3rd Parliament · 2nd Session
Mr. Speaker took the chair at 3 p.m., and read prayers.
Mr. DUGALD THOMSON presented a petition, signed by 4,162 members of the Women’s Liberal League, and other persons residing in New South Wales, praying the House not to pass the proposed Tariff.
Mr. MCDONALD presented a similar petition from ‘ certain electors resident in the Kennedy division.
Mr. JOHNSON presented a petition from the members of the Public Morals Association of New South Wales, praying the House that the report of ‘the Royal Commission on Secret Drugs be withheld from circulation Until revised by a board of medical practitioners.
– The following paragraph appears in to-day’s Argus under the heading “ Naval Construction. English Firm’s Offer “-
A definite offer was recently made to the Commonwealth authorities bv ‘ the ship-building firm of Sir W. G. .Armstrong, Whitworth, and Co. Ltd., Newcastle-on-Tyne, in connexion with’ the Federal naval construction policy. The offer embraced the construction of ‘torpedo boats and destroyers, with partial manufacture in Australia, and it is at present under consideration. Its adoption would mean the establishment locally of ship-building works of sufficient capacity to carry out the contract.
I desire to know from the Prime Minister - (1)’ What were the terms offered by the firm mentioned ? (2) Have any other offers been received? (3) Does the Government propose to establish ship-building works for the purpose of naval construction? (4) If . so, will the works be centralised, or will various suitable sites throughout the Commonwealth be availed of? (5) Before deciding will he consider the exceptional facilities for such purpose now existent at Sydney, both privately owned and State owned? (<5) Will he consult the Premier of New South Wales as to what assistance will be given by the New South Wales Government in the matter by the use of the Government works at Cockatoo Island, which are so admirably situated for such works ?
– The honorable member kindly informed me of his intention to ask these questions. No terms have been mentioned, the offer received being merely a general intimation of the willingness of the firm to enter into a contract on suitable terms, part of the work to be done in this country. Other similar general offers, but none that could ‘be called definite, have been received. The Government has no intention to establish ship-building works, but should it be resolved at any time to do so, the attractions of our various ports will be considered, and the Governments of the States will then have an opportunity to offer assistance.
– In an English newspaper which’ I have here, it is asserted that a dozen vessels have Been ordered by the Australian Government, eight of them 26- knot destroyers, and four 25-knot torpedo boats, most of them to be shopped here in sections. Then, in to-day’,s newspapers, is an account of an interview between Colonel Stanley and the Premier of Victoria, in which the former inquired as to the prospects of State patronage for an English ship-building firm. I wish to know whether there is any truth in the statement in the English newspaper that orders have been given, and I also ask the Prime Minister whether Colonel Stanley should not toe informed that the Government of New South Wales possesses excellent facilities for doing work of this kind, and that an English firm will not be encouraged to enter into competition with it?
– As the honorable member is aware, no order for the construction of torpedo vessels has been given by the Government. Of the relations of Colonel Stanley with the Premier of Victoria, or with any other Premier, I know nothing beyond the newspaper statement.
– In perusing a leader in one of the morning newspapers, I noticed that statistics for the year 1905 were quoted in connexion with the Tariff proposals, apparently because later statistics were not available. As Mr. Coghlan’ s- statistical work is not to be continued, I ask the Minister representing the Minister of Home Affairs whether a similar work will not be issued at an early date?
– It will be published as soon as possible. The work is in hand now.
– I wish to. know from the Prime Minister whether there is any good reason why information should be withheld from the public as to the tenders received for the mail service last week?
– There are the very best reasons. The propositions contained in the tenders vary, making their comparison difficult. It will need a good deal of inquiry to determine which would be the more profitable undertaking for the Commonwealth.
– That is quite another matter.
– In the meantime, it is undesirable to make any statement which would indicate what the decision is likely to be.
– I can quite understand that, but cannot the honorable gentleman mention the names of the tenderers? Surely there is no secrecy about their names !
– At the present stage, even that is undesirable.
– Is the firm of Laing and Sons among the tenderers?
– That will appear later.
– I .desire to ask the Prime Minister whether, in view of the fact that Mr. Carruthers has resigned the Premiership of New South’ Wales, and that his action was the bone of contention in connexion with the wire-netting episode, the Government will take into consideration the question of amicably settling the difference ? I am sure that the Commonwealth does not want to draw blood. It would come with good grace from the Commonwealth to extend the olive branch of peace, and to have a friendly law suit with regard to the liability of State imports to duties.
– I shall be pleased to consider the honorable member’s praiseworthy suggestion.
– Bearing upon the question which has been asked in regard to the building of war vessels of different kinds, I desire to ask the Prime Minister if, now that he has returned to the House, he will state whether it is the intention of the Government to introduce a Bill to terminate the Naval Agreement?
– As soon as the state of business permits, I propose to ask the attention of the House to a comprehensive statement in regard to both land and sea defence. In the course of that statement a proposal will be submitted, not for the termination, but for the. amendment of the Naval Agreement.
– Meaning, I suppose, the same thing ?
– That will depend on the point of view.
– I desire to ask the Postmaster-General whether, during his recent visit to Sydney, his attention was drawn to the want of ventilation in the telephone cabinets in New South ‘ Wales, and, if so, whether he will have steps taken to provide ventilation before the summer weather commences?
– My attention was directed to a number of other things, but not to that.
Removal or Aboriginal Natives
– I wish to ask the Prime Minister whether he will have any objection to acquaint the House with the object of the Ordinance recently passed by the Legislative Council of Papua in regard to the removal of aboriginal natives from the Territory?
– The Ordinance may refer, not to natives of Papua, but to certain undesirable Malays and others who from time to time have visited, and remained for a time in, Papua. There was a further proposal in regard to Papuan natives, but, so far as my memory serves me, they were not to be deported.
– I beg. to ask the Prime Minister whether, in view of the . very wide powers conferred upon the Papuan’ Executive Council to make Ordinances, and of the fact that the Ordinances, after having lain on the table of this House, have the force of law, he will consider the advisability of appointing a small Committee of the House to examine and report on them ?
– We may assume that in regard to these measures the House is a Committee of the Whole. The Ordinances invite attention from all honorable members without distinction. At the present time they are few in number, . simple in operation, and call for no extensive examination. But if any information be desired, I shall be pleased to furnish it to any honorable member.
– I beg to ask the Minister representing the Minister of Home Affairs a question relating to a paragraph which appears in this morning’s Argus, and which contains this statement -
One rather strange condition’ in the contract is that all the setting is to be done by hand, the use of machines not being permitted.
I desire to know - first, whether the statement is in accordance with fact; secondly, what is the increased cost consequent upon the limitation ; and thirdly, is it the policy of the Government to discourage the use of labour-saving machinery ?
– The policy of the Government is to do the best in every circumstance. The question of which notice was given to-day by the honorable member for Kennedy will be answered fully.
– I assume, sir, that my question has no relation to the question asked by the honorable member for Kennedy.
– Of course, I am unable to say what the Minister referred to, but he has given, what he considers to be an answer.
– I desire to ask the Prime Minister - first, whether it is a fact that labour-saving machinery is not to be employed in connexion with the contract; and secondly, whether it is the policy of the Government to discourage the
US2 of labour-saving machinery ?
– In regard to the second question, the reply is “certainly not,” and’ in regard to the first question, my honorable colleague has undertaken to obtain, full particulars in reply to the inquiry by the honorable member for Kennedy.
Mr. MAUGER . laid upon the table the following papers -
Census . and Statistics Act - Statistics of the Commonwealth -
Trade, Shipping, Oversea Migration, and Finance - Bulletin No. 7, July, 1907.
Shipping and Oversea Migration, 1906.
Public Service Act - Regulation Amended,
No. 104 - Statutory Rules 1907, No. 100.
asked the Minister of Defence, upon notice -
– In answer to the honorable member’s questions, I have to state that the following returns from records give the number of applicants for enlistment in the Permanent and Militia Forces who were medically examined during 1904, 1905, and 1906, and also the number rejected on account of physical unfitness -
asked the PostmasterGeneral, upon notice -
Whether, when making arrangements for the installations of wireless telegraphy with New Guinea, he will take care to have the installations erected in such positions that the necessity of special measures of defence will be obviated?
– The answer to the honorable member’s question is as follows -
Before any sites for the Wireless Telegraph Stations are decided upon it if the intention of the Postmaster-General to consult the Defence Department, to whom the draft conditions as to the sites will be submitted for consideration.
asked the Minister of Defence, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follow -
In Committee of Ways and Means (Consideration resumed from 4th October, vide page 4307):
Cigarettes, including the weight of the outer portion of each cigarette, oer lb., 3s.
Upon which Sir William Lyne had moved, by way of amendment -
That the following words be added : “ and on and after 5th October, 1907, per lb., 2s. gd.”
Upon which amendment Mr. Maloney had moved -
That the following words be added : “ and if hand-made, on and after 5th October, 1907, per lb., 2s. 3d.”
– I desire to read to honorable members standing order 54 -
Every member of the House, when he comes into the Chamber, shall take his place, and shall not at any time stand in any of the passages or gangways.
This matter . has been brought under my notice owing to honorable members, from time to time, standing in the back gangway and talking to strangers in the Speaker’s gallery. It very often becomes my duty to call those honorable members to order, because they are distinctly breaking the standing order; and they either do not hear me, or, if they do, they do not understand that they are still within the House.
– What does the Chairman mean by the “ back gangway “ ?
– I mean the gangway between the back benches and the Speaker’s gallery. It is very difficult for me, when honorable members have their backs towards me, to- make them understand that it is disorderly for them to stand there and talk across the barrier to persons outside the chamber. I deem it my duty, therefore, to read this standing order ; and I hope honorable members will take notice of the remarks I have made.
– When progress was reported on Friday, I had not quite finished my remarks. In the course of this debate I have mentioned that the Tobacco Combine have control of certain machines ; and I hold in my hand a letter from the City Engine Works, Eagle Wharf Lane, N., London, dated 2nd March, 1905, from which the following is an extract : -
We may tell you that we make the Baron machines for the patentees, and can strongly recommend them. Both the Baron and the Orient types are the best in the market, as we have considerable experience in cigarette machines. We regret to say that we cannot sell you a Baron machine, as the Australian rights for same have been sold.
The Baron machine is the machine which I said was controlled by the Combine. The Orient machine is certainly a good one, but it is not to be compared to the Baron.
– What machine does the firm of Sniders and Abrahams use?
– At present that firm does not use any machine for cigarette making. Speaking in round numbers, that firm manufacture about one-fourth of the cigarettes’ consumed in Australia, and employ about 700 or 800 operatives, who are engaged, not in making the paper covers, but in filling them. As I explained the other day, the machine-made cover does not allow so much paper to overlap, and, therefore, the deleterious effects of smoking paper are to a great extent obviated. The remaining three-fourths of the cigarettes consumed in Australia are machinemade, and their manufacture employs only from seventy to eighty operatives.
– Are not young girls mostly employed at a low wage in the making of the hand-made cigarettes, whereas men are employed at the machines ?
– I do not agree with the honorable member; because girls can be employed at the machines just as readily as can men, and the Victorian Factory Act precludes the employment of girls under a certain age.. The honorable member for Angas has said that it is better that tobacco should be stemmed -before being imported, for the reason that, when the leaf is moistened for the purpose of being stripped, it loses in quality. I have had some inquiries made, and I am in a position to say that that is an incorrect statement. Tobacco leaf, whether stemmed or unstemmed, has to be moistened before it can be manipulated here; and the very highest grades of tobacco are imported with the stems on, because it would injure the leaf to previously remove them. High-class tobacco leaf, such as that from Havana, Mexico, Sumatra and Borneo, is never imported stemmed; only the inferior tobaccoes from Germany, America and Japan are sent here stemmed. It is not in the interest of manufacturers to pay a higher duty on unstemmed leaf ; and to get the stripping done here would occupy a fair amount of labour. In Australia 700 or 800 hands are employed in making only one-fourth of the number of cigarettes consumed, whereas over 3,000 could be employed if all were made by hand labour. The Combine’s machinery provides three-fourths of the cigarettes consumed. The best cigarette machines are the Bonzac and the Baron. The Bonzac machine is controlled by the Combine, and the Baron machine can be used only by the Combine, who hold the exclusive Australian rights. I do not know whether it is because this question is before Parliament, and, by means of the daily press, before the citizens of Australia, but I must pay the compliment to the Combine of saying that they are now doing their work very well, and acting fairly towards their employes. I hope the Combine will also act fairly towards consumers. One fact, which I wish to sink into the mind of the honorable member for Lang, is that nine hand-made cigarettes are sold at the same price- as are ten machine-made cigarettes in the market of Australia ; and this fact illustrates the great difficulty in the way of the hand-made makers. From my parliamentary experience I doubt whether any speech ever wins a vote ; but, nevertheless, I have much pleasure in submitting the amendment.
– I do not know what are the Minister’s views of this proposal from the point of view of revenue.
– I expressed my views the other day.
– But I mean after further consideration ; because it seems to me that there will be a loss of from ^25,000 to ^28,000 per annum.
– As the honorable member for North Sydney has raised this question, I should like to be allowed to make a statement: I have received from the Minister of Trade and Customs communications from Mr. Nevill and from the Department in regard to the estimated loss of revenue. I was informed on Friday that the loss of revenue occasioned by the vote of the Committee regarding twist tobacco will be from £16,000 to ^20,000 per annum. But a report that is now before me .reduces that estimate very considerably. It is estimated that 400,000 lbs. of hand-made twist are manufactured, and that the loss of revenue will be about £5,000 per annum.
– It may increase.
– It may. In reference to the question now before the Committee, I have a memorandum from Mr. Nevill, who says -
I have the honour herewith to submit a reporton the proposed decrease of 6d. per lb. in the Excise on hand-made cigarettes. A summary of this report shows : -
First. If allowed it will cause a loss of revenue of £?,737 3s. per annum on the returns for I006, and this loss will increase, as shown by the percentage of increased manufacture of hand-made over machine-made in the last three, years, which is 81 per cent, hand-made, 8f per cent, machine-made.
Second. It will serve to increase the already large profits of the manufacturers by is. 13d. per thousand without any corresponding benefit to the labour employed or to any other interest.
Third. The testimony of Mr. Schuh, a manufacturer of hand-made cigarettes, before the Royal Commission, shows a higher price is obtained for the hand-made, enough to more than cover the difference in the cost of manufacture.
Fourth. The additional profit to the manufacturers will be just what is lost to the revenue, £7737* 3s-, an<i their profits, us shown by Mr. Schuh, are already large.
It is stated that the manufacturers of hand made cigarettes are now making at least £10,000 a year, and that under present conditions they can easily hold ‘their own against the competition of machine-made cigarettes. I have also a memorandum from the Comptroller-General of Customs, who estimates that the loss of revenue would be from ,£4,000 to £5,000 per annum. He also says that the output of hand-made cigarettes is increasing yearly, and that the industry is by no means languishing. With regard to the loss of revenue, he says -
There can be no doubt that there would be a considerable loss of revenue from a differentiation. That can only be compensated for by an increase in the Excise rates - for instance, that the proposed Excise should be increased to 3s. on machine-made and 2s. gd. on hand-made.
– I thought we were here to afford protection, not to look after the revenue.
– It is generally considered that spirits and narcotics are articles which should be regarded mainly from a revenue point of view. We get an immense revenue from them. The suggestion made by the ComptrollerGeneral is rather an important one. He suggests that the excise should be increased to 3s. on machine-made cigarettes, and 2s. 9d. on hand-made, and he adds -
This might possibly counteract the loss, but the question is how far it will operate against the interests of the whole of the Australian manufacturers of cigarettes, as such a rate would leave a difference between imported cigarettes and the Australian made at only is. 6d. and is. gd., and it seems doubtful whether this margin is sufficiently in favour of the Australian manufacturer.
I wish it to be clearly understood that whilst desiring to the fullest extent possible to benefit our own manufacturers, and to give employment to as many as possible of our workmen, yet, as Treasurer, I must keep an eye upon the interests of the revenue.
– Is it a good thing to manufacture cigarettes at all ?
– That is a point worth considering. .
– It is better to manufacture cigarettes than to smoke them !
– If they are made, somebody will smoke them. I doubt whether, in the interests of the public, it is a good thing to manufacture them at all. However, we have to deal with this subject from a practical stand-point.
– Does the Government propose to stop their manufacture?
– No; I do not propose, at present, to stop their manufacture. The Government does not desire to help’ machine manufacture unduly. We wish to encourage hand-making as -far as possible. I do not know much about cigarettes, but a hand-made cigar is certainly better than a machine-made cigar, and probably the same is true in regard to cigarettes,
– There is no difference in the quality.
– I do not smoke them. Personally, I think that cigarettes are poison. But if the desire of the honorable member for Melbourne could be met bv adopting ‘he suggestion of the ComptrollerGeneral of Customs, and if the adoption of the suggestion would not perceptibly interfere with other avenues of trade regarding tobacco and cigars, I should have no objection to it. But before agreeing to a proposal of this kind I should like to know whether it would have the effect of disorganizing the duties or affecting their symmetry. Because I admit quite candidly - and I have tried very hard to grasp the whole of this question thoroughly - that it is a difficult thing to understand clearly how the excise will affect the duty, and vice versa. I wish to know before I agree to this suggestion whether it is absolutely certain that no injury will be done to the revenue if the desire of the honorable member be met.
.- I understand that the suggestion of the Treasurer is that the Excise on machine-made cigarettes be raised to 3s. per lb., whilst that on hand-made cigarettes is fixed at 2s. 9d. per lb. I think the suggestion will meet the difficulty, and, as a protectionist, I shall be glad to accept it.
– I think that the Treasurer will find that the loss of revenue resulting from the adoption of this proposal will be considerably more than he anticipates. The figures he has quoted relate only to the initial loss. If hand-made cigarettes replace entirely those made by machinery, it is probable that the ultimate loss of revenue will be considerably greater. Although we may sympathize with the desire that the number of hands in any industry shall be increased, it is questionable whether we should endeavour to accomplish that object by precluding the use of machinery. If we are- to proceed on such lines throughout the framing of the Tariff, a vast field of operations will lie before us. Will honorable members contend for a moment that we ought to adopt such a course? Would it be to the advantage of the community to penalize machine-made goods? I venture to say that if we did the industries of Australia would languish. It is only by the use of machinery that many of our industries have been able to attain a considerable output. What reason can the Treasurer give for proposing to penalize the use of machinery in the manufacture of tobacco, and cigarettes ? ‘ There may be, possibly, some reason for penalizing the use of . machines for cigar making
– If cigarettes are to be used, I should say that the. hand-made is better than the machine-made article.
– All the difficult work connected with the so-called hand-made cigarette’s is done by machinery ; “the simple process of ‘filling is alone done by hand. To encourage that branch of the industry, we are proposing to differentiate in favour of hand-made cigarettes to the extent of 3d. per lb. in the Excise duty. “No ; reason for doing so has been shown “in this case, since the output of hand-made cigarettes is increasing, whilst . the consumption of machine-made cigarettes is proportionately being reduced. The Comptroller General of Customs has supported my contention that under the old” Tariff “handmade cigarettes have been taking the market as against those made by machinery. That being so, why should we make an alteration in the duties which, it appears to me, would result only in adding to the very considerable profits already being made by manufacturers of hand-made cigarettes.
– It would give more work.
– But apart from these proposals, the production of hand-made cigarettes hasbeen ‘gaining ‘on the production of cigarettes made by ma chinery. In Victoria in 1904, 168,620 lbs. of hand-made cigarettes were produced ; in 1905, 212,907 lbs., and in 1906, 276,847 lbs.
– That proves that the hand-made cigarettes are the best.
– It proves that the object which honorable members have in view in supporting this proposal has already been accomplished.
– But the proposed differentiation would hasten the desired change,
– It would result only in adding to the profits of. those who presumably are already securing a very handsome return from their industry: Prior to 1906 hand -made cigarettes were not produced in New South Wales, but in that year there was an output of 4,750 lbs. Then in 1906 152,147 lbs. of cigarettes were imported, or a reduction of 7.7 per cent, compared with the imports for the previous year. In the same year the output of cigarettes subject to Excise - that is to say, locally manufactured cigarettes - was 1,148,033 lbs., an increase of 37 per cent. These figures show that not only are the locally-made cigarettes gaining verv rapidly on the market, but that the output of handmade cigarettes under the old Tariff gained rapidly on the production of machinemade cigarettes. In these circumstances. I fail to see that a case can be made out for increasing the duty in favour of the local hand-made cigarettes. If we do what is proposed we shall either run the risk of losing revenue, or, if by increase of. the Excise the revenue returns be unaltered, of making a present out of the Treasury to manufacturers who are already doing well. No one will claim that that is desirable. Another consideration is whether it is desirable to encourage cigarette smoking. New Zealand has, I believe, dealt fairly effectively with the matter byallowing no difference between the Excise and the import duties. The duties are so high that packets of cigarettes cannot be sold at less- than 6d. each, and thus a majority of juvenile smokers are unable to purchase them.. It would be desirable if we could attain that end. I have no hesitation in saying’ that the smoking of cigarettes by juveniles is ‘ one of the evils of the community. By adopting the New Zealand, plan we might largely check the habit.
– What is the New Zealand plan ?
– To charge the same Excise as import duty.
– Not quite so much; the rates are 4s., as against 6s. 6d.
