3rd Parliament · 2nd Session
Mr. Speaker took the chair at 10.30 a.m., and read prayers.
– I desire to ask the Minister of Trade and Customs whether his attention has been called to a cablegram which appears in this ‘morning’s newspapers, in reference to the compulsory disclosure to the public of the contents of patent medicines, and to the action which is being taken by those interested in the matter in England? I also wish to know whether it is the vested interests at work which are responsible for the reluctance of the Government to introduce the Bill dealing with this question, which has been promised for a long time past?
– In reply to the honorable member, I may say that I have seen the cable to which he refers. I can assure him that the Government are not reluctant to introduce a Bill.
– It is more than twelve months since the promise to introduce it was made.
– Evidently the honorable member expects that everything in which he believes should be dealt with’ first.
– I desire to know whether I should be in order in asking a question relating to the Tariff.
– I cannot say until I hear the honorable member’s question.
– I wish to ask the Treasurer why a differentiation was made in the Tariff between machinery introduced for wool-washing purposes when installed in woollen mills, and the same machinery when imported for washing wool for export purposes?
– I promised the honorable member that I would inquire into this matter this morning, if time permitted. I am sorry that I have been called upon to answer the question immediately, because I know that the ComptrollerGeneral of Customs has written a memorandum, which I have not yet before me, setting forth the circumstances under which the differentiation in question was made. The rebate provision in the present Tariff was contained in the previous Tariff , and the separation of wool-scouring machinery from wool-scouring machinery to be used in woollen mills was the result of an error. An amendment has now been prepared, with a view to placing all this class of machinery upon the same footing.
– I desire to ask the Minister what he means when he says that it is intended to place all this class of machinery “upon the same footing?”
– I expect that they will both Be placed upon the free list.
– Seeing that statutory rules in connexion with the Sugar Excise Act have been circulated from time to time, I desire to ask the Attorney-General whether similar rules have been prepared in connexion with the Excise Tariff (Agricultural Machinery) Act, which has been assented to for more than twelve months, and which has been in operation for ten months. If such rules have not been prepared, what is the reason ?
– I would point out to the honorable member that the origination of all rules does not rest with the Department of the Attorney-General ; that is a matter in the hands of the Department which is charged with the administration of the particular Act. The ExciseTariff (Agricultural Machinery) Act is administered by the Department of Trade and Customs. ‘ I think that,’ in connexion with t’he matter referred to, a Justice of the High Court issued certain directions as regards procedure, and I know that these were circulated.
– Then I ask the Minister’ of Trade and Customs whether statutory rules have been prepared in connexion with the Excise Tariff (Agricultural Machinery) Act,_ and, .if not, what is the reason why the ‘same course has not been adopted in this connexion that was followed in the case of the Sugar Excise Act?
– I shall be very glad to obtain full information on the matter, and to supply it to the honorable member on Tuesday next.
– I desire to ask whether the attention of the Treasurer has been called to the following extract from the Melbourne Labour Call of 10th October “ Sunshine “ McKay, giving evidence before Federal Justice Higgins on Tuesday, said he employed 500 hands, and paid ^6,500 perquarter in wages. That pans out at £13 per quarter for each employ^. In other words, the Sunshine” average wage is £1 per week, or 5d. per hour. Oh, let us be joyful ! Now, when an Australian manufacturer has to pay his employes 5d. per hour how are we to protect him against the sweated products of Great Britain and the Continent, where men are glad to work for 6d. per hour?
The statement contained in the foregoing is confirmed by reports which have appeared in the daily press, and as this state of things has been in existence for the past twelve months, I wish to know why steps have not been taken to put into operation against this firm the provisions of the Excise Tariff (Agricultural Machinery) Act?
– On behalf of my colleague, and the Government generally. I would point out that the honorable member has based his question upon a return in a form which probably makes the comparison presented illusory. That return seems to include the total number of employes of all ages engaged in Mr. McKay’s factory. It does not make any allowance for broken time, and we all know that the number of employes engaged in the industry varies greatly during the. year. Further, the statement forms part of a series of allegations which are now being inquired into bv the Conciliation and Arbitration Court, with a view, first of all. ot determining the facts ; and, secondly, of fixing a fair and reasonable wage.
– In view of the fact that the Government intend to amend the Conciliation and Arbitration Act, will they agree to the insertion in the amending measure of the following provision -
The Commonwealth Court of Conciliation and Arbitration shall have jurisdiction subject to such regulations as shall be prescribed to hear and determine appeals from all awards, judgments, decrees, and orders made by a Judge of the Supreme Court of a State or any persons who compose a State industrial authority or Wages Board.
– The suggestion of the honorable member, if acted upon, would probably involve ari infringement of the Constitution. The Commonwealth has power to deal with industrial disputes extending beyond the limits of any one State, but the honorable member wishes us to consider the propriety of inserting in the amending Conciliation and Arbitration Bill a provision which would have the effect of giving the right of appeal to the Commonwealth Conciliation and Arbitration Court from a State industrial tribunal upon a State matter. I do not desire to express constitutional opinions offhand, and if the honorable member will give notice of his question, I will look into it. At the same time, I think that it is not within the power of the Commonwealth to do as he suggests.
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 17th October, vide page 4892) :
Division IV. Agricultural products and groceries.
Item 40. Candles, tapers, and night lights : -
Paraffine wax, wholly or in part, per lb. (General Tariff),2½d, ; (United Kingdom), 2d.
N.e.i. per lb. (General Tariff),1½d. ; (United Kingdom),1d.
Upon which Mr. Johnson had moved by way of amendment -
That after the figures “2½d.” the words “ and on and after18th October, 1907 (General Tariff), per lb.,1d.,” be inserted.
– I think it would perhaps be better if we disposed of the first amendment to this item as soon as possible, instead of hanging it up while a discussion upon preferential trade is proceeding. The Government desire the question of preference to Great Britain to be discussed unhampered by any other consideration. I practically made that announcement the other evening. If the suggestion meets with the concurrence of the Committee, I should like the amendment of the honorable member for Lang to be dealt with before we proceed with the more elaborate discussion upon the question of preference.
– Could he not withdraw his amendment for the time being?
– Oh, no. With the end I have mentioned in view, I desire to say a few words upon the amendment, which involves a reduction of l½d. per lb. upon the duty of 2½d. per lb. proposed by the Government.
– Will the Treasurer allow me to make a suggestion?
– I think that the suggestion of the Treasurer is a good one, but it would perhaps be better if we clearly understood what is proposed to be done. After the amendment of the honorable member for Lang has been disposed of, do the Government intend to open a debate upon the whole subjectof preference?
– I do not wish to initiate a long debate, if I can avoid it.
– The Treasurer has suggested that the amendment should be disposed of before the whole question of preference is opened up. Of course, it has already been opened up by last night’s discussion; but I should like to know what the intentions of the Government are after this item has been disposed of. Last night we quite expected that the Prime Minister, or, failing him, the Treasurer would make a statement regarding the attitude of the Government on the whole subject of preference to the mother country and to the rest of the Empire. We were’ told that materials were accumulating and shaping themselves, which would enable that to be done in a complete manner, but, so far,’ no statement has been made. I do not ask the honorable gentleman to make a speech on the question now, but simply to indicate to us what his intentions are after this item has been disposed of. Such an intimation would facilitate our dealing with the item.
– After this item, has been disposed of we shall have to deal with the amendment of the honorable member for Angas ; but even on that amendment, it doesnot seem to me that honorable members will have that freedom of voting which they otherwise would be able to exercise. The Government, however, are quite prepared, if so desired, to take the discussion on the secondamendment.
– The form of the vote does not so much matter.
– Some honorable members spoke to me last night about being hampered in their vote by the form of the amendment.
– That could be arranged after the discussion.
– I shall be prepared to make any reasonable arrangement after the discussion on the amendment proposed by the honorable member for Lang.
– Will some member of the Government open the preferential trade debate?
– If that be particularly desired. If honorable members who made speeches last night take the. trouble to read the extracts from the speeches of the Prime Minister, and, on one or two occasions, by myself , in London,, they will see exactly what the attitude of the Government is, without any necessity for our reiterating everything that took place at the Imperial Conference and other gatherings.
– The schedule gives no indication of the attitude of the honorable gentleman in London.
– When I do speak on the question, I shall show that there is not the slightest variation between the attitude taken in London and the present attitude of the Government. ‘ However, I do not desire that the two amendments should be mixed up. The duty of 2½d. on candles, tapers, and night lights is” an increase of id. on the recommendation of the “A ““division of the Tariff Commission.
– Why is the increase proposed by the Government?
– Because it is considered that the duty recommended by the Tariff Commission is not high enough. Honorable members must know what influences the Government in this connexion.
– That does not justify the increase.
– I shall justify the increase before I sit clown. Last night the honorable member for Lang Quoted from a Chiltern newspaper, wherein it was most distinctly and emphatically stated that the candles now being imported are injurious to miners.
– I did not say that the imported candles are injurious to miners, but that locally manufactured candles, which purport to be imported candles, are injurious. These local candles bear a false label
– The candles of which I speak, not only purport to be, but are imported.
– Nothing of the sort; they are made by Kitchen and Sons.
– I do not desire to be delayed by interjections in dealing with this matter, or to have any heat displayed. There is the simple fact that we are a protectionist Government, and we desire to protect the manufacture of candles in Australia. If honorable members will’ follow me for a few minutes, I shall give very cogent reasons why this duty should be increased to2½d. per lb. That was the duty proposed in the 1902 Tariff, but it was reduced to1d.
