in consonance with the promises made to Australia in the Maitland programme, to drop a protective duty from 4s. per cwt. to1s. It would be a reasonable compromise to take 50 per cent. of the previous protective . duty, and fair-minded men will say that the proposal of the G overnment represented the minimum of reasonable reduction so far as the protection to this industry was concerned. The case made out for the manufacturer in this instance is a good one, and honorable members opposed to this proposal have failed absolutely to show that the duty has in any way raised the price to the consumer.
– We have shown it over and over again, by invoices produced.
– Honorable members have asserted it over and over again, but I was taught in a school where assertion was not accepted as proof. It is a notorious fact that the price of strawboard has fallen considerably, and if we increase the duty by another1s. per cwt, there will be no chance of raising the price to the consumer. I can assure the committee that this is a model factory : I have been to the mill, and know what I am talking about. I went over the premises, and I can assure honorable members that there is a happy and contented working population there. The manufacturers pay good wages, and are neither sweaters nor slave-drivers. Above all, I appeal to members of the labour party, and J. ask them whether they are going to submit this industry to the competition of the cheap labour of Japan and the rest of the world 1 It cannot be too often reiterated that if we are not to have freetrade in labour,we cannot have freetrade in commodities. Personally, I would prefer to have free-trade in labour to freetrade in sweated commodities. I would sooner object to the introduction of commodities which are the productions of Japan, China, and India, than I would object to the introduction of Japanese, Chinese, and Indians. I object to both, and I ask members of this committee, and especially freetrade labour members, to have some eye to consistency, and not pit against Japanese industry an industry like this, which has proved itself to be very serviceable to the community. The honorable and learned member for South Australia, Mr Glynn, informed us that he had a telegram from Adelaide. I know something about that telegram, and it is simply one which has been received from the importers. I have ceased appealing to unreasonable men, and men who make a fetish of the free-wade theory, but I ask reasonable members of the committee whether it is fair to make this diabolical attack upon an industry which has justified its existence, and without notice to reduce the protection it has received in the past from 4s. per cwt. to ls. ? I think honorable members must admit that it is a fair compromise to fix the duty at 2s. per cwt. If the duty is reduced to ls., that will necessarily “involve a reduction in the wages paid to those engaged in the industry ; and, if their wages are reduced, they will not be able’ to complete the payments due upon their houses, which must then fall into the hands of the building societies. I remind honorable members again of the fact that there is absolutely no natural protection to this industry. It is useless to attempt to hide that fact by saying that freight is paid in this case by measurement, and not by weight, because it costs 27s. to bring a ton of strawboard by a sailing vessel from Berlin to Sydney, while it costs 34s. 6d. to take it from Broadford to Sydney. Where then is the natural protection 1 In this case, as in all others in which it has been trotted out, ‘this natural protection is found to be a myth. I appeal to the committee to do justice to, an industry which thoroughly deserves it.
– I wish to remind the committee of the condition of affairs when this matter was previously decided. We debated it at considerable length, and the facts of the case were brought forward on both sides, in much the same way that they have been this afternoon. The committee divided on a proposal that the duty should be 9d. per cwt. That was negatived, on the casting vote of the Chairman, constitutionally given, to permit of a reconsideration of the question. Then the Ministry made a very reasonable proposal, and said that they would agree, as a compromise, to a duty of ls. Those who had fought the case in the interests of free-trade, and of a number of very much poorer people than those who are at Broadford, accepted that compromise. When the honorable member for Macquarie wished to have the question of the duty upon varnishes reconsidered with a view to altering it, he was met by a statement from the Ministerial bench that the duty fixed had been agreed to as a compromise ; and that, above all other things, the committee should be true to its compromises, otherwise they could never be trusted in the future. The honorable member for Macquarie gracefully withdrew on that account, and admitted that we had a right to be loyal to our compromises. The evidence that the duty fixed in this case is a compromise is incontestable. It will be found in Hansard, and honorable members will recollect that the Treasurer stated that he had once in his life had a sixpenny crisis, and that he did not want to descend so low as a threepenny crisis, and to save him from that humiliation we accepted the compromise. The committee having arrived at a compromise on the matter, I think that it would be tantamount to a breach of faith on the part of the Government to support the reopening of the question, although, of course, the honorable and learned member for Bendigo is ‘free to prosecute the matter further if he was not a party to the compromise. If it is intended to push the amendment to a division, I have a number of arguments which I should like to advance against it. In the first place, I would point out that to increase the price of strawboard will materially affect a very large number of industries throughout the Commonwealth, while the making of strawboard should not require further protection than it already has, since all the raw material required is procurable in Australia, and there is a very large natural protection by reason of our distance from foreign countries where strawboard is manufactured. It has been said that the freight upon strawboard is only 27s. 6d. a ton, but that must be for a ton measurement, which, in the case of an article like strawboard, would be hardly onethird of a ton weight. If it be argued that, as the duty under the Victorian Tariff is a very high one, we should not make a large reduction, I say that we should not follow what was admitted by Victorian legislators to be a blunder in giving this industry too much protection. The honorable member for Southern Melbourne says that it would be contrary to the Maitland speech to give the strawboard industry a duty of less than 2s. per cwt. ; but the statements contained in that speech did not refer to any one industry, but to the whole of the industries in the Commonwealth, and there are a thousand-and-one such industries in which strawboard is a raw material. The honorable and learned member for Bendigo pointed out that the master printers have received a great deal of protection from the committee, and are willing to pay 2s. per cwt. upon strawboard. I do not know that the master printers have received very much protection, but, in any case, they cannot be said to be largely interested in strawboard. Strawboard is used by bookbinders, but it is used chiefly in the making of boxes and cases for the packing of all sorts of goods in connexion with retail businesses. If a duty of 2s. per cwt. is imposed, it will very seriously affect many of those who use strawboard; and a great deal of foreign strawboard will still have to be imported, because, although the locally-made strawboard is good for some purposes, it is a little too brittle for other purposes for which strawboard is required. The honorable member for Gippsland, whose arguments are generally logical and full of what Macaulay used to call “ dry light,” seems to view this matter through the medium of a very moist light. He made a pathetic appeal on behalf of the workmen who have their little cottages at Broadford ; but we must remember the many hundreds of other centres of industry which a duty upon strawboard would seriously affect. . However troublesome and difficult it may be, we must constantly endeavour to secure the greatest good for the greatest number. I should like to know if the Government intend to support the amendment.
– When the matter was under discussion before, the Government .proposed a duty of 2s. per cwt. - the Victorian duty having been is. per cwt. - but when a division was taken upon an amendment to reduce the duty to 9d. per cwt. the numbers proved equal, and therefore we decided to ask the committee to agree to a duty of ls. per cwt., which they did. That being so, I regard the determination arrived at as a compromise. The committee compromised on a number of items, and when it was pointed out to the honorable member for Macquarie, who wished to move a reduction of the duty upon varnish, that that was one of them, he said that he would not re-open the matter. While, personally, I should be glad to see the duty upon strawboard increased, I think that the Government are in honour bound to support the compromise previously arrived at. Of course, the honorable1 and learned member for Bendigo had a perfect right to bring this matter forward, more especially as he was not present when it was previously dealt with.
– It has been most interesting to me to listen to the pathetic appeal of some of the Victorian members on behalf of this industry. I feel in regard to the proposal much as the honorable member for Corangamite felt yesterday in regard to the proposal to place a duty upon New Zealand pine. He said that he did not see why the butter industry of Victoria should be’ handicapped to create a demand for Queensland timber. In the same way I do not see why the boxmaking industry and the printing industry of Queensland should be handicapped to create a demand for Victorian strawboard. I have received a number of telegrams, protesting against any increase of the duty upon strawboard, one of which is from the Master Printers’ Association, and is as follows -
Members of this association strongly protest against the duty on strawboard. In our opinion it should be free, or left as at present.
While I do not wish to see strawboard placed upon the free list, I shall oppose any increase of duty.
– I agree with the honorable member for Gippsland that the manufacture of strawboard is one of the few industries which have established themselves in our country districts, and one of the greatest wants of Australia is the establishment of manufacturing industries in country centres. It would be better for our social development if that were to take place more largely. After what the Treasurer has said, I feel that we are all bound in honour to fall in with what was arrived at as a compromise. Therefore, I am not speaking argumentatively on the subject. And the observation I have made has a somewhat general application. The honorable and learned member for South Australia, Mr. Glynn, gave some figures of rather a startling character. I think if he got them from a good authority he has not applied them properly. As I listened, his statements seemed to make the whole thing ridiculous, because he made the wages paid considerably more than the proceeds of the output of the factory.
– That is on the figures of the honorable and learned member for Bendigo, not mine.
– It is only due to the proprietors that I should give the figures as they are. Seventy hands were not employed when 1,000 tons of this commodity were produced. The number of employes last year was 47, and the total - production was 1,250 tons. Seventy hands are now employed in anticipation of an increased demand. I am informed that in order to keep the factory going with a full board - day and night shifts - the total number ultimately would be from. 70 to 80 hands, and that they would produce 2,500 tons a, year. That is a fair calculation to make. If the factory were doing full work night and day the wages to 80 hands at an average of 35s. would amount to £7,692 per annum, and the production would be 2,500 tons, which, at an average price of £10, would yield £25,000. It is a very large wages bill in proportion to the value of the output. Honorable members have spoken as, if strawboard were all of one class and of one quality. I am told, and it is within my personal knowledge, that not only is a very considerable number of qualities of strawboard produced in both Germany and here, but also what is called lined board for making of cardboard boxes. That, of course, adds considerably to the cost. Taking the average price as being £10 per ton, I understand that the calculations of the proprietors are that with an increased output and a duty of 2s. per cwt. they would be able to reduce their price to £9 per ton. The factory, I must admit, was erected in the height of the boom, and the plant and buildings cost between£50,000and £60,000. I believe it could be erected to-day for perhaps £40,000. The machinery in use is of a recent type. Running a full board - that is, working up to its capacity of 2,500 tons per annum - they would use yearly about £3,500 worth of straw, £600 worth of lime, £650 worth of firewood, and sundry charges of various kinds would amount to £2,000. The industry even at the price at which the strawboard is sold cannot be a very remunerative one when we make allowance for the large capital that is employed. Then, with regard to the natural protection, the honorable member for South Sydney said that when importing from Germany there would be about 3 tons measurement to 1 ton weight, and that, consequently, the freight from Germany would amount to more than double that which had been mentioned as the rate. I hold in my hand an original invoice for 10 tons of this material. The measurement was 536 feet, and the freight 20s. per ton of 40 cubic feet. So that the freight from Berlin to Melbourne was at the rate of 26s. 3d. per ton weight ; I believe the freight from Berlin to Hamburg is 5s. per ton. Let us compare the charges from the factory at Broadford to Sydney. The railway freight to Melbourne is 14s. 10d., the cartage to the ship 2s. 6d., the freight to Sydney 10s. per ton measurement, equal to about 15s. perton, making a total of 32s. 4d. Practically the freight from Broadford to Sydney is about the same as from Berlin to Sydney. As regards any trade which the factory does with any other State, it does not get much advantage from what is called the natural protection, but so far as Melbourne is concerned it would have an advantage. Iregret that the duty was reduced from 4s. to1s. per cwt., because I look upon this as an industry which is bound to increase. This factory would not long be the only one. It was established in accordance with the State law : and a withdrawal of duty to the extent of 75 per cent, is very drastic. Adam Smith lays down the principle that if we have to alter a policy under which industries have been established, and we wish to get them on to a free-trade basis, the process of change from the higher to the lower rate ought to be gradual and extended over a very considerable period. Honorable members might well agree to a duty of 2s. per cwt. As the matter is now practically settled, I shall say no more on the subject, though I think it would have been well if the committee had taken a little more lenient view as regards the position of this industry and its proprietors.
– It is a pity that the advocates of this proposal do not agree as to what they should say before they come here, and avoid making so many contradictory statements. If the honorable member for Mernda will refer to the debate in Hansard, he will see that it was stated over and over again that the total product of this mill was 1,000 tons per annum, and the honorable and learned member for Bendigo, to-day, said the same thing.
– I did not; I said I did not know.
– The honorable member for Mernda has given us a calculation on what is to be, not on what has been, and he says that it is to be 2,500 tons per annum.
– That is -working a double shift.
– Does not that show, the beneficence of a simple dose of free-trade to this industry 1 With a duty of 4s. per cwt. they had only a few hands turning out 1,000 tons a year, but the moment it is reduced to ls. per cwt. they double their hands and output.
– I said that they intended to do so with a duty of 2s. per cwt.
– I have a very keen sympathy with the employes. If it be true, as we heard to-day, that they are trying to build up their homes on the timepayment system, and they are in pecuniary difficulties, they are entitled to our keenest sympathy. But I do not think our sympathy for these men can carry us to the extent of making a contribution not out of our own pockets, but out of the public funds, for the purpose of helping to keep them in their little homes. While listening to the statements of honorable members I have been trying to sketch out a balance-sheet, showing the actual position of affairs at this moment. Taking the annual output of the factory to be 1,250 tons, if 70 men are employed, it means at 34s. 6d. per week, a wages sheet of £6,300 per annum. The 2,000 tons of straw I set down at the low value of £2,000. Then, there is the lime which, at 5s. 6d. per ton, would represent an expenditure of £275. Firewood would absorb £375, and freight at 29s. per ton - not 32s., as the honorable member suggests - would involve a further expenditure of about £1,500 a year. We are also informed that between £’0,000 and £80,000 have been invested in this enterprise. An allowance of 10 per cent, for interest, depreciation and maintenance means another £7,000 ; so that, according to the honorable member’s own showing, the expenses of the mill amount to more than £17,000 annually. As against that sum the output of the factory is estimated at 1,000 tons per annum, which, at £9 10s. per ton, would yield £9,500. There is thus a clear loss of about £10,000 annually. Will a duty of another ls. a cwt. make up that deficiency ? Certainly not !