– Is the
Tight honorable member sure ? I think the rates are the same. At all events, such a large Excise duty is charged that there is not sufficient . encouragement for the local manufacturer, and the heavy duty on the imported article prevents packets of cigarettes being sold at a low price. I think that sellers have to get 6d. per packet. I will not absolutely assure the Committee that the import and Excise duties in New Zealand are the same until I have looked the matter up.
– I think the honorable member is right.
– I think it will be found that the two duties are the same. While that plan does not encourage the local manufacturer, one very advantageous effect of it is a great reduction of the smoking of cigarettes by juveniles. But leaving that aside as a course which the Minister would perhaps, not be prepared to adopt, and Which would perhaps’ be rather harsh to present manufacturers, I would point out that under the late Tariff the local article was so protected that the consumption of it is overtaking that of the imported article, and that the hand-made cigarette had a sufficient advantage to enable it to make rapid strides as against the machine-made. In these circumstances, it would be very undesirable to differentiate the Excise. I cannot see that any sufficient reason has been shown why the Minister should take that course.
. -If the honorable member for North “Sydney were prepared to move in the direction of prohibiting the manufacture of cigarettes, I should be entirely with him, as I agree that cigarettes are not good for either juveniles or adults; but, as there is no such proposal before the Committee, I am surprised at the honorable member’s line of argument. When we were discussing the question of hand-made and machine-made tobaccoes, the cry was, “ What is the use of kicking against machinery “? Yet the honorable member for North Sydney now supplies the Committee with ‘ proof that the hand-made cigarette is not only more desirable, but, in spite of the introduction of machines, is making rapid progress against the machine-made. If that is so, and if it is really a good thing that cigarettes should be made by hand - I think it is, from the labour standpoint, as I understand that there are about three employes engaged in the manufacture of cigarettesby hand to every one occupied in the machinery process-
– The others would not be idle, I hope.
– In any case a great many cigarettes are imported, and it is proved that a more desirable cigarette can be made by hand in Australia. I prefer to see the work done by Australians. If it is a good thing that cigarettes should be made by hand, and if, also, the honorable member for North Sydney is correct in saying that hand-made cigarettes are overtaking the machine-made, then it is right that the Committee should enable them to completely overtake the machinemade cigarettes at once. The honorable member for North Sydney says that one of the objections to the adoption of - the proposal of the honorable member for Melbourne is that we should be thereby making a present to a firm which is already ‘ doing a very good business. But there is nothing to prevent those now engaged in the manufacture, of machine-made cigarettes from undertaking their manufacture by hand. I am astonished, seeing the large profit that is being made by those now in the industry, that more enterprising commercial men have not engaged in it. But I feel sure that if we do pass the proposal of the honorable member for Melbourne, a large number of firms now engaged in producing machine-made cigarettes . will turn their attention to the manufacture of the hand-made article. For the reasons adduced by the honorable member for North Sydney, I am prepared to support the proposal of the honorable member for Melbourne.
.- I understand that the Acting Prime Minister has decided to differentiate between hand-made and machine-made cigarettes, by increasing the excise duty on the machinemade from 2s. 9d. to 3s. per lb.
– I did not understand that that was to be done.
– It would be better to make the difference 6d.
– I did not clearly . understand the amount of difference: that was to be made. According to the schedule of Excise duties, the rate is 2s. od. per lb on “cigarettes, including the weight of the outer portion of each cigarette.” I understand that the Government propose to charge an Excise duty of 3s. on the machinemade cigarettes.
– That is the suggestion of the Comptroller-General.
– I think it is a good suggestion, from the point of view of the contention that the manufacture of cigarettes is a bad thing. We are not discussing that point at present, and what we want to arrive at is whether .it is better to make our cigarettes here by hand or by machine. If we make them by hand, we shall give employment to 700 people, as against 70 who would be employed if the present proportion of cigarettes continued to be made by machinery. Another reason that appeals to me is that hand-made cigarettes are much more wholesome, or, at any rate, much less deleterious, than machine-made. I am informed that the machine-made cigarette is full of dust, and therefore very injurious. Those are two points which make me inclined to think that we ought as far as possible to encourage the production of cigarettes by hand. The honorable member for North Sydney has raised the question of machinery against hand labour, but in this case I do not think that argument applies. As a rule, I am in favour of machinery every time, because the public are better served by the use of machinery than by hand-work, and because, eventually - and perhaps very soon - actually more people will be employed when machines are used, and the work is better done. In 999 cases out of 1,000 those reasons apply, but they do not apply in this particular case, in which the public are served with a better article at the same price. I have taken the trouble to get a sample of machinemade cigarettes, and another of handmade cigarettes, and find that the public are at least as ‘well served by the use of the hand-made cigarettes as by the use of the machine-made.
– Are there the same number of cigarettes in each packet?
– No, there are nine in the packet of hand-made, as against ten in the packet of machine-made. That is the only point against the hand-made article.
– Are they the same price per packet?
– Yes, and the packet of machine-made has the advantage of containing one more cigarette. If the use of cigarettes is undesirable, then the fact that a packet contains one more cigarette may be regarded as a disadvantage, although, of course, a man is not likely to buy nine when he can get ten for the same money. All things considered, this is a question, not of machinery against hand labour, but of whether, if cigarettes are to be produced here at all, we should not give the work to 700 people as against 70. If the Government will put their foot clown and make the proposed differentiation in the Excise duty, I, for one, shall be prepared to support them.
– The Government might with advantage go even further than they propose in increasing the Excise duty on machine-made cigarettes. I quite sympathize with the suggestion of the honorable member for North Sydney, as I indicated last Friday my view that it would be a good thing if cigarettes generally were made dearer than they are now. Packets can be bought in all the large centres in Australia for 3d. each, and it is the excessive cheapness .of cigarettes that attracts the juvenile portion of the community so much. That is not a good thing. Apart altogether from the question whether cigarette smoking is more injurious that other forms of tobacco smoking, it is undoubtedly a fact that youngsters are encouraged to smoke by the facilities with which they can obtain cigarettes. I should like to see the Government go further than they propose in levying an Excise of 3s. per lb. upon machine-made cigarettes.
– Make it 3s. 6d. per lb. all round.
– Personally, I should like to see a slight differentiation between the Excise imposed upon machine-made cigarettes and hand-made cigarettes, for the reason that I am given to understand that the hand-made cigarettes are less injurious than are the machine-made. I do not pretend to be sufficiently an expert to express a definite opinion upon whether that is so or not. I confess that when my smoking appetite has been jaded I have smoked a cigarette. The Government might very well propose an Excise of 3s. 3d. per lb. upon machine-made cigarettes even if they permitted the hand-made cigarettes to be produced and sold at a slightly lower rate. From the stand-point of revenue also, I think that there is something to be said in favour of my suggestion.
.- The- effect of the amendment - if carried - will beto add enormously to the profits of the one manufacturer who is engaged in the making of hand-made cigarettes.
– There is only one manufacturer engaged in the manufacture of machine-made cigarettes. The honorable member should not forget that.
– Messrs. Sniders and Abrahams have practically a monopoly in the manufacture of hand-made cigarettes. Under the old Tariff their annual profits amounted to £22,429.
– That sum does not represent their profits from the manufacture of cigarettes.
– They make cigars as well.
– We are not dealing with cigars at present, my figures relate only to cigarettes. Under the differentiation proposed, these profits would be increased to something like £29,350 per annum. The £22,429 to which I have alluded, represents at least 50 per cent, upon the capital invested in the industry by the firm in question. We have heard a good deal concerning the impetus which will be given to employment if we make a differentiation in favour of the hand-made cigarettes. But, as a matter of fact, the wages paid in their manufacture are very much lower than those which are paid in the manufacture of machine-made cigarettes. In the production of the former, unskilled labour is employed.
– Skilled labour-is required to ‘fill the cigarette-papers.
– Not to the extent that it is required in the manufacture of machine-made cigarettes. In the manufacture of the latter,- adults are chiefly employed at fair wages, whereas employment in the production of hand-made cigarettes is principally confined to very young girls, who receive is.’ gd. per 1,000, and whose wages - according to the skill of the individual - range from 1 os. 6d. to 17s. 6d. weekly. Only about half the girls employed in the manufacture of the hand-made cigarettes are engaged upon piece-work - the other” half are employed upon day wages, and earn consider ably less. In the manufacture of machinemade cigarettes a very much smaller number of operatives is employed, but the work is of a more skilled character. The older women operatives who are’ employed in this work earn from 20s. to 30s. per 1 week. Machine-made cigarettes necessitate the employment of skilled males also, in looking after the machines. The average of employment is in the proportion of twelve men to ninety girls. The wages of the men range up to .£4 per week. So that honorable members of the Labour Party, in advocating a differentiation between the Excise imposed upon hand-made and machinemade cigarettes, are really advocating a bonus for the employment of child labour at low rates of wages. If they will look into the matter more closely, I am sure that they will hesitate about supporting the proposal before the Committee. I am heartily in accord with the sentiments expressed by the honorable member for North Sydney, who pointed out the undesirableness of encouraging the smoking of cheap cigarettes by juveniles. Whilst we are dealing with these duties I think that we might take some action to restrict, rather than encourage, cigarette smoking by that section of the community. A uniform excise of 4s. per lb. would check the juvenile cigarette smoking habit.
– Honorable members who have acquired the habit of smoking have expressed themselves as being unable to comprehend the technicalities of this particular subject, and it is hardly likely that a non-smoker can accomplish what they have failed to achieve. But this Committee - wisely 01 unwisely - has decided to differentiate between the Excise upon hand-made and that upon machine-made manufactures in -the matter of tobacco and cigars. Now we are asked to extend the same principle to cigarettes. I have a great deal of sympathy with the position taken up by the honorable member for North Sydney, because I believe that of all forms of smoking, cigarette smoking is the most harmful. Consequently I am quite in accord with the honorable member in his desire to restrict the use of cigarettes, particularly by the juvenile portion of the community. “ The probability is that, after years of maturity have been reached, the effect of cigarette smoking upon the individual will not be so marked as it is in his earlier years, when physical development is taking place. To that extent also I am in agreement with the honorable memberfor South Sydney, who has approved of action being taken in a restrictive direction. But I am not disposed to discriminate between machine labour and hand labour in the matter of taxation generally. To do so would be to run contrary to recognised economic principles. I notice that it has been stated on the authority of one witness, Mr. Barnett, that a machine in use in South Australia can turn out from 4,000 to 5,000 cigars a day, whereas only some 400 per day can be manufactured by hand labour, or about 2,000 per week. That seems a very big margin. Again, it is pointed out that those who employ hand labour are chiefly persons of small means who are unable to purchase the raw material they require at such advantage as those who can purchase large quantities for manufacture by machinery. We have also to face the fact that the manufacture of tobacco in the Commonwealth is very largely in the hands of a Combine. This Combine exercises a very great influence in trade, and practically shuts out all competition that threatens its supremacy in the manufacturing business, and also in the retail business. Those engaged in the retail tobacco trade particularly feel the influence of the Combine in the regulation of their business.. As an indication of the extent to which the influence of the Combine operates in the Commonwealth, I may remind honorable mem: bers that since the Tariff was introduced, a large portion of the works conducted by this monopolistic institution in Melbourne was shut down. On the 14th August last we were informed that some 500 operatives were shut out. Steps were also taken to shut down works in Adelaide and in Sydney. The first impression conveyed was that the action taken by the Combine was due entirely to the operation of the Tariff, but subsequently it was intimated that there were other reasons for it. It was stated that in Melbourne a proposal was before the Directors for the substitution of electric for , steam power in the works, and in Sydney it -was stated that it was necessary under the new conditions imiposed by the Tariff, that the sizes in which plug tobacco was placed on the market should be altered. In connexion with the shutting down of the works in Melbourne, a meeting of the operatives concerned was held to consider their position, and the following paragraph giving the gist of the statements made at the meeting appeared in the Sydney Morning Herald -
A largely attended meeting of the members of the Tobacco Workers Union was held in the Trades Hall to-night, and made an emphatic protest against the factory of the British Australasian Tobacco Company being closed down at a minute’s notice.
It was pointed out that the most unfortunate result of the action of this Combine was the helpless position in which the workers were placed owing ‘to the company having practically a monopoly of the trade, thus making it almost impossible for the operators to get work at their trade elsewhere. One of the speakers at the meeting intimated that, in his opinion, the shutting down of the factory was not a result of the Tariff, but was due to other reasons which, to some extent, has since been admitted bythe company. One reason given was the enormous production that had taken place just previous to the closing down of the factory. The company had been working at top speed for a considerable perio’d, and had a large quantity of manufactured tobacco in hand awaiting consumption. This gave them an opportunity to close down their works. That statement was to some extent admitted by the manager of the Combine in Sydney, when interviewed by a representative of the Sydney Morning Herald. In the issue of that newspaper of the 15th August, the manager of the Combine is reported as having stated that the factorv had been working at very high pressure for some tim<i previously/ On the 19th September, a letter from the company appeared in the Sydney Daily Telegraph. . This letter was dated 19th September, and was published as coming from “ The British Australasian ‘ Tobacco Company Proprietary Limited.” It contained the following significant paragraph in reference to the action of the Melbourne operatives, who had been in the employment of the company -
We were anxious toprevent any serious loss to our operators from their enforced idleness, and intended to put them, on half pay. For this purpose, and to discuss the Tariff situation, our Melbourne directors Droceeded to Sydney for consultation with our directors here early this week. But on Tuesdav evening a meeting of the Melbourne operators took place, at which such scandalous statements were made about us, in spite of increases of pay and other benefits that we have recentlv conferred upon them that our directors, from sheer indignation, decided to do nothing. They therefore telegraphed to Melbourne that thev would not carry out this intention with regard to half pay whilst the factory was closed, as it would have the appearance of yielding to coercion.
This is the position taken up by this large manufacturing company. They closed down their works, at a moment’s notice, as soon as the Tariff was introduced, and apparently without taking their operatives into their confidence to any extent whatever. The operatives were simply informed that, on account of the proposed Tariff legislation, their work must cease. Knowing the internal working of the company, and that the operation of the Tariff had been forestalled by large withdrawals of unmanufactured tobacco from the Customs, and by production for some time at high pressure, enabling the company to hold large surplus stocks, the employés gave voice to their feelings in connexion with a matter which very materially affected them. The company intimated afterwards that they intended to give them half-pay, but because something to which they took exception was said at the public meeting, they at once decided, through sheer indignation at the criticism of the operatives, not to carry . out their intention. These circumstances appeal to me very strongly as indicating the extent to which the Combine will go’. If the operatives were not entitled to consideration, they . had no claim, but the company admitted that they were entitled to some consideration since they were prepared to meet them to the extent of giving them halfpay while the works were shut down. But because, at a meeting which was held, some irresponsible persons made statements to which exception was taken, all the operatives, both present and absent, together with their unfortunate wives and children, who, of course, took no part, were punished. This action, of the Combine did as much as anything else to lead me to vote to differentiate between handmade and machine-made tobacco and cigars. The only reason why I am not altogether disposed to act similarly in regard to cigarettes is that, according to expert medical opinion, their use is injurious to health, and most harmful to growing lads. Something should certainly be done to prevent the smoking of cigarettes by our youths, and I am prepared to co-operate in any movement to that end. I think, however, that the principle which has been adopted in respect to the manufacture of cigars and tobacco may reasonably be applied in this instance on the basis of an increased’ Excise.
– I have listened carefully to the remarks of honorable members, and the more I hear the less able I feel to make up my mind on the question at issue. The interests at stake are so various, that the subject is one which would be better discussed by a Committee of experts than by the well-meaning members of this Committee, who, apparently, do not know too much about it.
– The experts do not seem to agree.
– I have ascertained by inquiry that in Victoria there is one large factory in which hand-made cigarettes are manufactured, employing something like 700 hands, and a number of small establishments, whose proprietors hold licences, and turn out only limited quan tities of cigarettes. In New South Wales, too, there is a number of small makers, but no large factory. The tobacco manufacturing companies, which have formed themselves into a gigantic Combine, have a monopoly of the New South Wales cigarette trade. They can sell at a profit ten cigarettes for 3d., whereas of the handmade cigarettes they cannot sell more than nine for 3d. Consequently, the Victorian hand-made cigarettes are excluded from New South Wales. It is to the interest of the Combine that no advantage be given to the makers of hand-made cigarettes ; but we should be foolish if we listened to those who hold a brief for it. Last year the revenue from cigarettes was about £174,000, and the loss which would-be entailed by the proposed differentiation would be about one-fourth of that, or£43,500
– Excise alone?
– Yes. As a representative of the worker, the farmer, the clerk, and the professional man, I should like to assist in pulling down stones from the top of our gigantic Tariff wall, and, therefore, am inclined to support the proposed differentiation, notwithstanding the probable loss of revenue. As for the difference between hand-made and machine-made cigarettes, as a smoker, I know that the former are the better. When cigarettes are made by machine, the tobacco is thrust into a hopper, and, in the process of manufacture, is cut into small lengths, with a consequent making of dust, which goes into the cigarettes, and may be inhaled into the lungs of smokers, to their injury. But when cigarettes are made by hand, there is not this dust, and the cigarettes are more wholesome and better.. This morning I took the liberty of going, without warning, to the factory of Messrs. Sniders and Abrahams, and was very pleased with what I saw there. Indeed, it opened my eyes. When I asked Mr. Schuh to allow me to see the process of manufacturing the cigarettes he very courteously threw open the doors and escorted me over the factory. I found myself passing from floor to floor in a massive and well-constructed building, splendidly lighted and ventilated, and occupied by hundreds of employes, and I was really surprised to find such a place in Melbourne. I had no idea that the factory system was conducted in that excellent manner, and that an. occupation such as the manufacture of cigarettes was carried on under such healthy conditions as I noticed. As the result of my inspection, I learned that the manufacture of hand-made cigarettes gives employment to a number of persons. By the aid of machinery the manufacturer can turn out the cigarettes by practically the million, and we know what an enormous quantity are put on the market; in fact, they have to be turned out in an enormous quantity in order to yield anything like a decent profit. A manufacturer of hand-made cigarettes, however, makes a very much larger profit than does the manufacturer of machinemade cigarettes, and he gives employment to a large number of persons. I had been informed that the average wage which was paid to women and girls - and certainly the employes were chiefly women and girls - was’ about ios. per week. I consider that that statement is misleading. At the factory the books were shown to me, and I saw that the wages for girls ranged from £2 to 5s. per week. A clever girl who could turn out 11,000 cigarettes in a week could make very nearly £2.
– How much a thousand do they get?
– Although I asked that question, I could not arrive at the rate.
– They get about 3s. 4d. a thousand. .
– They do not get anything like that.
– No, because the cost of producing the cigarettes is about ‘3s. o,d. per thousand. The payment of the girls varied very considerably. Beginners who were doing what was practically untrained work received 5s. per week. All they had to do was to take a pair of scissors and cut off the ends of ‘ the cigarettes. They were young girls who were practically in the position of probationers, but who as time ‘ went on would become more skilful, and gradually their wages would be increased. On the top floor there was a room for beginners where they were overlooked, and did their work. It depends entirely upon the agility and skill of a girl whether or not she makes anything like a decent wage. It has been said that the labour employed in connexion with hand-made cigarettes, is not skilled labour. I consider that it is skilled work. In some cases the cigarettes were made by hand almost from first to last. The paper was taken by hand, the tobacco was rolled, and placed inside the paper by hand, and the paper was pasted by hand. In other cases a certain number of machines were used in forming the cartridges, and all the girls had to do was to fill them with the tobacco. The pulling out of the tobacco and placing of it in the cartridge is certainly skilled work. [ am satisfied that any one of us would need a considerable amount of practice before we could do it. In my opinion, an industry of this kind should be encouraged, especially when we find that one factory in Melbourne is giving employment, and what appears to be healthy employment, to no less than 700 persons. The honorable member for South Sydney contends that it is a great pity that’ we should allow the youth of the country to smoke cigarettes. That is almost entirely a question for the States to deal with.. In New South Wales, we have a law which was designed to prevent any youth below a certain age from obtaining tobacco from a tobacconist without an order. Unfortunately, one youth is able to write an order for another youth, and the law, I believe, is practically a dead letter. It is a sad thing that in Melbourne a boy is able to enter the shop of a tobacconist and buy one’ cigarette for a’ half-penny. That, however, is not a matter for us to consider at the present time. It is for the States alone to legislate on that subject.
– One important aspect of this question has * been overlooked by most of the speakers, and that is that imported cigarettes may contain any narcotic, such as opium - of course in very small quantities. We have no legislation to prevent the importation of such cigarettes. Under the health law of each State, opium cannot be placed in cigarettes. It is well known to those who have indulged in cigarette smoking that there is a peculiar flavour about some of the imported cigarettes. No doubt the honorable member for Melbourne could give us some valuable information regarding Egyptian, Turkish, and other imported cigarettes.
– The Australian law against the use of opium is severer than the law of any other, country in the world.
– The Government have prohibited the importation of opium in any form or state, except for medicinal purposes, and that, I submit, is one reason why we should not do anything to prohibit the manufacture of cigarettes in Australia..
– Does the honorable member believe in smoking cigarettes?