– There is an increase of 1 50 per cent. on the old duty.
– It does not matter whether it be 500 or 1,000 per cent., so long as the increase is necessary; it is only a question of whether an increased duty is required.
– Does the Treasurer believe in all the candles we require being manufactured in Australia?
– I do, if it be possible.
– Then what becomes of preference to England?
– It was stated last night that no candles are imported from England, but I say that there are ; and I contend that all we require ought to be manufactured here from our own primary products. In New South Wales, in 1901, there were manufactured, in round figures, between 3,000,000 lbs. and 4,000,000 lbs. of candles; in 1902, 3,000,000 lbs.; in 1903, a little over 3,000,000 lbs. ; in 1904, nearly 4,000,000 lbs. ; and in 1905, 4,000,000 lbs. odd.
– And wax was imported with which to make the candles.
– The honorable member does not know quite everything.
– I am quoting the Government’s own figures.
– Nonsense ! While we were importing candles, Australian tallow was being exported.
– But somebody was paying for that tallow; we did not give it away.
– I shall deal with that point later on. In Victoria, the manufacture in those years amounted, on the average, to about 5,000,000 lbs. I have no figures for Queensland or South Australia, but in Western Australia, in 1 901, there were manufactured, in round figures, 1,700,000lbs.; in 1902, 1,800,000 lbs. ; in 1903, 1,700,000 lbs. ; in 1904, 1,900,000 lbs.; and in 1905, 1,600,000 lbs. In Tasmania, in 1903, there were manufactured 925,000 lbs.
– In Tasmania there is a good deal of manufacture from imported wax.
– Yes; of the candles that are so much objected to.
– They are not objected to in Tasmania.
– But they are objected to elsewhere, and they must be just as injurious to Tasmanians as to others.
– What about the local manufacture now ?
– My desire is that the tallow which is now exported should be converted into candles in Australia, so as to stop the manufacture from the injurious imported product. In Tasmania, in j 904, there were manufactured 620,000 lbs. Now, let us see what the imports are. In 1901 there were imported into Australia from the United Kingdom, 140,878 lbs.; in 1902, 202,000 lbs. odd; in 1903, 207,000 lbs. odd; in 1904, 151,000 lbs. odd; in 1905, 219,000 lbs. odd ; and in 1906, 133,400 lbs. These candles were composed partly of stearine and partly of wax.
-r- What was the value? About ,£35,000, I think.
– I am reading a statement which I have received from the Department, showing the importation of candles in libs, during the years 1901 -6, and the countries whence imported. From Burmah in 1902, the first year of record, there were imported nearly 10,000 lbs. ; in 1903, nearly 68,000 lbs. ; in 1904, nearly 26,000 lbs. ; in 1905, 646,280 lbs. ; and in 1906, nearly 70,000 lbs. These are wax candles.
– What is the reason for the big falling off?
– There has. been no falling off, as I shall show. From India in 1902 there were imported over 78,000 lbs. ; in 1903, nearly 259,000 lbs. ; in 1904, nearly 540,000 lbs. ; in 1905, 1,354,168 lbs. ; and in 1906, nearly 505,000 .lbs. These are paraffine wax candles, to which so much objection has been taken.
– What is the reason for the falling off last year?
– There were only £3,000 worth of candles altogether from India.
– I am giving the weights, and they show a very large proportion as compared with the manufacture in Australia.
– In my opinion the proportion is very large. The importations from’ other British Possessions were small, being in 1905 nearly 20,000 lbs., and in 1906 a little over 13,000 lbs. From Belgium in 1901 there were imported 1,382,351 lbs. ; in 1902, 4.22,742 lbs. ; in 1903, nearly 300,000 lbs.; in 1904, 1,403,792 lbs. ; in 1905, nearly 394,000 lbs. ; and in 1906, 734,377 lbs. From Germany in 1901, there were imported 948,000 lbs odd; in 1902, 360,000 lbs. odd; in 1903, 256,000 lbs.; in 1904, 337,000 lbs. odd ; in 1905, nearly 328,000 lbs.; and in 1906, over 117,000 lbs.
– The value appears to be about ,£30,000.
– Never mind the amount; these are the weights. I know that the facts I am relating are not very nice for honorable members on the other side.
– That is a gratuitous observation for which there is no justification.
– I did not wish to cast any reflection upon the right honorable member, but he insists on interrupting me. In 1901, 1,332,575 lbs. of candles were imported from the Netherlands ; in 1902, 147,950 lbs. ; 1903, 462,598 lbs. ; 1904, 192,700 lbs.; 1905, 184,596 lbs.; and 1906, 141,652 lbs. United States - 39OI> 55o96 lbs.; 1902, 817,764 lbs.; 903. 1,775,368 lbs.-; 1904, 75o,S29 lbs.; 1905, 4<5,/33 lbs- ; 1906, 96,284 lbs. Other foreign countries - 1901, 7,668 lbs.; 1902, 26)244 lbs. ; 1903, 10,605 lbs- ; I904, 7>584 lbs.; 1905, 20,560 lbs.; 1906, 47,649 lbs. From the 1st January last to 31st August 1,317,541 lbs. of candles, valued at £27,183, have been imported. Those figures do not suggest a very material falling off.
– All those candles ought to be manufactured here.
– Are these candles made of stearine or wax?
– For the most part they are made of wax. Candles cf mixed composition are obtained from’ England. Those imported from Burmah, India, and the United States, are nearly all made of wax; those coming from Belgium, Germany, and the Netherlands, are made mostly of stearine; and the remaining imports are made partly of stearine and partly of wax.
– What about the factories that use the imported wax?
– Honorable members know perfectly well that paraffine wax is a by-product in the manufacture of kerosene, and when kerosene is produced in large quantities, has to be sold at almost any price. The importers have been paying 2jd. a lb. for it delivered ir. Australia, and the. cost of converting it into candles is only 25s. per ton, whereas the labour cost of converting tallow into stearine, is .£10 per ton.
– Why .should our manufacturers not be allowed to obtain this wax cheaply ?
– Because the wax candles are an absolutely inferior article.
–They are betterthan many candles made in Melbourne.
– The cost of tallow is 3d. per lb., and’ as I have said, the labour cost of making it into stearine is £10 per ton.
– This is simply a proposal to give a monopoly to two firms.
– I shall show what it means.
– It would shut up the small factories.
– Nonsense. A representative of the factory which makes wax candles, and employs about five hands, was ear-wigging members on the last occasion, and he is here again, I believe.
– I suppose that there are men on both sides ear-wigging.
– I have not experienced anything of the kind. On a previous occasion I pointed out that the Dibbs Tariff had resulted in a reduction in the prices of candles. I then said that at the time of the imposition of that Tariff the price of candles in New South Wales had been raised to 7d. by the importing rings. About twelve months, or a little later, after the imposition of that duty, when the Sydney Soap and Candle Company at Newcastle had had an opportunity to extend its industry, it gave employment to between 400 and 500 hands, and the price of candles was brought down to about 4jd. I am speaking now of the best class of candles. Some honorable members said last night that I had had no experience of imported candles. I think I shall be able to satisfy honorable members that I have. Some time ago, when I resided at North Sydney, gas was not laid on to my house, and at night I used to burn at my bedside a candle fixed in a spring candle-stick. Honorable members are aware that when an inferior candle is used it runs and chokes the spring so that it will not work. In order to avoid that difficulty, I bought from Hordern’s the best class of hard candle used by the miners, and later on I obtained a box of the Sydney Soap and Candle Company’s best candles: I then found that there was no comparison between the imported candles which I obtained from Hordern’s and the best candles made at the Newcastle works, the latter being very much better. That was my experience, and honorable members who are aware that miners find it necessary to use the hardest and best candles obtainable will recognise that I know what I am talking about. I find now that as a matter of fact p>rior to the Dibbs Tariff the price of candles in New South Wales went up to 9d. and 9 Jd. per lb., so that my estimate of 7’d. was considerably below the mark. Later on they fell to 7d., and remained at that rate for some time after the imposition of the duty of id. per lb. When that duty was raised to itd. per lb. the price was reduced to 5fd. At the present time the duty is ad. and 2½d., and the price of candles at the works is still 5 3/4d. This reduction in price was brought about by the opening of opposition factories, which were encouraged to commence operations by the Tariff, but the duties have not been sufficient to prevent the importation of large quantities of inferior wax candles. That is the history of candle-making in New South Wales since 1891 or 1892, and it covers the position in Victoria to-day. My statements can easily be verified, and I do not think the Opposition will have the temerity to assert that the effect of the Tariff has been to increase prices. On the contrary, it has prevented the importers from securing a monopoly of the trade, and local competition has brought down prices to a reasonable level. I repeat that the best class of miners’ candles which, prior to the imposition of a duty in New South Wales, were selling at 9d’. and 9½d. per lb. can now be obtained for 5 3/4d. “ These candles are made to a large extent from Australian tallow, and I am confident that the new duties will result in a reduction in the importations of wax and wax candles, and give rise to a corresponding increase in the use of Australian, tallow. I also feel confident that they will have the effect of further reducing the price of candles. There are certainly more than two firms engaged in the industry at present. Some manufacturers in a large way of business are afraid that the higher duties will encourage other men to enter into the industry, and that the increased competition will cause prices, to drop, and *so reduce their profits. I am glad to be able to show that these duties will do no harm to the industry or to the consumer. Miners are now able to obtain good candles at a low rate, and are no longer compelled to use inferior candles injurious to health.
