1st Parliament · 1st Session
Mr. Speaker took the chair at 10.30 a.m., and read prayers.
– I desire, sir, to ask you a question, which, I think, affects the privileges of honorable members to a very large extent. I believe that it is the practice in nearly all Parliaments - and you will recollect that it was the practice in the Parliament which you for so many years adorned by your presence - that the Chairman of Committees always votes for the reduction of a duty so as to enable honorable members to reconsider the item.
– What is the point which the honorable member desires to bring before me?
– I wish to explain the position in which I am placed. In Committee of Ways and Means a proposal is made to reduce the duty ou an item ; an equality of votes is cast, and the Chairman gives a casting vote in favour of the duty as it stands.
– I have nothing to do with any votes given by the Chairman of Committees. I should like to know the point of order which the honorable member desires to raise.
– I wish to get a ruling from you, sir, as the custodian of the rights and privileges of honorable members, so that we shall know exactly what position we stand in, and I feel sure that you will give honorable members every information on a question which is of great importance to them. In view of the fact that a Chairman of Committees gives a casting vote in favour of the higher rate, and then when a proposal is made in the House to recommit the item, for the purpose of reconsidering the duty, he costs a vote against a recommittal, what opportunity will be afforded to honorable members to reconsider the item, as stated by the Chairman when he was in committee ? I think it is a straightforward question to ask.
– It is a sly attack on the Chairman of Committees.
– The question which has been put to me has no relation to my conduct of the business of the House. It relates to the action of the Chairman of Committees, and of that he alone is the judge - I am not.
– I should like to know, sir, in what way I can raise the question, because I think it is one which affects the rights and privilegesof honorable members.
– If the honorable member desires to question the action of the Chairman of Committees, he can move that his ruling be dissented from, and, if the committee supports him, he will gain his point.
– The unfortunate part is that we cannot.
– Then I am afraid that the honorable member cannot bring the question up in the House.
– Is the Chairman of Committees, by virtue of his office, deprived of the right to vote in the House ?
– Certainly not.
– I never saidhe was ; but I do not think he should give a . casting vote and an original vote.
– He made a mistake in giving his reasons.
– I desire to ask the Attorney-General a question with reference to a paragraph in this morning’s Argus, about the pearl - shelling industry. The Prime Minister is reported to have stated that he intends to appoint two gentlemen to inquire into the position and prospects of the industry under federal legislation in Queensland and “Western Australia. Some weeks ago I drew attention to the position of the industry, not only in Queensland and Western Australia, but also in the Northern Territory of South Australia, where at least 200 people are employed in 50 or 60 boats. I wish to ask the Attorney-General whether the inquiries will be extended so as to include the pearl-shelling industry at Port Darwin.
– Yes; and if one of the gentlemen asked to act accepts, I think the honorable member will admit that no one is better qualified to speak for the pearlshelling industry of Port Darwin than he is.
– I wish to ask the Minister for Home Affairs if his attention has been called to the following paragraph in the Brisbane Courier from its Melbourne representative : -
Mr. Leahy explained to Mr. Barton the question of members’ railway passes, stating that Sir William Lyne had misrepresented the Queensland attitude to members of the House, as no such arrangement had been entered into as was reported by the Minister for Home Affairs. He would, he said, have refused to make any charge for members’ passes, but that the accounts sent in. were for tickets for members’ wives, and in at least one case for a member’s family. Further, Sir William Lyne had never said a word about having no money till the Estimates were passed. Nothing had been known here of members being allowed passes for their families, and this would appear to be yet another instance of wrongful and wasteful expenditure of public money. The Queensland Minister for Railways has made the matter quite clear, and put quite another complexion on it to that which had been submitted to the House.
– I have not seen the paragraph, arid I cannot but express my surprise that Mr. Leahy has made such a statement, if he has, because when he waited upon me in Melbourne, I showed him all the papers which had passed, not between the Commonwealth Government and the State Government, but between the department for Home Affairs and the Railways Commissioners, and he expressed himself to the effectthathedidnotunderstandthe position before, that he believed thereexisted some documents, sent from the Queensland Government to the Railways Commissioners which I had not obtained, that my position was absolutely unassailable, and that the arrangement had been made between the commissioners and myself.
– Has the honorable member paid the Queensland Government any money yet ?
– I can speak only for the department of Home Affairs. I asked the Treasurer a week ago to pay the amount of money which is due to Queensland. Their proportion is payable through the Victorian Railways Commissioner, and the account was sent in for the full amount. My only course was to ask that that amount should be paid to the Victorian Railways Commissioner, and that Queensland’s proportion should be handed by him to the Queensland Railways Commissioner or State Government. I have also asked the Treasurer to pay the smaller accounts - amounting to about £30,I think - for the payment of tickets for members’ wives.
asked the Minister for Trade and Customs, upon notice-
Whether he intends to adhere to his decision to prevent ships entering, clearing, and discharging on Monday next (Eight Hours Day) ?
– The answer to the honorable member’s question is as follows : -
Yes. Between the hours of eight in the morning and eight in the evening in Victoria, and all States in which Eight Hours Day is a Statutory holiday. Outside these hours the usual holiday facilities will be given for discharging perishable cargo, and for coaling.
asked the Minister for Trade and Customs,upon notice -
Whether he will take such steps as may be necessary to allow the importation, free of duty, of soap dyes, called Maypole soap, now charged 20 per cent, under the heading of oilmen’s stores, but which are puredyes, which compete as such with Diamond dyes admitted free.
– The following is the answer to the honorable member’s question : -
No. In view of the vote of the House last night, and of the fact that Maypole soap is both a soap and a dye.
Ordered (on motion by Sir John Quick) -
That a return be laid upon the table of this House, showing the. cost of printing from the establishment of the Commonwealth to 31st March, 1902 : -
In connexion with the Federal Parliament : - (a) Parliamentary Debates. (b) Votes and Proceedings, Journals, Notices, Reports, Bills. Petitions, Papers, Acts.(c) Stationery and general.
In connexion with the following departments : - (d) Governor-General and Executive Council. (e) Department of External Affairs. (f) Department of Home Affairs. (g) Department of Attorney-General. (h) Department of Treasurer.
Such return to show the average per year and per month,
In Committee of Ways and Means (Second recommittal) :
Consideration resumed from 17th April, (vide page 11820).
Division VI. - Metals and machinery.
Item 74. - Manufactures of metals, viz.: -
Agricultural machinery and implements, n e.i. * ad. valorem1* 5 per cent.
Boilers, pumps, machines, and machinery n e.i. advalorem 20 per cent…..
Turbines, steam and water.
Amendment (by Mr. Mauger) again proposed -
That the words “sewing machines “ be omitted, with a view to insert in lieu thereof the words “sewing-machine heads.”
Mr. POYNTON (South Australia).Just before the committee adjourned last night the Minister for Home Affairs made a statement which he has made no attempt to prove. Seeing that he challenged the figures of an honorable member, and said that his statement was a gross misrepresentation of facts, it was due to the committee that he should have proved the accuracy of his own figures. He alleged that the local manufacturer of sewingmachine stands would have to pay an additional sum of os. on the material because of the duties which we had imposed ; whereas it had been asserted by the honorable member for West Sydney that it would amount to only 4d. I should like to hear what the Minister has to say in connexion with his statement. If he can prove that the increased cost to the manufacturer is 5s., I shall subscribe £10 to any charity. That is a gross misrepresentation of facts. The local manufacturer states that he uses Australian woods solely in the manufacture of his pianos ; and surely he should be able to use locally-grown timber in the manufacture of sewing-machine stands. There is no duty levied upon the castings which form part of these stands, and the screws and bolts used in putting them together are also free. It is claimed that locally-made varnishes are used by the local manufacturer, but even assuming that he paid the duty upon the imported article, it would only amount to a fraction, and the statement of the honorable member for West Sydney, that the duties upon the raw materials used in making a sewing-machine stand would not exceed 4d., is very near the mark. It was originally proposed that sewing-machine heads should be free, but the honorable member for Melbourne gave notice of his intention to move that sewing machines, as a whole, should be placed upon the free list. I also gave notice of a similar amendment. At a subsequent stage the Government voluntarily agreed to place the machines on the free list, and they were no doubt actuated in doing this by the fact that, except in the case of Western Australia, sewing machines were previously admitted into all the States free of duty. It is interesting to note that in 1894 the Victorian Government sought to imposea duty of 10 per cent, upon sewing machines as a whole. This, I claim, would be very much more equitable in its incidence than the present proposal to place a duty upon a portion of the machine. It is well known that manufacturers in a large way can import the sewing-machine heads free of duty and erect them upon benches, whereas the seamstresses and other poor people have to buy the machines complete and pay duty upon the stands. Therefore it would be very much better to levy a duty upon the complete machines than upon the stands only. On the occasion referred to the Age said -
The housewife, aided by it, made and mended the clothing of her children at a minimum cost ; the factory employe, using it by day in the execution of her duties, worked it at night in her own home; others, again, found in it their sole source of income, purchasing by its aid the very articles whose prices it had already helped to reduce -a twofold triumph indeed. The absence or sickness of the bread winner proper, the husband or father, as the case might be, was no longer the keynote to the mournful dirge of destitution and starvation. The sewing machine supplied in a measure the place which the man had vacated, and, despite the tyranny of the “sweater,” enabled the woman to at least keep the wolf from the door. ….
The machine becomes the modern substitute alike for the oil of the good Samaritan and the “widow’s” ever-replenished “cruse,” while in the average household of to-day it is as much a necessity as the washing boiler, the oven, or the grate.
The Age went to the trouble of tracing 1,000 machines, and their inquiries resulted as follows : -
An analysis of thelast thousand town customers in this direction (farmers and country folk generally not appearing in the list) gives the following results : -
Thus it was shown that 90 per cent, of the machines sold upon time payment went into the homes of the poor. The Age continues - . . And yet, in the face of all this, the Government proposes a tax of10 per cent, on sewing machines - a tax which, with interest and profit superadded, must eventually fall upon the purchaser ; a tax never yet levied in any European country ; a tax not even now proposed to be placed on knitting and stitching machines ; a tax in the very nature of things unfair, unjust, and which must be forthwith abandoned if the Ministry desires to pose longer as the “ poor man’s friend.”
That was the testimony of the Age in 1894. Now let us see what that newspaper has to say regarding the present proposal of the Government. Upon the 27th December last they said -
In August, 1894, Mr. Carter proposed a duty of 10 per cent on sewing machines. At that time some carefully collected statistics in the Aye. showed that 90 per cent, of the buyers of sewing machines are amongst the hard worked poor. The Federal Tariff provides that whilst the heads of sewing machines are free, tables, covers, and stands will be subject to a duty of 20 per cent. The complete machine is the only one of use to seamstresses, white-workers, dressmakers, tailoresses, and the wives of our breadwinners, and to place a tax on any portion is a burden they can hardly bear.
