House of Representatives
4 September 1902

1st Parliament · 1st Session



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

page 15780

QUESTION

DEFENCE RETRENCHMENT

Mr O’MALLEY:
TASMANIA, TASMANIA

– I desire to ask the Acting Minister for Defence if, in view of the fact that he has succeeded in saving £160,000 in military expenditure, he will endeavour, before the return of the Minister for Defence, to reduce thewhole of the military expenditure for next year to £350,000?

Sir WILLIAM LYNE:
Minister for Home Affairs · HUME, NEW SOUTH WALES · Protectionist

– It must not be assumed that we have been able to make’ a reduction of £160,000 in the Defence Estimates because of past extravagance. A number of items of expenditure with which we are now dispensing, might at other times be regarded as necessary. I am* not prepared to go any further at present in making reductions.

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

– I desire to know when the Acting Minister for Defence expects to be in a position to lay upon the table his scheme of defence reorganization ?

Sir WILLIAM LYNE:

– It is quite impossible to indicate the exact time at which that will be done, but it certainly will not be later than the time fixed for the consideration of the Defence Estimates. I hope that period will not be long deferred. If an opportunity offered, I should be quite prepared to give the fullest particulars before that date, but I do not think it would be convenient for the House.

page 15780

QUESTION

GOVERNMENT HOUSE GARDENS EMPLOYÉS

Mr HIGGINS:
NORTHERN MELBOURNE, VICTORIA

– I desire to ask the Minister for Home Affairs if it is true, as stated in one of the newspapers this morning, that it is his intention to dismiss the men who have been employed in the Government House gardens, and to put on casual labourers who are to be paid by the hour?

Sir WILLIAM LYNE:
Protectionist

– It is quite true that, on the recommendationof Mr. Guilfoyle, the men hitherto employed at the Government House grounds are to be returned to the State service, and that certain other men are to be employed permanently, and not from hour to hour, at the usual rate.

Mr HIGGINS:

– Is the dismissal of these mendue to misconduct or inefficiency?

Sir WILLIAM LYNE:

– The men are not being dismissed, but are being returned to the State. So faras I can gather, and I have taken every precaution to substantiate the statements made to me, matters have not been satisfactory. Mr. Guilfoyle had no control over the men, and I conceive that it is right that the Curator of the Botanic Gardens adjoining Government House should exercise some authority over the men employed in the latter place. Mr. Guilfoyle informed me that it was absolutely impossible to continue the old arrangement with any satisfaction.

Mr Tudor:

– Is Mr. Guilfoyle a Federal or a State officer ?

Sir WILLIAM LYNE:

– He is a State officer, but I have communicated with him with the concurrence of the State Government.

page 15781

QUESTION

WESTERN AUSTRALIAN CUSTOMS

Mr MAHON:
COOLGARDIE, WESTERN AUSTRALIA

– I desire to ask the Minister for. Trade and Customs if his attention has been drawn to a statement which appears in the newspapers to-day to the effect that the Customs authorities in Perth have been informed by him that from 8th October next 20 per cent. of the duties imposed by the special Western Australian Tariff will cease to have effect, in accordance with the provisions of section 95 of the Constitution ? If this instruction has been given by the Minister, I should like to know how he reconciles it with the decision of the Victorian Supreme Court, in the case of The King v. Abrahams. In that case it was laid down thatuniform duties of customs had not been imposed. The defendant was charged with having defrauded the revenue, but the court decided that as there had been no authority so far given for the imposition of the Federal Tariff, the charge of fraud could not be sustained. I should like to know how the Minister can, under these circumstances, instruct the Customs officers in Perth, that the duties collected under the Western Australian Tariff are to be reduced by 20 per cent. as from8th October next instead of from a date twelve months after the time at which uniform duties of customs are legally established.

Mr KINGSTON:
Minister for Trade and Customs · SOUTH AUSTRALIA, SOUTH AUSTRALIA · Protectionist

– With every respect to the Victorian court, I do not agree with their decision.

Mr Mahon:

– But the Minister will have to accept it.

Mr KINGSTON:

– Certainly not ; there are higher courts. There is no doubt that we are giving effect to the full intention of the Federal Parliament. Upon the8th October last the federal duties were imposed by collection, and we have been collecting them ever since, and we shall welcome the time when the special Tariff ceases. It has been in operation since8th October last, and we do not intend to continue it - and I do not suppose the people of Western Australia would desire it to be continued - one moment longer than is provided for by the Federal Constitution, in view of the imposition of uniform duties since October last.

page 15781

QUESTION

TEMPORARY EMPLOYÉS

Mr WILKS:
DALLEY, NEW SOUTH WALES

asked the Minister for Home Affairs,upon notice-

In the case of those persons who are now temporarily employed by theGovernment in public departments, especially the Customs department -

. Is it proposed before the Public Service Act is brought into operation to placethem permanently in the positions they occupy, if there is a necessity to retain their services ?

If not, will they be given a preference over other persons when the occasion arises to make permanent appointments, provided that they have displayed their competency to discharge the duties attached to the positions ?

Sir WILLIAM LYNE:
Protectionist

– In reply to the honorable member’s questions, I desire to state -

  1. . Inquiry is being made with the view of ascertaining the names of persons temporarily employed in the various departments, and whether the work on which they are engaged is likely to be permanent. When this information is complete, the cases of the temporary employes considered suitable for appointment will be taken into consideration with a view to their transfer to the staff. 2.no; each case must be considered on its merits.

page 15781

QUESTION

PREFERENTIAL RAILWAY RATES

Mr TUDOR:
for Mr. Kirwan

asked the Minister for Home Affairs, upon notice -

  1. Whether, in view of growing dissatisfaction existing concerning the continuance of preferential railway rates, and the fact that these rates tend to defeat Inter-State free-trade, he means to reintroduce the Inter-State Commission Bill as early as possible next session; and
  2. Whether he is aware that not only in the eastern States, but also in Western Australia, local products are carried at a much lower rate than imported products, and that strong public protests are now being made in those States against such rates ?
Sir WILLIAM LYNE:
Protectionist

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

  1. The great necessity for an Inter-State Commission isbeing demonstrated in this and other ways, and the question of reintroduction of an Inter-State Bill will receive the early attention of the Government.
  2. Owing to complaints of the nature indicated by the honorable member, I entered into correspondence with the Ministers for Railways in the several States, but, finding the effect was not satisfactory, Iinvited the ActingPrime Minister to communicate with the Premiers of the States, and correspondence with them is now proceeding.

page 15782

QUESTION

NEW ZEALAND POSTAGE

Mr CROUCH:
CORIO, VICTORIA · PROT

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

  1. Whether it is true that, with the consent of the Commonwealth Postal department, a letter can be posted in New Zealand to any part of Australia for one penny, whilst it costs twopence to post a similar letter from Australia to New Zealand?
  2. What is the reason for this state of affairs, and has any, and if so what, equivalent or allowance been made to the Commonwealth by the New Zealand authorities ?
Sir WILLIAM LYNE:
Protectionist

– In reply to the honorable and learned member’s questions, I desire to state -

  1. Yes.
  2. The reason is that it was not considered desirable to refuse to accept and deliver in the Commonwealth letters posted in New Zealand and prepaid at1d., as no loss of revenue was involved, and as an equivalent concession was agreed to by the New Zealand authorities, who accepted a id. terminal rate on telegrams to and from the Commonwealth on condition that their1d. letters should be accepted in Australia as fully prepaid.

page 15782

QUESTION

PUBLIC SERVICE ACT

Mr MAHON:
for Mr. Kirwan

asked the Minister for Home Affairs, upon notice -

  1. Whether he will state the cause of the delay in issuing the proclamation bringing into operation the Commonwealth Public Service Act which was assented to early in May last ?
  2. Whether the delay is occasioned by an unwillingness on the part of the Government to comply with section 25, which provides that any officer serving three years, and of the age of 21 years, shallbe paid not less than £110 per annum?
  3. Whether he will state when the proclamation will be issued, and also the date that will be fixed by the proclamation for bringing the Act into operation?
Sir WILLIAM LYNE:
Protectionist

– In reply to the honorable member’s questions, I desire to state -

  1. The delay in proclamation of the Act is due to the difficulty experienced in arranging regulations that will, as faras practicable, provide a uniform system of dealing with the officers, in all the States at present governed by Acts and regulations that are very dissimilar and conflicting. In the various States, too, there are many officers who have not been appointed by the Governor in Council, but are performing work that in other States is done by those on the staff. The immediate proclamation of the Act might leave these officers in the position of temporary employés whose services must be dispensed with at the end of a specified period ; action is now being taken to ascertain the cases where the work and qualifications of these officers would justify their permanent appointment.
  2. No.
  3. Until the full information (which is being collected as quickly as possible) has been obtained no date can be named for the issue of the proclamation . The Act will take effect from the date of the proclamation, but so far as the payment of the minimum salary is concerned, particulars are being obtained as to the probable sum that would be required to pay the increases as from the 1st July, 1902.

page 15782

QUESTION

AMENDMENT OF THE CUSTOMS ACT

Sir WILLIAM McMILLAN:
WENTWORTH, NEW SOUTH WALES

asked the Minister for Trade and Customs,upon notice -

Whether he will introduce, during this session of Parliament, a short amending Bill dealing particularly with section 234 of the Customs Act ?

