House of Representatives
12 August 1902

1st Parliament · 1st Session



Mr. Speaker took the chair at 2.30 p.m., and read prayers.

page 15010

QUESTION

FOOD SUPPLIES

Sir WILLIAM McMILLAN:
WENTWORTH, NEW SOUTH WALES

– As it is probable that the present protracted drought will be prolonged still further, I should like to know from the Acting Prime Minister if theGovernmentare getting togetherstatistics which would guide honorable members in the event of any action being necessary, before the session closes, to afford national relief? It would be of great service at the present time to have correct information as to the food supplies of Australia, so that we may accurately forecast what is likely to happen during this very critical period.

Mr DEAKIN:
Attorney-General · BALLAARAT, VICTORIA · Protectionist

-A certain amount of information on the subject comes to us in ordinary course, but if there are any special particulars which the honorable member would like to have, we shall be glad to make every endeavour to obtain them.

page 15010

QUESTION

DEPORTATION OF KANAKAS

Mr R EDWARDS:
OXLEY, QUEENSLAND · PROT; FT from 1913; ANTI-SOC from 1906; LP from 1910

– Has the attention of the Acting Prime Minister been drawn to the cablegram published in this morning’s newspapers with regard to a petition sent to the Imperial authorities, from Queensland, by the kanakas there? If he has any correspondence upon the subject, will he lay it upon the table ?

Mr DEAKIN:
Protectionist

– The petition referred to appears to be based upon a prophetic view of possibilities not likely to be justified. With regard to the difficulty of returning kanakas to their native islands, perhaps the best answer I can give is to lay upon the table the correspondence upon the subject which has passed between the Premier of Queensland and this Government. That I shall do presently.

Mr McDONALD:
KENNEDY, QUEENSLAND

– Will the Acting Prime Minister try to ascertain what number of kanakas were prevented, prior to the passing of the Pacific Island Labourers Act, from landing upon the various islands from which they came?

Mr DEAKIN:

– The Government of Queensland are supplying us with a great many particulars in regard to the kanakas, and we can ask them to extend their information to that subject.

Mr L E GROOM:
DARLING DOWNS, QUEENSLAND · PROT; LP from 1910; NAT from 1917; IND from 1931; UAP from 1934

– Wasa copy of the petition referred to by the honorable member for Oxley sent to the Federal Government prior to its transmission to England ?

Mr DEAKIN:

– No.

page 15010

QUESTION

VICTORIA AND FEDERATION

Mr THOMSON:
NORTH SYDNEY, NEW SOUTH WALES

asked the Treasurer, upon notice -

  1. What was the revenue from customs and excise in Victoria for the twelve months immediately prior to federation?
  2. What was it for the twelve months ended 30th June last?
  3. What was the revenue of the Post and Telegraph department in Victoria for the twelve months immediately prior to federation ?
  4. What was it for the twelve months ended 30th June last ?
  5. By how much was the postal and telegraphic revenue for the later period reduced by legislation of the State prior to federation ?
  6. What was debited to Victoria as her share of the new expenditure due to federation for the twelve months ended 30th June last ?
  7. What was her shave as estimated by the Federal Convention?
Sir GEORGE TURNER:
Treasurer · BALACLAVA, VICTORIA · Protectionist

– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follow : -

  1. £2,342,485.
  2. £2,370,483.
  3. £600,000, approximate.
  4. £588,198.
  5. £50,000, approximate.
  6. £82,686.*
  7. £94,825- viz., share of £300,000, calculated on basis of population, 31.12.01.

page 15011

QUESTION

MR. E. H. DA VIES

Mr BROWN:
CANOBOLAS, NEW SOUTH WALES

asked the Minister representing the Postmaster-General,upon notice -

  1. Is Mr. E. H. Davies, employed in the Sydney Post-office, a son of Mr. W. J. Davies, Chief Inspector and Superintendent of Mails in New South Wales ?
  2. Is it a fact that Mr. E. H. Davies has, since his appointment in 1894 as a cadet, received six increases of salary?
  3. Is it a fact that the gentleman named failed in 1900 to pass an examination at the Technical College, Sydney, as an electrical engineering student ?
  4. Is it a fact that Mr. E. H. Davies is now receiving a salary as high as that paid to officers who passed the examination referred to with honours ?
  5. Is it proposed to create a new office, viz., Assistant Engineer of Telephone Tunnels, at Sydney, and to appoint Mr. E. H. Davies to such office at a salary in excess of that now received by him ?
Mr DEAKIN:
Protectionist

– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are -

  1. Yes.
  2. Yes. He received similar increases to those granted to the other cadets in the electrical branch.
  3. Yes ; but it is stated that he has passed a technical college examination in electricty and magnetism, as well as London Guilds examination in telegraphy with honours, and also examination in telegraphy and telephony.
  4. It is not known what officers are referred to. None of those receiving the same salary in the electrical branch, has, as far as can be ascertained, passed examination referred to with honours.
  5. No.

page 15011

QUESTION

PUBLIC SERVICE INSPECTOR: WESTERN AUSTRALIA

Mr KIRWAN:
KALGOORLIE, WESTERN AUSTRALIA

asked the Minister for Home Affairs, upon notice -

  1. Whether he considers that one public service inspector is sufficient to meet the requirements of the service in two States of such vast extent as South Australia and Western Australia ?
  2. Whether, in view of the numerous complaints as to the disorganization of the public service of Western Australia, he does not think that the service there needs immediate and close attention ?
  3. Whether, as under the Public Service Act, there may be six inspectors for the Commonwealth, and only four have been appointed, the Government will appoint an inspector whose duties will be confined to Western Australia ?
Mr DEAKIN:
Protectionist

– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follow : -

  1. The Public Service Commissioner reports it will be impossible to satisfactorily carry out the work with one inspector for the two States named. The matter is under consideration.
  2. Yes.
  3. Reply in No.1.

page 15011

QUESTION

WAGES : POSTAL DEPARTMENT

Mr CONROY:
WERRIWA, NEW SOUTH WALES

asked the Minister representing the Postmaster-General, upon notice -

  1. Is the Postmaster-General aware that men employed in casual work in his department in New. South Wales have now to wait sometimes six weeks for their wages, owing to the matter being referred to Melbourne ?
  2. Will he grant sufficient authority to the Deputy Postmaster-General so that payment may be promptly made in future?
Sir GEORGE TURNER:
Protectionist

– The answers to the honorable and learned member’s questions are as follow : -

  1. The Postmaster-General is not aware that men employed in casual work in his department have now to wait for their wages, owing to the matter being referred to Melbourne. In some instances there has been unavoidable delay in paying the wages of men engaged upon work usually charged to loan, in consequence of money not being available.
  2. Authority was delegated to the Deputy Postmaster-General in December last to pay wages in all cases where money was available.

If the honorable and learned member will furnish me with specific instances, I shall be glad to have them inquired into.

Mr CONROY:

– I gave two instances to the honorable member for Tasmania, Sir Philip Fysh.

page 15012

QUESTION

MILITARY IMPORTATIONS

Mr MAHON:
COOLGARDIE, WESTERN AUSTRALIA

asked the Minister for Trade and Customs, upon notice -

  1. Are officers of the New South Wales partially paid andpermanent forces entitled to obtain, free of duty, through the military authorities or otherwise, articles”imported by and for the use of the forces,” such as gold and silver laces, crowns and stars, and sword and shoulder belts, used in the manufacture of uniforms?
  2. If not, will he take steps to protect the public revenue and conserve the interests of private traders who import these articles and make them up into uniforms for sale ?
Mr KINGSTON:
Minister for Trade and Customs · SOUTH AUSTRALIA, SOUTH AUSTRALIA · Protectionist

– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as fol low : -

  1. No.
  2. Any necessary steps in the proper administration of the Tariff will be taken, but the department has no knowledge of any abuse of the law in connexion with this matter. It was declared, by direction published in December last, that uniforms imported by naval and military officers for their own use were dutiable.

page 15012

CUSTOMS PROSECUTIONS

Ordered (on motion by Mr. Kirwan, for Mr. E. Solomon) -

That a return be laid upon the table of the House showing -

The individual cases of prosecution under the Customs Act to present date.

The cost of each case to the Minister for Trade and Customs, and the amount involved in each case.

The decision in each case by the presiding magistrate whether for or against the Minister for Trade and Customs.

page 15012

PAPERS

Mr. Deakin laid upon the table

Telephone trunk lines - Press rates.

Telephone trunk lines - Rates other than press.

Deportation of kanakas - Correspondence with the Premier of Queensland.

page 15012

CUSTOMS TARIFF BILL

In Committee (Consideration of Senate’s requested amendments resumed from 8th August, vide page 15010):

Division IV. - Agricultural Products and G roceries.

Item 22. - Grain and pulse, n.e.i., per cental, 1s6d.

Request - That wheat be added to the special exemptions.

Mr KINGSTON:
South AustraliaMinister for Trade and Customs · Protectionist

– I move -

That the amendment requested be not made.

It is impossible to find a justification for exempting wheat, while maize, barley, oats, and all the other kinds of grain which are included under the general term of grain and pulse are subject to duty. Those who have studied the proceedings of another place will, I am sure, have come to the conclusion that the members of the Senate will desire to put right this anomaly at the earliest moment by extending equal treatment to all classes of grain.

Sir WILLIAM McMILLAN:
Wentworth

– The Minister for Trade and Customs will credit those on this side of the Chamber with not desiring to work up a fiscal struggle upon a matter affecting the food of the people. But the present position is a very serious one. The price of wheat in Victoria to-day is is. 6d., and in Sydney4s. 9d. per bushel, and no relief will be given to the wheat market for the next six months. Even Victoria is now suffering to some extent from the want of rain, and no matter what relief may be given by importations from oversea or in any other way, we must look forward to twelve months of almost unprecedented distress and difficulty.

Mr Watson:

– We should get wheat within six months.

Sir WILLIAM McMILLAN:

– Yes ; but not until six months have passed. We might reasonably defer the operation of the duty upon wheat for the next six, nine, or twelve months, during whichwe can scarcely hope to supply our own needs, or reduce the duty from1s. 6d. to 9d. per cental. We should deal with this matter in the light of the history of events since the duty was fixed by this Chamber. The present duty is just sufficient to prevent importations of wheat except at considerable risk. In a matter of such national importance, affecting the majority of the people of Australia, we should be guided by purely democratic principles. If the duty were reduced, so as to afford importers a better margin - and this is the only way in which relief can be obtained - the desired purpose might be effected. I wish the Government to distinctly understand that the price is now so fixed that importations cannot sensibly reduce it, and that the result of the continuance of the present condition of affairs will probably be a considerable rise. Importations cannot take place at the present rate of duty until the price of the commodity becomes almost prohibitive. I have advices from Sydney stating that wheat is now quoted at 4s. 9d. per bushel, and that it cannot be obtained even at that price. In the face of this fact is it right for us to retain the duty at1s. 6d. per cental, in order to shut out importations and keep up prices? The great bulk of the wheat now in Australia is held by merchants - I will not say speculators - and is not in first hands. The honorable member for Bland will agree with me that some of the finest wheat-growing districts of New South Wales are now in such a critical condition that if rain does not fall almost immediately, the whole of the crops will be destroyed. In the Wellington district, in which wheat has been grown successfully for years past, there will be practically no crop this season unless rain falls within the next few weeks. No matter what rain comes, there must be an enormous shrinkage in the wheat production of New South Wales, and we shall certainly have no surplus for export. Therefore I ask the Government to consider this matter from the point of view, not of the Opposition nor of the Senate, but of the general public, and to be guided by the experience of the last five or six months. If the price of wheat advances beyond a certain figure, the cost of bread must be increased.

Sir George Turner:

– What price does the honorable member think wheat should reach before it will pay to import it? I should have thought that it would pay handsomely to import wheat at 4s. 9d.

Sir WILLIAM McMILLAN:

– Wheat has just now reached that price at which it might pay to import, but the price must be retained at about that figure to permit of continued importations. Whilst the duty stands as at present, importations cannot be made without incurringconsiderable risk. I desire to see a larger margin offered for the importation of wheat, so that it may not be necessary to retain the price of the article at so high a figure. We might very well reduce the duty to 9d. per cental, even though the operation of the reduced rate were restricted to, say, six months, after which time the present duty might be reverted to. The present state of affairs is absolutely unprecedented in Australia, and there is no prospect of immediate relief. The Treasurer seems to think that it would pay to import wheat when it is quoted at 4s. 9d. per bushel.

Sir George Turner:

– I should think it would pay to import at a much lower price.

Sir WILLIAM McMILLAN:

– I do not think it would, because importations cannot be made upon a very fine margin of profit. With the present rate of duty we cannot expect that the price of wheat will be reduced below 4s. 9d. per bushel, which is a very high rate. I move -

That the motion be amended by the addition of the following words : - “ Butthat the rate of duty upon wheat be fixed at 9d. per cental.”

Mr BROWN:
Canobolas

– I regret that the Senate did not see their way clear to request us to place all grain and pulse upon the free list. I recognise, however, that, after all, wheat is by far the most important of all the grains, and that any concession made regarding this duty will be more far-reaching in its effects than any other. The Government would be very well advised if they favourably considered the proposal made by the honorable member for Wentworth. I should very much like to see wheat admitted free of duty, and I cannot see that any injury would be done to the farming community if this course were adopted. The statistics for the last five or six years show that under normal conditions Australia is able to provide a sufficient quantity of wheat to supply local demands. Therefore it is only under extraordinary circumstances such as those which now obtain that a duty upon wheat can operate. Under the present abnormal conditions the duty is operating to the disadvantage instead of to the benefit of the producer. The only persons who derive any advantage are the very few speculators who bought up wheat in the early part of the season, and held it for a rise. It was estimated that for the year now closing New South Wales would have been able to export from 7,000,000 to 10,000,000 bushels of wheat; but, owing to the continuance of the drought, the whole of the local product has been required to meet extra demands for home consumption. In addition to this we have been importing wheat very largely, not only for human consumption, but in order to provide food for stock. Coghlan shows that for many years past the Commonwealth has been able to supply its own wheat requirements, and points out at page 515 that the only years in which thedemand has had to be met from outside sources were 1886, 1889, 1896, and 1897. It is pointed out that in 1886 the wheat crop was a partial failure in Victoria and South Australia, whilst it was almost a complete failure in New South Wales and Queensland. In 1889 there was a general failure in New South Wales and Victoria. In 1896 the crop failed in Victoria, and in the following year that State was compelled for the first time in 22 years to import wheat for purposes of local consumption. This fact is amply borne out by the table which appears upon the page from which I am quoting. In 18S6 the excess of imports over exports was 603,000 bushels. Again, in 1889 it was 2,107,000 bushels. In 1888 there were 10,000,000 bushels available for export, and in 1889 - the last year for which statistics are available - 11,581,19S bushels. were exported from the Commonwealth. These figures conclusively prove that a duty upon wheat confers no benefit upon those who are engaged in its production. I do not wish to labour this question, but I think that the present position is one which should appeal very strongly to the Government. So far as we are able to judge, in New South Wales and Queensland, and to a lesser degree in South Australia and Victoria, the coming season will be the worst that has been experienced during the past twenty years. In that part of the Western District which I have the honour to represent, wheat-growing has been extensively carried on during the past eight or ten years. Recently, however, I found that although some of the farmers had ploughed their land they had not been able to sow the wheat. Others again had been compelled to discontinue ploughing operations, because they had not sufficient feed to enable them to keep their horses in good condition. Those who have been successful in putting their land under crop will obtain practically no return from their labours. Reference has been made to the Wellington district, which is one of the best wheat-growing districts in the central part of New South Wales. Certainly it has produced a greater average return than have the districts west and south of it. In previous dry years when the Riverina district yielded only eight bushels per acre, Wellington returned from eleven to sixteen bushels. I have in my hand a copy of a press telegram which appeared in the Sydney Evening News of yesterday, and which indicates only too plainly the ‘ condition of affairs in that very favoured wheat-growing locality. It reads -

It is now a, conceded fact that the present drought will have a more disastrous effect in this district than was at first anticipated. It is now about nine months since there was any rain to speak of, though an occasional shower has fallen during the period intervening. The surrounding country is in a most deplorable condition, and what was. this time last year magnificent fields of wheat are now tracts of ploughed land, with not the slightest sign of greenery about them. In some parts of the district no crops have been sown, while in the majority of places the grain has perished. Even if rain were to fall now, the damage done and loss sustained is irreparable, and it is an acknowledged fact that there will be no harvest this coming season. Commercially, in the town and district, there is a wave of depression - a depression which, it is thought, will be much heavier in the coming year. Almost every line of business is suffering to a more or less degree, and, generally speaking, the effects of the continued dry weather are being severely felt. As a rule, in dry seasons stock maintains a good condition in this district, but the mortality this winter has been enormous, particularly in regard to sheep and cattle. Thousands of sheep have perished from sheer starvation, and there will practically be no shearing, which in turn is a considerable loss to the business of the town.