On the grounds that it is to the interests of our workers that the implements of their trade should be obtainable at as lowa cost as practicable, it may fairly be suggested to the Commissioner of Customs that the stands and tables of sewing machines should be included in the free list.
I have no doubt that that is what influenced the Ministry in agreeing to place the machines as a whole upon the free list. The Age remarks further -
As a fact, all the States except Western Australia, but inclusive of New Zealand, admit sewing machines free complete. To do otherwise would be to place a direct tax on labour.
It would be interesting to know what has brought about the change of front on the part of the Government. The duty will give an advantage to one particular manufacturer, and penalize all those who use machines.
– They are penalized by the duties which the honorable member has supported.
– If a duty is placed upon sewing machines, the prices will be brought down soon enough.
– The honorable member has asked that nearly all the tools of trade used in connexion with the industries in and around Melbourne should be admitted free of duty, and yet he is proposing that a duty should be placed upon sewing machines, which are the tools of trade of some of the poorest classes in the community. If a duty is to be imposed it should be placed upon the whole machine, so that the big manufacturer as well as the poorest seamstress will be compelled to pay it.
– The Minister for Home Affairs characterized the statement of the honorable member for West Sydney regarding the duties upon the materials used in the manufacture of a sewing machine stand as absolutely unfounded, and he then made the extraordinary assertion that they amounted to 5s. I challenge the Minister to show how he arrives at that amount. I am convinced that it was evolved out of his inner consciousness. If he will lay before the committee the data on which he arrives at that estimate of 5s. we shall be much obliged to him.
– I am amused at the speech of the right honorable member for Tasmania, Sir Edward Braddon, who ‘is at present opposed to anything which savours of protection, though he brought in a protectionist Tariff in Tasmania, and kept it in existence for many years.
– I did not.
– It may well be understood that I know little practically about the cost of manufacturing sewing machines, or the parts of them, but I have taken some interest in their manufacture, and have visited the factory in New South Wales where they are made. In going through the works I happened to meet a workman whom I knew, and whom I asked to show me the various deparments of the manufacture. I obtained detailed explanations as to the processes. The information supplied to me is as follows : - Methylated spirits used are of the highest class, and are imported at an invoiced price of ls. 3d. per gallon. The glue that is used, according to this information, costs 4d. a lb.; French polish, 4s. per gallon ; black Japan varnish, 5s. a gallon ; oils, ls. Gd. per gallon ; cheap lubricating oils, 6d. per gallon ; timber, 8s. 4d. per 100 feet. The duty on brassware and ironware ad valorem is given on this information as 25 per cent., but it is now 20 per cent. ; labels and transfers pay a duty of 25 per cent., and machinery and tools 25 per cent.
– Are these particulars as to duties or cost t
– The last four items refer to duties, but the others refer to the cost of the materials - the invoice price paid on importation.
– Why is the honorable gentleman mixing up invoice prices and duties in this way 1
– I was asked to mention the articles upon which duties were payable, and I am giving the particulars asked for. The statement made to me was that the duty on these articles, in the case of the inferior machines, will come to at least. 2s. 6d. on each machine, and, in- the case of the higher class machines, to between 5s. and 6s.
– What we want to know is whether the Commonwealth Tariff makes the articles used in connexion with the making of the machines from 5s. to 6s. more expensive.
– What I stated last night was that certain materials required to be used in the manufacture of these machines are dutiable. I have given in detail the price paid for all the articles which are dutiable. If we desire to foster the manufacture of these machines in the Commonwealth, we must not forget that the wages paid here are higher than those paid in the centres of the world from which sewing machines are imported. In the polishing trade, taking into account the shorter hours and higher wages, the cost of labour is 75 per cent, higher in this country. Here the hours of labour are 48 per week ; abroad the hours are 54 per week. The Cabinetmakers’ Union connected with the Trades Hall, Melbourne, recently stated in its trade report that the Sydney company had absorbed much of the skilled labour, and that wages had risen accordingly. This very factory which has been deprecated so much by honorable members–
– That is entirely incorrect.
– I am sure the honorable member for Parramatta does not wish to say that the statement the Minister has made was entirely incorrect. I must ask the honorable member to withdraw his remark.
– I withdraw, but really I think the Chairman is very keen on these points.
SirWILLIAMLYNE- I do not objeetto an honorable member interjecting, but when the head of the firm in question makes a statement it should not be described as incorrect unless it can be proved to be so.
– I do not say that it is incorrect, but it does not prove anything. Let the Minister tell us how much methylated spirit, how much varnish, and how much of other materials are used in connexion with each machine.
– I am nothere to answer conundrums which have been put into honorable members’ mouths by other persons. I think I am safe in saying that, by enabling this industry to compete with the importing rings, the price of sewing machines, instead of being increased, will be materially decreased. According to one honorable member, the margin between the actual cost and the retail price of these machines represents something like 150 or 200 per cent. In the light of this information, is there not room for us to assist the industry in a way that will tend to reduce the price of sewing machines to every householder in the Commonwealth ?
Sir EDWARD BRADDON (Tasmania). - The statement of the Minister for Home Affairs regarding the duties payable upon the raw material of these machines is about as accurate as is his declaration that I introduced a protectionist Tariff into Tasmania. In other words, it is entirely incorrect. Fortunately we have now sitting in this Chamber an honorable member representing Tasmania who was opposed to my Government at the time I introduced the last Tariff with which I dealt, and who will admit that that Tariff was purely a revenue one, and was not introduced for protectionist purposes.
– It had the effect of making Tasmania a protectionist country.
– Rubbish ! Regarding the puerile effort of the Minister for Home Affairs to show that the honorable member for West Sydney is wrong, I leave the latter to deal with him, and I hope that he will deal with him mercifully.
– The Minister for Home Affairs stated that he had paid this particular factory a visit, and led the committee to believe that it was a large factory - a statement which I can indorse.
But I should like to point out that this industry was established in a free-trade community, and prospered under free-trade conditions. If the remarks of the Minister for Home Affairs prove anything, they certainly prove that the imposition of a duty upon any article increases its price. In that we see the hideousness of protection. I wish to put before the committee the men’s side of this question. The Cabinetmakers’ Association of New South Wales have sent mo a circular soliciting my support in regard to this matter. They say -
In the first place we wish to emphasize the fact, that as the Federal Tariff stands at present it practically penalizes the production of Australian goods.
That is not the statement of the Australian manufacturers, but of the men engaged in this industry. They affirm that the blundering and the muddling of the Ministry has a penalizing effect upon Australian production. They continue -
Taking for instance, the cabinet work of sewing machines, we find them included under the free list, while the raw material, such as timber, glue, methylated spirits, varnish, &c. , with only one exception, namely, veneer, is heavily taxed. It will thus be seen what an injurious effect upon a large number of our men this Tariff blunder will cause, and so strong is the feeling about it that we sendyou the following resolutions.
As a free-trader I absolutely refuse to absolve the Ministry from the consequences of their blundering and muddling. My duty is not to this factory alone, but to the Commonwealth of Australia. I agree with the honorable member for South Australia, Mr. Poynton, that sewing machines should be exempt from taxation. It is my duty to consider the interests of those who use the machines. I regret the position in which the Cabinetmakers’ Association has been placed, but I cannot adopt the ideas of that organization. With Messrs. Beale and Company sewing machines constitute practically a side line, and now that inter-State free-trade has been established, surely this industry is not so weak that it requires protection. I cannot see why I should vote in compliance with the request which has been made to me. If I did so, protectionists might be able to impose taxation on the small articles, and claim, in consequence, that there must also be a duty on the finished product. That would be an ingenious way of capturing the free-traders ; and I refuse to be captured bv any such design.
There is no desire to set a trap for the honorable member for Dalley, who has apparently forgotten that we have ceased to be provincial, and are now aiming at a- uniform policy for all Australia. The honorable member has contended that the Government are responsible for the new circumstances in which the sewingmachine makers at Sydney now find themselves. It is urged that the Tariff has raised the price of machines ; but that sounds strange after the assertion of last night that the duties have raised the price of the raw material by only 4d. Apparently the honorable member for Dalley wants to say that the extra charge is entirely due to protection, and that consequently no protection should be given to the finished article, in spite of the fact that there are duties on the raw material. The honorable member, sees in the circumstances an attempt to capture the free-trader. It has been contended that protection by no means eventually cheapens articles to the consumer ; but in the word “ eventually” lies the whole of the difference of opinion. No protectionist ever said that protection does not, in the first instance, possibly raise prices, but we contend that eventually, in the nature of things, protection must reduce prices. No commodity presents a more certain prospect of reduced prices under protection than do sewing machines, giving the widow who has been so pathetically referred to, the means of keeping the “ wolf from the door.” At Singer’s sewing-machine factories at Glasgow and Coventry, machines, which here cost £S 10s., can be bought for £2 10s., and other machines which sell here at £12 10s. can be purchased at £3 10s. to £4- In Australia purchases must be made through the regular agents, and the result is seen in the enormous profits to which reference has been made. Again and again we have heard statements made as to the protectionists’ “ ring “ formed in connexion with cream separators, but in imported sewing machines we have an undeniable illustration of the evils of a free-trade “ ring.” If local competition can be created by a reasonable duty, which will not be oppressive in the first instance, the price of sewing machines will eventually be reduced by at least 50 per cent. The extortionate prices now charged to poor bread, winners indicate ample room for the beneficial application of protectionist principles. We do not say that the good effects will be apparent at the very outset, but they will be realized in a very short time, if reasonable protection be afforded and the local industry is not penalized by merely revenue duties. All. the evils which the honorable member for Dalley has attributed to protection are evils of a revenue Tariff, and those evils would have been increased and intensified under the drag-net kind of system which would have been introduced by honorable members of the Opposition had they been in power. By fostering a native industry we can considerably curtail the powers of the present monopoly, and can promise seamstresses that the prices of their tools of trade will be very materially reduced. Under reasonable protection that prophecy will be amply f ulfilled, and I ask protectionists to take care that nothing is done to harass the industry.