If this industry is not paying I am extremely sorry for the individuals engaged in it. At the same time, it is not the function of this Parliament to bolster up enterprises which are commercially unprofitable, but rather to impose upon the Commonwealth a scheme of taxation which is wise and equitable. We must not be deterred from discharging our duty by the knowledge that in its performance we may incidentally do something which will bear harshly upon this industrial enterprise. We have also to consider the cardboard box-makers in Sydney, who number very many more than do the hands engaged in the strawboard industry. The former find that their trade has been jeopardized even by the slight duty which at present operates. In Sydney the price of boxes since the imposition of that duty has advanced ls. 6d. and 2s. per gross. That is a serious item to those engaged in this enterprise. I trust, therefore, that the committee will not entertain the proposal of the honorable and learned member for Bendigo.
– I move -
That the words “and on and after 17th April, 1902, surface-coated paper free,” he added.
I bring this matter before the committee because a great amount of uncertainty exists in the Custom-house at Sydney and Melbourne as to what paper should be admitted free and what should be dutiable. I have in my hand two classes of paper used for printing, one of which is coated upon both sides. That is admitted free in Sydney, whilst simultaneously it is being charged a duty of 15 per cent, in Melbourne. It is a sample of paper which I have received from Mr. John B. Walker, hon. secretary of the Master Printers’” Association, who says that the Victorian Customs department are charging 15 per cent, upon it. The other sample, which is coated upon one side only, is, also used for printing purposes. This is held to be dutiable at 15 per cent., presumably because there are two men employed in the industry in Victoria. I have also in my possession a publication containing some very nice plates. Under the Tariff the paper used in that publication, if imported, would be dutiable at the rate of 15 per cent., whereas the printed book itself is admitted free. Surely that is an anomaly. Still another sample of paper has been forwarded to me which is dutiable at a similar rate because it is coated upon one side only. In reference to this I have received a letter from a well-known person in the trade, who says -
Dearsir,- By this post I am sending yon a “Waratah.” This picture was painted by a local artist. It was drawn and printed from stone in this house, and bears the following rates of duty : - Paper, “coated printing,” 16½ per cent.; ink, 27½per cent.: varnish, equal to 25 per cent. If printed and imported from Germany it is free as chromograpbs. All supplements for newspapers ure freeunder the same clause.
The letter from the secretary of the Master Pri liters’ Association is dated 1 6th April. The second sample of paper came to hand only today, and the third I received last Thursday, showing that the confusion which now prevails has resulted since the alteration of the Tariff. As evidencing how harshly the present duty operates upon our own people, I should like to quote a letter from John Sands and Company, a well-known Sydney firm. It is dated 18th March, and reads -
I have this nonning lost an order for 100,000 Christmas supplements, at £5 per 1,000, because of the above differentiation in favour of the foreigner.
To me it is extraordinary that the commoner class of paper should be dutiable at 15 per cent., whilst the more valuable class is admitted free in New South Wales, and subjected to a 15 per cent. duty in Victoria. I merely desire uniformity in this matter, and if the Government will consent to surfacecoated papers being placed upon the free list, I shall be perfectly satisfied. I am asking for only a fair thing.
– This particular coated paper, which is dutiable, is used for purposes other than printing.
– It is used also for printing purposes. The sample which I have submitted to the committee is an artistic local production, but if this duty is continued, it will have to be printed in America or some other place, and brought here in its completed state. This is really a tax upon colonial artists. The printed article can come in free, but a heavy duty has to be paid on the raw material. I ask the honorable member for Bland, who knows something about printing, whether I am not right?
– Quite right.
– I trust, therefore, that the Government will agree to place this paper on the free list, and thus overcome tine difficulty.
– We dealt with uncoated printing papers some time ago, and declared that they should be free. The honorable member for Macquarie then desired that coated printing paper should also be free. I considered that that was not an unreasonable request, but I stipulated that, while coated paper should be allowed to come in free, we should make surface-coated papers dutiable. That stipulation meant that paper used ordinarily for the purposes of printing should come in free, although it might be coated, but that these surface-coated papers - which, I understand, are used for a large number of purposes other than for printing - should be dutiable at the rate of 15 per cent. I specially made that reservation, and I think we were all satisfied at the time that that was a fair way of meeting the difficulty. In order that there might not be any misunderstanding, I requested that the words “surface-coated papers” should be inserted in the item, as we had inserted coated printing paper among the list of exemptions. We desire to obtain uniformity : but that may be a mere matter of administration. Honorable members will realise that at the outset of the Tariff, and more especialty in a State where the custom-house officers have not been accustomed to deal with these matters for many years, there are bound to be anomalies. But these anomalies are sure to be brought under the notice of the head officers by those who suffer under them, and the Minister and the ComptrollerGeneral will take care to rectify them. We hope that in a very brief period we shall be able to secure uniformity in administration, and, under all these circumstances, I regret that I cannot meet my honorable friend’s wish.
Mr. SYDNEY SMITH (Macquarie).I am sorry that the Treasurer cannot accept my amendment. The duty is a great tax upon Australian artists and printers.
– Printing paper is free.
– The interpretation put upon the item by the Customs officials is such that these surface-coated papers are charged duty at the rate of 15 per cent., although two men and a boy would coat all the paper required to be treated in that way for use in Victoria.
– Here is an illustration showing the men at work in the department in which this particular work is done.
– Even the paper on which the illustration is printed will be dutiable at 15 per cent. unless my amendment is carried. I shall press my amendment to a division in order that those who are interested in the matter may be able to see who are their friends.
– I hope that the duty on this paper will be very considerably reduced, even if it is not struck off.
– It has been reduced 50 per cent. Originally it was £6 per ton ; it is now£3 per ton, while a large proportion of the paper is free.
– Another very large proportion is dutiable, although I see no reason for it.
– It must be the result of maladministration.
– That may have a great deal to do with the matter, but the maladministration is due to the imposition of a duty. It is suggested that the imposition of this duty will give rise to the employment of a large number of people in painting paper after it has been sent out here, but the demand for this class of paper is insufficient to allow of such a result. The duty will compel people who require large advertisements to have them printed outside the Commonwealth instead of the work being done locally.
– We are told, “ By their work ye shall know them,” and I might say of honorable members opposite, “By their specimensye shall confound them.” Here is an illustration which was presented with a great deal of show by the honorable member for Melbourne Ports in answer to the statement made by the honorable member for Macquarie that the work of coating these papers gave employment only to two men and a boy. The illustration shows the department in which this work is carried out at the factory of Messrs. Sands and McDougall Limited, and there are two men, two boys, and three women in the picture. One of the women looks like a purchaser, and the other two appear to be spectators. Now, we can thoroughly understand the evidence brought before us. The Ministry apparently have grown tired of protecting local artisans, and desire to afford some protection to foreigners. The honorable member for Macquarie has shown the disadvantages under which local artists will be placed if this duty is continued. His only mistake was that he said that the industry gave employment to two men and a boy, instead of two men and two boys. Are thecommittee prepared to penalize the thousands who use surfacecoated paperby the imposition of this duty? Mr. JOSEPH COOK (Parramatta). - I hope that honorable members on the other side of the committee will be impressed with the arguments which have been used by the honorable member for Macquarie. In this case we appeal to honorable members who represent Victoria to help us to save an industry which produces such excellent results. Here is a specimen of the handiwork of a firm who tell us plainly that they cannot exist in Australia owing to the action of the Federal Government in taxing to an exorbitant degree the raw materials of their manufactures. We ask those honorable members, as they have asked us time and again during these debates, whether they will consent toseean industry like thisswept away; and whether they will consent to see these employes forfeit their homes and be turned adrift upon a hard, cruel, and relentless world through the action they take in this Chamber? We have heard this kind of appeal from the other side, and we now propose to use it upon honorable members opposite, and as we have on many occasions lent a sympathetic ear to their pleading and have accepted a moderate duty instead of none at all, we hope they will now come to the assistance of our enterprising industrialists in New South Wales in their time of difficulty. We hope that what was good for them to say by way of argument will be equally good when heard from this side. It is time some consideration was given to those people who use this raw material in abundance for their manufactures. We are told that it cannot be produced in New South Wales under present conditions. If the ports are left open so that manufacturers may betake themselves to centres of the world where this raw material is most easily procurable, they say they can turn out the work which has been exhibited to honorable members in competition with the whole world without any duty whatever. Their plea is simply to be left alone. They ask for no special interference by means of protective duties to. safeguard them from the ordinary competitive conditions of industrial life. They wish merely to be left alone to pursue their enterprise, unmolested by an intruding Parliament, and they show what they can produce under conditions of perfect freedom. How absurd it is, therefore, for us to intrude ourselves into the enterprises of the people. “We are making more havoc than we know when we try to regulate the conditions under which people shall exercise their trades and callings. Here is another case in which the manufactured article of one enterprise is the raw material of another, and again it is seen that enterprises of every kind are so interlaced as to be impossible of regulation by Act of Parliament. The people engaged in this industry do not ask us to shield them from the rude competition of the world. They do not ask us to save them from the avalanche of Japanese productions about to be hurled against them. This is an argument which we have heard many times in this Chamber, and this Japanese crisis is always impending. They are always going to swoop down upon our industrial and commercial enterprises, and to swamp them out of existence. Somehow or other the crisis never comes in those countries where their goods find entrance without let or hindrance. lt is only in countries in which it is sought to build the Tariff walls highest that the Japanese appear to threaten the people with impending ruin. These people say they do not mind the Japanese, if they are only kept in their own country, and if our ports are kept open so that they make the arrangements which best suit themselves. I ask the committee to seriously -consider the case as submitted by the honorable member for Macquarie and allow these people to pursue their avocation in their own way, when it is seen that, by permitting them to go to markets which suit them best, they are able to turn out a finished product which will compare with anything of the kind produced in any other part of the world.
– I do not think the Minister for Trade and Customs has treated the speech of the honorable member for Macquarie with the respect which it deserves. The honorable member has distinctly pointed out an anomaly with regard to certain parts of the Tariff which have been dealt with. If it were not for that I should not be at all in sympathy with any attempt to make a special exception in respect of a particular article. The honorable member for Macquarie has produced a print of Australian flora upon glazed paper. He has shown that the whole production can be imported here in its finished condition from America or England without paying duty ; but that if the attempt is made to import the paper and to do the printing of our Australian flora here, a duty of 15 per cent, has to be paid upon the paper on which the printing is done. We are coming, I hope, to a time in Australia when representations of Australian scenery, fauna, and flora will be largely printed in Australia, but the effect of this anomaly is that the whole of this class of work must be sent either to England or America, printed there, and then returned to the Commonwealth. That is an anomaly deserving of some attention, but while the honorable member for Macquarie was stating his case, the Minister for Trade and Customs and the Treasurer were examining some bicycle fittings. Independently of whether or not this duty will affect two men and a boy, or 30 men and a boy, we have to consider whether we shall permit the anomaly to continue by which the whole of the printing industry of Australia is to be handicapped in its work by having to pay duty upon a particular class of paper which can come in here free so long as the printing work is done upon it in another country. In order to show that I know what I am speaking about in this matter, I have here a letter from Messrs. Sands and McDougall in which, dealing with the illustrations which have been shown to honorable members, they say that, if printed in and imported from Germany, they are admitted free as chromographs, and that supplements for newspapers are free in the same class. But if this paper is imported without anything printed upon it, in order that the printing work maybe done in Australia, a duty of 15 per cent, has to be paid upon it.
– It is manufactured here.
– It is not manufactured here, but the glazing is done here. So that the whole of this class of printing is to be sent to America, from Australia, in order to save this precious little industry in which only a small number of people are interested.
– I have listened with attention to my honorable and learned friend, and I should like to remind him that a large proportion of the paper to which he is alluding has already been made free under the category of printing paper. I should like to remind him also that this was an industry established in Victoria under a duty of £6 per ton, and that that duty has now been reduced to £3 per ton, the reduction being from a duty of 30 per cent., to a duty of 15 per cent. I am sure the honorable and learned member has no desire to annihilate this industry. I am informed that the buyers of this particular class of paper can get as much as they require in the Australian market. I have here samples of Australian work, and samples of surface-coated paper which is manufactured largely here. Let me ask honorable members whether, seeing that a large proportion of paper is admitted free, a reduction of the duty upon this class of paper from 30 per cent. to 15 per cent. is not a reasonable compromise. How can they ask for more? This particular class of paper surfaced on one side, can be supplied in any quantity in Australia.
– Why is it imported free when there is an illustration printed upon it ?
– I am not responsible for that anomaly as I did not advocate it.
Mr. WILKS (Dalley).- The honorable member for Melbourne Ports is astonished that we should go to the extreme of freetrade upon this item, but he has admitted himself that he voted for the free admission of printing paper. The honorable member’s soul is now disturbed, and he is much concerned in regard to this glazed paper.
– The Age does not use glazed paper.
– The honorable member for Coolgardie has a more lively imagination than I can pretend to. I should not like to say that the honorable member for Melbourne Ports was influenced in voting for the free admission of printing paper by the fact that the Age is not printed upon glazed paper, but I have been so attracted by the interjection that I repeat that the paper upon which the Age is printed comes in free. The firm of John Sands and Co. of New South Wales lost an. order a month ago for 100,000 of certain illustrated supplements, because of this duty on glazed paper. The honorable member for Melbourne Ports told us that this duty is a duty of only 15 percent., but this is a Victorian industry. Fifteen per cent. is the low water-mark of protection for a Victorian industry, but for a great New South Wales industry like the galvanized iron industry the honorable member for Melbourne Ports and others regard 5 per cent. as the high water-mark of protection. I think that the public ought to know that the protection honorable gentleman opposite want is, not protection for the artisans and industries of Australia, but protection for the manufacturing concerns of Victoria. As a free-trader I voted for the free admission of printing paper, and, in my opinion, coloured and uncoloured printing paper should be treated in the same way.
– I gather that Ministers consider that some mistake has been made in regard to this matter.
– There has been a want of uniformity in administration, one State collector not deeming it necessary to report to head quarters the decision he had given. It has been stated that in one instance the duty has been charged, and that in another instance no duty has been charged.
