3rd Parliament · 2nd Session
Mr. Speaker took the chair at 2.30 p.m., and read prayers.
– In view of the . probability of the early consideration of the proposed duty . on wire netting, I wish to know from the Treasurer whether a. refund will be made of any excess now being paid, should the rate be reduced, and of the whole duty now being paid, should wire netting be placed on the free list?
– This question has been asked and answered in reference to a number of items, among which, I think, was wire netting. The reply given in all cases has been that there will be no refund of duty. If a refund were given in one case, it would have to be given in every case.
– Will there not be a refund if the duty has Been paid under protest?
– I do. not think that that will make any difference.
Mr. MAUGER laid upon the table the following paper: -
Post ond Telegraph- Act - Amendments of general postal, telegraphic, and telephone regulations - Statutory Rules 1907, No. 91.
asked the Minister of
Trade and Customs, upon notice -
Is it a fact that the same rates of duty are still being charged on f-in. lining boards as Upon 1-in. or J-in. flooring boards. And hai the Minister yet conferred with the ComptrollerGeneral of Customs with a view to removing the anomaly, in accordance with a promise made by the present Treasurer to a deputation of timber merchants in Sydney some time ago?
– The answer to the honorable. member’s question is as follows : -
The Tariff Commission, after full consideration, recommended the definition of superficial foot under which the duty on timber is charged, and which definition causes the charges to be made as specified in the honorable members question. Any alteration must be made by Parliament, and there is no power to waive duties in the interval.
– A section only of the Tariff Commission made that recommendation.
asked the Prime Minister, upon notice -
– The proposals referred to were considered by the law authorities to be within the powers of the Federal Constitution.
asked the Minister of Defence, upon notice -
Whether he will direct that at all future classes and appointments preference shall be given to the officers and men who are actively engaged in carrying on the work of training rather than to those who have voluntarily or otherwise been placed on the Unattached List?
– The answer to the honorable member’s question is as follows: -
As a general principle the honorable member’s suggestion is recognised, but, seeing that section 24 of the Defence Act provides for Officers on the Unattached List being “ employed for duty with any Corps or on the Staff,” they should not be denied reasonable facilities in connexion with future classes or appointments.
asked the PostmasterGeneral, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follows: -
List of Industries
asked the Prime Minister, upon notice -
Will he, at the next sitting of the House, lay on the Table a list of the industries included in the Tariff to which the Bill embodying the ‘ principles of . the New Protection will apply ?
– The -answer to the honorable member’s question is as follows -
It would be quite impossible to conform’ to the honorable member’s request at this stnge, but the whole question is being dealt with, and when the list is complete full information will be given to the House.
In Committee of Ways arid. Means (Consideration resumed from 2nd October, vide page 4142) :
Division I., Ale, Spirits, and Beverages.
Postponed Item 14. Wine, n.e.i., including Sake, Ginger, and Prune Wines ; and Wines (other than Grape) ; containing : -
Not more than 25 per cent, of proof spirit, per gallon, 3s. 6d.
More than 25 per cent, but not more than 50 per cent, of proof spirit, per gallon, 7s.
More than 50 per cent, of proof spirit, per gallon, 14s.
– Under the old Tariff the duty on these beverages, when they contained not more than 25 per cent, of proof spirit was in’ bottle, 8s. per gallon, and in bulk 6s. per gallon ; but the Department consider that it would be illogical, since fruit syrups and fruit juices containing not more than 25 per cent, of proof spirit are admitted on payment of a duty of 3s. 6d. per gallon, to charge 8s. per gallon on a beverage like cowslip wine, for example, containing only 5 per cent, of proof spirit. There was also some difficulty at times in distinguishing between cordials and- such beverages, which do not compete with
Australian wines, and are not imported for the purpose of taking the place of ordinary wines.
– They do take the place of ordinary wines.
– Not to any extent.
– Why not bring this item into conformity with item 8?
– That is practically what is being done. There will be little or no loss of revenue if the proposed arrangement be adopted, and no injury will be done to the Australian producers.
– I think that if the duty is reduced as proposed the consumption of the articles on which it is charged will largely increase.
– The departmental officers say not.
– The departmental officers cannot say what will be the effect of reducing the duty from 6s. in bottle and 8s. in bulk to 3s. 6d., but the probability is that there will be a greater consumption of these beverages because they will be cheaper. The spirit adulterated with kerosene which is sold by druggists is sometimes consumed by persons who are fond of strong drink. Kerosene is mixed with it to give it a disagreeable taste and smell to prevent its consumption, but I have known persons to drink white spirit so adulterated, and, on one occasion, I was told by a druggist, in reference to a woman who had come into his shqp to buy a bottle of this spirit for 3d. or 6d. that that was the sixth time that she had come in that day. She was a member of a travelling show company. In my opinion, the consumption of these beverages will be greatly increased if the duty is reduced.
– The ComptrollerGeneral , of Customs, who has had a lot of experience, savs that that will not be so.
– He has not had experience of the effect of so low a duty as is now proposed. The Victorian duty was never so low.
.- The Minister should give us a better reason for this proposed reduction. One of the beverages included in the item is a drink largely used by Japanese and Chinese, ajnd surely we are notgoing to reduce duties to make their drinks cheaper while increasing duties to make European drinks dearer? Unless I hear better reasons for the proposed re duction, I shall move to make the duty 6s. That will get rid of any confusion which may have existed by having the two rates of 6s. and 8s.
– In Canada the duty is only is.
.- While I welcome the departmental proposal to reduce a duty, I must point out that both sections of the Tariff Commission reported in favour of the old rates, which were 6s. in bottle and 8s. in . bulk where the alcoholic strength did not exceed 35 per cent. ; 8s. ffd. and 10s. 6d. where it did not exceed 40 per cent. ; and 14s. where it exceeded 40 per cent. The new rates, are 3s. 6d. per gallon -where the alcoholic strength does not exceed 25 per cent. ; 7s. per gallon where it does not exceed 50 per cent. ; and 14s. per gallon where it exceeds 50 per cent, of proof spirit. This seems an extraordinary alteration, and I see no reason for it. Twentyfive per cent, of proof spirit must be a fairly strong drink, and the proposal that it should be admitted at a duty of 3s. 6d. per gallon is a very novel one.’ There is no object to be gained by this alteration. Why should, we depart from the old rates, which have been confirmed by both sections of the Tariff Commission? If an honorable member would move that the duty of 3s. 6d. per gallon be left out, with a view to insert the old rates of 6s. and 8s. per gallon, I should be disposed to support it.
– Could that be done?
– Yes, so long as we do not go beyond the duty at present by law col-
– I would ask the right honorable member for East Sydney not to press his objection. I am advised by my officers that from a revenue stand-point this alteration is immaterial.
– They have had no experience of it.
– I think that the experience of Dr. Wollaston and his officers is at least equal to that of the honorable member, and they tell me that from a revenue stand-point this alteration is immaterial. The change has been made to suit the convenience of the Department and the public, and the only question to be considered is, what is the most desirable way of dealing with the item. I think we ought to follow the advice of our officers, who wish to adopt the system best suited to the convenience of the public.
– I do not wish to press any amendment.
– I think we may fairly assume that there axe substantial reasons for this change, otherwise the officers of the Department would not have suggested a departure from the recommendation of the Commission, who, after all, could scarcely be expected to consider every detail.
.- I think that the Government are making a! mistake. The alteration may have been proposed to suit the convenience of the officers of the Department, but it occurs to me that1 they are in error in anticipating that it will have no detrimental effect on the revenue. A liquor containing 24 per cent, of alcohol is as strong as any one need desire. If we allow Japanese sake to come in at the rate proposed, many tipplers, who desire quantity for their money, may resort to its use, and thus there may be a considerable run upon it, leading to grave destruction of the revenue. I think we should act wisely in adhering to the old rate.
.- I understand that the leader of the Opposition advocates the retention of the higher duties.
– Has the honorable member any knowledge of sake, the Japanese drink ?
– I imported some of it, and had to pay duty amounting to 400 per cent. I should not be inclined to import any more of it, even as a curiosity.
– Is it a pleasant beverage?
– It is to those who become accustomed to it. If the right honorable member can imagine the taste of a glass of sherry diluted with exhausted soda water, he will be able to form some idea of its flavour. It is a very mild spirit, as sold in Japan, where it can be purchased for about 2s. 2d. per gallon.
– Could whisky be made out of it?
– Whisky can be made from rectified spirit, but I do not think it would pay to adopt that system. Does the leader of the Opposition consider the new duties are too low?
– These are revenue items?
– But the right honorable member could scarcely describe 400 per cent, as a revenue duty.
– Heavy duties are alwaysimposed on spirits.
Mr.MALONEY.- I congratulate the honorable member on his change of view.
Item agreed to.
Division II. - Tobacco and manufacturesthereof.
Item 17. Tobacco manufactured, n.e.i., including the weight of tags, labels, and other attachments, per lb., 3s. bd.
Sir WILLIAM LYNE (Hume- Treasurer [2.52]. - We have now reached a. very intricate division. I am sure that those who have attempted to unravel thesystem by which one item is dove-tailed into another, must have experienced considerable difficulty in doing so.
– Some of us have been, wrestling for weeks with the division.
– My honorablecolleague the Minister of Trade and Customs secured the services of the Government tobacco expert of Queensland.
– He is a good man.
– Every oneadmits that he thoroughly understands hiswork, and “the Government have decided to ‘follow histecommendaition. I havehad it typewritten, so that the intricaciesof the question may be clearly put beforehonorable members. I shall read theseproposals very slowly, and if honorablemembers, whilst following me, refer to the Tariff they will be able to tell in a moment what amendments are contemplated. I shall also describe what will be the result of the proposed alterations. I do not think that we can deal with thisdivision apart from the Excise duties relating to it, and I propose, therefore, tomove the postponement of the remaining, import duties, in order that we may reach the Excise schedule on the last page of theTariff, and deal concurrently with the Customs and Excise duties on tobacco and manufactures thereof.
– That is the only, satisfactory way of dealing with the subject.
– I think it is. But I trust that honorable members will not regard as a precedent my action improposing to ‘ postpone the rest of the import duties in order that the Excise duties-‘ on tobacco may be considered concurrently with the Customs duties on it.
– Let us first of all dispose of the division before us; and their postpone the remaining item’s in the schedule of import duties in order that the’ tobacco Excise duties may be dealt with.
– As it seems to be the desire of the Committee that the course suggested by the honorable member for . South Sydney be adopted, I shall follow it.
Honorable Members. - Hear, hear.
– Whilst the Government are in full sympathy with the desire of the Tariff Commission to afford the fullest encouragement to the growth and use of Australian-grown leaf - and honorable members will find that the division, as it stands, follows the recommendations of one section of the Commission - an examination of the recommendations of the Commission will, I am confident, clearly demonstrate that, if they are given effect to, their intentions cannot possibly be realized. That is proved by the objections raised by those interested in the industry, as well as by experts, to the Tariff as introduced. It may be readily shown by taking the recommendations in order, and examining the protective incidence which would result in each case. A slight modification, however, ‘ may be made which will amply provide for what is so much desired. Take item 17, the first in this division. The proposal of the protectionist section of the Tariff Commission is that the duty on that item, “Tobacco, manufactured,” shall be 3s. 6d. per lb. If we turn to the Excise, to fully understand the position, we must compare this with the rates proposed on unmanufactured leaf to be manufactured into tobacco and the Excise duty to be paid on such manufacture. We find on turning to item 21 that the recommendation is unstemmed leaf, is. 9d. per lb. ; stemmed or in strips’, 2s. per lb. ; and the Excise on manufactured is. 3d. per lb., as it was anticipated that the cost of stemming would be 3d. per lb. That is a point of which I had previously no knowledge; but it is estimated very generally that stemming would cost what I have mentioned.The duty on the leaf would therefore be equivalent in either case to 2s. per lb. on that assumption. This affords a protection to the manufacture of tobacco from imported leaf of 3d. only, as compared with 9d. under the 1902 Tariff. It is clear that a margin of 3d. per lb. when the cheaper labour conditions of. the United States are taken into consideration-
– The cheaper .’labour conditions ?
– Yes. I think that allowance must be made for the negro labour which is employed in the Southern. States.
– Where the stemming is done by negroes?
– Yes. It is clear that a margin of 3d. per lb. when the cheaper labour conditions of the United States are taken into consideration is altogether insufficient to compete with the imported tobacco, and the inevitable result will be - if this proposal be adhered to - that the importation of manufactured tobacco will very largely increase, and the manufactories here will be seriously affected. I wish to draw special attention to the fact that whilst we are prepared to spare no effort to encourage the use of the local leaf, we recognise that important aid to its encouragement and existence will be found in well-equipped factories in Australia, and we must be careful in seeing that whilst they are not permitted in the slightest degree to discriminate unfavorably against ‘ any local interest, their existence is not imperilled. I have been in close consultation with Mr. Nevill, the tobacco expert of Queensland, whose recommendations I think the Tariff Commission intended to follow. I have his assurance that he intended the Commission to draw from his evidence the conclusions which I am putting before the Committee at the present moment, but that his statements were misinterpreted - not intentionally, of course- and therein the trouble appears to have arisen. He has suggested to the Government that whilst the duty on imported manufactured tobacco might properly be fixed at 3s. 6d. per lb., the duty on imported leaf for local manufacture should be rated at (a) unstemmed, is. 6d. per lb., (b) stemmed, 2s. per lb., with an excise of is. per lb.
– From whose report is the Treasurer reading?
– These rates are practically what Mr. Nevill, the Queensland expert, recommends. They would give approximately a preference of 9d. per lb. to the local manufacturer of tobacco from imported leaf.
– But should not tobacco be stemmed when it is green?
– I d6 not know . whether it is stemmed when it is green or when it is dry. I think that it is stemmed when it is dry. In regard to the manufacture of tobacco from local leaf, Mr. Nevill would increase the preference from 2S. 3d. to 2s. 6d., as compared with the recommendations of the Tariff Commission.
– Does the Treasurer propose a rebate upon “twist” tobacco?
– There is some proposal in reference to that matter. I come now to item 18, “Tobacco, cut, n.e.i.” In this connexion the Government propose a duty of 3s. od. per lb. The Tariff Commission made no recommendation in this respect, but it is thought that it is proper to encourage the cutting to be undertaken in Australia, and the extra 3d. per lb. will probably do a great deal to bring about that result. That is the reason for the increase.
– That is what Mr. Nevill says, is it?
– All these statements proceed from Mr. Nevill.
– A boy would cut many tons in a daw
– This is a very intricate subject, and I prefer to accept the ideas of an expert - who must understand a great deal more about it than a layman - to those of a non-expert. With regard to item 19, “ Tobacco, cut fine for cigarettes, per lb. 6s 6d.” , I wish to say that this also is a proposal by the Government. It has been introduced with the idea of protecting the cigarette industry, but experience has already .shown that it is extremely difficult to distinguish what may properly be termed cigarette tobacco from what may not. There is a very large consumption of light, fine cut tobacco for pipe smoking, and it is therefore proposed to strike out this item. It will then be included under 18, in respect of which a duty of 3s. 9d. per lb. is imposed.
– The Government will strike out the duty of 6s. 6d. per lb. altogether ?
– That is the proposal.
– Otherwise the labour of a lot of cigarette manufacturers will be destroyed.
– Then the Excise will also be dispensed with?
– I will give the honorable member the information in regard to the Excise presently. With regard to item No. 20, “ Tobacco, unmanufactured, per lb., 3s. 3d.”, further consideration sug gests that this duty might well be assessed at 3s. 6d. per lb. In the printed schedule it is, assessed at 3s. 3d. per lb.
– Why do the Government propose to increase that duty ?
– The latter portion of the proposed amendments will answer the honorable member’s inquiry. The increase will make the rate of duty uniform with that levied upon item 17. In regard to paragraphs c of items 21 and 22, “Clippings and cuttings, and any similar waste, per lb, 4s.”, we propose to strike them out, since - it would be extremely difficult to distinguish between these clippings and cuttings and other tobacco. As a result, they will fall within the designation of item 18, or of paragraph b of item 21, “ Stemmed or in strips,” according to the character of the article imported.
– But we do not import any of these clippings or waste.
– I had a long conversation with Mr. Nevill upon this point. He assured me that it would be very difficult to distinguish this fine cut tobacco. I asked him whether an expert could not distinguish it, and he replied that he might do so, but it would be very difficult.
– -To what rate do tha Government propose to reduce the duty ?
– The rate in the schedule is 4s. per lb., and we propose to reduce it to 3s. 9d. per lb., or the clippings and cuttings, and similar waste may come under item 21, at 2s. per lb.
Colonel Foxton. - I understand that it is good tobacco, but that it is cut very small. . J
– The reason a duty of 4s. per lb. has been imposed upon it is that the tobacco is of a superior quality. Item 23, “ Tobacco destroyed for manufacture of sheep wash, or other purposes under departmental by-laws,” will be admitted free. Tn regard to item 24, “ Cigars, including the weight of bands and ribbons, per lb., 6s. 3d., and ad valorem, 15 per cent.”, it is suggested that that duty shall be retained. Upon all importations it averages roughly about 7s. 4d. per lb. The Government propose that the imported’ leaf used for the manufacture of cigars shall be charged (a) unstemmed, 3s. per lb., and (b), stemmed, or in strips,’ 3s. 3d. per lb., which - after taking into consideration the cost of stemming - it is thought will work out at 3s. 3d. per lb. If we add to this the proposed Excise of (s), machinemade, is. per lb. ;(b), hand-made, 6d. per lb., we shall find that the preference on cigars made locally from imported leaf is, on machine-made, 3s. ifl. per lb., and on hand-made, 3s. 7d. per lb., as against 4s. 4d. per lb. under the 1902 Tairiff.
– What is the reason for the increased duty upon machine-made cigars, as against the hand-made?
– I shall refer to that point presently. The Government now propose, on the recommendation of Mr. Nevill, to substitute for the composite duty - that is, the 15 per cent, ad valorem, and the specific duty of 6s. 3d. per lb. - a specific duty of 7s. 6d. per lb. The Government propose that there should be no discrimination between machine-made and hand-made cigars; that imported unstemmed leaf for the manufacture of cigars should be rated at 2s. 6d. per lb., and stemmed leaf at 3s. per lb., with the Excise fixed at 6d. per lb. That will afford a protection to the local manufacture from imported leaf over imported cigars of 4s. 3d. per lb., and a protection . to the manufacture of cigars from local leaf of 7s. per lb.
– Is that enough?
– That is a question for the Committee, but the expert thinks it is enough. In regard to the alteration from an ad valorem to a fixed rate of duty, I may point out that the composite duty has little advantage or effect in protecting our local manufacturers from the large quantities of cheaply made cigars which inundate this market, and for that reason the fixed rate is preferable. Mr. Nevill explained to me the estimated cost of those cheap imported cigars, and I shall deal with that matter later on. The discrimination suggested in favour of hand-made cigars is one which, if given effect to, will certainly not have the result desired. . We cannot shut our eyes to the fact that the machine-made cigars of other countries, where cheap labour is employed are the chief competitors of our industry. To oenalize the manufacture of machinemade cigars in Australia, simply encourages a transfer of the industry, and will undoubtedly increase importations.