Mr KINGSTON:
Protectionist

– The answer to the honorable member’s question is as follows : -

The Government are not aware of any necessity for alteration of the section referred to. But if, on full consideration of the different points recently brought before them by representative bodies, they come to a different conclusion, they will not fail to inform the House.

page 15782

PAPERS

MINISTERS laid upon the table the following papers : -

Regulations under Customs Act 1901.

Australian Foodstuffs and Horses for the use of the Admiralty and War-office - Further correspondence.

page 15782

CUSTOMS TARIFF BILL

In Committee (Consideration of requests again made by the Senate, resumed from 3rd September, vide page 15732):

Item 10, Bacon and hams . . . per lb., 3d.

Request again made - That the duty be 2d.

Motion (by Sir George Turner) proposed -

That the amendment requested be not made.

Sir WILLIAM McMILLAN:
Wentworth

– As a matter of personal explanation, and in order to prevent the possibility of the slightest misunderstanding, I wish to refer to a remark which I made last evening. I then stated that I believed we had reached the stage of finality in connexion with the Tariff, and I still hold that the present should be its final stage. Bythat I mean that the Government, in making their proposals in regard to the Senate’s requests, ought to be fully seized of that fact, and ought to realize that every concession which it is possible to make from their stand-point should now be made in the public interests. That is all that I stated, and that is still my opinion. I did not make that declaration by way of threat, or with a view of preventing any honorable member from taking future action. It. was the almost unanimous desire of honorable members to dispose of the Tariff last evening, so that our proposals might be returned to the Senate. But evidently there is no chance of the schedule being dealt with without a certain amount of discussion, although I trust that no attempt will be made to prolong debate. After a certain amount of reflection, I think that upon one or two of these items it will be necessary to take divisions. I do not propose to divide the committee upon each particular item, when one division will practically settle a series of items. But I would point out that the matter which is now under discussion presents a very curious anomaly. It is one of those items which, I think, transgresses in the most cardinal manner the whole principle of our Tariff legislation. I refer particularly to bacon and hams, and butter and cheese. In the first place we have united in one item two products, the value of one of which is about double that of the other, notwithstanding which, the duty upon them is uniform. In other words, if we impose a duty of 3d. per lb. upon bacon, which casts 4d. or 5d. per lb., it practically means prohibition. Now, the only country from which we import bacon is New Zealand ; and, in view of the desirability of bringing about that finality which is so necessary in connexion with this matter, I ask the Minister for

Trade and Customs to reconsider the position. While 2d. per lb. may be a very fair fixed duty upon ham, which costs1s. per lb., or upon butter, which costs the same amount, it cannot relatively be a fair impost upon bacon and cheese, which are worth perhaps 4d. per lb. My object all through the Tariff debates - apart from my position as a free-trader - has been to make this instrument of taxation a reasonably scientific one. I wish to have a simple Tariff, and one containing as few anomalies as possible. Here, however, is a great anomaly. I will not repeat my arguments in regard to the duties upon wheat, and other foodstuffs. I think that these ought to be reduced, if they are not absolutely eliminated, and I understand that one honorable member intends to propose a reduction. If he calls for a division, upon them, I shall be very happy to be found voting with him.

Mr KINGSTON:
South AustraliaMinister for Trade and Customs · Protectionist

– Sometimes the acting leader of the Opposition says things with which even the Government delightedly agree. We regarded with delight his observations of yesterday that the time for finality had come, and I am sorry to hear from him words which now indicate a less rigid adherence to that view. Any way, the opinion of the Government is unchanged. We believe that the time for finality has come. We have not wavered in the . slightest degree. In considering what we should do in order to bring about finality - recognising thatthe public welfare demands the earliest possible settlement of the Tariff - we have given way in respect of certain matters in regard to which we might otherwise have felt disposed to prolong discussion. We have given way, it seems to me, quite sufficiently under the circumstances, and I think it would be presuming a little on our forbearance if matters were again pressed upon us which have been time and again debated and decided. Amongst these are the items to which the honorable member has referred. Last night he was content that they should pass. Why not to-day ? Second thoughts are not always the best. Let us adhere to our resolve to. settle the items in dispute with as little delay as possible, having already passed a resolution which reflects credit upon both sides of the Chamber. Let us show that, when the Government are giving way substantially for the good of the public, there is an equal inclination on the part of honorable members opposite to meet us by adopting a similar attitude.

Sir William McMillan:

– I did not say that #we were content that these items should pass without discussion.

Mr McCAY:
Corinella

– I must’ confess to a feeling of surprise at the statement of the acting leader of the Opposition. Last night he said - “Speaking for this side of the House,” meaning the Opposition, he believed that the time for finality had how arrived. He did not say, “ should have arrived,” and I am sorrythat he expressed his meaning so inaccurately as to lead many honorable members to misunderstand his position.

Mr Higgins:

– I think he will adhere to his promise.

Mr McCAY:

– I think so, too. I merely desire to add that some of the proposals of the Government in connexion with this schedule may not meet with the approval of honorable members upon this side of the House. If necessary, divisions can be taken both against the proposed reductions, and in favour of our original decisions.

Mr SYDNEY SMITH:
MACQUARIE, NEW SOUTH WALES · FT

– We are quite ready to meet, the honorable and learned member.

Mr McCAY:

– I have not said that I will call for such divisions. I merely wish to point out that, if divisions are taken against the previous decisions of this Chamber, they can also be taken in favour of them in cases in which the Government now propose to make concessions. I muse congratulate both the acting leader of the Opposition and the Minister upon the earnestness with which they expressed the hope that. the stage of finality has now been reached. They remind me of the enterprising boy who turns on the bathroom tap, and then orders the water to stop running. We turned on the tap last night, and if the water stops running, it will be very creditable to the water, but not to the tap-turner. I do hope that this committee will see its way to assist in bringing about that finality which is so much desired by giving a unanimous vote upon the matters which are still in dispute.

Mr GLYNN:
South Australia

– I do not know what the Minister for Trade and Customs means by declaring that the Government are giving way. Surely he does not imagine that any concessions made are made by the Ministry only ? As I understand the position, it’ is the House which gives way, and not the Ministry. Last night, when the acting leader of the Opposition made reference to finality, it was merely with the view of impressing upon the Government the need which exists for acceding to the reasonable requests of the . other Chamber. In this connexion I would remind the Minister for Trade and Customs that, considering that the Tariff, as framed by this House, was practically adopted by a free-trade Senate - that out of thousands of items which it contained, only 104 were remitted to this Chamber for further consideration - a little more compliance with the requests of the Senate should have been made than is evidenced by the few compromises which are now offered upon the 23 items in dispute. Upon one or two items, I intend to call for a division, and I do not think that the acting leader of the Opposition by his remarks last night meant to convey that the right of honorable members upon this side of the Chamber to express their opinions upon the adequacy or otherwise of the latest of the compromises, of the Government should be at all abrogated.

Mr ISAACS:
Indi

– In the resolution which was carried last evening at the invitation of the Government, we assumed to do what seemed to me to be impossible, namely, to separate the constitutional question from the Tariff question. We dealt with the constitutional matter last night, and by a large majority the House determined that it would raise no objection to the constitutional right of the Senate - on this occasion, at all events - to send down its requests again. That having been clone, and as we have now reached the practical, Tariff side of the question, it seems to me that, before this House can be asked to reverse decisions which have been arrived at in regard to the items in dispute, some practical reasons for such action should be given. Before we can be expected to alter’ the duties which have been imposed, it appears to me that the Ministry are bound to place facts and . figures before us which will warrant us in doing what I consider would be an injustice to the producers and manufacturers of Australia. I want that information. If the Ministry were really sincere in their declaration that they intend, to deal with the constitutional question apart from the fiscal question, I ask them now to deal with the fiscal question apart from the constitutional one.

Mr SYDNEY SMITH:
MACQUARIE, NEW SOUTH WALES · FT

– I think that members of the Opposition have just as much right to demand from the Government the reasons which actuated them in declining to accede to the reasonable requests of the Senate as has the honorable and learned member for Indi in bases where the Government propose to accede to them. He has, apparently, altogether misinterpreted the opinions expressed last evening by the acting leader of the Opposition. Honorable members upon this side of the chamber were not satisfied to allow these items to pass unchallenged. I have no desire to repeat all that has been previously stated in this connexion, but we feel just as strongly now as we ever did upon the necessity of acceding to many of the requested amendments. Personally I regret that more substantial requests were not made. We must all realize that most of the high duties operating were carried with the assistance of the Victorian representatives. The free-traders of the Federal Parliament represent a majority ofthe electors.