– If the higher duty will tend to cheapen candles, why leave the impost at 2½d. per lb. ?
– I am satisfied with a duty of 2½d. per lb., and shall not ask for more. I do not intend to trench upon the question of preference, since it will come up for consideration later on; but if it were necessary I could place before the Committee facts in relation to that question which harmonize with the points I have just endeavoured ‘to make.
– What is the proportion of imports to the total consumption in Australia? Is it not about one-sixth?
– I think that it is more. Does the honorable member desire the miners of Kalgoorlie to be called upon to pay more for their candles ?
– The Chamber of Mines at Kalgoorlie assured me that they were now paying more.
– I have given the prices.
– They were using the local article.
– It costs very little to send candles to Perth from the eastern States.
– Candles are made in Western Australia.
-I am very glad to hear it, and I hope that the duty will stimulate the industry. There are large herds of stock in the northern parts of that State, and the immense quantity of tallow which they yield should make it possible to manufacture locally all the candles needed in the State.
– It pays them better to export their tallow.
– And import candles.
– The people of the State ought to know what is to their interest.
– The miners do not like imported candles.
– The fuss is being made, not by the miners, but by Messrs. Kitchen and Company.
– What appeared in the papers last night was intended to operate against the proposed increased duties, but it makes the case against the increase worse.
Mr.Hughes. - Why not prohibit the importation of Rangoon candles, ifthey are so Lad.
– It would be a good thing to prohibit them. It is a remarkable thing that Australia should allow candles injurious to her miners to be imported when it costs £10 a ton to convert Australian tallow into a much superior article.
.- Honorable members who have read the reports of the Tariff Commission are aware that the Government proposes much higher duties on candles than were recommended by the protectionist section of the Commission ; but, although we have waited patiently for the Treasurer to justify this action, he has absolutely failed to do so.
– The honorable member was certain to say that.
– That is the view which I take of the Minister’s speech. He said that the figures which he read concerning importations would not suit the members of the Opposition, but, as a matter of fact, they show a decrease in importations. In 1899 3,452,599 lbs. of candles were imported ; in 1900 over 4,000,000 lbs. ; in1901, which was the year in which the first Commonwealth Tariff came into operation, over 3,800,000 lbs. ; in 1902 over 2,081,000 lbs. ; in 1903 over 3,000,000 lbs. ; and in 1906 only 1,857,355 lbs. Consequently the duty of1d. per lb. brought about a very large reduction in the importations, and, of course, there was a consequent increase in the local manufacture, which was being conducted chiefly in Melbourne, whence the howl came for higher protection for so-called “strangled” industries. The Tariff Commission found that the manufacture of stearine in Australia was to a large extent in the hands of Messrs. Kitchen and Sons, the well known Victorian makers. Indeed, Kitchen’s own evidence shows that if the importation of paraffine wax is stopped, the small manufacturers of candles in Australia will have to close, because Messrs. Kitchen and Company have a monopoly of the stearine business. When the small factories close, they will increase the price of their candles by nearly the amount of the duty, and fleece the public proportionately.
– Then we shall deal with them under the new protection.
– We have not heard what the intentions of the Government are in respect to the new protection. I should like to know how it will benefit consumers. The Minister has stated that the effect of increasing the duties will be to reduce the prices of candles in Australia, and he asked if we on this side of the Chamber would have the temerity to dispute that proposition. Had he read the report of the “ B “ section of the Tariff Commission, he would have found, on page 22, this statement of the effect of duties upon the prices of candles -
A witness made a very succinct statement in” writing in regard to the rates existing for standard makes just prior to Federation. For foreign stearine candles the prices charged to the trade in Victoria were1d., and in South Australia and Queensland 2d., per lb. above the price for thesame brands in New South Wales, where there was no duty, the differences being exactly the amount of duly levied in the other States. It was staled that the prices of the local candles in each State were just under those of the imported brands.
– Why is not the Minister here to listen to this refutation of his argument ?
– He does not bother himself about facts. His speech showed that. Indeed, he knows very little about the Tariff itself. He did not even know the other day, when we were dealing with the item imposing duties on animals, that horses were not included.
– That is how he runs the show.
– The statement which I have read shows that, prior to Federation, the effect of duties was to raise prices in the protected States to just below the prices of imported brands. Furthermore, it was shown that -
A South Australian manufacturer in 1898, 1899, and 1900 supplied candles to Broken Hill, New South Wales, at lower prices than the prices at which imported candles were offered, and those lower contract prices were about1¾d. per lb. less than the same Adelaide-made candles were sold wholesale in South Australia. In the case of the mine contracts the tenderers were on the same basis as to transit charges.
I think that disposes of the contention of the Minister that duties do not raise prices. Prior to Federation it was found that manufacturers in protected States took full advantage of duties to raise their prices, and sold for less in New South Wales, where there was free-trade, than in the protected States in which their commodities were made. The Minister gave figures showing the importations for the present year but he was not clear whether the candles referred to were wholly stearine, or whether some were paraffine wax, and, if so, how many. He told us that importations for the first eight months of the present year amounted to 1,317,540 lbs., and spoke as if this importation were ruining the local can dle- makers. As a matter of fact, the figures show, when compared with those for last year, when the importation was the lowest to date, that importation is still decreasing. The Treasurer appealed to the Committee to prevent the importation of candles from Burmah and India, which seems to me inconsistent with his preferential protestations.
– The Government does not propose to give preferential trade to the whole Empire.
– I should like to know what its proposals really are. I am very desirous of hearing a statement from the Treasurer or the Prime Minister on the subject. Is it intended to give preference merely to England, Ireland, Scotland, and Wales ?
– That is all that is provided for in the schedule.
– I ask the Treasurer whether the preferential trade proposals of the Government exclude British Possessions outside the United Kingdom.
– Do they not speak for themselves? I said that Idid not intend to deal with preferential trade in connexion with this item.
– Our trouble is that we cannot get from the Government an indication of its policy in this matter.
– In the schedule the words “United Kingdom” are used.
– Those words do not inelude British Possessions. What is the position so far as importations from these countries are concerned ?
– What interpretation would the honorable member, as a barrister place upon the words “United Kingdom”?
– I should say that they ought to mean the British Empire. I should like to know what the Treasurer himself thinks. What is the position so far as importations from Burmah and India are concerned? One would imagine from the Treasurer’s statements this morning that importations from these places are increasing. As a matter of fact they disclose a decided falling-off. Further, ‘ it is only during recent years that these candles have been imported. In 1905, the Commonwealth imported from Burmah 646,280 lbs. of candles and in 1906 only 69,718 lbs., so that there was. a decline of nearly 600,000lbs. 1111905 we imported from India 1,354,168 lbs. of candles and last year only 504,059 lbs. It will thus be seen that from these two places we imported 2,000,448 lbs. of candles in 1:905, and only 573,772 lbs. in 1906. There was thus a decline in our importations last vear as against those of the previous year of 1,426,676 lbs. Belgium has also been referred to in connexion with the import of candles. It is perfectly true that there was an increase of 1,403,792 lbs. in our importations from Belgium last year as compared with 1905. But I would point out- that there was a decrease in the imports from Germany under this heading from 337,082 lbs. in 1904 to 327,595 lbs. in 1905, and” to 117,027 lbs. in 1906.
– What about Holland?
– I have not the figures for that, country. These statistics clearly show that there has been a distinct decline in. the importation of candles into the Commonwealth. Upon turning to the report of the protectionist section of the Tariff Commission. I find that one of the conclusions at which its members arrived was -
That the present duty of id. per lb. upon candles is insufficient to keep out imported candles made by cheap labour.
Honorable members will agree with me that upon the figures quoted by the Treasurer there is very little justification for that statement. The second conclusion at which that body arrived was -
That paraffine wax candles imported from Rangoon and block paraffine imported from America and other countries and turned into candles in Australia have made a serious encroachment upon the Commonwealth stearine candle industry.
I do not think that there is any warrant for that declaration. In this connexion I should like to refer honorable members to the evidence given by Mr. Kitchen, a wellknown Victorian manufacturer.
– He has a factory in New South Wales, too.
– Yes, and also in Brisbane. He practically enjoys a monopoly of the stearine business.
– How can he have a monopoly, seeing that candles are manufactured in Svdney?
- Mr. Kitchen started operations in Victoria, and later on purchased businesses- in Sydnev, Brisbane, and Adelaide. He also entered into trade combinations in other parts of Australia, with the result that one of the reasons why he is feeling so acutely the’ effects of Inter-State competition is that he is over-capitalized. He has purchased all these places, and it has been conclusively shown that one up-to-date plant, costing only £50,000, would be sufficient to supply the whole requirements of Australia in the matter of stearine.
– Then why are such large importations made?
– If the honorable member will turn’ to the figures he will -find that there are no importations of stearine. The old duty was absolutely effective in that connexion. Of course, there are .stearine candles imported.
– That is practically the same thing.
– Quite the contrary.
– The honorable member has stated that the reason why Mr. Kitchen feels the effect of Inter-State competition so keenly is that he is over-capitalized. I suppose that that is why his firm pays such poor dividends?
– That fact has probably a good deal to do with it. Upon the evidence submitted to the Tariff Commission, Mr. Kitchen’s business was a paying concern at one time, and returned no less than 10 per cent, in dividends. But the chief reason why he is not so successful at the present time is that he is feeling acutely the effect of Inter-State competition. ‘That is a competition to which all manufacturers will have to submit.