– I am very sorry the Minister for Home Affairs did not supply us with his data for the extraordinary statement he made last night and reiterated this morning. These data have been kindly taken down for me by the right honorable member for Tasmania, Sir Edward Braddon, while the honorable gentleman was speaking, but the statements, though they may be correct, supply no more information than is found in the catalogue of any oilman’s store, or in the Tariff. What we desire to find out is how much methylated spirit is used to every table. If gold for stopping teeth, were worth £4 an ounce, and a patient weighed 10 stone, it would not be argued that the patient had to pay £4 for every 1 lb. of his own weight ; yet such a calculation would be just as sensible, as to deduce from the data before us that there is a charge of 5s. on each machine. Has any one ever heard of a machine on which all the articles enumerated have been used ? The top of the machine may be polished, and the sides of the cabinet may be varnished, but both polish and varnish are not applied to the same Surface. French polish is alcohol, in which is placed, for solution, shellac and various other gums, and there is a higher duty on alcohol than on methylated spirits. I have made a careful, examination of the sewing-machine stand which is here for observation, and it is an admirable and creditable example of the cabinetmaker’s art. But the duty on the wood cannot amount to more than 4d., and the cost of the glue, a,part from the duty,’ is surely not more than one- twentieth of a penny. This machine has no cover, but it has three or four drawers which are dovetailed ; and there is a desire- to have us believe that the woodwork is varnished and polished throughout, and that over all is spread an ocean of methylated spirit- to the extent of 1 gallon. I venture to say that 1½d. would be an excessive and untrue estimate of the duty on all the varnish and polish used in any machine, and that, excluding methylated spirits and shellac, £d. would cover the charge. The quantity of oil used is insignificant, and may be disregarded.
– When did the honorable member make his computation?
– Just now. East night the honorable member for Melbourne Ports did not know whether these articles were made from Australian wood, or imported wood.
– They are made from both.
– Had that been so, the excessive duty on timber would have been commented on but the Minister for Home Affairs was silent on the matter. In any case, with a duty of ls. 6d. per 100 super, feet, the duty cannot exceed 4d. on the 17ft. or 18ft of wood which is used. A machine such as that outside could not be put upon the market under £15. It is an admirable piece of work, but it is not the machine which the poor widow or the seamstress buys ; it could serve as an article of furniture in any house. The brasswork on it is worth more than in most cases, and the duty on it would thus be more. But the brass-work on an ordinary machine is of the very cheapest kind, and I should be very sorry to say that I could not open the locks with a hairpin. The duty on the whole brass-work would not amount to more than 3d. or 3½d. Therefore, the statement made by the Minister for Home Affairs that the duty on the raw material for cheap machines stands amounts to 2s. 6d., while that on the dearer class of machines is os., is difficult to understand. The difference between the clearer and the cheaper machine-stands, so far as the duty on the material is concerned, is that on the better class of machine, polish instead of varnish is used, and electro-plated instead of brass or some other cheap fittings are put on. Certainly at the outside the difference in the duty could not be more than ls. on the two classes of machines, even if everything were used on them as stated by the
Minister. I still maintain that the estimate made by me last night was based on a close examination of sewing machines, and I have confirmed it this morning by a further examination of a machine manufactured by the same firm. The remarks made by the honorable member for Southern Melbourne have for the most part no connexion with the subject, but where they have they are so outrageously wrong that they do not call for further comment. The honorable member urged that machines would be dearer now, but that by-and-by the widow - if she lived - would be able to secure them at cheaper prices. Just imagine the honorable member for Melbourne Ports as a widow, plunged in unutterable grief at the death of the bread-winner, and confronted with the irrefragable fact that the price of sewing machines is £10 10s. ; but that the protectionist manufacturer proposed by-and-by to reduce them to £5. If he could be a widow, I think he would be as good a one as ever lived ; but in such circumstances even he would rather get married again than wait for such a condition of tilings. We know that the effect of this taxation is to increase the cost of these articles. The honorable member for Melbourne Ports spoke like a poet on the effect of taxing articles from which varnish is made. He urged that the result would be that varnish would flow through the land like cataracts of wild honey and milk, but the Minister for Home Affairs says that position has not yet been reached. We have the statement on the one hand that protection increases the cost of the stand, while the Minister for Home Affairs says that it decreases the cost in the case of the machine itself. In America, where they have had protection for a very long time, the retail price of a Singer’s sewing machine is £1 dearer than it was under free-trade in New South ‘Wales. America is the home of the sewing machine, but the selling price there has never decreased ; so that we might have a widow of 40 years ago, long since in her tomb, still waiting for the everlasting trumpet call announcing cheap sewing machines. The request made by the honorable member for Melbourne Ports is outrageous, while the support afforded to him by the Minister for Home Affairs is characteristic of the honorable gentleman. The whole request is so astounding that if it were made to a body of men who were unaccustomed to such unreasonable demands it would meet with a very short shrift. In this committee, where it is unnecessary to consider the reason that underlies anything, but necessary only to consider the numbers one has at his back, there is something to be said in its favour. Although a number of employes of the firm in question are among my constituents, I must vote for what I believe to be the best interests of the Commonwealth. In deciding upon that course I am cheered by the knowledge that for the last five years those men have lived under a system of perfect free-trade ; while the proprietor of the manufactory has been able to build up a colossal industry and make a huge fortune. Now he says tha’t a duty of from 4d. to ls. on a machine-stand is going to crush his industry out of existence. I refuse to believe it, and I challenge the honorable member for Melbourne Ports and the Minister for Home Affairs to substantiate their statements on any platform in any State they please. They have not a leg to stand on ; and, what is more, they know it.
– This proposal as placed before the committee by the Minister for Home Affairs and the honorable member for Southern Melbourne represents some extraordinary, if not contradictory, features. The Minister desires the committee to place a duty upon sewing-machine stands on the ground that duties have already been imposed upon a number of materials used in their manufacture to the detriment of the local maker, as against the importer. When those duties were being considered honorable members were informed by those who advocated them that their effect” would be to cheapen the cost of the materials to the consumer. It now appears that they have had an opposite effect, and that the local maker of sewingmachine stands is now labouring under a disadvantage which he did not suffer prior to the imposition of the duties. That seems to be a contradiction. Either the duties have resulted in cheapening the materials, and the manufacturer can be in no worse position than he was before their imposition, or, as predicted by honorable members of the Opposition, they have increased the prices, and placed him at a disadvantage. The Minister for Heme Affairs has attempted to explain away the apparent contradiction by stating that the local output of the raw material is confined to inferior articles, and that the maker of the stands finds it necessary in order to obtain the best quality to import the polish required by him. In that way, he said, the tax fell upon the manufacturer. That is the position which from time to time has been put before the committee by the Opposition. Honorable members on this side have always contended that the imposition of duties designed to establish industries before the requirements of the community make them possible, on a paying basis, leads at the outset to the production of inferior articles, and that local manufacturers who are adversely affected by these duties have to import their raw materials in order to be able to place a superior article on the market. The Minister for Home Affairs claims that the effect of the Tariff is disadvantageous to manufacturers of sewing-machine stands to the extent of something like 4 or 5 per cent. I have opposed the imposition of all these duties right from the first, and I think I have had good ground for doing SO; but, when we find that the committee have imposed a duty which operates adversely to a manufacturer within the Commonwealth, I think, he should at least receive consideration in respect of the additional cost to which he is put in producing his goods by reason of the advantage given by that duty to some other manufacturer. I think that the manufacturer of sewingmachine stands, who, under a pure system of free-trade, was able to establish his factory and to extend it to its present dimensions, has some little claim for consideration. The honorable member for West Sydney says that the disadvantage under which this manufacturer labours does not amount to more than 4d. per machine-stand. while the Minister for Home Affaire contends that it amounts to 5s. There are some machine-stands which can be made for 20s., while there are others of elaborate construction, and designed to be an ornamental piece of furniture, which cost nearly £20 each. I can quite understand that the quantity of material used in the manufacture of a machine-stand which cost 20s. may represent an increased charge of 3d. or 4d., and that in the case of a machine-stand which cost 20s. the additional cost is 4s. or 5s. Under the ruling of the Chairman we are not allowed to discriminate at this stage; ve have to incur the disadvantage of either inflicting an injury on an industry which we wish to serve, or inflicting an injury on the users of sewing machines, who include the poorest and most deserving members of the community. The duty will fall not on the large factories where the duty-free machines are run by motive power, but on the houses of seamstresses and others who are endeavouring to make a living. I am in an awkward position. I hope to see the item recommitted in order that we may have a larger amount of latitude. For the present my vote will be registered, as it was previously, against the imposition of the duty.
Question - That the words “ sewing machines,” proposed to be omitted, stand part of the proposed exemptions - put. The committee divided -
Ayes … … … 25
Noes … … … 21
Majority … … 4
Question so resolved in the affirmative.
– The duty on engines has been recommitted at my instance, in order that the decision of the committee that mining and electrical machinery and electrical appliances be subjected to a duty of 15 per cent, ad valorem be given effect to. I might have added to my amendment that the item was recommitted in order that the decision of the committee in regard to agricultural and horticultural machinery might be given effect to. The duty on mining machinery was reduced from 20 to 15 per cent, by the substantial majority of seven. The effect of the concession which was given to these primary industries, if limited to what I understand is the departmental reading of the item, would be practically neutralized. It must be apparent to the common sense of honorable members that the reduction of the duty on a mining battery to 15 per cent, must extend to the motive power and the appliances which are used in connexion with the battery. Great confusion will exist in the administration of the department if an all-round duty of 15 per cent, is not imposed. A very large petition was received from London supporting the reduction of the duty, and the impression has been cabled home that all mining machinery may now be imported at a duty of 15 per cent. I ask honorable members on both sides, would investors in London and elsewhere believe for a single moment that the department desired to draw a distinction between the motive power at a mine and the appliances which it uses ? Ministers must see that this is an anomaly which should be removed, and I hope that they will agree to the amendment. I move -
That the words “and on and’ after19th April, 1902, 15 per cent. “ be added to the duty “ Engines, ad valorem 20 per cent.”
– The honorable member for Kooyong says that unless we take the step he advocates, and reduce the duty upon all engines to 15 per cent., we shall neutralize what we have done with regard to mining machinery. I contend that we shall do nothing of the kind, but shall carry out what was the desire of the committee at the time. The honorable and learned member for Bendigo voted for the reduction of the duty upon mining machinery to 15 per cent., on the understanding that other machinery would remain dutiable at the higher rate of 20 per cent. I stated at the time that mining machinery would be construed as machinery used exclusively for mining purposes, and the same position is taken up with regard to the definition of agricultural machinery. If machinery used exclusively for mining purposes is introduced, it will be dutiable at 15 per cent. ; but if the motive power used in connexion with it is applicable also to other purposes, it will be charged at the higher rate. When it was urged that the duty should be reduced for the purpose of assisting the mining industry, it was never contended that we should go the length of introducing all engines at a duty of 15 per cent. Engines are used for many other purposes besides mining, and we have already determined, after a long discussion, to fix the duty upon engines at 20 per cent. The committee were prepared to admit at the reduced rate articles used exclusively for mining purposes.