If these conditions obtain in the Wellington district, how much worse must the drier areas be 1 Another telegram reports that one squatter estimates that out of 20,000 sheep, which he had been feeding for some months, he has lost 17,000. Still a third wire, which appears in the Sydney Morning Herald and the Baily Telegraph, states that another lessee between Moree and Collarendabri, after vainly endeavouring to feed his stock for several months, has been compelled to let a contract for skinning 40,000 of his sheep within the next few weeks. I am surprised to hear honorable members who claim to be conversant with, and to represent the pastoral industry, belittling the magnitude of the disaster which now threatens us. To talk about, appeals which are made on behalf of that industry, as “ flap-doodle,” and to urge that the pastoralists are “ squealing “ to Parliament for relief, when there is no need for it, shows unmistakably that they do not understand the seriousness of the position. It is a striking anomaly that the pastoralists’ interests should find their champions only in such individuals as m)rself and the honorable member for Darling. I do not think that I owe very much to the squatting industry, but I decline to allow it to be subjected to injustice without raising my voice against it. The theory that it is necessary to impose a duty upon wheat, to compel the farmer to produce food for the people, is beyond my comprehension. I would further point out that in 1S93, New

South Wales possessed 62,000,000 sheep, but to-day it is estimated she would experience great difficulty in mustering 30,000,000. There is no telling what the losses may be in the next six weeks. If seasonable rains come the losses will not be very considerable, but if the drought continues they will be enormous ; and if the present conditions prevail for a couple of months we shall, in New South Wales, have results which will stagger the Commonwealth. One honorable member the other day, whilst he opposed any remission of the duties in the interests of stock-owners and farmers, admitted that the State might import food supplies for starving stock or starving people. That is a position I do not understand. If it is right for the State to import food supplies under the circumstances, why is it not right for the individual to do so? Why should the individual be deterred by legislation from assisting himself in the way he deems best? This is one of those anomalies which protectionist arguments give rise to. What I and others are asking for is that the individual shall have the same power that protectionists are willing to grant to the State. A little while ago deputations from stock-owners and farmers were very kindly and courteously received by the Acting Prime Minister, and, in the course of sympathetic remarks, were led to suppose that some relief would be afforded. So far, however, there have been only words, and words will not keep either stock or people alive. The Government of New South Wales have done much in the way of cheap railway freights. To-day fodder is being carried from the Victorian border all over New South Wales at 10s. per truck, and in the past week the freight on turnips and mangolds had been similarly reduced. Then, in order to ensure a good food supply for the people, there has been a further reduction of freight in the case of tinned and preserved meats ; and in every way the New South Wales Government have exercised all the powers they possess in order to afford relief in the drought afflicted area. When the deputation to which I have referred waited on the Prime Minister, they were informed that the Tariff was then with the Senate, and that nothing could be done ; and now, though there has been no rain, and the outlook is blacker than ever, the Federal Government “ sit hard” on their seats and say they will do nothing - that they will insist on their “pound of flesh.” I hope, however, that as the result of calmer consideration, the Government will see that under normal conditions the Tariff, as a means of assistance to farmers is a make-believe, and that under extraordinary conditions the wheat growers of New South Wales are suffering from the operation of the Tariff as much as are the general consumers. The wheat growers ask that there shall be a remission of the duties, and I have presented requests to that effect to the Acting Prime Minister from Farmers and Settlers’ Associations. Can we suppose that if these farmers imagined theywould derive any great benefit from these duties, they would ask for their remission? They are not so shortsighted ; and they know that the ruling high prices for fodder and grain of all sorts cannot be paid, even in order to keep stock alive. If by a reduction or remission of the duties, food supplies could be obtained at reasonable rates, the stock could be maintained until the break up of the drought, and much greater advantage would be reaped in that way than could be reaped from protective imposts. If the leader of the Opposition will give me the opportunity, I should like to test the question whether those commodities should or should not be placed on the free list ; because I believe that, quite apart from the present demands, that course should be taken for at least the next twelve months. I am satisfied from my own observation, and from reports which have been and are being sent in, that the wheat supply of New South Wales - and of the Commonwealth generally - in the coming season will be one of the shortest experienced over a long period. I do not think the supply will be sufficient to meet the requirements of our own community, putting aside stock requirements, such as have had to be met during the past two or three months.

Mr KINGSTON:

– Several points are abundantly clear. One is that Australia is eminently fitted for wheat growing, and a second is that the wheat-growing industry is one which can seldom benefit by fiscal aid in the way of protection. I understand the proposition made is that now that the time has come - it may be unhappily for Australia - at which an adherence to the general policy of protection may confer a benefit on the wheat- grower by affording him a little shelter from foreign competition, protection shall be snatched away, and that he will benefit by a reduction in the price of the little he has to sell.

Mr Brown:

– The wheat-grower is getting top prices now.

Mr KINGSTON:

– I have said what the proposition amounts to. I wish to see every industry flourish ; but if that is the help offered to an industry, which, so far as employment of the ‘ people is concerned, though probably not in regard to the value of the product, stands in the front rank in this country, it 13 very poor help indeed. We know the general conditions of the two industries. I am happy to say, on glancing at Coghlan, that even in the year 1899, ‘which is within the drought cycle, the value of the product iu the pastoral and dairying industries combined was £17,000,000. If we deduct £2,000,000 as representing the dairying industry - and that is a liberal allowance - we have£l 5,000,000 as the value of the pastoral production in a single year. The pastoral industry, I venture to think, does not employ half as many as does the farming industry, and iu regard to conditions the former has the advantage. My prayer is for excellent conditions for all industries, and the pastoralists often has such conditions, whereas the agriculturist has a hard struggle for existence. I know what the agricultural districts are in South Australia. The ground is iron and the skies are brass, and the men toil and toil for miserable profits and a bare existence. . The rest of the community reap the benefit. In South Australia 6 bushels per acre is considered a fair average harvest, and those who work unceasingly for yields of that kind deserve consideration at all times, especially at a time like this. Prices of 2s. 6d. to 3s. per bushel, or 1 Ss. per acre, is the return for a whole year with a fair season ; and is it not impossible for men under such circumstances to live and put by for times of trouble 1 The time has now come when there is a chance of realizing a little more from the result of their labour : and although their crops are less, the remedy proposed is to lower the price. The agriculturist suffers even more than the pastoralist from the drought, and taking the range of the seasons, it is the former who has. to bear the heat and burden of the day. With the agriculturist it is not a mere question of employing others ; he has to use his individual efforts, and if a duty does not protect him in the way of giving him reasonable prices at a time like this, it is worth nothing. Honorable members speak as if the agriculturist were sighing for lower prices. Nothing of the sort. The agriculturist wants at all times reasonable prices, especially at the present time, when he is wresting from the soil only half what was formerly yielded. Agriculture is an industry in which all Australia is interested; and the agriculturists in South Australia, Victoria, and Tasmania have made their sentiments known through their Governments, who have a right to speak on behalf of the people. They told us before, and their words remain true, that they do not want a suspension of the duties, to the prejudice of men who, at a time like this, stand most in need of the benefits of protection. I remember what seemed to me, perhaps, happier days, when wheat in South Australia was at a much better price than .that which has lately prevailed, though not better than that prevailing at the present moment.

Mr Watson:

– We have seen the price higher than it is now in New South Wales without a duty.

Mr KINGSTON:

– The price to-day may be taken as 4s., and the proposed duty represents something under 25 per cent. In England in 1890 the price was 31s. lid. per quarter of 8 bushels, or, say, 4s. per bushel, and in 1891 it was 37s. per quarter, or 4s. 7£d per bushel, while today the price is 4s. 6d. per bushel. In 1898 wheat was 34s. a quarter, or 4s. 3d. per bushel. Is the matter of 2d., 3d. or 4d. a bushel to raise a howl, here when there was no howl in Great’ Britain under the conditions to which I have referred ? These figures show what the agriculturist has had to. submit to in times of plenty. In 1895 the price was 23s. Id. per quarter. When wheat was selling at 2s. a bushel, what went into the. pockets of the agriculturists 1 Who had to pay the piper then 1 That was the farmer’s loss. The men who reaped the benefit were those who go about to-day and say that we should reduce the duty now that the farmers are short in their crops, so that they may not get any advantage from the protection afforded them by the fiscal policy of the country. That is not the view which the Government take. Our view is that there should be a fair all-round policy, and it is not because the price of an article goes up at one time and comes down at another, that that policy should be altered. The agriculturist has to suffer when prices are low ; let us give him a chance to recoup himself at a time like this, -when prices are high.

Mr HUGHES:
West Sydney

– I do not know that the discussion of this matter requires such an amount of warmth as the Minister for Trade and Customs has thrown into it. The right honorable gentleman has nt length enunciated something like a policy. It has taken him some days to do it, and, sifter all, it can hardly be called the policy of a statesman. The Minister asks, in the first place - “ What is the difference between 4.s. 6d. and 4s. 3d., and how can 2d. or 3d. per bushel make all the difference between success and failure ?” But as a matter of solid fact the policy to which honorable members opposite are all pledged is one, the very essence of which is that 2d. or 3d. in the price of an article does make all the difference between success and failure. What is protection but that ? They say that a difference of 2d. or 3d. will enable magnificent industries to be raised. If 2d. or 3d. will make no difference to the purchaser on the one hand, it can make no difference to the farmer on the other hand. We are not asking for this 2d. or 3d. for the squatter, so much as in the interests of the people of the country. What honorable members opposite do not seem to realize is that it does not matter whose fault it is that a crisis has arisen. Whether or not one class has been selfish in the past has nothing to do with the question. The question is : What will be the effect if something is not done to arrest the devastation of the flocks and herds of this continent? The result will inevitably be that there will be no stock from which to breed, and that the Commonwealth and States Governments will be compelled to put their hands in their pockets and restock the pastoral and agricultural holdings. There is no possible escape from that position. The Governments must either do so or sit down and see the chief sources of their prosperity cut away from them. Ministers might look at this matter from the standpoint of the welfare of the whole community rather than from that of the welfare of any particular section. They are the constitutional guardians of the welfare of the whole people and not of a section. If we do not do something the price of meat will rise. It has already risen in New South Wales, whatever may have been the case elsewhere, to such an extent that the poor classes cannot buy meat. The price has already exceeded any recorded in the last quarter of a century. What is going to become of the people ? No provision is to be made for them. But we are told that when the pastoralists and the squatters got their wheat cheaply they did not consider the farmer. As a matter of fact, I venture to say that the majority of the farmers at the present time have no wheat for sale. A very large number of them have not even sufficient wheat for their own purposes, and the wheat they have sown has rotted in the ground. Many of the farmers will have no wheat to harvest even if rain comes. The interest of the people, by and large, even including the agriculturists, is bound up in the interest of the whole body of the producers, including those engaged in the pastoral industry. The interests of agriculturists who grow mutton and beef cannot be dissociated from the interests of those who are purely wheat-growers. The dairymen also are in a parlous state. But all that the Minister says is that the ruling rate of wheat has been much less than it is this year. I fail to see how that affects the situation. If one were to be appealed to by a man who had spent all his money in riotous living, and was starving, what would be the use of saying to him - “If you had put your money in the bank you would not have been in this position ? “ If you see a man struggling in the water on a Sunday afternoon when he ought to have gone to Sunday school, of what use is it to stand on the bank and deliver an oration as to the wickedness and impropriety of going for a sail on the Sabbath 1 Is it not the better course under such circumstances to launch a boat, or to take off one’s clothes and to plunge into the water to effect a rescue? But what does the Minister do ? He gets up and tells us what the agriculturists have suffered in days gone by. The honorable member for Moira gave us an eloquent dissertation on how to avoid droughts in the future; which is precisely like saying to a man who is going down at sea - “ Look here, old chap, if you had gone out in a different boat, or had taken mV advice and had not gone out when the wind was nor’-nor’-east, you would not have been in this position today.” Considering the grave constitutional position as between the two Houses of the Legislature, the Government might arrive at some sort of compromise, or, at any rate, might address themselves to the question under consideration in a practical spirit, and not indulge in wild heroics which have nothing whatever to do with the situation, and only tend to prolong the debate without helping the poor unfortunate men who are enduring misfortunes which are very considerable indeed. We have been told by the Acting Prime Minister that there were grave constitutional difficul Dies in the way of a ‘remission of these duties. Those grave constitutional difficulties do not stand in the way now, because the duties may be removed in a constitutional manner. Whether it is advisable to remit them or not is another matter entirely ; but that, after all, is a question that ought to be discussed in relation to the prevailing distress, or from the stand-point of finance alone. It is a question of finance or of the absolute destruction of one of the stable and chief industries of the country. I am very sorry indeed’ to think that the Government cannot approach this question in a rational spirit, and cannot even at this eleventh hour evolve a better and more statesmanlike policy than that which they have given for opposing a very reasonable and moderate demand.

Mr MACDONALD-PATERSON:
Brisbane

– I feel it to be incumbent upon me to say a word or two in regard to one or two misrepresentations that have been made by the last speaker and by the honorable member for Canobolas. It has been said that there are a number of honorable members in this House who have no sympathy with the pastoral industry, and who are ignorant of the difficulties of the pastoralists. It has also been alleged that squatters and men following similar occupations who are not designated squatters, although they follow the same pursuit, come squealing to the Commonwealth and States Governments, seeking assistance whenever they are in trouble. I give that statement an emphatic denial. There are no men in Australia who have suffered more than have those who are concerned in one of the main industries of Australia - namely, that of the production of the golden fleece. Yet in no instance within my memory - and I have watched this industry and been concerned in its prosperity and development for a number of years - has a pastoralist come “ squealing “ to any Government, whether State oi< Commonwealth, for assistance.

Mr Mahon:

– A member of the honorable and learned member’s own party said so.

Mr.MACDONALD-PATERSON. - I am not here to answer the utterances of ignorance and inexperience, and there is a little of both on each side of the House. The accusation that any man in Australia associated with the great pastoral industry has come “ squealing “ like a wounded rat for assistance in the distress under which he is suffering is a misstatement. The pastoralists are “ taking their gruel “ as men who are worthy of Australia and of the past history of the industry in which they are engaged. As to the duty before the committee, one honorable member said that he hoped that the Government would arrive at some reasonable compromise. We are here, 70 men, who have been elected by the people of Australia. We represent those people, and their several interests and industries, and we are asked to compromise upon a request made by the Senate, a body of not half our number, and representing, as we know, State interests only. If 33 per cent, of the Commonwealth Parliament are to have this representation and consideration accorded them in this House, the people, and especially the wheat-growers, will be the first to remind us of so unwarrantable an intrusion upon the representation of their interests. I decline to accept any request for a compromise, if I stand here alone. I am sorry that I should have to mention Queensland at all, but we have not yet become used to abandoning our parochial, provincial, and separate State views. New South Wales, and New South Wales only, has been mentioned this afternoon, and Commonwealth interests have been forgotten. I am bound to say that in Queensland there has not been a single squeal, if I may apply the term in this way, for the abolition or reduction of the duty upon wheat. I am glad to be present this afternoon, if only to record my objection’ to what has been said by the acting leader of the Opposition in support of the reduction of the duty, and my appreciation of what has fallen from the Minister for Trade and Customs.

Mr JOSEPH COOK:
PARRAMATTA, NEW SOUTH WALES · FT; ANTI-SOC from 1906; LP from 1910; NAT from 1917

– The honorable and learned member says there is plenty of fodder yet.?

Mr MACDONALD-PATERSON:

– I say that I have not heard of a single stockowner advocating the reduction of the duty upon wheat for the purpose of enabling him to preserve his sheep, cattle, or horses. It is most unsuitable food, even for horses.

Sir William McMillan:

– Does the honorable and learned member not know that thev are using it 1

Mr MACDONALD-PATERSON:

– I know they are using it, but I am speaking of a different question. We are not proposing to deal with this matter for six or twelve months, but for all time, or at least until some other Parliament deals -with it, and we must have universality, ‘simplicity, and harmony in the duties imposed. Because there happens to be a little grumbling and squealing in some districts of New South Wales, from some people who desire to get wheat for the- purpose of saving the lives of sheep and cattle, are we to alter the policy of this country as determined by members of this committee some months ago? I should be ashamed to sit in this House if honorable members carried the amendment proposed by the acting leader of the Opposition. We are dealing with what we hope will be a permanent industry, and its permanence can be securedin good seasons or bad seasons only by the duty, modest as it is, which was agreed to in this House, and which, I trust, will not be interfered with at the request of a smaller Chamber than this. I have not heard of any demand for a reduction of the duty from Victoria, or South Australia ; we have heard of it only from portions of New South Wales. It is alleged in the very lengthy telegram which was quoted this afternoon - and which must have been considered urgent, because the information could have been posted for very much less money - that the farmers desire the removal of the duty. I say it would be far better for us to give them their seed-wheat free.

Sir William McMillan:

– How could we do that ?

Mr MACDONALD-PATERSON:

– It is just on a par with’ other things that have been suggested here. A friend of mine who heard of this matter coming on this afternoon, said - “Free kerosene, free rice, free tea, free flour. It is not the agriculturist they have in their minds ; it is others, whose votes they hope to receive at the next election “ - which, I am glad to think, is not very far off. I did not rise to make an election speech, but if what I have said this afternoon were to result in my defeat at the hustings, should I make up my mind to endeavor to return to this Chamber, I should not be sorry to have been defeated in support of the, doctrines to which I have given expression this afternoon on behalf of the hard-working and indefatigable agriculturist and wheat-grower of Australia.