– But the honorable member cannot say that he enjoys a monopoly if he is subject to keen competition.
– What I said was that he enjoys a monopoly in the manufacture of stearine.
– I misunderstood the honorable member.
– When giving evidence before the Tariff Commission, Mr. Kitchen was examined, as follows -
But will not their inferiority be found out sooner or later? Will not it be found out that they are unsafe? - The .Rangoon candles are of much better quality, as regards the wax material, than the American wax candles, and that is the reason why they are’ taking the place of others. I am not so much afraid of the American paraffine taking away our best trade as I am that the”’ Rangoon candles will do so, because the latter is much Better than the American article. 1 have already shown that the importation of these Rangoon candles has considerably fallen off. Mr. Kitchen was then asked -
Where is the American paraffine made into candles - in most of the Statesor a particular State?- It is made up in Victoria.
By whom? - We have touse it to some extent. In Tasmania there are two or three moulders of wax in a small way of business, but the factories which are the principal moulders of this wax are in Sydney. There are no special factories in Victoria for moulding it, but every ion that we have to mould - and we have to use it to meet this competition - means less work for our machinery. It also reduces the use of tallow as well as the employment of labour. Block paraffine has merely to be moulded into candles, and involves only a nominal amount of work.
Is your firm the principal producer of. stearine in Australia? - We are the largest producers.
And the principal producers? - We are making more than any other companv or firm in Australia. The Sydney Candle Company, I presume, comes next. Burfords, of South Australia, also do . 1 considerable amount of trade.
The third conclusion arrived at by the protectionist section of the Tariff Commission reads -
That there is . 1 rapid increase in the competition of Rangoon candles and of candles made in Australia from imported paraffine wax, with stearine candles made in Australia-.
As I have already stated, the importations show a decided falling off. The fourth conclusion which they reached was -
That if such competition continue unchecked it will jeopardize the existence of the stearine candle industry of Australia, in which hundreds of thousands of pounds have been invested.
If the whole importation had gone on increasing by millions of lbs. every year, probably the stearine industry in Australia would have been jeopardized. But the fact is, that competition has been checked, that importations have declined, and that new factories have been established.
– Two of the candle factories in Tasmania have closed.
– And if the duty proposed by the Government be carried, the other factories there will be closed. The fifth recommendation of the protectionist section of the Tariff Commission reads -
That the stearine candle industry is one which utilizes Australian raw material in the shape of tallow, employing exclusively Australian labour, and is therefore of more importance than the wax candle industry.
It is perfectly true that the stearine industry does use Australian tallow.We are all anxious to see Australian products used in our industries wherever possible. and we also desire to see Australian labour employed.
– On the same terms as sweated labour abroad.
– That may be the honorable member’s idea, but it is not mine. It has been clearly shown that the total labour cost in the manufacture of stearine is only 5 per cent or 6 per cent. of the value of the finished article.
– What is the proportion in the case of candles?
– That requires a little working out, and I can hardly give the percentage offhand. In the case of stearine, the labour cost is£5 or£6 to the £100.
– In Burmah it would be about 5d.
– I should like the honorable member to show me figures to justify that statement. The Treasurer has shown no justification for the increase which he proposes.
– I have shown every justification.
– Then honorable members must be easily satisfied. I ask honorable members; to say whether, in the report of the protectionist section, they can see any justification whatever for the recommendation made. The evidence shows conclusively that the manufacture of stearine was being carried on profitably by several manufacturers at the time the report was drawn up ; and it is being successfully carried on to-day.
– How much is imported?
– I have already said that no stearine is imported, so that the duty appears to have been absolutely effective. There is no doubt that if the Australian manufacturers, used modern machinery, instead of old worn-out plant, the stearine industry would be much more successful than it is. The. Sydney Soap and Candle Company were not successful for many years for the reason that, after spending tens of thousands of pounds on plant from Europe, they found it to be absolutely useless for the purposes for which it” was intended.
– May that not have been due to the difference in the climate?
– On that point I refer the honorable member to the evidence given by Mr. Clarke.
– I have read it.
– Then the honorable member must know that what I say is correct. Mr. Clarke pointed out that all this machinery had to be thrown upon the scrap-heap, because it was useless for making stearine, or for any other purpose.
– Does the honorable member think that capitalists will invest in new machinery for an industry unless there is reasonable security against dumping from other countries? ‘
– Will the honorable member give an instance of dumping in connexion with this industry? The Tariff Commission were at great pains to inquire as to whether, in any industry which was dealt with, there had been dumping ; and every one of the witnesses absolutely failed to give an instance.
– Iam not referring to this industry alone, but to the general question of security for capital.
– It is just as well to confine ourselves to one industry at a time ; we shall reach Mildura fruit later on. The free-trade section of the Tariff Commission found -
That the present duty of½d. per lb., i.e., 13s. 4d. per ton, is equal to between 13 and 15 per cent. upon the normal shipping value in Europe, and that the natural protection in freight and charges approximates 10 per cent. in addition.
That was a low estimate, because even Mr. Kitchen, of Victoria, admitted that the natural protection amounts to 25 per cent., which, with the old duty, meant a real protection, of 50 per cent. If an industry cannot be carried on with a duty of 25 per cent., the people of the country ought not to be called upon to put their hands in their pockets for the purpose of securing its continuance. We found that the labour cost in the manufacture of stearine ranged from 2 per cent. to 6 per cent. of the value of the finished product, according to the value or grade. There arevarious grades of stearine, according to the melting point, and as the fatty substances are removed, so the cost increases - the more stearine is refined the more does the manufacture cost. Taking the lowest quality, the cost of manufacture is about 2 per cent., and for the highest quality about 6 per cent. We also found-
That the principal plants engaged in the manufacture of stearine in other parts of the Commonwealth are under the control of, or are owned by, those infriendly alliance with the principal manufacturers in Victoria.
If honorable members turn to page 13 of the. report, they will find the quotation from the evidence on which that conclusion is based. The whole question was investigated very closely; and I trust honorable members will read the report of the freetrade section before coming to a decision. We found -
That to impose any extra charge upon stearine would be to seriously further handicap certain manufacturers of candles.
On the evidence of five or six witnesses, we concluded that if the duty were increased, a monopoly would be called into existence, which would take away any chance of competition by the smaller manufacturers ; and I think we are entitled to see that equal opportunity is enjoyed by all.
– Fair treatment all round !
-Quite so; and I may tell the honorable member that if the duty is increased, as proposed by the Treasurer, the result will be disastrous to the small manufacturers of Tasmania.
– Half of them are closed now.
– The free-trade section of the Tariff Commission also found -
That the use of paraffine wax has been of advantage to the industry of candle manufacture within the Commonwealth as a whole.
Paraffine wax is also largely used by the manufacturers of stearine - Kitchen and Sons are large consumers - and its introduction has given employment to a large number of people in Australia. The candles manufactured under these conditions are of a. composite character, and specially suitable for certain forms of employment, and in the homes of Australia. We found -
That its use in the production of what are known as “composite” candles has enabled a good serviceable candle to be sold to the public at a lower price than would otherwise be possible, giving them a better article than they were able to obtain before its general introduction, about 1893.
On page 12 of the report honorable mem- bers will find full justification for the position taken up by the free-trade members of the Commission. We also found -
That its use is also of advantage to other in dustries, but that it should not be permitted to be used in the manufacture of sweetmeats or other articles of food.
Of course that really has nothing to do with the question before us, but it is a fact of importance.
That the present duty of½d. per lb. on paraffine wax is equal to about 25 per cent. on the shipping value of the quality chiefly used bv candle-makers, and about 14 per cent, on Hint of the highest grades.
One of the basic principles of protection is to permit the importation of raw materials for the purpose of manufacture at duties as low as possible. On paraffine wax there is already a duty of 25 per cent. ; and, surely, that is high enough to satisfy the most enthusiastic protectionist. In my own opinion the duty is much too high, for the reason that raw materials ought to be admitted at verylow rates.
– Is paraffine wax made here?
– I believe that the New South Wales Shale and Oil Company make some,, but, so far as I can gather, practically the whole of that used is imported from America and Burmah. We found -
That the use of paraffine wax in the manufacture of candles has not been encouraged by the Commonwealth Tariff; that, in fact, the present Tariff, by imposing a duty upon it, has placed a charge upon manufacturers in those States where formerly for many years it was free, and where it was most used. In spite of such handicaps its use is now general throughout Australia; it is not the importation from abroad which is affecting the manufacturer in Victoria and Tasmania, but the New South Wales product, principally that of Messrs. W. C. Upton and Company. We found -
That if any higher duty was imposed, it would have the effect of placing the majority of candle-makers at the mercy of the manufacturers of stearine, who are themselves competi- tors for the trade in candles ; or of compelling the former to put down expensive plants for the manufacture of stearine, for which purpose the existing plants are more than sufficient for the whole requirements of the Commonwealth.
It was shown clearly that even with the plant now possessed by Messrs. Kitchen and Sons, and with three shifts, that firm could make sufficient stearine to meet the requirements of the Commonwealth. If the manufacture were thus monopolized, it would leave the small manufacturers absolutely at the mercy of the big firm, because, of course, it would not pay the smaller men to lay down expensive plant. We also found -
That there is competition for the supply of paraffine wax by two rival organizations, and that, so far, the price charged has been fair and following the general market value.