– Would not the Minister call boilers mining machinery?
– There may be boilers used exclusively for mining purposes, and such articles would be admitted at the lower rate ; but boilers which might be applied to other purposes would have to pay the higher duty.
– Why not give every industry the same advantage ?
– Because that is not the principle upon which the committee decided to reduce the duty upon mining machinery to 15 per cent. Had the. committee understood that it was intended that all engines should be admitted on payment of 15 per cent, duty, they would have hesitated to agree to the reduction upon mining machinery.
– A 15 per cent, duty upon all classes of machinery is ample.
– That may be, but the committee have decided that a 20 per cent, duty shall be collected upon engines, except those used exclusively for mining purposes. The honorable member for Kooyong has told us that a certain cable has been sent to England, and that advice must have been despatched after I had made a definite announcement that we should construe mining machinery as machinery used exclusively for mining purposes. We cannot therefore hold ourselves responsible for a cable which would bear any other interpretation, and if any mistake has been made it can be easily rectified. When we decided to reduce the duty on mining machinery no reference was made to engines or boilers, but what honorable members had in their minds was concentrating plant and machinery of that kind.
Amendment agreed to.
Amendment (by Mr. Knox) proposed -
That the words “ and on and after 19th April, 1902, . 15 per cent.” be added to the duty “Boilers, pumps, machines, and machinery, n.e.i. advalorem20 per cent.”
– In view of the decision just given by the committee it would be useless to debate this proposed amendment, which I am prepared to accept.
Mr. BATCHELOR (South Australia).I quite understand that the Ministry have no alternative but to accept the proposal. I should, however, like to point out that, in the first place, the committee were asked to make a special exception in favour of mining machinery, but now the concession has been extended so that it will apply to all classes of machinery, and leave the engineering trade without any protection whatever.
Amendment agreed to.
Division VI. - Metals and machinery.
Amendment (by Mr. Thomson for Mr. G.
That the following exemptions be added to the special exemptions of wood-working machine tools : - Cask-making machines, viz.. Bounding and bevelling ; combined hoop punching, shearing, splaying, and bending ; hoop splaying and bending ; stave jointing ; chiming, crozing, and dowelling.
Amendment (by Sir George Turner) agreed to -
That the following exemption be added to the special exemptions of metal- working machine tools : - “Hydraulic wheel presses.”
Amendment (by Mr. Hartnoll) agreed to-
That the following exemptions be added : - Machine tools (harness, saddlers’, and bagmakers’) - Strap-cutting, riveting, creasing, stitch-pricking, trace-trimming machines and presses, dies for loops.
– I move-
That the words “ and, subject to departmental by-laws, materials for use as scrap iron” be added to the special exemption “Scrap iron and steel.”
We propose to add to the exemption some goods which are brought in as scrap iron, but which do not altogether fall within that definition. They may, for instance, more properly be called rails ; but still there is no doubt as to the use to which it is intended to put them. We therefore propose to admit these goods subject to departmental by-laws, which will enable us to see that they are put to no other use.
Amendment agreed to.
Division IX. - Drugs and chemicals.
– I move-
That the following newduty be inserted - “Unrefined glycerine on and after1 9th April, 1902, ad valorem, 10 per cent.
Honorable members will recollect that we had this matter under discussion somewhat fully a few days ago. Glycerine, refined or unrefined, was liable to a duty of 20 per cent. ; and the honorable member for Southern Melbourne desired to have glycerine for the manufacture of explosives admitted free of duty. I offered to meet the honorable member by placing a duty of 10 per cent, on unrefined glycerine, and the honorable member agreed. The honorable member for Corio, however, tested the feeling of the committee as to whether unrefined glycerine should be admitted free of duty, and the voting upon that question was equal. In order to afford the committee an opportunity of taking a further vote, we now propose to levy a duty of 10 per cent, on unrefined glycerine.
Mr. KNOX (Kooyong). - I voted on the previous occasion under a misapprehension. I have always held that unrefined glycerine should be admitted free of duty, and I shall support any honorable member who makes a proposal in that direction.
– I hope that unrefined glycerine will be placed upon the free list. This is not a protective duty. If there were no duty whatever no more imports would come in. It is now being made here, and it is necessary to allow of the material for the manufacture of explosives being imported free. I move -
That the amendment be amended by striking out the words “10 per cent.,” with a view to inserting in lieu thereof the word “ free.”
– On the last occasion I voted for a duty on unrefined glycerine, but on reconsideration I have determined to vote to make it free.
Amendment of the amendment agreed to.
New item, as amended, agreed to.
Division XIII. - Paper and Stationery.
Item 115 - (Paper) -
– I move-
That the words ‘ ‘ or its equivalent “ be added to the line “printing, nncoated, in sizes not less than 20 in. x 25 in., free.”
This amendment is intended to remove ambiguities that have arisen in connexion with the item. Hitherto the Tariff has provided that the duties are to be levied on paper in sizes not less than 20 in. x 25 in. ; but we find that some paper comes in of the size 18 in. or 19 in. x 26 in. Therefore, we propose to make the item read “ 20 in. x 25 in. or its equivalent.”
– The words proposed to be added are not necessary. What is the object of limiting the sizes of paper coming into the Commonwealth? The object appears to be that the cutting up shall be done here. But I would point out that the paper cutting is done by machinery, and the amount of labour involved is not worth consideration. Besides, it may suit many small newspaper proprietors to import their paper in sizes less than the size mentioned in the Tariff. Of course, if the alteration is intended to increase the convenience of the importers of paper, I can offer no objection to it.
– That is so.
Amendment agreed to.
Division XIV. - Vehicles.
Item 119- (Vehicles)- …. All parts thereof, n.e.i., ad valorem 25 per cent.
– Under the heading of vehicles we have a certain class dutiable at 25 per cent. Parts thereof are also dutiable at 25 per cent. Then we say that vehicles n.e.i., and parts thereof are dutiable at 20 per cent. Some difficulty has arisen as to which articles should be dutiable at 25’per cent, and which at 20 per cent. To remove the difficulty we propose to specify those parts that are to be liable to 25 per cent. They are - Wheels tired and bolted, bodies, undergears, undercarriages, and tops. An amendment to this effect will carry out the desires of the carriage-makers, who are the importers of these portions, and will make the matter clear. I move -
That the item be amended by the omission of the letters “ n.e.i.” where last occurring, and the insertion in lieu thereof of the words, “ Wheels tired and bolted, bodies, undergears, undercarriages,tops.”
Amendment agreed to.
Division VI. - Metals and machinery.
Amendment (by Mr. Joseph Cook) agreed to -
That the following exemption be added - “ Tanners’ measuring machines.”
– In the special exemptions the word “ engine “ occurs before the word “ lathes.” I wish that word to be struck out. The term “ turret lathes “ also occurs, and it would be better to leave out the word “ turret.” It would be better to leave in simply the word “ lathes.” To accomplish this purpose I move -
That the following words be omitted from the special exemptions : - “Engine lathes, turret.”
Amendment agreed to.
Resolved (on motion by Mr. Kingston) -
That the standing orders be suspended, so as to allow the resolutions to be again recommitted, andalso to allow of the necessary steps being taken for the introduction of the necessary Bill, and the moving of the first and second readings thereof on the same day. liesolved (on motion by Mr. Sydney Smith) -
That item 47, salt, be recommitted.
In Committee of Ways and Means. (Third recommittal.)
Item 47 - Salt, n.e.i., per ton, 15s.
Amendment (by Mr. Sydney Smith) proposed -
That the words “and on and after 19th April, 1902, 12s. 6d.” be added.
– The Government assent to the proposal. As I take it that this will be the last business which the committee will have to transact for a long time, I think we may, congratulate ourselves upon the attention which has been given to the Tariff, and upon the spirit and temper in which the various items have been discussed. The Ministry entertain only the best feeling towards honorable members opposite, and I believe that that feeling is heartily reciprocated. Necessarily, in the heat of debate, we say things which we would not say in calmer moments, but I think that the strong sense of public duty which animates the committee will not allow anything to mar the amicable discharge of our duties in the future. In this connexion both sides of the Chamber have profited from the assistance which has been rendered by the Customs officer who has been in attendance, and I should be failing in my duty if I did not mention the fact. I am delighted to know that, as regards the item of salt, we shall see practically a unanimous committee disposing of this item in a way which exhibits their good sense.
– I heartily reciprocate the feelings of the Minister for Trade and Customs, and cordially join with him in thanking the committee generally for the attention which they have bestowed upon this Tariff. I do not suppose that any of us will be very greatly grieved to part with it, even though we have to admit-as we do upon this side of the House - that in the course of its progress all sections have been drawn more closely together, until there was every promise that its discussion for two or three months longer would have produced a unanimous free-trade committee.
– Although I represent a constituency which possesses the largest salt industry within the Commonwealth, I am no party to this compromise, and was not consulted in regard to it. I accept it under protest; and only on the distinct understanding that whatever may happen in the future the Opposition will adhere to the agreement which has been arrived at. Personally, I will not countenance any further reduction of the duty proposed.
Amendment agreed to.
Resolution reported and agreed to ; report adopted.
Resolved (on motion by Mr. Kingston)-
That the Treasurer and the Minister for Trade and Customs be appointed a committee to prepare and bring in Customs and Excise Bills founded, upon resolutions of the Committee of Ways and Means.
Bill presented and read a first time.
Mr. KINGSTON (South Australia-
Minister for Trade and Customs). - I move -
That the Bill be now read a second time.
I propose only to formally introduce to honorable members the Bill which isnecessary in order to pass to a further stage the result of our protracted and industrious efforts in committee. It is a Bill “for an Act relating to Duties of Customs,” but for the sake of simplicity we propose that the measure shall be known as the “Customs Tariff 1902.” We incorporate it with the Customs Act of general application ; and we declare by clause 4 that-
The time of the imposition of uniform duties of Customs is the 8th day of October, 1901, at four o’clock in the afternoon reckoned according to the standard time in force in the State of Victoria.