Mr A McLEAN:
GIPPSLAND, VICTORIA · PROT

– They were not very anxious to meet their majority yesterday.

Mr SYDNEY SMITH:
MACQUARIE, NEW SOUTH WALES · FT

– In what way ?

Mr A McLEAN:
GIPPSLAND, VICTORIA · PROT

– They were afraid of a dissolution.

Mr SYDNEY SMITH:
MACQUARIE, NEW SOUTH WALES · FT

– The honorable member talks about a dissolution, but if he and the Government desire it, we are prepared to go beforethe people of the country to-morrow morning. We recognise that the electors are behind us.

Mr A McLEAN:
GIPPSLAND, VICTORIA · PROT

– The free-traders had their chance, and they laid down.

Mr SYDNEY SMITH:
MACQUARIE, NEW SOUTH WALES · FT

– The honorable member knows full well that, taking the number of votes polled for the various candidates at the federal election-

The CHAIRMAN:

– The honorable member cannot discuss that question.

Mr SYDNEY SMITH:
MACQUARIE, NEW SOUTH WALES · FT

– I am replying to a very important interjection bearing upon the question under consideration. Other honorable members have been allowed some latitude in this connexion. The honorable member for Gippsland appears to have the right to make certain comments without honorable members on this side having the opportunity to reply. The honorable and learned member for Indi referred to the discussion on the constitutional point last night.

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

– The honorable and learned member simply said that that question was then decided.

Mr SYDNEY SMITH:
MACQUARIE, NEW SOUTH WALES · FT

– And I am referring to the decision, and endeavouring to show that we on this side are ready to take any step if it will have the effect of driving members to the country. We realize that we have a majority of the electors behind us.

The CHAIRMAN:

– The honorable member is not in order in discussing that point.

Mr SYDNEY SMITH:
MACQUARIE, NEW SOUTH WALES · FT

– I hope every other honorable member will be as strictly held to the item under discussion. If honorable members on the other side are permitted to interject, I claim the right to reply. I could put myself in order in a few minutes by taking a certain course, but that course I do not want to take on the present occasion. As to the item under discussion, the votes of the electors show that those who favour the reductions, both in thisHouse and in the other House, represent a majority of the Commonwealth.

The CHAIRMAN:

– The honorable member is certainly not in order in making those references.

Mr SYDNEY SMITH:
MACQUARIE, NEW SOUTH WALES · FT

– I am giving reasons why the. amendments suggested by the Senate should be agreed to.

The CHAIRMAN:

– There is only one item before the Chair.

Mr SYDNEY SMITH:
MACQUARIE, NEW SOUTH WALES · FT

-But it is a very important item in these times of drought and ruinously high prices. I should not have risen but for the interjections of honorable members opposite, and my only object is to enter my protestagainst the attitude adopted by the Government in regard to very many of the suggestions made by the Senate. I shall have no other opportunity of showing that the votes given in favour of the reductions of duties inboth Houses represent the opinions of the majority of the electors.

The CHAIRMAN:

– That may be done at some future time, but certainly not now.

Mr SYDNEY SMITH:
MACQUARIE, NEW SOUTH WALES · FT

– An opportunity would be presented by my moving the Chairman out of the chair, but, as I say, I do not wish to take that course.

Sir William Lyne:

– Why is the honorable member so excited ?

Mr SYDNEY SMITH:
MACQUARIE, NEW SOUTH WALES · FT

-The Minister for Home Affairs would be excited if he realized the disaster which is following the introduction of the Tariff throughout Australia, and particularly in the constituencywhich I represent. I have to enter my protest against the interpretation put on the remarks of the leader of the Opposition last night. I, in common with others, desire to bring this debate to a conclusion ; and when we have shown by our votes that we strongly object to the present attitude of the Government, we shall have done our part towards obtaining a more moderate Tariff. We have not succeeded in that respect as we should like, but we have used every constitutional power within our reach, and we cannot do more now than enter our protest.

Mr. JOSEPH COOK (Parramatta).Being a man of peace, I rise in all seriousness to hold outthe “olive branch.” What has happened to strike this belligerent note in the honorable and learned member for Indi, who, along with the honorable member for Gippsland, seems all at once to desire a dissolution? My own impression is that if these honorable members thought a dissolution was imminent there would be a “ flutter in the dove-cot.”

The CHAIRMAN:

– I must ask the honorable member not to pursue thatl ine of discussion.

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

– It must be admitted that a very warlike note was struck just now.

The CHAIRMAN:

– It is impossible for me to prevent interjections, and I can only repeat my request that they be not made.

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

– The vote of last night settled the constitutional question, at all events for the honorable and learned member for Indi, whatever the practical aspect may beto-day. There seems no disposition on the part of the Government to reach finality as between the Senate and this House. If I could make myself believe there was a serious disposition in that direction, I should not say a word; but I cannot lose sight of the fact that, in the words of the honorable and learned member for Indi last night, “actions speak louder than words.” An investigation of the Tariff proposals of the Government leads to the inevitable conclusion that they do not desire peace so much as they profess to do. The Government have given way to the extent of 2½ per cent. on one item, but they are retaining duties of from 50 per cent. to 75 per cent on commodities which most nearly affect the domestic life of the people. If the Government had any real desire to meet the other House they would have shown’ a disposition to compromise on the item of agricultural machinery, which is of just as much importance to the people as machinery and metals. On the items on which the Government propose to concede per cent. there was only one vote difference in this House on a former occasion, when an effort was made to reduce the duty to 1 2½ per cent. The Government have to consider not only the division of parties in this House, but also the position of the Senate ; and if the Government were as sincere as they profess, there would have been more evidence in the schedule of an effort to compromise in regard to a number of duties which in this time of trouble and distress affect the “breakfast table” of the people. This is a time above all others when duties press most heavily, and it is singular that at this final stage the Government have left out of consideration all those impositions which most affect people in time of drought. The Government have adhered to the high duties, though their first effort should be to reduce the impositions on food and clothing, and thus afford relief to the great bulk of the community.

Mr Brown:

– Do I understand that we are to vote on the whole of the seven lines before the committee, or will they have to be taken seriatim?

The CHAIRMAN:

– It was proposed last night to submit the seven items together, but I have been requested to put the requests seriatim. The request in regard to bacon and hams is now before the committee.

Mr CONROY:
Werriwa

– If we are to be guided by the direct votes of the people of Australia, the committee should consent to the reductions requested. If we add the number of votes cast for members of the Senate to the number of votes cast for members of this House-

The CHAIRMAN:

– The honorable and learned member cannot discuss that point on this item.

Mr CONROY:

– I am giving reasons why this House should accept the reductions requested, one reason being that the votes of a majority of the representatives of the people have been cast in favour of that course.

Mr Salmon:

– Is the honorable and learned member in order in referring to the debate in the other Chamber ?

The CHAIRMAN:

– No. Neither is the number of votes cast in the Senate relevant to the question before the Chair.

Mr CONROY:

– I am trying to show what the people think on these matters. No doubt it is convenient for those on the Ministerial side to try and burke discussion when we are trying to obtain the reduction of duties which press heavily upon the large body of people who consume bacon and ham, but I feel certain that the community as a whole is opposed to the imposition of such duties. This House has not been before the country since the Tariff was introduced. If it had been, we should have a very different Tariff before us now. Clearly a majority of the people is against the imposition of these duties, because the votes cast for the representatives in both Chambers who voted against them outnumber by 250,000 the votes cast for the representatives in both Chambers who voted for them. I understand that the Minister for Trade and Customs is compiling a list of dutiable articles which will contain many thousands of items. The Senate has practically agreed to the duties imposed on nearly all of those items, partly’ in deference to the wishes of this House ; but the Government now refuse to compromise with them in regard to the outstanding points of difference. I agree with the honorable member for Wentworth that the Ministry, who should desire to bring about finality, are making no attempt to do so, because they are absolutely disregarding the. views of the other Chamber. It is not as if the Senate had proposed that the item be made free ; all they ask for is the reduction of a heavy protecti ve, and, indeed, ,prohibitiverate

Mr FOWLER:
Perth

– I intend to support the Government in regard to this and all the remaining items in the schedule. I heartily indorse all the remarks made by the acting leader of the Opposition last night, and I am sorry that I cannot follow him to-day in his attempt to modify what he said then.

Sir William McMillan:

– I do not desire to modify what I said last night.