I draw attention to this, because, in the report of the protectionist section of the. Commission, it is stated that the whole of the supply of paraffine wax is in the hands, of the Standard Oil Company. That, however, is not so, because there are two organizations - the Standard Oil Company and the company that imports paraffine wax from Burmah - which are working desperately against each other for the Australian trade. The whole of the .evidence shows that, apart altogether from any question of duty, the users of paraffine wax are now called upon to pay only a fair and reasonable price. We also found that the manufacture of candles within the Commonwealth has on the whole considerably increased, more especially in the States of New South Wales and Victoria. The figures quoted to-day by the Treasurer support that finding. Large quantities of candles manufactured in New South Wales and Victoria are sent to other States. A Tasmanian manufacturer explained to the Commission that he was suffering seriously from the dumping of Victorian candles in the Tasmanian market at a price below that at which they were sold in Victoria. After pointing out that the production in New South Wales and Victoria is in excess of the consumption therein, we proceeded to show that -
By reason of this over-production candles have been transferred to other States to be sold at a lower price and have interfered with and prejudiced the manufacture * in those receiving States, more especially Tasmania.
– That is the position only in those States where the manufacturers have not arrived at an agreement or arrangement. It does not apply in South Australia. “ ‘
– That is so. In New South Wales. Victoria, and Queensland, arrangements have been made by which the supplies are regulated. We found also -
That the production of candles within Australia amounts to at least five-sixths pf the total consumption.
That being so, the imports to which the Treasurer referred this morning, supply only one-sixth of the total consumption in Australia.
– There is every reason to believe that that one-sixth will be still further reduced.
– Quite . so. . The figures quoted by the Treasurer as to the imports during the first eight months of 1907, show that the local production is rapidly overtaking the consumption in Australia. Other conclusions at which we arrived were -
That the total labour cost in the finishing, moulding, and packing of candles for market, exclusive of the cost of making stearine, amounts to not more than 8 per cent, of the value of the finished product.
That the complete labour cost in the manufac- ture of candles from the preparation of the tallow until the goods are ready for sale does not exceed 16 per cent, of the market value of the product.
That the existing import duty of. id. per lb. is equal to nearly 25 per cent, of the average shipping cost of continental or British stearine candles, or about 16 per cent, on their normal selling price in Australia. On the shipping cost of paraffine wax candles the proportions would probably be slightly less.
That in addition to the direct protection there is a considerable natural protection in the inward freight and other charges borne by foreign candles, and also in the circumstance that Australian manufacturers are able as a rule to- obtain their raw material at a lower cost than their competitors oversea.
That the importation of’ candles of oversea manufacture into the Commonwealth has not appreciably increased under the operation of the Commonwealth Tariff; in fact, they now appear to be falling off. At the most they do not supply more than one-sixth of the whole consumption.” 1 do not desire to weary honorable members by referring at length to the evidence given before the Commission. I am hopeful that they have read the conflicting reports of the two sections of the Commission on this important question, and that, having done so, they have arrived at the conclusion that none of the evidence submitted to the Commission affords any justification for the increased duties recommended by the protectionist section of the Commission, to say nothing of the increases proposed by the Government. Instead of there being a falling off in the local manufacture of candles under the Commonwealth Tariff, there has been a very substantial increase. Factories which formerly had a comparatively small output are now producing large quanti- ties, and all the circumstances tend to show that in the interests, not only of the consumers, but of the small manufacturers, for whom the Treasurer professes to have great regard, these duties should be materially reduced.
– All free-traders say that.
– It is all very well for the Treasurer to make such a statement. I think he should at least endeavour to show that there is some justification for the heavy duties that he asks us to impose. I confidently submit that on the evidence before us they should not be- adopted. The proposition of the honorable member for
Lang is in the interests of the small manufacturer and the people of Australia as a whole, and we may safely rely on the large firms being able, by reason of their wealth and influence, to look after themselves.
– With reference to the item “ h.e.i.,” I should like to ask whether candles containing 5 per cent, of paraffine wax would come in under the higher duty ?
– They would.
– I understand that most of them have a small infusion of paraffine wax.
.- This item affords opportunity for the consideration of the. general question of preference to Great Britain, and I propose to state plainly the attitude which I think we ought to assume. I have never been able to. understand how a logical protectionistcould favour preference, nor, on the other hand, that preference flows naturally from free-trade. It is obvious, however, that the greater the area oyer which free-trade operates - where a nation as against other nations has .a protectionist Tariff, but enjoys” free-trade within its own boundaries, the greater are the advantages. Take, for instance, the position of the United’ States. That is a highly protected country which attributes its prosperity to protection. It has at the same time a free-trade policy applying to 80,000,000 people. It is impossible to separate from the potentialities and possible advantages which flow from its policy of protection against the outside world the material advantages that flow from freetrade among its population of 80,000,000. I take it that the idea of the preferentialist is to have free-trade within the Empire and protection against the rest of the world. Subject to those peculiar local reservations which our part of the Empire require. 1 take it that we could so extend the area inside which we had free-trade as to make it practically independent of outside nations.
– A self-contained Empire.
– I am talking now about the ideal. Mr. Chamberlain - and it is to him that the whole movement is due - started out purely as a preferentialist. He had in view the. object of extending and promoting the Imperial idea bv trading and industrial methods. During the course of his campaign, however, a number of problems presented themselves, and as a practical man he met them one by one. I think. that had he gone on he certainly would have ended his campaign by becoming a protectionist.
– That was inevitable.
– I think it was. Prior to his Glasgow speech he had in mind a condition of things which was utterly impossible in practice. His idea was that each part of the Empire should pledge itself not to encourage new industries or the expansion of those already existing within its boundaries. That would be an impossible policy for a progressive country. No progressive community could pledge, itself to refrain from starting any new industry. I cannot conceive of a system under which a Government would have power to prevent the expansion of industries, or, if it had, would attempt to exercise it. But, failing that, there were certain possibilities for preferential treatment which Mr. Chamberlain had in mind, and he so presented the advantages of these as to undoubtedly cause in Great Britain a complete change of feeling. He has created a party choate and articulate in favour of tariff reform of some kind or other. That party, no matter what its real purport may be, certainly does exist, and is going at the next election to make a very respectable show. Here is our position. Preference postulates, from a business stand-point, a mutual understanding. It ought to be a business arrangement. As a matter of fact, however, the present feeling in favour of preference has sprung not from a business but from an Imperial basis - from an idea of promoting the solidarity of the Empire. That being so, we are perfectly free to make what Tariff we like, and to grant Great Britain, irrespective of what she may do for us, what preference we please. If we grant a preference, I take it that we should do so because we are really desirous of favouring Great Britain. We ought
Lr> be, because most of us are descendants of Britishers, Or actual natives of Great Britain, and because, also, she is our greatest customer. I had thought that the Government would come down with a definite and harmonious scheme. I do not think that it . can be said that’ they have done so. If the Committee, without any fixed and definite basis to work upon, is to decide on each item what preference shall be granted, we shall find ourselves in difficulties. Unless we have at our command some data, which I am very much afraid we cannot possibly hope to get, as to the exact position which Great Britain now occupies, and the effect on her of any proposed preferential treatment on every item, the result of our efforts will be a hotch-potch which will probably be unsatisfactory to her and to ourselves. Two main points demand our attention in this connexion. We must consider the effect of any Tariff on Australian industries and on the Commonwealth revenue. The Government, inproposing a duty of, 9ay, aid. as a general rate, and 2d., 1 1/3d., or id., as a rate against the United Kingdom, giving in one instance a preference of 5 per cent., in another of 10 per cent., and going, it maybe, as high as 50 per cent., is not proceeding on any scientific or logical principle. There are to be found data and sound principles upon which we can devise a preference scheme which will be logical, scientific and practical. But in leaving to the Committee the task of dealing with each item as it thinks fit, the Government is failing in an essential duty. When the Prime Minister and the Treasurer were in England a great deal was said about preference, and the Imperial ideal was put very prominently forward. The picture which they painted lacked nothing in colour, being very fine and effective. . Then they gave us the poetry, but now we are having the prose, and the tale seems very poor and uninviting. It is due to the Committee that the Government should indicate not only its attitude in regard to every item, but the general principle upon which its preferential policy is Eased. If the Government proposes a preference of 5 per cent, on a certain item, and makes a preference, perhaps, of .40 per cent., its action may be grossly unfair to local manufacturers. The aim of the Government is’ to stimulate native industries, and it would not be fair to our manufacturers to protect them against the foreigners, but allow a preference to the United Kingdom which would expose them to the most powerful competitors in the. commercial and manufacturing world. The Government should state definitely the relation which they desire should exist between the general Tariff and that for the United Kingdom, and if one set of duties is altered by from 30 to 25 per cent., the other must be altered proportionately. There seems to be no constant relation between the two- sets of duties, except that the general Tariff rates in many cases are higher than those against the United Kingdom, and give, generally speaking, a preference of 5 per cent. to English manufacturers. In regard to the duties on candles, I do not feel in a position to determine what preference should be given, the items of the Tariff having been put before us in a slip-shod and unsatisfactory way. It does not seem to me that a case has been made out for increasing the duties on candles. Apparently, the miners object to the Rangoon candles, and if these candles are harmful, their importation should be prohibited. This Government has passed into law a number of Acts - such as the Australian Industries Preservation Act, the Excise Tariff Agricultural Machinery Act, and the Commerce Act - forthe protection of Australian trade and Australian commerce, but it has never taken steps to enforce their provisions. If the fumes of Rangoon candles are poisonous or hurtful to the eyes, the provisions of the Commerce Act should be used to prohibit their importation.