-What I want to know is, should the duty be charged? If it should not be charged, Ministers, to end the debate, have only to say that in future this paper, whether coated on one side or on both sides, will be admitted free.
– The paper will be treated as it deserves, after we have looked into the matter.
– Does not the Minister know enough of his own Tariff to be able to say whether this paper is or is not dutiable ?
– From what I have gathered, if this paper is imported without coating, and without colouring, it is admitted free.
– If the paper is coated on one side it is dutiable ; if it is coated on both sides it is admitted free ; but there has been one interpretation in New South Wales and another in Victoria.
– If the duty,has been put on merely to assist the coating industry, I do not think it is worth retaining. Unless a duty will keep in existence an industry which employs a fair number of men, I do not think it is worth imposing.
– While I am inclined to favour a reduction of the duty upon surface-coated paper, I must point out that the printers and manufacturers of stationery who use it as raw material have obtained an enormous advantage under the
Tariff, although in some of the States they have hitherto had no protection at all. This surface-coated paper, of which the committee has seen samples this evening, is the raw material of the job printer, and to some extent of the newspaper printer. But, under the Tariff, the job printer can import free of duty all his machinery, his printing press, his type, and everything he requires, except his oil engine ; whereas the price lists, catalogues, and all printed or lithographed matter for advertising purposes which he produces are protected by a duty of 3d. per lb. Hitherto, in New South Wales all such advertising matter printed elsewhere has been admitted free, and while I am not in a position to say what is the ad valorem equivalent of the duty, the committee may rest assured that it is something enormous. What I suggest is that this paper should be admitted free, and that the duty upon advertising matter should be reduced to Id. per lb. In Western Australia the duty was formerly only 15 per cent., and in Tasmania 20 per cent., while in Victoria it was 4d. per lb. Surface-coated paper enters also into the manufacture of a number of articles of stationery, but, under item 116, manufactured stationery is protected by a duty of 25 per cent., and if the duty upon the paper is removed, I think that the duty upon stationery should be reduced.
Mr. SYDNEY SMITH (Macquarie).The members of the Master Printers’ Association, who ought to know something about the matter, say that the duty upon this paper seriously interferes with their calling. I had an inter-view a few minutes ago with the President of the Victorian Association, and he pointed that out to me. The Master Printers say that the duty is of advantage, not tq the Australian, but to the American and German, and other foreign printers. When a work of art or other literary production is published in America or Germany, it can be imported here with all its illustrations free of duty, whereas the Australian publisher, if he wishes to produce a similar work, has to pay a duty of 15 per cent, upon the paper which he uses, which is an unfair handicap. It has been suggested to me that paper coated on one side only should be made dutiable, and that paper coated on both sides should be allowed to come in free.
– For what object ?
– I suppose because there is some industry in Victoria which coats paper on one side only. I do not understand the attitude which has been taken by the Government in this matter, because only a very few men can be employed in this State in the work of coating paper. Ordinary printing paper is admitted free.
– Does the honorable member call this printing paper ?
– It is surfacecoated paper, which is used by Australian artists for the purpose of illustrating publications.
– If it is surface-coated paper, then, by the very words of the Tariff, it is dutiable at 15 per cent.
– I take it that the paper which is used in this publication for illustrating purposes would be called printing paper. At all events, it would come in free if used in an illustrated book. These publications can all be imported free from America and Germany, but if our artists use the very same paper to produce an artistic work, it is subject to 15 per cent. duty. This may be a small matter to some honorable members, but it is not so to our Australian workmen and artists, and that is the reason why I take so strong a stand. It is a gross act of injustice to Australian workmen, artists, and publishers, and I feel sure that when the committee understands the position it will remedy that injustice. I believe that if the case had been represented in this way previously the committee would not have agreed to the proposal of the Treasurer. We all know the value of illustrations in a work, and we ought to encourage the illustration of Australian works. The honorable member for Melbourne Ports has produced some samples here to-day. Can he tell us whether any of these illustrations are Victorian productions 1
– That which the honorable member quotes here is free. It is only a matter of administration which will be righted.
– It will be free under the new interpretation, although ithas been charged 15 per cent, duty in one State and admitted free in another. The illustration to which the honorable member refers is coated on both sides, but if it is coated on only one side it is charged 15 per cent. duty. Does not that show the absurdity of the contention of the Government ? The only reason assigned to me for making this charge is that in Victoria there is some manufacturer employing, I think, two men and two boys, turning out paper coated on only one side. In a number of these publications the paper is coated on only one side. I leave the determination of the matter to the good sense of the committee.
– It is a pity that the honorable member who has just resumed his seat, and who has made such a terrible hubbub over the law being administered in one State one way, and in another State in another way, did not take the ordinary and proper course - and which I do not think I have ever met in ‘the slightest degree discourteously - of simply mentioning to the Minister in charge of the Tariff the subjectmatter of his complaint, because no one in his sane senses would contemplate for a moment that the Minister would allow such a thing to continue. Naturally, in the administration of a new Tariff, particularly a long Tariff of this description, officers desirous of losing no time give the best decision they can, and as we often differ here as to the meaning of a clause, it is not unnatural to find in some cases an item interpreted in one way in one State and in another way in another State. We are taking every precaution ‘for the purpose of securing the reporting of these decisions to headquarters at the earliest possible moment, in order that a similar interpretation should be given throughout the Commonwealth. For, of course, a’ Federal Tariff would be absolutely worthless if its provisions, being uniform, were not uniformly administered. I would take it as a great favour “from honorable members if they would take, at the earliest possible moment, the course of letting the Minister, or the department, know where there is anything in the shape cf want of uniformity, however much in some little case it may be difficult to restrain one’s inclination, in the case of an Opposition member, to spring the matter on the Treasury benches, and then argue for an alteration of the provisions of the Tariff, when it is not an alteration which is wanted but simply uniformity in administration.
– In which direction is this uniformity to go ?
– In the direction of right and justice. 33 o z
– Will the Minister tell us whether the paper is to be all free or dutiable at 15 per cent.’?
– That which is stipulated to be free undoubtedly is to be free. It would be a wrong thing to construe a special declaration of an exemption in such a way as to allow the benefit of the exemption to be lost to the article. In putting an item through committee it is difficult to get it in exactly the shape in which it is wanted. We have to make amendments on the spur of the moment, and if we were redrafting the item probably it would be expressed in a different way. Under item 115 we have “ uncoated printing paper” in certain sizes free, and I have to ask honorable members to assist me in amending that item shortly. Then we have under the exemptions “ coated printing paper.” Taking the two together it will be found that coated printing paper is in all cases exempt. I am disposed to hold, unless I hear something which will change my opinion, and I do not think it will, coated printing paper, whether it is coated on one side or the other, is entitled to the benefit of the exemption. The provision, construed logically, is that printing paper coated is in all cases free, and printing paper uncoated free if in certain sizes. If we do not alter the item, the strict construction might mean the inclusion of that which is not of those sizes under n.e.i., but we shall discuss that matter a little further on. I do not think there is any room for doubt as to what is the position in reference to printing paper. As regards what printing paper is, of course we require the assistance of our experts. I do not profess to be an expert on the subject, but I take it that printing paper is the sort of paper which is generally used for the purpose of printing.
– Would the Minister call the sample produced printing paper 1
– I shall not tie myself down to express an opinion upon a subject with which I am not acquainted. I suppose there are not very many of us who do bring to the consideration of the question that special knowledge which will enable us to determine at a glance what is printing paper and what is not. I have not that special knowledge, but we have experts in the department, and by the aid of the information which they will supply, and which, if necessary, we shall get from outside sources, we shall no doubt be able to come to a satisfactory conclusion on that point. Then, after making allowance for these declarations of exemptions, we have to administer the Tariff, having in view the fact that we have not provided, in the clearest possible terms, in the “n.e.i.” line. It mentions several things, and then it says - “and surface-coated paper 15 per cent.” In considering the question of surfacecoated paper, and whether the 15 per cent, duty should apply, we have to ask, first - Is it printing paper? If it is printing paper the duty does not apply, because, as I say, as regards coated or uncoated printing paper, in certain sizes, there is the express declaration that it shall be free. In their interpretation of the term “ surfacecoated paper” the Customs officials have practically to reject all printing paper. Looking at any particular paper, the simple question which they have to decide is - “Is it printing paper V If so, it ought to be admitted free. If it is not printing paper, and it is surface-coated, the directions of the Tariff are plain that duty must be collected upon it. Regarding the claim put forward by the honorable member for Macquarie that a book in its complete form would be admitted free, whereas our own printer’s would be charged duty upon the paper intended for use in such a publication, I am informed upon the highest authority that it is impossible for anything of the sort to occur, inasmuch as the paper which the printer would import would be printing paper, and consequently would be exempt from duty. The honorable member is thus driven to the only reason which he has for making all this fuss, namely, that a duty is being collected upon printing paper in one State whilst it is being admitted free in another. I say that it is impossible to defend want of uniformity in the collection of duties, and the honorable member need not fear that the practice will not be made uniform in accordance with the provisions of the Tariff at the very earliest moment.
– I have no mission to vote for the imposition of any duty which would tend to .destroy existing industries. My first impression was that the amendment proposed by the honorable member for Macquarie was somewhat unfair, and was opposed to the reasonable compromise arrived at when the duty upon this article was reduced from 30 to 15 per cent. As the debate has proceeded, however, honorable members upon both sides of the chamber must have remarked that there has been a considerable conflict of testimony. One of these sources of embarrassment to honorable members has, however, been removed by the Minister for Trade and Customs, who admits that some want of uniformity has prevailed in departmental administration.
– I say that the duty has been charged, and that course cannot be defended?
– If a want of uniformity exists, it will, of course, be removed. The right honorable gentleman also says that if paper is used for printing purposes it will be admitted free, irrespective of whether it is surface-coated or not. The difficulty which confronts me is in determining what justification exists for discriminating between paper which is printed and paper which is illustrated. I would further point out that a picture might contain printing. Surely, for all practical purposes, such paper would constitute printing paper? My own feeling is that there ought to be some reasonable way of overcoming the difficulty which is thus presented. We desire to have the Tariff interpreted in such a way that the raw material of the printing trade shall not be subject to any additional obligation. If this matter is pressed to a division, I feel that we shall be inconsistent unless surfacecoated paper is subjected to a uniform duty.
Mr. MAHON (Coolgardie).- The Minister for Trade and Customs has explained that “coated printing paper” - that is, paper used for purposes of illustration - is being admitted free, and has further pointed out that “ surface-coated paper “ - that is, paper not used for printing purposes - is dutiable at the rate of 15 per cent. By “surfacecoated paper” I am sure that the right honorable gentleman means a paper which is coloured and which is coated upon one side only. The Minister must be familiar with the labels upon chemists’ bottles. The class of paper which I hold in my hand is admirably suited for such labels, and would have printing upon it. For all practical purposes, therefore, this paper which is dutiable at the rate of 15 per cent, is printing paper.
– Would the honorable member call it printing paper ?
– If I wanted it for printing purposes I should : but it is not the class of article which is ordinarily referred to as printing paper. I think that the difficulties which have already cropped up in the administration of the Tariff will be considerably multiplied if the item of surface-coated paper is allowed to remain in its present form. I wish, however, to point out another anomaly which leads to injustice. I find that writing paper under 16 inches x 13 inches is dutiable at 15 per cent., whilst writing paper in sheets of not less than 16 inches x 13 inches is exempt from taxation. What I wish to emphasize is that the latter class of paper, although denominated “ writing piper,” is in reality printing paper. The most expensive kinds of work, such as the printing of the reports and balance-sheets of banks and insurance companies, will be done upon that paper, and thus those big institutions will be able to obtain’ their paper free of duty, whereas the poor bush man, who merely desires to write a letter, will have to pay 15 per cent, upon the paper which he uses. It is quite impossible for the so-called experts of the department of the Minister for Trade and Customs to detect the difference between the various classes of paper. Men who have been engaged in the printing trade all their lives ure misled in this respect, so that it is not to be expected that the Customs officials can become experts. In my opinion it would be far better to omit this item from the Tariff.
– I do not know whether the honorable member for Macquarie is satisfied with the explanation which has been given by the Minister for Trade and Customs, but if he is he must be a simpler man than I take him to be.
– I am not satisfied.