Mr FOWLER:

– The impression made upon my mind was that the honorable member did want to modify the remarks he made last night. The Tariff as it will remain when this schedule is dealt with, will not be entirely satisfactory to me; but I recognise that an honest- -attempt is being made to -secure a settlement of the differences between the two Chambers by agreeing to a mean in regard to most of the rates proposed. ‘ We on this side must remember that the supporters of the Government are as much opposed to reductions of duty as we are to the rates as they stand. What chiefly influences my action in this matter, however, is the fact that I represent a large commercial constituency, and, knowing the difficulties and annoyances which the present position entails upon business people generally, I am anxious, above all things, to have the apparently interminable discussion of . the Tariff finished. Whatever we say, and however we vote, the position will not be materially changed. For that reason I do not feel justified in making political capital out of a situation which, although to some extent unsatisfactory to me personally, is, I believe, one which under the circumstances must be acquiesced in.

Mr BROWN:
Canobolas

– I was surprised, and, indeed, pained to hear the remarks of the honorable member for Perth, whom I have always regarded as one well grounded in economical matters, and able to size up political moods. The action which he proposes to take, instead of expediting the settlement of the Tariff, will, in my humble opinion, retard it. We have ceased to fight here about m’atters of principle, and are endeavouring to ascertain what concession should be made by this Chamber in order to effect an agreement with the other Chamber. But will the honorable member, by allowing himself to be dragooned by the Government, obtain what he desires? The members of the Senate hold strong views on these matters, and are in a very different position from us, inasmuch as a majority there is in favour of a reduction of duties. The honorable member, however, proposes to assist the Government in keeping these duties as they, are. I recognise that, having made a fight upon a previous occasion, , and having failed, there is hot much use in making a prolonged struggle now, but if divisions are called for I shall stand by the position I originally occupied.

Mr. CONROY (Werriwa).- I would remind the committee that if we insist upon these duties, and the Senate send back another series of requests, and the Bill has to be dropped, we shall have to take the discredit attaching to the event, because the measure originated in this Chamber.

Motion agreed to.

Item 14. Butterand cheese, per lb., 3d.

Request again made. - That the duty be 2d.

Motion (by Sir George Turner) agreed to-

That the amendment requested be not made.

Item 22. Grain and pulse, n.e.i., per cental, 1s.6d.

Request again made. - That wheat be added to the special exemptions.

Motion (by Sir George Turner) proposed -

That the amendment requested be not made.

Mr. BROWN (Canobolas). - I move-

That the motion be amended by the addition of the words, “ but that the duty be1s.”

What I have to say in support of this amendment can be said very speedily, though, if I thought that by debating the matter at length I could further the object I have in view, I should be prepared to stand here until I dropped. Honorable members generally will admit that under ordinary conditions this duty will be inoperative. According to Coghlan, during the year 1899 there was exported from the Commonwealth 14,500,000 bushels of grain valued at £1,800,000. New South Wales, which is now suffering most from the imposition of this duty, imported from parts beyond the Commonwealth during the year 1901, 11,198 bushels of grain, of which 11,145 bushels came from New Zealand. During the same year, however, New South Walesexported no less than 6,114,580 bushels of grain, valued at £787,000. During that year and for some years previously, New South Wales was exporting grain, but during the current year, on account of the abnormal conditions which obtain, and which have not been equalled within the memory of white men in Australia, it will probably be necessary to largely import wheat to. provide food for the people, to say nothing of that which may be necessary for stock-feeding purposes. The price of wheat generally rules at from 2s. 3d. to 2s. 9d. per bushel, but it has now reached the almost prohibitive price of4s. 6d.per bushel. It is only in times of great scarcity when special consideration should be shown for the requirements of the people, that this duty can become operative, and, in view of the facts I have stated, the committee might very reasonably make the concession now suggested.

Amendment negatived.

Motion agreed to.

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

Request again made. - That the duty be re duced to1s. 6d.

Motion (by Mr. Kingston) agreed to -

That the amendment requested be not made.

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

Request again made. - That hay and chaff be added to the list of special exemptions.

Motion (by Mr. Kingston) proposed -

That the amendment requested be not made.

Mr. BROWN (Canobolas).- I move-

That the motion be amended by the additionof the words “ but that the duty be 6d.”

This would be a fair compromise between the Government proposal and the request of the Senate, and the reduced duty should be sufficient to meet all the requirements of the protectionists.

Amendment negatived.

Motion agreed to.

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

Request again made. - That the duty be 5s.

Motion (by Mr. Kingston) proposed -

That the amendment requested be not made.

Mr. CONROY (Werriwa).- It was demonstrated in this Chamber on a former occasion that the result of maintaining the duty as proposed by the Government, would be to put £15,000 into the pockets of one particular firm. In spite of this, the Minister for Trade and Customs still insists upon refusing the request of the Senate, and honorable members seem inclined to support him.

Motion agreed to.

Item 58. Apparel and attire, and articles n.e.i. . . woollen or silk . . . ad valorem, 25 per cent.

Request again made. - That the duty be re duced to 20 per cent.

Item63. Hats and caps, namely, . . . felt hats . . . . sewn, ad valorem, 30 per cent.

Request again made. - That the duty be re duced to 25 per cent.

Motion (by Mr. Kingston) agreed to -

That the amendments requested be not made.

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

Request again made. - That the duty be5 per cent.

Motion (by Mr. Kingston) agreed to -

That the amendment requested be made.

Item 78, Manufactures of metal, viz., agricultural, horticultural, and viticultural machinery and implements, n.e.i., including shares and plough plates cut to shape, horse gears ; and road-making ploughs, scoops, horse road-rollers, and machines, ad valorem, 15 per cent.

Request again made. - That the duty be 10 per cent.

Motion (by Mr. Kingston) proposed -

That the amendment requested be not made, but that the duty be 12½ per cent.

Sir WILLIAM McMILLAN (Wentworth). - This is an item in regard to which I hope the Government will see their way, not to make what I may call, with all respect, pettifogging proposals, but to generously meet the Senate. This may be described as a great national item, which affects many of the greatest industries of the country. In this new country, where we are trying to imagine that we have a population of 20,000,000 or 30,000,000, able to supply all their own requirements, we should not place an embargo upon machinery which enters, not merely into the life of our primary industries, but into all the ramifications of our manufacturing enterprises. If honorable members on both sides could induce the Government to agree to the reduction of the duty to 10 per cent. as suggested by the Senate, we should be going a long way towards smoothing over any difficulties between the two Houses. When we consider that machinery is of a bulky character, and that the import charges must be enormous, the protection afforded to the local manufacturers will be not 10 per cent., but as high as from 20 to 50 per cent. This is a question upon which we shall, perhaps, have to divide the committee. On a former occasion there was a majority of only one against our proposal to reduce the duty to 12½ per cent., and I am inclined to think that many honorable members whose pairs were recorded against the proposal would have voted with us if they had been here. However, that is a mere matter of opinion. If honorable members are anxious to save the country from a commercial crisis, and to dispel the present unrest and instability which is eating the heart out of the community, an opportunity is presented for a liberal exercise of thatspirit of compromise and concession which must enter, more or less, into our relations with the other Chamber. I do believe it would create a good impression if the Government were willing to give way upon this item.

Mr. BATCHELOR (South Australia).The honorable member for Wentworth has urged those who sit on both sides of the Chamber to press the Government to accede to the request of the Senate. But I desire to point out that in my opinion the Government, by reducing the duty from 15 to 12½ per cent., will throw over the whole manufacturing industry of Australia. Instead of this being a protective Tariff, so far as the great industries of the country are concerned, it is anything but that. It is a thing of shreds and patches, without cohesion or consistency. Relatively unimportant industries are granted a large measure of protection, whilst the great enterprises which are really worth conserving, are treated without consideration. So far as I am concerned, I entirely repudiate the idea that this Tariff is a protective one.

Mr Mauger:

– It is a mongrel Tariff.

Mr BATCHELOR:
SOUTH AUSTRALIA

– The iron industry, I hold, is the most important of our national industries. It is one of the healthiest of occupations, an avocation in which men are not “cooped up,” and in which there is some scope for individuality. It is the industry for the establishment of which we are most warranted in sacrificing some small temporary advantage. I intend to divide the committee against the Government proposal to reduce the duty upon all these items to 12½ per cent.

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

– Then we shall recommit the other items.

Mr BATCHELOR:

– I do not care what recommittals may be made. For my own part I should prefer to give way to the Senate upon every other item in the schedule rather than upon the division which is now under consideration. I am surprised and pained at the action of the Government in making the proposed concession.

Mr Mauger:

– It is the fault of this committee, which gave them a majority of only one.

Mr BATCHELOR:

– But that majority was upon one item only.

Mr Mauger:

– It was a test vote.