– Not if there is sufficient protection against the outside world.
– That point also struck me, and when I asked the expert for an explanation, he gave the reason I have just stated.
– The expert is wrong there.
– The expert has been found wrong only once so far. I am giving these details, bearing on the whole of the division, because, I know this is a matter which will attract a good deal of attention ; and honorable members who may have received further information on these points, will have an opportunity to. lay it before the Committee.
– The machines are in the hands of the Trust, and no others are ‘permitted to use them.
– That is not so.
– Here we have a difference of opinion at once; and, therefore, I think it wise to lei honorable members know what is said by the Commission. In regard to cigarettes, no alteration is proposed in the import duty, but it is proposed to vary very slightly the recommendation of the protectionist section of the Commission in regard to the rates on imported manufactured tobacco for the making of cigarettes as set out in item 21. We propose a duty of i s. 6d. per lb. on unstemmed tobacco, and of 2s. per lb. on stemmed tobacco, with an Excise of 2s. 9d. This gives a preference’ to the manufacturer of cigarettes from imported leaf, over imported cigarettes, of is. 9d. per lb., when the leaf is stemmed, and, when the leaf is unstemmed, a preference of 2s. per lb. The protection to cigarettes made wholly from locally-grown leaf, as compared with imported . manufactured cigarettes, will, according to our proposals, be 3s. 9d. I may add that a very important feature of the proposals of -the Tariff Commission was the discrimination between imported stemmed and unstemmed leaf ; and this has the ‘ fullest sympathy of the Government. But we consider that the difference of only 3d. per lb. will not sufficiently compensate for the cheaper labour available elsewhere, and we have widened the margin to 6d. j in other words, we have reduced the’ import dutv on unstemmed leaf to is. 6d., as compared with the duty of is. 9d. recommended by the Tariff Commission. We desire to insure success in this direction, since, according to our present importations, it is estimated that employment will be provided for 600 additional hands. We must also keep in view the fact that the present demand for tobacco reaches about 12,000,000 lbs. ; which we can meet at the present time by a local supply in favorable seasons, of only about 2,500,000 lbs. or 3,000,000 lbs.
We are confident that at a later date, we shall be able to grow and manufacture the highest classes of tobacco in sufficient quantity to meet all our requirements. The rates now proposed by the Government are, we consider, more’ advantageous to the grower and manufacturer, than those proposed by the Tariff Commission, and much in advance of the 1902 Tariff. In saying this I do not wish for one moment to imply that the Tariff Commission did not exercise, as far as they could, the greatest discretion, but Mr. Nevill says that his evidence was entirely misunderstood by the Commission. Mr. Nevill believes that to be the reason why the Commission made their recommendation- that the recommendation was not from any desire to handicap local manufacturers, in the way their proposal seems to be doing at present.-
– The evidence cannot -have been given very clearly.
– Was Mr. Nevill’s evidence misunderstood, or has he altered his opinion? ‘
– I do not think that ‘Mr. Nevill has altered his opinion. If the honorable member- had any conversation with him lie would be impressed, not only with Mr. Nevill himself, but with that gentleman’s knowledge of the subject. He seems to be a very earnest man who thoroughly understands what he is talking about ; and that is why the Government, through the courtesy of the Queensland Government, availed themselves of the opportunity to obtain his advice. I do not propose to say more _ at present, because I think honorable members will have clearly gathered what the intentions of the Government are.
– It would ‘be a great convenience if the facts and figures stated by the Treasurer were issued on printed slips.
– Although these proposal’s are submitted on the advice of an expert, there are, I think, many honorable members who have a knowledge of the subject, who will be found to agree with them; and the Government would be very glad to hear any information or suggestion which would further the carrying out of the spirit of their intentions..
.- It is rather difficult to follow the statement of the Treasurer, but the effect, as I understand, is to give greater protection to the local leaf.
– Yes, and greater protection to .the manufacture of imported leaf in Australia.
– It is proposed to give greater preference to local leaf, - and yet, at the same time, the Treasurer has quoted figures to show that it will be some years to come before the local leaf will supply the demand. That conclusion is borne out by the report of the Tariff Commission! j and yet, by this new differentiation against the importation of stemmed leaf, the proposal is to give greater encouragement to the consumption of local leaf.
– That is not so.
– That is what I understood the Minister to say. According to the figures of the Treasurer, the duty on unstemmed leaf instead of is. 9d. is to become is. 6d., with an excise of is., making 2s. 6d. in all on the product. The import duty is to remain at 3s. 6d., so that there is a difference not of 9d. but of is.
– Yes, if we take the unstemmed leaf into account.
– That is what I am doing. The duty on stemmed leaf is to be 2s., with an excise of is. On tobacco locally manufactured from imported stemmed leaf there will’ be a levy by the Government of 3s., as against an import duty .of 3s. 6d ; in other words, the difference and, therefore, the protection, will be 6d. The duty on stemmed tobacco is to be 2s. ; and honorable members will immediately see that the Treasurer again departs from the line prescribed by his figures. The honorable gentleman said that the cost of stemming is 3d., but he makes a difference of 6d. ; and I fall back om my primary statement that what he is doing is to give greater protection than was originally proposed to local stemming, and, by a consequence, to local leaf. That conclusion has been arrived at on the advice of an expert, who in the last few months has changed his opinion.
– The expert has made one alteration of 6d.
– I cannot assume that the Commission has made a mistake as against the expert. . The Commission was composed of four members who may be described as prejudiced one way, and four members who were prejudiced another way.. We have the clear words of the expert,and still we are told that the members of the Commission have made a mistake; but
I prefer to think that the expert has changed, his opinion, and that, possibly, the Ministry have helped him to do so. I suggest - and I intend to test the question - that we should revert to the rates established in 1901-2, which have worked very well. Of course, while willing to consider the interests of importers and of local manufacturers, in view of the quantity of tobacco consumed in Australia, we must, in the interests of the general public, pay some attention’ to revenue, price, and quality. There is a very large public interested in the question of quality and price. Surely then we are not going to give too much encouragement to the local manufacturers who, according to the report of the Royal Commission of 1906, are almost all in combination, so that they have at least a partial monopoly. We are surely not going to give too much encouragement to local growers at the expense of the consuming public, with whom the first consideration is quality. I suggest that, for various reasons, we should go back to the position of 1901 and 1902. When the Tariff was introduced in 1 901, an import duty of 3s. 6d. was proposed, but after a long debate it was determined that a rale of 3s. 3d. would be sufficient.
– And after inquiries had been made by Sir George Turner.
– I am glad that the honorable member has reminded me of that. He took a great interest in this and other questions affected by the Tariff. Sir George Turner said publicly at one stage of the debate that, although his proposition allowed a difference of is. in favour of the local manufacturers, he was prepared, after full consideration of all the circumstances, to regard a preference of 9d. as adequate, and to that Parliament agreed. But the rates proposed by the unaltered resolutions are an import duty of 351. 6d. on manufactured tobacco, and of 2S- on stemmed leaf, with an Excise duty of is. 3d. on locally manufactured tobacco, giving a protection to the local manufacturer of only 3d. instead of the former protection of 9<J. On tobacco made from imported unstemmed leaf the protection will be 6d., the import duty on unstemmed leaf being only is. 9d. The adoption of these rates suggests that it was considered that the cost of stemming is equal to 3d., but now the Government is departing from what was a symmetrical arrangement, making the differ ence between the import duty oil stemmed leaf and that ‘on unstemmed leaf 6d.
Colonel Foxton. - One-third of the weight is lost in stemming.
– I am dealing merely with the statements of the Minister. This change seems to have been made’ after a conference with Mr. Nevill, the Queensland expert - I do not say that he is the mouth-piece of the Queensland Government - who has had the advantage of presenting a special report, another report on the subject being practically his. The upsetting of the former symmetrical arrangement will give- greater and disproportionate protection to the local leaf, which is produced chiefly in Queensland ; but Mr. Nevill seems to have gone back on the evidence which he .gave before the Tariff Commission in reply to question 28,419. I have only glanced at much of the evidence taken bv the Commission, because it would be impossible for any man who had other matters to attend to to do more, but I again testify to the splendid public service of its members, and especially of the free-trade section, who may have had less help from official sources than was given to the protectionist section. According to Mr. Nevill, in Virginia- the stemmed leaf is put on the market -
After that the re-handler gets hold of it, and he allows it to hang in his drying-room fo’r two or three months. That tobacco is not taken out until the following spring, say in May or June. Then it is put into hogsheads, holding from 1,200 to 1,400 lbs. This continuous handling, with freezing and thawing, and the coming and going of soft and dry weather, eliminates the objectionable qualities of the tobacco, and develops its flavours.
Probably, since a long course of treatment must be undergone bv .stemmed leaf in America, stemmed leaf here must undergo similar treatment. If the differentiation between stemmed and unstemmed leaf remains at 6d., local manufacturers will not be able to import stemmed leaf without raising prices.
– Does the honorable member know what is the cost of stemming abroad ?
– I am dealing only with the statements of the Minister, and am speaking from what I have read 6n the subject. According to a memorandum which has been placed before me, the stemming in Australia of imported unstemmed leaf will involve rehandling, remoistening, and repacking, which will injuriously affect the tobacco, and so reduce the weight as to render the operation at least inexpedient.
Colonel Foxton. - Is not that the BritishAustralasian Tobacco Company’s memorandum ? I have a copy of it.
– It is a memorandum handed to me by Mr. Robinson, who was a member of this House, arid, I think, represents that company. Honorable members may discount its statements if they think fit.
– The- company has not given honorable members on this side of the Chamber an opportunity to read the memorandum.
– The company did not send it to me. With reference to the stemming of tobacco, it is pointed out in a report on tobacco culture in Australia, which from beginning to end contains references to Mr. Nevill’s evidence, that the Imperial Government gave an encouragement to local stemming amounting to 3d. per lb. That protection seems to have been given at the instance of Mr. Chamberlain, it being mentioned, I think, in the report, and again by Mr. Nevill, in reference to a speech of Mr. Chamberlain, that in Great Britain they were about to give a protection of 3d. in favour ‘ of local stemming, by increasing the duty on stemmed leaf from 3s. to 3s. 3d. I believe that that was done, but according to the memorandum to which I have referred, the preference has been reduced from 3d. to id., because, I suppose, although it provided a certain amount of employment, it had an injurious effect on the revenue, or on the price or quality of the tobacco produced.
– Does the memorandum state when the reduction to £d. was made?
– I think that the word “ recently “ is’ used. Under the New South Wales Tariff the preference given to the local manufacturer was od., under the South Australian Tariff is.. 2d., under the Victorian Tariff is. 3d., and under the Queensland Tariff something like 3s., where local leaf was used. But in 1901 this Parliament, after a long debate, and a full consideration of all the circumstances, agreed as a compromise to fix the preference at 9d. On the whole that has been a success.
– The proposal of the Government was to grant a preference of is. per pound to the local manufacturer.
– The Committee rejected that proposal with the approval, of Sir George Turner, who was then Treasurer, and who, after submitting it, made a further investigation of the facts. How has the revenue been affected? In 1902 the Excise from tobacco was .£453,171, and in 1907 it rose to £688,000 so that the revenue, tested by the Excise, has benefited. I do not know what has been the increased revenue derived from the Customs duties on tobacco, but I have some figures relating to narcotics, which I shall put before the Committee. They show that the Customs duties collections in respect of narcotics in 1902 were £917,090; and in 1907, £991,000, so that the preference of gd., if we take as the test its effect upon the revenue, has been fairly successful. The increase in the Customs collections has been more than in proportion to the increase in population. This is an important matter, because the week before last the Treasurer, when concluding one of the three general discussions on the Tariff, two of which he had induced, stated that if the annual revenue of £10,500,000 which he estimated to derive from the Tariff were reduced within two years, as suggested by the honorable member for Flinders, to about £9,000,000, he would not be able to pay to the States the full three-fourths of Customs and Excise revenue to which they were entitled under the Constitution, and at .the same time meet the expenditure provided for this year. In such a contingency, he said that he would have a shortage of something like £272,000. In these circumstances, we must be careful what we do in regard to any sacrifice of revenue. We ought not to tamper with the difference of gd. which,, up to’ the present, from the point of view of protectionists and revenue Tariffists, appears to have worked fairly well. There is another aspect of this question to which I shall refer. Even under the old Tariff the local leaf has not fared badly, and it does not require any further protection. If we make a difference of 6d. per lb. between the duty on stemmed and unstemmed leaf, we shall affect the quality, since the manufacturers, who ought to know something about the question, have indicated their preference for stemmed as against unstemmed leaf, and may diminish importation. If, by differentiating between the stemmed and unstemmed leaf, we give the . local leaf an advantage, not merely of 6d. per lb.,, but a preference to be measured by the difference between the Excise duty of is. per lb. and the total import duty, there will either be an increase in the price of tobacco, if the raw material be imported, or a diminution in the quality if the local leaf, as at -present grown, be used. Thus, the consumer must be affected. Under the Tariff which was passed in 1901-2, a great increase has taken place in the consumption of imported leaf. I refer “to this fact, merely as indicating the preference exhibited by the manufacturers, who ought to know what is the best leaf to use. Lt 1899’, the consumption of the local leaf in New South Wales was 1,243,580 lbs., whilst in 1906 it was only 692,282 lbs. The consumption of imported leaf, on the other hand, increased from 1,167,417 lbs. in 1899 to- 2,527,358 lbs. in 1906. In Victoria 1,271,556 lbs. of imported leaf were used in 1899, whereas in 1906, no less than 4,172,065 lbs. were used. Then, again, in South Australia, 237,172 lbs. of imported leaf were used in 1902, whilst in 1906 241,897 lbs. were used. The consumption of the local leaf in South Australia and Victoria also increased during -the same period, but not in anything like the same proportion. If these figures point to anything, it -is to the fact that the manufacturers prefer the imported leaf for their purposes. At the same time, the protection granted to the local manufacturer under the old Tariff must have been sufficient, since there has been a shrinkage in the importation of manufactured tobacco. In these circumstances, I propose that we should revert to the old preference of 9d. per lb. I was told by a representative deputation of the workers, as well as of the manufacturers, which waited upon me, that it is almost impossible to force on the market manufactures of local leaf.
– That is not the experience of Queensland.
– The figures were submitted to me, showing that tobacco containing 75 per cent, of imported leaf was selling at 4s. 6d. per lb., whilst tobacco made solely of local leaf Wa.s’ realizing only 2s. rod- per lb. I do not wish to prolong the discussion, but I think it would be a mistake to depart from the Tariff of 1901-2, which was settled after a long discussion, which has worked well from the point of view of revenue, and has also led to a diminution in the ‘importation of manufactured tobacco. To test the feeling of the Committee, I shall move that the duty of 3s. 6d. be reduced to 3s. 3d.,, and, later on, it will be necessary for me to move that the duty upon stemmed and unstemmed imported tobacco be is. 6d. per lb. If the Excise be kept at is. per lb., there will then be a protection of 9d. per lb. I move -
That after the figures “ 3s. 6d.,” the words “and on and after 4th October, 1907, per lb. 3s. 3d.,” be inserted.
.- I understand that the amendments suggested by the Government will have the effect of meeting the wishes of those engaged in the tobacco industry, inasmuch as they willresult in a preference of practically 9d. in the pound to the local manufacturer. The old Tariff,’ so far as these items are concerned, was satisfactory, and therefore it seems to be unnecessary to increase the duty. The question received careful consideration at our hands in 19c2. I remember a speech then made by the deputy leader of the Opposition, who dilated upon the profits of the manufacturers, and produced a balance-sheet -showing that Messrs. Cameron Brothers, tobacco manufacturers, had made an enormous profit on a twelve-months’ turnover. S01 startling were the figures submitted by the honorable member, that Sir George Turner, who was then Treasurer, asked the Committee to agree to the postponement of the item in order that he might make further inquiries. When we met again, four days later, Sir George Turner made a statement to the effect that, notwithstanding that he had appealed to the manufacturers to assist him to deal with the statement that had been made as to the profits which they were securing, he had to admit that the position was unsatisfactory. So unsatisfactory were the answers received from the manufacturers that he asked the Committee to reduce the duty by 3d. per lb.
– He agreed to an amendment which emanated from the Opposition side of the Chamber.
– The figures produced by those interested in the industry show that under the old Tariff there has been a considerable falling off in our imports of manufactured tobacco - a falling off of nearly 1,000,000 lbs. per annum. It is evident, therefore, that the protection which has hitherto been accorded to the industry has (been fairly substantial. I would further point out that the persons who are directly interested in this industry merely ask for a margin of ad. per lb. in their own favour. They have, not made any request for an increased duty. They are perfectly satisfied to be placed in the position which they occupied under the 1902 Tariff. Their view is indorsed in a circular that I have received from the Federated Tobacco Workers, which reads -
The Federated Tobacco Workers therefore respectfully request that you will use your influence and vote for a differential duty of gd. per lb. This margin was adopted in the old federal Tariff, and worked well in the past. The interest of the manufacturers, operatives, growers of Australian leaf, and revenue have not only been maintained but considerably improved.
Personally I shall not support any increase in the duty upon imported tobacco.
– Any such increase must result in a big loss of revenue.
– Undoubtedly. The imports of manufactured tobacco into the Commonwealth have decreased from 2,175,000 lbs. in 1904 to 1,577,864 lbs. in 1906. If honorable members desire a prohibitive duty why do they not say so?
– An increase of 3d. per lb. in the rate of duty will not amount to prohibition.
– I shall not vote for a higher duty upon imported tobacco than 3s. 3d. per lb.
– Can we not manufacture tobacco here?
– We are manufacturing it. Under the old Tariff the imports were seriously declining-
– Is not that a good thing ?
– It is, so long as the decrease does not cost us too dearly. If we increased the duty .upon imported tobacco to 3s. 6d. per lb., some honorable members would desire to increase it to 3s. 9d. per lb.
– That would not result in any harm. Some of it would then be manufactured in the honorable member’s electorate as well as in my own.
– I do not trouble about what is manufactured in my own electorate, as the honorable member will, see by some of my subsequent votes.
– Some of those interested in the industry would be glad to obtain a duty of 3s. 9d. per lb.