– No; but occasionally I smoke a cigar, and I have every reason to believe that a hand-made cigar is far better than a machine-made cigar. I believe that some honorable members have urged that if we differentiate between hand Work and machine work, it will be tantamount te saying that machinery shall not be used at all. No machine can pack the tobacco as evenly in a cigar or a cigarette as it can be done by hand. That is one reason why the hand-made cigarettes can hold their own in the market, although a 3d. packet of them contains only nine as against ten in a packet of machine-made cigarettes. We are not contending that all the work shall be done by hand ; but it is a fact that tobacco cannot be packed so evenly by machinery as by hand. The honorable member for Hunter has told us that to-day, without any warning, he visited a cigarette factory, and was escorted over the place, and had an opportunity lo see the wages list. I have no doubt that the experience of the honorable member could be repeated in almost any tobacco manufactory. The honorable member could possibly tell us of the processes we all had an opportunity of witnessing at the Australian Natives’ Association Exhibition in Melbourne a few months ago. There, in the case of hand-made cigarettes, we saw the short pieces and dust blown away, whereas in the case of the machine all the. tobacco was turned into a hopper and rolled into cigarettes.
– What about handmade imported cigarettes?
– I should be prepared to listen to any reasonable suggestion .which the right honorable member might make in regard to the treatment of hand-made imported cigarettes.
– I have no suggestion to make; I am merely asking a question.
– The honorable member for Lang stated that men were employed in the making of cigarettes by machinery, whereas girls were used for the manufacture of hand-made cigarettes. But what is the position ? There is a skilled engineer to look after each machine, which will turn out cigarettes by the million ; and he is paid good wages. The honorable member also told us that the girls or women employed in the packing of machine-made cigarettes receive higher wages than those who make the hand-made cigarettes. As a matter of fact, both classes of operatives get precisely the same wages, namely, 3d. per 1,000; and this destroys .absolutely any force in the remarks of the honorable member. If the honorable member goes to the gentleman who furnished him with a brief-
– That is not correct; I hold a brief for no one.
– If the honorable member goes to the person who furnished the information he’ will be told that the wages are precisely the same in both cases, only varying according to. the skill and ability of the operative. As stated by the honorable member for Hunter, the girls or women employed in making cigarettes by hand, receive 17s. 6d. a week, although some of them have earned a wage as high as £2 10s. It was admitted by the honorable member for Lang that there were only twelve men to ninety girls or women employed at the machines. I have the latest report of the Inspector of Factories of Victoria; and from the figures there furnished, I find that there are 330 women, over the age of twenty-one, who average j£i 4s. 7d. per week. If, as the honorable member said, 1 there are only ninety girls employed, there must be at least 240 adult females employed making cigarettes by hand who receive the average wage of £1 4s. 7d. I sincerely trust that some differentiation will be made ; but as to whether the proposal of the Government is enough I cannot say. Persons who turn out cigarettes by machinery do not require the same amount of protection as those who manufacture hand-made cigarettes. The honorable ‘ member for Lang stated that the profit of Messrs. Sniders and Abrahams, amounted to ,£22,000 odd in twelve months. It must be remembered, however, that that profit is not derived from cigarettes alone, but that that firm make some of the best cigars that are placed on the Australian market. Those of us who had the privilege of lunching at Government House a week ago were given Escudo cigars, which are manufactured by Messrs. Sniders and Abrahams. These, together with the Aristocratica cigars, were the cigars which the- Governor-General saw being manufactured at the Australian Natives’ Association Exhibition, and, I am informed, he ordered some from there. As I say, I hope the Government will make some differentiation between hand-made and machinemade cigars. In this connexion the tobacco trade industry stands apart from any other; and tobacco, from a fiscal point of view, cannot be treated like any other commodity.
– My feeling in reference to cigarette manufacture is that I would favour a bonus for those who manufactured cigarettes that would sicken the youngsters who use them, and thus cure them of the smoking habit. It is melancholy to hear of the enormous consumption of cigarettes in Australia, amounting, I believe, to something . like 600,000,000 annually. I am glad that there were no cigarettes in my young, days, because I know I should have got on better with them, than with the form of tobacco in which I experimented. It is a thousand pities that there should be this enormous consumption, which I regard as one of the serious dangers to the Commonwealth. The honorable member for Yarra spoke of the power that the. States have, as distinguished from the inability of the Commonwealth, to take steps in regard to the deleterious compounds included in imported cigarettes, suggesting that opium is present to some extent. I think, however, that there is complete power in the Customs Act to deal with ah evil of that sort. Section53 of that Act provides -
No spirit, opium, tobacco, snuff, cigars, or cigarettes shall be imported except in packages as prescribed..
If any cigarettes containing opium are imported, I think they might “be prohibited under that section. . Then there is a general power in the Customs Act to prohibit by proclamation.
– Any goods?
– I am not quite clear as to the application of the words in sub-section g of section 52 of that Act -
All goods the importation . of which may be prohibited- -bv proclamation. ‘
I presume that to mean proclamation apart from any special Statute, and,’ if that beso, any evil of the sort suggested may be grappled with. So far as concerns theaccount given by my honorable friend, the member for Hunter, of the factory which, exists in Melbourne, we must all, of course,, be pleased to hear of such conditions existing in connexion with an industry in Australia. My regret is thatsuch a splendid factory, and the young” girls employed in it, are not engaged in something which would be more beneficial to the Commonwealth at large. I trust that the interests of the revenue will be respected in this matter. The question of differentiation is one that should be regarded from the point of view of the revenue. I think that what is desired should be carried out by increasingthe. duty on machine-made cigarettes.
– I think an amendment to that effect will be proposed.
– I should prefer to see the duties go up instead of down. The effect of the amendment of the honorable member for Melbourne is to institute a lower rate of duty of 6d. per lb. in favour of handmade cigarettes. I should prefer to see an increase of the duty’ on machinemadecigarettes, leaving the present rate for the hand-made.
– It is not often that . the right honorable member advocates the increase of duties.
– I have never looked upon the tobacco duties from the point of view of fiscal differences. In New South Wales, when we had the freest Tariff in the world1 - we had only five taxable items - there was always a substantial difference between the Excise on Australian-made tobacco and1 the duty on imported tobacco. Even in England, there is a difference in one line. At all events, I have heard so during the debate ; I have not checked the statement.. I look upon the cigarette trade as a most injurious traffic, . and would rather see theduties put up than down. That could be done without preventing honorable . members from carrying out the idea of a differentiation in favour of hand-made cigarettes.
– If the traffic is injurious,.it ought to be prohibited.
– If honorable” members would only support me.- I would endeavour to so formulate this Tariff that cigaretteswould be practically nrohibited. The honorable member ‘for North Sydnev is perfectly correct in his statement aboutNew
Zealand. I thought for the moment that he was wrong, but I find they carry out a policy which would be to our advantage. I learn that they make no difference at all between imported and locally-manufactured cigarettes. They impose a stiff import duty, and give no protection to the locallymade article. In that way, they have been able “to Wipe out cigarette smoking amongst the juveniles of New Zealand. I should be delighted to support any such project, here, but I know that at present it is impracticable. I should, however, be glad to support such an increase of these duties as would have the effect of discouraging cigarette smoking. I do not think there is any suggestion that the manufacturers of hand-made cigarettes are not making a’ handsome profit. The hand-made article appears to be rapidly increasing in popularity as compared with the machine-made cigarette. If that is the case, under present conditions, without any difference, it seems to me that we might very well put these duties up without injuring the manufacturers at all. They are doing well enough, I understand, and if we could only in some way discourage the use of cigarettes, whether imported or locally-made, I should be glad.
– I have listened carefully to the debate which has taken place on this subject, and think that I shall be carrying out the wishes of the Committee, and at the same time protecting the revenue, bv proposing to leave the 3s. Excise as it stands, and by inserting additional words differentiating in favour of hand-made cigarettes. Before I can move an amendment to that effect, however, it will be necessary for the amendments now before the Chair to be withdrawn. What I intend to propose is, that after the words “ three shillings,” the words “ and if hand-made, on and after the 9th October, 1907, per lb., 2s. 9d.” be inserted. That would give a preference of 3d. per lb. to hand-made cigarettes.
– I shall be glad to withdraw my amendment and accept the suggestion of the Treasurer.
Amendments, by leave, withdrawn.
Amendment (by Sir William Lyne) pro- posed -
That after the figure “3s.,” the following words be added : - “ and if hand-made, on and after gth October, 1907, per lb., 2s.9d.”
Mr. JOSEPH COOK (Parramatta) statements made during this debate, and am bound to say that they do not convince me that this differentiation ought to be made. If they mean anything, they mean that we ought to get very much more revenue than we now derive from cigarettes. I think the trade could stand . it. The figures show that.
– We should get a worse quality of cigarettes if we increased the Excise.
– I am inclined to think that if we put the duties up high enough, we should not get much quality at all, bad or good.
– It would be better to prohibit cigarettes altogether than to increase the present duties very much.
– I should not object very strongly to that. Anything which would discourage the use of cigarettes would be a good thing.
– And cigars also.
– My honorable friend does not smoke, I think. There is a great difference between the two. We may very well leave the adult life of the community to look after itself in . this particular. But it does occur to me that our juveniles would be benefited by our making cigarette smoking as difficult as possible. We might very well take a leaf out. of the book of New Zealand, by making it much more difficult for juveniles to indulge in the habit of cigarette smoking. The figures which have been placed before us show that the manufacturers of hand-made cigarettes are not in any way suffering under present circumstances. Why this differentiation should be made has not been made clear to me.
– Let us have more made by hand ; they are better than the machine-made cigarettes.
– If they are better, I presume that they will completely drive the others out of the market. The figures show that they are doing that to a great extent now. Why we should accelerate a position of affairs which is at present satisfactory to the manufacturers, I cannot see.
– The differentiation will give a lot more work to the employé.
– I am glad to hear that my honorable friend is such a glutton for work. I had the impression that we were all looking forward to a time when the world’s work would be lessened in quantity. I was under the impression that that process indicated an advancement in civilization. My honorable friend desires to go back to a condition of increased handwork. I confess that I do not. I do not at all appreciate the arguments for providing more work which we are constantly hearing from my honorable friends in the Ministerial corner.
– Because we are all used to it; whilst the honorable member has been so long away from hard work that he does not like it.
– I believe that I know what hard work is as much as my honorable friend does. It is strange to hear in these days of advanced civilization the argument that we should betake ourselves to the discouragement of machinery, which we thought tended to lighten the tasks and toils of the world, and should go back again to a condition from which we have slowly emerged in the course of many decades. The leader of the Labour Party said the other day that there were some political troglodytes in the world, and I immediately replied that it occurred to me that the troglodytes were to be found in the Labour corner. Here, again, is an argument that suggests the correctness of my retort. We are told that we should make this differentiation because it would provide! more work. My impression is that the way to provide more work is to take the fullest, fairest and freest advantage of the machinery which is evolved from time to time to meet the tasks of the world, and that it is a distinct step backwards to put aside machinery and go back to old time methods of hand labour. However, there seems to be some fear that these machines are a monopoly. I apprehend that such a state of affairs cannot long prevail, and that if a monopoly exists it is because of certain patent rights. If that be so, I hope that my honorable friends of the Labour Party will not try by a side wind to prevent the inventors of the machine from taking full and fair advantage of their patent rights. I trust that we have not reached in our history a time when Parliament is prepared to set aside the patent rights of traders.
– We say that when there is only one man engaged in a particular industry the invention of machinery relating to that industry is discouraged, _ since there can be only one buyer of an invention.
– Does not that consideration apply to every patent?
– Only when there is a monopoly.
– Does not the honorable member recognise that, in regard to patent rights there must necessarily be a monopoly, until theexpiration of the fourteen years’ period in respect of which the patent hasbeen granted?
– What I mean to suggest is that- in the circumstances mentioned there can be only one buver of a patent.
– I presume that any one could buy this patent, and apply it to the production of cigars and cigarettes, just as any man may take advantage of any other patent right if he is prepared to bid up for it. Otherwise he must wait until the fourteen years have expired before he can betake himself to the use of it.
– There is, for instance, only one class of buyers for torpedoes, torpedo boats, and things of that kind.
– Here, again, we have two contradictory arguments. We are told, in the first place, that this proposal is designed to enable the public to secure a better article, at presumably no greater cost. That the cost cannot be much greater is shown bv the fact that handmade cigarettes are holding their own in the market, and that their output is increasing. That being so, we need not fear the machine, and need not differentiate against it.
– We do not fear the machine; we are going to nationalize it.
– Are we to say that it shall not be used until it is nationalized, and that we should differentiate against it by the method proposed? I cannot subscribe to that doctrine.
Amendment agreed to.
Item, as amended, agreed to.
Amendment (by Sir William Lyne) proposed -
That the following footnote be added “ (B) Hand-made ‘ shall mean that the whole of the operations connected with the making and completion of cigarettes shall be performed exclusively by hand.”
– I am afraid that if the amendment be carried the intention of the Committee in agreeing to the amendment with which we have just dealt will be nullified. On the occasion of a visit to the Exhibition where hand-made cigarettes were produced, I saw paper run through a machine which printed two or three words in gold type upon it. This paper was used for cigarette casings, and it seems to me that under the proposed definition such paper could not be used in the manufacture of hand-made cigarettes. Then, again, the paper itself is made by machinery.
– I understand that the cases or paper tubes in which the tobacco is placed are made by machinery, and that the hand labour is employed in filling those cases. If that be so, the amendment would certainly have the effect mentioned by the honorable member for Yarra.
– ‘Another point to be remembered in this connexion by the Committee is that cigarette tobacco is cut up by machinery, whilst the paste used for making the tubes is prepared from starch by a process in which machinery is employed.
– The proposed definition has been supplied to the Minister of Trade and Customs by the Comptroller-General.
– Is everything that he says gospel ?
– No; but he understands these matters better than any one else.
– He is an expert in Customs matters, but this is a question of construction. The effect of the proposed definition would be that everything used in the making of cigarettes, in respect of which, the lower Excise wouldbe payable, would have to be made by hand.
– The substitution of the word “filling” for the word “making” would, perhaps, overcome the difficulty.
– That would still allow part of the cigarettes to be made by machinery.
– It would allow the tubes to be made by machinery.
– I made a sug-. gestion of the kind, but the Department thought that it was not necessary.
– Does not the honorable member think that the making of the tubes by hand labour would give more employment?
-I do not think that they can foe made by hand. By leave, I shall amend the amendment by substituting the word “filling” for the word “ making.”
Amendment, by leave, amended accordingly.
.- I submit that the proposed definition, even as amended, would not cover the process that we have in mind. It would provide that the whole of the operation connected with the “‘filling and completion” of hand-made cigarettes shall be performed exclusively by hand labour. It is with the filling of the cigarette cases, and not with the filling of the cigarettes themselves, that we have to deal. We need to provide that the filling of the paper or tubing by hand shall constitute “ making by hand “ within the meaning of the section. As the amendment was first worded, the ComptrollerGeneral would have known quite well what the Committee meant, but now the Acting Prime Minister should state what he means by it in its altered form. If we desire to be quite accurate and precise, the amendment, as amended, is not a precise definition of the process.
Amendment, as amended, agreed to.
Snuff, per lb., 2s.
– Does this duty involve any change from the last Tariff?
Item agreed to.
– One evening last week I was asked whether I, or the Government, would arrange to take first some items lower down in the Tariff. I need not say that, personally, I think that is scarcely a proper course to take, but I made a promise, and I propose to state now what the Government are -prepared to do. I have- had several persons trying to make lists of what items should be taken first, and I find that nearly every one wants his own list taken. I cannot see that much good is to be derived from making any proposal of the kind, but there was a very strong expression of feeling the other night that the item of wire-netting should be taken.. If it is the will of the Committee to take wire netting first, the Government will not oppose it. But I hope the Committee will not then desire to go on to anything else, because once we begin to go from one item to another-
– What about kerosene?
– If we . take kerosene we may take fifty other things. I feel that it must be a very exceptional case to justify any deviation from the order of the Tariff as submitted. It is only in consequence of the very strong expression of opinion given the other night regarding wire-netting that the Government will even go so far as to agree, if the Committee so desires, to take “ wire-netting.” But when we move a single step in that direction we find trouble. I have tried to draw a list of the more urgent items, but I find that it is absolutely impossible to do so. If we take one or two, we may take a dozen, or twenty, and every other honorable member is found to have some item which he considers just as important as the items taken.
– Does not the Minister think that’ mining machinery is important?
– -Does not the honorable member regard electrical machinery as urgent ? Does he not look upon tea, kerosene, and a dozen other things as important? I feel that if the proposal had not been made to give priority to the item of wire-netting, it would have been in the interests of the Tariff and of its speedy passage. If that expression of opinion had not been given the other night I should not have dreamt of agreeing to anything being taken out of its order. If there is going to be an unduly long discussion over the question, then the Government are not prepared to allow that delay to take place.
– Does the honorable gentleman intend that as an invitation for a long discussion? If so, we shall SupplY it.
– I do not offer any such invitation, but I wish the views of the Government to be clearly understood, because to take an item out of its order in this way is to deviate from .the proper course, and to adopt a procedure which ‘is most exceptional. The expression of feeling to which I have referred” regarding the question of wire-netting is a hysterical sort of thing, and I am surprised at some honorable members being so hysterical about it. It is all very well to say th,at a little unpopularity attaches to this or that proposal, but as the Tariff is before the Committee, my own feeling is that we should not deviate at all unless the Committee is as anxious as it appeared to be the other night to give the item of wirenetting priority.
– Why does the Minister allow it to be done?
– I promised the Other night to consider whether it could be done. Perhaps I did not exactly pro.mise, but I led’ the Committee to believe that when the tobacco division had been disposed of, I would make a statement. I have read carefully through what I said on the spur of the moment on that occasion, and I felt that I should not be doing- justice to myself and to the- Government if I did not do and say what I am now doing and saying.
– A promise given under duress or owing to a mistake is afterwards void.
– It would not be proper for me not to carry out what I then said. That is why I am taking this course. If I had said positively on that occasion that I was not going to consider the request, I should have stood up now and fought the thing out, because I have a very strong feeling with regard to the irregularity which is now taking place.
– The honorable gentleman promised to take the same course in the case of five or six items.
– I .promised to give consideration to the request. I have tried to arrange a list, but the moment we go past the item of wire-netting, the lion’orable member will find that it .will be desired to bring in a number of other items. The moment we deviate one particle from the proper order, every item is supposed to be of the greatest and highest importance^
– Did the honorable gentleman make any promise for wirenetting in a way that he did not make a promise in regard to five or six other items?
– Yes. I was asked specially more than once the other night to give precedence to the item of wirenetting. Wire-netting was the only item which I mentioned specifically. ‘ I said that the request would be considered. I did not refer especially to any other items. I was as cautious as I could be when I spoke on that occasion, because .1 had to deal with the proposal at a moment’s notice. I hope that there will not be a long debate. If there is not, we might dispose of this item very soon. If it is the wish of the Committee, I shall be quite prepared to move in such a way as to allow the item of wire-netting to be considered first.
– There is no motion before the ‘Committee. I expected the honorable gentleman to conclude his speech with a motion.
Motion (by Sir William Lyne) proposed -
That all items down to and including, item 186 be postponed until after item 187.
.- I shall not speak at any length, because . 1 wish to co-operate with the Minister in getting the question dealt with without debate. But the history of the matter is that the Treasurer did himself propose to take several items.
– I said I would consider the request.
– According to Hansard, page 4125, after promising about wirenetting, the Minister went on, in reply to the honorable member for Parramatta, to say -
I cannot bind myself. I do not know how the items stand in the Tariff. This is a matter for the Committee. I am prepared, after the tobacco duties are through, to do what I said last night I would do - totake half a dozen items, if the Committee can agree as to them.
– I have spoken to a good many honorable members, and I cannot get them to agree to anything.
– The Treasurer did not promise to take only wire-netting - he merely made a statement which did not amount to a compact in regard to any particular item.
– I felt that I was morally bound to do what I am doing.
– But why not consider a few more items, such as mining machinery ?
– I am very sorry that the Treasurer has agreed to the suggestion to give precedence to the consideration of this item, because, in his speech, he advanced the verv strongest reasons why that course should not be adopted. In the first place, he stated that he had made a promise to consider wire-netting out of its order upon the spur of the moment, and under a misapprehension, and that he had been led to believe that something would have occurred other than what has occurred. I have never heard a more admirable statement of why an agreement that had been arrived at should be declared void. If it were ? contract at law, the Court would at once declare it void.
– He cannot raise a plea of infancv, either.
– No. But in the Equitv Court, sailors are held to occupy a position similar to that occupied by infants.
– The Treasurer has made more than one voyage.
– Exactly. He is a navigator of unexampled excellence. I cordially agree with all that has been said in favour of immediate consideration being, given to the duty upon wire-netting. I appreciate the importance tothe main industry of the country, of allowing wire-netting to be obtained as cheaply as possible. The Government, without any provocation whatever, imposed a duty of 30 per cent, upon that commodity, and then the Treasurer, with a great affectation of regret, declaresthat there- is much hysteria in connexion with that duty manifested all over the country. Who is to blame for this ? It is most unfair to interrupt the orderly course of public business which the honorable gentleman himself had decided upon, and is re- . sponsible for. What attempt has he made to ascertain whether the Committee cannot agree to the selection of half-a-dozen items for consideration out of their order? He has not consulted the leader of the Opposition,the deputy leader of the Opposition,the honorable member for Dalley, myself, or anybody else in this connexion. But, by some impudently assumed power of prescience; he declares that he knows that we cannot agree upon giving precedence to the consideration of any half-a-dozen items. I decline to accept his statement.
– Let the honorable member move for the consideration of a few items out of their order.