– The Minister’s speech reminded me very much of the habits of the cuttle-fish in obscuring the question. His speech did not throw an atom of light upon the difficulty raised nearly two hours ago. If a Minister will not take the trouble to seize upon an issue immediately it is raised and deal with it at once, but encourages the committee by his silence to go on talking for hours, it shows how the time of the committee can be wasted. The position which the honorable member for Macquarie took up was that he did not complain of this or that duty in particular. He said that he had had placed before him by one of the largest firms of printers in Australiaa case which exhibited an anomaly in the Tariff which ought to be removed. If the Minister for Trade and Customs had said at once that it was an anomaly that should not exist under an intelligent Tariff, and that if the honorable member gave him time he would cause the matter to be inquired into and the anomaly removed, the difficulty would have been settled. Instead of that, the two Ministers in charge of the Tariff sat at the table like two sphinxes for nearly two hours. The)7 were examining an article of commerce which had nothing to do with the subject of the debate, and at the end of two hours we had a speech made by the Minister for Trade and Customs which, as I have said, obscured rather than cleared up the question under debate. It certainly was not logical. Are we any nearer the settlement of this difficulty than we were two hours ago 1 An anomaly has been pointed out which can be expressed in five minutes. The honorable member for Macquarie exhibited a large picture of an Australian flower which might hang upon the wall of a State school for the instruction of the scholars. What is the anomaly in connexion with it? It is that .John Sands and Company, one of the largest printing firms in Australia, have pointed out to honorable members from New South Wales that although that picture can be imported into New South Wales free of duty in its present condition, if the paper necessary to enable it to be produced in Australia is imported, it is liable to a duty of 15 per cent. The honorable member for Melbourne Ports defended that duty, and as he is an authority on the Tariff and holds a high position in some protectionist association, we take it for granted that the complaint is a good one; that a duty of 15 per cent, is imposed on the particular paper exhibited. The Minister assented to all this. He did not come to the relief of the committee, and tell them that it was a mistake ; but after a debate extending over two hours, he told us that this class of paper, whether coated on one side or on both, ought to come in free. The honorable member for Canobolas asked very pertinently, “ Will this particular paper come in free ?” And unless the Ministers are prepared to give us some assurance that this extraordinary anomaly will be removed, I do not think the committee will be satisfied with the answer we have had. We hear a great deal about the desirability of giving work to the population of Australia, and the committee should think for a moment of what this duty means. Now that the people of this country have a little more leisure than they had 30 or 40 years ago, we are trying to reproduce some of the scenery, flora, and faunaof Australia. Our own artists find an outlet for their work. But when they go to a local printer, he has to tell them that it will be cheaper for them to send their works of art to England or America to be reproduced there and to be returned to Australia in lithograph form, than to have the work done here, and thus find employment for citizens of the Commonwealth. We do not desire to secure that employment by any artificial means, but by freeing paper from a duty which is in favour of an industry which we do not know to exist. The honorable member for Melbourne Ports said there was such an industry here, but I understood the Minister to say that it did not exist. The committee are impressed by the force of this inconsistency, and yet we are not even now informed whether it is to be removed or not. Does the right honorable gentleman think the committee are going to drop the whole thing, because of an explanation of the kind he has given ? If he will admit that it is an anomaly, and say that the particular paper on which this picture is printed, and upon which Messrs John Sands and Company say they paid duty at the rate of 15 per cent., will come in free, the difficulty will be removed. But what we are told is that “ printing paper” can come in free. What is printing paper? If paper is going to be printed upon, then it may be “printing paper,” and if the duty is going to be imposed, or not imposed, according to the purposes for which the paper is to be used, then in every case an importer of paper will have to declare to the Customs, that he is, or is not, going to print upon the particular class of paper which he is importing. How is the Customs going to see that he keeps this obligation ? The whole thing is ridiculous. The term “printing paper” is thus an absurdity. On this particular picture there thus is a great deal of printing matter, showing the botanical name of the flower, the name of the artist, and so on.
SirJohn Quick. - If the paper on which it is printed is “ printing paper “ then it is free.
Mr.Sydney Smith. - It is charged duty at the rate of 15 per cent.
– The honorable and learned member for Bendigo will sympathize with the further anomaly which I am pointing out. If paper is known as “printing paper” - and I understand the Treasurer says that this is not- how is it to be defined? Does not the position show the absurdity of using such a term for the classification of dutiable goods? If printing appears upon it, in addition to the flower, which is reproduced, surely it is “printing paper.”
– No doubt.
– What is the difference between a coloured flower and a black flower ? The picture itself is printed. Everyone knows that in the course of the printing of a newspaper, hundreds of photographs are reproduced in black and white, but because a picture happens to be printed in red ink instead of black, can it be said that it is not a printed picture ?
Mr.Crouch. - It is a coloured picture.
– That is only a question of light. How can a particular article be defined in that way ? I complain that the committee have to sit here like a pack of fools, and that the two Ministers sit at the table and allow time to be wasted - because it is a waste of time - while they are examining some article or other which has been handed to them by some honorable member. Are we to sit here like a parcel of fools to be treated in this way? I cannot afford to do so, and we ought not to be asked to do so. I have seen two hours of the time of 20 or 30 honorable members absolutely and criminally wasted by the failure of the Ministers at the table to deal with this matter in a business-like way. If some more satisfactory explanation is not given I shall certainly vote for the amendment moved by the honorable member for Macquarie, no matter what the consequences may be.
Mr. BATCHELOR (South Australia).I have listened to a number of lengthy speeches on this question from the Opposition, but the only glimmer of light that I have been able to obtain was derived by me from the speech made by the Minister for Trade and Customs. He laid it down clearly that printing paper, whether coated on one side or on both sides, was to be free. The trouble seems to be that some honorable members desire the Minister to pose as an expert, and to say whether a certain piece of material comes within one definition or another. That is not his business.
– The Minister might have said that he would look into the matter. In that way he could have stopped the debate.
– I heard the Minister say over an hour ago that he would look into it. I desire to put it to the Ministers in charge of the Tariff whether the revenue from this item makes it worth while imposing the duty. I should like some information on the point. It seems to me that in objecting to surface-coated paper which is not used for printing purposes coming in free, weare straining at the gnat and swallowing the camel in view of the fact that we have allowed all printing paper to come in free. Certainly most of this paper is used for printing purposes. It seems idle to waste the time of the committee over the matter. I think it would be. better to allow the paper to come in free ; but at the same time I consider that it is unfair to attack the Minister.
Mr. G. B. EDWARDS (South Sydney).Although I do not say that we ought to look to the Minister to be an expert in, the matter of paper, we have a right to expect that, as a lawyer, at all events he should be an expert in defining what is meant by a phrase in his own Tariff. If we are going to define what “printing paper” is, weshall be forced to agree with the contention of the honorable and learned member for Parkes, that it is paper which is to be printed upon. Here we are met by the objection which several honorable members with a knowledge of commercial matters have raised over and over again in relation to many other items. As I said the other day, some people use corn bags for overcoats, and if we are going to impose a duty according to the use to which an article is put, there will be no end of difficulties. There will, be no paper coming in here which is not intended to be printed upon, the difficulty being caused by the insertion of the definition to which reference has been made, and which cannot be observed under any system that I know of. I regret that the committee did not at the first institute a uniform duty of 16 per cent, upon all paper. That would have given a much better revenue, and would have removed many anomalies from the Tariff. We say, for example, that writing paper is dutiable in certain sizes and forms, and yet, in nine cases out of ten, the larger sizes of writing paper are imported for the purpose of being printed upon. The surface-coated paper of which samples have been shown here to-day, and which the Minister says must pay duty at the rate’ of 15 per cent., is largely used for printing purposes. It is made up into the outer covers of programmes, pamphlets, and things of that kind, and is printed upon ; and is also cut up for labels, and printed upon. That a finished production should be admitted duty free, and the materials of which it is composed taxed, is an anomaly which, I am sure, no member of the committee, unless interested in the duty for the sake of some particular industry, will permit to continue. I think that the committee displayed a want of courage in not placing a duty upon all printing paper. I should like to have seen a revenue duty of 10 per cent, imposed upon all kinds of paper. If printing paper is to be exempt on the ground that newspapers have an educational influence upon the community, and therefore should not be taxed, the paper that is used for much higher forms of literature, having a still greater educational value, ought to be exempt. In the early days of New South Wales, the Sydney Gazette was printed on all sorts of paper, and in one instance the editor had to apologize for printing it upon common wall paper. So that it will be seen that printing paper cannot be defined as paper upon which it is intended to print.
Mr. SYDNEY SMITH (Macquarie). - The Treasurer has stated that the paper of which I have produced samples is not printing paper, although it is used in the making of books, and for the illustration of works by Australian artists. If printing paper is to be defined as paper upon which it is intended to print something, all this paper will be invoiced as printing paper, and will therefore have to be admitted free.
– We have many reasons to be grateful to the honorable and learned member for Parkes, chief among which are his frequent absences. For him to attempt to draw attention to his objection able presence here by the observations in which he indulged this afternoon was altogether unnecessary. I venture to think that the committee will not bear out the charge implied in his remarks in regard to the cuttlefish operations of Ministers. It has J been my constant endeavour to place honor-
I able members in possession of the fullest information, and to spare no pains in endeavouring to secure what is wanted. The honorable and learned member lectured us, in his “superior person” style, like an escaped and exploded pedagogue. He sought to impress us with his personal importance and the wisdom of his observations, but he only established his right to a prominent position as a pragmatical prig. If I had wished to have recourse to fishy comparisons, I might have retorted, when he spoke of the squib, “ What of the shark! “ The honorable and learned member would have known how to apply the remark. After this little attempt to establish an ententecordiale between myself and the honorable and learned member, I venture to think, in regard to the item under consideration, that if any of us were asked, “ What is printing paper ?” he would say, “ Paper generally used for the purposes of printing.” I was delighted to notice the hesitation of the honorable member for Coolgardie, who would not describe the piece of red paper he was flourishing as printing paper because, in the ordinary acceptation of the term, it is not printing paper, and the fact that it may occasionally be used for printing purposes does not make it printing paper. To say that, because a certain kind of paper is occasionally used for printing, it may be described as printing paper, is like saying that because a lady may occasionally be forced to ride upon a carthorse, that animal can be described as a lady’s hack. I have promised to do all I can to remove any anomaly, but I understand that our experts experience a difficulty in defining the particular sample of paper which has been exhibited by the honorable member for Macquarie, and upon which a waratah is printed. I shall be, however, only too glad to give my best consideration to the whole matter, and, when fortified by the advice of my experts, to indicate at the earliest possible time what I consider should be done.
Question - That the words “and on and after 17th April, 1902,surface-coated paper, free,” proposed to be added, be so added - put. The committee divided -
Question so resolved in the affirmative.
Amendment agreed to.
Item 116. - Stationery, manufactured, . . . n.e.i., including printers’ matrices, inks, writing and printing, and ink powder . … ml valorem, 25 per cent.
– I move -
That the words, “ and on and after 17th April, 1002, Printing ink free “ be added.
When this division was previously under discussion I do not think there was any debate upon this item. There are so many matters referred to in the original list in which printing ink is included that I can well understand honorable members having overlooked it. I have a good deal of information upon both sides of the question, and I shall put the case for the duty, as presented to me in a letter I got the other day, as fairly as I shall ask honorable members to consider what I have to say against it.
– They have to pay upon raw material.
– I shall examine that statement also. The position seems to be this. Previousto the introduction of this Tariff the only duties imposed upon printing ink were 6d. per lb. in Victoria, and 5 per cent. ad valorem in Western Australia. In all the other States it was free. That, on the face of it, is a pretty strong prima facie argument in favour, at all events, of a reduction of the duty now fixed at 25 per cent. I had a circular sent to me some months ago, from which I made an extract as to the cost of importation of this article. I think it was there stated that upon ordinary writing ink and upon printing ink the cost of importation amounts to 27½ per cent. of the value of the article. Honorable members will admit that a duty of 25 per cent. on top of that is pretty strong protection. A circular was sent to me some time ago by the Master Printers’ Association of New South Wales, in which it was stated that 5,500 persons are interested in the printing trade in that State, and amongst other requests the association asked that printing ink should be put upon the free list. I have seen in some circular a statement that printing ink required by newspapers is not manufactured locally, or, at all events, that it is not manufactured in any large quantities.
– Yes, it is.
– If the honorable member can give evidence of that I shall be pleased to listen to it. I may mention that most of the manufactured products of the printing trade are on the free list. I make a slight concession as regards newspapers, because, of course, we have not put a duty on their paper. I think honorable members will see there is a fair case presented for some alteration in the fact that there is such a heavy import rate, and a duty of 25 per cent., as against a duty of only 6d. previously in Victoria, and of 5 per cent. in Western Australia, while in the other States the article was free. I may tell the honorable member for Melbourne Ports that I believe that duty of 6d. in Victoria was only put on after the manufacture of ink had become an industry in this State. So that it was under free-trade conditions that the industry came into being.
– The honorable member said just now that the ink was not made here.
– I have said that I will deal with both sides, and manufacturers’ circulars which I have received do speak of these inks being made here. They do not differentiate, but they draw attention to my proposed motion, and say that these inks will be largely affected if the duty is removed, and I give them credit for the inuendo contained in the allegation that my motion will affect the printing trade. One of the first statements they make is one that may be taken with a grain of salt. They say that if the duty is kept on the price will not be raised. I am not going to say any more upon that point. We know what that statement is worth, and it is just as well that we should have a protection against the possibility of the price being raised. As regards the raw material on which they seem to build their strongest case, I have received a letter this afternoon from the Imperial Printers’ Furnishing Company, of Melbourne, in which they state -
At present we are taxed very highly upon all our raw material, as the enclosed circular will show.
The same statement is made in a letter from the Imperial Printers’ Furnishing Company, ofSydney, which, I suppose, is a branch of the same firm. They point out that linseed oil is taxed at the rate of 6d. per gallon. Looking at the rate imposed prior to the introduction of the Federal Tariff, I find that that is no grievance so far as Victoria is concerned, because previously the duty on linseed oil in Victoria was the same as at present, 6d. per gallon. As I have said the industry was created in Victoria under free-trade conditions, and up to the 8th of last October this raw material bore the same rate of duty.
– The duty upon ink existed for a very long time.
– I do not know, but I have been informed that it was imposed after the industry was established. On this raw material, linseed oil, Queensland had a duty of1s., or double the existing rate. South Australia had the same rate, 6d. per gallon, and Tasmania had a rate of1s. 3d. per gallon, so that the argument that the ink manufacturers have to pay duty upon raw material counts for nothing in these States so far as linseed oil is concerned. Then the duty upon litho. varnish was higher previous to the introduction of the Tariff than it is now. It was then 2s. a gallon in Victoria, and it is now1s. 9d. a gallon.
– Litho. varnish is not a raw material for printer’s ink.
– They say it is ; brit my case is only strengthened if it is not.
– Linseed oil and resin oil are the principal constituents.
– 1 have dealt with linseed oil. I am informed that reducing, oil is used in the printing trade ; but I believe it is now very little used in the manufacture of cheap inks, because fat is being used as a substitute. If that is correct there is not much in that, and the duties upon their raw material do not tell highly in their favour. Then dry colour is mentioned, and there is a duty upon, it of ls. per cwt. This is not much on their side, because, while previously in Victoria it was free, in Queensland the duty was 3s. per cwt., and in South Australia 2s. ; and of course we are dealing now with Australia, and not with Victoria alone. Then it is stated that there are various other raw materials - resins, gums, and chemicals, which are all more or less subject to duty. The manufacturers do not give the particulars, and I have really not had time to investigate them. I believe that, like litho. varnish, many of these raw materials are not largely used: Reducing oil is not largely used, and I do not know to what extent dry colours are used. Those are the facts as I ‘ have them on both sides. I do not think the case put for the retention of this exceedingly high duty is as strong as the ink manufacturers seem to think. At all events, I do say that a duty of 25 per cent, is not justified by the rates which were previously imposed.