– They are satisfied with a margin of 9d. per lb., and they are gradually getting hold of the Australian; trade. Consequently, they do not require any further protection. 0
.- As theTreasurer remarked in introducing these proposals, “this subject is a very complicated, one. I am not sure at the present moment that I have fully grasped the precise import of the changes in the rates of duty which the Government propose. It would, have been a great advantage to honorable members if the Government had submitted their new proposals .in a tabulated form alongside of the proposals embodied in theprinted Tariff schedule. Then we should have been able to get a better grip of thesubject than we can hope to do by discussing a mass of figures which have been orally presented to us. I do not intend todiscuss the new proposals in detail, but’ I desire to inform the Committee of themethods by which the Tariff Commission arrived at their conclusions. We had four aspects of this question to consider. In thefirst place, we had to consider the question’ of developing the cultivation of tobacco in Australia; in the second, we had to think of the position of the manufacturer ; in thethird, we had to have regard to the interestsof the workers ; and, finally, we had l.oguard against the consumer being called upon to pay an unduly high price for his smoke. Unfortunately, it happens that all’ these interests are more or less opposed to one another. We found, therefore, that thequestion was a peculiarly difficult one. Indeed, no subject which came under the consideration of the Commission was dealt with at greater length or discussed with more anxiety than ‘the incidence of theduties upon tobacco. .We heard the evidence of the Queensland expert, Mr. Nevill, in connexion with the growth of tobacco, particularly in that State, and all’ the members of the Commission were very much impressed with his testimony. He gave us proof positive that Queensland was turning out an excellent quality of tobacco- - a tobacco which was sampled by the most uncompromising free-trader on the Commission, who readily admitted that from the stand-point of quality it was equal toanything that he had ever smoked. We also took evidence in other parts of theCommonwealth that tobacco could begrown to advantage there, and I think that all the members of the Commission cameto the conclusion that the cultivation of tobacco ought to be an Australian industry, and one which - with a fair amount of en- couragement - would undoubtedly become one of the most important in our midst. At any rate, that is my own opinion. I believe that Australia has such a variety of soil and climate suited to the growth of particular varieties of tobacco as would enable us, within a few years, to become independent of the outside world in regard to our consumption of that article. That being the opinion which was arrived at by a majorityof the Commission, we had to give considerable weight to the value of such evidence in framing our recommendations. It seems to me that the new proposals of the Government, to a large extent, ignore the interests of the growers of tobacco, and also, the possibilities of developing the cultivation of that commodity, in favour of the interests of the manufacturer.
– I do not think that is correct.
– That is my opinion.
– I think the honorable member has scarcely got the figures correctly.
– I have the figures correctly. While I am prepared to adopt some modification of the Commission’s proposals, it is impossible for me to go so far as the Government have indicated a desire to take the Committee. I am aware that men in the tobacco industry have been thrown out of work, but I hold the opinion that that is not the direct result of the Tariff. The fat monopoly which controls the manufacture of tobacco in Australia has thrown those men out of work for no other reason, I believe, than to emphasize the requests that have been made for better consideration than has been given to the monopoly in the recommendations of the Tariff Commission as adopted by the Government.
– Is it not rather. a cruel proceeding?
– It is undoubtedly ; but we know that such things are done in the commercial world in order to work a point.
– The mpn- themselves do not seem to be of that opinion.
– The men themselves are, unfortunately, in the hands of their employers, and when they are thrown out of work it is very natural for them to come to the conclusion that the Tariff is responsible. The Tariff Commission took up the position - and I believe I am now quoting the opinion of all the members - that in this connexion revenue is an important consideration, and that under the old Tariff nearly£1,000,000, which dught to have gone into the Treasury, went into the pockets of the manufacturers. The Commission modified the old duties with a view to overtake that loss of revenue, and further provided that if the manufacturers developed the growth of Australian tobacco, and used it, they would, instead of losing by the increased Excise, gain something. However, I am of opinion that the manufacturers do not wish to use the locallyproduced article, and thus encourage production, for the reason that while the bulk ‘ is imported they can control the importation, whereas if the bulk be locally grown their monopoly will cease to exist, because then small manufacturers, who now have to buy their supplies from the combination, will be able to compete.
– Then a duty of 4s. would be all right?
– No; if we desire to develop local cultivation we must reduce the preference as between the import duties on the imported leaf and the imported manufactured article.
– Is that why the free-trade section of the Commission recommended an Excise of is. 6d. ?
– The free-trade section of the Commission had that revenue in view there ; and their recommendation is, I contend, sufficient discrimination in favour of ‘the use of the local article. I am quite at a loss to understand why the Government propose to give a discrimination of 6d. in regard to unstemmed leaf, when 3d. is supposed to ibe sufficient. Here, again, it appears to me that the Government are going out of their way to confer another privilege ‘on the manufacturers who wish to import their leaf. As to the abolition of the difference recommended by the Tariff Commission,, as between hand-made and machinemade cigars, I am utterly at a loss to understand the Government proposal. In the first place, the machines are, I believe, a monopoly of the Combine; but I understand that machines’ turn out an inferior cigar - that the machine-made cigar is not at all equal in smokable qualities to the hand-made cigar. I am not awaire, however, that any considerable quantity of machinemade cigars enters the Commonwealth, most of the Manilla and Havana cigars. being made by hand. Machine-made cigars may be. capable of improvement; but what I have described is, I believe, the present state of affairs ; and the concession by the Government to the -monopolist is one
I must absolutely oppose. It appears to me that what the Tariff Commission had to decide was whether they would consider the interests of the manufacturers or the interests of the growers. The consumer, I take it, under either the old or the new proposals, will not be particularly affected ; but it is the duty of the Government, amd of protectionists here, not to think of particular manufacturing industries in which they may have a local interest, but to consider the larger question of the development of the cultivation of tobacco, which, 1 believe, ought, in the estimation of protectionists, to be of national importance.
– The growers will do much better under the Government proposals than they would under the recommendations of the Tariff Commission.
– I .am not at present able to see that that is so; and I shall be very glad if the Minister of Trade, and Customs can throw any more light on the subject. At any rate, I contend that the recommendations of the Commission give ample protection to the grower of tobacco, that they give a. reasonable amount of revenue, and, at the same time, enable the manufacturer who desires to use al proportion of Australian leaf to make a fair and reasonable profit, without unduly plundering the smoking section of the community.
.- The recommendations of section B of the Tariff Commission certainly do not carry out the intention, indicated by the honorable member for Perth, to assist the grower. Those recommendations would not only, knock out the grower, but would absolutely knock out the manufacturer. .
– They recommended a difference of 2s. 3d. ; is that not enough ?
– Nothing like that. Under the present proposals of the Government, the Excise on Australiangrown leaf is is., and that is the only impost which local leaf is called upon to bear. The duty on the manufactured article is proposed a.t 3s. 6d., which gives protection to the extent of 2s. 6d. in favour of the Australian leaf. The B section of the Tariff Commission, on the other hand, proposed an Excise of is. 6d. on locallygrown leaf as against a duty of 3s. 3d., which left a difference of only is. od.
– - Is that not sufficient?
– That is the question we have to decide. The complaint of the honorable member is that the Government proposals help the manufacturer at the expense of the grower. But under the recommendation of the Tariff Commission, the grower would be od. per lb. worse off than under the Government proposal.
– The proportion is all right, but I think the honorable member is comparing the wrong imposts. Should he not mate a comparison with imported leaf, and not with imported manufactured tobacco?
– That is another question.
– The comparison is with the duty on unstemmed leaf.
– That is another point. .Now let us turn to tobacco made from imported leaf, and observe the difference between the recommendations of the B section of the Tariff Commission and the Government proposals. On imported leaf the Government propose a duty of 2s. in the case of stemmed leaf, and of is. 6d. in the case of unstemmed leaf. We may take the duty as 2s., because the cost of stemming has been put at 4d. or 4 1/2d.
– According to the Minister, it is only 3d.
- Mr. Nevill, who is an expert, states that the cost of stemming is 4d. or 4jd., leaving only a balance of 1 1/2d., so that, for my present purposes, we may take the duty on imported leaf at 2s., which, with the Excise of - is., makes a total of 3s. The duty on the manufactured article is 3s. 6d., showing a protection of 6d. This duty will really amount to a little more, because, in the case of unstemmed leaf, the stemming will cost not quite 6d.
Colonel Foxton. - There is a loss of weight in the stemming.
– That is so.
– And the difference is returned by the Department.
– That is so.
– Then we need not take it into account.
Colonel Foxton. - Except the freight.
– The B section of the Tariff Commission proposed an Excise duty of is. 6d., and an import duty of 2s. on stemmed leaf, and of is. gd. on, unstemmed leaf, thus making the charges on tobacco manufactured from imported’ stemmed leaf 3s. 6d., while at the same time they recommended that manufactured’ tobacco should be admitted on payment of a duty of 3s. 3d. Therefore, they proposed to offer a preference of 3d. to the foreigner. Surely that is foreign trade run mad.
– Now we have a protectionist speaking against proposals for encouraging the use of locally-grown leaf.
– Whatever may be said for the encouragement of the growing of leaf in Australia, nothing can be gained for the Australian industry by giving the foreign manufacturer an advantage of 3d. per lb. If these recommendations were adopted, the manufacture of tobacco in Australia from imported leaf would come to an end. I do not think that that is intended. But it seems to me that the members who made these recommendations did not give as much consideration as they should have given, to the inevitable effects of their proposals. The Government is giving a decided preference to the local grower, who, under its proposals, will have a greater advantage than he had previously - and he has always had a very good margin, there having been always a large difference in favour of tobacco manufactured from local leaf.
– If we open the door to the unmanufactured article, we may give what preference we like to the local leaf, but manufacturers will use imported leaf.
– There is no need, when raising the duty on the unmanufactured article, to decrease the duty on the manufactured article. If you increase the duty on the unmanufactured article, you should also increase the duty on the manufactured article.
– Why do not patriotic protectionists encourage the growing of leaf in Australia by smoking tobacco made from it instead of American tobacco?
– The. proposals of the Government will bring local leaf into more general consumption, because they make it manifestly to the advantage of manufacturers to use it. Hitherto, I have been told by manufacturers that they have found it difficult to get local leaf.
– The manufacturer’s do not wish to encourage the growing of leaf. They killed the industry in Victoria.
– That can hardly be so, because it is manifestly to their advantage to use Australian leaf.
– They save is. 6d. on every lb. that they use.
– But they realize that if the growing of leaf locally increases largely their monopoly will disappear.
– If so, that is another reason for encouraging the use of locallygrown leaf.
– It is certainlv to the present advantage of manufacturers to use locally-grown leaf in preference to imported leaf. I . should like to see the growing of tobacco in Australia increased.
– The honorable member would like to nationalize the industry.
– Yes ; the manufacturing industry, just as some honorable members of the Opposition think that possibly it might be well to nationalize the shipping industry.
– I have not heard any honorable member on this side of the Chamber say that.
-A combination which has a monopoly can reduce prices to producers and increase them to consumers, and is thus dangerous to the common weal.
– Where the manufacture of tobacco is a State monopoly, the article produced is bad.
– The quality of the tobacco produced would depend upon the managers and workmen employed. I admit that an attempt is being made to increase the encouragement offered for the use of locally-grown leaf, and that under present conditions it is possible that a great deal of the profit will go into the pockets of the Combine, which can regulate as it likes the prices paid to the growers for leaf.
– Under these proposals too much profit will go into the pockets of the Combine.
– We desire, in the first instance, to make the tobacco industry a profitable one to both growers and manufacturers. The alternative to doing so is to say that, until the tobacco industry is nationalized, no protection will be given to the local grower, which, to my mind, would be like cutting off one’s nose to spite his face. We had better give all the encouragement we can to the use of locally-grown leaf, and keep pegging away to secure the nationalization of the manufacturing of tobacco. I wish to draw attention to the fact that no differentiation has been made in favour of strand or twist tobacco, which is manufactured by hand, and into whose composition consequently only long fine leaves can enter. Plug tobacco, on the other hand, is machine made, and I have heard it said that floor sweepings and uncleanly refuse are sometimes used, though I do- not say that that is so.
– The Commission had sworn evidence to that effect
-Refuse may be. used in some cases. Any scrap tobacco can be used for the making of plugs, in which are pressed together all sorts of pieces. On one occasion I found a whole stocking squeezed into a plug of Victory, and these plugs, as honorable members know, are not very large. I took it back to Ambruster’s in Adelaide, from whom I had bought the tobacco, and I mention the incident only to show that great pressure is used in the making of plugs, and that almost any kind of tobacco could be squeezed into them. Of course, plug tobacco may be made of the best materials, but, on the other hand, it is quite possible to make it of fillings.
– I have found a nail in a plug of tobacco.
– That has often happened. In such cases I think that floor sweepings must be used. But as only long leaf can be used for the making of strand or twist tobacco, sweepings and refuse which may contain noxious germs cannot find their way into its composition. In order to put twist tobacco on an equal footing with plug tobacco, there should be a differentiation of 3d. per ‘ lb. in its favour, and the Excise should be gd. instead of is. per lb. I do not know whether the healthy considerations which suggest a preference to hand-made tobacco apply also to the hand-made as against -.machine-made cigars. An attempt is being made to secure differentiation in favour of hand-made cigars, since it is not open to any man to obtain a cigar-making machine. As a matter of fact, only those who are in the Combine, or are recognised in some way by it, can obtain these machines, but it is open to any one to enter upon the work of making cigars by hand, and I think we shall be justified in differentiating between the two classes. The reasons for differentiating between twist or strand tobacco and plug tobacco are obvious. No refuse can be used in twist tobacco, and those who manufacture it are therefore at a disadvantage in competing with makers of plug tobacco.
– If the twist tobacco is so superior, why is it not more generally used?
– In South Australia and Western Australia twist tobacco is the more largely used. Plug tobacco is smoked in New South Wales and Queens land, and for the most part, plug tobacco is favoured in Victoria.
– We do not use very much twist tobacco in Western Australia.
– It is used very largely there. In South Australia, the tobacco twisters have voluntarily carried on a crusade in favour of its general use, and I have joined with them, recognising that I am working in the interests of the community in advocating the use of .the healthier article. This agitation has led to the popularity of twist tobacco in that State, although manufacturers of plug tobacco are doing their utmost to push it out of the market. Since the introduction of the present Tariff, the price of twist tobacco in South Australia has been raised by id. per twist, whereas the price of plug tobacco, so far as I am aware, has not been increased. When a combine obtains control of the industry, it can raise the price of the twist tobacco and lower the price of the plug tobacco, and so knock out the superior article, which costs more. to. produce. This differentiation of 3d. per lb. would prevent such attempts, and would meet the desire of a great many people to be supplied with twist tobacco at a reasonable price.
– What pro rata duties does the honorable member suggest in regard to machine and hand-made cigars ?
– The Government propose a difference of 6d. per lb., the “A” section of the Tariff Commission recommends the same difference, and the “ B “ section proposes a difference of is. per lb. I think that a preference of 6d. per lb. in favour of hand-made cigars should be sufficient; it would enable any man who wished to enter the industry to commence operations without obtaining leave from the present Combine. I think that the amendments proposed by the Government, from the point of view of the local grower of tobacco leaf, are an improvement on their original proposition, and on the whole I am prepared to support them, r do not think that an additional impost of 3d. per lb. on the manufactured article would tend to prohibit its use, or seriously affect the revenue.
Colonel FOXTON (Brisbane) [4.54].- Like the honorable member for Perth, I am very anxious that the Tariff shall give every possible encouragement to the cultivation of tobacco. The encouragement given to the local manufacturer should certainly go hand in hand with that given to the local producer of the leaf ; but the first desideratum to be aimed at in this connexion is to give the largest degree of support to the locally-grown leaf. After a number of consultations with Mr. Nevill, the Queensland tobacco expert - than whom there is no better authority in the Commonwealth - I have arrived at the conclusion that the proposals .now put forward by the Government in substitution of the items in the schedule as originally submitted are eminently calculated to achieve that object. I represented, for many years in the State Parliament of Queensland a district the staple product of which is tobacco, and there is no reason why other districts should not be able to produce large quantities. The chief considerations are suitability of soil and climate, and I feel confident that, there are many other parts of the Commonwealth where the climate and soil are equal to those of the Texas district, to which I have referred.
– The conditions prevailing in my electorate are as good.
Colonel FOXTON. - The honorable member’s electorate is separated only by a river from that which I formerly represented in the State Parliament. The misgivings which any one may have as to the capability of Australia to produce ultimately a sufficient quantity of tobacco of high quality to meet local requirements are entirely without foundation. I forget for the moment what was the Excise duty in Queensland.
– It was is. per lb., whilst the import duty was 4s. per lb.
Colonel FOXTON. - I am obliged to the honorable member. In Queensland the import duty on manufactured tobacco was 4s. per lb., whilst the import duty on the unmanufactured leaf was 2s. per lb. There was an Excise duty of is. per lb., so that there was thus a differentiation of is. per lb. In New South Wales there was a differentiation of only 9d. per lb., but that difference had this effect: that whilst the whole of the alluvial flats along the northern or Queensland bank of the river dividing my electorate from the Federal electorate of Gwydir were covered with tobacco farms, the cultivation of tobacco on the southern side was neglected. A most successful tobacco-growing area was established there, with a local factory for the manufacturing of the locally-grown leaf> whereas upon the New South Wales side . of the river no tobacco was produced.
– That was prior to the formation of the tobacco combine?
Colonel FOXTON.- I am speaking of a period prior to the advent of Federation, when the old State Tariffs were in operation. I am merely stating the facts as they are known to me, and I make no comment whatever upon them. Everybody who visited that district used to inquire,. “ How is it that tobacco is not grown on the opposite bank of the river? Surely there must be the same class of soil there?”’ The difference of 3d. per lb. between the incidence of the two State Tariffs was responsible for this marked contrast. So that a margin of 3d. per lb. in a Tariff can exercise a very vital effect upon production. Whether it will make any considerable difference to the consumer is a simple question of arithmetic which we can work out for ourselves. It seems tome that it means that the man who smokes, a couple of ounces of tobacco per week will be called upon to contribute an extra threepence to the revenue every twomonths. I have already mentioned the fact that Mr. Nevill, the” Queensland tobacco expert, is now in Melbourne. A short time ago, at the request of some of the Queensland representatives, I despatched an urgent telegram to the Premier of that State requesting that Mr. Nevill1 might be instructed to proceed to Melbourne for the purpose of affording honorable members every possible information’’ in reference to the tobacco industry, and also that he might be of assistance to theGovernment if they desired to avail themselves of his services. I understand that soon after his arrival in this city Mr.. Nevill got into communication with theTreasurer and his officers, and as a result the Government - very properly, I think - have acted upon his advice in regard to these duties. Probably, Mr. Nevill knows more about tobacco, from a general standpoint - that ‘is from the ! point of viewalike of the growers and of the manufacturers - than does any man in Australia. He was brought from the United Statesto Queensland as a tobacco expert, and lie has done splendid work there. He hasthoroughly mastered all the details of the- * industry, and in acting upon his advicethe Government are accepting the counsel of one who is anxious to see the growthand manufacture of tobacco in Australia encouraged as much as possible. BeforeI proceed further, I should like to make- a short explanation in reply to the remarks of the honorable member for Angas. The same question which occurred to the honorable member in reading the evidence tendered by Mr. Nevill to the Tariff Commission also presented itself to my mind. I am speaking particularly of his reply to question 28419. Mr. Nevill’s explanation is that, owing to an unfortunate slip, either upon his own part or upon that of the stenographer, the word ‘ ‘ stripped “ was substituted for the word “ stemmed.” I asked Mr. Nevill to put his explanation into writing, and he has done so. He says -
Referring to the reply of the British Australian Tobacco Company to the strictures of Senator Pearce and others, they quote my evidence before the Tariff Commission - Question 2S419, Tariff Commission’s report, “ It (i.e., the stemmed leaf) is put on the market,” &c, &c. 1 do not know whether this mistake occurred through my using, inadvertently, the word “ stemmed” instead of “stripped,” or whether the stenographer, thinking they both meant the same thing, used the word “ stemmed,” but theword should be “stripped” and not “stemmed.” “ Stemmed “ means to take out the stems of the leaf and make them into strips, the first process of manufacture. This is never done by the farmer, but by the re-handler or stemmer, for foreign markets. “ Stripped,” the word that should be used, means to pull the leaves off the main -stalk and tie them into bundles. This is always done by the farmer, and so a proper reading would be - “ It (i.e., the stripped leaf) is put on the market,” &c, &c.