– That is precisely what I propose to do. There- is no other wav of finding out what the Committee favours. To affirm that we cannot agree upon the selection of five or six items for early consideration, is to brand us with unintelligence. Before I accept the Treasurer’s statement, I shall require the Committee to decline to agree to four or five items which I shall put before honorable members. To show what a reasonable person I am, I am quite wil!’,ng to agree to the earlv consideration of any six of the items upon the schedule that I have prepared, and I shall include wire-netting in them.
– Has the honorable member considered their order ?
– Yes. There is no doubt that wire-netting is an important item, but surely the food and clothing of the people are of equal importance. I do not think that the members of the Opposition can deny that. The one cry that ascended to the heavens during the recent elections in New South Wales was that 2S. 6d. per week represented the precise increase in taxation which had been placed upon the working men of that State.
– Mr. Carruthers said that it was 2s. 6d. in the £1 upon everything.
– The honorable member is quite right. In my endeavour to be perfectly fair, I am unjust to my own cause. The leader of the Opposition, on the occasion of the great jubilee which was held in the Sydney Town Hall on the nightbefore the battle, said much the same thing.
– No; I never made that statement. ,
– Then the honorable member did not take the manly course of denying Mr. Carruthers’ statement.
– I could not. I did not know of it.
– Mr. Carruthers was very particular in respect of two items. The first item was wire-netting, and the second was the rest of the Tariff. He specially mentioned the duties upon kerosene and tea. He bathed himself in kerosene and he lived upon tea. He referred to blue, soap, candles, and all those things. He said, “ If you want a chair, there is a duty of 7s. 6d. to pay on it,” and so on. I propose to give the Committee a number of items, from which I shall select half-a-dozen, and I venture to say honorable members will not have the courage, even if they have the- wish, to declare that any one of the half-dozen is not of as great importance to the people at large, and not merely a section of the community, as wire-netting is to a section. Take, first, the duty on blue, a common article of the household, in which the humble washerwoman is concerned. I remember that in 1894, when the right honorable member for East Sydney was introducing his land-tax proposals, a howl was Taised by the Opposition side about the land held by the poor widow. Later on, when we came to deal with the Early Closing Bill, a howl went up from the right honorable gentleman’s own side about the widow woman who owned a shop. Here we are dealing with the poor widow who makes a living by taking in washing, and who, under this Tariff, will have to pay 2d. on every lb. of blue, instead of1d. under the old Tariff.
– There is plenty of locally-manufactured blue sold cheaply.
– It is easy to be seen that the honorable gentleman knows nothing of the mysteries of the laundry; or he would know very well that there is nothing more calculated to wear out the feminine soul than is locally-made blue. Candles are dutiable under this Tariff at 2½d., and under the old Tariff at1d. Candles, n.e.i. - and I am not sufficiently an authority on the subject to say what kind of candles these are - are now dutiable at1½d., instead of1d. These articles concern adults, but juveniles are also affected. I find that the duty on confectionery is 3fd., and it was formerly1d. Currants, now dutiable at 3d, were formerly dutiable at 2d. Dates, now 2d., were formerly dutiable at1d. Matches are now dutiable at1s. 9d., and formerly at 6d. Salt, n.e.i., is now at 20s., and was formerly at 12s. 6d.
– The honorable member might pass that item over.
– I never look behind ‘ me when I refer to salt. Starch flour, 2½d., formerly1d. Tea,1d., formerly free. Apparel and attire, 45 per cent., formerly 25 per cent. Are the people to go absolutely naked in this country ? Item 107 - apparel and attire, 40 per cent., formerly 20 per cent, and 25 per cent. Blankets, 30 per cent., formerly 15 per cent. Carpets, 20 per cent., formerly 15 per cent. Woollens, 35 per cent., formerly 15 per cent. Denims - an item I took under my special care during the consideration of the last Tariff - now dutiable at 35 per cent., and formerly at 5 per cent.
– What are denims?
– I refer the honorable and learned member to my speeches embalmed in Hansard for 1902, where he will find the whole thing fully described. I have absolutely forgotten now what denims are. I find that woollen socks and stockings are now dutiable at 30 per cent., and were formerly dutiable at only 15 per cent. Agricultural machinery, now 30 per cent., formerly 12½ per cent. Cream separators, now 10 per cent., formerly free.
– That is a free-trade recommendation.
– I shall denounce it with just as much gusto and enthusiasm as if it were a protectionist recommendation. I say that it is absolutely unreasonable. Nails 8s. 3d. now, and formerly 5s. Then I come to an impost on one of the primary industries of the country, which is absolutelv without justification. I find that mining machinery is now dutiable at 35 per cent., instead of 12½ per cent., as under the old Tariff. In view of these proposals, are we to sit down and do nothing? Electrical machinery, now 30 per cent., formerly 12J per cent. Wirenetting, 30 per cent., formerly free. Kerosene, 3d. per gallon, formerly free. Magazines, 6d., formerly free. These are only a few items I have selected.
– They do not include the items I have selected.
– The honorable member has naturally selected other items. He is able to look upon the proposed duty on wire-netting from an impartial stand-point. I am looking at it, I hope, as a citizen, and not merely as a public man. I say that if we are to deviate from the order of the items as they appear in the Tariff, we should consider such items as tea, kerosene, woollen goods, apparel, and attire, mining, electrical, and agricultural machinery” as soon as wire-netting. We may be at the commencement of another great drought, though I hope not, and the farmer is called upon to- bear an impost which must, until Australian manufacturers are able to supply Australian requirements, add to his burdens an amount which he can ill afford to pay. In the circumstances I say that we cannot, and I shall not willingly, permit any item to be given prior consideration to that of agricultural machinery. As for mining machinery, I do most emphatically say that tens of thousands of people look to the mining industry of this country for a livelihood, and it is ari extraordinary proposal to place on that industry an impost of this sort, which cannot be regarded as excused by any desire to foster local manufacture, because, as a matter of fact, some of this machinery is of a highly complicated character, . and a good deal of it is protected by patent. Consequently it must be obtained elsewhere, if we are to continue to treat our low grade ores, and if our mining is not to be restricted, and a very great injustice thus done to the country. If we are to deviate from the regular order, and consider one item, because of the urgency of the case, I say emphatically that the case for wire-netting is not more urgent than that for many other items which might be referred to. I have nothing whatever to say against the very legitimate and proseworthy desire on the part of honorable members whose constituents are vitally interested in the matter, to discuss the proposed duty on wire-netting as soon as pos sible. At the same time, in the electorate which I have had the honour to represent since the inauguration of the Commonwealth, thousands of people are compelled to pay from 2s. 6d. to ss, per week more than they had previously to pay on articles which cannot be made in this country. I take kerosene as an example. On the one hand we have the Standard Oil Trust, and on the other the British Imperial Company, which approaches us under the specious pretence that it is a British Trust, and ought, therefore, to be encouraged. I say that one Trust is just the same as another to me, and whether a man is called Rockefeller or John Smith does not affect me very much, especially when my constituents are called upon to pay an extra amount for their kerosene. I have no hesitation in saying that I do not care whether the Standard Oil Trust would be injured or not. I shall not readily support the proposed duty on kerosene. ‘ The pretence is that we should give employment to persons to make tins, while we know that the proposed duty may have the effect of throwing hundreds of people out of employment, carters, wharf labourers, and so on, who are entitled to just as much consideration, and no more, than is vouchsafed to others. Among the items to which, in my opinion, priority of treatment should be given, if we are to depart from the order of the schedule, are item 105, tea; items 106 and 107, apparel and attire; item 124, woollens; item 148, agricultural machinery; item 177, mining machinery; item 178, electrical machinery ; item 234, kerosene ; and item 352, magazines. I have not made up my mind what I shall do in regard to the duty on magazines, but importers have waited upon me, as I suppose they have waited upon other honorable members, pointing out the very great injustice—
– The honorable member will not be in order in discussing the merits of any particular item.
– Cannot we discuss any of the items between item 26, which has been disposed of, and item 187, giving reasons why it should not be postponed?
– An honorable member will be in order in giving reasons why any particular item should or should not be postponed, but he will not be in order in dealing with the merits of any proposal, to show that a rate of duty is too high or too low.
– Are we restricted to giving reasons why items between item 26 and item 187 should or should not be postponed ?
– An honorable member will be in order in giving reasons why any item in the Tariff should or should not be postponed.
– I understand that the importers of magazines are receiving special treatment, having been given three months in which they may continue to import magazines under the present conditions.
– Four months, I think.
– I presume that they made out a good case for this special treatment.
– -Are magazines le ing brought out under the old conditions ?
– Very nearly.
– The importers of magazines’ have informed me that compliance with the requirements of the Tariff will ruin their businesses, and what is, perhaps, more serious, prejudicially affect the interests of thousands of news-agents and distributors. A magazine when stale is, I am told, something like a stale egg, practically unsaleable. It is only right that we should let those who are connected with the business of selling magazines know exactly what is to be done, because, as they point out, they have to give their orders months in advance to secure a regular supply. Shall I be in order in moving, as an amendment to the motion of the Minister, the addition of certain other items? I understand that I can only move that the consideration of all the items up to a certain item be postponed with a view to deal with that item. Am I right or wrong, sir?
– A motion has been moved that the consideration of all the items up to item 186 be postponed until after item 187 has been dealt with. If it is desired to postpone the consideration of a number of items, with a view to dealing with particular items, I can see that it will lead to endless difficulty. If I may be permitted to make a suggestion, I would suggest, if it can be arranged, that the consideration of all the items be postponed until certain items have been dealt with. That, I. think, would be the better way to get over the difficulty.
– I rise to a point of order, sir. I understand your ruling to be that, in the event of a decision to postpone the consideration of all items up . to item 186, it would then be impossible for the Committee to take into immediate consideration any items between Fhe last item which has been passed and that item. There are certain honorable members who are prepared to take a decision on the question as to whether, in regard to item 187, there is to be an alteration in the programme, and who, in the event of such a departure being agreed to, will want several other items to be considered. What I suggest is that on a word in the next item we should take a test vote as to whether the Committee is agreeable to proceed with the consideration of item 187. If that course is taken, it will not block the consideration of any item between the last item which has been passed and the item which it isproposed to consider next.
– I would point out to the honorable member that by voting against the motion his object will be attained. If the honorable member for West Sydney desires to move an amendment, the best course for him to pursue is to move, as an amendment to the motion before the Committee, that the consideration of all the items be postponed until after a certain item has been dealt with.
– Suppose, sir, that I move that the consideration of all items before item 105 be postponed, will it then be competent for an honorable member to propose the addition of item 106, or item 107 ?
– We must deal with oneamendment at a time. After the honorable member’s amendment had been disposed of, it would be competent for any honorable member to submit an amendment in respect of any other item.
– I also desire to make a suggestion, sir. I do not sympathize with the position which the honorable and learned member for West Sydney is taking up, because I think that, in an- indirect way, he is endeavouring to prejudice those who wish the item of wire-netting to be taken. He must not expect me to share his desire, although there is a great deal to be said for several items which he has mentioned. It seems to me that the more convenient way to get at what he wishes will be, perhaps, to submit an amendment excepting from the operation of the motion certain items. The effect of that would be that the consideration of all items except those items would be postponed until after the item of wire-netting had been dealt with. I suggest, too, that the amendments in that direction should be taken separately. For instance, one honorable’ member could move to except from the motion as many items as he liked, and a test division could be taken on the question as to whether the words proposed to be added should be added. The Committee, if it liked, could negative that amendment, and then, if it desired, it could negative the proposal to consider the item of wire-netting, but the first proposition would be to except the items the consideration of which the honorable and learned member wishes not to be postponed.
– I shall be very glad to fall in with the suggestion, sir, if it meets with your approval.
– The honorable member will be quite in order in moving in that direction.
– -I desire to afford to the Committee an opportunity to deal with the items relating to tea, apparel and attire, agricultural machinery, mining machinery, and electrical machinery, and will, therefore, move -
That the motion be amended bv inserting after the figures “ 186 “ the following words and figures, “ except items 105, 106, 148, 177, and 78.’’
.- This matter ought to be dealt with very carefully and calmly. Last week the Treasurer said that he was in charge of the Tariff, and that he would not allow the business of the Committee to be taken out of his hands, or the sequence of the consideration of the Tariff to be altered. To-night, however, we find him quite willing to alter that sequence, although he has given a promise to the contrary to deputations who have from time to time waited upon him. The Treasurer, when certain suggestions were advanced from this side, made a great, display of courage, and went so far as to say that those who took a contrary view to himself on the question of giving preference to the consideration of certain items ought to go to the other side. On that occasion I expressed my appreciation of his determination in regard to the conduct of business. It will be remembered that the honorable gentleman did make a partial promise to consider the question, and in reply to the leader of the Opposition, he said that, after the tobacco duties had been disposed of, he would see whether an arrangement could be come to as to the precedence of, not one item, but several items.
– The Treasurer made a definite promise in regard to one item.
– That promise was extracted from the Treasurer under duress, because he thought the numbers were against him, and the leader of the Opposition took advantage of the opportunity to press the item, of wire-netting to the front. To-day the Treasurer still has charge of public business, but he is willing to consent to postpone certain items in favour of wirenetting, so long as there is not a long discussion on the question of postponement. To my mind that attitude is an invitation to honorable members to enter upon a long discussion. The honorable gentleman has advanced no reasons why certain items shall be postponed; but he has charged certain honorable members with being “ hysterical.” In my opinion the honorable gentleman was, himself, hysterical when he said that he was a country member, and that was why he favoured giving precedence to the item of wire-netting. We now have the secret of the honorable gentleman’s position. Country members whose constituentsuse wire-netting will naturally . vote for precedence being given to that item. The Treasurer has said that he will not permit any other items, except that which he has mentioned, to be considered, for the reason that he cannot get honorable members to agree as to the items to be selected. But if the Treasurer has his list of items, which he desires to have considered, why should not the honorable member for West Sydney, or myself, also have a little list? My own opinion is that the sequence of the Tariff should not be disturbed, because it appears to have been arranged with design. Those items which most nearly affect the public, or the revenue, have been placed first on the list, and only in one or two cases has that rule been departed from. Those who had the arrangement of the Tariff, have not picked out any particular trade or district for preferential treatment, but have grouped industries and commodities together in the order of those which affect the larger portions of the community. Why did those honorable members, who are interested in wire-netting, not move the postponement of the consideration of the duties on intoxicants and narcotics? We heard no suggestion in- that direction. I know that the Standing Orders are very stringent, but there is nothing to prevent my moving that all the items, up to item 188, for example, be postponed, and se* on right through the 444 items. The tobacco items represent a revenue of some ,£246,000, and it was quite right that they should be considered in their order. Why should not the items relating to groceries afterwards take precedence? All classes of the community are affected by them. The bulk of the people do not use wire-netting. Take, for instance, the item, “ Currants.” They are used in every household, and especially by the poorer classes. I find that £79>°°° was derived, in revenue from them in 1906. The duty is to be increased. Rice also produced revenue to the extent of £80,000. Why should not precedence be given to the consideration of it? More people are interested in the duties on rice and currants than are interested in wire-netting. Then, again, revenue to the extent of £393,000 was derived from apparel and attire. Probably the Western Australian members would desire to consider the duties on mining machinery before we consider those on wire-netting. ‘ Why should not their desire be acceded to? The honorable member for West Sydney has said that he intends to support’ the early consideration of those items which most largely affect his electors. I shall do the same. It is only natural that
Ave should take an interest in those items that especially concern our constituents. Wire-netting interests the country members in some degree, but I do not suppose that they are especially desirous of having the item considered before the other items are dealt with. There is no wire-netting industry in Victoria, although an attempt has been made to establish it at Pentridge. The Victorians think so much of it that it is to be conducted by prison labour.
– How does the new protection affect it ?
– I do not know; but in New South Wales, wire-netting is not manufactured in gaol. Under the last Tariff, it was on the free list. Why was the industry ignored by the protectionists in 1902 ? We are told that the wire-netting industry involves the payment of wages to the extent of £12,000 a year. It has been doing very well, and yet under this new Tariff there is to be a stiff duty on the manufacture. I am not prepared to say that I shall vote for th-H duty. I think it-is too stiff. But there is no reason why the item should be taken before others, nor has any argument been adduced to show why it should be taken out of the regular order. I remember the honorable member for Cook saying that be would vote to place the necessaries of !ife on the lowest level, so far as duties are con’cerned. I should be prepared at the earliest possible moment to place them on the lowest possible level. It may be said that I am not conducing to that being done by the course that I am now taking. But I am urging that there is no reason for giving prior consideration to the products of any. particular industry. If we take this course in regard to wire-netting, there is not a single industry in Australia having friends amongst honorable members that will not make a demand for precedence. It is all very well for honorable members to say “ Oh.” If the right honorable member for Swan were engaged in an industry affected by the Tariff and saw preferential treatment extended to an item, he would be one of the first to ask that the item relating to his enterprise should be taken out of its order and dealt with- We shall be inundated with applications to deal with items out of their order. Petition after petition has been presented to the House from music teachers who desire us to deal without delay with the item of musical instruments. As a class, they are not highly paid, and if we agreed to this motion, why should they not ask for preferential consideration of the duty upon pianos? I am setting aside all pretence, and would point out that those who are supporting the motion are concerned in the wire-netting industry.
– For the most part they are. The item affects country electorates. The honorable member for Lang has no constituents interested in the duty on wirenetting, but in supporting this motion he may be actuated by a desire to conserve the interests of the State of which he is a representative. As a matter of fact, I do not think that State is so seriously affected by this question as he believes it to be. Why should this Tariff be “peacocked?” When the eyes of a country are picked out, it is often said that the land has been “peacocked” - and I object to the “peacocking “ process being applied to the Tariff. According to the information put before us, the imports of wire-netting last year were of the value of £512,000, and it is anticipated that a revenue of £150,000 will be derived from the duty.
– Is there not a wire-netting factory in the honorable member’s electorate ?
– No. The factory is in the electorate, either of Parkes or of Parra-matta, although many of the men engaged in the industry reside in my electorate.
– We should have dealt with the item if this discussion had not been prolonged.
– There are some honorable members who have as much individuality to the square inch as the right honorable member has.
– We want to push on with the Tariff.
– And I wish the divisions relating to groceries and apparel to be dealt with. There are many items which are more important than is that of wire-netting, and I protest against this proposal. If it be adopted, we shall never know when an item is to be taken out of its order. An honorable member may find that, during his temporary absence from the House, an item concerning which he possesses expert knowledge, has been dealt with. The engineering industry in my electorate is interested in the timber duties since it uses timber for pattern-making and other purposes, and those so engaged would have as much justification in asking that preference be given to the item of timber as have those who claim that the duty on wire-netting should now be taken. The mining industry is also affected by these items. The difficulties experienced by settlers in New South Wales in coping with the rabbit pest are materially reduced by the action of the State Government in importing wirenetting, and since the State Government receives three-fourths of the duty .paid upon its imports, the users of wire-netting will have to pay only one-fourth of the duty levied upon it. Thousands of rolls of wire-netting which were seized, as well as others, which have been taken out of bond have been distributed.
Sitting suspended from 6.30 to 7-4-5 p.m.
– Now that the Treasurer has moved for an alteration in the order of the items, I take it that I have a right, to present the claims of items other than wire-netting for consideration. Item No. 303, which deals with the timber duties, is a case in point. I mention the number to show that it is not a factious opposition that I am offering. I have studied the Standing Orders, and observed very closely standing order 276, so that I shall not be irrelevant in my remarks or guilty of tedious repetition. I emphasize the word “tedious.” The timber duties are of great importance to my electorate, so far as engineering works are concerned. There are timber yards there also, all concerned in which would be glad to have the item dealt with quickly. Item 187 ‘ has a preference, in any case, to item 303, in the order of consideration, yet item 187 is to be taken out of its order. The timber industry requires a speedy settlement of the duties affecting it from the point of view of arrangements for supplies. And this reminds me of chairs. In item 301 ‘ the Government, propose to put upon the people of Australia a very severe tax of 7s. 6d. per chair. I am not saying whether the proposal is right or wrong, but surely the number of people who use chairs is greater than the number who require wirenetting. The poorer classes of’ the community have to pay the heavy impost, because the chairs affected are not made in Japan or China, but are Austrian, British, and American, and made from a class of wood which cannot be obtained here. It is only natural that people throughout Australia should desire early treatment of that item. I have mentioned groceries, apparel, timber, and chairs, and I shall deal later with woollens. The Treasurer has intimated that he will not allow preferential consideration of any items, other than wirenetting. I believe that there are enough honorable members to carry, with the assistance of the Government, the motion, for the immediate consideration of that item. The honorable member for West Svdney struck the keynote when he asked “ What about all the other items of great importance to the public?” The Treasurer’s intimation means that any proposal to (rive priority of consideration to other items that affect the general public will be resisted by the Government, so that the meaning of the Treasurer’s motion is that only the users of wire netting are to receive special consideration. Wire-netting locally made is cheaper now in New South Wales than ever it has been.
– That shows that the Tariff does not raise prices.
– I do not know what the cause is. The price of metals may have come down. All I know is that Lysaght Brothers are prepared to sell their wire netting cheaper to-day than they were before.
– The price has come, down by £1 since the introduction of the Tariff.