Mr CONROY:
Werriwa

– The speech of the Minister for Trade and Customs is valuable in the first place, so far as this committee is concerned, because it has contained an admission that the duty in this case has undoubtedly raised the price by the extent of the duty. Though the right honorable gentleman did not add these words, he admits that the consumers have been mulcted more than they otherwise would have been. It is a great pity that this statement was not made before, in connexion with the duties proposed upon machinery, apparel, boots and various other articles. The right honorable gentleman now says that because of this duty of 25 per cent, the farmer this year, for the first time in the last fourteen or fifteen years, has been able to obtain some advantage in an increased price for the article he produces. He appealed to us in the name of all that is holy, just,, and merciful, to tr)’ to extend someconsideration to that particular section. I should say that this is the first time in the history of any country in the world in which a Minister for Trade and Customs has risen to say that the Ministry have prayed for a drought. He says, in effect, that ourprayers cannot always be answered in respect of a drought, and that there cannot always be the same suffering and misery upon the people, and that, therefore, so much cannot be made out of them. According to the right honorable gentleman, farmers should pray that there may always be a drought, though what they are to do when they have nothing to sell he does not explain. I have yet to learn that prayers have been offered for a continuance of the drought, though I have heard of prayers being offered for its cessation.’ The Ministerfor Trade and Customs now publishes to the world that the Ministry are responsible for the drought, or, if not, that they are at least . thanking heaven for it. He admits that duties increase the price of an article when there is an importation of that article, and he tells us that in one year out of every fifteen the farmer has an opportunity of getting back, in an increased price for produce, what he has previously lost. How he can do so when he has lost half his crop the right honorable gentleman does not explain, nor did he state why he should be burdened by increased duties upon everything else during the other fourteen years. Does he not see the folly of making such a statement? The farmers must be very wealthy who can tide over the intervening fourteen years. But the right honorable gentleman did not appeal for the bulk of the farmers, who have a struggle for existence. They must sell their crops as soon as they are gathered, and they cannot afford to wait. The Minister did not ask consideration for them, but for the very small class who can afford to wait, and then make money out of the necessities of the great bulk of the consumers, when Divine Providence has been pleased to inflict a drought upon the country. Where is that class ? Whenever we find a lawyer enthusiastic about his brief we should always look round for the class for whom he is fighting. We find the class on this occasion in the millers. There are ten or a dozen of them who have bought up all the wheat from the farmers, many of whom have to sell even before they reap their crops. Again, we find the right honorable gentleman fighting, as we have always found him doing in this House, for a very small section of the community. Is it nothing to him that hundreds and thousands of people have to pay an increased price for bread - an artificially increased price, us the right honorable gentleman himself tells us? Even the honorable member for Melbourne Ports must consider the thousands of people in his electorate who have to pay a higher price for bread on account of the drought.

Mr JOSEPH COOK:
PARRAMATTA, NEW SOUTH WALES · FT; ANTI-SOC from 1906; LP from 1910; NAT from 1917

– He makes them believe it is cheaper.

Mr CONROY:

– The honorable member may have done so before we came to this House, but I do not think that even he will argue in that way now. The Minister for Trade and Customs tells us that it is only in a season of scarcity that the effect of a duty is to increase the price of an article. Going through the returns, the right honorable gentleman said that in this commodity it occurs once in every fifteen years. Is the honorable member for Melbourne Ports going to vote for the retention of a duty like this, when there are thousands of breadwinners in his electorate who have difficulty in earning enough to feed their families ? The effect of the duty, at all events for this year, will be to increase the price of bread to the toilers in the cities and towns throughout Australia. It will not benefit the farmer, because the profit will go to the millers’ ring, in whose behalf the Minister for Trade and Customs is so enthusiastic. A small ring of ten or twelve men is to be allowed, by reason of this duty, to make large profits out of the necessities of the people. Not for a moment does the Minister for Trade and Customs think of a large section of the community who have to live upon bread, and who find it difficult enough to earn sufficient to get even bread alone. The right honorable gentleman has not a word to say on behalf of the great body of consumers ; but, with a quaver in his voice, and this ring in his mind, he insists that these regraters and forestallers who have fixed up prices, shall not have their profits interfered with in any way whatever. In older times even protectionists carried out their views in such a way as to prevent special benefit being secured by the regraters and the forestallers. In the past the protectionists made some attempt to undo the effects of their policy by trying to prevent it from increasing the prices of food and of articles of general consumption, but the present Government cannot be expected to do anything which would knock out the speculators’ ring which is responsible for the increase in the price of wheat, and thus allow consumers to obtain bread at normal prices. Does the honorable member for Yarra think that money is so plentiful anong his constituents that they can afford to pay high prices for bread? He supports this duty in the interests of the farmers, but it is only in years of drought and scarcity, when the consumers can ill -afford to pay it, that it can be of any value to the farmers. If he realty wants to help the agricultural population, let him join with honorable memberson this side of the Chamber in doing away with the duties upon the clothing and machinery they use, and upon all their various requirements.

Mr L E GROOM:
DARLING DOWNS, QUEENSLAND · PROT; LP from 1910; NAT from 1917; IND from 1931; UAP from 1934

– But the honorable and learned member hopes to impose revenue taxation upon them.

Mr CONROY:

– If the honorable and learned member were not ignorant of what has taken place, he would know that my vote lias always been given for the remission of duties. On no occasion during the consideration of this Tariff have I departed from my principles in that matter. The Minister for Trade and Customs argued as though the drought was something for which the Ministry should take credit, since it has proved of advantage to a small section of the community. I hope, however, that the committee will, unite and sweep away the duty upon wheat, and thus reduce the price of bread.

Mr KENNEDY:
Moira

– I fully expected, from the tenor ‘ of the remarks of the honorable and learned member for Werriwa, that he would try to demonstrate that the Government are the cause of the drought. He also made an effort to show that the duty of ls. 6d. per cental is the cause of the present high price of wheat.

Mr Conroy:

– No; the drought is the cause.

Mr KENNEDY:

– Then the duty is not the cause. Australia has exported since last harvest nearly as much wheat as would, suffice for the requirements of her people for a whole year.

Sir William McMillan:

– Would that wheat have been exported for 3s. a bushel if the exporters could have foreseen that the price would rise to 4s. 6d. per bushel 1

Mr KENNEDY:

-.- The whole cause of the trouble is the fight which is going on between the exporters and the millers. The last wheat yield was over-estimated, and consequently the exporters’ have not been able to fill their charters or the millers to fill their floors ; but there is no evidence that there is not sufficient wheat in Australia to tide us over until the next crop is harvested. It has been stated that the high price of bread is also largely due to the duty, but I find that five years ago, when there was no duty, flour was as dear in New South Wales as it is now.

Mr Conroy:

– But the prices ruling in the outside world were 8d. per bushel lower.

Mr KENNEDY:

– If that was so, the fact was used by the Sydney millers and those connected with them to bear down prices in New South Wales. I have taken my information as to the prices then prevailing, from the Sydney Morning Herald and the Sydney Daily Telegraph of June and August, 1897, and compared their prices with those quoted this month. To my own knowledge Adelaide buyers came into

Riverina in 1897 and bought wheat there which the Sydney buyers would not touch. During this year the export of wheat and its equivalent from the port of Sydney has amounted to date to 3,384,104’ bushels.

Mr JOSEPH COOK:
PARRAMATTA, NEW SOUTH WALES · FT; ANTI-SOC from 1906; LP from 1910; NAT from 1917

– Was more exported this year than last year 1

Mr KENNEDY:

– No. I have ascertained from the Sydney Morning Herald, within the last week, that in 1900 there were received in Sydney from the wheatgrowing districts of New South Wales 90,638 tons of wheat, and 14,953 tons of flour; in 1901, 173,857 tons of wheat, and 24,959 tons of flour; and in 1902, 120,435 tons of wheat, and 19,429 tons of flour. There is no evidence there of an absolute scarcity of wheat for the requirements of the people of the Commonwealth. If it could be shown that we had not sufficient wheat in the Commonwealth for our own requirements there would be some force in the arguments which have been advanced in favour of the abolition of the duty. There are prophets who tell us that there will be no return from the ensuing wheat harvest ; but assuming that the yield will be onlyhalf as large as the normal yield, the supply will be ample for our requirements. It is estimated that the average citizen consumes 5£ bushels of wheat per annum, the duty upon which at lOd. per bushel would be 4s. 7d., but there is no evidence that the consumer pays the whole of the duty, and assuming that only three-fourths of the total consumption is home-grown wheat it is more than probable that he does not.

Mr JOSEPH COOK:
PARRAMATTA, NEW SOUTH WALES · FT; ANTI-SOC from 1906; LP from 1910; NAT from 1917

– Are there no indirect disadvantages from the duty upon wheat 1

Mr KENNEDY:

– If the farmers do not continue to grow wheat, we shall have this disadvantage, that considerable areas now devoted to agriculture will cease to be profitably occupied, and many subsidiary industries will be ruined. I ask those who are pressing for the remission of the duty to prove that there is an absolute scarcity of wheat now within the Commonwealth for the requirements of our people, and that the duty is the cause of the present high price of wheat in Victoria.

Mr SKENE:
Grampians

– The Minister for Trade and Customs has admitted that it is only at very long intervals that duties upon grain can be of any advantage to the farmers. That was the position which I took up when this matter was under consideration upon a former occasion, and I then suggested the postponement of the item until the committee had dealt with the other duties in the Tariff bearing upon the farming population. As showing the opinion of the farmers of a very large agricultural district, I will read an extract from a letter written to me at the request of his committee by the secretary to the St. Arnaud Agricultural Society, which, judging by the attendance at its annual show, is probably the largest, and, I believe, one of the most progressive, of the country societies. The extract is as follows : -

I am instructed to state that this society is strongly opposed to the remission of fodder duties, unless in suspending such duties, the duties on agricultural machinery and implements and binder twine, are remitted at the same time.

The farmers would, I believe, be content to do without this duty if they could obtain the remission of the duties which they have to pay, but inasmuch as the duties upon grain, although operative only at long intervals, are all they get by way of compensation for the duties which they have to pay, they feel that they should not be remitted. I can see now that there is no possibility of the remission of the duties which the farming population have to pay, and, therefore, I am unable to vote for the remission of the duty upon wheat. There is also the objection that wheat has been singled out by the Senate for special treatment ; why, I do not know. There is more wheat than other grain within the Commonwealth : but even if it were available at such a price that it could be fed to stock, it could not possibly be conveyed to the localities where the stock are starving. One of the greatest disabilities under which the New South Wales stock-owners labour at present in connexion with the supply of fodder for their starving stock is due to the railway policy pursued by New South Wales in years past. The Government of that State prevented the construction of a railway from Deniliquin to Hay by private enterprise years ago, and it also prevented a connexion being made between Cobram and Finley. If these railway connexions had been made, immense quantities of fodder might have been sent from Victoria at cheap rates to the starving stock of Riverina. I hope a more enlightened railway policy will be followed when the Inter-State Commission is appointed, and that there will be nothing to prevent squatters in the drought-stricken districts from obtaining all the fodder they require from those localities in which it can most profitably be grown. The Minister was quite correct in stating that wheat had been sold at 2s. per bushel. I sold 10,000 bushels of wheat at1s.8½d. per bushel delivered at the railway station. When wheat was sold at these unprofitable prices, however, the duties upon the tools of trade and the necessaries of life required by the farmer were not remitted, and no help was forthcoming for him. We have to take into consideration the requirements of the various States. When we entered into the federal compact, we knew that we should have to make certain compromises, and I desire to deal fairly between the States. Those who represent the free-traders of Victoria recognise that that State had, to perhaps a greater extent than any other, adopted a protective policy; and we are prepared to go to a great length in imposing duties so that the industries established under protection should not be ruthlessly destroyed. At the same time it seems to us that the duties have been piled up very high all round, and that unless some of the imposts upon tools of trade and the necessaries of life are remitted, the duty upon wheat should be retained.

Mr L E GROOM:
DARLING DOWNS, QUEENSLAND · PROT; LP from 1910; NAT from 1917; IND from 1931; UAP from 1934

– It has been stated that the duty upon wheat could only occasionally become operative so far as the principal wheat-growing. States are concerned, but I desire to point out that Queensland stands in a somewhat different position. Prior to the imposition of the Federal Tariff, a duty was imposed upon wheat in that State for the express purpose of assisting those engaged in agriculture. Until very recently, Queensland was to a very great extent a pastoral country, and as the pastoralists had secured the best of the land, the farmers were driven on to the poor country. The pastoralists have been spoken of during this debate in terms of the deepest sympathy, but we must not forget that the farmers of Queensland have had a very hard struggle. They have been forced on to bad country, and have had to clear away heavy timber, and it is only after years of fighting that they have been able to secure their present splendid holdings. During the last ten years considerable attention has been given to the encouragement of farming. In 1892 there were only 30,907 acres under cultivation for wheat, and the total yield for the State was 462,583 bushels, the average per acre being 14-97 bushels. The protective duty was continued, and in 1901, 87,232 acres were under wheat crop ; the total product was 1,692,222 bushels, and the average yield 19-40 bushels per acre. It will thus be seen that the duty which has been in operation continuously has had a protective effect.

Mr JOSEPH COOK:
PARRAMATTA, NEW SOUTH WALES · FT; ANTI-SOC from 1906; LP from 1910; NAT from 1917

– It has been practically inoperative.

Mr L E GROOM:
DARLING DOWNS, QUEENSLAND · PROT; LP from 1910; NAT from 1917; IND from 1931; UAP from 1934

– On the contrary, it has afforded the fullest encouragment, and has specially directed the attention of farmers to the desirableness of cultivating wheat. The Government have repurchased large tracts of wheat-growing country and have induced settlers to take it up, and wheat-growing has been carried on with the most satisfactory results. Queensland has not yet attained the position of being able to supply her own. requirements. The amount of wheat required in the State for 1901 was 3,512,462 bushels, and a total yield of 1,692,222 “bushels still left 1,S20,240 bushels to be supplied from outside sources. The fitness of the wheat-growing districts of Queensland for the production of that cereal may be judged from the returns for last year, which has been referred to as one of drought, suffering, and hardship. From the official report of .the department of Agriculture, in Queensland, it appears that -

In the western portion of the southern division, Killarney had the highest yield with 27 “74 bushels per acre for 1901, against 16-97 bushels per acre for J 900, followed by Stanthorpe with 26-00 bushels per acre for 1901, against 10-97 for the previous year ; Warwick, with 22-06 for 1.901, against .17 ‘06 for .1900 ; Allora, with 20-94 in 1901, against .14 87 in 1900. Toowoomba returned .19 bushels of grain per acre for J 90.1, against 10-17 for 1900.

If these figures are compared with the last average yield in South Australia of 5-66 bushels per acre, it must be obvious that the Darling Downs will become one of the greatest grain-producing districts in Australia. The average yield for ten years from 1892 to 1901 was 15-86, the lowest yield being 9 -55 bushels per acre in 1895, and the highest 19-48 in 1S94.

Mr JOSEPH COOK:
PARRAMATTA, NEW SOUTH WALES · FT; ANTI-SOC from 1906; LP from 1910; NAT from 1917

– How long has the wheat duty been levied in Queensland 1

Mr L E GROOM:
DARLING DOWNS, QUEENSLAND · PROT; LP from 1910; NAT from 1917; IND from 1931; UAP from 1934

– Since 1887, I believe, but I have not the exact date by me.

Mr Brown:

– -What are the wheat prospects on the Darling Downs to-day ?

Mr L E GROOM:
DARLING DOWNS, QUEENSLAND · PROT; LP from 1910; NAT from 1917; IND from 1931; UAP from 1934

– They are not good, but that is owing to the severe drought, which is absolutely unprecedented. I would remind honorable members that in legislating for normal conditions we must not take as a basis of calculation the results obtained in the worst season ever known. “When federation was being advocated, the farmers of Queensland realized that some compromise would have to be arrived at in regard to the Tariff, and that we should probably adopt a fiscal system which would provide for Inter-State freetrade, with protection against the outside world.

Sir William McMillan:

– What duty was levied upon wheat in Queensland prior to federation ?

Mr L E GROOM:
DARLING DOWNS, QUEENSLAND · PROT; LP from 1910; NAT from 1917; IND from 1931; UAP from 1934

– Fourpence per bushel.

Sir William McMillan:

– The present duty is equivalent to lOd. per bushel.

Mr L E GROOM:
DARLING DOWNS, QUEENSLAND · PROT; LP from 1910; NAT from 1917; IND from 1931; UAP from 1934

– The farmers of Queensland are quite satisfied with the Government proposals. It is unfortunate that some of the reasons advanced by honorable members have been rather in favour of the suspension of the fodder duties than of their total remission. Seeing that we are imposing a duty which will probably remain stationary for a considerable period, I trust that the Government will refuse to accede to the request of the Senate.

Mr JOSEPH COOK:
PARRAMATTA, NEW SOUTH WALES · FT; ANTI-SOC from 1906; LP from 1910; NAT from 1917

– I take up the parable just where the honorable and learned member has left it. To my way of thinking, he has furnished an argument which completely cuts the ground from under his feet when he advocates the imposition of a protective duty upon wheat. What did he tell us in reference to his own State 1 He pleaded for the retention of tins duty because of the beneficial results which have accrued from the operation of a similar duty in Queensland. He has admitted that the soil at Darling Downs is splendidly fertile, and has quoted figures to show how excellently it is . adapted to wheat-growing. But when we come to analyze his figures, we find that notwithstanding these advantages, and despite the operation of a protective duty, Queensland has made very little progress in wheat-growing during a number of years. He tells us that, although the duty was imposed in 18S.7, the production of wheat in Queensland is only 1,100,000 bushels, the same quantity as is produced by little Tasmania, where the soil is not nearly so fertile and the sky not nearly so kindly. This is the splendid result of the operation of a protective duty for 15 years. In the neighbouring State of New South Wales what has happened? In 1892, when the yield of Queensland was 400,000 bushels, that of New South Wales was 3,900,000 bushels. Last year, however, the yield of ‘ New South Wales was more than 16,000,000 bushels, showing relatively a greater increase than Queensland, notwithstanding the splendid advantages enjoyed by the latter. Upon the facts the honorable and learned member for Darling Downs has made out a very feeble case indeed for the retention of this duty. If the increase which he has quoted represents the total result of the policy of coddling which has been adopted in Queensland, it seems to me that it would be better to leave the farmers of that State alone. If they were left undisturbed I believe that, with all the advantages which they possess, they would beat the present rate of progress.

Mr L E GROOM:
DARLING DOWNS, QUEENSLAND · PROT; LP from 1910; NAT from 1917; IND from 1931; UAP from 1934

– The duty was imposed in 1892, since which the production has increased fourfold.