The re-handler may dry it in the leaf as described, or ‘he may stem it and dry it, all depending upon the market he seeks.
– It would be an extraordinary thing if the tobacco were stemmed in the green.
Colonel FOXTON. - It can be stemmed at any time. It is stemmed into strips, but the stripping is a prior process altogether, which is always undertaken by the farmer. When the tobacco plant is cut, and while it is still green, the leaves are stripped jfrom the main stalk, but the stemming, that is, converting it into strips, is another process entirely. I make this explanation in justice to Mr. Nevill.
– The explanation fits in with the previous portion of his evidence.
Colonel FOXTON.- It is now proposed that we should reduce the import duty upon manufactured tobacco to 3s. 3d. per lb. That would give a protection to the local manufacturer of imported leaf of 6d. per lb. only, unless the duty on imported leaf be also reduced by the same amount. The duty upon the manufactured article would be 3s. 3d. per lb., against which we have to set the duty upon the imported leaf, namely, is. 6d. per lb. The cost of stemming is 3d. per lb.,, and there would be an Excise duty of is. per lb. In other words, the local manufacturer of imported leaf would be required to pay 2s. 9d. per lb., as against 3s. 3d. per lb. upon the imported manufactured article. He would thus get a protection of only 6d. per lb. That protection would be still further reduced if the cost of stemming is 4jd. per lb. - as mentioned by the honorable member for Boothby - instead of 3d. per lb. Further, in the process of stemming there is a loss of one- third in the weight of the tobacco, though I understand that in tliis connexion a refund of duty is made.
– The imported leaf will pay is. 6d. per lb., and the local leaf will pay no duty whatever. But, inasmuch as the local leaf will be called upon to pay 3d. per lb. for stemming, the manufacturer of that leaf will enjoy a protection of is. 3d. per lb.
Colonel FOXTON. - I am arguing as to whether the local manufacturer will have a sufficient measure of protection. I have heard it suggested that there should be no distinction made between the import duty upon stemmed and unstemmed leaf. But I am assured that the process of stemming the leaf will give employment to not less than 600 hands. So that it is necessary that there should be a margin of at least 6d. per lb. as between the duty upon stemmed and unstemmed leaf, if the stemming is, to be done locally. If no differentiation be made between stemmed and unstemmed leaf, a large measure of employment will be lost to operatives in the Commonwealth.
– It is said that the stemming of the leaf would employ 800 men.
Colonel FOXTON.- I have already stated that it would employ at least 600 hands. I wished to be careful not to overstate the position.
– I very much question whether stemming operations . would give employment to that quantity of labour.
Colonel FOXTON. - If we are to have protection at all, the scheme now before the Committee, is well devised, and is an equitable one as between the grower and the manufacturer. It gives to each a fair measure of protection, without, to any material extent, imposing additional burdens upon trie consumer. The difference proposed by the honorable member for Angas will have a material effect on production, just as the difference between the Tariffs in New South Wales and Queensland had prior to Federation in the relative production of leaf in those States.
– The test is between the imported leaf and the local leaf ; and there was a difference of 3s. in favour of the local leaf.
Colonel FOXTON.- But as between the two States there was a difference’ of only 3d. in the incidence; and such a difference, though vital to the grower, can be of very little moment to the consumer. Those who are engaged in the industry are of opinion that the proposals of the Government will give enormous encouragement to the growth of tobacco; and my opinion, though perhaps 1 am not so well able to speak on this point, is that the differentiation of 9d. will prove ample protection to the manufacturer.
– The proposal of the honorable member for Angas will also provide a differentiation of 9d.
– Hear, hear; it will leave Australian leaf, taking the stemming into consideration, still with a protection of is. 3d.
Colonel FOXTON. - I am of opinion that the proposal of ‘the honorable member for Angas, if carried out, will operate decidedly against the growers, and that in a few years, instead of having the whole of our tobacco, or, perhaps, three-fourths, locally produced, there will be scarcely any cultivated - that the industry will remain stationary or be retrograde. None of us, I am sure, desire to see such a result; and, therefore, I heartily support the proposal of the Government.
– I am glad that the Government have brought down amended proposals. Those who were members of the House when the last Tariff was under discussion, will remember that there was as big a fight over tobacco and cigars as over any item in the schedule. I believe, with the honorable member for Brisbane, that, if we agree to the proposal of the honorable member for Angas, the grower of tobacco will be adversely affected. Some few weeks ago we passed a Bounties Bill, in which the utmost encouragement to the cultivator of tobacco leaf was represented by 2d. per lb. ; and now the honorable member for Angas proposes to reduce the duty on imported leaf by 3d. per lb., and would thereby decrease the advantage to the grower by 50 per cent.
– That is hardly fair to the honorable member for Angas, whose only desire is to place the grower in the same position that he occupied under the old Tariff.
– I trust I shall not be unfair to any honorable member. I favour the Government’s proposal, but I hope that there will be some difference of treatment as between hand-made and machinemade cigars, tobacco, and cigarettes. When the old Tariff was under consideration, it was proposed that such a difference should be made; and I then pointed out that the necessary machine was in the control of the Combine, and was not permitted to be used by other manufacturers. The Combine will not allow the machine, used for the best class of cigars, to be availed of bv any outside competitor ; and under the new protection proposals, I hope it will be seen that the benefits do not all go to the machine,” but that some- are extended to the workers.
– What does the honorable member suggest?
– I suggest that in the case of strand tobacco or twist, as it is called, there shall be a difference of 3d. per lb. in the Excise as between the handmade and the machine-made article, leaving the machine made at is.’, and reducing the Excise on the hand made to 9d.
– How would the honorable member define that tobacco ? Would “ strand, ‘hand-made “ be sufficient ?
– I have no doubt that, the head of the Excise branch will know how to define the tobacco in a way to meet the desires of honorable members. It is the small manufacturers who carry on the hand-made cigar industry, and their work should be secured to them, and not monopolized by the Combine with the machine. Some honorable members seem to think that, because the import duty on tobacco will be 3s. 6d., with an Excise of is. as heretofore, while unstemmed tobacco will bear a duty of is. 6d., the manufacturers are receiving increased protection to the extent of 3d. That, however, is not so, because manufacturers were able to import stemmed tobacco at is. 6d. previously, whereas, under the Government proposal, they will now have to pay 2s. The stemming is estimated to cost about 4d. per lb., so that the manufacturers will only have a margin of protection of about 7 Jd., while the stemming, I am informed, will give employment to 700 or 1,000 more operatives. Under the circumstances, I think the . experiment is worth making ; and I believe that the proper time for stemming is when the leaf is dry.
I have taken the trouble to consult - -the Customs statistics; and I find that the importation of manufactured tobacco in 1904 amounted to 2,175,000 lbs., of which only 1,880,000 lbs. was taken out of bond. In 1905 the. quantity imported was 2,045,000 lbs., of which only 1,661,000 lbs. was taken out of bond; and in 1906 the quantity imported was 1,926,000 lbs., of which only 1,516,000 lbs. was taken out of bond. Over the three years the total quantity imported was ,147,000 lbs., of which 5,058,000 lbs. was taken out of bond, leaving about 1,100,000 lbs. in the custody of the Customs. I certainly think that the officers of the Department should look into this matter, because, if there is that quantity of tobacco on which duty has not been collected, it is serious for the revenue. In the matter of cigars, I trust that some preferential treatment will be accorded to the hand-made variety; and I suggest that, instead of the 6d. per lb. Excise, as proposed, the Excise should be 3d. per lb. for hand-made cigars, and 9d. for machinemade cigars. The cigars made by machinery cost about ,6d. per 100 to manufacture, whereas the lowest price agreed to bv the Victorian Wages Board for making hand-made cigars is 2s. 6d., showing # a difference of £1 per 1,000 in favour of the machine-made article. Assuming that 1,000 cigars weigh 14 lbs., if we make a difference in the Excise to the extent of 6d. per lb. in the case of hand-made cigars, the manuf acturers would still have a preference of 13s. per 1,000. I know that there are some cigars which are bunched by machinery and covered by hand, and that these cost more than 6d. per 100; but I do not think it costs three- times that sum to make them by this system, so the manufacturers would still* have a preference of well over 5s. per 1,000 in regard to the machine-made article.
I hope that’ the Government will adopt these proposals. It has abandoned the composite duty on cigars, which, I believe, is the only composite duty left in the Tariff. The honorable member for Boothby and myself succeeded after a pretty hard fight in increasing the old import duty to 6s. 3d. Taking prices from the Journal of Commerce, I have worked out the duty payable on cigars of several makes. The duty .payable on a brand of Manilla cigars, which cost in bond £1 18s. per 1,000, is £4 13s., or 230 per cent. “
Colonel Foxton.’ - We could produce that kind of cigar here.
– Yes. I should like to see more cigars made here. The duty chargeable on German cigars costing £1 10s. per 1,000 in bond is £4 12s., or about 300 per cent. But in respect to expensive cigars, the rate of duty is relatively lower. For instance, the duty on a superfine Havana cigar, costing £16 per 1,000 in bond, is less than 40 per cent. Then, taking the prices on the list of a Tri.chinopoli firm, which is one of the leading manufacturers of cigars in India, I find that one brand costs 26s. 8d. per 1,000, another 24s. per 1,000, another 21s. 4d. per 1,000, and another as little as 12s. per 1,000, and a gentleman to whom the local agency was offered, was promised 20 per cent, discount off the 12s. per 1,000 cigar. Therefore, I hope that the Minister will stick to the highest rate possible, so far as the import duty is concerned. I know that for the protection of the revenue a fixed duty is necessary, but. the effect of an ad valorem duty would astonish some people. Cigars which are sold in bundles at is. 6d. for ten, would probably pay a duty of more than is. Under the fixed rate cheap cigars pay a duty equivalent to sometimes as much as 400 per cent, ad valorem, while dear cigars pay at the rate of only 30 or 40 per cent. I wish to see more cigars made here. “ Last year we imported 346,937 lbs. of cigars, while Excise was paid on only 293,210 lbs., showing that the duties are not preventing importation. Excise duty was paid on 9,282,480 lbs. of locally manufactured cigars, cigarettes, and tobacco, while 7,538,241 lbs. of leaf were imported, so that about 1,750,000 lbs. only of locally grown leaf were used. I do not know whether it was the object of the recommendation of the Tariff Commission to encourage ‘ the local manufacture of tobacco.
– We wish to encourage the local manufacture of tobacco from Australiangrown leaf.
– 1 am anxious that that should be done, but at the present time America is not supplying her own requirements in the matter of leaf, and, during the financial year 1904-5, imported nearly 40,000,000 lbs. of leaf for the making of cigars.
– Chiefly for high-class cigars.
– I believe that most of it wasSumatra leaf.
– America takes nearly all the leaf grown in Cuba.
– I believe so, but, seeing that that country, which has a great variety of soils and climates, and growers who have the assistance and advice of an Agricultural Department employing some of the best agricultural and analytical chemists in the world, and, moreover, has been for many years the home of the tobacco industry, cannot yet supply its own requirements, Australia can hardly hope to do so within a year or two. I hope that the Minister will differentiate between hand and machine-made cigars and tobacco, making the Excise on hand-made cigars 3d. per lb., and on machine-made cigars 9d. per lb.
– What rate does the honorable member propose for tobacco ?
– I would leave the Excise at is. per lb. for machine-made tobacco, and reduce it to’ 9d. for hand-made tobacco. That arrangement of the duties would give a preference of 6d. to handmade cigars, and of 3d. to hand-made tobacco, and would not, I think, injure the revenue. I understand that the honorable member for Melbourne has a proposal to make in reference to cigarettes.
.- We are at a great disadvantage in discussing this matter, because the Government has brought forward a new set of rates, which differ greatly from those in the Tariff, to which we have devoted study and attention, and upon which we were prepared to vote. These new proposals have not been put before us in print, and it is very difficult to keep in mind the alterations ‘which the Government desire to make. However, I suppose we must worry along as best we can. I do not know why any departure from the rates of duty on the old Tariff has been proposed, and I had given notice of a series of amendments, which, if agreed to, would have the effect of reimposing the old rates, which appear to have acted very fairly, both in their protective incidence and from a revenue point of view.
Mr.Tudor. - The honorable member has not given notice of his intention to alter the Excise, and, by altering the import duties without altering the Excise, he would reduce the protection given to the local manufacturers.
– I am not a protectionist, and, in any case, I did not know it ‘was the intention of the Government to deal with the Excise, which is on the last page, simultaneously with the import duties, which are among the first items of the Tariff, and I left them to be dealt with when we come to them. I propose to support the reduction proposed by the honorable member for Angas, which is similar to that of which’ I gave notice. I see no reason for increasing the duty on manufactured tobacco. However much the duty on tobacco may be increased, smokers who can afford to pay for the best tobacco will buy the imported’ article; they will not buy the inferior locally-made tobacco simply because it is cheaper. Unless the importation of the better kinds of tobacco is absolutely prohibited, there will always be found smokers to buy it, notwithstanding a substantial increase in its price. Moreover, manufacturers must be able to obtainAmerican leaf, because Australian leaf alone will not make a high-grade tobacco. But Australian leaf of the best grade,, mixed with imported leaf, will give a very good middle-class tobacco, which can be sold at from 2s. 6d. to 4s. 6d. a lb. The cheapest tobacco is made from Australianleaf alone, but Australian leaf does not approach in quality Virginian leaf. I do not know whether that is due to inherent defects in our soil, or to the lack of proper knowledge of , the proper method of curing, or to climatic conditions. That hasnot yet been discovered. In certain parts of the world there are smallpatches of. soil which alone are capable of producing certain high grade tobaccoes. For instance, in no other part of the world can tobacco equal to that produced in Cuba be grown, and tobacco similar to that produced in Virginia cannot be raised elsewhere. Despite almost identical conditions, so far as soil and climate are concerned, different results are obtained from the attempts to grow tobacco-, in different places. Notwithstanding anything we as a Parliament may do in the way of increasing duties, it is absolutely certain that so long as the best tobacco is produced abroad it will be used here by those who can afford it -to the exclusion of Australian-grown tobacco, the best of which is far inferior to any that is imported. I do not wish it to be thought that I have any desire to decry the attempt being made to grow a high-grade tobacco in Australia. It is a very laudable enterprise, and providing it can be carried on with no increased cost to the consumer, there is every reason why the industry should be legitimately encouraged. Australian leaf is improving, and as time goes on the quality of Australian leaf will continue to do so. We are’ now capable of producing a better leaf than we could grow a few years ago, yet the best Australian leaf will not bear favorable comparison with that of Virginia.^ Local manufacturers are compelled to use imported Virginian leaf for the production of the best tobaccoes. I should like to point out that tlie importations of American tobacco considerably decreased under the old Tariff, so that there is no reason for these proposed increases of ‘ duties. In 1.900, or prior to Federation, the weight of imported tobacco upon which duty was paid was 3,401,758 lbs., but in 1906 the importations of manufactured tobacco had fallen off to 1,516,633 lbs., a decrease of 1,885,135 lbs.
– The honorable member’s figures do not agree with those submitted by the Minister, which show that the imports in 1906 amounted to 1,900,000 lbs.
– It is true that 1,900,000 lbs. were imported in that year, but the figures I have quoted show the quantity actually taken out of bond. In 1900, 4,243,029 lbs. of locally manufactured tobacco were produced, whilst in 1906, 7,830,240 lbs. were produced, an increase of 3,587,211 lbs.
– Where did the honorable member obtain his figures?
– From ‘ a reliable source. The excess of locally manufactured tobacco over imported manufactured tobacco in 1900 . was 831,261 lbs., and in 1906 it sv as no less than 6,213,607 lbs. The difference in favour of locally manufactured tobacco during the six years period was 5,382,346 lbs. It will be seen that the effect of the old duty upon manufactured tobacco has been twofold. It has caused a decrease in the importation of manufactured tobacco, and at the same time an increase in the local output of tobacco. Surely the figures I have quoted show conclusively that there is not the slightest necessity for- these proposed increases. We have seen that thelocal production of tobacco under the influence of the old duty has been enormously stimulated, and I cannot understand what object the Government have in proposing these increases, unless it is that they hope to secure an increased revenue. We certainly are not likely to import less tobacco under the higher duties than we have done.
– The Government proposition is that, by increasing the duty by 3d. a lb., they will give more protection to the locally-grown leaf.
– The increased duty will not have that effect. Imported tobacco leaf is used because it is preferred to the locally-grown leaf, -and is necessary to produce a high grade tobacco of local manufacture.
– And the increase of 3d. per lb. will not mean ‘a corresponding increase in the protection to the locallygrown leaf?
– Under the old Tariff the importations of leaf tobacco have been nearly doubled. Its effect has not been to reduce the importation of . Virginian leaf, although it has largely stimulated local production. The reason why it has not stopped the importation of leaf tobacco is that the, manufacturers themselves find that they cannot make either a high or a middle class tobacco unless they mix imported leaf with the Australiangrown article. So far from tending to discourage importations of Virginian leaf, the old duty has increased them. In 1900, 4,060,322 lbs. of leaf were imported, whilst in 1906 no less than 7,220,534 lbs. were imported, or an increase of over 3,000,000 lbs. The importation of cigars, on the other hand, has fallen off, 507,480 lbs. having been imported in 1900, as against 316,271 lbs. in 1906. The output of locally-manufactured cigars under the old Tariff was more than doubled, so that there does not seem to be any need todepart from it. The figures are: 1900, 135,891 lbs. ; 1906, 292,800 lbs. Here we have eloquent testimony to the fact that no increase of duty is required so far as that class of goods is concerned. The same state of affairs is apparent in regard to the manufacture of cigarettes. The importation of cigarettes has fallen off during the six-year period. In 1900, 251,717 lbs. were imported, whilst in 1906 only 152,197 lbs. were imported. The local manufacture of cigarettes, like the local production of cigars, increased during the period under review; 623,000 lbs. having been produced in 1900 and 1,148,033 lbs. in 1906. There was thus an increase of over 500,000 lbs. Having regard to these figures, the proposal of the Government to increase the rates of duty appears a most extraordinary one. They show most conclusively that there was no necessity to interfere with the old rates. It seems to me that, iri their desire to give preference to Australian producers, they are willing to go to any length,, and without rhyme or reason. The- whole of their sympathies are with the local growers primarily, and, secondly,- with the manufacturers of local leaf products. They pay no regard whatever to the great masses of the people - the consumers. They do not pause to consider that an increase in the price of’ tobacco is a very serious matter to the. working man, who is called upon to pay the cost of this increased measure of protection. Under the circumstances, can we wonder that the workers are beginning to complain? Surely we should recognise that they have rights which ought to be conserved, although the Labour Party do not seem to think so. By compelling’ the consumers to pay high prices for their to- bacco, the Government will force them to use inferior brands. If my protectionist friends are so anxious to exclude Virginian tobacco from the Australian market, why do they not set a good example by refusing to smoke other than Australian leaf ? ‘ Instead of. smoking the best brands of cigars, I suggest that they should smoke only Australian cigars,” and that any failure to do so should involve them in a heavy penalty. Although they might not enjoy their smoke so well under such circumstances, they would at least have the consolation of knowing that, by their action, they were assisting an ‘Australian industry. With regard to the cultivation of tobacco in Australia, I am credibly informed that there is no hope whatever of the manufacturers obtaining a sufficient supply of the local leaf to meet the requirements of our home market.