– I do not know whether the Tariff is the cause or not, but in view of that fact, those who support this motion cannot argue that wire-netting is not obtainable cheaper on account of the Tariff. They say that the proposed duty is an impost upon the people, but if any people are paying this heavy impost they should not pay it a day longer, seeing that the locally-made wire-netting is cheaper than it ever was before. Yet all the other items in the schedule are to be put out of gear to allow this one to be considered. Another item - anti-corrosive paints - affects hundreds of people in my electorate. If honorable members advance arguments to relieve country districts of taxation, surely I have a right to point out that another item involves the immediate employment of 600 or 700, and at times 800, men in my electorate. A heavy duty is proposed on anti-corrosive paints, which have to be imported. They are patented, and the peculiarities of their composition are such that they cannot be made here. The docking people in my electorate complain, and give specific cases of numbers of vessels that have had to leave Port Jackson and dock in Singapore and other Eastern ports, because of the heavy duty on these paints. Surely, then, I have a right on behalf of my electorate to ask for early consideration of the case of those 700 or 800 men, who are not employed at a very high rate of wage, and whose labour is intermittent. If they had high wages and constant employment, they would not feel so keenly the delay in dealing with the item, which is number 236 in the schedule. I should like to move afterwards that all items up to that one be postponed. The fact is that a number of honorable members are interested in country districts, or otherwise thev would not allow the sequence of the Tariff to be altered at all to give priority to the item of wire-netting. They, are put in a very critical position, when the Treasurer tells them that thev will get preferential consideration for wire-netting only. When the honorable gentleman said he would resist any other proposal of- the’ kind, he meant that he would not allow the Committee to take the conduct of business out of his hands.
– I suppose that he promised in a weak moment.
– I believe that he did. Another item involving articles of everyday ‘ consumption is that, of “Sago and tapioca,” under “ Groceries.” There is an increase in the duty of nearly 100 per cent., which the majority of people who> use those articles are paying every day. That item, in the ordinary course, would have received almost immediate consideration, as it comes early in the list. Why should the food of the masses be put aside until wire-netting is dealt with ? Candles also are used extensively throughout the Commonwealth. Why should theconsideration of the duty upon that item be postponed in order to give precedence tothat of wire-netting? The users of wire-‘ netting have not yet felt the impost uponthat material. I know that other honorable members are equally anxious, . with myself, that the order of the Tariff shall not be disturbed, notably the representatives of Western Australia, who are keenly interested in the duties upon mining machinery. Why should the other itemsof the Tariff be deferred until the duty on wire-netting has been disposed of simply to convenience the pastoralists?” Again, I would point out that in 1906 the revenue derived from woollens was £300,000. Woollens are used by all classes of the community, and surely if a preference is to be given to the consideration of any articles it should be given to that. I believe that I am under-estimating the- position when I say that 800 men find employment in the painting of ships with anti-corrosive paints. Why should the interests of these men be ignored by honorable members considering out of its order the proposed duty upon wire-netting? The impost upon fishermen’s netting is also, a serious one. Why should the interests of this class of the community bedisregarded, especial lv as they are least able to withstand the burden ? If we begin to interfere with the order of theTariff we shall be compelled to alter Its entire structure. It was designedly drafted7 with a view to enable the Government to ascertain as quickly as possible the position which they occupy in regard to its chief items. I therefore urge that they should not yield to the cry of any special class for special treatment. I move -
That the amendment be amended by the addition of the following figures : - “ 34, 42, 54A,. 94, 107, 124.”
I should like to include the ‘ items 301: Chairs, and 303 Timber.
– The honorablemember cannot include any item after that: of wire-netting.
– When the amendment has been disposed of, I presume I shall be . at liberty to move for the consideration of the other items to which I have referred ?
– I cannot entertain any amendment at the present moment to include any item after No. 187.
– Then I merely wish to say that at a subsequent stage I shall move to give precedence to the items, of timber, chairs and paints. The Treasurer has declared this afternoon that he would not allow the order of the Tariff to be varied if a long discussion upon the proposal took place. I hope the Government will not adopt such a course in the future. The order of the Tariff ought not to be interfered with. If we deviate from the order of the Tariff for the consideration of a particular item, the same course may be followed in connexion with other items, and honorable members from a distance, who are compelled to leave this State to reach their homes, may find that many items in which they are interested will be dealt with in their absence. If this course were to be permitted, honorable members of a captious disposition might, by moving the postponement of certain items until after others had been dealt with, hold up the Tariff for two or three years. I have no doubt we shall hear a big appeal on behalf of the struggling selector who is called upon to contend with the rabbits,, but I make an appeal on behalf of the poorest classes in the community, who have no deputations calling upon Ministers to influence them, to consider first Tariff items in which they are interested. I repeat here what I have said from many a platform, that if there is any justification for the doctrine of the free-trader, it is in the removal of duties of Customs from the absolute necessaries of life. I am not prepared to fight for the importer or for vested interests. While I am here to see fair play shown to manufacturers as well as importers,* I refuse to give the persons who use wire-netting special treatment in the consideration of the Tariff. The heavy impost of 7s. 6d. is proposed on chairs that are used bv the poorest of the poor, and a class of furniture for the manufacture of which our woods are not suitable. If the Committee had been asked to deal first with an item of that kind, there might have been some justification for such a proposal. I could understand the Labour Party supporting such a proposal as that, but I cannot understand them supporting a proposal for a prior consideration of the duty on wire-netting. The Government are agreeing to the course proposed under pressure. I admit openly that the wire-netting industry of New South Wales is not in my electorate, but many of the men engaged in the industry are constituents of mine. I have not put in a word for these men. In considering the last .Tariff, I supported the proposal to put wire-netting on the free list, but I have openly stated that I will not continue to do so. When I see other honorable members voting for duties in the interests of industries carried on in their districts, I say that the 400 men who are employed in the wire-netting industry in New .South Wales should receive some consideration. Are those who are supporting the proposal that wire-netting should be first considered prepared to carry the duty proposed ?
– I am afraid not.
– Here we have the Minister of Trade and Customs admitting that those who are pressing the consideration of this item are not doing so in order to carry the duty proposed. If the object is to reduce the proposed duty, why should this item be singled out for prior consideration ?
– Why should a protectionist Government hasten its consideration for that purpose?
– Exactly. The Barton Administration may have consented to put wire-netting on the free list because the right honorable member for Adelaide was stronger than Sir Edmund Barton, Mr. R. E. O’Connor, and the present Treasurer, who were representatives in the Cabinet, of New South Wales. This was the only industry of importance in New South Wales that was neglected at that time. I asked the question how it was that the three representatives of New South Wales in the Government neglected this New South Wales industry. Either they wished to neglect it, or the right honorable member for Adelaide was the master mind. The reason now appears to be that wire-netting is largely used in South Australia and in Victoria, and is not made in either of those States, though we hear it is shortly to be made at pentridge gaol. I can understand that representatives of the southern States are prepared to press the consideration of this item, because they intend to attempt a drastic reduction of the proposed duty. While I do not say that I will vote for the duty proposed, T shall give a protection to the industry which I was never prepared to give it before. When I find that other industries are being coddled and protected, I do not see why this New South Wales industry should not be treated in the same way. I indorse what has been said by the honorable member for West Sydney, and I look to many honorable members of a radical turn of mind to assist us in this matter. I can understand country members being concerned about this item, but most of the orders for wire-netting have been placed, and I ask them to permit us to go on with the consideration of Tariff items which affect the masses of the community. I do not see why we should be specially anxious to. assist honorable members who desire to cut down a duty in the interest of a special few, who are mainly the pastoralists of Australia. I trust the Treasurer will see the advisability of withdrawing his motion, and that in future he will not allow anything to interfere with the consideration of the items’ seriatim.
.- I address myself to the question in the hope that by doing so I shall facilitate the very early determination of it. The country is waiting earnestly and anxiously for the settlement of the Tariff. I believe it was proposed in good faith that we should first consider the item of wire-netting, and some few other items, with a view to their early settlement in the best interests of the country. We now find that, so far from the adoption of that course being likely to facilitate what is desired, it is likely .to retard it. This discussion, for all practical purposes, is absolutely useless, and I shall not be surprised to hear a serious expression of indignation against this waste of time, which might be usefully spent in the consideration of Tariff items. I do not say that it is the intention of any honorable member to cause delay, but that is the effect of this discussion. I, therefore, plead with the Committee to allow the schedule to be dealt with item by item, because, in my opinion, that is the most expeditious way of getting through it. Probably the wire-netting item will be reached sooner if we resolve at once to deal with all the preceding items in their order, than if we ‘continue what appears to be an interminable debate upon the proposal to give priority of consideration to it, and to certain other items. As I rarely occupy time in speaking, I feel justified in appealing to honorable members, if they must discuss the motion,, to do so as briefly as possible; and, if they can, to refrain from speaking, and let us come to a division at once.
. -‘I indorse the remarks of the honorable member for Echuca, who has said much that I intended to say. I do not know why honorable members have taken so long to express their views on this motion. Why should the wire-netting item be considered before any other ? The proposed duty on wire-netting is only 25 per cent., while the duty on some articles is as high as 700 per cent. ; yet we are not being asked to give priority to them. In ray opinion, the sooner we get to work on the schedule as printed, taking the items in the order in which they appear in it, the more credit shall we obtain, and the better will it be for the commercial interests of the Commonwealth.
– It seems to me that the Government has discovered a new way to block the Tariff, and is putting its supporters in an unfortunate position. In my opinion, the wire-netting item should be dealt with in, its turn. If I voted’ for the motion, would the Treasurer go to my constituency to explain why the duty on wire-netting was dealt with- before the duty on kerosene? I represent one of the poorest districts in South Australia. Although there are gasworks there, comparatively few of the homes are lighted with gas, kerosene being used in its stead. Kerosene is also of more importance to the farmer and producer than is wire-netting. If the producers are suffering because they cannot get wirenetting cheaply enough,, why do not the Governments of the States say, “ We will remit the duty to you, because three-fourths of it will ultimately be handed back to you.” I cannot conceive of anything weaker than the present position of the Government. The Treasurer says, “ I am prepared «to deal with one item in advance, if the Committee decides that it shall be dealt with out of its order.”
– A large number of honorable members asked him to take that course.
– The proposal came from honorable members who will not be found supporting the Tariff. The Treasurer should stand by his Tariff. Deputations have waited upon me, and shoals of letters have been sent to me, asking that various items shall be dealt with first, in order that those connected with certain industries may know how to conduct their business. But how. could’ I meet my constituents if I allowed the Government, as a splendid political step, according to their -opponents, to give- special consideration to wire-netting, by taking the wire-netting item before these other items? Too much attention is paid to the producer; it is time that we did something for the poorer sections of the community. I shall vote for reduced rates in regard to many lines ; but if we are to make any reductions, we should deal first with duties which press heavily on the poor. The duty <on wire-netting does not affect the poor residing in our. cities and towns. But the manner in which they are robbed by the ikerosene trust is astounding.
– Is not the farmer robbed, too?
– In dealing with the kerosene duty we shall be helping the farmer. Then there is the duty on magazines, the product of the brains of the world. Christmas is at hand, and we have not yet decided how we shall treat those splendid publications - the Christmas numbers - which provide so much instruction and amusement to the reading portion of the community.
– We could have dealt with a dozen items this afternoon in the time which has been devoted to this discussion.
– No doubt the honorable member, who represents a country constituency, will get kudos for supporting the proposal to give first consideration to the duty on wire-netting. But my constituents are not affected by it. I therefore ask him to facilitate the consideration of a duty which affects both my constituents and his, the duty on kerosene. We have heard of the way in which the farmer is robbed by the duties on textiles, groceries, and other articles of consumption. Surely the duty on wire-netting is a bagatelle to those imposts, and honorable members who are so desirous of helping the producer should deal first with them. I am astonished that Ministers should allow themselves to be brow-beaten by the press, the Opposition, and the exPremier of New South Wales. I shall not follow them in this proposal. Strong representations have been made to me as to the injury which will be inflicted on some of our industries if the proposed duty on corks is carried. Every honorable mem ber must admit that . it is unlikely that corks will be produced in Australia for many years to come. This does not apply to one industry, but to all those industries which are engaged in putting up medicines, wines, and beer. Why should not they be considered, especially when we know that in whatever form the Tariff may be passed there is very little likelihood of a majority imposing high duties on an article which cannot possibly be manufactured in Australia ?
– Why does the honorable member waste time? Let us get on with the consideration of the Tariff.
– I hope that honorable members will bear in mind that interjection when we are dealing with the Tariff. The honorable member cannot accuse me of wasting much time, because I speak wry seldom.
– The honorable member is wasting time now.
– If, for once, I am wasting time, I am sure that for every five minutes that I waste the honorable members for Swan and Lang waste hours and hours. I am now referring to a subject, on which I have not spoken at length previously. I have to sit here and listen to the honorable members for Swan and Lang repeating the same : old story not only week after week, but month after month, and year after year.
– It is always the truth.
-I do not think that I can be accused , of doing as they do. I am sure that honorable members know by heart all the speeches which the honorable member for- Swan has made on his proposal for a transcontinental railway. I know them by heart, because I have heard them delivered here so often. I shall keep my eye on the honorable member for Lang, and I am1 quite willing that the time he wastes and the time I waste shall be compared.
– The honorable member is not wasting time, but fighting in the interests of the people.
– I shall let the people I represent know that I wish a fair thine to be done for all sections of the community, and do not want one item to be singled out for prior consideration. I shall be found voting with the Government on most items in the Tariff. Much as I feel concerned for the poorer classes in regard to some items, I
– What consolation did the honorable member give him?
– I gave no consolation to the gentleman, because I knew that the Government could not do what he desired. I said that I would bring his complaint under their notice with a view to seeing if anything could be done.
– By a reduction of the duty?
– If the honorable member is willing to give the gentleman any consolation, I am prepared to vote for the duty to be remitted not only in his case, but in the case of every one who can prove that he gave his order before the Tariff was brought down.
– That is fair.
– If the merchant could have returned the goods I would have said that he had no grievance. But, as his name is blown on the bottles, he could not return them. Would it be fair for me to ask that an important industry like that should be considered before the wire-netting industry ?
– Not before.
– The honorable member is getting off the track when the honorable member for East Sydney is commencing to cheer him.
– No. Whilst some members of the Opposition are cheering me the Minister of Trade and Customs is smiling, because he knows that the Opposition intend to vote with the Government in this matter. But I believe that some members on the other side will also vote with me. When we are dealing with the Tariff, we ought not to consider for one moment what is thought by the
– I do not intend to ask that chairs shall be exempted from duty.
– I. am glad that the Minister carried out the promise which he gave, even though, in my opinion, it was a very foolish one; but that is no reason why the rest of the Government should stand by him.
– He spoke for the Government. He could not isolate himself.
– If he spoke for the Government he acted very inconsiderately, because I do not think that, in a matter of this kind, he should have spoken on their behalf without having consulted some of his colleagues. I cannot believe for a moment that any other Minister would have supported such a foolish proposal.
– He ought to be reminded that he has to speak for the corner as well as for the Government.
– Honorable members in the corner can always speak for themselves, and speak freely. They speak for the Government when they are right, and against them when thev are wrong. When the Government are wrong, and we want to give them something like a castigation, we always find the Opposition rushing to their rescue, just as they will do on this occasion.
– The Government are doing what we asked them to do, so how can we vote against them?
– Some honorable members on the other side have said that they are strongly opposed to the item of wire-netting being considered first.
– Only one.
– The honorable member for Dalley spent an hour and ahalf in expressing his disapproval of the action of the Government.
– He has all the wire-netting workers in his electorate.
– Let us get to a division.
– I do not think the honorable member will get to a division on this proposal for some time to come. Perhaps it suits the district which he represents. But there are a good many honorable members whocome from other parts of the Commonwealth which are interested in other items. But if honorable members sit here dumb and simply vote for or against the motion, they will find it very awkward to explain their action. At this stage, I think it is quite sufficient for me to protest against the action of the Government, and to endeavour, as I have done, to show that, if precedence is to be given to any items, it should be to those items in which people who are suffering most, and are least able to defend themselves, are interested. Those people, certainly, are not the producers who require wire-netting, and who cannot get it unless they pay a little more for it at the present, time, considering that the extra payment could easily be remitted by the various States Governments.
– The honorable member for Hindmarsh has, I think, destroved the effect of his speech and his logic bv his ardour and vehemence. The honorable member has spoken with more warmth on this technical question than I have observed on his part on any previous occasion. It seems to me that he had a pretty strong case, and that he would have presented itbetter if he had not shown so much party spirit.
– I am supporting the side of the honorable member.
– I am not considering that aspect of the matter ; and I think I can show that the course I propose to adopt is quite disinterested. It so happen”!that the manufacture of wire-netting is carried on in my constituency, and not withstanding - I shall not say “ therefore,” because it may be a coincidence - I am willing to reduce the duty, recognising as I do that one of the primary industries depends on the price of this particular article,- not merely from the point of view of individual considerations, but as affecting the employment of a very large number of people in the country districts. There are no farms in my constituency, which is composed of thickly populated suburbs. I do not suppose a rabbit can be seen there from one year’s end to the other, except in poulterers’ shops. At the same time, all of us must consider the big industries of the country ; that is why I am in favour of giving precedence to items like that of wire-netting and mining machinery.
– Before items affecting food and clothing?
– Because I think that the items of wire-netting and mining machinery have a sort of geometrical effect on the industries which they represent. Those who know anything of mining - and Ispeak moire particularly of Western Australia - are aware that many mining enterprises are depending entirelv on the question whether mining machinery is or is not to be admitted free, or with a small duty. What are called “ low grade “ enterprises are hanging in the balance, and hundreds and thousands of men are awaiting employment pending the decision of that question. There is no need for warmth, because this is a cold economic question. The honorable member for Hindmarsh has insisted on the tremendous hardship inflicted on his constituents because of the dutv on kerosene. That duty is 3d. per gallon ; and in a small household a gallon will probably last a fortnight or a month. It would appear, therefore, that, for the purpose of saving three-halfpence a fortnight, or, it may be, a month, in a small household, we should now refrain from dealing immediately with certain items on which the employment of hundreds and thousands of men depend, and to whom the delay mav involve, not three-halfpence per week, but their whole means of supporting their families. I desire the honorable member for Hindmarsh to see what an ineffective comparison he has instituted.
– If we pay regard to onlv the one item of kerosene, but what about food and clothing?
– One would think ‘that the item of kerosene was the only one the honorable member could quote, and that it was proposed to postpone indefinitely all the items of daily necessities. We desire to deal with all the items in the Tariff, but most of us pay some regard to the interests of the large primary industries. In selecting the mining industry as an illustration, I am not considering my own constituency, within 50 or 100 miles of which there is not a mine. Strange to say, the industry of wirenetting manufacture, the item in relation to which I urge should be dealt with quickly, is carried on in my constituency ; and I have no doubt I shall incur the displeasure of a large number of people by seeming to desire to remove the tentative duty from the commodity on which their industry is wrongly supposed to depend.
– That is perfectly safe for the honorable member, because those interested in that industry would not vote for him in any case.
– 1 do not know that it is safe, but, at any rate, that is not a consideration in my political life. Polonius said to his son, “ To thine own self be true.” I do what I think is right, and take the consequences; and my constituents know that whatever I do, I do iri the best interests of the country as a whole I sympathize with those who desire to get on with the Tariff, but 1 think the Committee ought to have an opportunity of saying whether or not certain items should be given priority. I think that the method which has been adopted of piling amendment on amendment is the longest way round. It seems to me that it would be perfectly open to an honorable member to move that all the items prior to wirenetting should be postponed until after that item has been considered, and that when that had been disposed of, it would be equally open to any other honorable member to move that the whole of the items as they then stand should be postponed until after some other selected item had been disposed of.
– But supposing we desired to deal with an item before that of wirenetting, but after the item last dealt with?
– I do not think that would matter.
– The Chairman would say that it did.
– Although I am bound by the Chairman’s ruling, I do not think the Chairman is right in that matter. Just as the Government frequently postpone item after item on the business-paper, sometimes twice or three times in succession, I think we could move the postponement of the whole of the items until after that of mining machinery, and then the Committee would have an opportunity of saying whether or not they would agree to that course. If the Committee did agree, it would be a clear indication that- honorable members thought it desirable to deal with each of such items before other items.
– I submit, that the honorable member cannot discuss that matter now.
– I am not doing so; I am merely pointing out what would be the advantage if -the Chairman did not rule again in the way he has done. It would then be open to any honorable member to move the postponement of all the items which stand prior to some other item. The Committee would then have the advantage of saying whether or not they thought the item was of sufficient importance to justify the postponement of other items, and thus we might get through the half-dozen or more items which certain honorable members seem desirous to have first considered. If there is any way of getting round your ruling, Mr. Chairman, I should be very glad to secure for the Committee an opportunity of dealing with the items in the way I have suggested.
.- The honorable member for Hindmarsh spoke very strongly when he said he was here to talk in order that his constituents might hear what he had to say.
– That is not what I said.
– The honorable member used words to that effect. I am not one to lecture the Honorable member, but I think he showed somewhat of a parochial spirit when he gaye expression to that idea. At any rate, he stirred my blood sufficiently to make me get up and say that I am here to speak for the people in my electorate. They are typical of the producers of Australia, whose interests we ought to consider, particularly at the present moment. It is of vital importance to them that the duty on wire-netting should be speedily determined.
– All the Tariff items are important.
– While it is true that all questions arising out of the Tariff are of great importance, this one is of greater importance than any other. Do not honorable members know that there are thousands of men throughout Australia who, the shearing being over, are eagerly looking for fencing work?
– Yet honorable members opposite say that there is a need for immigration.