Mr JOSEPH COOK:
PARRAMATTA, NEW SOUTH WALES · FT; ANTI-SOC from 1906; LP from 1910; NAT from 1917

– In New South Wales there has been more than a fourfold increase without the aid- of any duty whatever.

Mr L E GROOM:
DARLING DOWNS, QUEENSLAND · PROT; LP from 1910; NAT from 1917; IND from 1931; UAP from 1934

– But it was the Dibbs duties which gave wheat production its first stimulus in New South Wales.

Mr JOSEPH COOK:
PARRAMATTA, NEW SOUTH WALES · FT; ANTI-SOC from 1906; LP from 1910; NAT from 1917

– The honorable and learned member does not know the circumstances, otherwise he would not make that statement. As a matter of fact the production of wheat increased very little under the operation of the Dibbs Tariff. During the latter portion of the period covered by those duties there was an actual decrease in the wheat yield, and also in the area under cultivation. The increased production in New South Wales has chiefly resulted from the adoption of a liberal land policy. As a matter of fact, concurrently with the abolition of the Dibbs duties the production of wheat in New South Wales began to increase, and it has continued to do so ever since. The honorable and learned member for Brisbane has said that we ought to discuss this question upon its merits, without regard to the present .situation, because we are dealing with it for all time. That is quite true. But honorable members were told by the Minister that it is only in times of scarcity and stress that the farmer receives a decent price for his produce, and that the ordinary rates derivable under a protective Tariff do not make wheat-growing remunerative. He admits that the profits which the farmers are making must be taken out of the pockets of the squatters and the consumers of wheat. I protest against the way in which he stated the case. He declared that it was one between the farmers and the squatters. I hold, however, that it is rather a case of one set of agriculturists against another set. Agriculturists in New South Wales cannot get fodder for their stock, and it is they who are crying out the loudest for a remission of these duties. This afternoon the Minister laid down the doctrine that it is a fair thing to allow one section of the community to prey upon another. Evidently he thinks that such a policy will make the nation grow rich. It is the old the.ory which is summarized in the expression-“ Rob Peter to pay Paul.” The Minister declares that it is a grand thing to give the farmers a chance of obtaining an increased price from other people. I hold that that is not the’ way to make the Commonwealth prosper. It is an old, pernicious doctrine, which the facts of national existence have worn threadbare, and which should have been buried long ago. The honorable member for Moira pointed out that if the price of wheat were increased by lOd. per bushel - the amount of the duty - the amount involved .would be very small, seeing that a man consumed only 5£ bushels annually. Is that a fair way of looking at this question? I am not arguing for a reduction of the duty upon wheat only. The duties upon fodder affect a man not only in the price which he has to pay for bread, but in the cost of almost everything that he eats and wears. In Sydney, to-day, people are paying more than 2d. per quart more for their milk than they were paying some time ago, and in large families that is an item more serious than is the increase in the price of bread. So it is with other things. Yet the honorable member would have us believe that the total effect of paying a higher duty is to be measured by the extent to which the cost of bread is increased. Nothing has been said this afternoon which would justify us in turning aside from our purpose in endeavouring to secure the remission of these duties.

Sir WILLIAM McMILLAN (Wentworth). - Personally, I do not intend to continue the debate any longer. It is curious, however, that whenever honorable members on this side endeavour, as on the present occasion especially, to discuss a question as quietly and calmly as possible, -with a view to the public interest of Australia as a whole, the Minister for Trade and Customs immediately gets up with his usual stage thunder, and shrieks the most extreme protectionist doctrines. We on this side have absolutely avoided in this discussion the question of free-trade versus protection. What is the whole sum of the arguments of the Minister for Trade and Customs 1 It is that wheat has been the same price in England as it is here. The Minister forgets the salient point that in England nothing is done by the Government, as a Government, to artificially raise the price, whereas we are discussing, not whether wheat shall be dear or cheap according to the exigencies of the season and peculiar conditions of the country, but whether the Government, by imposing an absolutely prohibitive duty, shall make the food of the people extremely dear. It has been clearly proved in the last few months that the duty is practically prohibitive ; and the simple meaning is that if it is continued the price of wheat must reach about 4s. per bushel before any importation can take place. In ordinary seasons Australia is a large exporting country. The honorable and learned member for Darling Downs talked about the wonderful protection which was given to the Queensland growers; but that. was a protection of only 4d. per bushel, and the honorable and learned member thought it sufficient, though he is now ready to vote for the Government’s present proposal of ls. 6d. per cental. AVe are not dealing with this question on the basis of Inter-State duties, one against the other. We have now free-trade throughout Australia, and the wheat-growers of Queensland are absolutely dependent, so far as the price of their product is concerned, on the surplus in ‘ Australia ; if there, is a surplus, they must take the price ruling in the markets of the world. The honorable member for Gippsland, the other night, showed the exact position taken up by honorable members on the other side of the chamber when he said - “ I will not be a party to men who have created an industry under statute being robbed of their fair gain.” But that statute was a statute of Victoria ; and are we to deal with the statutes of a State when we are making a Tariff for Australia % I thought we were dealing with a national Tariff. Victoria has scarcely one-third the population of the Commonwealth ; and if in that State there be an industry employing only a portion of that third, are we to give protection to the extent of prohibition to those persons merely because a local statute has been enacted 1 This question has been dealt with by some honorable members on the lowest provincial grounds. It has been dealt with, not as a matter for the people of Australia, but a matter for the constituents of a few electorates. I do not like to repeat arguments over and over again, but I may remind the committee that the duty is a farcical one in good times. We know that under ordinary circumstances there will be a continuance of the exportation of surplus wheat ; and yet, in -times like the present, when the farmer is getting good prices, it is proposed to impose a prohibitive duty. The proposal is unreasonable, and I shall divide the committee on the question. In New South Wales wheat was free, and in Queensland the duty was 4d. per bushel, and 4d. or 6d. per bushel in Western Australia. On the ground of common justice, I contend that ls. 6d. per cental is an absolutely unfair and inequitable duty. Even if we take an average of the rates previously imposed in the different States, the duty at the outside ought not to be more than 9d. The Victorian duty was not altogether against the outside world, but against the other States, and yet it is proposed to adopt that purely provincial rate as the duty against the outside world. To fix so high a. rate against other countries, which are separated from us by thousands of miles, and are handicapped by a variety of charges, is most irrational, and shows the utterly inconsistent method which has been adopted in the framing of the Tariff. I am perfectly satisfied that the Government proposal is against the interests of the different States, and of the majority of the people of Australia.

Mr. CONROY (Werriwa).- In view of the proposal of the honorable member for Wentworth, I shall not press the amendment which I indicated. I am still of opinion that these commodities ought to be free ; but itis clear that the opinion of the committee is against me, and thatI cannot hope to succeed. For a similar reason, doubtless, the honorable member for Wentworth has not proposed to place the articles on the free list.

Question - That the words “but that the rate of duty on wheat be fixed at 9d. per cental “ be added to the motion - put. The committee divided.

AYES: 16

NOES: 26

Majority … 10

AYES

NOES

Question so resolved in the negative.

Amendment negatived.

Motion agreed to.

Item 23. Grain and pulse . . . n.e.i., per cental, 2s. 6d.

Request.- That the duty be reduced to1s. 6d.

Motion (by Mr. Kingston) agreed to -

That the amendment requested be not made.

Item 24. Hay and chaff,1s. per cwt.

Request. - That hay and chaff be added to the special exemptions.

That the amendment requested be not made.

Sir WILLIAM McMILLAN (Wentworth). - So far as I am concerned, I agree with the attitude of the Minister for Trade and Customs. There may, of course, be honorable members who take a special interest in this item, and I have no desire to stop debate ; but personally I see no use in reiterating arguments which were, if anything, stronger in regard to the other items than in regard to the item before us. At the same time, these duties are very much on a par, and I do not intend to further debate them.

Mr. SYDNEY SMITH (Macquarie).In view of the understanding arrived at, I do not desire to take up much time. . But I think the committee would do well to pause before they inflict the hardship which will result from this motion. Honorable members who have visited some parts of the State of New South Wales must admit the reasonablenessof making some amendment in the proposal submitted by the Government. When the proposal was first brought down, the Government evidently anticipated little or no revenue from the duty. A mere nominal amount of £1,000 is all they expect to receive. But it is owing to the terrible distress that prevails throughout the length and breadth of New South Wales and Queensland that we now appeal to them. I fear that the appeal will be in vain, but still we ask them to give, at all events, some measure of relief by allowing the duty to stand over for six months. The Minister for Trade and Customs has referred to the advantage of protection, and pointed out that at least once in 15 years we have a drought. That is the time when it is expected that the farmers will benefit from such a duty. The farmers of New South Wales do not want any such benefit. I represent one large farming centre, and live in another. The farmers in these districts are suffering more than any one else. Let honorable members consider the condition of a district like that represented by the honorable member for Parramatta. All the way from Camden down to the Hawkesbury there is nothing but distress. The farmers have no crops, the stock is dying, and prices are raised, owing to the operation of the Tariff, upon their clothing, boots and shoes, and necessaries of life. We had to fight the Government for two whole days in order to secure a reduction in the duty on turnips. When, on a recent occasion, the Chancellor of the Exchequer in Great Britain came down to the House of Commons with a proposal to put a duty on food supplies, my right honorable friend was delighted about it, and pointed out that there was an idea of England’s returning to protection. We told him, however, that the people had been misled. We have evidence of that in England today. Two strong conservative seats have been lost to the Government at two byeelections fought recently. This shows that when the people have an opportunity of speaking they will demonstrate that they do not believe in the policy of protection. I mention the English case to illustrate what is likely to result in Australia. The people have no desire that these duties on food stuffs1 should be imposed, more especially at the present time, when so many are suffering. The Government have promised relief over and over again, but have shown no sincerity. The dairy farmers are suffering intensely, because they cannot afford to pay the prices demanded for produce which they require in order to keep their stock alive. But it appears to be hopeless to make appeals to the Government. They seem to glory in the terrible condition of the farmers of New South Wales, because the farmers of Victoria and the other States are reaping a harvest through the distress prevailing elsewhere. That is not the true federal spirit, and when the proper time comes the Government will ascertain that their action is not approved of by the people of the Commonwealth.

Mr A PATERSON:
Capricornia

– I do not think I need apologize to the committee for speaking on this occasion, because I have not said a word with respect to hay and chaff since the Bill has been returned from the Senate. The importance of the industry affected by the item under consideration may be expressed in a sentence by saying that the total bulk weight of hay raised throughout the Commonwealth exceeds in quantity the amount of all our great cereal crops combined - wheat, oats, barley, and maize. Expressed in money it stands only second in importance to wheat. Conceive, then, what a vast amount of employment this simple primary industry gives - employment, not only to the farm labourer directly engaged in it, but to the saddler and the wheelwright, to the blacksmith and the waggonbuilder, and to the maker of agricultural implements. I will say at once that any man who would raise a hand to cripple or destroy such an industry as this - an industry which is not exotic, but which is purely an “ Australian native,” an industry which numbers its employes, not by units or hundreds, but by tens of thousands - would be an enemy and a traitor to his country. Victoria has secured a commanding interest in this business owing to the energy of her farmers and the enterprise of her merchants. What was the policy of Victoria when she stood alone and unhampered by the bonds of the Commonwealth 1 I see by the records that that State admitted hay and chaff duty free. Did she impose a duty to stop the dreadful inrush of importations from New Zealand or America, with their highpriced labour, or from Germany and Russia, with their low-priced labour ? No ; she saw at once that it was quite impossible for any outsider to compete with her successfully, and she acted with sound commercial judgment in placing both hay and chaff upon the free list. Did she lose any trade with the northern States by following that course 1 Did she discontinue growing hay 1 Were her farmers unable to pay their bills as they matured for ploughs and harness, for hay-carts and for hay-rakes ? By no means. The trade has extended in the hands of Victoria. The re is no doubt whatever that an immense impetus has been given to it. Instead of sending her produce in single truck loads to the centres of the Commonwealth, she has sent train loads. Instead of shipping small lots by scattered ships she has loaded fleets of steamers. Her profits have increased, and her farmers have grown rich. All honour to them. They have earned every penny of their gains without protection ; and I venture to think that the policy which has proved to be good enough for Victoria will do excellently well for the Commonwealth. The honorable member for Gippsland, in a most earnest and impassioned speech on Friday, argued the claims of farmers for protection with great force and eloquence. I should certainly find great difficulty in replying to him, but he has been answered most effectively and satisfactorily by the honorable member for Moira. It will be remembered that the honorable member stated, with a ring of triumph, that the Commonwealth had exported during last year no less a quantity than the enormous amount of 92,000 tons of fodder. He used this as an argument for the imposition of a duty.

Mr Kennedy:

– No ; as a reason why the duty should not be removed.

Mr A PATERSON:

– I rejoice as much as any honorable member does in the prosperity of Victoria. But I fail to see the force of the honorable member’s argument, and am inclined to think that his conclusion is a most “ lame and impotent” one. If the Commonwealth had a vast surplus of fodder to export, surely there was no necessity for a duty. One might as reasonably expect the honorable member for Newcastle seriously to ask for a duty upon coal. I have a very vivid recollection of the discussion which took place previously upon this item. When we were dealing with this question before, the protectionists clamoured loudly for the imposition of duties, and the free-traders just as vehemently denied that there was any necessity for them. We have had ample time since to discover from the actual results of their imposition which was the soundest contention. Let us appeal to the Minister for Trade and Customs, who has collected the vast revenue expected from the duty upon this item during the last nine months. Let us appeal also to the Treasurer, who has locked up safely in his chest the vast revenue collected. Both of those responsible Ministers give us the same reply. In an official statement they tell us that the revenue derived from the importations of hay and chaff during the nine months ending on 30th June last amounted to the enormous sum of £62. What other result could men of ordinary foresight and common-sense anticipate ? But I should not be surprised if it were seriously argued that the duty of 20s. per ton kept out the stuff. That is the argument used every day. But how can it possibly explain the enormous export of ‘92,000 tons referred to by the honorable member for Moira ? The honorable member was kind enough to make some very flattering allusions to myself, inferring that I had no knowledge whatever of the subject upon which I spoke, and that I merely picked up some information in the purlieus of Collins-street. “ Purlieu “ is a most expressive word. It has an academic flavour about it, but I regret to say that it has also rather a shady significancesometimes. I should like to know in which sense the honorable member for Moira used the expression in reference to myself.

Mr Kennedy:

– I did not use the word “purlieus,” nor did I refer to the honorable member’s want of knowledge of squatting.

Mr A PATERSON:

– Then I apologize. At all events, as the character of the Parliament for morality is at stake, I beg to assure the committee that I did not meet the pastoralist I referred to in any purlieus at all. I met him openly, on the pavement. I should like to make hay free of duty. In this connexion I may reasonably be accused of inconsistency, because upon a late occasion when the free-trade party made an effort to obtain the suspension of the fodder duties, I opposed the party vigorously. I very seldom speak, but I spoke upon that occasion, because I considered that the objection urged by the Minister for Trade and Customswas unanswerable. The right honorable gentleman said that it was not reasonable that the Tariff should be temporarily suspended for the benefit of one class; and, further, that the States should give the necessary relief themselves. I quite approve of that. I do not desire that these duties- should be temporarily suspended. I am a free-trader, and I want them permanently suspended. I decline to drag in the pastoralist and make a stalking-horse of him in order to secure the temporary suspension of duties which I desire to see permanently abolished. I do not wish to have these duties temporarily suspended for the benefit of distressed pastoralists, but permanently abolished for the benefit of the people of Australia. New Zealand has no duty upon hay, but -she imposes a protective duty of 20s. per ton upon chaff. I recognise a distinction between hay and chaff. We all know that chaff is nothing but minced hay, but it is still a manufactured article. As its manufacture is centred in Victoria, we can only expect that the chaff dealers will make a howl in order to secure protection. I may tell the committee, as a matter of sad experience, that the chaff dealers protect themselves quite liberally enough by mixing too much straw with the hay they use in producing chaff. That this is so any honorable member may see for himself by watching the market quotations, for we’ frequently find that prime chaff, the manufactured article, is quoted at a lower price than prime hay, the raw material. I do not believe it will make a cent of difference, whether we impose a duty or not. There will be no importation, unless in the case of a fodder famine, and every member familiar with the produce trade will agree with me that there is infinitely more likelihood of a glut than of a famine. I think that Victoria acted with great wisdom in exempting both hay and chaff from duty, and I hope that example will be followed by the Commonwealth.

Mr. CONROY (Werriwa). - I agree with the remarks which have fallen from the honorable member for Capricornia, but in view of the vote just given against us, I do not propose to divide the committee upon this item. This is an instance of what I call sham duties, put forward purposely to mislead men who have not the time to read the debates in this House. The effect, we know, will be that some men will think that they are gaining some benefit when, except in a time like the present, we know that this duty can be of no advantage whatever to the farmer. As the decision of the committee was so clearly expressed in the vote just taken upon a similar item, I do not propose to do more than to record my voice with the “Noes.”

Sir WILLIAM McMILLAN (Wentworth). - I am always anxious for knowledge, and I should like to ask Ministers one question. I understand that New South Wales contains 37 per cent. of the population of Australia, and that Victoria contains 32 per cent. That is to say, that 69 per cent. or 70 per cent. of the population of Australia agreed in the provincial times that chaff should be free of duty. I should like to ask my right honorable friends upon what principle of federation, of equity, or of common sense has this duty been imposed 1 This view naturally came before members of the Senate, and they saw the absurdity of the Government proposal. I think it requires some explanation from my right honorable friends. However, the responsibility must rest with the committee.