– If these duties are imposed they will be able to get a sufficient supply of Australian leaf within a few years.
– The local production of tobacco is seriously affected by climatic conditions, such as droughts, blue mould, and frosts. The growers cannot rely upon getting more than one out of three crops.
– The honorable member is mistaken. I admit that they may experience an occasional disaster.
– My information is obtained from a gentleman who has had considerable experience in this matter.
– The more the area of cultivation is extended north and south. the less will be the liability to failure.
– We know perfectly well that we are subject to periodical droughts. I understand that a large amount of moisture is necessary to the successful cultivation of tobacco.
– There is a large area in Australia over which the rainfall is fairly certain.
– The gentleman to whom I referred says -
The production of tobacco leaf in Australia is even more precarious than that of other crops. Frosts, droughts, and blue mould are constantly interfering with it to such an extent that only one good crop out of three can be expected.” Hence the average quantity produced per year is comparatively small in spite, of the late protection of about 250 per cent.
– Recent reports regarding the production of cigar leaf show that its cultivation will be a success in the northern part of Queensland.
– I hope that, it will. I trust that we shall be able to improve the quality of the leaf, and to become large exporters. It must always be remembered that it does not follow that, because freetraders oppose the imposition of high duties, they are opposed to the establishment of Australian industries. No more erroneous impression could possibly get abroad. But we do say that there is a limit to the price which ought to be paid for the encouragement of local manufacture.- After all, the question of successful local manufacture depends upon the market that is available, and that in its turn depends upon population. Until we are able to attract a much greater population to our shores it is idle for us to expect _ to become a very large exporting community, seeing that we should then have to compete in the world’s markets at prices governed- by the world’s competition. I wish now to deal with a remark which was made by the honorable member for Perth. He stated that there was a disinclination on the part of the Tobacco Combine to use Australian leaf. The impression which I gathered from his observations was that local manufacturers desire to discourage the production of Australian leaf because it is more to their advantage to use imported leaf. I do not think that that is so. When we come to examine the question we find that it is to the interests of the local manufacturers to use Australian leaf in preference to imported leaf, because upon every pound of Australian leaf they effect a saving of is. 6d. in the rate of duty charged. Surely their commercial instinct is not entirely dead. Upon the face of it, the statement of the honorable member for Perth appears to be absolutely untenable. Upon the question of stemmed and unstemmed leaf, I do not pose as an authority, but I am informed that it is better to stem the leaf before it is imported, because the process of stemming before packing improves the quality of the leaf. That is to say, it is better to do the stemming while the tobacco leaf is fresh and green.
– That is not so, as a general rule. The very finest tobacco is always imported in an unstemmed state.
– There are authorities who claim that the tobacco is very much improved in quality and flavour ‘ if the stemming be undertaken when the leaf is freshly gathered.
– If the honorable member will make inquiries he will find that the most expensive tobaccoes are imported in an unstemmed condition.
– From inquiries I have already made, that does not appear to be the case. I wish now to quote from a letter which I have received upon the subject from- the Australasian Tobacco Company Proprietary Limited, in which it is stated -
Manufacturers lay vital stress upon the necessity there is for them to have access to American leaf, for without it the Colonial leaf would die a natural death, and all the advance made in its cultivation be thrown away. By the access to American leaf ‘ manufacturers are able to blend in with the Colonial leaf and supply tobaccoes of middle price, varying from a net price of 2s. 6d. to 4S. fid. This, while allowing us to work in the Colonial leaf, permits us to Supply a good medium smoke at low prices.
Returning to the question of stemming, I am informed that if tobacco is packed unstemmed, it has to undergo several operations and processes, including re-handling, re-moistening and re-packing, which means a reduction in weight and a material addition to the cost. Then, if the leaf be sent unstemmed. there has to be added the cost of stemming, extra freight on the weight of the stems, and greater expense of handling ;. so that I do not see any great advantage in the differential rate. We have been told, of course, that the stemming of the tobacco will give employment to something, like 600 additional hands; but that is pureconjecture, no substantial basis on which any such calculation could be made, having been placed before us. As to the control, of cigar-making machines, it may be that theCombine have possession of certain classes of machines, I do not know. But if that be so, why are the provisions of the Commerce Act or the Australian Industries Preservation Act not put into operation, on the ground that such control is in restraint of trade? Under such circumstances as those suggested, the law may be invoked ; and I should like to know; if the .Ministry haveany, knowledge on the point, why it has not been set in motion. If the law is inoperative, the fact only shows how much time wehave wasted in enacting the measures I have mentioned.
– The honorable member will have an opportunity soon to help us in. that matter, by assisting us to get the evidence we require.
– Is there no evidence for the statements which have been made as to the Combine controlling machines?
– Sworn evidence has been given by one man who was” refused a ma- - chine. The Baron machine is in the hands of the Trust, and cannot be purchased.
– It may be, as I say that a certain machine is controlled by the Trust; but is there*, only one machine for this purpose?
– The Baron is the principal machine.
– From- the information I have, there are a number of machinesfor this purpose, which are actively competing one against the other. There are,. I understand, - two classes of machine”, onefor bunching, and the other “for covering cigars.
– The bunching machine is the main one.
– Of both classes of machines there appear to be many different types, all of which, with the exception possibly of one or two, actively compete against each other, and in regard to none of which is there any monopoly. It may be, however, that the best machine in the market, or’ the one that is considered the best, is in the hands of the Combine.
– That is it.
– Whether that be so or not, I do not pretend to any exact knowledge. There may be a kind of arrangement between the manufacturers of that machine and the Combine, and, if so. it amounts to a conspiracy in restraint of trade.
– That is so all over the world.
– Then the Australian Industries Preservation Act may be invoked. ‘
– That is harder . to do than to say.
– For what purpose do we legislate? When the measures I have mentioned were under consideration, we on this side pointed out that they would be abortive, but our warnings were poohpoohed. Now we have a confession by honorable members who supported the measures that our opinion was correct.
– Will the honorable member support an effective measure?
– The measures I have mentioned were supposed to be effective.
– Surely the honorable member sympathizes with such legislation?
– I sympathize with every attempt to prevent combinations injuring trade and production - from doing anything to hamper commerce in any way.
– Does the honorable member sympathize so far as to assist in passing legislation?
– Providing the legislation be of a proper kind. The trouble is that, with the best intentions, we pass legislation which we find to De inoperative. I intend to support the amendment proposed by the honorable member for Angas ; and I suppose that, in consequence, I shall be regarded by the Government as an enemy, not only to themselves’, but to the country. It would have been far better to leave the old Tariff as it was. The effect of the proposed increases has been to dislocate, and, in some respects, almost paralyze the tobacco trade. The duties, have not only greatly increased the cost of tobacco to the consumer, but have seriously prejudiced a number of operatives engaged in the industry. I do not know what the effect on the revenue has been, but it is quite possible’ that it is very serious. . In any case, the proposals have brought about quite an unnecessary and indefensible disturbance of trade. I gave notice of an amendment on the same lines as that pro posed by the honorable member for Angas, but, as he has forestalled me, I can only come to his support.
.- I do not intend to detain the Committee at any length, because I think that short speeches, which’ have been my aim during the session, will greatly assist us in speedily disposing of the Tariff. The honorable member for Angas has made a. mistake similar to that made by the honorable member for Lang in reference to the question of stripping. So far as I understand, importers of tobacco desire to import it in as dry a state as possible, so that they may introduce the largest quantity on payment of a certain amount of duty. Tobacco, I believe, keeps better when it is unstemmed, and when it is desired to stem it, it is moistened with water. At any rate, the very finest kinds of leaf used for cigars are always imported unstemmed. The honorable member for Lang complains that we on this side do not pay attention to the criticism of the Opposition, and ‘I may say that, while I have a certain amount of diluted respect for the Opposition corner, I have much more respect for the straight-out. Opposition, amongst whom are many revenue-tariff advocates, and, perhaps, one or two free-traders. On this side there are a good many protectionists, together with a good many revenue-tariff men, and also a few freetraders. The honorable member for Lang, I understand, intends to support certain amendments which make for a revenue Tariff ; but I, as a protectionist, cannot understand how he, as an absolute freetrader, can vote for any duty. If the honorable member votes for a revenue duty, he is a revenue-tariff man.
– Free-traders vote for duties on spirits, stimulants, and narcotics for revenue purposes.
– Then why do they not call themselves by their true name of revenue-tariffists ?
– Because they are not revenue-tariffists in regard to other matters.
– If report be correct, there is not an absolute free-trader in the House, which consists of revenue-tariffists, moderate protectionists, and out-and-out protectionists.
– Free-traders, all the world over, make an exception in regard to spirits, stimulants, and narcotics.
– The honorable member will forgive me if I correct him. What duties are imposed on spirits, wine, or beer at Hong Kong, which is a free-trade port?
– I am not speaking of ports, but of free-traders all the world over.
– There are freetraders at Hong Kong, and they do not impose any duties at all.
Sitting suspended from 6.30 to 7-45 f.tn.
– :The House of Representatives in the present Parliament is made up of - revenue tariffists, moderate protectionists’, more advanced protectionists, and protectionists, . and there are more protectionists of all kinds, right up to prohibitionists, than there are free-traders. In the early nineties I stated from the platform’ my belief that protection for the manufacturer without- protection for the employe which would secure him a fair wage and reasonable hours of labour, and protection by a list price for the purchasing public which would secure them honest prices, was a farce, a fallacy, and a fraud, and I am still of that opinion. But we are to have the new protection, and I look to protective duties to educate the great mass of our working population, so that when we come to have State workshops, we shall have citizens ready educated for the employments to which they will be called, and will not” have to import men from other countries. The honorable member for Lang objected to the harvester legislation that it was not introduced at the proper time. I wish that, instead of criticising and destroying, he would help to build up and make better. If the ancient Britons had refused to take any steps in advance until the proper time had arrived, we, their descendants, would still be going about naked, our bodies painted with woad. The honorable member is old enough to remember when the insult was hurled at us that the expression “ Colonial-made “ implied that the things to which it applied were bad. Like one of the old Greeks, I judge a nation by its games. It was football and cricket that made the British soldier so worthy an exponent of the warlike art. When Australians asserted that they could pick a team to play an English eleven at cricket, we heard of the audacity of the Colonials. ‘ The suggestion came from Evans, a New South Wales cricketer, and we showed .that we could hold our own in the cricket field. So I reply to the contention that we cannot- grow tobacco in Australia, that we can grow it. The honorable member for Boothby asks for a preference of 3d. per lb. to hand-made or twisted tobacco. At one time there were a good many tobacco twisters in Melbourne, who did good work, and earned good wages, and I understand that at the present time South Australians prefer hand-made to machine-made tobacco. I do not intend to discuss the relative merits of the two processes, though machine-made tobacco does not suit me. But ‘an advantage to be gained by giving a preference to hand-made tobacco is that its manufacture will enable men to earn a living, as cigar makers now do with their £5 licences, notwithstanding the operations of the Trust. I hope, therefore, that the Government will accept the honorable member’s suggestion. A differentiation of 6d. between hand-made and machine-made cigars would enable persons having enough capital to procure a cigar licence to make a living, despite the opposition of the Combine, and the competition of the sellers of cheap im- . ported cigars. The honorable member for Yarra quoted some of the prices at which a Trichinopoly cigar maker has offered to sell cigars in this market. He spoke of a brand offered here at 12s. per 1,000.
– On which there was a discount of 2s. 4d. to be allowed.
– Yes, a discount of 20 per cent. The price quoted was fixed on the assumption that the rupee is worth is. 4d”. Until lately the value of the Indian rupee fluctuated very much. I remember when it was only is. 1 1/2d. Now an attempt has been made to fix its value by enactment at is. 4d., but a friend who recently returned from India informed me that the money-changers there will give more than sixteen rupees for a sovereign, so that possibly these cigars could be obtained for even less than 12s. When in India, some yeaTs ago, I found that skilled cigar-makers, who would not be surpassed anywhere, were earning a rupee for a day of ten hours’ solid work, which is- little more than a penny an hour. Could we expect any Australian by birth or “adoption to accept a wage of that kind? India ‘ grows more tobacco than is grown by the United States of America, having in 1905 964-S34 acres under crop, whereas in the United States there were only 776,112 acres under crop. Those employed in tobacco cultivation in the fields receive only 4 1/2d. for a day of unlimited length, it may be for sixteen hours’ work, and sometimes only 2d. a day. Messrs. Spencer Brothers, of Madras, from whom I obtained my information, supply cigars of good quality, and after hearing the figures which I have given, honorable members will not be surprised to learn that cigars are so cheap in India that in an hotel, when a man asks for a cigar instead of a drink, he is not charged for it. No doubt the encouragement of the hand-made cigar industry will give employment to a large number of men. I am told that there are legal ‘ gentlemen in this House whose services are in demand by the Standard- Oil Company, which I believe is connected with the Harvester Trust, und perhaps, indirectly, with the Tobacco Combine, and we may have to face opposition. But if more of the cigars smoked in Australia were made by hand here, there would be a larger circulation of money in the country. Most of the profits of the Tobacco Combine are spent out of Australia, but a man earning £2 a week here would have spent 39s. of it by the Tuesday following the Saturday on which he was paid. Thus it is that when people are earning money in a country it is being constantly circulated- there, which is a healthy state of affairs. Although there are not now in Melbourne as many tobacco twisters as were here at one time, if a preference were given to hand-made tobacco, those who remain would teach their trade to others, though it is by no means an easy one to learn. With regard to cigarettes, I find that three-fourths of those consumed in Australia are made by the Tobacco Combine with machinery, and that upwards of eighty hands are employed in the operation, while Messrs. Sniders and Abrahams employ between 600 and 700 persons in making the remaining one-fourth by hand. If the Tobacco Combine made nothing but hand-made cigarettes, it would have to employ from 1,800 to 2,000 operatives.
– Is the honorable member arguing in favour of the abolition of machinery ?
– No. If the tobacco industry were nationalized, I would say, by all means employ machinery, just as we employ machinery at our railway workshops at Newport.
– A really good cigar cannot be made by machinery.
– The best cigars are made bv hand. An American will pay a dollar for a good cigar, and if he likes a green cigar will see it rolled in the shop. When I went through the splendid factories in Manila, I found that the finest cigars were being made by hand by the best makers. I prefer hand-made to machinemade cigarettes; “but to compete against the Combine nine hand-made cigarettes have to be sold for the price of ten machine-made cigarettes, although the cost of production is very much greater. I hope that the Minister will see his way clear to make a differentiation in favour of hand-made cigarettes. The feeling that we should nationalize the tobacco industryhas been intensified by the recent action of the Combine. France derives from her national monopoly in .tobacco a larger revenue than the whole of Australia yields. In one year she has obtained from it as much as £14,900,000.
– What does she pay her operatives ?
– More than they were paid when the industry was a private enterprise. The wages received by the operatives there are not all that they could wish, but when the people of France desire them to be better paid they have only to indicate that desire to Parliament.
– What class of tobacco is made in, France?
– A first-class tobacco.
– It is very bad.
– The honorable member for Corangamite, as a medical man, knows very well that the choice of tobacco is largely a question of flavour, to which the palate becomes accustomed. Twenty-five years ago I learned to like the flavour of French tobacco, and recently, on the occasion of a visit to the South Sea Islands, I found that my taste for it had not been lost. In Holborn, London, there is a shop devoted to the sale of French ‘tobacco to meet the demand of English art students, who. while in France, have learned to prefer it. How many brands of inferior tobacco have been placed on the Melbourne market within the last twenty-five years? Should I not be right in saying that during the last quarter nf a century something like fifty brands have been placed on the market, only to quickly, disappear? . That being so, why should the honorable member for Corangamite hurl at me the taunt that French tobacco is inferior ? Is any one prepared to-say that France is .lacking in its cuisine, its wines. its music, its science, its art, or its literature? Does it not set the fashion to the world, and why should it fail in respect of its taste for tobacco? The French have learned to prefer a certain flavoured tobacco. Australians, when they go to England, object to the tobacco there obtainable; Englishmen, on coming to Australia, do not care for the locally-produced article, and Americans care for neither Australian nor English tobacco.
– Then we could cultivate a taste for cabbage leaves.
– If the honorable member has tried it I do not envy his taste. I well remember meeting Tom1 Roberts on the hills in Wales on one occasion, when he said to me, “ Here, Bill, is some Australian tobacco. Throw away that English rubbish.” He regarded the English tobacco as worthless, merely because his palate had not become accustomed to it. The French, in their taste for art and literature, rank amongst the highest in the civilized world. *
– And in their taste for tobacco amongst the lowest.
– That is a matter of opinion.
– The position is the same in regard to the tobacco produced in Italy and Austria.
– Has the honorable member ever seen outside those countries a fig of tobacco produced in Italy, France, or Austria?
– I have already mentioned that in Holborn there is a shop devoted to the sale of French tobacco. I brought here recently a small quantity of French tobacco, and there are among my friends some Englishmen who like to have a cigarette made from it. As I have said, the French national tobacco monopoly has produced a revenue amounting in one year to no less than ^14,900,000. That, however, does not represent the total return from the industry. As the honorable member for Corangamite, who, I believe, has travelled from one end of France to the other, well knows, in every little village there is a tobacco shop kept, may be, by the widow of a man who has lost his life in an effort to save that of another. That widow, who is entitled to a pension, gains a livelihood by the sale of tobacco, and the profits she derives from her shop are not included iri the general returns. Indirectly,* France saves many ‘thousands of (pounds in that way. Let us see what the
Tobacco Combine in Australia is. I am informed that it consists of the British - Australasian Tobacco Company, the old States Tobacco Company, the old Cameron Tobacco Company - and I believe that there is a descendant of the original owner still living - the Dixson Tobacco Manufacturing Company, the American Tobacco Company, and Wills. ‘ As farback as 1889, I declared that I should liketo see Victoria own its lights, its smokes,, and its drinks. I have no reason to recede from the position I then took up. France, which at present has a monopoly of the tobacco and match-making industries, is seriously considering the desirableness of nationalizing the alcohol, wine, and spirit industry, and it is estimated that an annual revenue of ^100,000,000 would thus be secured. If the Government could see their way to differentiate in favour of hand-made as against machine-made cigarettes to the extent of is. per lb., I should be delighted. I admit that I should be content with a differentiation of -9d. or of even 6d. per lb.