– The young crops are beginning to grow, and the farmers are anxious about them. Does not the honorable member know that a great deal of the fencing work is done by young farmers? Yet he is protesting against this question being settled immediately. I cannot understand the objection to disposing of it as speedily as possible. Spring has arrived, and the young rabbits are spreading throughout the country. Although we have enjoyed a long period of prosperity there is now a danger of drought, and it is urgently necessary that wire fencing should be put up to keep out the rabbits. I do not often find occasion to say that what the Government are doing is right, but on this occasion I think they are doing right in proposing that the duty on wire-netting shall be considered immediately. I therefore give them my cordial support.
.- In view of the fact that a number of items have been put forward for special consideration, I also desire to propose that item 177, Mining Engines and Machinery, n.e.i., item 178, Electrical Machinery, item 179, Electrical and Gas Appliances, and item 180, Electrical Materials, be considered as’ early as possible. I am credibly informed that a great deal of the electrical mining machinery required in the mines cannot be manufactured in Australia. We have not the plant to make it. I am also informed by a mine manager that the present Tariff would leave him out of pocket to the extent of about ,£3,000 in respect to electrical machinery. In his mines electricity furnishes the whole of the motive power, because wood has become so scarce. There is no honorable member who is more anxious to see the duty on- wire-netting settled than I am. I think that every honorable member is in sympathy with the men who are struggling against the abominable rabbit pest. They are having a very hard fight. Some months ago I paid a special visit to the heart of one of the districts where the people are coping with the rabbits, and some of the settlers told me that at times they were in such despair that they asked themselves : “Is it worth while to continue the struggle or not? Shall we go in for the rabbit industry, and drop the wool industry ? “ I shall be very pleased to see the matter dealt with as early as possible, though it seems to me that the Government have made a mistake in proposing to depart from the order of the schedule. I think that any honorable member who is an expert in regard to any particular item is justified in giving reasons why he thinks it necessary that that item should be dealt with as early as possible. But it appears to me, nevertheless, that complications will be brought about by taking wire-netting out of its order. With regard to the item itself, we have had the statement that wire-netting has already been reduced in price.
– The honorable member must not go into the merits ‘ or demerits of the proposed duty.
– I presume that I shall have an opportunity of discussing that question at a later stage?
– Yes. Do I understand that the honorable member wishes to move an amendment? If so, I point out that there are already two amendments before the Committee. It will not be in order for the honorable member to move a further amendment just now.
– I shall move it after the amendments already before the Chair have been disposed of. I intimate now that I desire to secure precedence for items 177, 178, 179, and 180.
– I came ‘here this afternoon with the understanding that the Government intended to propose special treatment for six or seven items in the schedule. That was the distinct understanding on which we left off business last week. But, during the week-end - shall I say in consequence of criticisms from the Ministerial corner as well as of criticisms from the Opposition
– The Ministerial corner knows nothing about it.
– There seems to have been a singular and mysterious change in regard to the attitude of the Government. Now .we are asked to give precedence to one item only. I believe - indeed I urged last week - that we should give special treatment to wirenetting because of the urgency attaching to it. I imagined, in my simplicity, that three or four items of an equally urgent character would be treated likewise. I understand that it has been borne in upon the mind of the Government recently, and particularly upon the mind of the Minister of Trade and Customs, that there are a number of anomalies in the new Tariff which, the sooner they are rectified the better it will be for the people of the country, and the Tariff itself.
– Hear, hear.
– Why cannot the Government make a selection of those obnoxious items in regard to which there are anomalies, and take the responsibility of proposing special treatment for them?
– The Minister has stated that he will not propose special treatment for any other item than this.
– My honorable friends, who are protectionists, are beginning to lose all faith in their own theories.
– Not at all.
– If that be not the case, why the remarks we have had about the duties on clothing, and all that sort of thing, from the strong protectionists? Take the honorable member for Hindmarsh, for instance.
Mr.Hutchison. - It is impossible to make clothing in a day, and ft is time we set our looms going.
– I see. Then, until we have the machinery to meet our clothing requirements, are we to impose higher duties, or are we to keep them at the lower rate?
– We are going to put on a higher duty.
– Then where is the point of the honorable member’s interjection? He suggests that theclothing items should have special treatment. Do not they constitute a tax upon the people of the Commonwealth? I understand that the honorable member is not anxious to give special treatment to those items for the purpose of reducing duties.
– I am not going to vote to reduce them.
– If honorable members are moving for special treatment for certain items for the purpose of discussing them without any thought of moving for their reduction, they . are engaged in the idlest of pastimes. I do not think that they ought to indulge in such trifling conduct.
– What is the Tariff for but to extend our industries ?
– That is the reason assigned for its introduction ; but honorable members on this side, who are asking for preferential treatment of these items, do so with a view, not to the present rates being fixed, but to their being reduced because of their special character, as affecting the primary industries.
– The Government do not propose that preference shall be given to the item of wire-netting in order that the duty may be reduced.
– I do not know why the Treasurer is consenting to precedence being given to the item, unless he is prepared, to consider a proposal to reduce the duty. There are other items of a specially anomalous character. The duties on timber are particularly obnoxious. I visited some of the fruit-growing districts in my constituency on Saturday last, and although Ministers may talk as they please about these special proposals, I found that, whereas a gin-case used to cost is., it now costs1s. 4d., and that bushel fruit-cases that used to cost 6d. are now 9d. each. That is a tax that ought not to be allowed to remain on that industry for one moment longer than is absolutely necessary. In fixing the schedule, the Government have torn up the arithmetical tables. In connexion with the timber duties, they have provided that a board a quarter of an inch thick shall be regarded, for the purposes of assessing duty, as being1 inch thick. Anything under1 inch in thickness is to be regarded as being an inch thick.
– Notwithstanding that that system upsets all the calculations on which the measurement of timber is based.
– Quite so. The Government have adopted a standard of their own, which upsets the arithmetical tables to which we have been accustomed. The anomaly to which I have just referred is one which I should think no honorable member will attempt to defend. These specially anomalous items might very well have preferential treatment. The Tariff could not be in any way prejudiced by a number of these items, which Ministers themselves are agreed must be modified, being selected for preferential treatment. I specially refer, in this connexion, to the duties on timber and wire-netting. Then again, there is the duty on bottles. A double tax is being imposed upon the importers and the people of Australia generally in regard to bottles. In future, when a man imports pickles, he will have to pay a duty, not only on the pickles, but on the bottles as well, so that duplicate imposts are being levied on these articles.
– Do the Government imagine that pickle manufacturers in England will import Australian bottles in which to put their pickles?
– Bottles can be obtained here.
– It is protection run mad.
– Then we have a special way of dealing with packages. We charge now, I believe, not only on the cubic contents of a case, but on the case itself. In many instances, this has the effect of increasing the duty on the articles in question by 500 or 600 per cent. The Minister of Trade and Customs has told deputation after deputation that these anomalies must cease, and ought to cease.
– As scon as we get to them, I hope that we shall knock some of them out.
– I should like to know how the Tariff could be prejudiced in the slightest degree by our giving preference to items which have an anomalous incidence bearing heavily upon some of the most important industries in Australia.
– ‘Nearly all the anomalies which the honorable member has quoted arise from Tariff recommendations.
– That is all the more unfortunate.
– Recommendations oi one section of the Commission ?
– I cannot believe that the Tariff Commission, in making recommendations, intended that these anomalies should be created. I rather think that the present position is due to the interpretation placed upon the recommendations of the Tariff Commission. The question as to who recommended or adopted them is immaterial to the question of urgency; we ought to rectify these anomalies at the earliest possible moment.
– They are due to the fact that the Government have considered only one section of the Tariff Commission’s recommendations.
– That is hardly fair. We considered them to such an extent that we refused to impose duties on 107 items which the free-trade section of the Commission recommended should be dutiable.
– If the Government had adopted the whole of our recommendations we should have had a very fair Tariff.
– The answer to the Minister of Trade “and Customs is that the Treasurer told us in this House that he had not troubled to consider the recommendations of the free-trade section of the Commission.
– I do not think that he said that.
– He told us very plainly that he would not be bound by the recommendations of any section of the Commission, and that he paid very little heed to the Commission’ as a whole; yet, when anomalies in the Tariff are pointed out, who are so ready to shelter themselves behind the Commission as the Ministers responsible for those anomalies? However, the anomalies are in the Tariff, and we point them out, as deputation after deputation has pointed them out, to the Government. The Minister should be glad of the opportunity furnished by the Committee to rectify them at the earliest moment. I say nothing about the duty on magazines, to which reference has been made by the honorable member for West Sydney. He spoke of the literature in imported magazines as being comparable to stale eggs. However stale literature may be, I think that it is a stretch of the imagination to compare magazines a month or two old with stale eggs; only a. rhetorician of. the brilliant qualities of the honorable member for West Sydney would make such a comparison. I shall support, in every way, the selection of a reasonable number - say, half-a-dozen - of the most anomalous items in the Tariff for preferential treatment at the present stage.
– The Government have been very unfairly treated in regard to this matter. They have been appealed to by every section of the Committee to do what they now propose, and some of the speeches delivered this afternoon have certainly surprised me. When, a few days ago, it was suggested that preference should be given to the item of wire-netting, it was urged that it was necessary to deal at once with the division relating to tobacco, since, pending its settlement, a number of men would remain out of employment. My contention is that thousands of miles of fencing, which would give employment to a large number of men, remain in abeyance, pending the decision of Parliament regarding the duty on wirenetting. The Government have not been treated fairly in connexion with this proposal. They did not care about adopting the suggestion, and only took the item out of its order because of its urgency, and “ because of pressure brought’ to bear upon them by all sections, of the Committee. I admit that there are a number of other duties equally burdensome, and in many instances affecting more people, but they do not stand out with the same prominence as this particular duty does. The people affected by this duty have also to bear the burden of all the other duties which have been mentioned, but this item affects their very means of livelihood. As the result of the use of superphosphates, thousands upon thousands of acres of vermin-infested country have been brought into use that were not in use before, but without wirenetting the farmers might as well throw their money into the sea as attempt to go on. Yet in this deliberative assembly the proposal has been treated this afternoon in a most cavalier spirit. It has not been an honest debate, and the amendments moved have been tabled with the deliberate purpose of causing confusion. Those who proposed them said that it was not their intention to move to reduce the duties on the items with which they dealt.
– They did nothing_of the sort. They said that they intended to move to reduce the duties.
– A number said that they did not. I am rather astonished at the attitude of the honorable member for Dalley. On the last occasion when the duty on wire-netting was considered, he was among those who fought in the forefront to put the article on the free list, because it was a necessity. I trust that the Committee will stand by the Government, and allow us to get on with the Tariff.
– The Government promised to give prior consideration to five or six items, but have now gone back to one.
– Even if the Government had conceded priority of consideration to those five or six items, other hon- orable members would have objected because another five or six were not included. It was only because, of the special nature of this duty, and of the necessity of settling the matter at an early date that the Government agreed at all to take the’ item out of its order. They Have, therefore, reason to complain of the speeches made this afternoon - some of them delivered by their friends.
– The Treasurer himself said that it was useless to propose any other items. He also said that the movement to give early consideration to the item* of wire-netting was hysterical.
– The Treasurer said the other day that after the Tobacco’ Excise duties were dealt with he would beprepared to deal with this question,, and hehas kept his promise; Pressure was brought to bear upon him by all sections of the Committee, and yet speeches have been delivered to-day that can only be classed? as “stone-walling.”.
– I rise to order. The honorable member for Grey has characterized certain speeches as “ stone-walling “ speechesI should like to know through you, Mr. Chairman, if that remark applies to my speech. If it, does, I wish to say that my- speech was made as seriously as the honorable member for Grey is making his now. ‘
– The honorable member was not in order in using that phrase.
– Shall I be in orderin saying that they appeared to me to be- “ stone-walling “ speeches, made with noother purpose than to create confusion ? It does not speak well for the Committee that this should have happened, seeing that this Tariff, as a whole, is the most burdensometo the whole of the people that has ever been submitted in Australia. The people are fairly groaning under its burdens, and yet no desire is evidenced by some honorable members to get to close quarters withit and to settle the question of whether itis to be a high Tariff or whether some-‘ moderate reductions are to be made in it. I have refrained to-day from speaking up till now, although I was very much tempteoV to do so by a number of the speeches which have been delivered. My anxiety is to get on with the Tariff, in order that we may place business on a sound footing, that those concerned may know what they ‘ are doing, and that some finality may bereached as to what the duties are to be.
.- The’ honorable member for Gray has dealt some- ‘ what harshly with a number of other honorable members who have addressed theCommittee. Each honorable member has-‘ a perfect right to express his opinion as to. what will be best in- the interests of his-‘ constituency, or of Australia as a whole–
The honorable member for Grey, representing a country constituency, is naturally interested in the question of wire-netting. I sympathise with him.
– I represent as many working men as the Honorable member does.
– Perhaps the honorable member does. There are, however, a very small percentage of loafers in my constituency. My constituents are nearly all workers, and I hope the same applies to the honorable member’s constituency. Whilst there are a great number of electors in his constituency interested in wirenetting, there are a very great number of electors in mine interested in altogether different items. If there is one constituency in Australia that is not going to reap any appreciable benefit - at all events immediately - from a highly protective Tariff, it is Kalgoorlie.
– I fought hard to reduce the duties for them last time.
– I am glad to hear that the honorable member for Grey endeavoured to assist the people of Kalgoorlie. Whether he achieved his object or not is another question. I deplore the action that has been taken by the Government this afternoon. I frankly admit that a good deal of what the honorable member for Grey says is quite true, and that the Minister has been approached from different sides of the Committee with the object of getting this item placed in a prominent position on the list. But, although that is so, no obligation is thrown upon those honorable members who have resisted the proposal, and who believe that it is not going to save time, to sit silent and allow a proposition which they believe to be contrary to the expeditious conduct of business to pass without question. This is “about the only matter upon which I have venturedan opinion during the discussion on the Tariff. Any departure from the order in which the items appear on the list will inevitably occupy more time in debate as to which item should be taken first than would be occupied if those items were reached in the ordinary course of events. It looks like it, at any rate. Afterwe have debated this question for a few hours more, it will probably look even more like it. This is one of those junctures when it is absolutely essential for those who hold a particular view to express their opinions in no uncertain language. If we start out on a correct basis now, thoroughly debate the mat ter, test the question on wire-netting, and then test the question on several other items that will undoubtedly be brought forward if wire-netting is to be considered-
– How long will that take?’
– I think it will occupy a very much longer period than was estimated by the author of the motion.
– He was ill-advised in submitting it.
– I believe that he was. From the stand-point,of their relative importance, there is no . justification whatever for postponing the consideration of other items in order to give precedence to that of wire-netting. An extraordinary anxiety to cope with the rabbit pest appears to have been engendered during the past month or so. I am assured that Messrs. Lysaght Brothers are capable of manufacturing 350 miles of wire-netting per week. ‘ In other words, they are quite able to supply all the requirements of Australia in this connexion.
– That is a wildly absurd statement.
– They could not have been, turning out 350 miles weekly for many weeks, otherwise Australian requirementswould have been supplied long ago.
– Perhaps, when the interruption has ceased, I shall be able to get in an interjection. I understood the Treasurer to say that Messrs. Lysaght Brothers were manufacturing 350 miles of wirenetting per week without the aid of any duty.
– I did not say that. I said that they were turning out 335 milesweekly.
– They told me ‘ a little while ago that they could manufacture only 200 miles of netting weekly.
– The users of this article can get their wants supplied in Australia at the- present time free of duty. There’ are many other items’ in the Tariff schedule which the consumers have no chance of thus obtaining. -
– They do not want it. They merely desire to have the question settled.
– The interests of the consumer are second to no other interests in the Commonwealth. In my judgment,1 the duty upon kerosene presses more heavily upon the poorer classes than does any other duty levied under the Tariff. If we are going to depart from the order of the. schedule, we should certainly give precedence to- the item . of kerosene. I do not. think that the duty upon that article is second in importance to the impost upon wire-netting. Then, my own constituency is vitally interested in the duties collected upon mining machinery’.
– The mining industry of Australia is interested in that question.
– Exactly. I have been advised by the Kalgoorlie Chamber of Mines that if the Tariff be passed in its present form, it will increase the expenses of the Western Australian mines by £70,000 per annum. Bearing in mind the small margin of profit upon which some mining companies have to work in their treatment of highly refractory ores, I say that the duties upon some mining machinery which cannot be obtained in Australia is of more importance than is the duty upon wire-netting. A larger number of persons are interested in this item than in wire-netting, and as a representative of a mining constituency, which will receive very little benefit from the Tariff, I am justified in saying that this item should receive consideration equal to that given to any other. If there is to be an alteration in the order in which the items are to be considered, the Committee will have an opportunity of testing the importance of the item affecting mining machinery. In this connexion, also, I may refer to the proposed increase of the duty on Oregon timber from 6d. to is. 6d. per 100 feet. No doubt the object in view, that Australian timber may be more largely used in mining, is a most laudable one, but the safety of life in connexion with the mining industry renders the use of Oregon timber for mining purposes in some districts almost essential.
– It is the only timber that “talks.”
– In the language of miners, it is the only timber that “ talks “ before it is going to smash, and thus gives warning to the men who have to work under it.
– Is it not better to use a stronger timber, that can be procured in Australia, and that need not “ talk “ at all?
– That is a laudable ambition, but I remind the honorable member, who represents a farming constituency, and is naturally interested in wire-netting, that those whose lives depended on the merits or demerits of timber used in the industry which they follow, have been able to get Australian timber without having to pay a duty on it, and yet have preferred’ to use a timber on which they have had to pay duty. If the proposed duty is imposed on Oregon timber, those who have been using it for mining purposes may be induced, at the risk of life, to use a timber that is entirely unsuitable, and this may lead to disaster. I am not in favour of anything of that kind, and if other items are to be taken out of their turn, it may f airly be contended that the proposed duty on Oregon timber is one deserving of special consideration. Then there is an increase in the duty on agricultural machinery from 12
– We might have got to wire-netting by now.
– We would have got a long way towards- it, and we have not yet taken a division on a single item of the Tariff to-night. There is sufficient interest behind the items to which other speakers as well as myself have referred, to demand a division on the question of giving them precedence also. I hope the Government will see that the course now proposed to be adopted is a mistaken one, and is likely to lead to tedious debates and divisions to secure precedence for other items in which people are interested.
.- Had there been any prospect of the Committee doing any other business to-night, I should not have attempted to speak. I have been waiting somewhat impatiently , to get on with different items of the Tariff, but I am afraid we are not likely to touch them tonight. The debate, however, has not been without result. I have listened to it for the greater part of the night, and it has shown me the absolute impossibility of the Committee definitely’ deciding that there are items which we can proceed with in preference to others. One honorable member has given us very good reasons for the selection of certain items, and another for the selection of other items, and if we accepted what has been said to-night as proving the need for urgent treatment of the items named, we should pick out a great many items, and deal with the Tariff in a higgedly-piggedly fashion, although by going straight through the schedule we could dispose of our work much more quickly. Until I had heard this discussion, I was under the impression that halfadozen items could fairly be selected for advance consideration, but the Government made a serious mistake in suggesting preference for the wire-netting item alone. What has been said in favour of that course could be urged with equal force in regard to many other items. If any particular duty is inflicting a definite and unavoidable hardship, it is undoubtedly that on magazines. I do not know why the Government imposed it, unless in excessive zeal for the protection of the literary talent of Australia. I think that public opinion is in favour of mingling with Australian literary productions a proportion from outside, and, so far as the public demand affords a criterion, the local productions are not at present sufficient. Therefore, consideration might well be given to the unfortunate importers of magazines in preference to persons affected by the other items which have been mentioned. I ask, too, how will the picking out of items fit in with the proposal to send the Tariff to the Senate in divisions, to accelerate the work of Parliament, and enable us to get back to our constituencies within a reasonable period. Looking at the matter as impartially as I can, I think that we shall be well advised if we continue the consideration of the Tariff in the order of its schedule. If, when doing so, honorable members are as brief as possible, we, who come from distant States, may be able, before the year is out, to make an appearance in our constituencies for the benefit of those who wonder why we find Melbourne so attractive that we spend little time with them, or even in the States which we represent. I hope that the Government will drop the proposal to give special treatment to the wire-netting item.
– In the face of the promise given a week ago?
– I am not aware that a promise was given. The Treasurer may have made a more or less indefinite statement, but, after the discussion which has taken place, he should reconsider the position, and admit the unfairness of taking any one item out of its order. I challenge him, or any other honorable member, to mention half-a-dozen items as urgent which could not be balanced by another halfdozen of equal urgency. Therefore, as sensible men, we should recognise that we can get through our work most quickly by dealing with the items as they . stand in the schedule.
.- I understand that the Treasurer has promised to give first consideration to the wire-netting item, and, therefore, I point out that if that item alone is dealt with, and the duty is reduced, the local manufacturers will be placed in an unfortunate position, because there is a duty of 10 per cent. on. wire, n.e.i., and the wire used to make netting comes chiefly from America.
– Is the honorable gentleman going to vote against the duty on wirenetting ?
– I shall determine that question when I have heard what the Minister and other honorable members have to say for and against the proposal. I intend to vote against the motion, and the amendments which have been moved on it, because I think that the Tariff items should be considered in the order in which they stand in the schedule.
– Is there any virtue in an alphabetical order.
– The order is not alphabetical. The first division of the Tariff deals with stimulants.
– The first item is “Ale.”
– I always understood the word “ spirits “ to begin with the letter “ s.”