– The use of objectionable candles should be prohibited, no matter where they come from
– Quite so. The Tariff ought not to be used to do what can be done under an Act like the Commerce Act. I am willing to impose such duties as may be necessary to encourage the local manufacture of candles ; but it seems to me that the rate in the old Tariff was sufficient, because under it the local manufacture has largely increased. Under the circumstances, unless the Ministry makes out a better case, I shall have to vote against its proposals. I regret that Ministers have not given us a well-defined scheme of preference. Personally, I am prepared to give Great Britain a decided preference.
– I regret that so little attention was paid to the valuable information given to the Committee by the speech of the honorable and learned member forIllawarra, who has devoted a great deal of intelligence, ability, and care to these matters. At one time, while he was speaking, of seventeen members in the chamber, twelve or thirteen were absorbed in private conversations. I have not had the good fortune to listen to a speech on a. subject of this kind more concise, clearer, or worthier of attention. I am afraid the fact is that it is enough for a speech to come from a free-trader to make it of no importance to the Committee. There seems to be a set disposition not to listen to anything uttered by any one who is not a protectionist. I make this remark advisedly, because the attitude of honorable members is most apparent.
– The honorable member is a free-trader, and he gets a better show than any one else.
– I have very little cause to complain personally, I am happy to say ; but it has struck me very forcibly, on this and other occasions, that there is an utter lack of interest and attention shown when valuable information is being given to the Committee by free-traders. I have only a few words to say upon the item itself, because it has been pretty well debated. The Government proposes to put a duty of 1½d. per lb. on candles n.e.i., and of 2½d. per lb. on candles made wholly or in part of paraffine wax. I understand, however, that it is a usual thing, even with. Australian makers, to use, perhaps, not more than 5 per cent. of paraffine wax to stiffen their candles, and to improve their quality. But the use of only a small proportion of paraffine wax would make imported candles liable to the higher duty. I do not think that that is intended. I am sure that the Government do not wish to deprive the users of candles of the benefits which result from using asmall quantity of paraffine wax in their manufacture. Of course it will be the duty of the Customs authorities to suppress any attempt to evade the intentions of Parliament ; but the use of, say, 5 per cent. of paraffine wax, which improves the manufacture of candles, should not be considered an evasion. I understand that the present arrangement of duties will prejudice two candle factories in Tasmania. No State in the Union has suffered more from Federation, in one sense, though it has derived great benefits in another. Having but a small population, its manufacturers suffer severely from the competition of those in a larger way of business on the mainland ; but it would be a great pity if small factories there were crushed out of existence by the readjustment of duties. The honorable member for Bass made a suggestion which seemed to indicate the danger of that.
– Item 42 is of more importance to Tasmania.
– We should give very careful consideration to any proposals likely to have the effect of suppressing factories in the smaller States.
– Nearly all the paraffine wax comes from India.
– But I understand that it is necessary to use 4 or 5 per cent. for the purpose of improving the cheaper candles.
– In Tasmania they use more paraffine wax than that. Last year the Commonwealth imported 6,363,946 lbs. of paraffine wax.
– Paraffine wax is used for other things besides candle-making.
– It is the Standard Oil Company that is concerned.
– I have received a communication from a small manufacturer in Tasmania.
– He has been here this session, and was here last Parliament.
– Why should he not come here? Apparently, the big makers have no need to do so, because they already possess sufficient friends in the Committee. Why should not the small manufacturers be allowed to make representations to members of Parliament? Even the Minister will admit that the big manufacturer should not have all the say, and that the small people should be given an opportunity to state their cases.
– The big manufacturers of the mainland “ dump “ their goods in Tasmania.
– If such an expression can be used amongst brother Australians. Last evening the honorable member for Batman made some most reckless statements concerning the disastrous result which would follow the removal of the duty upon candles. I am indebted to one of my honorable friends for having drawn my attention to the evidence tendered to the Tariff Commission by Mr. Clarke, to whom the honorable member for Batman referred. From the report of the proceedings of that body it is abundantly manifest that Mr.’ Clarke was “ fencing “ with the members of the Commission throughout his examination. He made one admission, however, which tells against the position taken up by the honorable member for Batman. He told the Commission that during the year 1899, when there was absolute free-trade so far as candles were concerned, he produced a larger quantity than he did in 1 903.
– Who is Mr. Clarke?
– He is the gentleman to whom the honorable member for Batman referred, and he is a staunch protectionist, inasmuch as he conducts a factory. I hope that honorable members generally will not think that I entertain any ill-feeling towards manufacturers. But I have to consider the interests of other people as well. Some persons seem to think that our primary industries are of no importance, and that industries which have to be “ coddled “ are of the very gravest importance. I can only excuse that deranged view by recollecting that in all families it is well known that healthy children do not receive half the attention which is bestowed upon weaklings. The protectionist doctrine involves an evolution of a similar kind. I do ask honorable members to remember that while none of us wish to discourage Australian industry,we should pay some regard to every form of Australian industry. These gifts must come from some pocket, and 1 do not want to see too much taken out of the pocket of the pioneers and the settlers of Australia in order to give undue assistance to any particular manufacturer. The honorable member for Batman made an appeal which, fortunately, fell upon deaf ears, that we should indorse the Government proposal to prevent our manufacturers from being brought into competition with the cheap labour of India, where men worked in the industry for 4d. a day of twelve hours. Now, it is a fact that in India a very large number of white men are employed in this industry, and that they. receive double the wages there that they would obtain in Australia on account of the climate in which they are compelled to live. Nobody, I am sure, wishes to push his argument too far, because these 300,000,000 coloured people surely have some right to live, and the clay may come when they will assert that right.
– They have no right to live upon us.
– If they supply us with goods which they manufacture for 4d. a day surely they are not “ living “ upon us. We have to consider chiefly the large number of persons whouse candles is Australia. The Government propose to tax an article which is largely used by persons who follow most disagreeable and dangerous avocations.
– The candles imported from India are bad candles.
– That is another absolutely untrue statement.
– I am not accustomed to stating untruths.
– I did not mean the remark in the way that the honorable member has taken it. The fact is that a person has merely to make a mistaken statement in this chamber, and some honorable members at once seize upon it as if it were Gospel truth. It would be impossible to obtain an inferior candle in a climate like that of India. It is the worst country in the world in which to manufacture inferior candles, because, unless they are properly” made they will not stand the climate. But a chance ejaculation has merely to be made in this chamber, and it is immediately accepted by some honorable members as representing the whole truth, so long as it will buttress up some extreme proposition. Even the protectionist section of the Tariff Commission does not recommend a duty of more than 2d. a lb. on candles. Under the old rate of duty we had secured five-sixths of the trade -
– We wish to improve the wages of our operatives.
– But we have to recollect that there are other wage-earners in Australia besides those employed in factories.
– And we have to remember India, I suppose?
– We need not concern ourselves about India more than to entertain a passing feeling of humanity for its inhabitants, even if they are coloured.
– Charity begins at home.
– I quite agree with the honorable member. I think that the members of the party to which he belongs are upon a good wicket when they raise the colour question. But, whilst, in framing a policy for our own people, we have nothing to do with the teeming millions of India, we need entertain towards them no bad feeling whatever. They happen to be in the plan of creation. What I wish to point out is that, whilst the protectionist section of the Tariff Commission has recommended an increase in the old rate of duty of 100 per cent. , the .Government are proposing an increase in that rate of 150 per cent., notwithstanding that we already possess fivesixths of the trade in candles.
– So far as I am able to form an ‘opinion from reading the report of the proceedings of the Imperial Conference, the view entertained bv the leading British statesmen is that it behoves Australia to do all that she “ can to develop her resources and tq make herself a more efficient integral part of the British Empire. By so acting, it is generally held that she will be rendering the best possible service to the Empire. So far as the question of preferential trade is concerned, the people of Great Britain would be satisfied if a preference were extended to goods of British origin that we are obliged to import. There are certain commodities that we must import, such as arms, jewellery, and watches. Let us make the Tariff prohibitive against the outside world, and give the mother country a preference upon those articles which we cannot produce. But, so far as we can develop our resources, and make ourselves a better unit in the community of nations, let us do it. In reference to the proposed duty upon candles, I would point out that the chief difficulty under which we labour is that we are being inundated by the importation of Rangoon candles. According to the report of the Tariff Commission, we are importing an enormous quantity of these candles, lt seems to me that,- in view of the fact that the Rangoon candles are not appreciated by those who use them, we should endeavour to conserve our own interests rather than those of the manufacturers of India. Apparently, the honorable member for East Sydney worships the god of cheapness in this matter. I could quite understand that attitude if we were in a position to absorb all our energies in the development of our natural products - if we had free access to natural opportunities. Then those things which can be produced here by least an effort on the part of our people might be exported to our advantage. But, as a matter of fact, we know that the natural resources of this country are monopolized, and consequently we are forced into other avenues of industry. We cannot secure the settlement of the people upon the land, and thus stimulate that development of the primary industries which would place us in the position of being able to exchange our commodities with the outside world in the best possible market.
– But our primary producers have to sell their goods in the cheapest market.