– If the honorable member were speaking of differentiating betweenhandmade and machine-made cigars, the position might be different ; but I know that, on a paid-up capital of about ^13,400, a profit of about the same amount was made in connexion with the cigarette-making industry.
– I hope that the honorable member will see his way to vote with me on this question. ‘According to Mulhall, India, in 1884,’ produced 150,000 tons of tobacco leaf, and. in 1894, that output was increased to- 280,000 tons. She then topped the rest of the world’s production. There is no othercountry which consumes so much tobacco. Unfortunately, I have not been able to obtain the latest statistics, but, according toMulhall, the United ‘ States of America, in 1884’, produced 240,000 tons, whilst, in- 1894, it had an output of only 180,000- tons. With the exception of India,” and a few other countries, every country in that year had a decreased output. India, however, increased her output, as I have said, from 150,000 tons to 280,000 tons. The consumption of tobacco, according to Mulhall, in 1883, was as follows: - Belgium and Holland, 84 oz. per head of the popula-tion ; Switzerland, 82 oz. ; Turkey and Brazil, 70 oz. ; the United Kingdom,. 23 oz. ; and Italy, 22 oz.
– What about India?
– Her consumption was equal to 30 oz. per. head, and, having regard to her huge population, the total consumption must have been enormous. I do not blame a combine for making as much profit as it can, as long as the law permits it to do so. But the desire of our party is to uplift humanity by the best means, and I consider it my duty, as a representative of this city, to join in an _ effort to keep the Tobacco Combine in check. The only means of doing so is, so far as I can see, to nationalize the industry. We should follow the example of nations that have proved that the industry is a splendid revenue-producing one. Whilst I was in Tokio, a Minister of the Emperor of Japan assured me that the fact that the Government had just taken over the tobacco industry there was the means of enabling them to obtain better terms in connexion with their war loan than they would otherwise have been able to secure. Every country that has nationalized the industry has retained possession of it. We in Australia could do the same. It is often said that we cannot grow tobacco; but when we remember our vast territory, stretching from the sub-tropical regions of the narrow neck of land in the north down to the cold regions of Tasmania, I think that it is impertinent to make such a suggestion. The trouble is that hitherto we have lacked the necessary knowledge of the soils most suitable for the production of tobacco, and have not had the experience necessary to enable us to produce a firstclass article. The representatives of Queensland well know that at one time it was said that cotton could not be grown in that State. Since then, however, Queensland has produced one of the finest kinds of cotton - a cotton plant that yields a larger crop than does any other variety. Why should we not produce good tobacco? Some countries produce tobacco which has in it no trace of the alkaloid of nicotine. The tobacco produced in Syria, for instance, has no trace of nicotine, whilst that produced in France has the largest proportion. Tobacco has been grown in England and Ireland, but the absurd laws which Great Britain passed did not permit of any successful attempt in that direction. Reverting to the question of local manufacture, my information is that there is a machine called the Baron, over which the Tobacco Combine has absolute control, and which it will not allow any but certain manufacturers to use.
– What is it used for?
– It is used in the manufacture of cigarettes. Of course’, manufacturers are at liberty to purchase the Orient machine, but that is not considered such a good article. I hope that the Committee, in its wisdom, will say that tobacco is a commodity so largely used in Australia that its production shall be taken out of the control of the Combine, and that - if the time be not ripe for the na.tionalization of the industry - we shall, at least, prevent it from holding in its grip the best cigarette-making machine, and forbidding other manufacturers to use it. I am perfectly convinced that if we took a referendum to-morrow, as to whether or not the tobacco industry should be nationalized, the voice of Australia would be in favour of the adoption of that course. I have already given an example of the unchanging taste for French tobacco. I hold that a similar taste may be developed for Australian tobacco. Need I point out that at our splendid, workshops at Newport a locomotive can be . manufactured f°r ‘£I,IO° “ess than it can be manufactured in England, and for £900 less than it can be manufactured at the Baldwin works, Pennsylvania. Further, it is Mr. Bent’s intention - if New South Wales should again invite tenders for a supply of locomotives - to tender for their manufacture in the Government workshop, Victoria, In the light of these facts, can it be seriously suggested that we cannot produce a. high-grade tobacco from Australian leaf? We already have the example of three civilized countries before us in this connexion, namely, France, Italy, and Japan. Japan is moving faster than is any other country in the world in the nationalization of monopolies, and we should do well to imitate her example. I am thankful to the Committee for having afforded me such an attentive hearing. I .trust that the Treasurer will recollect that a differentiation in favour of the Australian cigarette-maker will mean the employment of 600 or 700 hands. If Sniders and Abrahams were to install machines for the manufacture of cigarettes, they would be able t.o dismiss all their hands, with the exception of twenty.
– But if they endeavoured to crush the small manufacturer they know that their action would lead to the nationalization of the industry.
– The Combine, by employing seventy to eighty hands, manu- facture three-fourths of the total cigarettes consumed in Australia. These are made by machines. Between 600 and 700 hands are required to supply the remaining onefourth, which comprise hand-made cigarettes. If the Combine produced their cigarettes by hand they would need to employ between 1,800 and 2,000 operatives. In addition, the hand-made cigarettes are sold at nine for 3d., whereas the machinemade cigarettes are sold at ten for 3d: That difference of one-tenth represents the profit of the hand-made cigarettes.
– I am very glad that the honorable member for Angas, the honorable member for .Grey, and the honorable member for Perth are prepared to give to our tobacco manufacturers the benefit of a margin of o.d. per lb. The only question .l.hatwe have to consider is, “ What is the best way so to arrange the duties as to confer the most advantage upon them ? “ I am sorry that I cannot agree with the amendment of the honorable member for Angas. I regard the new proposals of the Government as being very equitable. They fulfil precisely the intention of the protectionist section of this Committee. The honorable member for Grey has declared that nobody has asked for a higher duty upon imported tobacco than 3s. 3d. per lb. I can assure him that I have in my possession a communication from one quarter requesting that a duty of 3s. od. per lb. may be imposed, if the honorable member will turn to the recommendations of the Tariff Commission, he will find that Mr. Nevill practically suggests a duty of 4s. per lb., which was the old Queensland rate - as has been already mentioned bv the honorable member for Brisbane. The Government propose a duty of only 3s. 6d. per lb. The honorable member for Grey also quoted figures with a view to show that last year there was an increase of 600,000 lbs. in the local manufacture of tobacco. If that be so, and if we can double that increase next year, I ask him to consider the number of additional hands to whom employment will be given. I intend to prove that there is not the margin in favour of local manufacturers which some honorable members have suggested. As the honorable member for Perth has referred to the statements of Mr. Nevill, I desire to show what that gentleman is reported to have said in regard to suggested alterations in the Tariff. In progress report No. 12 of the protec tionist section of the Commission, his evidence has been thus summarized -
It has been proposed, on behalf of Queensland, that the old State duties should be reverted to. It is believed! that the 4s. import, duty would not be objected to or combated so strongly as it was in 1901, for the reason that since that year the position of the trade has entirely changed. At that time the tobacco merchants controlled and encouraged the importation of manufactured tobacco, and fought, as they had every right to do, against the imposition of a rate which differentiated too greatly between the import of manufactured tobacco and the import of leaf. Now that aspect of affairs does not concern the merchants, owing to the fact that all brands of tobacco imported are controlled by a combination of local manufacturers and their allies - the American and Imperial tobacco companies ; hence the imported leaf manufactured here will largely supplement imported manufactures.
– It has been said the Combine controls the supply of local leaf.
– What does that matter if the local Combine will be induced by the higher duty to use more Australian leaf than it is doing at the present time?
– The small men cannot get Australian leaf when they want it.
– The honorable member for Balaclava- has affirmed in this Chamber that he can produce samples of the very finest tobacco which is being grown in Victoria to-day, but that the growers cannot obtain anything like a fair price for it. If we increase the: duty upon tobacco I believe that those growers will experience no difficulty whatever in disposing of their product -
Referring to the same subject, the Premier of Queensland says, “ When the Commonwealth . Tariff was adopted it was generally understood that the preference it undoubtedly gave the manufacturer and importer over the farmer was due to the influence exercised by the importer of manufactured tobacco. But now the importer has no interest in the matter; for he no longer controls the trade, as a gigantic trust has usurped his place.”
I intend to support the Government proposal, because it will place both the manufacturers and their employes in a better position- than that which they have occupied hitherto. There seems to be a misunderstanding in regard to the proposal of the Government in reference to stemmed and unstemmed tobacco. Whilst it is stated that the cost of stemming in Australia would be only 3d. per lb., the Governmentpropose to make a difference of 6d. per lb. between the stemmed and unstemmed tobacco. But, as has been pointed out by Mr. Nevill, if unstemmed leaf be dutiable at is. od. per lb., and stemmed leaf at 2S. per lb., as was proposed in the Tariff, inasmuch as the stemming is estimated to cost 3d. per lb., theduty on leaf stemmed or unstemmed would be 2s. per lb. This would give the manufacturer of tobacco from imported leaf a protection of only 3d. per lb., as compared with 9d. per lb. under the old Tariff, which imposed a duty of is. 6d. per lb. in both instances. Consequentlv if the Government proposal be carried we shall merely be placing manufacturers in the position that they formerly occupied. I do not see why we cannot grow all the tobacco that we require in the Commonwealth. For many years I smoked nothing but twist tobacco made in South Australia, but, although it was a clean, first-class article, I found I was smoking so much as to affect my health. In view of the fact that tobacco of that class can be produced, I think a majority of honorable members will be found to vote for some differentiation in the Excise, so far as the twist variety is concerned.
– If there be a differentiation in regard to hand-made tobacco we ought to be content.
– I think we can do better by adopting the proposal of the Government. I know the Government feel some difficulty, in so far as they . fear that possibly other tobaccoes may be brought within the definition. However, “ strand tobacco “ is a trade term, and, in my opinion, there is no danger in this connexion. In framing a Tariff it is not sufficient to place manufacturers on the old basis, but we ought to endeavour to put them on a better basis, and it is from that stand-point I view the question. We have been told by honorable members that when there is a Government monopoly the consumer is supplied with only bad tobacco; but when a combine has the monopoly the consumer has to put up . with what they choose to give him. According to the honorable member for Boothby, and also according to the evidence given before the Tariff Commission, all kinds of inferior and foreign material has been mixed with tobacco supplied to the public. That. I think, would not occur if there were a State monopoly, because honorable members, who found their supplies adulterated, would have a good deal to say about it within these walls.
– The experience of other State monopolies proves that inferior tobacco is supplied.
– Like the honorable member for Melbourne, I have had some experience of the tobacco made by the French Government.
– So have I, and I do not want anv more.
– I may tell honorable members that, when I gave some French friends the best tobacco I could buv in London, they did not like it, and I equally disliked the French tobacco which they gave to me. That only proved, however, that we were accustomed to a certain flavour in our tobaccoes, not that either of the tobaccoes was inferior. Some years ago the only twist tobacco made in South Australia was a dark, strong twist, which I found it impossible to smoke, although it was a first-class article. But I am glad to say that, when it was pointed out that a lighter tobacco was required, the demand was supplied, and the product is a great favorite not only in South Australia, but in Western Australia; it is, I believe, largely used at Broken Hill. We have been charged with, a desire to prevent the introduction of machinery, but for that charge there is no foundation. At the same’ time, we ought to do nothing to throw hand workers out of employment. The consequences are cruel enough when that result is brought about by the use of machinery, without our unnecessarily creating trouble of the kind.
– Could the honorable member distinguish between a hand-made cigar and a machine-made cigar?
– Yes-. A really first-class cigar, so far as my information goes, cannot be made by machinery.
– Could the honprable member distinguish between the two if he were blindfold?
– Undoubtedly I could. A really first-class cigar is made from a blend of tobaccoes, even as many as four, grown in different parts of the world, whereas a second-class cigar may contain only three different kinds, and a third-class cigar only two, while a machinemade cigar is composed of one class, and is, consequently, the cheapest. It is impossible with the present machinery to make cigars of the blend which gives the desired flavour. I admit that, at pieseiil, the highest grades’ of leaf are not grown in Australia; but I believe the day will come when these will be grown here. It is not that we cannot grow the higher grades of tobacco.
– The quality is improving every year.
– Undoubtedly. My belief, is that, under the provisions of the Bounties Bill, as amended on my motion, these higher grades of tobacco will be produced. In 1901-2, there were 914,368 lbs. of tobacco produced in Australia, and, in 1905-6. the production had increased to 2,123,744 lbs. ; and yet we hear honorable members declaring that tobacco cannot be produced within the Commonwealth. If it is possible to produce over 2,000,000 lbs., we could, no doubt, produce 20,000,000 lbs. if neces-sary.
– It is grown mostly by Chinamen.
– Chinamen will not be here very long to grow it. The tobacco I have seen produced by Chinamen in New South Wales and Victoria is very inferior, and almost unsaleable, owing to the fact that they do not know how to cure it. Much experiment is required in regard to the production of tobacco. We know that in the United States seeds obtained from Cuba, Havana, and Virginia, ! and planted in various districts, produce a leaf quite different from that which results in the centres of origin. I hope the time will soon arrive when there will be established in Australia an Agricultural Bureau, with well-paid, first-class chemists attached; and when that time does arrive, we shall find that what can be done in America can be done here. . The honorable member for Lang stated that last year there were manufactured in Australia 7,800,000 lbs., of tobacco, while 1,500,000 lbs. were imported. What is there to prevent our manufacturing the whole? The less we import under present conditions, the more chance will be given to a number of small manufacturers throughout the Commonwealth to make a livelihood. I do not think it necessary to discuss this item at any length. There seems very little desire on the part of honorable members opposite to discuss the question; and I take it for. granted that they are convinced of the reasonableness of the proposals of the Government, or, at any rate, that they do not propose to offer any factious opposition. Whatever machinery may do in the future, we have been shown
Aery clearly the advisability of extending a small preference in favour of hand-made tobacco, and a larger preference in favour of hand-made cigars. Only the best leaf is used by the hand worker; and such a preference is in the interests of the smoking public. If it be true that a quarter of the cigarettes consumed are hand made at present, I feel sure honorable members will not exclude those engaged in this branch of the industry from the benefits of the proposal before us, whatever the profits of the industry may be; because it is a great gain to the Commonwealth to afford this employment. While I feel sure that the honorable member for Angas is sincere in the proposal he has made, the Government proposal is, in my opinion, better.
.- I hope that in our future transactions in connexion with the Tariff the Government will be a little more considerate of the Committee than they have been to-day in the consideration of these important items. The least the Government can do when they propose to depart from the proposals which have been before us so long is to give us the earliest possible notice of what they really intend to submit, especially in connexion with items which have so many ramifications as those under the head of tobacco.
– No doubt printed copies of the proposals ought to have been distributed.
– Not only ought printed copies of the proposals to have been in the hands of honorable members, but earlier notice should have been given of the intention, to submit them.’ I do not desire to indulge in any captious criticism, but honorable members look to the Government to help them as far as possible by giving the earliest information of any intended changes. With respect to these particular items, I cannot profess to have any personal knowledge. I look on the tobacco duties as a very important source of revenue; and, therefore, I regard with a lenient eye the smoking habits of the Australian community. To my mind, it is a most insane luxury’.
– Did the right honorable member ever try it?
– It is because I have tried it that I say that. “I was deceived by the appearance of happiness mantling human countenances whose owners were busy drawing at their pipes, and at the age of eleven, in an unguarded moment, endeavoured to procure for myself this meretricious enjoyment. I bought a clay pipe and a plug of negro head tobacco; but I found that the happiness which others enjoyed was not for me, and from that moment I have not contributed to the Customs bv the purchase of either tobacco, cigars, or cigarettes. But, having a kindly interest in the revenue, when I see Australians puffing away at all times and in all places, I regard them as, even in their hours of weakness, extremely energetic revenue providers. The new Tariff proposals do not contain any startling change of policy. Even in New :South Wales there was a considerable difference^ - a difference of 9d. - between the duty on imported tobacco and the Excise, to encourage local production and manufacture. In Australia we possess a country in which tobacco can be grown, and fiscal experiments for the encouragement of industries have better prospects when undertaken in connexion with articles capable of easy local production. But the history of tobacco growing in Australia is one of the worst chapters in the records of Australian industries. As far back as 1888, according to a report laid before us in connexion with the Bounties Bill, the weight of leaf produced in the Commonwealth was 7,868 ,000 lbs., while last year only 1,400,000 lbs. were produced.
– During the former period a bounty was being paid by the Victorian Government.
– That does not account for the difference. The tobacco produced in 1888 could not all have been used in Australia.
– It was used for making sheep dip.
– No doubt that is one of the safest uses to which some of the Australian tobacco could be devoted. But it is most disappointing that, during the past twenty years, tobacco growing has had such a chequered experience. In 1905 the production of leaf was 2’,000,000 lbs., and the following year 1,400,000. These- figures seem to support the conclusion of the honorable member for Lang that the crop is of the most precarious kind.
– We ought to know the prices which were being paid.
– For many years past, in all the States, the duties have favoured the use of colonial leaf, being equivalent to more than 100 per cent, on its market value. But notwithstanding this encouragement, the history of tobacco growing in Australia is disappointing.
– In 1894 Queensland took off the Excise advantage, because it was thought that she was losing revenue.,
– I do not pretend to know all the causes of this remarkable experience, but I think enough of Australian enterprise to believe that, if there were not great difficulties in the way of producing a satisfactory tobacco, this grand industrial enterprise would not have been neglected. Millions of pounds of tobacco are annually imported, notwithstanding that the colonial leaf is protected by a duty equal to 100 or 200 per cent, on its value.
– The Queensland Treasurer of the day said that he was losing too much revenue, and partly destroyed the industry.
– An industry to which a protection of over 100 per cent, remains can hardly be said to be destroyed by any; change in a Tariff. We must consider the interests of those who smoke tobacco. The man who makes tobacco has been placed by some members of the Committee on a “ pinnacle of materialized vapour,” to use the language of the honorable member for Melbourne Ports. But for every tobacco maker there are” thousands of tobacco smokers whose interests have not been given fair consideration.
– If persons cannot obtain a good price for tobacco leaf they will not grow it.
– How many thousands per cent, are we to give for the encouragement of tobacco growing? The true patriotic protectionist can, in a most simple way, place the Australian tobacco industry on a sound footing, and cause the heart of the planter to rejoice. He has merely to refrain from smoking imported tobacco, and to smoke only Australian tobacco. Honorable members are prepared to die on the floor of this chamber voting for duties for the protection of the growers of tobacco leaf, but they are not prepared to smoke a pipe of colonial tobacco. It is a source of regret to me that my protectionist friends, who are prepared to make such enormous sacrifices in the imposition of duties on behalf of Australian industries, will not make the personal sacrifice involved in smoking colonial tobacco and drinking colonial beer. The self-denying protectionists of Australia have only k> make a solemn league and covenant, for the sake of our national industries, to drink nothing- but colonial beer - they can get a large quantity at a very reasonable rate - and smoke nothing but colonial tobacco - which they can buy for 2s. 6d. a lb.to place both industries on their feet. I suppose that they shrink from doing so because of their horror of the curse of cheapness, colonial beer and colonial tobacco being too cheap for them. The present Tariff law fixed the duty on imported tobacco at 3s. 3d., and the original Tariff proposal of the Government - because what we are discussing is not a Tariff-
– The duties are being collected.