That was the date and hour when the Tariff was laid on the table. It contained on the face of it a declaration that it should operate immediately, and since then we have acted in accordance with that provision. Where other dates are intended to be observed there is an express declaration to that effect within the four corners of the Tariff. By clause 5 we ask the House to declare that the duties of Customs specified in the schedule are imposed in accordance with the schedule with which we are so familiar. I thought it well practically to embody, word for word, the schedule, with its few preliminary declarations, as it has been before us for the last six or seven months. We declare that -
The duties of Customs specified in the schedule are hereby imposed according to the schedule, as from the time of the imposition of uniform duties of Customs -
Where any other date is fixed, then they are to be collected from the later date, and the Bill provides that they shall be deemed to have been duly imposed from that date. Of course, there is a declaration that the money is to be raised for the purposes of the Commonwealth. There is also a provision that the duties apply to all goods imported since the dates named, or which, if they were imported before those dates, were not free, and required to be entered subsequently. We declare in clause 6 that the collection of duties, which has been tacitly proceeding, by the consent .of the House, on the basis with which we are perfectly familiar, shall be deemed to have been valid,’ and also that no additional duty shall be payable on any goods on which duty has been collected, by reason of the fact that the rate now in force is greater than was the rate at the date of collection. There is a further declaration that no duty shall be payable in respect of goods already delivered for home consumption, free of duty, pursuant to any alteration of the Tariff which may not have been finally ratified. Clause 7 contains a provision which we promised at various times while the Tariff was under discussion in committee. It gives power to deal with trusts, combines, and monopolies.
– I think it is. We have taken the clause from the Canadian Act of 1897, which has very much to recommend it. We believe in reasonable protection, but at the same time we do not believe in protection being made an instrument to unduly charge rates which ought not to be exacted. The provision is to this effect -
Whenever the Governor-General has reason to believe that with regard to any goods there exists any trust combination association or agreement of any kind among importers or manufacturers of or dealers in such goods -
We do not care who it is - to unduly enhance their price or in any other way to unduly promote the advantage of the importers manufacturers or dealers at the expense of the consumers the Governor-General may by commission empower any Justice of the High Court or any Judge of the Supreme Court of a State to inquire in a summary way and report to the Governor-General whether such trust combination association or agreement exists.
– Would it not be better to deal with that matter in a separate Bill?
– No. When we are imposing duties such as these, we have a perfect right to safeguard consumers in every conceivable way, and when we find a provision of this kind in Canadian legislation it would be unwise for us to refrain from copying it. It has evidently been found necessary in Canada, and it may be necessary here. Let us profit by the example of Canada, and declare at the earliest stage that if there is any attempt, so far as trusts and combines are concerned, to introduce here the troubles which have occurred in other countries - and which, so far as our sister, Canada, is concerned, have been considered to warrant the introduction of legislation of this sort - we will provide for the prompt stoppage of the evil.
– Have the Government considered whether there is power under the Constitution to make such a provision in this Bill?
– We have considered that point. This provision relates to the imposition of the duties, and it gives a power of relaxation in certain events. The duties are imposed subject to this contingency. It is a clause of a character which can be constitutionally introduced. The machinery provided gives the Judge large powers to fully investigate the matter. He may compel the attendance of witnesses, and examine them, and it is provided also that he may be given any other powers which the Governor-General may see fit to delegate to him for the purpose of such inquiry. There is a further provision that if the Judge reports the existence of a combine to the detriment of the public, then, en the resolution of both Houses, the remedy may be applied by a reduction of the duty involved, so that although we admit the fullest competition any difficulty which may arise locally from the want of competition can be removed immediately. These are, shortly, the provisions of the Bill. The schedule, of course, will be an exact copy of the result of our labours in committee, and I do not see that there is any necessity on my part to further occupy the attention of the committee.
– I think that there must be a feeling of satisfaction upon all sides of the House at the termination of the very arduous task upon which we have been engaged for so many months, and although there may have been a number of keen encounters during the progress of that work, I feel that, upon the whole, we can congratulate ourselves upon the good feeling and good temper which have characterized our deliberations. I trust that that standard will always be maintained, even in dealing with the most exciting proposals of a Ministry. To refer at once to the Bill which has just been handed to us, I do not know whether the Ministry have kept in mind the provisions of the Constitution.
– We have undoubtedly.
– If the Ministry have kept them in mind, in my opinion they have not acted upon the provision in section 55, that -
Laws imposing taxation shall deal only with the imposition of taxation, and any provision therein dealing with any other matter shall be of no effect.
Howa provision about putting down rings can be said to be a matter relating to the imposition of taxation I do not know. Probably a very different view will be taken both by a court outside a,nd by the Senate. Whether it is passed by the Senate in that form or not, I fancy that it would be a very serious matter for the consideration of a court whether such a provision in such an Act would be of any. effect, in view of the declaration, in section 55 of the Constitution, that any extraneous matter shall be of no effect. But I hail the introduction of the provision. There is an admission by the Government that under a protective system there may be rings and combinations to increase the burdens of the people; and I would remind Ministers that the whole Tariff is intended to establish one vast ring. For what purpose ? To unduly enhance the price of commodities which Australian manufacturers put upon the market. So that, in putting in this clause, the Ministry forget the whole purpose of their proposals, which is to precisely bring about, in respect of articles manufactured in Australia, the effect of a ring - to unduly enhance their price as apart from the effect of open competition. I wish to pass on to the very important matter we have to deal with. I must admit at once that a number of improvements have been made in the Tariff. I must acknowledge most cordially, with feelings of gratitude, sincere gratitude, the assistance which some honorable members opposite have given the Opposition on many of their proposals. But I cannot thank the Government for anything. They never yielded on a single point until they found that they were beaten. If they had had their way they would have placed their supporters in the position of passing the Tariff they submitted without any important alteration. Such a Tariff, so passed, would have handed down with ignominy the name of the Prime Minister who uttered the Maitland speech. Whilst I have the most friendly feelings for the Prime Minister as a man, I cannot speak too strongly of the effect of his speech upon public opinion before the general election. If the Tariff which was submitted had been appended to ‘ that speech, the Ministry would never have been able to submit a Tariff. I give as proof of that the fact that, although the Ministry, by virtue of that most deceptive utterance, only presented the principle of protection to the public as an appeal for benevolence to the distressed, even a House elected upon such a basis declined to follow the Ministry to the extremes into which they desired to lead it. Their . own supporters deserted the Ministry and enabled us to make many notsufficient but serious alterations When I submitted a motion of censure on their proposals, which the House has now absolutely approved of by its treatment of the Tariff, we were defeated on a division which represented the number for the Government at 39, and the number for the Opposition at 25.
– There were a number of pairs.
– Yes, but the proportion is the same. A majority of 14 in a House of 76 members was the handicap on the Opposition when we began this fight. It was a great handicap ; and in that which we have done I hope the public will remember the disadvantage to which I referred. If I might drop into sporting language, the gamebird of the Ministry had vastly the superior weight, and by weight alone it has inflicted a defeat on the younger and the lighter bird. The younger and the lighter bird has come out of the struggle with eyes of undiminished lustre, and with the fullest confidence in its ultimate success. The larger bird has come out of the conflict minus many of its finest feathers, in a very flustered state, and with no sort of disposition to renew the conflict. I must admit the difficulties of the task which the Government set themselves. They set themselves an impossible task. Speaking generally, you cannot have at the same time a protective and a productive duty. It is impossible, if the duty is to operate as a protective one; it is a contradiction in terms. That was the initial difficulty of the Government. If they had recognised it, and put before the House a heavy revenue Tariff, which would have been productive, and heavy protective duties on which they did not rely for much revenue, they would have stood in at any rate a logical position. But they have put themselves before the country as the authors of a Tariff which was to effect a large revenue result. I must here express my very deep obligations to the party which I have the honour to lead. I have, unfortunately, been compelled to be absent on more than one occasion, and it only heightens my feeling of admiration for the loyalty, determination, and devotion which have been shown to me, and to the cause which we represent, by honorable members behind me. I also wish to tender my deep acknowledgments to the honorable member for Wentworth, and the honorable member for Macquarie.
Honorable Members. - Hear, hear.
– The honorable member for Macquarie - and I am very glad to be able to say precisely the same of the honorable member for Eden-Monaro - has managed to unite unrivalled skill with personal honour. Nothing gives me greater pleasure than to recognise that, whatever our fights may be, we can honestly say that no cloud of suspicion rests upon the personal honour of any honorable member, and in view of occurrences in other lands, with reference to matters such as we have been debating, I think that that statement can be echoed by every honorable member. Long may it so continue. It takes the bitterest element out of our differences. We recognise that if we have failed we have been defeated by honorable men who happen to differ from us, and who in differing from us are honest. I have no sort of bitter feeling with reference to any Minister or any honorable member of the House. Whilst on that account I can not shrink from perfect candour, I hope that I shall never descend to personal bitterness. Now, I wish in the first place to say that, in my opinion, it is seriously at variance with that system of parliamentary government to which British communities are accustomed, that the leader of this House and head of the Government should have so ostentatiously abandoned his position in the Chamber during these prolonged Tariff debates. The # leader of the House always owes this duty to parliamentary government. He must recognise the obligations which attach to his position ; he must recognise that under our system of Cabinet, and government, and Parliament, unless there is a firm and steady hand, and the same hand at the helm, confusion and disaster must result. I am not ignorant of the great calls upon the Prime Minister, but I hold that what Ministers like the British Ministers can do, with the vast responsibilities devolving upon them, our Prime Minister must do. Occasionally, we must all be absent from this State, and while absent no one will expect a physical impossibility to occur ; but that our leader and our Prime Minister should, night after night, and month after month, be within the precincts of the chamber, and yet take less interest in and less control of this most serious of all national tasks than the humblest private member, is a circumstance which I feel bound to comment upon.
– A very unfair charge.
– It is not a charge - it is a fact.
– It is a very unfair charge, for he has been at his work the whole time.