– What did a duty of 6d. per lb. amount to 1
– 100 per cent, on some inks.
– Granting all that, if any honorable member suggests a moderate duty of 10 per cent, it might be considered, but I believe that the proper thing to do is to put this article upon che free list, and I move accordingly.
– It has been pointed out by the honorable member for South Australia, Mr. Glynn, that the manufacturers of printing ink are not taxed very highly on their raw material ; but according to the figures which have been supplied to me, they are paying a duty on practically all the raw material they use. I am given to understand that the principal constituents of black printing ink are resin’ oil, dutiable at 6d. per gallon, and colour, dutiable at ls. per cwt. The duty on resin oil is equal to fd. per lb., and the price of common black printing ink is 3d. per lb. The duty of 25 per cent, on printing ink is only equal to the duties which are levied on the raw material of the manufacturers of printing ink. I ask the- committee to retain the duty. I believe that honorable members are anxious that where a duty is levied on raw material it should be equal to that which is levied on the manufactured article. It may be said that master printers are anxious that their raw materia], the ink, should be admitted duty free ; but, on the other hand, we cannot fairly argue that the manufacturers of ink should be subjected to a duty on their raw material.
Mr. HENRY WILLIS (Robertson).Printing ink is an article which might be placed on the free list. It has not hitherto been a highly protected article. In all the States, except Victoria and Western Australia, it has been duty-free, and even in Victoria, the manufacturers have said that if the high -class inks were to carry a duty, they were quite willing that printing ink - that is, ink below the price of 4d. per lb. - should be placed on the free list. They made that statement about seven years ago, and they have not yet asked for the imposition of a duty on printing ink. It is the high-class inks on which they expect to make some money.
– A circular signed by ink manufacturers has been issued from three States, asking that this duty should be retained.
– -It is an excessive tax on the printers all over Australia. This ink is used for the printing of newspapers. To those person j who get but a small return from the printing of newspapers the increased price of even Id. per lb. on the ink - it amounts to 25 per cent. - is a matter of very great consideration. I hope that the Government will, grant this small concession, because if they do there will still remain the other classes of ink to carry the high duty of 25 per cent. The honorable and learned member for South Australia dealt with the matter in a way which I think must commend his amendment to every reasonable man in the committee.
Question - That the words “ and on and after 17th April, 1902, printing ink free” proposed to be added be so added - put. The committee divided -
Question so resolved in the negative.
– I propose to move that the duty on printing ink be reduced to 10 per cent., because, notwithstanding the form of words which was used, the whole item was recommitted.
– The Chairman has already decided that it cannot be done.
– I do not knowwhether the Chairman has finally decided the point.
– The direction to the committee was that printing ink should be placed upon the free list. That question having been decided I cannot allow it to be further discussed.
Amendment (by Sir George Turner) agreed to -
That the word “cap” be inserted after the word “tissue” in the last line of the special exemptions.
Division XIV. -Vehicles.
Item 118. - Cycle parts, n.e.i., including steel bars for the manufacture of rims, 10 per cent.
– I move-
That the words “also unplated parts, namely, ball heads, bottom brackets, lugs, fork ends, bridges, sprocket wheels, balls, nickels, spokes, and washers” be inserted after the word, “rims.”
Honorable members will recollect that when this item was discussed upon a former occasion, althoughwe desired to give as much work as possible to our cycle manufacturers, we did not wish to confer any considerable measure of protection upon those who merely imported the parts of machines and put them together. Accordingly , we decided that parts ready for use should be dutiable at the same rate as the finished article, namely, 20 per cent., whilst allowing other parts to be admitted at 10 percent. We have since investigated the matter further, and we think that the parts mentioned in the amendment so long as they are unplated, may fairly be charged the lower rate. Straight tubing is already admitted free, but we go to the length of declaring that bent tubing, so long as it is not brazed or plated, shall also be exempt from duty. These further concessions, I think, are all that our cycle-makers are fairly entitled to, and I trust that the committee will agree to the amendment.
– I believe that when this matter was previously discussed the concensus of opinion was that a small margin of protection should be allowed to our local cycle-makers.
– Cannot the plated parts be brought in separately?
– Whilst I fought hard for a duty of 10 per cent. upon cycle parts n.e.i., when this matter was previously under discussion, I think that the committee would be acting wisely if it imposeda duty of 15 per cent. upon all cycle parts. Out of the whole of the articles enumerated in the Treasurer’s amendment only “ bridges “ will be admitted at 10 per cent. A complete set of cycle parts varies from £3 to £5 in value, and the work of putting them together, nickelling, enamelling, &c, represents about a similar amount. I certainly think that the committee should agree to a 5 per cent. margin in favour of our local cycle-makers. Practically the whole of the articles mentioned by the Treasurer will be subject to a duty of 20 per cent., because small portions of them are nickelled. These parts constitute the raw material of the cycle manufacturer, and I am agreeable that they should pay a revenue duty of 15 per cent.
– Does the honorable member think that our manufacturers would import parts in the rough if they eould import them in a finished state at the same rate ?
– I can show the Treasurer parts which are far rougher than those in my possession, and which to-day are dutiable at 20 per cent. As evidencing the anomalous position which obtains at the present time, I may mention that a cycle manufacturer is compelled to pay a duty of 20 per cent. upon spanners as cycle accessories, whereas an ironmonger can import them free. I trust that the committee will agree to the imposition of a 1 5 per cent. rate upon all cycle parts. I am convinced that it would be far better for the trade to have uniformity in this connexion.
Amendment agreed to.
– I move-
That the following exemptions be added : - “ Bicycle- tubing and fork -sides, including bent tubes not brazed or plated.”
These tubes, being bent, would be liable to pay duty if we did not specially exempt them.
Amendment agreed to.
Division XVI. - Miscellaneous.
Amendment (by Mr. McDonald) proposed -
That the following exemptions be added : - “ Brushes, hog hair, sable hair, camel hair, in albata, tin or quill, half-inch.”
– We shall have no objectionto the amendment, provided that the honorable member will add the words “ and under.” If it were not put in that way it might be held that articles under half-an-inch would be dutiable. If my proposal is adopted it will make my honorable friend’s desire clearer.
– I am agreeable to amend my amendment as suggested.
Amendment amended accordingly, and agreed to.
Item 128 - Corks, bungs . . . adval., 15 per cent.
Amendment (by Mr. Glynn) proposed -
That the words, “ and on and after 17th April, 1902, corks free “ be added.
– If the honorable and learned member will add the words “and bungs,” we will agree to his amendment.
– Very well.
Amendment amended accordingly, and agreed to.
Item 129 - Explosives . . . fuse. . . . free.
Mr. RONALD (Southern Melbourne).I move -
That the following words be added : -“ and on and after 17th April, . 1902, per coil,1d.”
This is an item which, unlike many others which have been reconsidered, is one in regard to which we are not called upon to increase a duty already in existence, but to reimpose a duty which was taken off under a gross misunderstanding. I believe that the committee, in voting that fuse should be free, were under a serious and very wilful misapprehension. It was stated at the time that, owing to the imposition of the duty of1d. per coil on fuse, the price had been raised in various parts of the States. I hold here copies of telegrams which were at once sent from various parts, denying that the price was raised except for a few days. Several other arguments were used when the item was last discussed. It was said that the duty meant an additional cost of1½d. for every charge that was used by miners. The fact was overlooked, however, that the Bendigo Fuse Company and other companies were prepared to sell cheaper and better fuse than that which is imported. Any man who has a knowledge of fuse will know that that which is made here must be better than that whichhas to be imported, for the simple reason that the latter has to pass through various temperatures, and has to be disembarked and handled, and that it is bound to be interfered with. The process of transit is a very deteriorating one.
– The honorable member is talking rot.
– The honorable member must withdraw that remark.
– I withdraw it.
– Miners who know what they are talking about will tell honorable members that fuse which is brought into the Commonwealth from abroad is not safe; for the simple reason that the processes through which it passes in course of transit may interfere with the calculation as to the time when it will go off. When a charge fails to go off within the time allowed, a man may go back to dig it out and be blown into space.
– He is not allowed to dig it out.
– This is not merely a matter of protection versus free-trade, or vice versa, it is a question of whether we are going to protect the lives of our miners. Beyond all doubt, it is not a question of the price per charge. If we allow fuse to enter free, we shall find that employers of labour will be able to obtain a very cheap and inferior fuse, and use it, regardless of the consequences to the lives of the men that are employed in their mines.
– That is a libel on the employers.
– I am not libelling any one. If there is one article which ought to be made locally it is this, for the simple reason that if there is any defect in the manufacture of fuse it is right that we should be able to lay our hands on the persons responsible for it. That would be impossible if the fuse were made abroad. This industry is one which deserves well of the community. The Bendigo factory is a model one. I have a report made last week by an inspector of factories in which it is stated that there is everything in the factory which is desirable in order to prevent accidents. There has been no accident with the explosives for over twelve years.
– The powder comes from England.
– That is one reason why locally-manufactured fuse should be protected. The freight for powder which is the raw material used in the making of fuse, is as dear, if not dearer, than the freight for the fuse itself, so that there is absolutely no natural protection. The local manufacturers of fuse have not only to import their raw material, and pay a heavy freight upon it, but they are forced to disembark it at a given point in each State. If fuse is allowed to come in free, the result will be the utter extinction of this industry, because it will be brought into competition with the cheaper fuse of the world.
– How many men are employed in the Bendigo factory ?
– There are about 45 hands, and half that number are women. The wages range from £3 10s. to £2 10s. a week for males,. and 20s. a week for females. Another reason why I ask the committee to agree to the duty originally fixed on this article - and I hope the Government will state at once whether or not they are prepared to support my proposal - is that the local makers of fuse will otherwise be subjected to unfair competition owing to the high wages paid in the States as compared with those paid in the old country. There is a difference of nearly 50 per cent. We have also to remember that here our workmen work only eight hours per day, whereas in the old country they are employed for nine hours at the lowest estimate. Oversea freights and the landing on the raw material are heavy items in the cost of manufacture, and the Government magazine charges on powder have also to be paid. If we are going to allow the cheap fuse from Germany to come in free it will be utterly impossible to prevent accidents. I know of an instance in which fuse was brought here at a ridiculously low price, and sold for about half the’ price of the locallymade or the ordinary imported fuse ; but a series of most disastrous accidents followed its use, and we shall be exposed to occurrences of that nature if we allow fuse to be imported free, and thus have, no one on whom we can place the responsibility for any mishaps. I hope that the committee will rise superior to petty fiscal considerations, and remember their moral responsibility for any accidents that may occur through the use of dangerous imported fuse. I would also point out to honorable members that they cannot expect our manufacturers to work under free-trade conditions in competition with manufacturers at Home, who pay wages 50 per cent, lower than those paid here, have men who work longer hours than our employes work, and are in a better position for securing their rawmaterial than are our manufacturers. It must be remembered that, in bringing our factories into open competition with the factories of the world, we are interfering with the State rights of Victoria, because the Victorian Factory Act, which was brought into operation upon the understanding that the fiscal policy of Victoria, which was protection, would be continued, will be unworkable under free-trade. I do not ask the committee to vote for an increase of duty ; I merely ask honorable members to restore the duty which was previously in existence.
– It is not very long since the honorable member for Southern Melbourne had to confess, as I understood him, that he could not remain a Christian if he continued a protectionist. I can quite understand it, and I hope I see the good seed germinating, which will bear fruit by-and-by. The honorable member has given proof of his loss of the Christian spirit to-night, because he has charged a large section of the community with neglect of human life in using inferior fuses, a charge wholly unjustified by facts, and I think not unappropriately characterized by the honorable member for Maranoa as “rot.” The committee were so strongly opposed to a duty on fuse that, when the matter was considered before, no one thought it worth while to call for a division. That being so, I do not see why further time should be occupied in discussing the honorable member’s proposal now.