Mr. BROWN (Canobolas). - I recognise that the debate upon the preceding two items covered the matter dealt with in this, and that there is little use in the present temper of the committee and of the Ministry, in appealing to honorable members to agree to the requested amendment on the ground that, in at least two of the chief States comprising the Commonwealth, this article was free of duty. It is recognised that this is a duty which does not and cannot operate in a normal season. It can operate only in an abnormal season such as we have at present. Apparently the only point at issue is that raised by the contention of the Minister for Trade and Customs that such abnormal seasons are the harvest time of the growers of hay and chaff, the time when they are able to compensate themselves for all the losses they have to endure in entering into competition in normal seasons with the produce of other countries, and when a Tariff of this kind does not operate. With some little practical experience on the farmers’ side, I contend that these abnormal seasons operate as much to the disadvantage of the farmer as of the pastoralist. The farmers throughout New South Wales are feeling the pinch of the present time equally with the pastoralists. They derive income from the raising of stock aswell as from farming. They are threatened with a loss of stock, and are compelled to feed their stock in order to overcome the evil effects of the abnormal conditions prevailing. The loss they are called upon to suffer in this connexion is greater than any advantage they can hope to obtain from the increased prices obtained for produce. As a general rule farmers are not able to hold their produce to meet the demands of abnormal seasons. If the Minister for Trade and Customs really thinks he is conserving the interests of the farmers in the way he indicates, I am afraid they will tell him that he is making a very grave mistake. I do not think there is any need to quote statistics to show that there is no importation of produce in normal years. That importation occurs only in abnormal seasons, and only to the extent of the demand arising from the desire to try to preserve stock. The urgency of that demand can be seen in the fact that fodder from South America, in the form of lucerne and maize, is now being sold in the Sydney and Brisbane markets at a profit to those engaged in its importation. The farmers, as well as the squatters, throughout the droughtstricken districts, have to pay increased prices for that fodder, and I can assure honorable members that these duties will be of no benefit to them. In view of the decision which has already been arrived at, I agree that there is little to be gained by prolonging the debate. But I, for one, desire to see a division taken, because I wish the farmers to know who are their friends and who are not.

Mr WINTER COOKE:
Wannon

– I desire to say a word or two upon this matter. It is impossible to say whether there would be an importation of hay and chaff from New Zealand or any other country, if these articles were put upon the free list. I venture to assume that there would be such an importation, and if by it the lives of animals whichare now starving can be saved it should be allowed. If the effect of this duty will be to keep out hay and chaff, the Ministry might very well be prosecuted by the Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals. The responsibility for this cruelty must rest upon them and upon their followers. The representatives of New South Wales tell us that sheep are dying there by thousands, and yet the Government say they must either die, or be fed by the high-priced fodder which is held within the Commonwealth.

Question - That the amendment requested be not made - put. The committee divided.

AYES: 26

NOES: 16

Majority…… 10

AYES

NOES

Question so resolved in the affirmative.

Item 36. Meats . . viz. : -

Special exemption. - Frozen meat.

Request. - That the word “ frozen “ be omitted, and that the words “preserved by cold process” be inserted after the word “meat.”

Motion (by Mr. Kingston) proposed -

That the amendment requested be made.

Mr. BROWN (Canobolas). - I should like to know how the Minister can harmonize this proposal to exempt frozen meat from duty with his efforts to secure duties upon grain and fodder. Under ordinary circumstances, just as we grow more wheat than we require for our own use, so we breed more sheep and cattle than we want to keep us in meat. In both cases we have to depend on foreign markets for the prices we get for our. surplus. At the present time districts which were noted for their stock are importing meat.

The CHAIRMAN:

– The honorable member must confine himself strictly to the motion before the Chair, which is that an amendment altering the wording of a special exemption be made. The question of duty is not now before the committee.

Mr Paterson:

– The intention of the Senate is that chilled meat, as well as frozen meat, should be made free of duty.

Mr Kingston:

– The amendment is purely a verbal one. I challengeany one to say what is the difference between frozen meat and meat preserved by cold process.

Mr KIRWAN:
Kalgoorlie

– The Minister has not replied to the question of the honorable member for Canobolas, who has asked how the proposal to exempt frozen meat from duty can be harmonized with the action of the committee in imposing duties upon fodder and grain. I would like to know why meat preserved by cold process should be admitted free, whilst salt meat is subject to a duty of½d. per lb., and tinned meat has to bear a duty of 2d per lb.

Mr. MACDONALD-PATERSON (Brisbane). - I think I can very quickly dispose of the objections raised to the proposed alteration. It has recently been discovered that when meat is frozen the juices become solid globules, which are not re-absorbed by the meat when it is thawed. This renders the frozen meat much inferior to that which is simply chilled, and therefore the process of freezing has been practically abandoned, so far as the export of meat from South America to Europe is concerned.

Mr. BROWN (Canobolas). - I am much indebted to the honorable and learned member for Brisbane for his explanation, but my inquiry has not yet been answered. New Zealand mutton is now being imported into Sydney, and I wish to know why meat is not being placed upon the same footing as wheat ?

Motion agreed to.

Item 36. Meats, fish, poultry and game, viz., preserved in tins or other air-tight vessels . . per lb., 2d.

Request. - That the duty be reduced to1d.

Mr KINGSTON:

-I move-

That the amendment requested be not made.

This request does not apply to fish, because in consequence of representations which were made when this matter was under discussion previously, we agreed to reducethe duty upon preserved fish from 2d. to1d. per lb. Now the Senate desire us to extend the reduction to meats, poultry, and game. We think, however, that we have already made a sufficient reduction.

Mr JOSEPH COOK:
PARRAMATTA, NEW SOUTH WALES · FT; ANTI-SOC from 1906; LP from 1910; NAT from 1917

– Why should any distinction be made between meat and fish?

Mr KINGSTON:

– Because fish is very largely imported and is not preserved here to any great extent, whereas we preserve meat here on a very large scale. The preserved meats that are imported in the shape of tongues, game, &c., partake largely of the nature of luxuries.

Mr Poynton:

– Those are the only luxuries that people in the back-blocks can obtain.

Mr KINGSTON:

– We have already made a considerable concession to the residents of the back-blocks in connexion with this duty.

Mr MAHON:
Coolgardie

– I hope the committee will accede to the request of the Senate. This is to some extent a bogus duty, and no one knows it better than the

Minister for Trade and Customs, because he must be aware that Australian preserved meats have driven the foreign product out of the local markets.

Mr Kingston:

– That strengthens my contention that the imports of preserved meats are chiefly restricted to tongues, game, and similar luxuries.

Sir George Turner:

– We derive £10,000 per annum from the meats, poultry, and game.

Mr MAHON:

– But the Australian preserved meat has. driven the imported article out of the market.

Mr Watson:

– Then the revenue must be derived mainly from poultry and game.

Mr MAHON:

– If this is a revenue duty, as the Treasurer contends, it will not prove of very great advantage to what have been called the necessitous States. Tasmania derived only £1,985 from this duty from 8th October, 1901, to 30th June last. That will never save the island State from bankruptcy. Queensland collected £13,000, and the greater part of this amount must have been derived from fish, because Queensland imports little or no preserved meats.

Mr Kingston:

– Queensland derived from this duty in six months £1,726.

Mr MAHON:

– I ask honorable members if this is the time at which we should impose a duty upon preserved meats? Even in the big cities on the sea-board fresh meat is now at famine prices. Is this the time to imposea duty upon tinned meats, thus increasing their cost to the people in the interior? I do not think that it is. I understood the Minister for Trade and Customs to say that tongues, poultry, and game must be regarded as luxuries. I can assure, him, however, that tinned duck is anything but a luxury, and that upon one occasion in Western Australia I was almost poisoned by it. To the people in the outlying parts of the Commonwealth is tinned food an absolute necessary. At the present time the price of fresh meat even in the large centres of population is extremely high, and it is impossible for men in the back-blocks to secure any. Surely the right honorable gentleman, the Minister for Trade and Customs, who is reported to have a big heart, which bleeds at times for suffering:humanity, has no sympathy with the unfortunate prospectors and miners, though many of them once admired him as the great champion of democracy. This is not the time to increase the cost of the food of the people, and especially of those resident in the interior, who are already suffering sufficient deprivations. I appeal to the committee not to impose this heavy duty. In Western Australia, prior to the accomplishment of federation, the duty was only ½d. per lb.

Mr Kingston:

– How much does Western Australia charge upon Victorian meat ?

Mr MAHON:

– The duty is £d. per lb. I ask the Minister not to mention the special Tariff again.

Mr Kingston:

– The honorable member does not sympathize with it.

Mr MAHON:

– Certainly I do not. At the same time, it is for the people of Western Australia themselves to get rid of it if they desire to do so. The right honorable gentleman was a party to the bargain which was made with them, and it is not good taste for him to suggest that they should give up the privilege which they now possess. The rate proposed by the Government is the highest that has prevailed in any of the States, with the exception of Queensland. Even in Victoria the duty was only 2d. per lb. With the larger market that is now available, I think a duty of Id. per lb. - the amount fixed by the Senate - will be ample to protect any legitimate industry.

Mr. BROWN (Canobolas). - When I was discussing a previous item, I was inclined to suppose that the Minister for Trade and Customs was slipping from sound protectionist principles in asking that meats preserved by cold process should be placed upon tho free list. ‘Now, however, lie has returned to his former position by requesting the committee to decide that meats preserved by other than cold process and put up in tins of a certain weight shall be dutiable at 2d. per lb. Although New South Wales is rightly regarded as one of the great stock-producing States, on account of the disastrous drought prevailing throughout Australia, even the best of its stock-producing districts have to import their meat. At the present time New Zealand meat is being placed upon the Sydney market, and in the country districts it. is almost impossible to obtain decent meat. I gather from a press report only the other day, that at Forbes, which is a great grazing centre, a tradesman had contracted to supply the local hospital with meat at 3d. per lb. The current price is Sd. per lb., and as a result he has been obliged to ask for the cancellation of his contract. At Molong, which is also noted for its stockraising capabilities, the butchers have to obtain their supplies from Sydney. In those districts meat fit for’ human consumption cannot be secured, and this fact has led to a large consumption of tinned meat. Recognising the need for assisting the people, the State Government have reduced the rail carriage upon these goods during the last few weeks. The abnormal conditions which obtain in New South Wales, and the fact that the State Government have’ taken the action I have indicated, should induce the committee to support the Senate’s moderate request.

Mr SPENCE:
Darling

– It is quite clear that the present Ministry agree with Dame Nature. When Australia was formed it was evidently intended that nearly the whole of its population should be settled in the coastal districts. The Government have no consideration whatever for the people who are living hundreds of miles back - further out than the little cabbage garden of Victoria. At the present time the freightage upon tinned meats, jams, &c, just doubles the cost of those articles to the people at Cobar. As the last speaker has pointed out, the State Government have recognised the hardship inflicted, and have consented to reduce the railway carriage upon these articles. Many of the butchers in Cobar closed their establishments more than a year ago because they could not obtain beef with which to cany on. The cost of tinned meats has increased, because people are unable to obtain fresh meat at any price. It is all very well to say that Australia supplies her own needs in this connexion, but those who urge that forget that whenever a duty is imposed upon any article there is a tendency to increase its cost. It gives an opportunity to those who are engaged in producing it to combine and to fix their charges accordingly. I know of some instances in which retailers have actually increased the price of goods which are upon the free list. Every housewife has not a Tariff in her pocket, and does not know whether a particular article is or is not dutiable. The proposal to make the duty Id. is very reasonable, and the fact that the present item includes poultry and game forms no reason why these edibles should not be brought within the reach of the people. If the Minister for Trade and

Customs had to live in the back-blocks or in a mining camp he would soon tire of tinned beef, some of which might as well be chips, and be glad to get tinned tongue or alleged poultry similarly preserved. The demand for tinned meats has increased, and will continue for a considerable time, seeing that, owing to the drought, Australia will not for a lengthened period be able to supply the local markets at a reasonable price. Queensland, whence much of the supply comes, suffered serious losses owing to the tick, and then came the drought ; stock cannot be raised in a day. Mutton can be raised much more quickly than beef, and the position in regard to the supply of the latter is very serious. I cannot understand why the Government stand by every item simply because there is a duty; indeed, it seems wonderful that such a Government should provide for any exemptions. The request made is a fair one, in the interests of the very large population who live a long way from the coast, and have to pay high prices for their food.Every person travelling has to carry tinned meat, and it enters largely into consumption, not only in Western Australia, but in the back-blocks of Queensland and New South Wales. To impose a heavy duty on such commodities is a direct tax on people whose condition is very unfortunate, and who ought to receive more consideration than is given to them. It appears to me that the people who live under the best conditions receive most consideration at the hands of the Government, and, in my opinion, the amendment affords a fair compromise.

Mr THOMSON:
North Sydney

– The Minister for Trade and Customs cannot have observed that the amendment is not to remove the duty, but to reduce it to1d.

Mr Kingston:

– I noticed that.

Mr THOMSON:

– Then the spirit of self-sacrifice, with which the Minister said he regards the Senate’s amendments, has not been allowed to influence him. The amendment will cause no loss, because the revenue anticipated is very trifling.

Sir George Turner:

– The anticipated r evenue is £10,000 per annum, based on the 5,000 received for six months.

Mr THOMSON:

– I very much doubt if that rate will continue, and, at any rate, the proposed reduction will not seriously affect the revenue. A duty of1d. per lb. will afford as much protection as will a duty of 2d. in a country which exports meat. If meat be exported we may say that it does not matter whether or not there is a duty.

Mr Kingston:

– In Queensland the duty was4d. per lb.

Mr THOMSON:

– It might as well be £4 per lb., because there can be no importations into Queensland, except, of course, when people are starving, and when they ought to get meat as cheaply as possible.

Mr Kingston:

– In six months nearly £1,800 was received from this duty in Queensland.

Mr THOMSON:

– But that included special meats, like poultry and tongues.

Sir George Turner:

– The special meats are the only meats which come in.

Mr THOMSON:

– But the duty is proposed on what is not a luxury.

Sir George Turner:

– That which is not a luxury is not imported.

Mr THOMSON:

– If tinned meat were eliminated, and only luxuries left dutiable, there might not be the same objection.

Mr Kingston:

– That is practically the result.

Mr THOMSON:

– But the duty is on tinned meat. As the honorable member for Darling says, the imposition of a duty enables producers to create for the inside market a price different from that obtained for the exported article. The opportunity for such action is limited by reducing the duty to a1d., which will practically yield a similar revenue to that anticipated from the higher duty. I think the Minister might agree to the amendment.

Mr. KIRWAN (Kalgoorlie). - The Minister for Trade and Customs cannot have had experience of living on tinned food, or he would not speak of that “luxury” as he has spoken of it. In the country districts of Australia, where nothing is procurable but tinned meat and tinned fish, theseare regarded as anything but luxuries, and are generally very contemptuously spoken of as “ tinned dog.” People who are compelled to use such food acquire a loathing for tinned articles, all of which after a time seem to taste alike. Health cannot be sustained for any length of time on such diet, and people in the back country are compelled every few months to come into the towns in order to obtain fresh meat.

Mr Kingston:

– The Government went a long way in order to meet the honorable member in the matter of fish, which is a very big item.

Mr KIRWAN:

– The Minister was good enough to reduce the duty on fish f rom 2d. to a Id., but I think I can bring forward a few facts, which will show that the duty under consideration should be similarly reduced. Such a reduction will not mean a loss of £10,000 a year. Even if there were only the same amount of importation the loss will- be only £5,000, but in all probability there will be increased importation, and revenue received to a much higher amount. Under the circumstances the Minister might very well take the same course he did in connexion with fish. There is an argument, though perhaps a small one, which ought to specially appeal to the Minister. We all know that the honorable gentleman sympathizes with the working classes and with the democracy of the continent of Australia ; and if his sympathy with the pioneers and people in the back blocks does not show itself in a practical way, it must be because he has not lived as they live and does not realize the hard conditions of their lives.

Sir George Turner:

– The original request made to the Government was .to reduce the duty on fish to Id., and that was done in the face of a large loss of revenue. Now a request is made for the further reduction of revenue.

Mr KIRWAN:

– All we want is justice. In my opinion both tinned meat and tinned fish ought to be admitted free ; but when I see no hope of that, I am very glad to agree to anything in the nature of a reduction. The duty on confectionery, which is a luxury of the rich, is 2d. per lb., and I ask the Minister to make the duty on “tinned dog” half that amount in the interests of people who are doing the most service for Australia. I think that the Minister is bound to give way in this matter. Other points which I urged in this connexion on a previous occasion were not answered by the Minister, for the reason, I suppose, that there was no answer. I should like to know how the honorable gentleman harmonizes a proposal to make chilled meat free, with a duty of ½d. per lb. on salt meat, and Id. per lb. on fresh meat. Surely the Government cannot argue that the duty before us is protective; whilst from the revenue point of view the amount derived will be apparently insignificant. Tinned fish is only taxed Id. per lb., whilst meat preserved by cold process is admitted duty free. Confectionery, which is a luxury used by the wealthy classes, is taxed at exactly the same rate - 2d. per lb. - as the Government propose to impose upon “ tinned dog,” that is used by the poorer classes.. AVe are told that protection is useful for the purpose of encouraging infant industries, but that it may be discontinued when an industry is fully established. Rut there is no industry in Australia that is better established than the tinned meat industry. The export returns for the various Australian States show that the industry is a very large . one, and has reached, a stage when it cannot fear competition. For instance, the Queensland exports of tinned meat to places outside the Commonwealth in one year amounted to 17,000,000 lbs., and the exports to places within the Commonwealth to 7,300,000 lbs. That is to say, the exports of tinned meat from Queensland alone amounted to 24,300,000 lbs. New South Wales exported 12,000,000 lbs. of tinned meat. Notwithstanding that there was no duty in that State, while Victoria had a duty on tinned meat, New South Wales exported four or five times the amount of tinned meat that Victoria exported. In Western Australia, previous to federation, the duty was £d. per lb. From British and foreign places the imports into that State amounted in value to £2,838 ; whilst from Australia the imports amounted to £68,570. These figures show that Australian meat can hold its own, and that, in fact, it beats almost every other class of meat brought into Australia. Consequently there is no danger from the removal of the duty, which can be of no use to those engaged in the industry, whilst it leads to an increase in the price of meat. In the Senate the request to reduce the duty was carried by 15 votes to 12. Not only so, but it was agreed to by senators who represented a majority of the electorates. According to figures published by the Argus, the voting in the Senate snowed a majority in favour of a reduction of the duty of 23,291 electors. I trust that even at the eleventh hour the Government will see their way to agree to the request made by the Senate.