– Of course they are. The honorable gentleman would lay his hands on anything he could get. It is a mercy that he is not collecting twice as much as he proposes to levy. The first Government Tariff proposal was to increase the import duty by 3d. per lb. In my opinion, a duty of 3s. 3d. per lb. is heavy enough, because it is equal to much more than 50 per cent, on the value of the imported tobacco upon which it is levied. I see no reason for increasing it. Then, under the present Tariff law, the duty on imported leaf, whether stemmed or unstemmed, is is. 6d., but in its Tariff proposals the Government first made a difference of 3d. per lb. in favour of the unstemmed leaf, and now put forward a difference of 6d. per lb. ; which, it seems to me, is going too far, being altogether out of proportion to the difference between the costs of manufacturing stemmed and unstemmed tobacco leaf. As for the Excise, the present Tariff law imposed a duty of is., which the Government Tariff proposals increased first to is. 3d., but now bring back to is. Ministers now propose an increase of 3d. in the duty, and a decrease of 3d. in the Excise. In my opinion, that is not sound finance. The difference between is. Excise and 3s. 3d. import duty is quite sufficient for the encouragement of local manufacture; there is no need to increase the difference to 2s. 6d. There is no warrant for the difference. It is not in the interest of the revenue, and it is not in the legitimate interest of the colonial leaf. We must remember that the colonial leaf is sold at about 6d. per lb.
– That is the original selling price.
– The price which the grower receives. We need to keep him in our minds. I am looking at the unfortunate man who, if he manages -to produce a leaf of good quality, receives only about 6d. per lb. for it. .
– When he can find a buyer.
– Quite so. Let us glancefor a moment at the difference between the duty on the imported unstemmed leaf and the price of the colonial leaf. I suppose that colonial leaf is sold unstemmed, so that the basis I am taking isa fair one. The colonial leaf, as I havesaid, commands, not always, but sometimes, a price of 6d. per lb., whilst under these proposals the imported unstemmed’ leaf will be subject to a duty of is. 6d. per lb. There will thus be a protection cf 300 per cent, on the total value of the colonial leaf as sold in the Australian markets to-day. Surely that is all that can be honestly wanted in the interests of the tobacco-grower. The fact is, however, that under cover of these duties a lot of other people are running after the publicmoney. No producer of Australian leaf wants a duty in excess of 300 per cent. If we put a duty of 5s. per lb. upon imported leaf we should not long increasethe value of the colonial leaf, since therewould be in no time an enormous increasein production. Surely the difference existing under the present law, which I understand the honorable member for Angas wishes to retain, is a legitimate one. There has been no strong appeal that I know of to alter that aspect of the Tariff. The Government proposals have created anumber of demands for consideration ;. they haw given rise to a feeling of unrest. There are in connexion with the trade grievances of which we have heard a great deal, and which I hope some day will be thoroughly investigated by someimpartial authority ; but there was nofeeling of unrest or dissatisfaction until the present Tariff was submitted. I feeF that under these circumstances it would be well to leave the duties as they were, so far as’ the manufactured and unmanufactured tobacco and the Excise upon them are concerned.
– In making hiscomparison, did the right honorable member consider the Excise on the colonial tobacco ?
– Yes. What is called the Combine is naturally playing a leadingpart in all the troubles connected with these tobacco items. I have no feeling of kinship with any large trading combine, since in the first place it is pre-eminently able to look after itself, and does not need! much sympathv.
– The combines supported the right honorable member at the last general election.
– If the devil himseif supported me, I should not grumble. I do not think my honorable friend inquired into the individual characteristics of those who voted for him. I look upon a combine of capital as beingprima facie just as honest and as. respectable as is a combine of labour. The man who can see all sorts of wickedness in the act of ten business men uniting is not the man who looks upon unionism as one of the remedies for industrial evils. The principle of the combine is embodied in every trade union, and it is absurd for those who believe in trade unionism to think it an object of wickedness when other people adopt it. But I say as to all combines, labour or capital, that the State should secure strength enough to deal with them whenever they abuse their powers. Any man who is not prepared to throw the searchlight of the Government on any industrial body, whether of workers or of capitalists, who are abusing their power or exercising it in any way prejudicial to the community, is oblivious of what the future has in store for us. Notwithstanding the view of some who represent me, . since I am a freetrader, as believing, without regard to consequences, in the dry principles of political economy, I. think that, without any necessity for the desperate expedient of Socialism, the law of human progress will inevitably bring the power of government more and more in touch with all evils, abuses, and wrongs, from whatever quarter they come. Combines that do wrong will have to be dealt with just as the individual wrong-doer is dealt with in our courts of law. That is a- principle which every one ought to cheerfully recognise. But, just as -in our courts of law we do not prejudge a man who is brought up for trial - we do not find liim guilty before a jurv has tried him - so we must extend similar treatment to combines. Charges against any combine, whether a trade union or a combination of tobacco producers, are not to be accepted as gospel simply because they are made. I am prepared to support an investigation into the operatiqns of any of these bodies when a proper case is presented for the adoption of that course.
– We have only a prima facie case.
– We do not want to get away from the ordinary principles of justice. They ought to be applied to every investigation and every exercise o’f ‘the Executive power. It is a wild injustice to those who have combined in this case to suggest that thev wish to crush the tobacco leaf producer. What interest has a main in crushing one who can provide him with an article three times as cheap as that which he” has to import ? It would be, indeed, a novel form of aberration on the part of a great trading corporation to insist on paying is. 6d. per lb. on imported leaf from the other end of the globe when they could obtain the commodity at their own doors for 6d. per lb.
– But they have a monopoly in the one case.
– What is the use of a monopoly which costs one three times as much as one would otherwise have to pay ? It is generally suggested that a monopoly plays the part of a vampire, and is sucking the blood of some victim in order to enrich itself. The monopoly in this case could enrich itself three times more rapidly bv buying the colonial leaf.
– No; because it could not so well control colonial production.
– It is amusing to find art attempt being made to saddle the Combine with an invincible prejudice, which exists not on the part of the Combine itself, but on the part of those who smoke. These very honorable members who are prepared to exhaust their resources of oratory in defence of the local tobacco grower cannot be induced to smoke a leaf “of colonial tobacco. What chance has this Combine of making tobacco from colonial leaf, when the members of the Labour Party will not smoke it?
– For the most part, we are non-smokers.
– But. some of the. members of the party are smokers.
– Here is a locally-made cigar, consisting wholly of Australian leaf.
– Had it been made in Havana, the honorable member would have smoked it long ago. Honorable members of the Labour Party carry these colonial cigar’s for exhibition purposes; they never smoke them. The position is that smokers will not use colonial tobacco unless it is largely blended with a tobacco which commands, to a large extent, their approval. I hope that, in all our dealings with combines, we shall be commonly fair. If the Combine in the manufacture of their tobacco used a larger proportion of colonial leaf they would not meet the taste of their customers. It is a great calamity that colonial leaf as at present produced is not better suited to the taste of the Australian smoker. I believe that a genuine colonial tobacco can be obtained at about 2s. 6d. per lb.
– That is a very common grade, even of colonial tobacco.
– Then we can understand why there is not a great demand for it. But the initial trouble is that unfortunately the Australian leaf is not one which is prized by the smokers of this continent. I trust that we all feel the warmest sympathy with every effort to produce a better quality of leaf. But even those who wish to push their protectionist views to an extreme must admit that a duty of 300 per cent, is sufficient to give the industry a fair start - assuming that other conditions are favorable. But the industry has to fight against difficulties-
– One of those difficulties is that the growers are forced to deal with the Combine.
– There may be something in that. It must be remembered, however, that before the existence of the Combine the price of colonial leaf was lower than it is now. I recollect when it was being sold for 4d. and 5c!. per lb. in New South Wales.
– It was considerably higher some years ago, but its price again declined.
– The. history of attempts to grow good tobacco in Australia has’ been a most dreary one. Long before the Combine was established the price of colonial leaf was heartbreaking to all but Chinese growers. . The main difficulty in this connexion is that the Australian leaf does not appeal to the taste of the average smoker. Every effort that we can make to improve the prospects of the grower ought to be made. I think that in the Bounties Bill an effort has been made in that direction. There is nothing in the difference between these two proposals to cause protracted debate. So far as I am personally concerned, I prefer the Tariff as it now stands. The honorable member for Melbourne expressed himself in favour of the nationalization of the industry. That course is not proposed by the’ Government.
– He also wanted to differentiate between hand-made and machinemade cigarettes.
Mr.REID. - The attempts to differentiate between hand-made and machine-made articles seem to be a repetition of the old battle which was waged when machinery was first invented. Surely that is not to be fought over again. Some results of the introduction of improved machinery are very melancholy for the moment. The use of such machinery leads to distress and want of employment for a time, but, nevertheless, the improvement of the masses is closely identified with the improvement, of these mechanical inventions. The more the conditions of labour are improved, the more it rises from the position of a hewer of wood and drawer of water. Any attempt to set back the march of human labour in alliance with human invention, and the best ‘possible mechanical means of production, is not in the true and lasting interests of the great masses of the people.
– But the Combine has the exclusive right to use the best machine, and other manufacturers have to compete with it.
– If that be the case, it is one of the evils attaching to our patent laws.
– These machines will not be supplied to any persons outside the Combine.
– I think that any person who patents a machine is entitled for fourteen years to an absolute protection of his invention.
– Is he allowed to restrict the use of his machines to one particular monopoly ?
– Every inventor who has patent rights can undoubtedly do so.
– A complete monopoly is opposed to invention, because it is not pressed by competition.
– Whilst there may be a complete monopoly we must recollect that it can continue for only a limited period. Mankind will then get the benefit of the invention. Further, although a macfiine maiy involve a monopoly for the time being, any inventor who improves upon it can have his invention patented at once, and thus destroy the monopoly.
– But when there is only one buyer of that class of machine that buyer controls the whole business.
– These matters are connected’ with our patent laws, and do not relate to the alleged iniquity of this Combine. If a man comes along and offers a large sum for the exclusive right attaching to the use of a certain machine, and if his offer is accepted, the matter is merely one of bargaining. We must not single out an individual of that sort as a specimen of depravity, because, under our patent laws, the practice is universal.
– There is no exclusive’ fight existing in this connexion.
Mr.REID.- If there is and the Combine have a monopoly of that right, it is a matter which every man must regret. At the same time, it is a thing which happens every day in every country in the world where patent rights are sold. Our consolation must be that it cannot last for ever.
– Has the honorable member ever read the agreements entered into in connexion with the supply of certain machines to the boot trade? They are the most outrageous documents that I have ever seen.
– An evil of that sort is one to be remedied in a general way. The question is whether our patent laws should not be dealt with so as to prevent that and every corresponding evil. In regard to the nationalization of industries, I do not think that we need discuss that question at length, because there is no proposition of the kind before the Committee. I have dealt with it often before, and I am prepared to do so again. But probably time will be economized if we confine ourselves to the practical position of to-day, ‘ and to the proposal which is before us. I shall merely make one observation in reference to that very attractive project - the nationalization of industries. I say that their nationalization would lead -to dangers which are even greater than, those attaching to the existence of a private combine. If a private combine acts, tyrannically there is a power which can redress the wrongs which it seeks to inflict, and which can keep it within legitimate bounds. But if the power of the State is behind a monopoly-
An Honorable Member. - Then the people can correct the wrong.
– That is a beautiful abstract theory. If it were true we should not require so many Parliaments.
– America has not succeeded in suppressing combines.
– America is a shocking example of the extraordinary ineptitude of which a highly civilized people are capable. In one of the freest and most enlightened countries in the world, year after year we behold the spectacle of the people submitting to gigantic robberies. This fact shows how little practical good the Constitution can accomplish. We hear that all men are born free and equal in the United States, but another clause must now be added to that familiar recitation, namely, “ except members of trusts,” who are somewhat superior to every other member of the grand republic. One of the dangers of nationalization is that the power behind a monopoly cannot very well be corrected. I think that we shall require to nationalize some industry when we establish our Australian Navy. We shall need to make something out of somebody, in order to maintain it. Other countries maintain their armies and fleets by the profits whichi they make out of State monopolies. In France, the tobacco smokers are sweated in order to pay for the upkeep of the army and navy. The Government give them an article which is not worth half the money that they pay for it-
– And we keep Messrs. Kronheimer and Company going instead of a navy.
– I do not think that the price of tobacco has risen of late ?
Several Honorable Members. - Yes
– All prices, I suppose, have been increased to a certain extent. If any wrong is being done to the people, either by a labour union or a capitalistic union, we ought to be able to devise some means of dealing with it. But reverting to the question immediately before us, I repeat that upon this occasion I prefer to retain the Tariff as it stands.
.- I desire to say one or two words in reply to the observations of the honorable member for East Sydney. He holds that the proposals of the Government are substantially in the interest of the growers of tobacco, and that the Combine would not be so. foolish as to pay the higher duty upon imported leaf if it could get the advantages indicated under the Excise conditions laid down by the Government. I admit that appearances are altogether against me in that respect, and in favour of the honorable member’s theory. But what are the facts? Under the old Tariff, a very substantial preference was given to the locally-grown leaf as against the imported leaf. Yet we find Mr. Nevill, the expert from Queensland, giving evidence before the Tariff Commission, as to the way in which the leaf Droduced in that State had to seek a market, sometimes in vain, in Australia. The following is an extract from Mr. Nevill’s evidence - 2S515. By Mr. Wamsley. - According to your statement, it is only a question of time when the local tobacco industry will become extinct; but have you not said that the leaf which is grown here finds a market at a good price? - lt has done so hitherto, but last year the buyers left between fifty and sixty tons of our crop. I called their attention to this fact, and that I thought they had discriminated against a certain community. They came up again, and bought about twenty tons more ; but they stated that they did not know what they would do with the tobacco, as they had more on hand than they could use.
Manifestly the leaf, which the manufacturers hari in hand, was not the Australian article.
– That does not follow.
– Statistics show that there has been a considerable increase in the importation of imported unmanufactured leaf, and a decrease in the use of Australian leaf.
– Not a decrease.
– We have only to look at the importations of unmanufactured leaf to realize that a great proportion goes into consumption, combined with Australian leaf, as the honorable member for East Sydney has indicated.
– I said that that accentuated the fact of the unpopularity of the Australian leaf.
– The honorable member accentuates a point that was obvious to the Tariff Commission, though I think it is not obvious to honorable members. It appeared to the Commission that the whole difficulty in regard to the production of Australian leaf and the development of that important industry is due to the differentiation that has nearly always existed between the imported unmanufactured leaf and manufactured tobacco. The manufacturer imports unmanufactured leaf, and there is what appears to amount to a disability as against the local article. But the manufacturer introduces into every 10 lbs. of that unmanufactured leaf somewhere about 2 lbs. of other materials, in the shape of glycerine, liquorice, and so forth, and then he adds, we will say, 15 per cent, of Australian leaf. Under these circumstances, we know that the manufacturer makes profits sufficiently substantial to satisfy any reasonable person. When the grower of Australian leaf comes into the market, the manufacturer sometimes says, “ I will give you such and such a price, but I can only take a few tons, because I am already stocked up with leaf from other sources.”
– Will the honorable member say at what price the tobacco he describes is sold?
– Perhaps the honorable member knows better than I” do what the price of such tobacco is, because I do not buy plug, and I very seldom buy cigars.
– But the honorable member is basing the question of profit on the method of manufacture, and, therefore, he must have paid regard to prices.
– I only mentioned, profits incidentally. I was thinking at the time of the evidence given at the inquiry into the operation of the Combine in< Australia.
– The class of tobaccomentioned by the honorable member is sold at about 5s. per lb.
– At any rate, the Tariff Commission was so fully seized of these facts that I believe every member made up his mind that the disability in. connexion with the development of the tobacco-growing industry was due to the differentiation between unmanufactured imported leaf and manufactured tobacco. The free-trade section of the Commission recommended that the differentiation should be reduced to 3d., while the protectionist section suggested 6d. Speaking for myself, although I signed the report with mv colleagues, I thought 6d. was a fair differentiation. I hold the opinion very strongly that, if we establish a greater differentiation than 6d.. we shall still play into the hands of those people who, I believe, and as I think the facts show, have treated the tobacco grower of Australia with so much indifference as to prevent the development of the industry.
Mr. MATHEWS (Melbourne Ports> [9.36]. - In dealing with these items, we have, no doubt, first of all to consider the question from the revenue stand-point. I claim, however, that last year, and in previous years, the Commonwealth has done very well out of the smoker, considering that in taxation he has paid somewhere about ^1,600,000 per annum. I am willing to tax the smoker, seeing that tobacco is a luxury ; but there is a limit even in this, connexion. We have, of course, to con- sider the grower, and also the manufacturer ; and, although protectionists are never supposed to pay any regard to the consumer, he also must have some regard paid to him in the matter of price and flavour. The use of any particular kind of tobacco is really a matter of taste in a given locality ; and on this question the honorable member for Melbourne has expatiated to-night. I am not a scientist, but from what I have been told and have read, it appears that the. flavour of tobacco is owing to some microbe which attacks the leaf ; and we must, apply that microbe artificially, or be content with the flavour impartecl by the local conditions.
– Climate affects the flavour of tobacco.
– It has been proved conclusively that climate is not the only influence. I suppose that tobaccoes of Cuba and Sumatra are the best obtainable 111 the world for the use of the cigarmaker. Now, in Sumatra, on one side of a river there is an estate called Deli, and, on the other side, another estate called Serdang; and yet, although the climate and the conditions as to labour and so forth are precisely the same, the tobacco produced on one estate is worth four or five times as much as the tobacco produced on the other. Similar results are observable in Cuba, where tobacco grown on one side of a mountain may have a value one hundredfold higher than that of tobacco grown on the other side. In the United States, where there are agricultural colleges, and a bureau such as we desire, and where hundreds of millions of dollars have been spent by the Government and private individuals in the cultivation of the leaf, it has been found necessary to import from both Cuba and Sumatra the high-class tobaccoes necessary for the manufacture of cigars. As I have said, it is sometimes charged against the protectionist that he pays no regard to the consumer; but the facts show that when we are considering how far we should go in the way of protecting this commodity, we must also consider the tastes of the people. I am willing to give the local tobacco grower certain consideration, but, while I believe that tobacco will be grown successfully in the northern portions of the Commonwealth, it is quite possible, in view of American experience, that all the leaf we require will not be produced here. As to the alterations suggested in regard to plug tobacco, I am entirely with the Govern ment. As to cigars, however, I do not think that, even now, the Government are affording sufficient protection to the local manufacturer. In Australia to-day, there are commercial travellers selling Indian cigars, manufactured from Indian leaf, flavoured with leaf from Sumatra and Java. In view of the figures which I shall cite, I ask how can tEe manufacturers or workers in Australia compete against these commodities ? There is an Indian cigar on fhe Australian market which is manufactured at 15 rupees, or, say, 20s. per 1,000. To make a similar cigar in Australia would cost £1 15s. per 1,000, after which the cigars must be sorted, because, in order to please, not only the palate, but the eye of the purchaser, they must, all be pretty nearly of the same shade. That sorting costs 4s. per 1,000, and then there has to be added 5s. for the stripping of the leaf. Further, boxes and labels are responsible for another 13s. 66., and then the tobacco itself, with duty and Excise paid, has to be procured, and provision made for rent, advertising, superintendence, distribution, collection, and so forth. The Indian cigars are made and sold at 20s. per 1,000,’ with a discount.