– I should like to know why the honorable member for Southern Melbourne has jumped the claim of the honorable and learned member for Bendigo. What is the matter with ‘that worthy knight that those interested in fuse have so ruthlessly taken the control of this matter out of his hands, and placed it in the hands of the more experienced member for Southern Melbourne - an honorable gentleman who has lived all his life in a town, and, if ever he has gone clown a mine, has done so only when on pleasure bent. The honorable member for Southern Melbourne talked about fuses and explosives as if he had been accustomed to handle them all his life, and he ridiculed my pretention to know something upon the subject. It is strange that one who has been accustomed to deal with fuse all his life should know nothing about it, while the honorable member, who has hardly seen a fuse, knows all about it. If he had used fuse in his time he would not have been so confused in his statements. The honorable and learned member for Bendigo could have made out a much better case. The honorable member has told us a harrowing tale about some bad fuse having been imported by the rapacious employers of Victoria, whose men, he said, made a hole and put in the fuse, and then, as it did not go off, went to dig it out again, when dire calamity occurred. In that benighted country, New South Wales, which honorable members would like to think was going to ruin under free-trade, an Act, passed at the instance of the honorable member for Macquarie, makes it a penal offence to go near a shot within eight hours after it has missed fire. A similar provision is in operation in most civilized countries, and if the honorable member will inquire he will find that it is in operation in Victoria. We cannot blame him, however, for having made a show of himself ; we must blame those who supplied him with his information, although he ought to have known better than to allow them to pull his leg in the way they did. The honorable member told us that employers would always buy cheap fuse, no matter how inferior ; but, speaking from experience, I do not think that that statement is true, because it is not to the interests of an employer to use any but good fuse. If he used bad fuse, and it failed to go off, it would mean keeping idle for a whole working day the ground in which the charge had been placed. Then, again, may I remind my honorable friend that they do not now take out the fuse? The practice adopted now is to bore another hole altogether. So that there is no motive at all for an employer to get bad fuse, and he has a distinct motive for getting the best fuse he possibly can, no matter what it may cost him. Then what about the Employers’ Liability Act? Does my honorable friend suggest that the employer is going to run the risk of all these accidents to men from the use of bad fuse, and the possibility of loss in the law courts of the country? The honorable member’s statements about grasping, greedy employers rushing about to get cheap fuse, and taking all these risks while doing it, is too absurd to impose upon an intelligent committee. I hope honorable members will adhere to the decision previously arrived at with regard to this matter, and that they will give the mining industry as good a fuse as can be got, no matter where it is obtained or at what cost. ‘
– As my name has been mentioned by the honorable member for Parramatta, and as there is a fuse factory in my district, I deem it ray duty to say that I .entirely support the motion of the honorable member for Southern Melbourne. The option of moving in the matter was accorded to me, but I thought the labour might as well be divided, and as I had done my best on a previous occasion, I did not object to any other honorable member taking the matter in hand. I thoroughly agree with the honorable member for Parramatta, that we should have, in this great mining country, a fuse which is at the same time cheap and the very best available. T venture to say that the best, and, considering its quality, the cheapest, fuse in the world is now produced in Victoria as the result of our protectionist system. There are two fuse factories in existence in this State at the present time. There is one at Bendigo, in which a considerable amount of capital has been invested. It was started by Mr. Perry, and was subsequently taken over by Bickford, Smith and Co. There is another factory at Footscray, owned by the Australian Fuse Manufacturing Company, so that honorable members will see that there is competition in the local production of fuse. Before the manufacture of fuse was started in Bendigo, the price was 10£d. per coil, and it went up even to ls. per coil. Mr. Perry, in the establishment of the fuse factory at Bendigo, made certain improvements in the manufacture of fuse, which enabled him to sell cheaper than the imported article. At first he had the advantage cif a duty of fd. per coil ; that was afterwards increased to l£d., and then cut down to Id. per coil. Under this protective system the price of fuse was reduced from 10½d down to 7Ad. per coil in Victoria. It was reduced first on account of the improvements made by the local manufacturer, and secondly on account of the competition, because the local manufacturers caused the importers to reduce their price also. The combined result of the competition, and the exercise of the inventive faculty, was the production of a fuse which I have no hesitation in saying is the best and cheapest in the trade. I may say also that fuse which is now sold in Victoria for 74d. per coil, is sold in England for 8£d. I am informed, by people who know what they are writing about, that for mining purposes in England double tape fuse - the first-class article - is sold there at 8½d. per coil. It may be asked, what then is the object of the duty 1 It is to block the importation of the inferior and more dangerous fuses, which enter into competition with the first-class article. The .duty really acts as a safeguard for the miner. The local production of fuse brings it nearer to the place where it is consumed ; it is under constant supervision by our local authorities, and the miners and mining managers know what they are using ; they know how, where, and under what conditions it is produced. I have heard of accidents of a most disastrous character in connexion with blasting operations in mining which have arisen from the use of fuse of the cheap and nasty order. The least defect in a piece of fuse may cause what is known as a “ miss-fire.” The miner, thinking that the blast has gone off, goes down to take out the old shot, and an explosion takes place which blows him into eternity. I have known of many such accidents resulting from the use of defective fuse. I advocate this protective duty not in the financial interests of the manufacturers of local fuse, but mainly in order to keep out the cheap, nasty, and dangerous fuse.
– Do the local manufacturers guarantee that their fuse will not miss fire?
– Undoubtedly: they guarantee it as a safety fuse. It will not pay importers to bring in inferior fuse to compete with the local fuse if this duty is retained. When this matter was previously being discussed a .great deal of capital was made out of the statement that since the imposition of the federal duty of Id. per coil, the price of fuse had been increased in some of the neighbouring States, and some invoices were produced to prove that. It may be that the storekeeper had temporarily made the increase, or it may be that the increase was not upon the local but upon the imported article.
– We produced the original documents showing an increase in the price.-
– If the price of local fuse was increased, I have it on the authority of the manufacturers that it was increased against their instructions, and if the storekeeper persisted in increasing the price he would have been refused a trade in that fuse. I have here the instructions of the manufacturers, in a letter dated 1 6th October, 1901 -
Be Bendigo fuse; at present we desire no alteration in the selling rates of it. Should the Tariff: be finally passed involving no duties on our raw materials, no alteration would ensue in our selling rates to you, so far as this Tariff question is concerned.
I do not challenge the accuracy of the statement made by the honorable member for
Kennedy, but I made inquiries on the subject; and this is the explanation. I think honorable members will accept the assurance that there would have been no increase in the price of the local article consequent upon the imposition of the duty of Id. per coil. It may be that the imported article was increased in price ; that was inevitable, and it may have a tendency to cause people to consume the local article. Not only are Bickford, Smith, and Company interested in this matter, but, as I have said, there is a factory at Footscray, owned by the Australian Fuse Manufacturing Company, and the information I have received from those interested in that factory is to the following effect : -
Should fair protection not be afforded us it will mean the stoppage of any more factories being established in the Commonwealth, and the closing of our factory, as it would be impossible to compete under these great disadvantages. Trusting that the matter may receive the earnest consideration of the Federal Parliament -
I did not move directly in this matter at this stage, because I have previously brought it under the notice of the committee. Other honorable members have a perfect right to take up the matter, and I think it right to support the proposition. I have, therefore, submitted new material to the committee to assist them in coming to a decision.
– I have no desire to decry what has been said regarding the value of the locally-manufactured fuse, nor do I wish to minimize the importance which is attached to the statements of the honorable member for Southern Melbourne as an authority upon mining fuses. I think, however, that when I have informed the honorable member of the evidence I have, he will agree that he has been made the victim of misrepresentations which he has unknowingly presented to the committee as facts. When the question of the duty upon fuse came before the committee previously I understood that objection was to be taken to the imported fuse on the ground that it was dangerous. In order to anticipate that argument, I telegraphed to certain bodies, representing both mine-owners and miners, in the raining districts of Western Australia. I think that the opinion of these men, who have to use fuse daily, is equal, at any rate to that “of any honorable member. I telegraphed to the Western Australian Chamber of Mines and also to the Australian Workers’ Association, asking whether imported fuse was dangerous as compared with the locally-manufactured article. The Chamber of Mines, which represents the mine managers, and those who are representing shareholders in Western Australian mines, sent this reply -
Report incorrect and misleading. Local mines practically use nothing but imported fuse.
From Mr. R. Blamire, the secretary of the Australian Workers’ Association, I received the following reply : -
Imported fuse mostly used here. No complaints of being dangerous.
These telegrams ought to show that the idea that imported fuse is more dangerous than the locally manufactured fuse has been put forward purely in the interests of persons who desire that the imported fuse should be discounted as much as possible, and very little value indeed should be placed on such statements. The honorable and learned member for Bendigo says that the duty, if imposed, would prevent the possibility of the importation of bad fuse. In Western Australia there has been no duty on fuse, and yet these are the reports which have been received concerning the fuse that has been used there. In New South Wales, Queensland, South Australia, and Western Australia fuse has been admitted duty free, and in New Zealand it has also been admitted duty free. I sincerely trust that the committee will not reverse its decision. For the safety of the lives of the “miners it is absolutely essential that the best fuse should be used, irrespective of cost or any other consideration, and the evidence I have brought forward shows that there is nothing in the statement that imported fuse is more dangerous than the locally manufactured article.
– It has been stated by the honorable and learned member for Bendigo that the fuse made in Victoria is the cheapest and best in the world. I am quite sure that he would not make any statement unless he thought it was absolutely correct, but I think I shall be able to show that there is a great deal of absurdity in that statement. The Bendigo factory is only a branch of Bickford, Smith, and Company’s factory at Tuckingmill in Cornwall It is a mere bagatelle to their big factory. They have to compete with Nobel’s, of Glasgow, and various other large fuse manufacturers, and if any man in their
Bendigo branch could produce a better and cheaper fuse than they can produce in their big factory he would be sent Home.
– The local fuse is simply better, because it is not carried across the sea.
– The honorable and learned member for Bendigo says that the Bendigo fuse is the cheapest and best in the world. The Bendigo factory is a small concern.
– £3,000 is invested in it.
– What is that compared to the capital invested in their big factory ? If Bickford, Smith and Co. had a man in their Australian factory who could make fuse one farthing per coil cheaper than they can in their English factory, they would be prepared to give him £10,000 to go Home and manage the big concern. They do a great deal of business in England, Europe, and America.
– They charge 8½d. a coil in England, and 7 Ad. a coil here.
– The mines in Broken Hill do not pay Sid. a coil for Bickford, Smith, and Co.’s fuse, although it is brought all the way from England. I believe that the Bendigo fuse, as well as the Footscray fuse, is a first-class article. I have no doubt that Bickford, Smith, and Co. sent someone out from England in order to see that a firstclass fuse was given to the public, because it would not pay them to sell a second-rate fuse. But to tell me that their small factory in Bendigo can produce a better and cheaper fuse than their big factory in Cornwall is absurd. If more capable men were employed here than at Home they would simply be sent Home, because the business here is not worth a snap of the linger compared to the European and American business. I am extremely anxious that we should have a first-class fuse in Australia. I know that there are regulations that a man shall not go back to a hole in which there is a charge that has missed fire within a certain time, but the miners do. When a fuse has missed fire, I have, within 20 or 30 minutes, gone in and ascertained the cause. I knew very well that I was carrying my life in my hand. If I thought that imported fuse deteriorated on the voyage out, I should certainty be a protectionist of the protectionists on this item. I communicated with the mine managers of Broken Hill, 33 p and their reply was to this effect - that they had offered to them fuse which they had tested, and that some of it was not safe and was not used, but that they had always found Bickford, Smith and Company’s fuse, from Tuckingmill, perfectly satisfactory. It is not a question of cost with the managers, but simply a question of safety. I believe it would be unwise to impose the duty of Id. per coil on fuse. I should be very pleased to see the Bendigo and Footscray factories carried on successfully. We are told that there is about 50 per cent, difference in the price of labour. So there may be ; but it is just the same as the argument I had with the honorable and learned member for Bendigo on the question of candles. Very little manual labour is employed in the making of fuse. With the machinery a few women can turn out a tremendous quantity _ At a factory very few men are engaged iiia the manufacture of fuse. I know that in the English factories it is nearly all women who are engaged, and I venture to say that at the Bendigo and Footscray factories the majority of the employes are women. The item of wages is not an important one in the manufacture of fuse. I have taken considerable trouble to ascertain whether thecharge that imported (fuse is unsafe, iscorrect, and in view of the telegrams which have been received, I have no hesitation in supporting the previous decision of the committee, that fuse should be admitted duty free.
– If the Government are behind the honorable and learned member for Bendigo there may be something in discussing this question, but if they are not supporting his amendment, . then in the picturesque language of back countrymen, it is like whipping a dead horse. The Government might very well take us into their confidence and ,tell us whetherthey are supporting the amendment.
– If it goes to a divisionwe shall vote for it, we cannot avoid it.
– I think I can show that Ministers can avoid it.
– I shall let the honorable and learned member do so.
Mi-. CONROY (Werriwa). - I think that the Ministry need not support the .amendment. When they brought down their Tariff they proposed, in item 129, a duty of Id. per lb. on powder, n.e.i., and a duty of 1d. per coil on fuse. I would point out that 1,100,000 feet of coil is annually imported into the Commonwealth. A duty of 1d. per coil upon that quantity would yield a revenue of £4,700. Yet the Treasurer anticipates that he will derive only £700 from this source. In other words, although the people of the Commonwealth are taxed to the extent of £4,700, £4,000 of that Amount will find its way into the pockets of a few individuals. I trust that the committee will not lend their support to such a proposal.
– The honorable and learned member for Bendigo has admitted that the proposed duty is not necessary from a protectionist stand-point because the local manufacturers of fuse produce a better and cheaper article than does any otherpart of the world. He urges, however, that it is desirable tolevy this duty in order to insure the supply of safer fuse. But the very opposite result would be effected by the adoption of his proposal, because the foreign manufacturer in order to maintain his hold upon the localmarket would probably be induced to supply inferior fuse. I protest against the statement that mining managers would wittingly use bad fuse. They are most particular in this respect, and uniformly endeavour to secure the most reliable fuse obtainable. I trust that this article will be retained upon the list of exemptions.
– I desire to point out that Messrs Bickford, Smith, and Company of Bendigo, have hitherto supplied nearly two-thirds of the fuse used in Queensland. If such a firm could capture the Queensland market against the competition of the outside world, before the establishment of Inter-State free-trade, where is the necessity for the proposed duty? The honorable and learned member for Bendigo urged that it was necessary to prevent our mines being supplied with inferior fuse, but a few moments later he read a letter from the Footscray manufacturers, who complain that they cannot possibly compete against the imported article without the aid of the proposed duty. If that be so, it is only reasonable to suppose that, after the duty has been levied, they will raise the price of the article. The Bendigo firm, however, have refused to adopt that course, evidently with the idea of crushing the Footscray factory. Indeed, I am informed that
Messrs. Bickford, Smith, and Co., paid £20,000 for a factory, which was not worth £5,000 at the time it was purchased, in order that they might obtain a monopoly of the market. When once the Footscray factory has been crushed, the Bendigo firm will certainly take advantage of any duty which may be operating, and control the whole of the Commonwealth market.
Amendment (by Mr. Kingston) proposed -
That the following exemption be added : - “Badger hair-brushes.”
Mr. SYDNEY SMITH (Macquarie).In reference to this question, I may mention that I have received a letter from Mr. McDougall, the president of the Master Painters’ Guild. That body urges that it is impossible to obtain certain brushes within the Commonwealth. As the committee have already exempted the tools of trade used in connexion with nearly every other industry, why should not the painters be treated in the same way ? The master painters have addressed the following communication to members of this committee : -
We, the Master Painters’ Guild of Victoria, respectfully submit to your notice the following list of brushware which are our every day tools of trade. We contend they should be free from duty to place us on a similar footing to other trades : -
A painter uses brushware to the value of £7 per year. The duty on this at present amounts to £116s. 9d., showing the disadvantages we labour under compared with other trades.