Mr E SOLOMON:
FREMANTLE, WESTERN AUSTRALIA · FT

– I trust that the Government will take into consideration the circumstances at present existing throughout Australia, and especially in Victoria itself. Amongst the poorer classes in this State meat has been so costly within thelast week or two as to be unobtainable except at prices ranging between 6d. and10d. per lb. Circumstances such as these should appeal to any one with any human sympathies. I feel sure that the usual stoic indifference shown by the Minister for Trade and Customs will give way on an occasion like this, and that he will in the interests of humanity consent to a request that will have the effect of reducing the cost of food. The position from the Western Australian point of view has been fully pointed out, more particularly with regard to the back-blocks. In addition to the arguments that have been urged, I contend that the duty should be reduced for the benefit of Australia as a whole. I hope that the Government will take all these matters into consideration and will give way.

Mr KINGSTON:

– I think we might endeavour to reconcile both sides, and I am willing that the duty should be reduced to 1½d. I therefore move -

That the motion be amended by the addition of the following words : “but that the duty be fixed at1½d.”

Mr. KIRWAN (Kalgoorlie).- Although I should have been prepared to assent to the request made by the Senate, I can see that it would be futile to divide the committee, and shall therefore accept the Minister’s proposal.

Mr. CONROY (Werriwa).- The Minister might just as well have gone the whole length and given way with regard to the extra½d. We have to remember that there are two Houses of Legislature, and that whatever may be the wish of the House of Representatives, the other body has also to be considered. I am aware that an argument founded on the fact that there are two legislative bodies, does not meet with much sympathy from the Minister for Trade and Customs, because if he had his way he would not only not respect the opinion of the Senate, but would also pay no heed to the views of this Chamber. The Senate have made a strong request with regard to tinned meat, and we should have met them. It is a mistake from the point of view of mere tactics to refuse their request, particularly as it would have the effect of relieving the taxation of a large number of miners and others. I intend to vote for fixing the duty at1d.

Sir WILLIAM McMILLAN (Wentworth). - I will ask my honorable and learned friend the member for Werriwa not to press for a division. We have come to an arrangement to which I am personally committed, and it should be sufficient for him to have made his protest.

Mr. CONROY (Werriwa). - If the honorable member for Wentworth presses me not to divide the committee I will not do so, though I have strong views on the matter. I feel sure that the only reason why the honorable member proposes to take this course is that he does not think he could carry a proposal to make the duty 1d.

Amendment agreed to.

Motion, as amended, agreed to.

Item 4.1. Oilmen’s Stores, n.e.i., including culinary and flavouring essences, soap dyes, condition foods, and other preparations used in the household, ad valorem, 20 per cent.

Request. - That the duty be reduced to 15 per cent.

Motion (by Mr. Kingston) proposed -

That the amendment requested be made.

Mr. CONROY (Werriwa). - I wish to draw attention to the fact that if the Minister for Trade and Customs, in the administration of his department, had paid less attention to endeavouring to save money by doing away with a messenger at £25 a year, and had paid more attention to the collection of duties on such items as this, revenue would not have been lost in such ways as by a Victorian firm getting in a quantity of goods practically duty free. It is a pity that some decision was not arrived at by the Minister beforehand, and that it was necessary for the Senate to point out an error that had been made in regard to the collection of duties on oilmen’s stores.

Motion agreed to.

Item 46. Rice, viz., .. n.e.i., per cental, 6s.

Request. - That the duty be reduced to 5s.

Mr KINGSTON:

– I move-

That the amendment requested be not made.

The reduction proposed in connexion with this item would involve a very considerable loss of revenue, and under all the circumstances, we ask the committee not to make the requested amendment. The matter is one which particularly affects Queensland, in which State there is a very large consumption of rice, and to some extent it affects the Northern Territory, which in many of its local conditions resembles Queensland. The amount which we received during the last six months from this duty was £33,719, or at the rate of £67,438 per annum ; and it is calculated that the proposed reduction of the duty would involve a loss of £12,000 at least. Honorable members will recollect that the duties proposed in connexion with rice in this Federal Tariff are, in some instances, considerably less than those which were imposed under the State Tariffs. For example, the duty upon rice in Queensland and in Tasmania, was1d. per lb. In view of these circumstances the committee will agree that we cannot fairly make this reduction, that the duty now imposed under this Tariff is a reasonable one, and that it brings in an amount of revenue with which we cannot afford to dispense.

Sir WILLIAM McMILLAN (Wentworth). - There is no particular principle involved in this. It is only a matter of degree. I remember the debate upon the item when it was previously before the committee, and it was then contended that by agreeing to a duty of 6s. per cental, we were really going far beyond what was a reasonable thing under all the circumstances. That is borne out by a reference to the duties previously existing. Six shillings per cental is beyond the average of the duties previously existing in the different States.

Mr. CONROY (Werriwa). - The real trouble in this case is that the difference between the duties upon cleaned and. uncleaned rice has been made so great that practically the whole of the benefit is being given into the hands of one member of this House. That honorable member has no doubt supported the Government, and they therefore think he is entitled to consideration. But I point out that we are dealing with a matter affecting the public revenue, and the difference proposed under the existing duties is far too great. The name of the honorable member concerned was not mentioned when the matter was previously discussed here, because he went out and did not vote on the question.

The CHAIRMAN:

– The honorable member is not in order in saying that the committee did anything for the benefit of an honorable member.

Mr CONROY:

– Then I will say that a tremendous protection is given by the Government proposals to a particular individual, and that that really is why the Senate requests us to reduce the duty to 5s. per cental. In the name of the outside public, I protest against any individual, even if he supported the Ministry, or any half-dozen individuals, getting the benefit of such a difference as is here proposed. When this matter was before the Senate, the decision come to partly turned upon a consideration of the enormous difference there was between a duty of 3s. 4d. per cental upon uncleaned rice, and 6s. per cental upon cleaned rice.

Sir George Turner:

– The 3s. 4d. is calculated upon uncleaned rice, and it is equal to 4s. per cental upon cleaned rice, so that the difference is 2s. per cental.

Mr CONROY:

– I say it is far too great. I agree with the request of the Senate that the duty should be reduced to 5s. If the reduction is made, the revenue will not get the whole of the benefit, because the local manufacturer of cleaned rice will still have an advantage of something like £1 per ton as against imported cleaned rice. I remind the committee that the honorable member for Bland pointed out that the whole of the work of cleaning rice involves only a charge of 15s. per ton in wages. I presume that the work of the men is worth something to the manufacturer, and under the Government proposal we are giving him an advantage of £2 per ton to meet the difference between a charge of 15s. per ton in wages, and 10s. or 12s. which should be at least the value of the labour. Surely that was not the intention of this committee ? I protest against it, and I say that we should at least accept the requested amendment. That a proposal may be right does not appeal to the Minister for Trade and Customs, because the right honorable gentleman is unable to discern whether it is right or wrong; but even a proposal by which we may secure better terms with the Senate is not one which appeals to him. It is high time that members of this committee took it upon themselves to take away the power of a Minister, who in a matter like this appears to be unable to calculate the consequences of a collision between the two Houses. Honorable members should be careful in times of stress like the present how they prevent the collection of revenue. Under the present proposal of the Government, we shall be voting to a particular individual, money which does not belong to us, but which is the property of the whole community. I protest against the proposal, and I shall divide the committee upon it.

Mr. SYDNEY SMITH (Macquarie).I regret that the Government do not see their way to agree to some further reduction of the duty upon this item. I think the amendment requested by the Senate is a very fair one. If we consider the cost of dressed and undressed rice, the duty upon each, and allow for the loss of weight in the process of cleaning, we shall find that after allowing 15s. per ton for wages in connexion with the cleaning process, there will still remain a difference in favour of undressed rice of £2 2s. 4d. per ton.

Sir George Turner:

– I have gone carefully into the question, and the honorable member may take it from me that the difference is only £2, and out of that all wages and other expenses have to be paid.

Mr SYDNEY SMITH:
MACQUARIE, NEW SOUTH WALES · FT

– I am informed upon reliable authority that the difference is greaterthan that stated by the right honorable gentleman. I am afraid that in this proposal we are giving the local manufacturer a big bonus, and are acting very unfairly to the general consumer, especially in these times when everything else is high in price.

Mr. CONROY (Werriwa).- I find that there are only fifteen hands employed in this industry, and yet the Government propose to make a difference like this in favour of one individual - a difference which, calculated upon hundreds of tons of rice, amounts to very much more than all the wages paid put together. The statement that only fifteen hands are employed in the industry is given upon the authority of the honorable member for Bland, who knew what he was talking about. I donot care whether the particular firm or firms interested are represented in this House or not, but, if they are, that is all the more reason why we should be careful not to single them out for special favour. Because one employer is employing some fifteen men, the Minister for Trade and Customs is prepared to propose this tremendous difference in the duties on dressed and undressed rice, in order that that employer may put some thousands of pounds into his own pocket over and above what he pays to his workmen.

Question - That the amendment requested be not made - put. The committee divided.

AYES: 23

NOES: 20

Majority … … 3

AYES

NOES

Question so resolved in the affirmative.

Item 50. Seed cotton, per cental, 4s.

Request. - That the words “ For making methylated cotton-seed oil under departmental by-laws,” be added to the special exemptions.

Amendment (by Mr. Kingston) proposed -

That the amendment requested be made.

Mr. CONROY (Werriwa).- I desire to remind the committee that it was upon this item that the Minister for Trade and Customs gave us such a remarkable exhibition of his ignorance of chemical facts. He told us then things which are not to be found in any work upon chemistry ; but, unfortunately, members opposite were led by the nose, and induced to put a duty of 4s. per cental upon cotton seed. I am surprised that he asks us to agree to this very moderate request of the Senate.

Motion agreed to.

Item 53. Starch and starchflours. . . . per lb., 2d.

Request. - That the words “including starch in powdered form” be inserted before the word “and;” and that the duty be reduced to½d.

Motion (by Mr. Kingston) agreed to -

That the amendment requested be made.

Item 54. Straw, per ton, 5s.

Request. - That straw be added to the special exemptions.

Amendment (by Mr. Kingston) proposed -

That the amendment requested be made.

Mr. BROWN (Canobolas). - Do the Government really propose to allow straw to be imported free of duty? I would remind them of the injustice which the acceptance of this proposal, according to their previous arguments in regard to the fodder and grain duties, will inflict upon the farmers of the Commonwealth.Furthermore, I would point out that straw is largely used in the strawboard industry, which we were told by a leading protectionist is the only country industry which was brought into existence by the protectionist policy of Victoria, and the proposal if agreed to would strike away one of the props of this industry. Is the Minister slipping on the question?

Motion agreed to.

Item 55. Table waters . . . including sparklets . . . ad valorem, 20 per cent.

Request. - That the words “ including spark lets,” be omitted, and that “ sparklets “ be added to the special exemptions.

Motion (by Mr. Kingston) agreed to -

That the amendment requested be made.

Division V. - Apparel and Textiles.

Item 58, Apparel and attire, and articles n.e.i., Woollen or silk, or containing wool or silk, partly or wholly made up (not being piece goods) including articles cut into shape, ad valorem, 25 per cent.

Request. - That the duty be reduced to 20 per cent.

Sir GEORGE TURNER:
Protectionist

– I move-

That the amendment requested be not made.

I wish to point out to the committee that if the duty upon woollen or silk made-up articles is reduced to 20 per cent. it will leave a margin of only 5 per cent. for the protection of those engaged in the work of making up, because the duty upon woollen piece goods, silks, velvets, laces, trimmings, and all other kinds of materials which must be imported, is only 15 per cent. If we reduce the present 10 per cent. margin to 5 per cent., we may induce a larger importation of made-up woollen goods, and in that way injure our woollen industry, which is not too highly protected. In other lines, the raw material and the made-up goods alike are subject to a duty of 15 per cent. I think it is admitted that a mistake has been made with regard to this item, and that some margin must be given. During the last six months of the financial year just closed, £287,000 was collected in duty upon apparel and attire. This would probably represent about £500,000 during the current year, because allowance has to be made for a fallingoff in imports in consequence of the increase of local manufactures. Therefore we should require a considerable increase of imports at the reduced rate to provide us with the same amount of revenue as we may expect to collect under the present duty. We know that a very large number of operatives are employed in this industry, and that these are mostly females for whom it would be difficult to find other suitable employment. When this matter was previously before the committee a large majority of honorable members affirmed that there should be a difference of 10 per cent. between the duty levied upon the raw material and that charged upon the finished article. If we provide for different rates upon the two classes of goods, confusion will arise at the Custom-house, and the importers are very strongly in favour of a uniform duty as being best suited to their own convenience. Ten per cent. is not an unreasonable amount of protection to extend to an important industry ; and looking at the matter from this point of view, and from the revenue stand-point, and also remembering that a large majority of the committee were in favour of imposing the present duty, there was no other course open to the Government than to decline to accede to the request of the Senate.

Sir WILLIAM McMILLAN:
Wentworth

– I am sorry that the Senate did not go a little further, and reclassify the items relating to apparel and attire. When the matter was previously under discussion I pointed out how ridiculous the classification was, but on submitting a proposal for reclassification I was defeated. The items include a number of articles which have nothing whatever to do with apparel and attire. It seems rather absurd to impose a duty of 5 per cent. upon one class of raw material, and 15 per cent. upon another, and then to subject the manufactured articles to an all-round duty of 25 per cent. I know the difficulty of making distinctions at the Customs, but, on the other hand, confusion has been created almost as great as that which it was sought to avoid. I presume that the Senate saw the absurdity of allowing for a difference of 20 per cent. between the duty upon the raw material and that upon the finished article in the one case, and providing for only 10 per cent. difference in another. Twenty-five per cent. is a very high rate of duty. Although articles of apparel and attire were admitted into New South Wales free of duty prior to the introduction of the Tariff, nearly 75 per cent. of the clothing required in that State was locally manufactured.

Mr Mauger:

– Under very bad conditions.

Sir WILLIAM McMILLAN:

– We are not now discussing the conditions. I submit that 20 per cent. is a reasonable duty under all the circumstances.

Sir George Turner:

– Not when the manufacturers have to pay 15 percent. duty upon most of their materials.

Sir WILLIAM McMILLAN:

– That is the fault of the Government. They should have fixed a lower rate of duty upon the raw material. The import charges upon this class of goods are very heavy, and would represent on the average 15 per cent, ad valorem. Thus if a 20 per cent. duty were imposed, the real protection afforded to the manufacturers would amount to at least 35 per cent. In addition to that, the manufacture of clothingis a natural industry which scarcely requires any protection. Of late years the tendency has been to import piece goods, and the quantity of made-up clothing imported now is almost infinitesimal.

Sir George Turner:

– It yields us £500,000 per annum.

Sir WILLIAM McMILLAN:

– That represents a very small quantity when all the clothing required in the Commonwealth is considered. I am satisfied that the duty ought not to be more than 20 per cent. I know that a great deal of sympathy has been expressed for the women workers in the clothing industry, and that a very strong canvass was made on their behalf, but I am assured that a 20 per cent. duty would be quite sufficient, and that the suggested reductions would not in any way disturb the business. It would not be wise on our part to impose a prohibitive duty that would entirely destroy competition. As the residents in the back-blocks have to pay heavy duties upon nearly all the necessaries of life, and are engaged in industries which derive no benefit from a protective system, it is only right that we should give them some compensation in the form of a reduction of the duty upon wearing apparel. We have no right to insist on collecting a duty of a purely protective, if not of a prohibitive character. Therefore I must support the request of the Senate.

Question - That the amendment requested be not made - put. The committee divided.

AYES: 22

NOES: 17

Majority … … 5

AYES

NOES

Question so resolved in the affirmative.

Item 58. Apparel and attire and articles n.e.i., not containing wool or silk, partly or wholly made up (not being piece goods), including articles cut into shape, and dressed feathers, ad valorem 25 per cent.

Request: - That the duty be reduced to 15 per cent.

Motion (by Sir George Turner) proposed -

That the amendment requested be not made.

Sir WILLIAM McMILLAN (Went- worth). - Seeing that the Government refuse to accede to the request of the Senate, it would be idle to repeat the division which has just been taken.

Mr CONROY:
Werriwa

– When this matter was previously under discussion, the duty proposed by the Government was 20 per cent. As Ministers are unable to assign any reasons for adopting a higher rate than they themselves originally proposed, I think that the committee might well accede to the request of the Senate.

Mr. SYDNEY SMITH (Macquarie).The request of the Senate appears to me to be a very reasonable one, and I trust that the committee will approve of it. A great deal has been said about the clothing manufactories of Victoria, but I would point out that in New SouthWales those establishments have succeeded fairly well without the aid of any protection whatever. I am anxious to obtain some concession on behalf of the great bulk of the people of the Commonwealth. Night after night appeals have been made in this Chamber on behalf of the manufacturers of Victoria, but no appeal has been made on behalf of the manufacturers of New South Wales. With a free port the latter State has been able to clothe its people cheaply.

Mr Mauger:

– With plenty of shoddy.