Mr BATCHELOR:

– Certainly it was not. The acting leader of the Opposition took all sorts of care not to call for a division upon any of the other items, knowing perfectly well that he would be in a much greater minority upon them. In my opinion, the proposed concession shows that the Government have completely lost any backbone which they ever possessed in regard to this matter.

Mr. McCAY (Corinella). - I must confess that I was considerably surprised at the remark made last evening by the Minister for . Trade and Customs, when referring to the reduction proposed in the duties under the heading of “ machinery.” He recalled the fact that the vote taken in this Chamber in favour of the imposition of a 15 per cent, rate was carried only by a majority of one. Apparently the Cabinet have modelled the whole of their new proposals in regard to metals and machinery upon that one division. There is no need for me to repeat what has been said by the previous speaker. Every honorable member knows perfectly well that there was a smaller majority in favour of a 15 per cent, duty upon agricultural machinery than there would have been upon any other item under the heading of “metals and machinery.” Yet because the Government carried their proposal by only one vote, and because the acting leader of the Opposition and his followers - with that common sense in political warfare with which I have always credited them - carefully refrained from damaging the good impression created by the closeness of that division, they now calmly propose to reduce the duty upon articles connected with the greatest manufacturing industry in the country to 12£ per cent. I would remind honorable members opposite that months ago they unanimously agreed to the imposition of a 15 per cent, rate upon these very items. It will be remembered that the Ministry originally proposed a duty of 25 per cent. They succeeded in carrying a proposal to levy 20 per cent. But, as a result of their desire to be perfectly fair by recommitting these items, some of them were reduced to 15 per cent. In addition to that, they agreed to a reduction of the duties upon some items to 15 per cent., when, if they had possessed the necessary courage to adhere to their opinions, they could have retained them at 20 per cent. We have been told by the acting leader of the Opposition that a very favorable impression would be created elsewhere if the committee would concede the whole of the requests of the Senate upon this particular division of the Tariff. No doubt it would. That remark, however, comes from a gentleman who, from the very first moment when he spoke upon Tariff matters - even before the Maitland ‘ speech was delivered - was looked upon as an ardent free-trader, and who has repeatedly, declared that a 10 per cent, duty was a fair revenue duty. He now asks this committee to sacrifice the whole of the protection which’ the metal workers of Australia require, and to agree to the imposition of a purely revenue duty. Does he believe that 10 per cent, will be a protective duty? I venture to say that if the honorable member had been upon the Treasury benches during the past eighteen months, he would upon the items under the heading of “Metal and ‘machinery “ have proposed a duty of at least 10 per cent. Honorable members would have been told that though he deplored its necessity, it was purely a revenue duty, which must be imposed on account of the needs of the States. Now, however, he and his followers offer the Australian iron workers a protection of only 2£ per cent.

Sir William McMillan:

– How many articles upon this list did honorable members opposite exempt from duty 1

Mr McCAY:

– I venture to say that irrespective of whether my fiscal views are right or” wrong, I have been absolutely consistent from the beginning of the Tariff debate up till the present time. In not one single vote which I have given have I departed from protectionist principles. If the proposal to retain a 15 per cent, duty be pressed to a division, I shall vote against any reduction, whatever. I confess that I am very much dissatisfied with the attitude of the Government in connexion with this matter, and I am very anxious to hear what reasons can be advanced upon practical grounds, as distinct from the constitutional question, for their action. The Government is called upon to explain to its supporters why it proposes this reduction upon grounds of fiscal policy. If the duty is to be reduced to 10 per cent., it had better be abolished altogether.

Mr MAHON:
Coolgardie

– I can see from the expression upon the countenance of the Minister for Trade and Customs that the wail from Gawler and Castlemaine has touched his soul. At the same time I would ask him to remember that the vulturous foundries of Castlemaine and Gawler are living upon a toll which is being exacted from every farmer and miner throughout Australia. When honorable members tell . us that under the Government proposal the Australian metal workers will receive a protection of only 2^ per cent., they forget that at least 2s. 6d. in the £1 is being levied upon every agricultural implement and also upon every piece of machinery which is used to extract gold from the earth. But let me remind the Government that if, as we all hope, the present is the final stage in connexion with the consideration of the Tariff, it may he necessary to go a little further to meet the views of the other Chamber. For instance, in regard to item 78, 1 find that the Senate decided to press its request by a majority of four. On several of the other items the representative of the Government in that Chamber neglected to call for a division, so strong was the feeling that requests should be pressed in favour of lower duties. I hope that the Government will ignore what I regard as a certain amount of bluff from honorable members opposite - a pretended dissatisfaction with the compromise which the Ministry have made. The Senate has very fairly met the demands of this House, and we ought to be satisfied with a duty of 10 per cent, upon these items.

Mr SALMON:
Laanecoorie

– I deeply regret that there should be any special pleading in this Chamber on behalf of any decision which has been arrived at elsewhere. I fear that ere long some honorable members who have indulged in that pleading will find it necessary to adopt quite a different attitude in order to preserve the privileges of this House. Personally I never cast a vote in my life which gave me more satisfaction than that which I recorded last evening, even though, according to a certain newspaper, I was associated with men who are classed as “mere nonentities.” But I would point out that the writer of that article has been a consistent supporter of the rights of the Legislative Council of Victoria for many years, and that his journal will ‘always be found supporting the views of any Upper House as against those ‘ of the popular Chamber. I cannot understand the attitude which is adopted by some honorable members of endeavouring to place every restriction on personal explanation, or on any attempt to avert an injury which it is supposed will accrue from the action of those interested on the other? side. I regret that the honorable member for Coolgardie has found it necessary to specially plead for further consideration^ being shown, for what he calls the expressed desires of another place.

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

– The honorable member for Coolgardie is not pleading for another place, but for the miners.

Mr SALMON:

– The honorable member for Parramatta, apparently, was not listening, or did not appreciate the full force of the remarks of the honorable member for Coolgardie, whose desire apparently is that we should accede to the demand of another place because the division there made it evident that it was the intention of the Senate to insist on their request. We announced by a division that we did not see fit to make an amendment which was suggested by the Senate, and it does not matter whether that resolution was arrived at by a majority of one vote or of twenty votes ; it remains the resolution.of this committee. The Government now propose to vary that resolution, but have given no reasons why such a course should be adopted. If there is to be a reversal of form some reasons ought to be given by those who are responsible for the proposal. The committee are now asked to say that they do not think fit to . adopt the suggestion of another place and fix the duty at 10 per cent., but that we do think fit to modify our previous resolution. Why should the committee be asked to do that, without being afforded a single word of explanation? I feel that the desire is to secure finality ; but have we any guarantee that finality will be secured ? If honorable members had done what I have attempted to do since the vote of last night - that is get some idea of the feeling in another place - they would be somewhat surprised, and would not be so anxious to recede from the position previously taken up. With regard to these items, and this item in particular, honorable members are, in my opinion living in a “ fool’s paradise.” Whether the duty be fixed at 10 per cent., 12£ per cent., or 15 per cent., will not matter so far as the final result is concerned.

Mr McColl:

– What will the result be?

Mr SALMON:

– Further messages from another place, and we shall then stand on very much less firm ground than we should if we had not carried the resolution last night. I am not one whom the Government can accuse of desertion, seeing that I have never failed them in any division on the Tariff. I ‘have been consistent, and have voted in accordance with the principles I advocated during my election ; and these principles I am prepared to advocate at any future election, come it soon or come it late. Some attention should be paid to the desires and opinions of those who in the past have shown that they are prepared to support the Government so long as the Government adopt the right attitude. I must say that the action of the Government on the present occasion is straining my allegiance almost to breaking point. I cannot feel justified in completely swallowing principles which I have previously advocated, and I feel that any duty less than 15 per cent. will not be protective. I do not agree with those who say that 12½ per cent. will give protection. The honorable and learned member forCorinella, in making his calculations, referred to one of the arguments of the honorable member for Wentworth, who, in speaking on the question of a Federal Tariff, expressed the opinion that revenue duties of 10 per cent. would be sufficient. But I do not accept the dictum of the honorable member for Wentworth in this regard ; in fact, I am not at all certain, after having made inquiries, that 15 per cent. amounts to anything more than a revenue duty. These industries have been built up at great cost, and large sums of money have been invested in them, and yet we are asked to give them a final blow, one which will completely shatter their future. Are honorable members aware that in Victoria and South Australia workmen have been discharged since the Tariff was introduced, and the duty fixed at 15 per cent. Are honorable members aware of the enormous number of dependent industries, especially in connexion with the manufacture of agricultural implements ? Foundry men, ironworkers of all descriptions, tinsmiths, and carpenters, are employed in these dependent industries at the highest rates of wages, and yet we are asked to reduce the duty during a time of depression. The Clyde Iron Works in New South Wales has not made a single harvester since the Tariff was introduced.

An Honorable Memrer. - Is that not the result of the drought?