Painters’ brushware to about the value of £5,000 was imported to this State during last year, notwithstanding these high rates. This is sufficient proof of the necessity of having these brushes. To do a first-class job we must have theseimported brushes at any cost.
– I would point out to the honorable member that in discussing the general question of paint brushes he is exceeding the direction of the committee, and is therefore not in order.
– I would direct attention to the fact that what is recommitted here is “Division XVI., special exemptions.” Brushware is under that heading. The Minister proposes to deal only with certain kinds of brushware. It will be remembered, however, that in considering other items which were recommitted, we were allowed to deal with matters other than those which appeared on the business-paper.
– The direction to the committee is not as the honorable member for North Sydney thinks, that the whole of the exemptions under this heading be dealt with. The words “special exemptions “ are used simply to indicate the particular matter desired to be discussed. The only direction to the committee was to place under the heading of special exemptions the words “camel-hair and badger-hair brushes.” The committee has already dealt with camel-hair brushes, and I have to rule that the only matter before the committee by. the direction of the House is the consideration of thequestionof whether or not badger-hair brushes should be added to the list of special exemptions.
-With great deference I wish to point out that camel-hair and badger-hair brushes can both be described as painters’ brushes. Last night the question of pinewas discussed, and it was ruled by you, Mr. Chairman, that we could define the classes of pine which were to be put on. the list of special exemptions. Therefore, I submit that it will be in order for the honorable member for Macquarie to move an amendment providing, for instance, that camel-hair “ and other painters’ brushes “ be added to the list of exemptions.
– Will the honorable member permit me to remind him that the direction given to the committeein connexion with the matter to which he has referred was confined not to one item alone, but to the whole of the exemptions under timber? That is not so in this case.
Sir EDWARD BRADDON (Tasmania). - I think we might save time and avoid a useless discussion if the Minister for Trade and Customs would undertake that the matter which the honorable member desires to bring forward shall be taken on recommittal.
– There seem to be some items which it will be necessary to recommit, although we certainly intend to oppose any such proposal relating to a matter which has already been fully debated. So far as this particular matter is concerned, if the honorable member will frame his proposal and show us that that which he desires will not give rise to any great question of principle which has been debated, but that it will simply open up some little matter which has not been attended to previously, it is possible that we might consider it. I will ask him to formulate his request, and if we can help him in the way suggested, we will do so.
– I do not desire to go into the matter further, because the Minister for Trade and Customs has made a very fair proposal, which I accept. I will take another opportunity of dealing with it.
Amendment agreed to.
– I move-
That the following exemptions be omitted : - “ Engine packing in sheet form.”
When we consented to this exemption we were under the impression that the local manufacture of this class of engine-packing had not been started. As a matter of fact, however, it had been entered upon, and excellent goods are being turned out. It is an industry which should prosper, and we think it ought to have the benefit of some assistance.
– The Minister has told us that when the Government agreed to this exemption they were under the impression that the manufacture of enginepacking had not been started here. So far back as October last, when the Tariff was introduced, engine-packing in sheet form appeared among the list of exemptions. They were not aware then of the establishment of the industry. Apparently they were not aware of its existence on the 12th ult., for when I asked on that occasion that enginepacking in rope form and certain otherclasses should be free, the excuse made by the Treasurer was to the effect that enginepacking in sheet form was on the free list because it was not being manufactured within the Commonwealth. Has the industry been established within the last four weeks ?
– It was started about six or seven months ago. When we were dealing with these items I had a note on my papers to ask the committee to make this packing dutiable, but I overlooked it.
– Under the State Tariffs engine packing was on the free list in Victoria, New SouthWales. and Queens land ; in Tasmania it was liable to a duty of 10 per cent., while in Western Australia a duty of 15 per cent. was imposed. We are asked now to impose a duty to build up an industry whichflourished in Victoria when this engine packing was on the free list.
– It was not made in Victoria at the time.
– It has been on the free list ever since the introduction of the Commonwealth Tariff, and if the manufacturers of it have been able to start the industry here without any duty, why should we give them such assistance now?
– They started the industry before the introduction of the Tariff under the belief that a duty would be imposed.
– For nine months the industry has stood without a duty. Why should we impose one now 1 This proposal means a direct tax upon all the engineering establishments within the Commonwealth. Protectionists have asked that machine tools should be placed upon the free list, and that is a strong argument why engine packing in sheet form should remain on the free list to the advantage of all engaged in boiler-making and engineering generally. If the Government supporters are not simply automata in the hands of the Ministry, they will say that, having determined already that this packing shall be exempt, they will not agree to make it dutiable on the statement of the Minister.
– I should like to ask the Minister for Trade and Customs whether he intends to make any other proposal in the event of his amendment being carried?
– I do.
– I do not think the effect of carrying this amendment would be to make engine packing in sheet form dutiable.
– It will be dutiable at 15 per cent. under the division relating to leather and indiarubber goods.
– It does not follow that engine packing will consist solely of leather and rubber. There are other kinds.
– Those will be free. Asbestos packing, for instance, will be free.
– In this division, engine packing in rope form is made dutiable, and the exemption of engine packing in sheet form is placed against it. I think the item should remain as it is. We have evidence that the making of engine packing has been started in Victoria without the assistance of any duty. The proprietors of the factory could have had no assurance that a duty would be imposed, and it is not usual for people to put money into an enterprise such as this unless they are satisfied that in the event of no duty beingimposed they will still be prepared to carry on business. It is to the interests of the engineering trades that this packing should be free, and we ought to encourage them, and allow the manufacturers of this packing to do what they intended to do at the outset.
Question - That the words “ engine packing in sheet form,” proposed to be omitted, stand part of the exemption - put. The committee divided -
Question so resolved in the negative.
Amendment agreed to.
– I move-
That the words “ and if such goods are free or subject only to fixed duties” be omitted.
When the Tariff was introduced a good deal of trouble was occasioned to both merchants and officials by the action of the Customs department in charging duty upon the cases in which goods were packed, and very little advantage was gained to the revenue. We therefore promised to charge no duty upon cases used bond fide for the packing of goods, and I have moved the amendment in pursuance of that promise.
Amendment agreed to.
– I move-
That the following exemption be added : - “Theatrical costumes and properties, subject to depa rtmen tal by-laws.”
Under the State Tariffs theatrical costumes could be imported free of duty, but they had to be exported again within a certain time. Now that the State Customs borders have disappeared, it is impossible to easily remove these costumes and properties from the fiscal area, and therefore we propose, so long as the costumes are not sold or used for other than theatrical purposes, to allow them to come in free.
Amendment agreed to.
Item . 134, Spirits, viz.: -
Distilled wholly from grape wine, per proof gallon,11s.
Distilled wholly from barley malt, molasses, or maize, per proof gallon, 12s.6d.
N.e.i., per proof gallon, 13s……
– Under the Tariff as it stands, if spirit distilled wholly from grape-wine, upon which the duty is11s., is mixed with spirit distilled wholly from barley malt, molasses, or maize, upon which the duty is 12s. 6d., the blend is dutiable as spirit n.e.i. at the rate of 13s. per proof gallon. We do not think that fair, however, and I therefore move -
That the words” Distilled from barley malt, molasses, or maize “ be omitted, witha view to insert in lieu thereof the words “ Distilled from barley malt, molasses, or maize either wholly or mixed with grape wine.”
– I do not see the slightest reason why the product of the distillation of wheat, oats or rye, should be on any different basis as to duty from that proposed to be applied to the product of the distillation of barley, malt, molasses, or maize. As to the blending of the different distillations, I am not certain that it is wise to permit that to be done in the manner proposed. Before we decide that, I think we should put the spirits distilled from these various materials on the same footing. So far as I have ever learned, no reason can be urged for the special treatment of barley, malt, and molasses, which will not apply to wheat, rye, and oats. So far as I can learn, a great deal may be said in favour of spirit made from wheat, which cannot be urged in favour of that made from molasses or maize. I therefore intend to move -
That the amendment be amended by the insertion of the words “wheat, oats, and rye “ after the word “malt.”
– I do not think it is open to us to do that.
– I cannot conceive that it is not possible for us to put in these additional words. Is it to be supposed that the manner in which the reference comes from the House prevents us from making any amendment, or from altering a line or a word? I can assure the committee that a vote will be taken upon the subject, because we can move for a recommital of the item.
– I am simply interested in having the business conducted in order.
– I do not think this proposal is out of order. It will be remembered that with regard to the strength at which wine can be imported we altered the percentage of proof from38 to 42 per cent., covering a very much larger number of wines, and increasing the operation of the duty to a very large extent. If that was in order, surely it is in order to do what I have now proposed. As no point has been taken I presume that it is admitted that I am in order in making this motion.
– From the admission of the Minister for Trade and Customs it is perfectly clear that the blended spirits made from barley, molasses, or maize mixed with a little grape brandy, would pay duty at 12s. 6d. a gallon. I remind the Minister of the fact that so far as these excise duties are concerned, one of the things aimed at was to fix the duty upon all at 13s. per gallon, and that proposal was lost only by the casting vote of the Chairman. I certainly decline, in the interests of the manufacturers of colonial brandy, to lessen the duty we have already agreed to by 6d. per gallon. I should have said that the Minister could not have intended this, were it not that on the third of this month he gave instructions that only 12s. 6d. per gallon should be collected on this spirit. The committee decided that the duty should be 13s. per gallon, and that duty should have been collected all through. The Minister is now coming forward with a proposal to lessen the rate by 6d. per gallon, and I have no doubt that applications have already been made by distillers for a refund of the difference of 6d. per gallon between the duty of 13s. collected, and the duty proposed of 12s. 6d. per gallon. The bulk of the brandy produced is a spirit made from potatoes or molasses, the ordinary alcoholic spirit, mixed with a little spirit made from the grape pure and simple. Honorable members may be aware that whether the alcohol produced by distillation is (Milled brandy or whisky, is merely a matter of flavouring and colouring.
– What did the honorable and learned member say about my having altered the Tariff?
– I said that the right honorable gentleman is collecting a duty of 1 2s. 6d. a gallon upon this article, instead of 13s.
– On the blend? The honorable member is certainly wrong.
– I have been informed that that is so, and I believe that applications are already in for a refund. I hope the committee will thoroughly understand that the effect of this proposed alteration will be a loss of revenue of 6d. per gallon upon brandy, which is now paying 13s. per gallon. If the brandy is wholly made from grapes it pays a duty of only lis. per gallon.
– This will reduce the margin between pure brandy and this mixture.
– If grape wine is put into brandy, is it fair that it should have to pay a duty of 1 3s. ? This is not blending the two kinds of spirit after they are made, but in the process of distillation.
– I suppose it would take five gallons of wine to make a gallon of proof spirit, and that is why it is so much more expensive to make spirit from wine.
– Then it would not be used except to improve the article.
– I desire to impress upon the committee that the effect of the alteration proposed by the Minister for Trade and Customs will be that we shall get a duty of 6d. less per gallon upon this spirit, and it was only the casting vote of the Chairman which prevented us from putting on a duty of 13s. all round. I object to the proposal.
– I am exceedingly loath to in any way prolong the discussion, because I am convinced that honorable members are very weary of discussing this somewhat complex Tariff, but I am sure the Minister for Trade and Customs will excuse me describing the true position of this particular item. The honorable and learned member who has just resumed his seat tells us most emphatically that this proposal will mean a loss of 6d. per gallon to our revenue. It appears to me that the loss will be greater than that. I take it that what the committee had in view on a former occasion was that the better class of spirits distilled from the pure grape should come in at a lower rate than that distilled from molasses and inferior materials. They therefore fixed the duty at Ils. per gallon in one case, and 12s. 6d. per gallon in the other. If we permit the inferior article to be blended with the better class of spirit, I believe it will be acknowledged that we shall get a blend of 85 per cent, of the inferior with 15 per cent, of the pure grape spirit. It therefore appears to me that, upon the face of ‘ it, the distiller will get a distinct advantage under this proposal of ls. 6d. per gallon, and there will be a loss of revenue to that extent. The Commonwealth as a whole will be losing this highly necessary revenue, and it will be going into the pockets of a certain class of distillers. To my mind that is an objectionable course. Throughout these debates it has appeared to me that there has been a very general desire to preserve as far as possible the revenues of the various States. Financially, many States are in an exceedingly unfortunate position on account of very considerable alterations which have been made in the Tariff. I recognise the very great difficulty in which the finances of Tasmania will be placed, and therefore it is my earnest desire, consistently with a proper regard to the fairness of principle, that revenue shall be preserved as far as possible. In this case I think that Ministers are going in a wrong direction in sacrificing very necessary revenue, and throwing into the hands of a certain class that which might have been devoted to the benefit of the whole community.
– I can assure the honorable member for- Tasmania, Mr. Hartnoll, that as regards “questions of raising revenue the Government naturally lend a sympathetic ear. Coming from a State which has a hard row to hoe in matters financial, I sympathize with everything he said. At the same time, if we have to raise revenue let us do it quite fairly, and if we find that the Tariff as it was proposed, or as it has been amended, somewhat violates the conditions of fairness, we ought to do our best to make it fair. At the present time there is an excise duty of lis. on grape-spirit, 12s. 6d. on barleyspirit, and a higher duty on spirits which we did not think well to mention, which might be classed among those which we should do the least to encourage, and which might be typified by potato-spirit. If there were a slight percentage of grain-spirit mixed with the barley - spirit, would it be fair to raise the duty above that imposed on the barley-spirit, and to class the blend with the nondescripts, which include potatospirit ? I think not. That is the simple reason why we are proposing this alteration. I appeal to the honorable member’s sense of fair play. Because the distiller adds a little of the best spirit to some of the second-best, ought we to charge not the duty imposed on either of those classes of spirit, but the still higher duty imposed on what I have called the nondescripts ? I do not think so.
– If you wish to encourage a better class of spirit.