– The honorable member knows, that we are forced to establish industries because we are denied the opportunity to develop our natural resources. That being so, I am quite prepared to make the Tariff upon candles prohibitive against the. mother country, as well as against the outside world, so long as the Government will control their manufacture to the extent of protecting the people from exploitation of any sort. If they will not do that, I am prepared to assist to place in power a Government which will.
– Do not hurt the Government.
– I am ready to hurt any Government which will not follow the lines that I think they ought to follow. I favour the proposed duty upon candles, because I think that local competition will be sufficient to adjust prices. If we are left to the mercy of the world’s competition, wecannot protect the consumer, because we do not benefit from the cheapness of outside markets. I am rather disappointed at the action of the Committee in connexion with the Colonial Sugar Refining Company. They ought to adopt the course which is provided when an industry takes advantage of its position to impose on the people; that is, admit competition. I should prefer nationalization, as I said before, but, seeing that we have no power to take that step, we must adopt the only means at our command. If, by protecting candles, we establish a monopoly, I should be the first to threaten; to take steps to prevent any injustice. But we cannot afford to leave the industries of the country languishing. Our natural conditions are not such as to insure equality, and our industries must be cultivated and encouraged, and, to that end, there must be protective duties with the corrective influence I have indicated.
.- I feel that I ought to say a few words, associated, as I am, with some of the larger mining enterprises ‘in the Commonwealth. It may be that what I regard as my own private interest and my public duty are in conflict ; but I am certain that every honorable member will subordinate his personal concerns to his obligation as a representative of the people. My public obligation is simply to secure a duty sufficient to enable local manufacturers to compete successfully with importers. There can be no doubt that up to the present time the local manufacturers have not been successful in this connexion, as could be seen from a whole series of contracts with the Broken Hill Proprietary Company. Without divulging any private affairs, the figures show that the importers have always been able to sell their products at a price which is more to the advantage of the ‘mining companies than is the price of the local producer. If this duty be increased to 2§d., the Broken Hill mining companies will have to pay ^3,818 more per annum for candles than they are paying at present. It is a fact, however, that most of the companies at Broken Hill are installing electricity underground, and candles are becoming less and less used. While I cannot support the amendment now proposed, I certainly am not prepared to support the Government proposal; and, therefore, I trust that the recommendation of the “A” division of the Tariff Commission will be adopted. As honorable members are aware, candles are now being made in Australia from imported Rangoon wax, and some statements have been made in the course of the discussion as to the injurious effects of this wax. On this point, T should like to read a letter obtained, in accordance with my desire, from the General Manager of the Broken Hill Proprietary Company, in order that honorable members may see that this company has endeavoured to ascertain the real facts. The letter, which is dated 27th September last, is as follows -
In further reference to the alleged injury to miners due to the use of Rangoon wax candles - an experiment was made in the laboratory in which inverted glass funnels about 6 inches in diameter at the mouth (the widest place) were placed about 6 inches over two candles of Rangoon wax and stearine candles respectively.
The result was a complete darkening of the glass wilh soot in the case of the Rangoon waxcandle, while no deposit whatever was observable on the funnel over the stearine candle. This soot consists of unconsumed carbon, but the amount given off in this way must of necessity be trifling compared with the amount of carbon which finds its way into the throat and lungs of men handling coal.
The amount of soot given off bv these candles is not nearly so great as that given off by oil lamps used so extensively in various mines.
However, a medical authority .would be the best judge as to the effects of “the small quantity of fine carbon that would be given off in the burning of two candles (which is the number actually burning with each party) - bearing in mind that the air in the workings of mines is always in- circulation carrying off such emanations. In this connexion, as illustrating the amount of air circulated in the Proprietary Mine which may be useful in connexion with debates in Parliament, I may say that the quantity of air per minute is about 250 cubic feet per man underground, whilst in coal . mines it is considered that 100 cubic feet per minute ner man is ample.
– Does the honorable member not think that candles, the use of which is injurious to the health of man. should not be used?’
– I do not think that the investigation shows that thev are injurious.
– I think that there is a tendency to exaggerate the injurious effects of these candles. I believe that it is better to use al stearine candle than a paraffine wax candle; but. at the same time, I do not think the Committee ought to allow themselves to be unduly influenced in this matter, in view of the letter which I have just read. No doubt the duty I have suggested will . mean an additional impost on the mining industry throughout the Commonwealth; but candle making is a natural industry, which I must support, in view of the pledges which I gave to my electors. I feel it to be my duty to see that such assistance is given to the industry as will enable those engaged in it to compete successfully with importers for the large mining contracts. The information I have in regard to contracts is here in documentary form, and, though I do not desire it to be made public by means of
Hansard, I shall be happy to privately place it at the disposal of honorable mem bers. It is undeniable that local manufacturers of stearine candles have not yet been able to secure large mining contracts, and. consequently, I think that the indus.try fa entitled to more consideration than it has received in the past.
– Does the honorable member think that that is. only a matter of price ?
– No doubt much is attached to the suggestion that the paraffine wax candle is the harder, and that when it is used the miner is not so irritated by its constant dripping. That, however, is a matter on which there is considerable conflict of opinion in actual experience; and I do not think the Committee would be justified in attaching too much importance to the point. It is a fact, however, that the paraffine wax candle takes a little longer than the stearine candle to burn, candle for candle.
– And, therefore, the paraffine wax candle is the more economical.
– From that stand-point, it may be. But there is, of course, always a tendency to regard a subject like this from one’s personal point of view. One must not lose sight of the significant fact that the local manufacturers are not able to compete with importers for the trade of the big mining companies. “I shall support the Government in securing some better consideration for the local manufacturers, but not to the full extent proposed in this Tariff.
Sitting suspended from i to 2.15 p.m.
– I have only a few observations to offer. We are asked in connexion with this item to impose a duty which I think is shockingly high, which is unnecessary for the maintenance and expansion of the industry, and which will be a heavy impost upon the people. This tax falls with peculiar force upon, people in the far interior, and we ought to hesitate to agree to it unless there is proof that it is needed to preserve an Australian . industry. We heard this morning from the honorable member for Kooyong, who has a wide experience of contracts for candles, timber, and other miners’ requisites, that the contracts in connexion with some large mining ventures in which he is interested had always resulted unfavorably to the local tenderer. The honorable member was not prepared to say that certain considerations, apart from the mere matter of price, did not enter into the choice. It is well known that in the choosing of candles there is amongst miners as wide a divergence of opinion as there is among them in regard to the choosing of tobacco, cigars, and like commodities. Some people have a fancy for one brand, and some have a particular fancy for another. There is no accounting for these tastes. The fact remains that, for reasons diverse and multiplex, some prefer a particular candle for a particular purpose, while others prefer another brand. I am not going to discuss that question to-day, but I wish to call attention to a matter relating to our candle manufacture which requires some explanation. We are already exporters as well as importers of candles. We are able to export as well as to import candles in fair quantities ; we have about struck the balance respecting a fair competitive basis as between our own candle- producers and those outside. I have been hearing again and again since the opening of the Tariff debate, statements made, in some cases with lugubrious countenance and in menacing tones, that we are importing small Quantities of this, that, and the other article. Except as to the manufacture of a few products in respect of which Australia, by reason of its great natural advantages, is entitled to secure a monopoly, I hope never to see the day when imports will cease, because when competition ends combination and monopoly begin. That is the experience of the whole world. A protectionist who wishes an industry to have a healthy inter-play and exercise must always desire to see the competitive element kept constantly in force. Only in that way can we secure the best results for the country, and hope to maintain that healthy, vigorous productive capacity which is the mainstay and basis of the prosperity of a nation.
– That ideal is not satisfactory in its results.
– I am afraid that when the honorable member has been in Parliament a little longer, he will cease pursuing that ideal.
– The superior man again !
-I do not think there is any necessity for the honorable member to sneer and to jeer.
– Nor was there any necessity for the honorable member to do so.
– I did not.
– The honorable member referred to my brief experience in this Parliament. I cannot help that. Perhaps if I have for my constituents such fools as some other honorable members appear to have I shall be returned again.
– The honorable member seems to be desirous of picking a quarrel. I am not, and, therefore, I shall leave him alone. But in parting with him, since he is inclined to be nasty, let me say that I have heard many a man present better protectionist arguments than he has done. Before beginning to discuss protection, he had better take some lessons.
– From the superior man !
– The honorable member, I believe, made too sudden a turn round to be able to argue protection as well as he used to be able to argue the other way.
– I never argued any other way.
– We export from Australia 212,000 lbs. of candles. Strange to say, out of that total only 10,000 lbs. are of Australian manufacture ; the balance is a re-export. In other words, out of a total export of 212,000 lbs., only 10,000 lbs. represent Australian candles, 202,000 lbs. being candles made elsewhere. What is the explanation? Is it that people outside will not have Australian-made candles ? These candles are exported to New ‘Zealand. Fiji, and New Caledonia, and it seems that those countries demand to be put in possession, not of Australian-made candles, but of those made oversea. Our exporters have, first of all, to import these candles, and then re-export them to supply the tradeof these countries. In the absence of some explanation, that fact has a very sinister complexion. It may be due to a mere matter of taste or a matter of prejudice.
– Can the honorable member tell us the origin of the candles that we re-export ?
– I cannot.
– Is it not a fact that they are cheap candles, brought to Australia because the terminal ports of shipment are here?
– I do not know ; Dr. Wollaston was unable to give me any information on the subject.
Mr.John Thomson. - I know.