Mr SALMON:

– Not altogether. We have been accustomed to blame the drought for everything, but it is not responsible for all that has occurred in the discharge of employés and the failure of large ironworks to keep going full time. I suppose there are six or seven such establishments in

Melbourne alone, and from one of these 70 hands have been discharged, and from others 200 hands will have to be discharged unless the duty is made 15 per cent. I therefore ask honorable members, instead of agreeing to this wretched compromise of 12½ per cent., to maintain the attitude of the committee in the past.

Mr.J oseph Cook. - The honorable member is stone-walling.

Mr SALMON:

– The honorable member for Parramatta is a much more effective stone-waller than I can pretend to be. I am endeavouring to protect the interests of a number of men who, in a few weeks - or it may be days - will find themselves without employment.

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

– I suppose the honorable member claims a great deal of sympathy with working men?

Mr SALMON:

– I have shown my sympathy with working men in a much more practical fashion than has the honorable member for Parramatta since he entered this Chamber. The method adopted by the honorable member is to take away from working men the means of subsistence and the power to purchase, under the cloak of giving themcheaper commodities.

Mr KINGSTON:

– The Government, in connexion with metals and machinery, have tried to get a duty of 15 per cent. We have fought for that duty, and would at this moment adopt any means to get it, unless those means involved keeping public business in the present state of disturbance for weeks or, it may be, for months. That we are not prepared to do under the circumstances.

Sir Malcolm McEacharn:

– Suppose the Senate reject the item after we give in?

Mr.KINGSTON.- We have a right to expect a great deal better than that at the hands of the Senate, and I unhesitatingly expect better treatment, Do honorable members think that the Government have not fought for this duty? Is there any honorable member whowill bring the charge against the Government that they have not thrown their whole heart into the matter, . and have not done their very best to maintain this duty? It is not for this House alwaysto have its way, and disregard the wishes expressed elsewhere ; and when we see divisions so nicely balanced as those we havehad lately in connexion with items of this sort, I do not think we are doing too much, in the crisis which exists, in giving way to the extent which we propose. I am consoled by the reflection that 15 per cent., so far as this item is concerned, is what we originally proposed, and that 15 per cent., as regards agricultural machinery, is the duty under which Victoria throve and South Australia prospered. Under the circumstances, we are are doing what we ought to do, and what will commend itself to the good sense of the House. I hope the committee will show, not only by their voices, as expressed by the honorable member for Perth, but also by their votes that they recognise we are doing the right thing, under difficult circumstances, in facing even the criticism of our friends.

Mr. BROWN (Canobolas). - I recognise that in connexionwith this item, the Government are travelling along the road towards compromise, and I only regret they did not see their way to travel the same road with regard to the previousitem. The line under discussion is different from the preceding lines to this extent - that from it under normal circumstances, the Government will get revenue, while the duty has a protective incidence on the industries which are established. In the other lines the production here exceeds the consumption, and under normal conditions no revenue and no advantages will be derived from duties. When we had under consideration on a former occasion the advisability of remitting the duties upon machinery, the Government were unable to command as large a majority as they were able to command in favour of the retention of duties such as those upon agricultural products, with which we have just been dealing. Several honorable members who voted for a reduction in the duties upon machinery were opposed to the reduction of duties upon agricultural pro ducts, because their constituents are benefiting by the high prices now prevailing in consequence of the shortage created by the distressful drought from which we are suffering. As the members of the Opposition would not demand divisions in regard to the former set of duties, I hope that a division will not be insisted upon in this case.

Sir LANGDON BONYTHON:
South Australia

– I feel that the supporters of the Government are in an unfortunateposition, although that position appears to be inevitable.I am altogether in favour of the duty of 15 per cent., but I accept a reduction of the duty to 12½ per cent. in order to avoid a conflict between the two Chambers.

Amendment (by Mr. Batchelor) negatived -

That the motion be amended by the omission of the words, “ but that the duty be 12½ per cent.”

Motion agreed to.

Item 78. Manufactures of metals, viz. : - Engines, gas and oil,and high-speed engines and turbines, water and steam ; engines ; boilers, pumps, machines, and machinery n.e.i.; mining machinery, n.e.i.; electrical machinery, electrical appliances, n.e.i.; rails, fishplates, fishbolts, tie plates, switches, points, crossings, and intersections for railways and tramways ; rolled iron or steel beams, channels, joists, girders, columns, trough and bridge iron or steel not drilled or further manufactured ; shafting, cold rolled, turned, or planished ; also bolts and nuts, ad valorem, 15 per cent.

Request again made. - That the duty be 10 per cent.

Motion (by Mr. Kingston) proposed -

That the amendment requested be not made, but that the duty be 12½ per cent.

Mr. MAHON (Coolgardie). - I wish to enter my final protest against the imposition of duties upon an industry which derives no benefit whatever from the Tariff. We might pass fifty Tariffs, but we could not, by so doing, increase the price of an ounce of gold. But while we cannot increase the price of the product of the miners of Western Australia and of other parts of the continent, we have imposed duties which reduce the purchasing power of their wages, and we are now placing a toll upon mining machinery which will render more costly the operations of their industry. The Minister for Trade and Customs has always been regarded by the democracy of Australia as one of their great champions, but when he goes to Western Australia, and attempts to justify this Tariff to the miners on the gold-fields there, he will find that many of those who were among his warmest admirers in the past-

Mr Kingston:

– There is no past about it.

Mr MAHON:

– There is a future, and the Minister will find that these men are no longer to be numbered among his admirers. I do not like the idea of dealing with all the various manufactures of metals comprised in this item in globo, and I had intended to move that the duty upon electrical machinery and appliances and other machinery, which cannot be manufactured to any extent in Australia, be reduced to 10 per cent. ; but,- as the committee is evidently not favorable to an amendment of that kind, I shall not press it.

Motion agreed to.

Item 84. Oils….. Solar oil, residual oil, naptha, benzine, .benzoline, gasoline, per gallon, Jd.

Sequent again made.- That solar oil and residual oil be added to the special exemptions.

Motion (by Mr. Kingston) proposed -

That the amendment requested be not made, but that the duty upon solar oil and residual oil be Jd.

Mr THOMSON:
North Sydney

– I recognise the uselessness of calling for a division against this motion, but I wish toagain point out that the Government, in imposing a prohibitive duty upon these oils, are refusing to take advantage of a source of profit and wealth which would otherwise be available to us. They are taking their present stand apparently in the interests of the coal - mining industry, though, as a matter of fact, it would be more in the interest of that industry to admit these oils free of duty, because their use in remote districts would in a very short time lead to a larger demand for coal in the coastal districts.

Mr WATKINS:
Newcastle

– The honorable member for North Sydney says that the use of these oils will not injure the coal industry ; but I regret to say that the coal miners of New South Wales are already feeling the effect of the competition of mineral oil on the Western coast of America, and as the result of the competition, many of our miners are working only three days a week.

Mr Thomson:

– We cannot interfere with competition which is taking place outside the Commonwealth.

Mr WATKINS:

– But an effort is now being made to establish this competition within the Commonwealth. A good deal has been said about lobbying at various times, but there has been more lobbying in regard to this item, and on behalf of, possibly, the largest trust in the world, than in connexion with any other item in the Tariff. I do not object to persons placing what they consider to be the facts of any case before honorable members, but it is rather much to find that a solicitor is engaged one night in lobbying on behalf of a protective duty, and the next night in endeavouring to secure the admission of certain articles free.

Mr SYDNEY SMITH:
MACQUARIE, NEW SOUTH WALES · FT

– How many members did the honorable member ask not to vote at all 1

Mr WATKINS:

– I did not ask any one not to vote:

Mr SYDNEY SMITH:
MACQUARIE, NEW SOUTH WALES · FT

– I know that the honorable member did.

Mr WATKINS:

– That is absolutely incorrect, and I demand a withdrawal of the statement.

Mr SYDNEY SMITH:
MACQUARIE, NEW SOUTH WALES · FT

– If my honorable friend objects to it I withdraw it ; but I know that requests were made to honorable members not to vote, and that some of those who were in favour of the remission of the duty did not vote.

Mr WATKINS:

– The duty originally proposed was 3d. per gallon, and it has been reduced .by stages to £d., and a further reduction to £d. is now proposed. Surely that is a sufficient compromise. The duty upon naptha, benzine, benzoline, and gasoline is 50 per cent, higher. My fear is not that these oils will be used to provide motive power for mining and other machinery in remote parts of the country ; the competition I fear is from their use on board steamers.

Mr Conroy:

– Would the honorable member agree to a duty of 10 per cent. 1

Mr WATKINS:

– If We could arrive at the ‘ actual value of the oils, I might not object to an ad valorem duty.