– They are Indian cheroots.
– No; in appearance they are high-class cigars, and I have been informed that they are a fairly good smoke. There is a discount besides. Of course, the duty must be added to these, prices to arrive at the price to the consumer. The local manufacturers have to compete not only with cheap Indian cigars, but also with cheap European cigars. This is some of the evidence given by Mr: Kirwan before the Tariff Commission - and it was not refuted -
A Flor de Naves Regalia, Reina Fina, or abouquet shape, for making which the Wages Board rate is 3s. , gd. per roo, is produced in Hamburg on the “ house-work “ system at the following prices, and under the following conditions : -
The manufacturer gives the house-worker a certain quantity of leaf tobacco from which to make a certain number of cigars. The houseworker has to prepare and strip the tobacco, and, in point of fact, has to complete the whole process of making the cigars except sorting. He has also to cart the leaf from, artd the finished cigars to, his employer’s factory, and has to provide for his men tools of trade. For all this he receives r.3s. per 1,000. Of this he pays his men 10s. for the making only, the balance, viz., 3s., having to cover all other work (i.e., stripping, liquoring, setting up, and casing), and his profits. He also has to find sureties for the value of tobacco in his care, and to pay fire insurance.
Here we pay a man£1 17s. 6d. per
– Is the honorable member talking of full weight cigars ?
– Yes; the honorable member will see that if he looks at the list from which I obtained my information. Notwithstanding the changes which the Government propose, the Tariff will still bear hardly on Melbourne manufacturers of cigars. Under the old Tariff the average duty on imported cigars was about 7s. 4d. per lb., but under the present Tariff it will be 7s. 6d., a gain of 2d. to the local makers. Then the Excise on hand-made cigars is now 6d., instead of is. 6d., making the total difference in favour- of the local manufacturer is. 2d. But, whereas the former duty on unstemmed tobacco for manufacturing cigars was is. 6d., it is now 3s., and in dealing with cigar manufacture it is the duty on unstemmed leaf which must be taken into consideration, because, before the imported cigars can be made up, the leaf is stemmed. Therefore, while the local manufacturers of cigars gain is. 2d. in the difference between the duty and Excise on cigars, they lose is. 6d. in the difference between the former and the present duty on unstemmed leaf - a net loss of 4d. per lb. It takes about 17 lbs-, of tobacco to make 1,000 cigars, which, when dry, weigh about 13 or 14 lbs. All tobacco imported ‘ into Australia contains about 10 per cent, of moisture, for which a rebate is allowed amounting to 1 lb. 11 ozs., whereas local manufacturers have to pay Excise on the full weight of 17 lbs. per 1,000. This is an additional disadvantage. Furthermore, there is a duty of 2s. 6d. per 100 superficial feet on prepared wood.
– Is there not plenty of wood in Australia of which cigar boxes can be made?
– The wood now ‘used is specially prepared, and free of resin, whereas the local wood contains resin, which would spoil cigars put into boxes made of it. ‘ This duty will be equivalent to about 4d. per box, whether the boxes are made to contain 25, 50, or 100 cigars.
– The timber which is used for the making of butter boxes will probably be found suitable for the making of cigar boxes.
– To give the local manufacturers of cigars proper encouragement we must do several things. In the first place, we must reduce the Excise duty to 3d. on hand-made cigars and to od. onmachinemade cigars. Next, we must require importers to pay 4d. on every box in. which they import cigars, because it would? not be fair to place our cigar manufacturersat a disadvantage by requiring them to pay a duty not imposed on importers.
– Is the honorable member arguing in favour of the removal of theduty on timber?
– No. . As a protectionist I believe in it. Probably we havetimber here which in time will be found suitable for cigar boxes ; but, in the meanwhile, the local manufacturer should not be put to a disadvantage. The facts, asthey are stated, are worthy of considerationby the Government, if they have not been given consideration before.
– Inope that the Committee will not accept the amendment. It is, of course, desirable, where possible, to reduce duties of this kind, because their reduction means the lessening of taxation.
– What is proposed is not the reduction of the duty, but the keeping of it at the rate which hashitherto prevailed.
– The honorable member has moved a reduction on the Government proposal.
– The Government has proposed an increase.
– The reduction of any of the tobacco duties affects, the whole scheme; because the various items in this division are interwoven, just as arethe interests of those connected with the tobacco industry. We have to consider the interests of the consumers, the growers, the manufacturers, and the operatives, as well as the revenue.
– I think that the Government has forgotten the interests of the consumers, although two out of every threemales in Australia are smokers.
– When a reduction in the duty is proposed, it is essential that the honorable member proposing it should say how he intends to deal with the. Excise.
– I did say so.
– The chief reason put forward for the proposed reduction is that it will reinstate the old’ rate. Will the honorable member who proposed it say that it will reduce the price to- consumers? In dealing with these duties as protective duties equivalent to 200 or 300 per cent, ad valorem, honorable members are getting on to a very wide track. The leader of free-trade thought in this country admitted to-night that he has neverlooked on these as protective duties.
– I did not say that. What 1 said was that, even in New South Wales, under free-trade, there was a considerable difference in favour of the local manufacturer.
-The honorable member for Lang pointed with pride to the fact that he does not let his freetrade principles interfere with his views in regard to narcotics and stimulants.
– I did not say anything of the kind.
– At any rate, is it fair to deal with such large revenueproducing duties as duties of 200 or 300 per cent, ad valorem? Is it contended that the reduction in the duty will reduce the price to the consumer?
– Prices will remain the same, because the rate will be what it has always been.
– Does the honorable member admit that by increasing duties we do not reduce prices?
– The Minister appears not to know that the honorable member for Angas has merely, proposed that the rate of duty shall remain what it is in the Tariff which, the Government is nroposifig to amend.
– I admit that the question is a very complicated one, and whilst I do not profess to have a thorough grip of it, I think I know as much about it as does the honorable member for North Sydney. The Tariff Commission, about which he has had so much to say-
– I have not mentioned it.
– The honorable member was a member of the Government which appointed it, and he now wishes the Committee to depart from some ofits recommendations. Whatever may be said as to the recommendations of the Commission, we must admit that the members of it were. selected because of their special ability, and that they gave a great deal of time to the consideration of questions such as those now before us.
– And yet in many cases the Government have proposed duties in excess of those recommended by the Commission.
– Honorable members are aware’ that we had to deal hurriedly with the recommendations, and submit our proposals to the House. As protectionists we felt that in many cases duties in excess of those recommended by the Commission were desirable, and we had no hesitation in asking Parliament to adopt our proposals. Where there was grave reason for doubt as to some of the recommendations of the Commission we simply placed them before the Parliament and in the case of the tobacco duties we have submitted to-night an amended proposal. I admit that there is a great deal of force ‘in the observation of the leader of the Opposition, that the Committee would have been in a better position to deal with the question had we been able this afternoon to circulate printed copies of the new proposals. I would point out, however, that great difficulty was experienced in arriving” at a conclusion as to the best course to adopt with regard to these items. Many days were devoted to the work of preparing a scheme which would operate fairly to the grower, the manufacturer, the employer, the employe, and the revenue. I think it isdesirable to compare the amendment moved’ by the honorable member for Angas with, the recommendation of the protectionist section of the Tariff Commission. Let us take first of all the position of the grower. It has been argued by the leader of the Opposition that Australia cannot producegood tobacco.
-No; the right honorable member simply said that Australians would not smoke tobacco made only of Australian’ leaf.
– Then I think it only reasonable to draw from that statement the’ inference that in the’ opinion of the right honorable member good tobacco leaf cannot be produced here.
– 2,000,000 lbs. of tobacco were smoked last year.
– And under what conditions? We are all awareof the difficulties under which the cultivation of tobacco has proceeded. In only one State has anything like a determined’ effort been made to establish the industry. The growers have not had a fair opportunity. If because of droughts, or of pests such as blue mould, the enterprisehas failed, surely we ought not to condemn it. That, however, is practically what the leader of the Opposition would do. We do not condemn the pastoral industry simplv because a drought in one part of the Commonwealth leads to the. decimation of the flocks there.
– I did not condemn the tobacco-growing industry.
– The right honorable member contended that since the industry had not succeeded under a substantial measure of protection it would be unwise to increase the duty.
– No ; I said that the honorable member might smoke a little Australian tobacco in order to help on the industry.
– The right honorable gentleman gave us his experience of some imported tobacco, fronfwhich it would appear that it was the worst that could be smoked. In my opinion, tobaccogrowing in Australia has not had a fair trial. The position in other countries is different. If there is a failure of the tobacco crop of Virginia, it is compensated for by the output in Carolina, Tennessee, Maryland, or some other State. There is not a complete failure of the tobacco crop in America; but in Australia, the position is different.
– The Government are not proposing to increase the protection to the grower.
– We are giving the grower more consideration than he would receive under some of the proposals that have been made.
– The Government are givinsr them exactly the same consideration that they were shown under the old proposal.
– That is the honorable member’s contention. The honorable member for Angas. and the honorable member for North Sydney, who seems to warmly indorse his proposal, wish to reduce the duty bv 3d. per lb., but they do not assert that such a reduction would lead to a corresponding fall in the price to the consumer.
– It would reduce it as against the Government’ proposal.
– The Government proposal will cause the price to go up.
– It will help the. revenue.
– Of course it will. From a revenue stand-point, our amended proposal will certainly be better than those originally submitted by the Government. Instead of offering- a premium, as one section of the Tariff Commission proposed, to the manufacture of tobacco in other countries, we are providing for a wider margin so that, in order to meet the demand for a tobacco consisting largely of imported leaf, the work of stemming that leaf and turning it into the manufactured article may be carried on in Australia instead of abroad, and more employment given to dur people.
– The honorable member speaks as if he believes what he says.
– I am putting before the Committee the facts on which I base my opinion. I am advised that if the amended proposal made by the Government be carried, it will mean the employment of 700 or 800 more workers in the industry.
– In what direction ?
– In the manufacture of tobacco.
– Does the honorable member refer to the stemming of the leaf?.
– I do.
– If the Government would stand by their original proposal, they would give employment to thousands in the cultivation of tobacco.
– I am referring now to the position in regard to the manufacture of tobacco. Had the recommendations of the free-trade section of the Commission been adopted, we should have reduced the number of persons employed in the industry.
– No fear.
– I can assure the honorable member that the facts upon which I base my opinion have beenput before me by deputations of manufacturers, employes, consumers and retailers. It cannot be denied that under our amended proposal more employment will be provided in the manufacture of tobacco from imported and locally grown leaf. In view of the margin in favour of the local leaf, it will pay the manufacturers, to largely use that leaf in the manufacture of tobacco.
– The Government are not proposing to increase the margin to’ the grower.
– We say that the margin ‘is -sufficient.
– Are we going to divide to-night?
– If the Committee are satisfied with our proposal I am willing to allow a division to be at once taken.
– When the honorable member makes an attack, he must expect a reply.
– The honorable member . has been urging most strongly by way of interjections that the amendment proposed by the honorable member for Angas should be adopted, but he is too fair to assert that it would have the effect of reducing prices. I am most anxious to hear him, and shall be glad to at once give him an opportunity to speak.
– It was an amendment of my own, which resulted’ in the margin which existed under the old Tariff between the duty levied upon the imported as against the locally-manufactured article. I had some reason, therefore, to speak in support of the proposal of the Honorable member for Angas upon that ground. But, rather than occupy the time of the Committee, I had decided to remain silent. When the Minister of Trade and Customs observes indications of that kind amongst members of the Committee, he should be careful to avoid arousing fresh debate. Apparently, the honorable gentleman has not understood his own proposal. In the first place, he impressed upon the Committee the necessity for standing by the recommendation of the Tariff Commission. He spoke of the attention which its members had devoted to the matter, and asked whether it was not better to stand bv their recommendation than risk an experiment by departing from it. He seems to forget that the Government brought forward a proposal which embodied the recommendation of the Tariff Commission majority, and that they are now proposing to depart from it. It seems to’ me that this Committee desires to encourage the formation of a combine. Some honorable members admit that a- margin of 6d. per lb. would be ample to enable the large houses operating in tobacco to make substantial profits. But they affirm that if that margin were adopted, we should close up the small manufacturers. In other words, the small factories are to be kept open by a combination of prices between the small men and the large men. That is what exists to-day. In order to keep the small men going, honorable members ask for a difference of gd. per lb. in favour of the local producer, and for nothing less. Thus the action of this Committee is in the direction of creating a combine.
– Therefore, any reduction of the margin would strengthen the Combine.
– A combination is necessary to maintain the small men.
– The honorable member overlooks the fact that the large Combine has. also a monopoly of importations.
– I quite admit that.
– Does the honorable member know that in free-trade England the margin is is. per lb?
– I ami not satisfied that it is.
– In free-trade New South Wales the margin was is. 9d. per lb.
– The honorable member’s statement is quite wrong. Ninepence per lb. was the margin there. I favour the proposal of the honorable member for Angas, because I consider that the present import duty is a sufficient tax upon the consumer of tobacco. I am not in favour of piling up taxes to the extraordinary degree that is proposed in this Tariff. I further favour the amendment because it will not disturb the trade.
– The. trade is hopelessly disturbed at present.
– It is disturbed by these Tariff proposals. But it will have to be ‘further disturbed when we depart from the old rates. Tobacconists are in the habit of selling plug tobacco for an even coin, and any alteration in the old rates of duty will necessitate the introduction of new machinery and the adoption of a different sized plug by importers or manufacturers. Then I am opposed to differentiating between stemmed and unstemmed tobacco. According to the statement of the Minister, in order to make the distinction proposed, the people of Australia will be called upon to pay taxation to’ the extent of ^90,000 annually. Even if that differentiation did result in the employment of 700 additional hands, which I very much doubt, the amount indicated would be more than sufficient to pay their wages.
– The honorable member is not making any allowance for waste.
– The honorable member himself set down the extra cost of stemming here at 4£d., and the Minister estimated it at 3d. per lb. Upon the assumption that it costs only 3d. per lb., the differentiation between stemmed and unstemmed tobacco would mean a loss to the consumers of ,£90,000 annually. The Minister has stated that the proposal of the honorable member for Angas would show a smaller difference in favour of Australian leaf than that of “the Minister’s own proposal. I say that it would be exactly the same difference, because the duty would be is. 6d. per lb. on the imported unstemmed leaf in each ‘case. That is a very high measure of protection. It is ridiculous to assert that any sensible maker would not use as much local leaf as he could, when by so doing he would not be called upon to pay is. fid. per lb.” by way of duty. An immense proportion of the profits of the Combine must be made out of the difference between the cost of the Australian leaf which they use and the cost with duty of imported leaf. It is idle to say that the Combine does not use Australian leaf for fear of losing its monopoly. If its members can control the immense output of the United States, they can much more easily control the output of Australia.
– They could close up every factory in Australia if they wished to do so.
– Why have the Australian growers to beg the Combine to take their tobacco leaf, practically at their own price ?
– The honorable member himself has’ given the reason. He stated that some of the applicants who desired the Combine to purchase their tobacco were informed that the Combine had so many more tons in stock than it could use.
– Was that because it was loaded up with Australian or with imported leaf?
– With Australian leaf I should say. I have some personal knowledge of this matter. Years ago, a firm with which I was con.nected in New South Wales, was applied to by some tobacco growers to dispose of a quantity of their leaf. The highest price offered was about 4d. per lb., and’ this the growers declined to accept ; and then, though my firm was not in the tobacco trade, we offered, as the growers were friends, to advance money on the leaf, and allow them to test its value in the British market. When a sample was sent Home, however, the highest price obtainable was 2 1/2d. per lb., and the experts there said that the leaf was of inferior quality and badly cured. A similar experiment was tried by the New South Wales Government a few years ago, and on that occasion it was found that the price of the leaf in the English market was lower than in New South Wales.
– The tobacco to which 1 have referred was of good quality.
– I do not . know anything of that tobacco; I am speaking only of the folly it would be on the part of any business men to refuse u good article produced locally, when they could obtain it without the necessity of paying a duty of is. ‘6d. per lb. I hope, I believe, that good tobacco will eventually be grown in Australia. As yet, however, we do not know sufficient of the capabilities of our soils and climate in this respect, and there must be experiments.
– :I understand that very good tobacco is grown at a place called Texas, in Queensland.
– I have heard that that is so, but I do not know of my. own knowledge.
– The industry can be made profitable only by manufacturing the leaf here, and not sending it to America.
– No doubt the best market will be in Australia. Commonsense tells us that the reason that tobacco leaf grown in Australia has not secured greater use, is that the manufacturers cannot, with satisfaction to their customers, use more than a certain proportion. It would have been infinitely wiser on the part of the Government to adopt the old Tariff. But the Government, after accepting the Tariff Commission’s report, introduce a new system, which gives practically the same margin as the old duties, Which are those proposed by the honorable member for Angas, and yet they make a departure from the old duties, and give rise to much consequent disturbance of trade and manufacture.
Motion (by Sir William Lyne) proposed -
That the Chairman report progress and ask leave to sit again.
– I desire to make a personal explanation.
– I point out that, since on a motion to report progress there can be no debate, the honorable member cannot now make a personal explanation.
Motion agreed to; progress reported.
Bill returned from the Senate without amendment.
Motion (by Sir William Lyne) proposed
That the House do now adjourn.
.- Is it the intention of the Treasurer to have the new proposals in reference to the tobacco items in the Tariff printed and circulated amongst honorable members tomorrow ?
– I do not know whether that can be done, but if possible I shall see that the proposals are printed and circulated as desired.
. -I desire to ask the Treasurer whether he is prepared with a list of the items he intends to submit when the tobacco items have been disposed of?
– I must ask to be excused just at present A similar question was asked to-day, and answered.
.- I desire ‘to make a personal explanation. In the course of his speech to-night on the tobacco duties, the Minister of Trade and Customs misrepresented me as having expressed myself delighted, as a free-trader, at the opportunity presented to me to impose duties of Customs on narcotics and spirits.
– Were the remarks to which the honorable member refers made in Committee?
– As the Committee has not reported, the matter cannot yet be dealt with in the House.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
House adjourned at 10.37p.m.
Cite as: Australia, House of Representatives, Debates, 3 October 1907, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/hofreps/1907/19071003_reps_3_39/>.