– That is the point. What is the work of the leader of this House? Is it to desert the Chamber? Can a Prime Minister hand over his position to this or that colleague? If this sort of thing is to become a precedent, we had better upset our parliamentary system of government altogether: we had better abolish the . office of Prime Minister, or let it be held alternately by those Ministers whom it may be convenient to leave in charge of particular measures. I feel more strongly upon this matter, because the Prime Minister and the Minister for Home Affairs are representatives of New South Wales, the State whose interests are vitally affected by the Tariff, perhaps more than those of any other. It would have been infinitely better for this Chamber if the Prime Minister” had taken a more active part in our deliberations. That is not satire, but a compliment. Now, with reference to my right honorable friends, the Minister for Trade and Customs and the Treasurer, I wish to say at once that they have all through shown a patience and a willingness to listen to discussion, which excites my full appreciation. I do not wish to make compliments which I do not entirely mean. I suppose that to some extent their attitude was influenced by the fact that they were not successful either in crushing the Opposition or in keeping their supporters here beyond a certain time, and, therefore, my compliment must be to a certain extent discounted. At the same time, I admit that the Ministers have given us full and fair opportunities for discussing the Tariff. Now I wish to deal with a matter which is almost as important as the Tariff, and that is, the finances of the States, and the financial system which is to provide ways and means for the Commonwealth and for the States. There are many respects in which the Braddon blot will be justified by posterity, and one of the best things about it is that it points a strong finger in the direction in which our Commonwealth finances must always proceed. We have taken from the States their main source of revenue, and we have left to them nearly all their sources of expenditure. Therefore we must be careful to send back to the States a most substantial amount of Customs revenue ; and whilst we are bound to do that, we, as setting an example to the Australian States, must proceed upon strictly prudent and economical lines. Some people speak as if we can only effect retrenchment by the painful method of reducing expenditure. So far as the public are concerned, however, it is equally important to them that economy in taxation should be observed, because if we can safeguard the rights of the taxpayers of the
Commonwealth and of the States, who are the same, by a prudent system of taxation, laying no unnecessary burdens upon them, we shall, at the most critical stage of our finances, be acting wisely find fairly to all. My first objection to this Tariff of the Commonwealth Ministry is that, as far as it expresses a system of finance, it is reckless and extravagant. When the Tariff was submitted, the Government had many opportunities of obtaining information, of which we were deprived. Still it did not need a very large amount of inquiry, such as a private member could conduct, to discover that the Tariff proposals must infallibly produce a larger amount than the Government said was required. Surely there is no injustice in testing the Government’s finance by their own measure of the necessities of the case. The Government told us, speaking of a year which was not a normal year, owing to the fact that for three months and eight days of it the old system prevailed, that they expected a revenue of £8,009,000. They said further that in a normal year they estimated the Customs revenue at £8,942,000. They acted properly in putting before us these two estimates, which were called for by the necessities of the case. We find already - as was said on this side of the House often enough - that on the basis of the revenue so far produced the actual return will be within £150,000 of the £8,940,000 which the Treasurer estimated would be received in a normal year. This calculation is based upon the experience of about five months, but the statement of the Treasurer taken by itself shows an increase of £580,000 over and above his estimate. According to the Treasurer’s estimate for nine months, if we take the same rate of receipts to extend over the full 12 months, we shall receive something like £SO0,000 in addition to the £8,009,000 which was estimated for the current year. That brings the total to £8,809,000, or within £150,000 of the estimated receipts for a normal )’ear. We have this enormous excess over the estimate, although there has been a serious falling off in eight or ten of the largest lines of revenue. Whereas for four months we should have received something like£1 500,000 from these lines, we have derived something under £900,000. That is to say, the shortage on these eight or ten lines amounts to £600,000 for four months. In order to estimate the shortage for the year, we must multiply £600,000 by three, and we shall thus arrive at a total deficiency of something like £1,800,000. We know that this shrinkage does not represent any collapse of consumption, but that it results from the operation of trade manipulations before the Tariff came into force. This will all disappear in a normal year, and we shall have a legitimate revenue such as the Treasurer estimated to receive from these lines. In spite of the collapse upon these four lines to the extent of £600,000, the Treasurer has received in actual revenue £600,000 more than he estimated for nine months. I mention these figures as showing the reckless calculations upon which we were asked to pass a Tariff that would produce extravagant results. Whilst we are considering this point, we should not forget that the estimate for a normal year is based upon the State revenues from Customs for 1S99, so that in a normal year, which cannot come round till 1903, we shall have the figures of a period three years later than 1899. This will probably result in an important addition to the revenue. Taking the period of five months from October to February as a basis, the Tariff will probably yield - leaving out Western Australia - £9,271,000; that is assuming, as I have said, that the shortage on the leading items referred to disappears. The Treasurer’s estimate for a normal year for the same States was £8,230,000 ; so that upon the basis of the actual facts in an abnormal year, we have an excess of £1,000,000 sterling - if the general receipts continue for the full period of twelve months as they have been coming in - over the estimated revenue for a normal year. The case of Western Australia is very exceptional, and I have, therefore, eliminated it from the comparison. Let us, however, add the figures for Western Australia. Adopting the same basis of calculation, we find that the receipts in Western Australia will probably amount to £1,250,000, and that the Tariff will yield a total of £10,500,000 in the six States in an abnormal year, instead of the £8,9-10,000 estimated for a normal year. By the term “normal year” we recognise that several leading lines of revenue have been impoverished, but are bound to recover in the course of time. Now let us contrast the probable revenue returns for this year with the actual Customs revenue derived by the States in the year 1900. That will be going back some little time. I shall first leave out Western Australia as a very special case, and take the five other States. In 1900 New South Wales received Customs revenue to the amount of £1,785,000, whereas during the current year, upon the basis of the revenue as it has been coming in, she will receive probably £3,397,000- an increase of £1,612,000 upon her Customs revenue for 1900. Victoria will receive an increase of £S41,000, Queensland will unfortunately receive £121,000 less. South Australia will receive £205,000 more, and Tasmania will receive £82,000 less. The total revenue received from Customs in these five States in 1900 was £6,816,000, whereas the probable revenue during the current year, as I have said, will be £-9,271,000 ; and the increase in these five States will thus be £2,455,000. That is, even if the revenue pans out for the rest of the year as it has panned out for the period which has already passed, and the leading lines referred to recover their elasticity. It must be remembered that in 1 900 some intercolonial products passing from one State to another were taxed. And our Inter-State products were supposed to yield about £1,000,000 to the different States in a year. So that we must remember that since 1900 £1,000,000 has gone - wisely ; we do not grudge it, but it has gone ; and in spite of this £1,000,000 having gone, this Tariff will give us on the basis I have named £2,500,000 more than the five States got in 1900.
Air. Watson. - After allowing for reductions 1
– I am dealing with actual receipts from the Tariff this year.
– Does that include the receipts from tea duties ?
– The duty on tea was only knocked off recently, but the amount received from the tea duty during those four or five months was singularly small. It was only about £120,000, I think. The estimate was about £384,000, but in four months this very small amount was paid in.
– That is not the average for 1900 though.
– Probably not. I only want to take the case in this broad way. It is an interminable question in detail.
– Can the right honorable gentleman give us a rough idea of the date of that calculation 1
– I should like to give the actual data.
– For what date is that calculation made ?
– May I first give the important fact? My basis of calculation is this ‘: I take the actual federal receipts for the period from October to February inclusive. That is a period of five months.
– Including the first week in October ?
– No. That first week was under the old system, before we had a Federal Tariff.
– From the 9th of October 1
– From the 9th of October. I am dealing with the Federal Tariff. I calculate from the 9th of October to the 28th February. The revenue received in that period is the basis. I apply that basis to the period of twelve months. Applying that basis for five months, to the receipts for the whole year at the same rate - estimated, of course - and expecting the recovery on leading items alluded to, I bring out, as I have said, the result that the receipts, exclusive of Western Australia, would be £9,270,000 instead of £8,230,000 on the estimate of the Treasurer for a normal year of £8,942,000. I want honorable members to see that whilst we were fighting here over this little item and that little item, we were putting on the people a huge burden, and applying a huge engine of taxation, which is creating a basis for State extravagance. I have, of course, to condense my remarks under existing circumstances, and I therefore leave that point for the present ; but later on, if these figures are challenged in any way, I shall be able to deal with the subject more fully. Now I want to point out the radical difference which we all know exists between the two points of view. We can never come together if we act upon protective lines on the one hand, and revenue Tariff lines on the other. The two positions are irreconcilable. The Government have based this huge taxation machine upon the principle of destroying revenue instead of fostering it : but this destroying machine has produced enormously more than a revenue Tariff would have produced. What does that mean ? It means that we have set a standard of taxation which is inordinately high. Do honorable members expect that the protective influence of the Tariff will bring down our imports by five or ten millions in one or two years ? If they have any such expectation they will be disappointed and the people will be burdened accordingly. Now I want to refer to the pith of this matter. I recognise that my honorable friends opposite are men of intelligence and candour. They may be wrong, but I recognise that during the course of this great discussion they have had the advantage of bearing what we have had to say, just as we have had the advantage of hearing what they have had to say. As far as I understand it, my honorable friends opposite are protectionists in dealing with the Tariff, mainly from these considerations - that the labour conditions, happily, of Australia are better than the labour conditions of other countries ; that, therefore, our labour cannot produce a given article as cheaply as the labour in those other countries ; and labour being an important element in production, they say - “We are protectionists in order to establish manufactures, and so that our men may earn something like an Australian rate of wage.” That is, fairly put, I think, one of their grounds. Now, there are some considerations that my honorable friends, I hope, will think over, which rather disturb that position. We have heard, for instance, of cheap Chinese labour. The effect of that phrase upon the committee has been almost galvanic as applied to any particular item. Whether the matter under discussion were crockery or glue-pots, or anything else, the word “ Chinese “ and the word “ Japanese “ have paralyzed the committee. One of the most distinguished men in the United States, who was the ambassador of that country to China, in an article a few months ago in the North American Review, made this statement as the result of his knowledge of both America and China. He said that those who state that Chinese labour is cheap, and that good American labour is dear, make a profound mistake. He says that the American labour, with its high rates, is cheaper labour than the Chinese with its nominal rates. Well, whatever our fiscal views are, we should all rejoice to find that to be true. My honorable friends opposite would riot wish it to be untrue. I am sure that my honorable friends would rejoice if they could honestly believe that our white race, with civilized conditions and superior energy - not, perhaps, superior intelligence, but superior physical strength - was so much in advance of the Chinese. This ambassador picks out a cottonmill in Shanghai worked by Chinese. He says that inhat fafactory, which runs double shifts, there are 2,200 persons employed ; but that a factory in his own country, with 350 hands, would turn out more work than the 2,200 Chinese ! He says that in the engine-room of this establishment, which is called the Soy-Che mill, there are Go men working ; and that in an American mill their work would be done by two engineers, two helpers, and two foremen.
– Two men and a boy !