Mr. HENRY WILLIS (Robertson).This matter was pretty fully debated on the last occasion when the item was before us, and statements were made then to which the honorable member for Newcastle has not replied. It was conclusively shown that a duty of -id. per gallon would be prohibitive.

Sir William Lyne:

– The duty now proposed is only 16£ per cent.

Mr HENRY WILLIS:
ROBERTSON, NEW SOUTH WALES

– I think that it is at least 35 per cent., and I regret “that the Government have not determined to agree to the request of the Senate to place these oils on the list of special exemptions.

Mr. CONROY (Werriwa).- I would like to supply an argument which the honorable member for Newcastle omitted to use. He forgot to tell the committee that it would be a good thing for the coal-mining industry if we offered up prayers- against the.- shining of -the -sun during the months of January and February, because, if that happened, so many more millions of tons of coalwould be required to warm the earth, and a corresponding increase of employment would be given to the miners of Newcastle and other places.

Motion agreed to.

Item 87. Cement …. percwt., 9d.

Request again made. - That the duty be 6d.

Motion (by Mr. Kingston) agreed to -

That the requested amendment be not made.

Item 136. Explosives, viz., ammunition and cartridges, n.e.i., free.

Request again made. - That the duty be 10 per cent. , ad valorem.

Motion (by Mr. Kingston) proposed -

That the amendment requested be not made.

Sir MALCOLM McEACHARN:
Melbourne

– If it had not been for the constitutional difficulty,I should have supported the amendment requested, because I think that an injustice has been done by the removal of ammunition and cartridges from the dutiable list. There is a duty of £5 per ton on shot, and yet cartridges which are largely made up of shot are admitted free. Thus we are imposing a duty upon the raw material, whilst we are allowing a manufactured article to be admitted free, to the great injury of those who are engaged in the manufacture of cartridges. There should be some way of overcoming this difficulty by charging a duty upon the shot that is contained in imported cartridges.

Mr KINGSTON:

– I recognise the difficulty, and will consider the terms of the Tariff. If I can properly meet the difficulty I shall do so, but at the same time I wish it to be understood that I shall honestly administer the Tariff.

Motion agreed to.

Miscellaneous, special exemption - Articles imported by and for the official use of the GovernorGeneral or State Governors.

Request again made. - That the item be omitted from the list of special exemptions.

Motion (by Mr. Kingston) agreed to.

That the amendment requested be not made.

Item 58. Apparel and attire, and articles n.e.i., not containing wool or silk, partly or wholly made up … ad valorem, 25 per cent.

Request again made. - That the duty be 20 per cent.

Motion (by Mr. Kingston) agreed to.

That the amendment requested be not made.

Item 68. Socks and stockings, cotton, ad valorem, 10 per cent.

Request again ode. - That the duty be 15 per cent.

Motion (by Mr. Kingston) proposed -

That the amendment requested be not made, but that the duty on socks and stockings, woollen or containing wool, be 15 per cent.

Mr TUDOR:
Yarra

– I suppose that it is absolutely impossible to shake the determination of the Government with regard to this duty, but I desire to point out that whilst the manufacturers of woollen socks and stockings had a margin of protection amounting to 15 per cent. when yarns were dutiable at 10 per cent., and the made-up article at 25 per cent., they now have a margin of only 10 per cent. I believe that a great mistake was made in the Senate with respect to certain alleged interviews, which induced the Senate to request this reduction. I regret that the Government have decided to reduce the duty to 15 per cent., but, although there are many other honorable members who feel as I do, I am afraid that any attempt to resist the reduction would result in defeat. I believe that the reduction of the duty will injuriously affect not only hundreds, but probably thousands of workers. The manufacturers have to import their yarns at heavy cost for duty, freight and charges, and with a reduction such as that proposed they will be placed at a great disadvantage.

Motion agreed to.

Mr KINGSTON:

– Although I think that our previous resolution would meet the case, perhaps as a matter of safety I had better move -

That the date from which the amendments now mode come into force be 4th September,

Motion agreed to.

Resolutions reported.

Mr KINGSTON:

– I move-

That the following be adopted as the report of the committee : -

The House of Representatives has amended its amendment in regard to Senate’s Request No. 38. The House of Representatives has made the amendment requested by Senate’s Request No. 37. The House of Representatives has, with modifications, now made the amendments requested by Senate’s Requests Nos. 36, 39, 41, 42, 43, 44, 45, 46, 58, 59, and 66. The House of Representatives adheres to its modification in regard to Senate’s Request No. 9. The House of Representatives has not made the amendments referred to in. Senate’s Requests Nos. 4, 7, 8, 14, 15, 16, 20, 25, 26, 29, 30, 67, 86, and 90. The date from which the amendments now made come into effect has been modified to 4th September, 1902, the date on which the House of Representatives agreed to the amendments.

Sir WILLIAM McMILLAN (Wentworth). - One feels a certain amount of relief now that our work is practically finished. It is not for me to say anything that would convey the impression that I am attempting to dictate to the members of the Senate, but I fervently hope that before the end of next week, the Tariff will become law. It is not our Tariff, but we must have a Tariff.

Mr Ronald:

– It is nobody’s Tariff.

Sir WILLIAM McMILLAN:

– We bow constitutionally to the majority of this Chamber, and I trust that within a week, the Tariff in some shape or other will become law, and that the commercial community of Australia will be at rest, for a short period, at any rate.

Mr KINGSTON:

– I heartily reciprocate the wish expressed by the acting leader of the Opposition, and trust that our highest hopes may be speedily realized. Something has been said to the effect that the Tariff in its present form is not looked upon favorably by any section of this House. That may be so. Of course, if it leant unduly to one side, we might expect it to be enthusiastically received by the favoured section, and still more bitterly opposed by the other. My own opinion is that it is fair to both sides, and I trust that, in its practical working, it will prove of benefit to the community generally.

Mr G B EDWARDS:
SOUTH SYDNEY, NEW SOUTH WALES · FT

– I should like to ask why the provisions of Standing Order 203 have not been complied with in connexion with the preparation of the Message which is to be forwarded to the Senate. That standing order provides that reasons shall be given for disagreeing with amendments made by the other Chamber.

Mr McCay:

– That refers to amendments ; we have been dealing with requests only.

Mr G B EDWARDS:
SOUTH SYDNEY, NEW SOUTH WALES · FT

– My impression is that the standing order would extend to modifications made by us in the amendments requested by the Senate.

Mr SPEAKER:

– The answer to the honorable member’s question is that Standing Order 203 has no relation whatever to the business now in hand.

Mr. CONROY (Werriwa).- As one who has, with others, on this side of the House taken very active steps to oppose the Tariff, I can only say that I shall be heartily glad when we see the last of it. It has been provocative of more bad feeling than any measure we have had before us. It is impossible for honorable members on this side of the House who regard it as an infringement upon the rights of the great body of the people, to look upon the Tariff with pleasure. We must hate it in whatever form it may finally pass. When we see that, in many cases, only one or two individuals belonging to a particular class can hope to derive benefit from the duties imposed, we can only hate and despise the instrument by which such a result is brought about. I was rather sorry that the honorable member for Wentworth, in his anxiety to see the whole matter settled, omitted to point out how the Government, by adopting their recent attitude, have gone the wrong way about obtaining a settlement. If a settlement is arrived at, it will only be because the members of that Chamber are more regardful of the public interests than are the members of the Ministry.

Mr. ISAACS (Indi).- I have had some experience of Ministerial responsibility, and I think that it is only due to the right honorable the Minister for Trade and Customs to say that, whatever our views may have been regarding the fiscal question, or regarding the action of the Government in not adhering strongly enough to some of their proposals, or in adhering too strongly to others, we can all recognise - and so far as I am concerned, I desire to place it on record - the tremendous amount of earnestness and labour and attention devoted to the Tariff by the right honorable gentleman. I think it is due to him at the end of this great work - because it is a great work - to say that this House fully appreciates all he has done, and whether or not we agree in detail, either as parties or as individuals with certain portions of the measure, we ought to recognise that the country is indebted to a large extent to the right honorable gentleman for his enormous attention and labour, and for the selfsacrifice as to time and health and energy that he has displayed. I offer these few remarks as a small tribute to a very great work by the right honorable gentleman.

Mr McCOLL:
Echuca

– I am very glad, indeed, that the honorable and learned member for Indi has, in a few graceful remarks, complimented the Minister for Trade and Customs, because, during the afternoon, I was disposed to think that he and one or two other honorable members were a little too severe upon him. I am delighted, therefore, with the spirit which he has just exhibited, and I join in saying that the Minister for Trade and Customs, in piloting the Tariff Bill through the House, has accomplished a titanic work. Whilst Victorian protectionists may be disappointed with the Tariff in its present form, we cannot blame the right honorable gentleman because they have not succeeded in securing the duties for which they fought. He has battled for them in a way that no other man in Australia could have done. The fact that we have not obtained what we consider are fair and reasonable duties even as a compromise between protective and revenue duties, is due to the defection of Victorian members in this House and in the Senate.