Mr SYDNEY SMITH:
MACQUARIE, NEW SOUTH WALES · FT

– I can give the honorable member some samples of tweeds manufactured in Victorian mills, which contain from 30 to 40 per cent. of shoddy. I trust that the committee will approve of the request of the Senate.

Mr. CONROY (Werriwa).- I have just had recalled to my mind the statement made by the Minister for Trade and Customs that the imposition of a duty upon any article increases its price. I suppose the light honorable gentleman wishes to increase the cost of articles of apparel in order that a particular section of the community may benefit thereby. Only this afternoon he assured the committee that the price of any article was raised by the amount of the duty imposed upon it, and yet he now refuses to remit duties which will increase the cost of articles that are used by the great bulk of the people to the extent of 5s. and 3s. in the £1 respectively.

Question - That the amendment requested be not made - put. The committee divided.

AYES: 22

NOES: 16

Majority … … 6

AYES

NOES

Question so resolved in the affirmative.

Item 58. Apparel and attire, and articles, n.e.i.

Request. - That the following words be added to the special exemption - Regalia, viz., . . . “ All accoutrements, badges, buttons, braid, and lace for naval and military uniforms under depart- m ental by-laws. “

Motion (by Sir George Turner) agreed to-

That the amendment requested be made.

Item 59. Bags and sacks . . . ad valorem 10 per cent.

Request. - That the special exemptions be al tered to read as follows : - “Bags, sacks, packs and bales for bran, chaff, compressed fodder, potato, onion, or coal and wood; also sugar mats, and corn andflour sacks, and hessian flour bags.”

That the amendment requested be made, except as to “hessian flour bags.”

Honorable members will recollect that we had several discussions on this item, and we ultimately decided that the duty should be 10 per cent., competition in this industry being somewhat keen with coolie labour at Calcutta and other places. Some exemptions were made, and now other exemptions have been requested, to the most of which the Government see no objection. In the case of hessian flour bags, however, our inquiries lead us to the conclusion that if these were made free, it would practically mean that all hessian bags would be free. Between hessian flour bags and hessian bags used for a number of other articles it would be impossible to distinguish. The desire in another place was that what are really sacks should be admitted free, and the particular wording of the requested amendment was adopted under some misapprehension as to what the effect would be. These hessian flour bags are small, containing from 50 lbs. to 70 lbs.

Mr BROWN:
Canobolas

– It seems to me that under the motion of the Treasurer all hessian bagging will be dutiable, because it is impossible to distinguish between hessian bags used for flour and those used for sugar, rice, or other commodities.

Sir George Turner:

– That is exactly what I said; we had already determined that all hessian bags should be charged 1 0 per cent., and the Senate now attempts to make flour bags free, which is absolutely impracticable.

Mr BROWN:

– Bags used for flour, sugar, and rice are of small sizes. There are large hessian chaff bags, which it is not desirable to make dutiable, and there should be some distinction made between those and the bags of a smaller size.

Sir George Turner:

– Chaff bags - all the big bags - are exempted.

Mr BROWN:

– But if the sizes are not set forth, then chaff bags will be dutiable.

Sir GEORGE TURNER:
BALACLAVA, VICTORIA · PROT

– That suggestion was discussed on a previous occasion, and found impracticable.

Mr BROWN:

– The difference between bags used for chaff and those used for other purposes is that the former are larger.

Sir George Turner:

– Chaff bags are free.

Mr BROWN:

– Even if they are of hessian ?

Sir George Turner:

– Yes.

Mr BROWN:

– If the right honorable gentleman says that, I am satisfied.

Sir WILLIAM McMILLAN (Wentworth). - Exactly the same kind of bag is used for several purposes, and I do not see how the Customs authorities will be able to discriminate.

Mr Mauger:

– The bags must be used for flour.

SirWILLIAM Mcmillian. - it is always dangerous to differentiate as to the uses to which an article may be put under the Tariff. This Tariff is full of ridiculous difficulties which we have created for the Customs authorities. If the Government accept so much of the Senate’s proposal, why not accept the lot? Half-and-half proposals of this kind are contemptible.

Motion agreed to.

Item63. Hats and caps, viz. : - Men’s, women’s, boys’ and children’s felt hats, advalorem, 30 per cent.

Request. - That the duty be reduced to 25 per cent.

Sir GEORGE TURNER:

– I move-

That the amendment requested be not made.

The original proposal was a composite duty of 10s. per dozen and 15 percent., and after a long discussion, which lasted two or three days, and during which we had samples of the articles before us, it was agreed without a division, that the impost should be 30 per cent. That was regarded as a fair compromise between conflicting claims.

Mr Conroy:

– I said at the time that it was no compromise. If it was, it was a compromise between daylight robbers and burglars.

Mr Mauger:

– Is that in order, Mr. Chairman ?

The CHAIRMAN:

– I must ask the honorable and learned member to withdraw those words, and apologise to the committee.

Mr Conroy:

– If ‘the protectionists assume to classify themselves-

The CHAIRMAN:

– The honorable and learned member must withdraw the words without comment.

Mr Conroy:

– I shall withdraw the words, leaving it to the general public–

The CHAIRMAN:

– The honorable and learned member must withdraw without any qualification. The words used were decidedly offensive, and I appeal to the honorable and learned member to withdraw them.

Mr Conroy:

– If you, sir, really regard the words as offensive, I have no option but to withdraw them.

Sir GEORGE TURNER:

– When this item was discussed on a previous occasion it was realized that it affected a very large industry, which, I believe, has since considerably expanded in the State of New South Wales. A large number of people are employed, and that the duty is not prohibitive is shown by the fact that the revenue collected will average about £50,000 a year. Under all the circumstances, I think the committee will say that a duty of 30 per cent, is not unreasonable.

Sir WILLIAM McMILLAN (Went worth). - It is, of course, very difficult to debate matters which have already been dealt with so exhaustively. The Government originally proposed composite duties ranging from 140 per cent, to 52 per cent. Then after the composite principle was rejected, a proposal was made to fix the duty at 30 per cent. If there was no division it was simply because the Opposition felt that there was no use in dividing the committee. But I do not allow for a moment, that because there was no division the Opposition acquiesced. There is no doubt that the original statement with regard to this Tariff, at any rate as to ad valorem rates, was that 25 per cent, was the high- water mark ; and there is really no sense in making any of these articles dutiable beyond 25 per cent., if others are kept at that rate. I am perfectly satisfied from the information I have received, that 25 per Gent, is quite enough. I remember the honorable member for Corangamite saying, when this question was last discussed, that he would not agree to any duty that was so high as to shut out competition. This industry has been bolstered up, until it represents the interest of one or two manufacturers as against all Australia. It they are skilful and know their business they ought to be able to carry on with a duty of 25 per cent. Very large profits have been made in the hat-making industry, which has been more than successful under the auspices of these duties.

Sir George Turner:

– There appears tobe a larger importation now than there wasformerly.

Sir WILLIAM McMILLAN:

– But the Victorian duties were prohibitive. I shall support the request made by the Senate, though I do not think there will be much probability of the committee agreeing to it, because we seem to -have reduced ourselves to regular numbers on both sides.

Mr MAUGER:
Melbourne Ports

– I can give the committee a very striking illustration of the effect of the reduction, of the duty on sewn caps from 8s. per dozen, which was the Victorian rate, to 30 per cent, ad valorem. I hold in my hand two caps. The one was made in Victoria, where the material is supplied and the work is done, and paid for at 4s. 6d. per dozen. I also have here a cap made and sold in London for 4s. per dozen, f.o.b. - including material, making up, and packing. The two caps are identically the same in quality, and are made from the same kind of material. I can, if necessary, obtain the original invoice for inspection. . The consumer pays for each of these caps ls. retail, and the only effect of the reduction of the duty is to give the wholesale distributer ls. 3d. per dozen more profit, and to deprive the girls working in Melbourne of their employment. The purchaser does not get one farthing of benefit, because the cap is sold for a shilling whether made in Melbourne or London. The wholesale price is 9s. a dozen ; and the caps are landed here with import duties and all charges paid for 7s. 3d. per dozen. Yet we are told that the consumer will be benefited by the reduction of this duty on hats and caps. As the Treasurer has pointed out, the better class of hats are being imported under the reduced duty in larger numbers than previously.

Sir William McMillan:

– The honorable member wants to shut them out altogether.

Mr MAUGER:

– No, we had a duty of 36s. per dozen in Victoria, and we imported to the extent of £30,000 worth in a vear. We never had a prohibitive duty at any time. Then take the case of silk hats. I told the committee when the proposed reduction was discussed, that it meant good-bye to the silk-hat trade in Victoria. The result has been that a leading factory has been closed for the last nine weeks, and not one of its men has been employed. Who has benefited from the reduction 1 No one, I venture to say. but the rich importers.

Mr Conroy:

– The Denton Hat Mills are practically owned by Messrs. Paterson, Laing, and Bruce.

Mr MAUGER:

– I am not discussing the case of one firm, but the general condition of the industry throughout Australia. If the honorable and learned member thinks that he will be helping the smaller manufacturers by reducing the duty, he makes a great mistake. I have no doubt that the Denton Hat Mills will be able to stand a reduction of duty better than some of the smaller factories. When the duty was at i ts highest in Victoria we had more factories and competition was keener than at any other time. Very likely the big, strong and powerful manufacturers would be able to carry on with a duty of 25 per cent.

Sir William McMillan:

– The honorable member wants us to pay for bad machinery and less skill.

Mr MAUGER:

– On the greater amount of apparel made in Australia the duty is not effective. The acting leader of the Opposition himself has issued a circular from his own house in Sydney to that effect. He says in regard to shirts that the duty will not be added to the cost, because the shirts sold are made in his own factory.

Sir William McMillan:

– I have nothing to do with that.

Mr MAUGER:

– But the honorable member knows that it is a fact.

Sir William McMillan:

– I know that these industries were going up by leaps and bounds in free-trade New South Wales before there was any idea of a duty.

Mr MAUGER:

– And we also knowthat they are going up by greater leaps and bounds since the duty was imposed. The circular issued by the honorable member’s firm says -

Our shirt factory has been established for three months now, and since that time has been engaged in making up–

The CHAIRMAN:

– I must remind the honorable member that the question before the Chair is the duty on hats and caps.

Mr MAUGER:

– The duty is not put on to the price. I was referring to a circular issued by the honorable member for Wentworth’s own house, which states distinctly that the duty is not added.

Sir William McMillan:

– Shirts and hats are not parallel lines ; one requires simple machinery and knowledge, whilst the other involves a difficult process of manufacture.

Mr MAUGER:

– I am able to cite a New South Wales illustration in regard to straw hats. These are parallel lines. What does the honorable member’s firm say in regard to straw hats 1

Sir William McMillan:

– That industry has been in existence for three or four years.

Mr MAUGER:

– And since the Tariff was introduced this circular says -

In this branch we have had to duplicate the machinery to enable us to keep pace with the increased output of the colonial article.

Sir William McMillan:

– I can give the honorable member my word of honour that there is not a single development in that branch of the trade that would not have taken place if the Tariff had not been in operation.

Mr MAUGER:

– That is pure conjecture. Here we have the solid fact of what has been done. What may have been done if the Tariff had not been in existence, I cannot deal with, but I can say what has happened since the Tariff has been in vogue.

Mr Mahon:

– I rise to order. The honorable member for Wentworth has given a distinct denial to a statement of the honorable member for Melbourne Ports.

Mr Kingston:

– It was a matter of fact that he stated.

Mr Mahon:

– It is a matter of fact that the honorable member for Wentworth has denied that what has taken place is due to the Tariff, and I say that the honorable member for Melbourne Ports is not in order in not accepting the assurance.

Mr Mauger:

– Speaking to the point of order, I wish to say that the honorable member for Wentworth gave me no assurance whatever.

Sir William McMillan:

– I can assure my honorable friend that as far as I know of this business - and I do not profess to know it in every detail - there has simply been the same progress in the last year as was made in the previous years. The industry was established about four or five years ago, without any regard to protective duties. I will explain to the committee what took place. These straw hats are very bulky goods, and you have to pay an enormous amount for the freight and casings, out of all proportion to the cost of the manufactured article. Consequently, instead of bringing out these hats made up, the material from which they are made is brought out in some kind of bundles in order to save freight, and the hats are made up here. But that has nothing whatever to do with the question of protection.

Mr MAUGER:

– I was about to say that in regard to caps, the raw material and the braiding are dutiable to the extent of 15 per cent. As to hats, I am quite sure that whether honorable members opposite are free-traders or protectionists, they desire to see as much work as possible done in Australia. They do not want to shut out skilled work, and deprive skilled workmen of a livelihood. It is just that class of work that will be affected under this proposal. If a man insists upon wearing imported hats, and wants the very best quality, why should he not be compelled to pay a duty which has the effect of keeping the work in Australia to a large extent ?

Mr Thomson:

– The duty applies to all qualities.

Mr MAUGER:

– Then I have no objection to the committee altering it, and making it a fixed duty. I am not by any means in love with ad valorem duties. I hope the committee will not agree to make the requested amendment. The acting leader of the Opposition said that the duty agreed to here was not a compromise, but he will admit that both sides stated their case at length, and if it was not a compromise at all events no division was called for, and there was a general understanding that what was agreed to involved a very sweeping reduction. I remind my honorable friend that there were duties of 24s. and 30s. per dozen on these articles in Victoria, and this was the onlyState in which the industry was established. To reduce duties of 30s. per dozen to an average of 5s. or 6s. is to make a very sweeping reduction.

Mr THOMSON:
North Sydney

– The honorable member’s rising upon this hat question to-night may remind the committee that when we previously discussed the question he poured forth some terrible lamentations, accompanied by many exhibits of hats, as to the result which would accrue to this industry if the duty of 30 per cent., which he nowclaims to be a compromise, should become law. Sufficient time has now elapsed - and it is only to new arguments of this’ sort that I intend to direct attention in any discussion upon these items at this stage - to show whether we were correct in our statement that the industry with that duty, and even with a lower duty, would, under the new conditions of federation, which gave it a larger market, flourish to a greater extent than it did in the past. We have had evidence that the trade in these particular hats has been more active, that more overtime has been worked, more employment has been given, and a successful balance-sheet has been shown.

Mr Mauger:

– The honorable member is talking of one mill now.

Mr THOMSON:

– Is not that an indication of the effect upon others ?

Mr Mauger:

– Not necessarily.

Mr THOMSON:

– Are we to level our duties according to the degree of incapacity in the manufacturer? Is that the new principle which the honorable member enunciates? If so, we shall have to schedule the capacity of the different firms engaged in an industry, and give the benefit of the highest duty to the most incapable firm. The best evidence of the correctness of our contention is the business which has since been done by the firm which the honorable member told us would lose business. We were told that its employment would be decreased, and its workmen would be injured. That firm has shown that it has improved its business under the new conditions. I say that, in spite of the lower duty, the new conditions are better for the business than the higher duties with the previously restricted market. Representations were made to us that this particular mill could not stand such a reduction in duty as was proposed. Now the honorable member for Melbourne Ports is here again as the advocate of this hat industry, and I say that the best friends of the hat industry are on this side. A reduction of the duty to 25 per cent. would not be an injury to the industry, but would enable those engaged in it to continue to do a larger business than they have been doing in the past.

Sir George Turner:

– If they are to do a larger business we must import less.

Mr THOMSON:

– That does not follow at all. They had access to only one-third of the Australian market for hats before, and they have access to the other two-thirds now, and the contention that their business will be reduced by a lower duty is not borne out.

Sir George Turner:

– I was speaking of the present time.

Mr THOMSON:

– At the present time they have not overtaken the trade in the other States. We agreed to the so-called ruinous duty of 30 per cent., and the Treasurer tells us that under that ruinousduty a hat factory has been started in New South Wales. That factory would hardly have been established if those who established it thought they had to face ruin ; or if a reduction of 5 per cent. in the duty would so affect their profit, as to mean ruin.

Mr Tudor:

– The honorable member knows why they have gone into the new industry. It is because the State clothing factory which has been started has taken away all the work they had previously.

Mr THOMSON:

– The honorable member says so, but I am sure I do not know whether that is the case. In the first place I do not think’ the State clothing factory has started, and consequently it cannot have taken away their work. While . they may be influenced by some outlook of that sort, I can only say that they are not likely in seeking for a new industry to establish one from which there will be no profit.

Mr Mauger:

– It is not established yet.

Mr THOMSON:

– Here the honorable member differs from his own colleague, and I cannot answer the two opposing statements. The honorable member for Melbourne Ports made another extraordinary statement. He told us that the lower duty would ruin the small manufacturer, and also said that when they had the highest duty in Victoria on boots the competition was keenest, and prices were lowest. How could low prices and keen competition be a benefit to the small manufacturer the honorable member is talking about ?

Mr Mauger:

– I was not discussing the small manufacturer.

Mr THOMSON:

– Not then. The honorable gentleman had got away from the small manufacturer then, but I am asking him how he reconciles the two aspects of the position of the small manufacturer which he puts before us. The honorable member cannot reconcile the different conditions. He first of all turns the big end of the telescope upon him, and then the small end, and he says he is quite different. But it is not the manufacturer who is different. It is the honorable member’s argument.

Mr Mauger:

– I was discussing the question of monopoly, not the question of prices.

Mr THOMSON:

– The honorable member said that when duties were highest, competition was keenest and prices were lowest, and he said also that these low duties would entirely destroy the small hat manufacturer. Now, keen competition and low prices mean the destruction of the small manufacturer, and that, according to the statement of the honorable member, is the result of high duties.

Mr Mauger:

– That is not a fact.