– Two men and a boy worth having. Are not my honorable friends opposite rather pleased to know that the white man can compete with the Chinese in that manner ? Surely that is a source of satisfaction if it can be shown to be true, and I think that the broad facts are true. Do we think that civilization has just been sprung upon the Chinese? Do we not know that they were highly civilized centuries before we were even civilized at all ; and yet with a civilization not two or three centuries or a dozen centuries, but many, many centuries old, that marvellous nation, with its enormous population, has been stagnant ! Contrast that with the gigantic development of the United States in 150 years. Surely our own observation and the broad facts of the progress of this Commonwealth, must show that the idea of the Chinese being as good a worker as the American or the Englishman, is moonshine. But that is the basis of this appeal to equalize labour conditions. I want to put this further point. I am now going to assume that I am all wrong, and that protection is required to equalize labour conditions. Do my honorable friends opposite see the dismal prospect they open up for themselves? Will not the same process always be wanted ? Do we contemplate a future for Australia which will gradually sink her down to the level of the Chinese, when labour conditions will be equalized ? So that the policy which struggles in this way to perform these marvels, has this dismal future before it - that it must impose a perpetual burden upon Australia to equalize these labour conditions ! Shall we deliberately, with our eyes open, having a virgin continent to exploit, turn aside from the marvellous wealth which comes from those untilled and unprobed millions of acres, turn aside from the natural path of profit and enterprise, where we leave the exhausted nations of the old world thousands of mile3 behind - where we can compete with those old nations easily - shall we turn aside from those broad paths which lead labour to profitable results ? And let us remember that it is in the broad profits of enterprise that the wages fund of the future is to be found. Where’ is the wages fund of the future to come from ? We shall have the children right enough ! We shall have the millions right enough ! We shall have this enormous pressure of daily human want upon us right enough, whatever our policy may happen to be. But shall we ever maintain our position of comfort and prosperity amongst the nations if we try to compete with the most miserable races in the most miserable industries which starve them? Surely we have got scope enough for our industries and our capital and our legislators in the development of the great national wealth of a continent that is new and undeveloped, without setting ourselves in this line and that line to compete with the crowded slums of Europe. I hope to God we shall never be able to compete with them. We hope, surely, that Australia will never sink so low with its labour that it can compete with the labour of Belgium, Germany, or France. Certainly I hope so. Then we are told that we should look to the United States. Yes - yes ! But there we have processes going on which do not arise out of protection. There is a newspaper published here, which, in principle, advocates certain theories, but in its intelligence is often very useful to us. I allude to the Melbourne *Age. On the 21st of January of this year, the Melbourne Age said that the greatness of America was not derived from sweating labour, but was derived from the superior method and organization and vigour of the American people. Physical vigour is not the result of the Tariff. Who amongst us can teach method to the expert in managing a vast industrial concern? This paper puts its finger upon the true secret of American greatness - namely, faculties and developments which are not the creatures of legislation, but which represent the perfection of human skill. The article in question says -
Facts as they exist around us might teach the free-trader that it is not necessary to sweat and debase labour in order to produce cheaply. The American, who leads the world’s production from the factory and the farm alike, does not sweat the workman. Yet his cheapness is proverbial, for he undersells the nation in their own markets.
How is it done ? After showing what “ small potatoes “ the Germans are as compared with the Americans, the article continues -
The manager of a tool shop in Berlin says that, apart from differences of wages, the American can turn out his product 25 per cent, more cheaply than the German.
Was the Americanbred by a Tariff? The American can turn out his products 25 per cent. cheaper. The article adds -
This is not. because the American workman toils longer hours than does his European brother. The difference arises mostly, from the superior adaptability of the American, his readiness to use newer labour-saving processes, and his ability to get the best results from the machines which be is tending. It is due in part also to the superior efficiency of the American shop, the economy of arrangement by which handling of the article in the various processes of manufacture is reduced to a minimum ; all delays are eliminated, and every one is kept constantly employed. It is upon these things, and not in cutting the workman down to a starvation state of living, that the American relies for maintaining his supremacy.
There is something more to be added. As we all know, if there is anything absurd and ridiculous in the world it is the attempt which little Victoria has made to cope with the marvellous magnitude of the manufacturing industries of a great nation like America. From the very nature of the conditions, it is impossible that a small people, with a small home demand, can in manufactures, rise above the level of the great manufacturing nations of the Northern Hemisphere. The moment the Victorian product goes out upon the ocean, the Tariff ceases to follow it. Then the stilts of protection fall into Hobson’s Bay. Young Australia therefore sets itself an absurd task ill pitting its little factories against the vast manufacturing power of Great Britain and the United States. From that I do not mean that we cannot develop manufactures. It is the greatest fallacy in the world to suppose that we believe that our policy will be fatal to manufactures. Instead of encouraging men to enter enterprises which can never stand upon their own legs, the effect of our policy is to compel the investor bo study the doctrine of profit and loss. If most of us make a mistake in our enterprises, does the protectionist come along and pay for it ?
Is it not a fact that every miner, farmer shopkeeper, and labourer has to submit to the results of these mistakes ? The advantage of a free-trade policy - which seems the cruel policy - is that the sprouts which come up in the open-air of the heavens are hardy, they are suited to the natural conditions of the soil and climate, and the winds, instead of withering them, make them grow stronger and stronger. AVe believe in encouraging manufactures, but we do not believe in stifling them by placing them in an artificial atmosphere, or upon the footing of paupers. We believe in our manufacturers working like men to produce their own results, and we believe it is a political wrong of the worst kind that the masses, who bear the burden of the industries of Australia, should have only one object to serve, that is to make some industries snug and safe for those who inhabit a few large cities. The Minister for Trade and Customs, with a skill which is native to him, drew a touching picture of what Australia does for the farmer and the miner. He pointed to a series of wonderful pieces of legislation which ought to make them cheerfully submit to all sorts of hours of labour and to all sorts of beggarly wages in order to maintain a few men who are in a better position in the towns. The time is coming when the people who bear the heat and the burden of the day from the rising to the setting of the sun will ask why they should do so whilst other men enjoy all the superior comforts of civilization and wages boards beside ? Do we not think that the benefits which always obtain in cities, with their theatres, their gardens, their cheap amusements, their railways, and their trams, might fairly be extended to the country districts ? Do not let us begin at the wrong end of the social fabric?
-What has this to do with the Tariff?
– It has much to do with it, because the protective system of Victoria was professedly a hideous robbery of the wage earners until wages boards were established. If the protectionist stilts are necessary for the men of the towns, let us buy a few for those who are working under the burning sun. It is the old story over again. The great primary industries are so many obedient milch cows to be milked for the benefit, comfort, and safety of the cities. In the city, it is said, the employer is hard upon his men ; he does not give them their fair share of the returns of their joint enterprise. Acts of Parliament have been passed to redress that -wrong. But why should not the wrong be redressed right through Australia 1 Because we have not the courage to apply to our great primary industries the coddling which we apply to the industries in the town, and because we know that the moment we widen this preserve of beneficial legislation the whole thing becomes so ridiculous that it breaks down. A monopoly can never exist when its range includes every one. We may have a monopoly if we single out the bootmakers or the clothing manufacturers, because they constitute only a few amongst the great mass, but if we confer upon all the citizens of Australia the benefits of a monopoly, where is the profit going 1 The root of this absurdity is shown in its limited range. Tf protection is a good thing for labour, why should not labour benefit all through ? Whyshould not the swagman, the boundary rider, the hand on the farm, the hand on the station, the hand in the country store, and the man on the road, with his dray and his team, have a friendly helping hand from the State % If we could confer these benefits all round and help every one, all would be protectionists. But ridicule the principles of political economy as we may, we have never yet been able to prove that if we take a shilling out of one man’s pocket and put it into the pocket of another, it has not shifted its venue. Of course, the fellow who loses the shilling is told that in some mysterious way it travels all round the country, but eventually comes back to his pocket like a boomerang. That is .good enough for some political economists, but, as a rule, the old-fashioned principle is the best - the man who has earned a thing has the best right to keep it. If from a motive of benevolence he chooses to pass his shilling to a fellow tradesman well and good ; it is a noble act. If he realized the position he would not do it. The charm of the policy of protection is that we can be wondrously liberal to some people at the expense of others without being able to earmark the way in which it is done, and the money with which it is done. The reign of this sham political economy is going to break down. If protection be a good policy it must be extended from the overcrowded cities to the country; but if it is bad’ it had better be killed. In the few words I have to say I want to point to another fallacy which appeared in the Melbourne Age during the current week. That newspaper, which is rightly looked on as the most able and intelligent champion of protection in Victoria, has a number of additional advantages which are always at the command of the unscrupulous. If we fight fairly we are put at a disadvantage compared with the man who fights, not only with his fists, but with knife, blue metal, or dynamite, and uses every other known means of getting rid of an obnoxious opponent. This newspaper, which enjoys a notoriety earned long before the Federal Parliament was established, in a leading article published only two days ago, asked the intelligent protectionists of Australia to take note of the fact that from 1S90 to 1900 the United States exported £540,000,000 worth of goods more than they imported. What a magnificent fact that is ! The productive energies of the people of the United States were so enormous, and their requirements from abroad so limited, that they had this magnificent balance of exports. I thought it necessary to inquire into the enormous amount of gold and silver coin and bullion that must have come back to America in respect of this excess of exports, for which nobody paid with imports. If nobody sent goods in exchange, surely some one must have sent cash 1 Is there any other method of paying known to protectionists 1
– Yes ; paying interest on debts.
– I thank you, O Brutus! Then, this stalwart young republic sent away an excess of £540,000,000 worth of exports in ten years, in order to pay interest on its debts ? This is another example of the mistakes which will occur when the signal is given, “ Up, Crouch, and at ‘em ! “ On inquiring into the movements of silver and gold coin and bullion during the same period, I find that the United States exported £66,000,000 more of gold and silver coin and bullion than was imported. What a marvellously generous people the United States people must be ! They sent out £540,000,000 worth of exports as a present to the world, and they sent £66,000,000 in gold and silver coin and bullion running after it. Now let us look at the horrible condition of Great Britain. From 1891 to 1900, the net British imports, after deducting re-exports of foreign and colonial produce, were £1,455,000,000 in excess of exports. What an appalling situation ! On looking at the movements of gold and silver coin and bullion during the same period, I find that, in addition to presenting Great Britain with £1,455,000,000 worth of goods in excess of what was paid for in similar goods, the world presented her with a sum of £51,000,000 in gold and silver. What ruination ! Not ruination to England, but to the other countries who made the presents. But to a man who goes below the surface there is no magic here. England has grown so enormously in wealth - this “poor, depressed” England - that she gets from all the other countries of the world an enormous annual tribute in interest due on moneys owing ; and, like a sensible merchant, she takes goods instead of gold. These goods are turned over in British factories, fill British shops, and feed British people cheaply. That is the pauperism and distress of the mother country. An honorable member spoke of pauperism in England, and I should like to give a few figures which will gladden his humane heart. In 1849 there were 62 paupers per 1,000 of the population in England, while last year there were only 24 per 1,000. A nation which provides alms-houses for the old and feeble must have a great many people in those institutions ; but we do not expect poor old men and women to work. The test is the number of able-bodied paupers, who can work if they have work, and the proportion of these in 1849 was 13 per 1,000. I do not think that Mr. Fleming would mind a proportion of that kind so much. In 1900 the proportion of able-bodied paupers was under 3 per 1,000. Here we have a country which opens its ports to all nations and colours of the human race, and yet the number of able-bodied paupers has been reduced to this remarkably small proportion, and the people generally of that country, commercially, financially, and industrially, are in a position such as they never before occupied. I should like to call attention to another matter before I conclude my observations. It will be remembered that in the motion of censure which I submitted on the financial statement of the Ministry, I asked the House to declare that their proposals would place the finances of the Commonwealth and the States on an unsound and extravagant basis. I think I have sufficiently proved that that was true, I complained that the
Government failed to adjust the burdens of taxation and the advantages of the free list in an equitable manner. That, I think, has been shown to be true also. Then I contended that the Government revealed a marked tendency to unduly press on the necessaries of life. Is that not true ? What is the effect of the duties of 30 per cent, on boots, shoes, and caps, and duties of 25 per cent, on clothing down to the cheapest kind? On what other commodities, except narcotics and stimulants, do we find duties of 30 per cent. ? Why should such heavy duties be placed on the clothing of human beings ? Because clothing is necessary for the people, and affords . the largest scope for monopoly. Who wants a monopoly of any commodity that the poor do not use? What is a monopoly in champagne worth ? What is a monopoly in diamonds worth ? No ; monopolists go straight for the biggest returns, and the necessaries of the masses of the people are sought after for that reason.