Mr MAUGER:
Melbourne Ports

– I feel that I ought to say a word or two in appreciation, not only of the work of the Minister for Trade and Customs, but of his colleague, the Treasurer. I do not conceal my feelings in regard to this Tariff. I think that very many serious mistakes have been made, but recognise that, considering the many great difficulties which the Ministers in charge of the measure havehad to face, they have accomplished a great work, which will be appreciated by Australia in years to come.

Mr. SYDNEY SMITH (Macquarie).- In view of the compliments which have been paid to the Minister for Trade and Customs and the Treasurer, I feel bound to say that whilst we have had a big fight over the Tariff, members upon this side of the Chamber have always received the utmost courtesy at their hands. At the same time I do not think that the people of the Commonwealth will thank the Government for having levied such high taxation upon them. At this stage, however, I realize that it is impossible to secure more concessions from the Government than w have already obtained. At present we realize that we are in a minority. At the same time it is our duty to endeavour as far as possible to place the full facts of the case before the electors, so that at no distant date we may be able to prove conclusively that there is a strong majority in favour of an alteration of the present iniquitous Tariff. Honorable members opposite must realize that whilst they have a majority in this House, the free-trade members of this Parliament polled more votes at the recent elections than did the protectionist members.

Mr SPEAKER:

– Upon this motion I have raised no objection to references of a complimentary nature from either side of the House, but I cannot permit a general discussion upon the question whethera majority of the electors are of one fiscal belief or the other. I therefore ask the honorable member to confine his remarks to the question under consideration.

Mr SYDNEY SMITH:
MACQUARIE, NEW SOUTH WALES · FT

-But you, sir, permitted honorable members opposite to make complimentary remarks regarding the two Ministers who have had charge of the Tariff Bill. I am merely endeavouring to show that there are other people who are not anxious that compliments of such a character should be paid in connexion with the passing of this iniquitous Tariff.

Mr SPEAKER:

– Upon this question I cannot allow a general discussion as to whetherthe Tariff is iniquitous or otherwise. Indeed, a reference to it by that title, seeing that it has practically been passed by this House, is one which ought not to be made.

Mr SYDNEY SMITH:
MACQUARIE, NEW SOUTH WALES · FT

– I merely wish to record my protest against the high duties which have been imposed. The free-trade party have been successful in securing the remission of taxation aggregating £1, 250,000. We only regret that we cannot secure still further reductions. However, we have done our best in a constitutional way, and now that the struggle is at an end, I hope that that kindly feeling which has hitherto characterized our relations with each other will continue.

Mr. FOWLER (Perth).- I shall try to speak of the work of the Minister for Trade andCustoms, apart altogether from the particular fiscal views which we entertain. I have had frequent occasion to observe that the work of the right honorable gentleman has been of a stupendous nature. It has not been confined to this House, because it must be recollected that he has to administer a very large and exceedingly important department. In his capacity as the head of that department, I have frequently had occasion to come into contact with him, and I willingly bear testimony to his uniform courtesy, his anxiety to give every possibly facility for the smoothing over of difficulties, and for bringing about that uniformity which we all desire, and which I believe under his supervision will be speedily attained.

Mr. BROWN (Canobolas).-From the addresses which have been made, one would imagine that finality had been reached in regard to the Tariff. I am disposed to think that there may be a long row to hoe before that end is attained. I am not inclined to be congratulatory in regard to the Tariff until we are absolutely assured of finality, although I hope that we are very near to that consummation. Looking back at the debates which have taken place during the past eleven months, I think that members of the Opposition have every reason to be satisfied with the work that has been accomplished. On the other hand, honorable members opposite can congratulate themselves upon having two sturdy fighters like the Minister for Trade and Customs and the Treasurer. I believe that if they had not been so ably led we should have been successful in securing much more substantial reductions in the duties which have been levied.

Mr.F. E. McLEAN (Lang).- I think that honorable members upon this side of the Chamber can fairly join in complimenting the two Ministers who have had charge of the Tariff Bill upon the vast amount of work which they have performed. We cheerfully admit that according to their lights they have acted from a high sense of public duty. At the same time, I think that a word of praise is due in another direction. The members of the Opposition merit some commendation for the loyal way in which they have assisted to make the Tariff more acceptable to the people of Australia than it otherwise would have been. I also think that we might fairly compliment our brother legislators in the Senate who have accomplished such excellent work by so materially assisting to modify the duties imposed, and thus to make the measure more satisfactory to all parties.

Mr O’MALLEY:
Tasmania

– I feel that though the protectionist side of the House has not secured all that it desired, the Tariff battle, from the point of view of honorable members opposite, has only just commenced. In due time it will be fought to a finish. I have the greatest respect for the Minister for Trade and Customs, having been a faithful’ follower of his in the South Australian Parliament for three years, and I have every reason to highly compliment him upon his work. We must all admit that, like a matchless athlete, a plumed warrior, and a trained fighter, hehas battled in this Chamber for his convictions, and with few exceptions has been a total stranger to defeat. At the same time I am delighted to thank our friends upon the Opposition benches. It has been a joyous fight, and to me it has been a source of great pleasure. There has been no acrimony, honorable members have studiously refrained from indulging in mean personalities, and we have had a jolly good time all round.

Mr MACDONALD-PATERSON:
Brisbane

– Now that a settlement has practically been arrived at in regard to the Tariff, I fear that the Postmaster-General will find that the revenue of his department will show a considerable decrease. The quantity of correspondence with which some of my friends in this House have had to deal during the past twelve months must have covered reams of note-paper. Indeed, in this connexion, I think that I have contributed a ream or two myself. Therefore, I am very glad that the final settlement of the Tariff question appears to be only a few. hours distant. That settlement, however, has come just a little too soon for some of my constituents, and of those of the honorable member for Oxley. We have been requested to support the honorable member for Melbourne in his action regarding the administration of the Customs department, and we have not yet had time to expel the Minister for Trade and Customs from the Cabinet. Therefore we have been taken somewhat by surprise this afternoon. We’ were beginning to think that we should make some arrangements for the expulsion of the right honorable gentleman by preferring a formal request to that effect to some of the other members of the Cabinet. But there he sits in his place apparently more comfortable than he has been during the whole of the Tariff debate. I can plainly see that he is the best abused man in Australia to-day, by certain sections of the commercial and manufacturing community. Personally, no matter whom I please or displease by the observation, I contend that the Minister for Trades and Customs has done well to banish from the minds of his officers the idea that they are to treat with recalcitrant merchants who will not pass honest entries.

Mr SPEAKER:

– That question cannot be discussed upon this motion.

Mr MACDONALD-PATERSON:

– I bow to your ruling, sir ; but I understood that remarks of a complimentary nature were admissible.

Mr SPEAKER:

– Very much of the debate that has taken place is entirely out of order in connexion with the motion before the Chair; but so long as a desire was evidenced by honorable members simply to pay certain compliments, which may be appropriate upon such an occasion, I refrained from interfering. At the same time, I cannot permit anything beyond such remarks to escape notice. I must then call attention to the standing orders.

Mr MACDONALD-PATERSON:

– I have only to add that I hope we shall not have another Tariff for a few years, or, if we have, that I shall not be a participator in the attendant responsibility. The Tariff during its course through the House has cost me a great deal of worry and trouble, though I know that very exhausting demands have been made upon Ministers. If the Minister for Trade and Customs had not been a giant, physically and intellectually, and if he had not had much experience in administrative work as a. responsible Minister of the Crown in South Australia, he would not have been able to stand the ordeal. There is not an honorable member of this House who has not been the recipient of much correspondence and many personal representations in connexion with the Tariff, and the Treasurer, and the Minister for Trade and Customs have borne much in a similar way for a long period of time. The Ministers have done their duty splendidly, and the result is a Tariff which ought to be satisfactory alike to freetraders, moderate protectionists, and fullblast protectionists.

Question resolved in the affirmative.

Resolved (on motion by Mr. Deakin) -

That the resolution passed by the House yesterday, prior to considering the Senate’s Message No.51, be incorporated in the Message returning the Bill to the Senate.

page 15799

SPECIAL ADJOURNMENT

Mr. DEAKIN(Ballarat - Attorney-

General). - I move -

Wednesday next.

I learn that it is hardly possible we can expect to receive any further measures from another place before Wednesday next.I hope that honorable members who have private motions on the paper will be ready to proceed with them, should time permit during the remainder of next week.

Question resolved in the affirmative.

House adjourned at 3.55 p.m.

Cite as: Australia, House of Representatives, Debates, 4 September 1902, viewed 7 November 2016, <http://historichansard.net/hofreps/1902/19020904_reps_1_12/>.