– So it does, but “ale” is the first word in that item.
– The. items are arranged in a group system, and not alphabetically.
– I ask the honorable member if there is any merit in the order in which the Tariff has been arranged ?
– The’ order was determined by the persons who prepared the Tariff. It is impossible for the Committee to try to fix the order of the items now. Had the Treasurer come down with a proposal to consider first, not merely one item, but certain items-
– If I had taken half the Tariff, it would have been all right.
– Time after time to-night one item has been mentioned which affects probably more of the poorer people in the country than does any other item, and that is kerosene. I always regret any attempt to set the country against the town or vice versa, but kerosene is an article which is used in town and country alike.
-Not alike. What about the gas in the Yarra electorate?
– There is a supply of gas, and I suppose electricity, in every street in my electorate, but I venture to say that 70 per cent, of the poorest of the people are compelled to use kerosene.
– They cannot cut it off.
– No; but they can cut off the gas.
– What about a slush lamp”?
– Such lamps may be used in the honorable member’s electorate, but they are not used in mine. If the Treasurer had come down with a proposal to take first such an item as kerosene, which affects town and country, alike, and not wire-netting, and not only the last one, to suit one particular class-
– The section of the community which is the backbone of the Commonwealth the honorable member calls a class. If there was no pastoral industry there would be no work for hundreds.
– The honorable member will have an opportunity to express his views by-and-by. I am anxious not te* do any injury to his electorate. He saysthat the squatters are the backbone of the country.
– No; I said that the pastoral’ industry is.
– According to the honorable member, the pastoral industry is the backbone of the country, but that is a matter of opinion. I believe that if the Treasurer had picked out a few other items aswell as the item of wire-netting for early consideration this objection would not have been raised. I object to one item, being picked out for prior consideration, and it is my intention to vote against the amendments of honorable members as well as against the motion of the Minister.
Honorable Members. - Divide !
.- If honorable members are anxious to divide, I am prepared to resume my seat. My chief object in rising is to suggest that after all the debate which has taken place further discussion is not likely to influence a vote. What we want to ascertain is whether a majority of honorable members are in favour of differentiating with regard to the consideration of the items. I think it would have been better if, say, halfadozen items had been selected for prior consideration. If I may be permitted to use the expression, we are not getting any “forader.” Desirous as I am of seeing the item of wire-netting dealt with right away, I intend to support the motionof the Minister. I ask honorable members to allow a vote to be taken at once.
– I am not wanting in sympathy with the farmers. For some years I lived in a farming district, and had the honour of being secretary to a Farmers and Settlers’ Associationfor about three years, so that I know exactly how the rabbit pest affects their interests. I have listened very carefully to the remarks of the honorable member for Parkes and others who have spoken in favour of the item of wire-netting being taken before other items. I certainly did not expect to hear a case made out for the motion by the Acting Prime Minister. Hedid not attempt to show any reasons why the item of wire-netting should be taken first. He simply submitted the motion in order to redeem his promise to afford to the Committee an opportunity of saying whether it desired that’ item to be taken first or not.
– The honorable member may suppose that he had some reasons for making the promise.
– I am not supposing anything of the kind. I believe that if there were any reasons for giving precedence to this particular, item they would have been furnished by the honorable and learned member and other members on his side. But they have not given one solitary reason in support of the motion.
– We gave the reasons to the honorable member last week.
– I may not have been present when they were given, but certainly in this debate no one has shown why the item of wire-netting should be taken before other items. In view of that fact, especially when I remember the ability of some of those who have been urging that the item should be taken first, my conclusion is that there are no reasons to be adduced in favour of the motion.
– I gave a good many reasons.
– I listened very carefully to the honorable member, but did not hear a single reason from him.
– Does not the honorable member think that a duty of £8 10s. on every mile of fencing is a sufficient reason for dealing first with the item of wirenetting?
– I should like to hear how much wire-netting has been imported’ since the Tariff has been laid on the table ?
– Last year we imported 13,885 miles of wire fencing, or , £521,788 worth:
– Last year no duty was collected. What we want to know is how much wire-netting has been imported since the imposition of the duty, and what effect it has had upon the farmers.
– The wire-netting is all in bond.
– Honorable members who, in . the interests of their constituents, have been asking that the item of wire-netting should be taken first, have not given a single reason in favour of our adopting that course, but have simply reiterated that there is a special urgency for dealing with the item, and used other catch phrases of that character.
– I said that persons were waiting for an opportunity to erect thousands of miles of fencing.
– That is a very general statement, which any one could make.
– It is a statement which can be easily verified.
– In endeavouring to make out his case, the honorable member ought to have been careful to verify the statement, and given other reasons in favour of the motion. The only State in which any noise about the duty on wirenetting has been made is New South Wales. The question has been raised there largely for electioneering purposes, and it has been raised here by some honorable members as a mere electioneering placard.
– The honorable member might as well have said that about the duties on hand-made cigarettes.
– Are we going to have an election just now?
– I do not suppose the honorable member is anticipating a Federal election just now, but later on honorable members opposite expect to be able to use their speeches on this motion in order to hoodwink the farmer, and make him believe that they are the men to save the country. I have some facts and figures in connexion with the importation of wirenetting into New South Wales. Prior to the introduction of the Tariff on the 9th August, 42,048 rolls of wire-netting had been imported and passed through the Customs free this year. Since the introduction of the Tariff, there have been imported 16,062 rolls. Each roll contains about 100 yards each, so that less than 1,000 miles have been brought to New South Wales.
– Has that wirenetting been taken out of bond?
– How does the honorable member know?
– I am relying on the statements of Mr. Carruthers, the exPremier of New South Wales.
– Those figures relate only to the importation ; the wirenetting may be in bond waiting the decision in regard to the duty.
– Lysaght Brothers turn out about 335 miles of wirenetting per week, so that the wire-netting imported by New South Wales represents about three weeks’ work; and yet we have all this noise created in New South Wales about the duty on wire-netting. The amount of ‘duty collectable on the 16,062 rolls is £5,827, of which the threefourths returnable to New South Wales is estimated at £4,529> though it is believed by the Federal Government that, probably, £247 over and above that three-fourths will be returned to the State. We’ find, therefore, that the New South Wales Government will have to pay only a net amount of less than £1,000 in duty; and Mr. Perry, a member of the New South Wales Government, has, within the last few days, issued a circular stating that his Government intend to deduct from the price to the farmer the amount tnat is returnable by the Federal Government. As a matter of fact, on the total quantity of wirenetting introduced since the Tariff was pre- , sented, the duty amounts to less than £1,000, spread over the primary producers of New South Wales.
– That is the wirenetting imported by the New South Wales Government, but what about the importations by merchants?
– In view of the proposal of the New South Wales Government to repay the returnable proportion of the revenue from the duty to the purchasers, merchants who imported wire-netting would be nothing short of lunatics. When I compare the amount of duty represented by the importations of wire-netting with the dutv represented by other items in the Tariff, I am somewhat amused at the action of honorable members who would have us believe that they are desirous of removing taxation from the poorer people in the community. For instance, duty to the amount of £13,416 was collected on sago and tapioca last year. Why should that item not take precedence over wire-netting?
– Will the honorable member vote for taking the duty off sago and tapioca when we reach the item ?
– Yes. On coffee, duty . to the amount of £20,973 was collected last year; and yet this is supposed to be not so important as the £1,000 duty, due on wire-netting. Last year the duty paid on currants was £79,257 ; on matches, £41,583; on preserved milk, £44,999 ; on rice, under one heading, £53,528, and under another heading, £47,613; and on fish, £64,074 - a total taxation of close upon £350,000, which affects most seriously the working classes.
– Oh wire-netting, in one year, £135,000 would have been collected on the basis of the proposed duty of 25 per cent., the importations being valued at over £500,000.
– Last year, the value of the importations was £521,000 odd.
– Lysaght Brothers have guaranteed, to charge £1 less for wire-netting than the rate at which it can be imported.
– Where is the guarantee?
– I understand that the Treasurer will make a statement later on regarding this matter.
– Is that £1 less than was charged before the duty was imposed?
Mr.J. H. CATTS.- Lysaght Brothers are prepared to make an agreement to charge £1 less per ton than the standard rate for imported wire-netting ; and if they continue to manufacture 335 miles per week, and make the guarantee I have indicated, the figures which applied last year will, we may fairly assume, not apply next year.
– There is a difference of £4 per ton in the contract price.
– I understand that in connexion with the imiportations by the New South Wales Government, Lysaght Brothers proposed to supply wire-netting at only 10s. more than the price of the imported article.
– They made up the 10s. by extra charge for freight.
– No; taking all the charges into consideration, the local article was to be only 10s. more than the imported article.
– I believe their netting is a different gauge altogether.
-I understand the wire-netting is of the same gauge. I contend that there is not the pressing urgency in connexion with wire-netting that there is in connexion with the other items of daily consumption I have mentioned. Not a solitary reason has been advanced for giving precedence to wire-netting; and I should not feel justified in supporting any proposal to take the items out of their order. By adhering to the Tariff as placed before us, we shall more readily reach those items which deal with the necessaries of life, and in which the great masses of the people are vitally interested.
– The subject under consideration is one of vital importance to the people in my electorate. I- refrained from taking part in the debate earlier, because I hoped to have an opportunity to speak on the main question. But I now recognise that it is impossible to reach the item to-night. Some honorable members have manifested a fearful and wonderful desire to speak all round the Tariff without reaching the main issue. I do not suppose that if the present objection to an immediate consideration of the duty on wire-netting had not been taken, we should by this time have been any nearer to the point at which we are aiming, because some other issue would have been raised, which would have caused delay. I hold that the Government are not only meeting the wishes of a large number of honorable members, but are endeavouring to consult the interests of the Commonwealth in proposing to bring forward the item at an early stage of the debate upon the Tariff. Of course, I recognise that there are other items which are of primary importance.
– But the Minister says that this is the only one which he intends to take out of its order.
– I am prepared to give similar precedence to other important items.
– It is a pity the honorable member is not the leader of the Government.
– It is of no use regretting the impossible. The honorable member who interjects has advocated that special consideration should be given to kerosene. The people of my electorate are as vitally interested in that’ item as are those of his constituency. There is no heed to enter into the history of the rabbit invasion, but some honorable members have failed to realize that the rabbit evil has extended from the purely pastoral areas into the agricultural districts, and that unless special efforts are made to assist the farmers to protect their holdings, the whole country will suffer. City men, like the honorable member for Dalley, seem to think that this is a question of minor importance. But they will soon discover that unless the rabbit pest is coped with the very source of the wealth of this community will be dried up. I was astonished to hear honorable members urging that the whole Tariff, with its 444 items, should be taken as it stands, and that no precedence should -be given to major over minor items. In my opinion, the whole debate would be demoralized by such a proceeding. We should have the important items wedged in amongst’ a number of minor importance.
– Does the honorable member recollect any deviation from the order of a Tariff during its consideration by Parliament ?
– Yes, and in regard to this very matter. In 1902, the general duties affecting the iron duties were postponed for the purpose of giving consideration to wire-netting. I do not understand how the honorable member for Cook, with his knowledge of country conditions, can fail to appreciate the reason why the Government of New South Wales, departing from the policy of non-interference in commercial matters, entered into competition with private enterprise in the importation of wire-netting. Does not the honorable member think that, before any Government would take such a drastic step, it would .have urgent reasons behind it? They did it for the purpose of assisting the primary producer.
– Nothing can 1be more urgent than duties affecting the food of the people.
– The food of the people is dependent upon this question. The honorable member may soon find that the food of the people of his electorate has been dried up at its source if the rabbit pest is not effectually dealt with.
– In the last analysis, every political question is one of fond, but we do not live on wire-netting, for all that.
– I hold that this is a matter of primary importance in connexion with our food supplies. I know men in mv electorate who have cultivated their land for thirty-five years without loss from rabbit destruction. But during the last two years they have practically lost all that they have put into the land, not through drought, but through destruction by rabbits. Last year they had to buy fodder in Svdney, at a very high price, to feed their stock - not because their fodder crops failed, but because . the rabbits ate them. Some honorable members do not seem to realize the seriousness of the position. Surely, however, they must see that the State Government would not have taken the drastic action that it did in connexion with this question had there not been something urgent behind it. They imported wire-netting for the purpose of obtaining it as cheaply as possible for the use of men who are compelled to protect their holdings. If the Government could have bought it from Lysaghts directly, or from any other manufacturers within the Commonwealth equally cheaply, they would have done so. On making inquiries at leading warehouses, I found that Messrs. Lysaght Brothers would not supply, small land-owners with wire-netting; that they had to be supplied by the warehouses, and that the squatters who were prepared to place large orders with the firm were told that their orders could not be executed for nine or twelve months. When the Government introduced the Tariff, I obtained from leading Sydney houses quotations for wirenetting on behalf of my constituents, and found that Lysaght Brothers’ A and B brands were, being retailed in Sydney at from £40 to £45 per mile. On the other hand, the Government were supplying for £26 per mile imported wire-netting equal to, if not better than, that manufactured by Lysaght Brothers, and retailed at £40 per mile. An honorable member has told us that Lysaght Brothers have reduced their prices by £1 per mile. That is a mere bagatelle. Even with such a reduction the price of Lysaght Brothers’ netting would be considerably in excess of that charged by the Government for imported netting, plus the duty. Honorable members are anxious to look after the interests of the workers engaged in the industry. A few months ago there appeared in the newspapers reports showing that men were working for Lyiaght Brothers at sweating wages. Experts received only about £2 per week, and the remuneration of others was so low that they went on strike. Many of them, failing to secure the desired terms, sought other avocations rather than return to the factory under the old conditions.
– Are there no Wages Boards in New1 South Wales?
– No. We have there a Conciliation and Arbitration Court, and those interested in sweating manage to spike the wheels of that industrial machine, and so hamper its effectiveness. And yet honorable members say that they have not heard any argument in support of the contention that preference should be given to the consideration of this item. The arguments are so patent that every one must recognise them. The exMinister for Lands in New South Wales,
Mr. Ashton, when the duty was first proposed, said -
Of the 4,000 miles to be supplied under the current Government contract, about 2,500 have been delivered, leaving about 1,500 miles yet to be delivered. Of this, about 480 miles will arrive next week, on which the Government will have to pay duty to the extent of over£3,000.
The imposition of the duty raised by £3,000 the price of the wire-netting imported by the State and in the process of being delivered -
At present, wire-netting is free. The total duty payable in respect of the quantity yet to be received under the contract, is about£10,000, and having regard to the average quantity of netting per individual up to date, that ; £10,000 will be paid by about 500 persons.
He went on to say that -
The duty will increase the price of 42-inch wire-netting from£26 to , £32 10s. per mile, and the 36-inch wire-netting from £22 10s. to£28 4s. 2d. i
These figures show how the duty will affect users of wire-netting. At a later date, Mr. Ashton intimated that the Government had applications for 9,000 miles of it.
– Does’ not the honorable member think it would be very much tetter if the industry were under the ownership and control of the State?
– I do. The Government have been forced by the conditions obtaining in New South Wales to import wire-netting. Finding that the importers and manufacturers, taking advantage of the demand for wire-netting, had put up the price, and that in this way the wealth of the country was being sapped at its source, the Government determined to step in and assist the primary producers by making direct importations. Only one step has to be taken from State importation to the State manufacture of netting.
– What were the wages paid on the imported netting ?
– I do not know.
– I suppose the honorable member does not care.
– I certainly do care. I referred just now to the sweating conditions prevailing in the industry in New South Wales, and to the fact that wire-netting manufactured there was being retailed at from £40 to . £45 per mile.
– What were the factory charges ?
– I cannot say. The prices I have quoted were furnished by several retail merchants in Sydney, including Messrs. Anthony Hordern and Sons. The demand for wire-netting on the part of ourprimary producers has led the Victorian Government to propose to erect machinery for its manufacture here.
– In Pentridge gaol.
– So long as good work is done, I do not think that there will be any objection on that score. The primary producers, at all events, will be assisted by the adoption of the course proposed by the Government of Victoria. Those who say that this matter is not urgent argue against evidence submitted to them every day by means of deputations, circulars, and other representations. Only to-day, I handed to the Treasurer a sheaf of communications that I had received from representative bodies of all” kinds in my electorate - resolutions, passed at public meetings by Farmers and Settlers! Associations, Pastures Protection Boards, local shire councils, and other bodies. I do not think that any other item in the Tariff has evoked somuch criticism as this one has done. I know of no duty that has called for more unanimous condemnation than the impost upon wire-netting.I hope that the Government will stand by their guns in regard to the motion to give priority of consideration to the item. I recognise that thereare other important items in . the schedule, which the Government would be wise to bring forward as speedily as possible. In that way, they would reach a more satisfactory settlement of the Tariff, and the minor items would not be debated at such great length, but would be practically dealt with on a vote of the Committee. Let us get to the important items, so that the (Committee may not be on pins and needles, waiting for months to know when an important item will be considered, while a number of minor ones are being talked to death, or used, as a means of blocking the fair consideration of those of more importance, affecting a large section of the community. I regret that the. Government have met with so much opposition to the motion, but I trust that they will adhere to the Iposition they have taken up, and get the more important items out of the road as speedily as possible.
.- The honorable member for Cook stated that he was at a loss to know why members who were in favour of the motion to . give priority of consideration to wire-netting did not stand up and defend it. The reason is that we have nothing to defend. I congratulate the Minister on the proposal to bring wire-netting on first. Instead of a duty being imposed on wirenetting, a bonus should be given to the farmers for using it. I notice that the only members who are opposing the motion are those representing large centres of population.
– They have been weeping over the cigarette makers for a week, and now they cannot drop a tear for the farmer.
– That is . perfectly true. If this was an item affecting manufacturers in Melbourne, the whole of those honorable members would be howling for it to be placed first, but the position is different when it is a question of helping a primary industry. I interjected that so far as the primary industries were concerned, we were getting no help at all from this Government. We do not look for any, because we know that we shall not get it. The honorable member for Cook, who was armed with a mass of figures, said that the manufacturers of wire-netting in New South Wales had given the Treasurer the assurance that the price of their product would always be £1 under that of the imported article. How good the honorable member is to give that assurance ! The price of wire-netting fluctuates in the same way as does the price of any metal, and we thank him for nothing. The pastoral and agricultural industries of Australia are the backbone of the Commonwealth. They have to send their produce abroad.
– Do not forget the mining industry.
Mr.PAGE. - I shall allow the honorable member for Barrier to look after that. My constituency is purelypastoral and agricultural. There is a little mining, but not much. The whole of the western portions of Queensland are devoted to pastoral and agricultural pursuits. I am reminded by the Attorney-General that there is an alluvial gold mine at Clermont, silvermines at Anakie, and opal mines in the far south-western and central western portions of Queensland. The people there,’ however, are as anxious as any one else for this item to be settled quickly. The present duty on wire-netting means £810s. a mile extra to those who use the article. Rabbits are coming across into central Queensland, and will very soon be in. your electorate, Mr.- Chairman. No doubt you will be in favour of the duty being removed, or of the item being considered first. The bonds are full of wirenetting. A merchant told me in Brisbane last week that he did not know where to store it, that the bonds .were full, and that people would not take it out.
– Cannot we take a -vote ?
– If the honorable member is prepared to go to a vote, I. am quite satisfied. No one could have made a more earnest speech on this question than the honorable member for Calare. The honorable member for Cook stated .that he was secretary to a Farmers and Settlers’ Association. If I had anything to do with that body, I would sack him to-night, for I am satisfied, after his speech about wirenetting, that he does not represent anybody but a metropolitan constituency. This question of wire-netting means practically keeping the home over the head of many settlers, not only in my constituency, but in Victoria, and in New South Wales in particular. I ask honorable members to afford one of the primary industries a chance of surviving the shock which the Government have given to it.
.- I do not know what the feeling of the Treasurer is with reference to the amendments to add other items. A number of those items I would most cheerfully vote to give precedence to. I look upon mining machinery, for- instance, as presenting one of the most urgent questions of the Tariff, and if the Minister is willing to add that to his list I shall be glad. I hope that he will do so, but as the honorable gentleman consented to the wish of a large number of honorable members to take the item of wirenetting out of its turn, those of us who were instrumental in inducing him to take that course ought to give him. our best support now that he has taken it. In these circumstances, unless the Government accept the amendments-
– I cannot.
– Now that the Government have selected this item in response to the requests of a great many of us, the least we can do is to support them. If the Treasurer will not take the same course with regard to the other items mentioned
– The right honorable member is surely not questioning our right to propose them?
– Not at all. I should be as slow to question the right of Niagara to tumble over the precipice. But I feel that the item of wire-netting does stand in a most peculiar position of urgency, in reference to the terrible inroads of the rabbits, not only on the great pastoral holdings, but on the farms of Australia. The men who are working those farms do not make £20,000 a year profit, as do the manufacturers of cigarettes. They make no large profits out of the cheap labour of ios. or 12s. a week. They have the hardest possible work to maintain themselves and their families. The rabbits are the greatest enemy which they have to combat, and under the circumstances it seems to me that the representatives of the city constituencies ought to co-operate with the re.presentatives of the country districts in getting the duty upon wire-netting settled immediately. I am’ sorry that one or two other items have not been added to that of wire-netting. If the Treasurer is able to do so, I hope that at a later stage he will give further prominence to some of these items. But I cannot ask him to do more than he has promised to do, and I shall certainly support him in the action which he has taken.
.- I ask the Treasurer to report progress.