– Such as a tax on tea.
– I cannot understand a man who imposes enormous duties on the clothing of men, women, and children running after them with a tax on their tea. I cannot understand such a ravenous sort of night bird. Success having been achieved in taxing every possible commodity required by human beings, resentment is exhibited at the action of those who left untouched the tea of the bushman. The honorable and learned member for Northern Melbourne is, I suppose, one of the most humane men in Australia. We all respect him, although we differ from him. We know that his views are simply the result of environment. The honorable and learned member has sat so long beside the honorable member for Melbourne Ports that he cannot help himself. What a bitter fight we had to get the duties on the appliances used in the farming”, mining, and pastoral industries reduced to 15 per cent.? May I remark on the significant fact that, as this prolonged struggle has gone on, the Government have been getting weaker and weaker ; instead of winding up like a band of victorious patriots, they are now all limp. I believe that this morning the Opposition had a victory on almost every division; and that was a great temptation to keep the struggle going on. But I want to point out that if the Government had had their way, this Tariff, with all its monstrosities, would have been the law of the land. That the Tariff is not the law of the land is due to the Opposition, generously reinforced sometimes by honorable members opposite, and sometimes by the honorable member for Bland. I do not want to flatter the honorable member for Bland as the leader of the labour party, but, speaking as one man to another, I wish to recognise the great services which he, being a protectionist and acting on his principles, has rendered by his efforts to preserve the revenue as far as possible. The honorable member and other members of his party have helped us in a manner that I here wish to recognise. I do not believe in omitting any who may fairly share the credit to which the Opposition is undoubtedly entitled. By the action of the committee I prove all the charges I made against the Government. Every word in the motion of censure ought, on the honest votes of the committee, to be recorded against the Government, judging the Government by their acts and not by their speeches. I am deeply indebted to honorable members on both sides for the extremely courteous hearing I have had. I must admit that the Government have had a victory over us, owing to the force of their superior numbers ; but it is a victory full of many humiliations. We have been defeated, but our defeat may prove to be one of those transient reverses which sweeten the success of ultimate triumph. I suppose that during our prolonged struggle to lighten the burdens of the people, we have incurred the dislike of the men who have crowded those galleries, and infested the lobbies of Parliament, not to promote the public good, but to gain private advantage. I have no doubt that we shall be regarded with bitter aversion by those who have so strenuously endeavoured to win the aid and countenance of the Legislature in order to exploit the necessities of the poor. I think I can with all propriety claim that I voice the unanimous feeling of every member of His Majesty’s Opposition when I say that we shall always look back uponthisprolonged struggle wi th feelings of satisfaction and pride. As to the future I am sure we shall be equally determined. I feel that we shall be united as one man, to do all that we can, in this new land of ours, to save our infant Constitution from those evils which all the world over have turned systems of government into huge engines of favoritism and monopoly, adding abundantly to the. wealth of the man of many possessions, whilst taking from him who hath little all that he hath.
Motion (by Mr. Higgins) proposed -
That the debate be adjourned.
– May I ask what business the Government propose to put before the House next week?
– We propose to go on with this and the Excise Bill, at least. I hope that we shall dispose of them so speedily that we will be able to deal with some other business. The Bonus Bill will be brought on next week.
Motion agreed to ; debate adjourned.
Bill presented, and read the first time.
Resolved (on motion by Sir George Turner) -
That the House, at its rising, adjourn until Tuesday next, at 2.30 p.m.
Uniforms for Coronation Troops. - Im migration Restriction Act. - Visit to Federal Capital Sites.
Motion (by Sir George Turner) proposed -
That the House do now adjourn.
– I desire to ask whether the Government will take steps to see that, as far as possible, the uniforms for the Commonwealth contingent about to visit London in connexion with the Coronation ceremony, as well as the cloth of which they are made, are of Australian manufacture ?
– I desire to bring under the attention of the House a question relating to the administration of the Immigration Restriction Act. Its urgency is my excuse for bringing it forward at this late hour. Certain honorable members of this House, and another place, had an interview yesterday with the Prime Minister in regard to the employment of coloured aliens in the pearl-shelling industry at Thursday Island, and I take exception to portion of the Prime Minister’s reply in dealing with some of the statements put forward by the deputation. Perhaps
I had better read, the whole statement as reported, in order that honorable members may understand the position -
Mr. Barton, in reply, stated that he intended to appoint two gentlemen to inquire into the present position and future prospects of the. industry under federal legislation in Queensland’ and Western Australia.
The following is the portion of the Prime Minister’s reply to which I object : -
Meantime, in order to avoid any possible danger of the destruction or removal of the industry, lie had decided to issue exemptions to the coloured divers for a period of three months.
It was only the other day that the House decided that in the best interests of Australia, it was necessary that legislation should be passed, in order to avoid the evil of allowing kanakas to come into Queensland for a term of three years’ service. The Government then said that the education test would be sufficient to keep out the coloured races from Australia, and promised that it would be properly administered. Now we find the Government proposing to relax their efforts to keep coloured aliens out of the country. They propose, to allow this exemption for three months, simply in order that they may make inquiries. If the Government were sincere and honest in their administration of the Act, they would make their inquiries without allowing any exemption. I do not think that any exemption need be given. At one time there were nearly 2,000 Europeans on Thursday Island who were engaged in the pearl-shelling industry, but to-day there are only 96. The remainder of those engaged in the industry, to the number of nearly 2,000, consist of coloured aliens of different nationalities. When we find that they are driving the white men out of employment in this way, it is time to say something against the action of the Government in this matter. I shall take a further opportunity of dealing with it at greater length as soon as the House meets on Tuesday next. I have a number of documents, showing that the agitation has been brought about merely to encourage the belief that, unless an exemption is granted, the vast pearl-shelling fleet at Thursday Island will shift to Dutch New Guinea. As a matter of fact, they cannot work there. The waters there are too rough, and the shell is not to be found in sufficient quantity, or of a quality equal to that found in the vicinity of Thursday Island. Therefore, in any circumstances, these people will be compelled to carry on their occupation at Thursday Island. They must also obtain their food and water there : so that it is ridiculous to say that they will remove to Dutch New Guinea. I have it on the authority of men who have been engaged for a number of years in the industry on Thursday Island, that the agitation is designed simply to bring pressure on the Federal Government to induce them to relax their efforts in dealing with the exclusion of coloured aliens. I hope that the Government will not grant these exemptions, but that they will continue to put the education test to every coloured man who lands on the shores of Australia, or wherever they have jurisdiction, so that, if possible, all may be kept out.
– I should like the Attorney-General to tell us, if possible, the date on which it is proposed to enter upon the inspection of the sites for the federal capital. Do what we will, we cannot obtain any definite statement on the point from the Government. The cold weather is coming on, and Ave should like to know positively whether the Government contemplate making this trip immediately, or whether, as has been rumoured, they intend to abandon it until next year.
– Let us have the trip this year.
– Then why cannot the Government tell us when the trip is to be made ?
– I had not the good fortune to be present at the deputation which waited on the Prime Minister yesterday, and know no more of what transpired there than appears in the report read by the honorable member for Kennedy. I know, however, that the proposal with regard to the exemption does not imply the addition of a single coloured alien to the population of Australia. The temporary exemption proposed is intended simply to allow these men to land for the purpose of disembarking their shell and obtaining their stores. Having done that, they are to be mustered on their ships, and to take their departure. The temporary exemption for three months is only to preserve the status quo, so to speak. It is to allow an inquiry into the very circumstances to which the honorable member has referred. It has already been stated on some authority that the Dutch station at Merauke will not afford a suitable haven for the pearl-shelling fleet. That is one point which has to be settled. It is also stated that tbe difficulties in relation to the pearl-shell fishery, so far as they affect us, can be met withoutinter- fering with the operation of the Act. That, too, has to be inquired into. Tbe further question as to the displacement of white divers by coloured men, relates to a branch of the subject with which I am not familiar, but on which no doubt the Prime Minister will be able to give the honorable member information. If the House understands that this proposal is only to preserve the status quo whilst inquiry is being made, and that it is not to leave an open door for three months, a great deal of the honorable member’s apprehension will be removed.
– Does the honor able and learned gentleman mean that pearl fishers who bad their boats at these ports before the Act came into operation will be prevented from landing without an exemption?
– I do not say that they will be, but that may take place. I have asked my honorablecolleague, theMinisterforHome Affairs, who has to deal with the question of the visit to the federal capital sites, and has the matter very much at heart, whether he can state definitely the date on which the inspection will be . entered upon. If the honorable member for Parramatta can tell me when the Customs Bill and the Excise Bill will leave this Chamber, and when the Treasurer will obtain the necessary advance to enable him to proceed - as he has practically exhausted his vote - I shall be able to answer his question.
Mr.Watson. - What about the Bonus Bill?
– That will require to be brought in, but I do not know that it will be necessary to proceed with it before the visit to the federal capital sites is made. The desire of the Government is to deal only with those measures which are absolutely essential before the inspection is made. The date of the trip depends as much upon the honorable member for Parramatta and his honorable friends on the Opposition side of the House as it does upon the Government.
– If we cannot get something definite now, wo will try some other method of securing information on the point.
– If the honorable member assists us to pass this legislation we shall soon be able to undertake the trip.
– Then, after the measures named by the Minister have been disposed of, the trip will be made?
– That is something definite.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
House adjourned at 3.58 p.m.
Cite as: Australia, House of Representatives, Debates, 18 April 1902, viewed 6 July 2017, <http://historichansard.net/hofreps/1902/19020418_reps_1_9/>.