– I do not pose as an expert, but I think that a little topping off of a second-class spirit would not do any harm. I have a good deal of sympathy with some of the suggestions which have fallen from the honorable member for Bland. At the same time, I do not wish to open up unnecessarily the whole question. I am sorry that the honorable and learned member for Corio said what he did. ‘ I can assure bini that I have not taken it upon myself to alter this or promise to refund that. lt would not be within my power to give a special direction for the collection of a reduced duty. As regards this affair of the 3rd April honorable members will see on their files a paper which is dated 27th March. I do not know whether it was laid on the table at the time, but the print bears that date. It indicates what our intentions were. Since the printing of the paper there has been no secret about the matter.. It is hardly necessary for me to assure the committee that I would not have given an undertaking as regards a refund, or give a direction for the collection of diminished duty, when the committee had not declared in its favour, but, on the contrary, had expressed its opinion in the way I mentioned. I would not dream of doing anything^ the sort.
– I can assure the Minister that it has been collected. It is a mere matter of administration, which may not have come under his notice.
– I am as sure as I possibly can be that the honorable and learned member is entirely wrong, because, pending the consideration of an amendment by the committee, it would not be our right to collect a reduced duty.
Mr. WATSON (Bland).- I was one of those who favoured a duty of 13s. per gallon, with a view of getting as much revenue as possible from the excise on spirits. It was one of the articles on which, to my mind, we were justified in raising the utmost possible amount of revenue, and to that extent I sympathized with those who desired to see the finances of the smaller States assisted. But it is rather remarkable that the Government who resisted the abolition of a number of duties on the ground that they were required for the up- keep of the smaller States, seem in regard to spirits to be quite willing to forego legitimate revenue for the sake of encouraging a number of people who employ little or no labour ; who, in proportion to the amount of revenue which is foregone, employ no labour at all one might say. The particular firm which is affected by the Tariff as it stands can well afford to pay an extra duty of 6d. per gallon. Their blend is a distinct misleading of the people, but the committee thought it was wise - I think it was mistaken as regards the extent to which it went - to encourage the production and consumption of pure brandy by giving it a certain advantage under the excise proposals.
– The Government are offering a premium on adulteration.
– I do not say that that is their intention, but practically it amounts, to that. They may have in their minds the best of reasons for taking this course, but they now propose to encourage the putting on the market of this stuff, which is not brandy. If we take the action suggested by the Government we lose 6d. per gallon on the output of this stuff, which is fairly large, and we get no advantage from our action. We do not encourage the consumption of grapes to any extent, because I think the estimate of 15 per cent, as being the proportion of wine included in the blend is rather a large one.
– That is the proportion in France.
– I am speaking of the stuff which is put on the Australian market. So far as I can ascertain, it consists for the most part of a blend of the grain spirits, and is not to any extent a blend of wine with grape spirit. The blending will come under the rate of 13s. per gallon if the Government proposal is not carried. I propose to vote against the omission of the words, but if it is decided to omit the words, and to allow the blending, I shall ask the committee to insert the words “ wheat, rye, and oats,” with the view of putting those grains, the product of which is just as good as the product of any other grain, on the same basis as the product of barley, malt, and maize.
– Of course there was a decision arrived at, but it seems difficult to distinguish between the different classes of grain.
– I think it is most improper to distinguish between any of the products of grain which is wholesome, and which is allowed to be used in Great Britain in the manufacture of whiskies and other spirits. In the meantime, as a matter of revenue I object to any alteration.
Mr. CONROY (Werriwa).- Is it understood that if the committee votes to retain the words we are asked to omit the Minister for Trade and Customs will not propose his amendment ?
– If the committee retain the words, I lose my amendment.
– The simplest and best way for the committee to deal with this matter will be to vote on the question that the words stand, and those honorable members who do not wish any further revenue to be lost will vote “Aye.” On the former occasion this duty was only carried by the casting vote of the Chairman, and the honorable member for Kennedy, who is now in the chair, rose and pointed out that owing to a mistake made in the pairs one honorable member had been asked to go out of the chamber. Otherwise the duty would have been fixed at 1 3s. per gallon all round.
– I would just like to point out to the committee what is the position. We are seeking to provide that if two classes of spirit are blended, the higher of the two duties shall apply to the blend, and not a third and higher duty. I cannot for the life of me see why this should not be so. On the other hand, it has been pointed out that. in its present form, the Tariff gives a preference to spirits distilled from barley, malt, molasses, or maize, over spirits distilled from wheat, oats, and rye.
– The contention of the Minister is that if potato spirit and brandy were mixed at the present time, the blend would pay a duty of 12s. 6d. per proof gallon ?
– Certainly not. I have yet to learn that potato spirit can be described as “spirit distilled from barley, malt, molasses, or maize.” I repeat that when there is a blending of two classes of spirit, the higher duty will be charged.
– Which class will return the most excise ?
– I hope that spirits distilled from grape wine will return the largest amount. Knowing the reputation of Australian brandy, I believe that before long the production of brandy from grape spirit will exceed that from any other source. We ask the committee to give us the right to insist that the mere act of blending spirits shall not subject the blend to a higher rate of duty than either of the blending articles.
– The difficulty seems to be in regard to the middle rate of 12s. 6d. Would it not be wise to compromise this matter by omitting the words proposed without inserting anything in lieu thereof? Then we should have one rate of lis. per gallon, and another of 13s. per gallon. Those who are anxious to preserve the revenue and to overcome the difficulties pointed out by the Minister will realize the wisdom of adopting the compromise suggested.
Question - that the words “ distilled wholly from barley malt, molasses, or maize,” proposed to be omitted, stand part of the item - put. The committee divided -
-The numbers being equal, I give my vote with the noes.
Question so resolved in the negative.
Amendment (by Mr. Watson) proposed -
That the amendment be amended by the insertion of the words “wheat, oats, and rye” after the word “ malt.”
– The Government do not consider that there is sufficient justification for differentiating between spirits distilled from barley malt, molasses, or maize, and spirits distilled from wheat, oats, or rye. We, therefore, propose to accept the amendment.
Amendment of amendment agreed to.
Amendment by (Mr. O’Malley) pro posed -
That the amendment be further amended by the insertion of the word “ potatoes “ after the word “ rye.”
-Alcohol may be made from anything containing starch, and it is very probable that half the spirit in the world is made from potatoes. If we aregoing into this matter, we ought to deal with it on good sound grounds. By successive distillations it is possible to get rid of all impurities, and I fail to see why the committee should shut out potatoes from this proposal, as they contain more starch than any other product. The only argument that I can imagine against their inclusion is that spirit is made much more easily from potatoes than from other products. It seems to be ridiculous to exclude one vegetable on the ground that it is more unwholesome than others. We know that the potato is one of the commonest articles of diet, and I trust that the committee will not make any distinction against it. If Ministers consult any chemist they will ascertain the correctness of my statements, and they will not lend themselves to what are old prejudices which have passed away from the minds of all men who understand anything about the subject.
– I do not know whether or not the honorable and learned member for Werriwa is quite in order in discussing the question of what constitutes alcoholic liquor, but as he has been allowed to deal with the matter at length, perhaps I may be permitted to say a few words in reply. The honorable and learned member’s argument reminds me of another chemist, like himself, who professed his ability to build up a human being out of certain chemical elements into which a human being is resolved when he returns to the earth from which he came. Alcoholic liquors used to be distilled at one time in a way that would enable the characteristic of the particular article from which they were made to be imparted to them. In modern times, in the desire to produce a cheap article, the chemist has been able to so apply his knowledge of chemistry as to obtain alcohol even from sawdust. I agree with the honorable and learned member for Werriwa that a good deal of commercial alcohol is produced from potatoes, but the spirit so obtained is acknowledged by experts in alcoholic liquors to be eminently poisonous. In this relation I must express my surprise at the action of some honorable members on the other side of the chamber, who voted for the Government proposal because, as they alleged, they believed in encouraging the making of pure grape brandy. Their action will have a contrary effect; they are encouraging an industry which puts on the market what is alleged to be grape brandy, but which consists only of a very small proportion of grape brandy blended with other inferior spirits. The incident affords us another illustration of the very mixed mental condition of a number of honorable members on the Government side of the committee.
– I do not agree with the last speaker that spirits distilled from potatoes are as poisonous as is generally believed. I think that the great argument against spirits distilled from potatoes is that for the most part they are not highly rectified. They turn out a very cheap product, and that higher rectification, which is most essential in the production of any pure spirits, is absent. I happen to have been a distiller myself - probably I am the only member of the House who has engaged in that business - and I believe that it is possible to obtain a thoroughly good spirit from almost anything in nature. It is only a question of producing it. .From the little information which I possess as the result of practical experience, I believe that potato spirit, if highly rectified and matured, is not the poisonous liquor that many people think. If we intend to remove the provision in the Tariff giving a special advantage to grape spirit, then I think that we are logically forced to abolish all distinctions. I could understand a distinction being made in favour of grape spirit, because all the world over it has been admitted that spirit distilled from grape wine is purer than any of the others. But as the honorable and learned member for Werriwa says, many of us drink potato spirit without knowing it, and yet we are not poisoned by it. I rose chiefly to point out the fact, which I do not think is known generally in the world of distillers, that, so far as my experience goes, it is possible to obtain from apples spirit in all respects equal to that obtained from the grape. The only thing which has prevented the use of apples for this purpose in other parts of the world has been that other materials have been cheaper. I put a quantity of them through stills in Victoria, and produced from them a spirit which connoisseurs and experts said was superior to the grape brandy made in Victoria at that time. The highly-rectified article known as brandy can be produced here from inferior apples which go begging at ls. per bushel, both in Victoria and Tasmania.
– I must ask the honorable member to confine himself to the question of potatoes.
– I intend to put myself in order by moving, as a prior amendment, that the amendment be further amended by the insertion of the word “ apples” after the” word “rye.”
– I shall move that “ bananas” be inserted.
– Now that we have included nearly every other vegetable product known to the distiller as capable of yielding spirit, we ought to include apples as well. If we are going to abolish the distinction made in favour of grape spirit, we ought to go further and include apples, in the interests of Tasmania and Victoria, which produce a superabundance of them. The best of our apples are exported to the old country, but a residue is left, for which it is difficult to obtain a market. These apples could be turned into first-class brandy, which would compete very successfully against grape brandy, and, therefore, we have a right to include them in the modification which I think the Government have beenrather too softly induced to indorse.
– I I am very glad indeed to have the expert evidence of the honorable member for South Sydney and the honorable and learned member for Werriwa. It is evident that the Minister for Trade and Customs has in view the idea of making a market for barley and wheat and other commodities which he has added to the list, and as Tasmania’s principal earthy product is potatoes, why should she be left out? The countries, such as Ireland and Scotland, where the people live on potatoes, have given the world the greatest geniuses ; why, then, should Tasmania be exempt in this respect 1 The honorable member for Maranoa says that he intends to move that bananas be added. I stand by potatoes, because I think that do State should be excluded.
– I think that the committee have made a mistake in accepting the amendment moved by the honorable member for Bland! When the whole matter was under discussion on a previous occasion, we came to the determination to give a preference to spirit distilled wholly from grapes ; but to-night the Ministers propose to undo this by allowing mixed spirits to compete almost on equal terms with wine and spirit.
– I am astonished at the expert knowledge which has been displayed on this subject by teetotallers. As a teetotaller, I am somewhat in a quandary. As people will use spirits, I am anxious that they shall use spirits of the least deleterious kind, and therefore I should like some definite information in regard’ to the effect of the various kinds of spirits. There is in the Cabinet a Minister who could decide the whole mutter in a few minutes, because I remember reading that a few years back tho Attorney-General used to deliver lectures on spirits, or to raise spirits, I am not sure which. I think he should be asked to give us the information we require. The honorable member for Tasmania, Mr. O’Malley, seems to be of the opinion that potato spirit will save Tasmania. It may do that, but it will decimate the people of the Commonwealth if they drink it.
– The honorable member for Dalley, in his denunciation of potato spirit, has overlooked the fact that a very large quantity of good Irish whisky is distilled from potatoes. I regard the suggestion of the honorable member for South Sydney, to include apples, as a very good one. From apples there can be produced a cider which is equal in quality to the best champagne, and doubtless a spirit can bc distilled from them which will compete on very good terms with spirit distilled from grapes.
– In New South Wales we grow passion fruit, and a number of other fruits, from which spirits can be distilled. Why should they not be included too ?
– I think that, as we have included spirit distilled from wheat, oats, and rye, we might very well include spirit distilled from potatoes and apples, which are so largely grown in at least two States. The honorable member for South Sydney spoke of apples being sometimes sold for ls. per bushel ; but, in Tasmania, I have known them to be given away to any one who would take them.
– If honorable members intend to increase the list of things from which spirits may be distilled, I intend to propose the insertion of the word “ leather,” because good spirit can be distilled from leather. It is difficult to know what one cannot distil spirit from. It seems to me, however, that it would be better to treat this subject in a serious manner. We want to make sure that the people who drink spirit get wholesome spirit.
– It seems to me that the tendency of the Government proposal is practically to make 12s. Gd. per gallon the maximum rate for spirits distilled within the Commonwealth. Originally we decided that an excise duty of 12s. 6d. should be imposed upon spirit distilled from barley malt, molasses, and maize ; but the committee have now agreed to apply the same duty to spirit distilled from wheat, oats, and rye. Such spirit was previously subject to a duty of 13s. per gallon, but, if it is mixed with the smallest proportion of grapespirit, it will now pay a duty of only 12s. 6d. If spirit distilled from potatoes is treated in the same way, we shall have the duty upon spirits distilled from nearly the whole range of materials used for the purpose of distillation reduced to 12s. 6d. per gallon. Although present in the Chamber all the time, the words “ wheat, oats, and rye” were inserted without my knowledge, as I was determined to vote against their insertion. I shall certainly vote against any proposal to further extend the area over which the duty upon spirits is to be reduced in this way.
House adjourned at 11. o p. in.
Cite as: Australia, House of Representatives, Debates, 16 April 1902, viewed 7 November 2016, <http://historichansard.net/hofreps/1902/19020416_reps_1_9/>.