Mr THOMSON:

– I do not say it is. It is the honorable member who said it was. I am saying the contrary. Everything goes to show that 25 per cent. ought to be a sufficiently high duty. It will cause neither injury nor destruction to this industry, and that being so, and the Senate having requested us to fix the duty at that rate, I certainly hope we shall agree to make the requested amendment.

Mr. CONROY (Werriwa).- The honorable member for South Sydney omitted to refer to the revenue aspect of the question. If we are to accept the statement of the honorable member for Melbourne Ports, we must remember that Tasmania, Queensland, New South Wales, South Australia, and Western Australia have no hat factories, and in so far as the hats they require are drawn from Victoria, while they will be taxed, they will obtain no revenue from this duty. That may not be a matter of importance to New South Wales, but it is a matter of great importance to

Tasmania, South Australia, and certainly to Queensland at the present time. This duty of 30 per cent, is equivalent to 6s. in the £1, and the Minister for Trade and Customs has pointed out that we have to pay the duty when there is no import. He told us that in connexion with the duties upon chaff, grain, and pulse, and he asked us why the producers should not take advantage of the duty now. That is exactly what is happening here. The manufacturers of this particular article having a protective duty to the extent of 6s. in the £1, are naturally tailing advantage of it. If they are not, they deserve that their names should be published in the newspapers as public benefactors, who refuse to take a business advantage which the law allows them.- If they are not taking advantage of it, how is it that the honorable member for Melbourne Ports tells us that we shall be doing them an injury if we reduce the duty? If they are not raising the price of the articles they manufacture by 30 per cent., but only by 20 or 15 per cent., to cut down the duty to 20 per cent, will not affect them in any way. If, on the other hand, the statement of the honorable member for Melbourne Ports is not correct, and they are increasing the price of this article, it is time we cut down such a high duty. This is a duty which falls upon the great mass of the people, and whatever the Minister for Trade and Customs may do, surely the honorable member for Melbourne Ports is not here to argue that a particular firm should be allowed to exploit the people of Australia ? So far as the revenue goes, Ministers themselves have admitted that they expect that the importations of this article will be diminished from about £650,000 to about £180,000. Since this duty has been reduced, in spite of what honorable members opposite told us at the time, there has been increased employment given in these factories. The same result followed the reduction of duty in 1895. From 1892 to 1895 the duty in Victoria was 36s. per dozen. In 1895 it was reduced to 30s. and 24s. per dozen, and subsequently to the reduction of the duty by 12s., the number of men employed in the hat trade increased nearly twofold. Those are the official figures. Of course, from my point of view, they do not bear upon the argument, because there may have been a dozen other causes for the reduction ; I quote them to show that the honorable member for

Melbourne Ports has not properly taken the matter into consideration. As one-third of the population of the Commonwealth previously paid no duty upon hats, a duty of even 20 per cent, would be an extremely high one, and, therefore, we might very well accede to the request of the Senate.

Mr TUDOR:
Yarra

– When this duty was before the committee on a previous occasion, it was debated at some length. Honorable members opposite then stated that a duty of 30 per cent, would result in an increase of prices, but although the duty has now been operating for eight months, no one has attempted to show that hats are any dearer in New South Wales at the present time than they were previously. I know that hats are not dearer in Sydney now than they were before the duty was imposed, because I have made inquiries in hat shops in George-street and in other parts of that city. I am anxious that the work of making hats should be done here, and a duty of 30 per cent, is none too high to make that practicable. I have already pointed out that, with a duty of 30 per cent, in Canada, there is only one small hat factory there, employing less than a dozen journeymen. In New South Wales one firm has imported machinery and brought men from England and Victoria for the purpose of manufacturing hats, whereas previous to the imposition of this duty not a single felt hat was manufactured in that State. It is said that a duty of 30 per cent, will put large fortunes into the pockets of hat manufacturers, but if that is so how is it that only one manufactory has started? It is well known, however, that the business is one which it takes a great deal of time to establish, and it will be with great difficulty that the hat manufacturers will be able to continue to work at a profit with a duty of only 30 per cent. The honorable member for North Sydney pointed out when the duty was last under discussion that the hat industry differs from most others in that it was built up under protective conditions, and that as we were promised revenue without destruction, the protection which has been afforded to it should not be unduly removed. But I would point out that whereas the Treasurer expected to receive only £47,000 from items 61 and 62, the actual return has been £77,000.

Mr Mahon:

– All these estimates were under the mark.

Sir George Turner:

– My estimates were made for a normal year, which has not yet come.

Mr TUDOR:

– It was also predicted that with the removal of the Inter-State customs barriers the Victorian manufacturers would flood all the State markets with their goods, but the customsand excise revenue of Western Australia from hats and caps has been £5,813 under the uniform Tariff, and £153 under the State special Tariff. Those figures show that whereas foreign manufacturers have been able to import and to sell nearly £20,000 worth of hats and caps in Western Austratralia, Victorian and South Australian manufacturers have not sold £1,000 worth there. I ask the committee to study the interests of the work people engaged in this industry. That the duty is not too high is shown by the fact that only one manufactory has started under it, and that factory was started by a firm which for years had the State clothing contract, and as it was likely to be taken from them upon the establishment of a State factory, they made up their minds to go into a business which they knew something of.

Mr. CONROY (Werriwa).- The honorable member for Yarra denies that the duty has made any difference to the price of hats in New South Wales, but let us deal with facts, and if he will deliver to me in Sydney £1,000 worth of hats at the prices current before the imposition of the duty, I will give him £150 for his trouble, because I shall still have half the duty, or another £150 for myself.

Question - That the amendment requested be not made - put. The committee divided.

AYES: 21

NOES: 17

Majority … … 4

AYES

NOES

Question so resolved in the affirmative.

Item 63. Hats and caps, sewn, ad valorem, 30 per cent.

Request. - That the duty be reduced to 25 per cent.

Motion (by Sir George Turner) agreed to -

That the amendment requested be not made.

Item 65. Parasols, sunshades, and umbrellas, viz., containing silks,ad valorem, 30 per cent.

Request. - That the duty be reduced to 20 per cent.

Motion (by Sir George Turner) pro posed -

That the amendment requested be made.

Mr. MAUGER (Melbourne Ports).-I recognise that it is useless to oppose the motion, but I think that a great mistake is being made.

Motion agreed to.

Item 65. Parasols, sunshades, and umbrellas, viz., n.e.i., ad valorem, 30 per cent.

Request. - That the duty be reduced to 20 per cent.

Motion (by Sir George Turner) agreed to-

That the amendment requested be made.

Item 65. Parasol, sunshade, and umbrella handles, sticks, and fitcups, whether mounted or not, ad valorem, 10 percent.

Request. - That the articles be added to the special exemptions.

Motion (by Sir George Turner) agreed to-

That the amendment requested be made.

Item 60. Piece goods, viz. : -…..

Special exemptions. - “ Hair cloth and hop cloth.”

Request. - That the word “horse” be inserted before the words “ hair cloth.”

Motion (by Sir George Turner) agreed to-

That the amendment requested be made.

Item 66. Piece goods, viz.: -…..

Special exemptions. - “ Canvas, duck, hessian, and brattice cloth.”

Request. - That the word “canvas” be omitted with a view to insert in lieu thereof the words “ tent and sail canvas and.”

Motion (by Sir George Turner) agreed to-

That the amendment requested be made.

Item 68. Socks and stockings, wool and silk, ad valorem, 25 per cent. ; cotton, ad valorem, 10 per cent.

Request. - That the words “ except silk or con taining silk” be added, and that the duty be reduced to 10 per cent.

That the amendment requested be not made.

We originally proposed that cotton socks should be dutiable at 20 per cent., and that other socks should be subject to a duty of 25 per cent. ; but in deference to the wishes of a number of honorable members, we reduced the duty on cotton socks to 10 per cent. The effect of the alteration suggested by the Senate would be to make all socks except those containing silk, subject to a duty of 10 per cent. This would cover woollen socks, and therefore the manufacturers of woollen socks would be left without any protection whatever, unless the duty upon yarns were reduced from 10 per cent. to 5 per cent. as the Senate suggests. A considerable number of people are employed in this industry, and we believe that we are following the right course in proposing that the request should not be acceded to.

Mr. CONROY (Werriwa).- If the protectionist theory that the imposition of a duty cheapens the article to the consumer held good, the duty upon yarns should have the effect of conferring an advantage upon the manufacturers by cheapening their raw material. Therefore they should be in a position to carry on their operations without the aid of any great measure of protection. Unless it is shown that the reduction of the duty would place the manufacturers under a great disability, the request of the Senate should be acceded to.

Mr. BROWN (Canobolas).- The Senate proposes to maintain a distinction between the duty upon the raw material and that upon the finished article, and if their suggestions are carried out, the duties will be fairly protective in their incidence, and the revenue will not suffer to any appreciable extent.

Sir WILLIAM McMILLAN (Wentworth). - If the requests of the Senate were acceded to in this instance, there would still be a fair distinction between the duty upon the raw material and that levied upon the manufactured article. In order to be consistent, the Treasurer should impose a uniform duty upon all cotton and woollen socks, because it might be just as difficult to distinguish between these classes of goods as between other cotton and woollen garments. Socks may be regarded as one of the necessaries of life, and we should reduce the duty to as low a figure as possible.

Mr. MAUGER (Melbourne Ports).The manufacture of socks and stockings constitutes a very large industry in Victoria. Some of the big distributing houses are making large quantities of these and other woollen goods, and hundreds of operatives are employed in their factories. There is no reason why this industry should be entirely deprived of the protection now afforded.

Motion withdrawn.

Item postponed.

Item 71. Yarns, partly or wholly of wool ; ad valorem, 10 per cent.

Request. - That the duty be reduced to 5 per cent.

That the amendment requested be not made.

We originally proposed that this duty should be 15 per cent., but, in order to meet some objections raised by honorable members, we agreed to reduce it to 10 per cent. We are now asked to consent to its reduction to 5 per cent. These yarns are now being made on a large scale at the Ballarat woollen mills, and I have a report from the Collector of Customs in Sydney, who says : -

On the approach of federation, and in a certain anticipation of a reasonable duty, a complete plant for the manufacture of yarns, worsted and woollen, was imported into this State, and is now in full working order, the number of hands directly employed being above 40. A 10 per cent. rate is considered the lowest at which it would be profitable to manufacture ; and should the suggested reduction be adopted, any further development of the industry could not be thought of ; in fact, it is doubtful if present operations could be continued.

Seeing that the industry is established both in Victoria and New South Wales, there is very little fear of anything in the nature of a monopoly. Under such circumstances, we think that a duty of 10 per cent. is a fair one to place upon this particular article.

Question - That the amendment requested be not made - put. The committee divided.

AYES: 18

NOES: 15

Majority … … 3

AYES

NOES

Question so resolved in the affirmative.

Postponed item 68. Socks and stockings, wool or silk, 25 per cent. ; cotton, 10 percent.

Request. - That the words “except silk or containing silk “ be added, and that the duty be reduced to10 per cent.

Motion (by Sir George Turner) agreed to-

That the amendment requested be not made.

Progress reported.

page 15049

ADJOURNMENT

Railway Carriage of Newspapers

Motion (by Mr. Deakin) proposed -

That the House do now adjourn.

Mr. SYDNEY SMITH (Macquarie . -I wish to ask the Minister representing the Postmaster-General a question having reference to the carriage of newspapers upon the railways of the various States. For some years past it has been the custom in New South Wales to carry newspapers upon the railways, as well as by post, free of charge. That arrangement has recently been discontinued under a regulation issued by the Postmaster-General. I should like to know what is the existing practice in Tasmania and Western Australia, and how long it has been in force.

Sir PHILIP FYSH:
Minister (without portfolio) · Tasmania · Free Trade

– In answer to the honorable member’s question, I may say that in Tasmania the Railway department charges the Postal department a lump sum annually for the carriage of mails, which, of course, includes newspapers. This also includes the free carriage of large parcels of newspapers delivered by the publishers at various stations on the railways.

Mr WATSON:
Bland

– As I understand it, the position in New South Wales is that some newspaper proprietors desire, not only that their newspapers shall be carried free upon the railways, but that special facilities shall be provided for them. I trust that the Government will see the desirableness of proceeding with the consideration of the Postal Rates Bill at a very early date, so that this evil may be dealt with.

Mr SYDNEY SMITH:
MACQUARIE, NEW SOUTH WALES · FT

– Why should a different practice be adopted in Tasmania from that which is followed in New South Wales?

Mr WATSON:

– In New South Wales the newspaper proprietors desire that their papers shall be taken direct from their offices to the train. That was the privilege for which the Postal department paid the Railways of that State £2,500 a year. In New South Wales the Post-office pays the Railway department £12 per mile per annum for the carriage of its mails, apart from the £2,500 to which I have already referred. It is about time that the special facilities enjoyed by Sydney newspaper proprietors were withdrawn. At any rate it is our duty to insist that commercial rates shall be paid for every commercial service rendered.

Mr CONROY:
Werriwa

– I trust that the House will not proceed with the consideration of the Postal Rates Bill, or of any other Bill, when the Tariff has been disposed of. We have already been in session for an inordinate period, and honorable members are naturally anxious to return to their homes. Moreover, the Postal Rates Bill is sure to be a highly contentious measure, inasmuch as it affects the postal rates in three of the States. Further, the Government already have so many points of difference with the States that we should be very chary of adding to them. So surely as we make a change in the rates we shall create dissatisfaction with the Federal Government. I am not now arguing whether the proposed changes will be for the better or for the worse ,: in my opinion, in some States they will be for the worse, while in others they may be for the better. At any rate,’ it ought to be our highest aim to prevent any dissatisfaction. It is a big change that is suggested, and as such it ought not to be introduced at the present time when there is sufficient contentious matter on hand. If I might venture a prophecy, I should say that an increase of the already numerous differences with the various States may possibly lead to federation being swept away.

Mr BROWN:
Canobolas

– I do not profess to be fully seized of the whole of the details, but from information received within the past few days, it appears that differential treatment is being meted out to New South Wales. If such be the case, the honorable member for Macquarie is fully warranted in raising the question. New South Wales has for many years past enjoyed the benefit - and I use the word advisedly - of free newspaper distribution. An arrangement was made by which the Postal department paid to the Railways Commissioners a certain sum for the purpose of covering the carriage of newspapers sent from the newspaper offices in bulk to the various agents. Since the Postal department has been taken over by the Federal Government, that allowance has been discontinued, and the newspaper proprietors have been asked to pay to the Railways Commissioners the amount formerly provided by the Postal department. I understand that in other

States similar arrangements were in force, but that no such alteration has been made there as has been made in New South Wales. If the facts be as I have stated, there is differential treatment which I do not think the Government can justify. If it was the policy of the Government to stop this payment in New South Wales, they should have extended their policy to the other States.

Mr Deakin:

– So the Government did ; there is no likeness between the two sets of circumstances.

Mr BROWN:

– It would be just as well for the Acting Prime Minister to show that there is no such likeness, because there is a very strong impression that there has been unfair differential treatment. As to the special trains, I think it has been conclusively shown, by the Chief Traffic Manager before a parliamentary committee in New South Wales, that they are the best paying trains, and earn sufficient money to cover the cost of running, quite independently of the newspaper traffic.

Mr Watson:

– The State Railway de-, partment will not carry these papers without a subvention from the post-office.

Mr BROWN:

– So far as the Postal Rates Bill is concerned, it has been- shown by the Railways Commissioners that advantages will accrue to the States, but that measure is retrogressive legislation in New South Wales, and I hope it will be a long time before it becomes law.

Sir JOHN QUICK:
Bendigo

– I do not think there is any reason for the terribly gloomy prediction of the honorable member for Werriwa in connexion with the question of State rights. This is not a question of State rights, “but a question of the privileges of certain newspaper proprietors in New South Wales. As I understand the facts, I do not think that there has been any differential treatment of the newspaper proprietors in that State. I believe that at the present time the statute law of New South Wales is being enforced as strictly as it was before federation, and that all the newspapers which are posted in the postoffice are carried free. That is all that can be demanded. Prior to federation, it was the practice of the Postal department in New South Wales to pay the Railway department £2,500 in consideration of the latter allowing the railwa)’ station to be used as a sort of receiving house for newspapers. The newspaper proprietors sent their parcels direct to the railway stations, from which they were distributed throughout the country by train. That practice was not founded on a statute, but on an understanding between the two departments - an understanding not binding on the Federal Government.

Mr Deakin:

– The Railway department is not our department.

Sir JOHN QUICK:

– I support the view put forward by the honorable member for Bland, that there has been no differential treatment. In Tasmania, in the same way, the statute law of the State is being carried out.

Mr SYDNEY SMITH:
MACQUARIE, NEW SOUTH WALES · FT

– I have received a letter which informs me that newspapers are sent free through the post, and also from station to station on the railways.

Sir JOHN QUICK:

– I understand that Tasmanian newspapers, in order to have the advantage of the Tasmanian law, must be posted and treated as ordinary mail matter.

Mr Watson:

– If that is not so, the practice ought to be altered.

Sir JOHN QUICK:

– I understand that what is done in Tasmania is what is done in New South Wales. Newspapers, if they are posted, are entitled to be carried free, but there is not the privilege of using every railway station as. a receiving office.

Mr SYDNEY SMITH:
MACQUARIE, NEW SOUTH WALES · FT

– But that is done.

Sir JOHN QUICK:

– If that is done, then certainly the honorable member for Macquarie has ground for complaint ; but I venture to express the opinion that that privilege is not extended to the newspaper proprietors in Tasmania. I hope the Postal Rates Bill will be pushed forward so that there may be no possibility of any complaint as to differential treatment.

Question resolved in the affirmative.

House adjourned at 10.25 p.m.

Cite as: Australia, House of Representatives, Debates, 12 August 1902, viewed 7 November 2016, <http://historichansard.net/hofreps/1902/19020812_reps_1_11/>.