Several Honorable Members. - Oh, no.
– It is all very well for those who already have had their say on this question to exclaim “Oh, no.” But on Tuesday evening it has been customary to adjourn a little earlier than usual. Will the Treasurer consent to report progress?
Sir WILLIAM LYNE (Hume- Treasurer [10.37]. - In acting as I have done today I have endeavoured to carry out what appeared to be a general wish on the part of honorable members. My own impression was that it would have been better to proceed with the consideration of the items of the Tariff in the order in which they appear in the schedule. I said so from the beginning, and I believe that less time will be sacrificed by adopting that course than will otherwise be the case. But as I promised the other night to give precedence to the consideration of the duty upon wirenetting, I have attempted to respect my promise. At the same time I cannot afford to allow the question to be debated at undue, length. It should be settled immediately, or we should proceed with the discussion of the items of the Tariff in the order in which they have been arranged. Of course I cannot agree to the amendments which have been submitted. If I did so I should have to accept every other proposition of a similar character which might be brought forward. Perhaps I acted unwisely the other evening in making the promise that I did. But if I agree to further amendments what will be the result? Every honorable member will naturally desire that the item in which he is specially interested shall be given precedence. I do not know whether any other honorable members intend to speak to the motion tonight. At any rate I do not wish to have to-morrow spoiled by the continuation of this discussion. I desire to proceed with something definite to-morrow. If honorable members wish to get on with the items of the Tariff they will assist the Government to decide whether precedence shall be given to the consideration of the duty on wire-netting.’ I cannot consent to any of the amendments proposed.
– The Treasurer selected the worst item of the lot.
– It is not a matter for me personally to consider. I gave a certain promise, and I have endeavoured to carry it out. I do not desire to waste any more time. The discussion which has taken place only serves to show how very difficult it is to select any item in the Tariff, and to give it precedence. I know perfectly well the way in which the Tariff is viewed from the hundreds of petitions which have passed through my hands. I shall not attempt to discuss -the matter upon its merits at the present stage. I cannot accept the amendments submitted, and I will ask their authors to withdraw them, and to allow us to proceed with business.
– Let us divide now.
– I do not know that honorable members are willing to divide. I cannot do anything more than I promised to do the other evening. If honorable members are prepared to support the Government in rejecting the amendments, or if their authors will withdraw them, I shall be glad. But I hope that we shall have this matter settled as quickly as possible.
.- The Treasurer appears anxious to get to a division upon this matter, and I have no desire to prevent him from doing so. I have something to say in regard to the proposed duty upon wire-netting, but I shall reserve my remarks until the item is under consideration.
.- If progress were reported, I think that this matter might be very easily arranged. Let us take a common-sense view of the situation, and agree to divide to-morrow upon each of the proposals submitted, without debate. The matter could then be determined in a few minutes.
– The honorable member has got his cigarettes through.
– The honorable member had better keep his dirty remarks in his own dirty duck-house:
– Order ! The honorable member must withdraw that remark.
– I withdraw the “ dirty duck-house.”
– Why this bad blood?
– I am not exhibiting the slightest bad blood, but there seems to be a blind eye when the honorable member is interjecting. Nobody interjects so much as he does. I think that the Chairman would be well advised if he saw an oculist in regard to his left eye.
– The honorable member must withdraw that remark.
– I withdraw it with pleasure. The question as to the items to which precedence should be given might very quickly be settled if we agreed to divide upon the items without debate.
, - The Treasurer has stated that he cannot accept the amendments moved by the honorable member for Dalley and myself. I am very sorry that he cannot do so. I recognise that the honorable gentleman is taking up this position because the Opposition are going to support him. I hope they will support him throughout the Tariff, and throughout his administration. The support he will get from the Opposition to-night will be given because it suits their book. When we consider who the members of the Opposition are, and the interests they are- generally found supporting, the Treasurer, who is supposed to lead a liberal Administration does not appear very happily placed. For my part, the honorable gentleman must choose between the support of the Opposition and my support and that of honorable members who think with me. I make that statement flatly, and without any qualification or reservation of any kind. The Treasurer tells us that he is very sorry’ but that he must keep the promise he has made. Of course the honorable gentleman is very sorry, but he is not half so sorry as he will be if he is not very careful. The right honorable member for East Sydney says that he is very glad to see the Treasurer in this position. Of course he is. I remember that when the honorable member for South Sydney, on one important occasion, when he was Prime Minister, said, that he could not accept a certain proposal, the righthonorable member for East Sydney said that was a manly and straightforward course, and he admired the honorable member for it. But why did he admire the honorable member for ‘South Sydney on that occasion? It was because he had got him in a. cleft stick, and down he went. He is taking up the same position now with regard to the Treasurer.
– The Treasurer is doing what I asked him to do, and how can I complain ?
– Undoubtedly ; but what support can the Treasurer expect from the Opposition ? The position I occupy, so far as the Tariff is concerned, is an entirely free one. I am absolutely free to do as I please in connexion with it. I am not bound, as is the leader of the Opposition and those behind him, to support a free-trade or any other Tariff. I can allow myself the luxury of doing as I please. That is a luxury which no honorable member on the other side, who heels the ticket, can ever permit himself to enjoy with safety.
– The honorable gentleman will only do it when he can do it safely.
– The Treasurer had no call to make this promise carry any further than was originally intended. It was intended to give an opportunity for a discussion on the advisableness of giving preferential consideration’ to the wire-netting item. That opportunity has been given, and it cannot be said that business has thereby been expedited. For my part, I say, emphatically, that the majority of the people of the country are not as much concerned about the item of wire-netting as about many others. It is clearly my duty to oppose the proposal, and I intend to do so.- If the Treasurer has a majority at his command, let him do what he pleases, but I suggest that he owes it to honorable members to adjourn at the usual hour. If he proposes to make a trial of strength, I have no doubt that in the end hie will win. If he permits the adjournment at a reasonable time, and is of the same opinion to-morrow, and intends to force this proposal through, I shall do no more than press my amendment to a division, and leave it at that.
.- We are witnessing an extraordinary enthusiasm to proceed with the country’s business on the part of honorable members who, at this time on Tuesday evenings, usually plead for an adjournment, on the ground that they have made a long train journey. In view of the position reached in connexion with this matter to-night, the Treasurer would be well advised to give honorable members an opportunity to think out some solution of the difficulty. After the speech delivered by the honorable gentleman, we must resist his proposal. ‘ He has stated that, whatever may be the fate of this particular proposal to take the item of wire-netting out of its turn, he will resist a similar proposal in connexion with any other item. I hope that if a division is to be taken in this matter an opportunity will be given honorable members to bring forward items which they believe to be of more importance than the item of wire-netting, and that the precedence to be afforded to their consideration may be tested without undue debate.
– There is nothing to prevent honorable members from doing that.
– It may prevent that being done if there is to be a clay’s discussion over each proposal brought forward. The Treasurer might say that he will give honorable members an opportunity to secure precedence of consideration for any other item without undue debate.
– How can I possibly say I will do so without undue debate ?
– The Minister does not seem to favour my suggestion, and I admit that it is reeking with difficulty.’ It is for that reason that I think it would be better to adjourn now so that time might be given for the consideration of the way out of the difficulty.
– I do not wish to have to-morrow wasted.
– I amwith the honorable gentleman in his desire that time should not be wasted. I wish the Tariff to be proceeded with without delay, but I am desirous that other interests besides those concerned in wire-netting shall be given consideration, and so long as I represent my present constituency I shall see that they get it.
– How does the honorable member know that we are not willing to help him?
– I do not know that honorable members opposite are not willing to help in the matter, but the Treasurer seems disposed to agree to the consideration of the item of wire-netting out of its turn, and to absolutely taboo any proposal for precedence for any other item. That, in my opinion, is a wrong decision. If the Treasurer will not allow us an opportunity to consider this matter between now and to-morrow’s sitting, the decision arrived at will probably cause endless trouble in connexion with the consideration of other items.
– These are threats.
– The honorable member is used to threats. I assure the Committee that, if the Standing Orders will permit it to be done, I shall test the feeling of honorable members in regard to certain other items.
– There is nothing to prevent that.
– There are some very important items between item 26 and item 187. If the Minister’s motion is agreed to, they will be postponed until the wirenetting item has been disposed of.
– That will not take five minutes.
– Under the ruling of the Chairman, it will be difficult to get a decision as to the order in which other items are to be dealt with, and, if progress is not to be reported now, the whole subject should be fully discussed.
.- I do not intend to plead with the Treasurer for the doing of this or that, nor shall I threaten what I intend to do. The Standing Orders are sufficient for me. The evening has been occupied in discussing proposals for postponement, seriously or not seriously.
– Not seriously.
– So far as I am concerned, the discussion has been serious, and I shall prove that by fighting with all my strength for my proposals. It is a mere mockery for honorable members to say that preference should be given to the wirenetting item, and to items affecting the food supplies of the community, and then allow the wire-netting- item alone to be dealt with out of its order. The Treasurer had no right to propose an alteration of the order of procedure. If items . are to be dealt with out of their order, honorable memlbers will never be safe in leaving the Chamber, because they will never know when matters in which they are particularly interested will be considered. The Treasurer said last week that he would not allow public business to be taken out of his hands, but to-night he is practically allowing that. He does not believe in his own motion. He said that he regarded the applications for preference to the wirenetting item as hysterical, and that if there were to be a long discussion on the motion it should not be gone on with. That was a clear invitation to honorable members to show a strong case against the proposal. I have put forward a strong case for the early consideration of the duties on food supplies, and I look to every member of the Labour Party to support me. ‘
– Why cannot , we agree in regard to these matters?
– There is too much silent agreement. It is marvellous that there should be agreement in regard to the wirenetting item and not in regard to other im-. portant items. Is it because the other duties affect the poor, and they have no friends at court?
– The . poor never have friends.
– Except the honorable member and myself. There is always the Labour Party and the honorable member for Dalley. These duties are more important than the duty on wire-netting. Even the leader of the Opposition has said that he would like other items considered early.
– Some of them.
– I cannot understand honorable members supporting the proposal to give early consideration to the wire-netting item, and not supporting the proposal to give early consideration to other items. I appeal to free-traders to support my proposals. Apparently the Treasurer is inviting the Committee to reduce the duty on wire-netting, because, if it is not to be reduced, nothing is to be gained by dealing with it in advance. If a Victorian industry were at stake, the Victorian protectionists would be the last to allow an item affecting it to be taken out of its order, and would be ready to stop ‘up allnight to prevent it. I take my stand in this matter as an independent. I trust that the Treasurer will consent to report progress, but if he does not, he can look forward to discussion on all the proposals which are before the Committee.
Honorable Members. - Divide !
.- I think that we should now come to a division ; but no one can reproach me with unduly occupying time. Much as honorable members differ in regard to the order in which the Tariff items should be dealt with, I think that nothing will be gained by having a wrangle on the subject.
– The sitting has already been wasted.
– If a mistake has been made by the Treasurer, it must be remembered that mistakes are often made, and this one will not be remedied by reporting progress now, and continuing the discussion to-morrow. Let the matter be disposed of at this sitting.
. I suggest, as a compromise, that the amendments be withdrawn, and the Minister released from his promise regarding the wire-netting item.
– That is a good proposal.
– It is the simplest way out of the difficulty. It is evident, from the interjections of the honorable member for Parkes, that it is intended that there shall be an interminable discussion on every item in the Tariff. If that is attempted, I shall be prepared to vote for the application of the gag. I do not regard to-night’s discussion as unprofitable. It has shown that some honorable members as sincerely desire other items to have precedence as others desire that the wirenetting item shall be dealt with first, and they have just as great a claim to consideration. If my suggestion be not adopted, we must face the prospect indicated by the intimation of honorable members that they will use every means they can to block the Tariff.
– No one has said that.
– That has been made very clear. Some honorable members may be inclined to support some of the proposals of the honorable member for West Sydney, but not all of them, and so with the proposals of the honorable member for Dalley, and unless my compromise is adopted, the discussion may be interminable. If the Minister is desirous of getting on with the Tariff, he will see that effect is given to my suggestion.
– Do I understand, sir, that a division is to be taken on my proposition to amend the amendment of the honorable member for West Sydney, and that, if that question is resolved in the negative, it will preclude any further discussion?
– It will be competent for any honorable member to discuss the original motion.
– I want to know, sir, the question which will be first put to the Committee ?
– The Treasurer moved a motion ; the honorable member for West Sydney moved an amendment to except certain items from the operation of the motion, anc! then the honorable member for Dalley moved to add certain items in the amendment.
– What are the items, sir ?
– The honorable member for Dalley has moved to add to the amendment the following words, Items 34, 42, S4A, 94, 107 and 126.”
– The difficulty, I see, sir, is that some honorable members may desire to. vote for a single item in the list submitted by the honorable member for Dalley, but may not be in favour of voting for the whole of . the items in that list.
– They can move a further amendment.
– No. After having negatived the whole of the items in the list, it will not be competent for the Committee to reverse its decision.
– I thought I was going to be supported in my endeavour to deal with this matter to-night. I cannot stop honorable members from going on in this way if they wish.
– I notice that when any honorable member on this side rises, the Treasurer immediately becomes restive. If the matter is made clear to me, I will resume my seat at once. Suppose, sir, that the proposal of the honorable member for Dalley to add these items to the amendment is negatived, I take it that it will not be in order for an honorable member to propose the preferential treatment of one of those items bv itself ?
– If the amendment of the honorable member for Dalley is negatived, it will not be possible for any honorable member to move the insertion of any new items in the amendment of the honorable member for West Sydney.
– Precisely ; and, therefore, in this case, we should follow the rule of taking the items one at a time.
– If that is going to be done, I will not agree to anything.
– The honorable gentleman is most unreasonable when any suggestion is made from this side of the Chamber. He is as patient as Job when anything is said on the other side, but the moment an honorable member on this side rises, he begins to get restive.
– I know what thehonorable member is driving at.
– The honorable gentleman imagines that he knows a lot. I submit, sir, that the items should be taken seriatim.
– At the suggestion of the honorable member for East Sydney, I moved that all the items up to item 187, except certain items, should be postponed. Will not the question put to the Committee be that the words proposed to be added be so added ?
Mr. Chanter. No; an amendment has been moved to the amendment of the honorable member.
.- I do not desire, sir, to give a vote for or against the question until I know what it is. I certainly would vote for the consideration of some of the items which the honorable member for Dalley has included in his amendment, and against others of them. Therefore, I hope that after the suggestion made by the honorable member for Parramatta-
– I will not accept any one of the items, nor will the Government. There will be a very serious crisis if honorable members are not careful.
– The honorable gentleman is mistaking me altogether. The deputy leader of the Opposition asked that the items should be dealt with separately.
– Order ! It is impossible for me to follow honorable members who rise to questions of order while loud conversations are carried on in the chamber.
– I merely desire to ascertain the question on which I am asked to vote, and, so far as it is possible, I intend to find out what it is. If the items could be taken separately, I would know whether to vote for or against them. But I object to being called upon to vote in globo for a number of items, some of which only have my support.
– Under standing order 122, the Committee may order a complicated question to be divided. I am not quite sure that this is a complicated question, but if the Committee thinks that it is, it has the power to order that the items shall be put separately. At the present time, however, I must put the amendment exactly as it was moved by the honorable member for Dalley.
.- Do I understand, sir, that you intend to put the amendment in globo?
– Then I shall have to give reasons why the various items should be considered. “ The first item deals with sago and tapioca.
– Will the honorable member allow me to make a suggestion with regard to the putting of the question?
.- With all due respect to the opinion of a number of honorable members, I think that this is a complicated question. The Treasurer submitted a motion to postpone all items up to item 187; the . honorable member for West Sydney moved to exempt certain items from the operation of the postponement, and the honorable member for Dalley then moved an amendment to exempt further items. I think that the intention of the honorable members when submitting their proposals was to test the general question as to whether items were to be- considered out of their turn, and then to make an application to have them considered subsequently. I suggest, as a suitable means of testing the question, that the movers of amendments temporarily withdraw their amendments, and that, instead of selecting item 187, a test division be taken on item 28. The result of the division might be taken as an indication whether or not we should proceed ‘ with item 187, , and my proposal would not have the damaging effect of excluding every other item, in the event of the amendments, of the honorable member for Dalley . and the honorable -member for West Sydney being rejected.
– It is not my intention to insist on all the items I have mentioned as being of sufficient importance for urgent treatment, but to protest against the taking of wirenetting by itself. Of course, if the Committee decide to give precedence to nothing but wire-netting we can do no more. I took exception to the statement of the Treasurer that the Committee could not agree on a selection of items, and said there was no way of finding that out until we had something definite before the Committee. I am quite willing to take an earlier item selected by the honorable memfor Dalley as a test item. At present I do not see that it is necessary to withdraw my amendment, because the item referred to by the honorable member for Dalley is ahead of mine. I suggest that a division be taken on the item suggested by the honorable member for Dalley, when there will be no necessity to divide on the question relating to item 187. But if we are to be kept here until we decide, in regard to item 187, I shall feel morally bound to support the honorable member for Dalley, and he, of course, will support me, and we shall be here all night. All-night sittings do not appeal to me, but I know that if we reach a certain stage, we -shall remain here.
.- No one objects more than I do myself to all-night sitings. The items I have selected are sago, tapioca, candles, currants, rice, apparel, and woollens, and I select these in order that the Committee may have an opportunity of saying that if there is to be any precedence it shall not be confined to wire netting, but shall extend to the necessaries of life. The honorable member for Kalgoorlie has made a wise suggestion, but I do not see why he has selected item 28.
– Any early item will suit my purpose.
– I have selected agricultural products and groceries as a means of indicating that the Committee are desirous that if there is to be any precedence, it shall not be confined to wire-netting. The necessaries of life are quite as important as the industry of wire-netting. If the Committee add sago and tapioca to the items to which precedence shall be given, I understand the result will be to give precedence to wire-netting and five or six other items. But even if the Committee do not fall in with my proposal, the difficulty will not be got over, because as soon as wire-netting has been dealt with I shall move that precedence be given to items embracing the necessaries of life. I ask leave to withdraw my amendment with a view to the taking, of a test vote on item 34, sago and tapioca.
Amendment of the amendment, by leave, withdrawn.
Amendment of the amendment (by Mr.
Wilks) proposed -
That the figures “34”. be added.
– I should like to understand theposition. The honorable member for Kal-, goorlie proposes, I believe, to test the question whether or not other items than wirenetting shall also be taken. That, however, does not take us much further, because there still remains the question as towhich items shall be selected, if we decide to take other items.
– I suppose that if theCommittee decide not to add the if em of sago and tapioca, we shall proceed to deal with item 187.
– But not with other items.
– After we have dealt withitem 187, honorable members will be freeto propose precedence to other items.
– That would be to re-open the debate, after we had closed it by deciding to take item 187. We areproposing to make a further selection. It seems to me that’ that will lead to a difficulty. Anxious as I have been to see someother items put in the preferential cate-. gory, I am bound to say that we shall land’ ourselves in difficulties, and I shall, therefore, be compelled to confine my vote for the present to special treatment being givento wire-netting.
– I understand that honorable members are agreed that a vote with reference to giving special treatment to theitem tapioca is not to be considered as an expression of opinion on the item itself. It will merely be a test concerning the desire of some honorable members to givespecial consideration to other items thanwirenetting. Of course, any honorablemember has a right to move that special consideration be given to any item. That right cannot be taken away. I hope that we shall now come to a division, the result of which will show, the extent to which honorable members desire to take items out of their regular order.
Question - That item 34, proposed to beadded to the amendment (Mr. Hughes’),, be so added - put.
Ayes … … … 4
Noes … … … 46
Majority … … 42
Amendment of the amendment negatived.
Question - That the motion be agreed to - put. The Committee divided.
Majority … … 23
Motion (by Sir William Lyne) proposed -
That the House do now adjourn.-
.- The honorable member for Parramatta last week expressed the opinion that there was some little inconsistency on my part in saying that during the general elections campaign I was not questioned about my attitude towards Tariff reform,’ and did not promise at any meeting to occupy a position on either side of the fiscal fence, while at the same time admitting that later on I sent out circulars to the manutacturers -in my electorate seeking information under a’ number of headings to enable me to carry out my Tariff pledges. As a matter of fact, I stated inmy manifesto that I would weigh the evidence for and agains* every item coming before Parliament, ana vote in accordance with what I believed to be the best interests of the country. I sent out the circular in order that I might be in a position to give’ effect to the . promise I had made to deal fairly with all interests affected by the fiscal question. The honorable member for Parramatta has strained the matter a good deal to make some incon-. sistency out of what I said, but if he will look at my speech, he will see that I was quite consistent. I did not pledge myself at the elections on either side of the fiscal fence. What I said was that I would try to deal fairly with every item:
– I beg to draw attention, to the state of the House. - [Quorum-
– The honorable member for Corangamite need not have interrupted me. I had about finished what I intended to say. I wanted information in order to be able to deal fairly with the different interests presented, particularly in connexion with my own electorate. I think I did quite right in trying to get the fullest information upon every industry in my electorate, so that when I had to give a vote here, I should not be voting in the dark. If the honorable member for Parramatta imagines that he can find any inconsistency in the two statements which T have made, I do not think he wilt succeed, if he bears what I have said in mind.
– I am sure that I am not going to try.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
House adjourned at 11.47 P-m-
Cite as: Australia, House of Representatives, Debates, 8 October 1907, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/hofreps/1907/19071008_reps_3_40/>.