– Then I shall be glad to hear the honorable member’s explanation. New Zealand, as we know, is a great protectionist country, and, according to the honorable member’s statement, she prefers a cheap and nasty foreign, candle to a well-made Australian one.
– That is not fair.
-The honorable member said that they were cheap candles.
– Made under cheap conditions.
– New Zealand is a protectionist country, and, as she appears to be the greatest sinner in the matter of this preference for foreign candles, she evidently prefers a cheap and nasty candle to a well-made Australian article.
– New Zealand has a duty of1½d. per lb. on candles.
– Is the Treasurer prepared to agree to such a duty in this case?
– Under the Kingston Tariff a duty of rid. per lb. was proposed.
– But that proposal was not carried.
– The Treasurer seems tohave had a consuming desire, in framing this Tariff, to go one better than any one else.
– I wish we were in as good a position as the United States of America.
– I dare say we could do very well what the United States is able to do if we had a population of 80,000.000. The present price of candles in Australia is sufficiently high for our purpose. I think our manufacturers, with a duty of1d. per lb., have been doing very good business, and I am not prepared to increase that rate. By leaving the duty as it was under the old Tariff, we shall do all that is requisite to preserve whatever balance may be necessary between the im portation of candles from oversea and our manufactures here. Above all things, in connexion with our young enterprises in Australia, we must try to preserve a healthy, fair, and reasonable competitive basis on which our commercial and industrial undertakings may safely proceed.
.- Before commencing my remarks, 1 should like to know from you, Mr. Chairman, whether we are confined to the discussion of paragraph a of item 40 - the duty on candles, tapers, and night-lights made of paraffine wax - or can speak on both paragraphs, a and b, of which the latter deals with manufactures of stearine ?
– At the present moment the Committee has before it an amendment of the honorable member for Lang, to make the general Tariff on manufactures of paraffine wax1d., instead of 2½d.; and 1 understand that the honorable member for Angas intends subsequently to move to leave out the duty on candles of British manufacture.
– In deciding what should be the rates of duty on candles, we have a most intricate question to consider. At the present time five-sixths of the candles used in Australia are made within the Commonwealth, so that the local manufacturers practically control the borne market. I was interested in this business at one time, my father, with other gentlemen, having started, in 1876, the Apollo Candle Company, which, after some years, was amalgamated with the business of Messrs. Kitchen and Company. It is quite correct, as has been stated, that before there was a local manufacturer of candles the price of these articles was higher than it became on the imposition of the duty, and the consequent creation of local competition.
– Were not prices generally higher in 1876 than they have been since ?
– There can be no doubt that the duty on candles decreased the price of those articles. When there was no local competition the importers kept up the price of candles, and I do not blame them for having done so.
– After the imposition of the duty, how much lower than the price of the imported candles was that of the locally-made candles?
– Just a shade under it.
– To secure the local market?
– Exactly. Of course we charged as much as the business would allow. Every manufacturer has to do that. If he did not he would go to the wall. As I have pointed out, the local manufacturers have control of this market, and are producing at a profit, though I do not think that they are getting a sufficient profit. If their balance-sheets are examined it will be found that the margin of profit is not verylarge - not large enough to enable them to extend their operations and to keep their machinery uptodate. The last balance-sheet I looked at showed that the dividends paid to the shareholders are next to nothing, and ever since the industry started in 1876 the profits have been very low. The manufacturers have got the best machinery they can afford, but they have not had sufficient money to buy the best machinery available.
– Should we help them to get that machinery ? Is it not the function of a private capitalist to himself improve his machinery ?
– The honorable member for Illawarra objected that the machinery of the Sydney Soap and Candle Company was antiquated, and the cost of their operations therefore high. But while I should like to see the duties on candles slightly increased, because the large amount of capital invested in the industry is not earning a fair profit, I do not desire that the duties shall be made so high that prices will be materially raised. We are not now dealing with a new industry. and therefore any considerable increase in the rates of duty will lead to a corresponding increase in prices, and will penalize industries, such as the mining industry, which use candles very largely. I would give less protection to the candle-making industry than to the woollen industry, because the local manufacturers of woollens have not yet got possession of the Australian market, and to do so they must bring about a reduction of prices. The Minister should, therefore, consider the matter from this point of view. In my opinion, he might reasonably accept the recommendation of the protectionist section of the Tariff Commission to impose a duty of 2d. per lb. on paraffine wax candles, and of1d. per lb. upon candles n.e.i., which, I understand, are made chiefly of stearine. The importations of paraffine wax are increasing largely, though I believe that this commodity is not used entirely in the manufacture of candles.
– It is used for other purposes as well.
– If all that is imported were used in the making of candles, the increase in the importation would be alarming. Over 6,000,000 lbs. are now imported ; but as the local Australian consumption of candles is 20,000,000 lbs., at the very least 14,000,000 lbs. must be made from stearine. It is the making of stearine candles that we ought to encourage most. I believe that there are factories in Tasmania which use only imported paraffine wax for the making of candles, but such candles are not of high quality.
– Paraffine wax cannot be used for the making of candles here, because of the climate.
– When candles are made of stearine, local tallow is used for the manufacture of the stearine, whereas paraffine wax candles are made from an imported commodity which is manufactured abroad very cheaply. Therefore, the ‘making of the stearine candles is the more important industry. But we wish to study the interests of Tasmania, and to encourage her industries as well as those of the mainland. The recommendation- of the protectionist section of the Tariff Commission is that the duty on paraffine wax candles shall be raised 100 per cent., and that on stearine candles left at id. per lb. As a compromise, I suggest duties of 2fd. and i)d. in the general Tariff, and of 2d. and id. against British importations.
– A duty of id. is prohibitive so far as the United Kingdom is concerned.
– For some reason British manufacturers have ceased to send to this market. It may be that the keen competition which exists in those countries which have high protective Tariffs enables them to produce at a price at which the British manufacturer cannot produce. I should be quite prepared to move in thedirection that I have indicated if there were any prospect of the Government supporting the proposal.
Mr. FRAZER (Kalgoorlie) [2.45J.- I represent a constituency -which probably uses as man v candles as does any other constituency in Australia. Had we been able to arrive at a decision upon this item without a prolonged debate, I should have been quite prepared to give a silent vote upon it. But as every honorable member seems bound to express his opinion- upon the Government proposal, 1 feel impelled to express my view. I cannot agree with the line of reasoning that has been adopted by the Government in respect of this item. Of course, I desire to accord protection to industries which can, reasonably be established within the Commonwealth, and I shall, endeavour to do what is right in allocating the measure of protection to be extended to each. But I would point out that more than five-sixths of the candles consumed in Australia are of local origin. ‘Only about 14 per cent, of the total consumption of the Commonwealth, is imported, and even that 14 per cent, or less includes night lights, tapers, &c. In order to secure the additional 14 per cent, of trade, the Government propose to increase the old rate of duty by 150 per cent. From the rapid decline which has taken place during the last few years in the importation of candles, it is evident that within a year or two we shall obtain the entire trade, even if we do not alter the qld rate of duty. I am not opposed to increasing the impost upon candles by Jd. per lb. against the foreigner, but I think that the old rate should .be retained as against Great Britain.
.- I am quite sure that I voice the general feeling of the Committee when I say it is a matter of very great regret that owing to ill health the honorable member for Bendigo is not present to give us the advantage of his valuable assistance in the elucidation of Tariff matters. I have been looking up the speech which he delivered upon the Budget and the Tariff proposals of the Government, and I find that he declared his willingness to afford substantial protection to Australian industries. In making that statement he undoubtedly expressed the opinion of the protectionist section of the Tariff Commission, which recommended that the duty upon candles should be increased from id. per lb. to 2d. per lb. In the course of his remarks the honorable member for Bendigo stated that the Commission had examined no less than 618 witnesses, and had investigated 767 complaints in regard to Tariff anom.alies. As a result, its members arrived at a deliberate determination based upon evidence. At an earlier stage in the debate, the Treasurer, in reply to a question ‘as to why the Government propose a further increase in the duty upon candles, declared that the rate recommended by the protectionist section of the Commission was not sufficiently high. It is somewhat significant that he has failed to produce any evidence in support of that assertion. I am prepared to go a long way in support of the proposals of the Ministry, but they cannot expect me to give my adherence to unreasonable increases in the rates of duty imposed under the old Tariff, in the face of the recommendations of the Tariff Commission,, which examined witnesses upon oath. In the course of his remarks the honorable member for Bendigo said -
In reference to candles we found that the manufacture of candles from stearine, which is the product of tallow, had been established in various States such as Victoria, New South Wales, and South Australia. But of late years the stearine candle-making industry has had to encounter a very formidable rival in the shape of candles made from paraffine wax, which is a by-product of petroleum. These candles are brought from America; and also from Rangoon. The candle-makers of the States to which I have referred complained of the undue competition of these paraffine wax candles. We felt that their case had been sustained, and accordingly recommended an increase in the duty upon paraffine wax candles of rd. per lb. At the same time we recognised that there were candlemakers in Tasmania and New South Wales who were making composite candles - that is, candles composed partly of stearine and partly of paraffine wax - and we declined to accede to the request to increase the duty upon paraffine wax, as the raw material.
That seems to me to be a pretty sound position, and the honorable member exactly voiced rr.v sentiments upon this matter. Speaking upon the question of preference, he said -
At the proper time I shall be prepared to support moderately reduced duties upon certain British imports, but I am not prepared to support higher duties than those which I have recommended against the whole world.
That is a position which can be logically sustained. The protectionist section of the Commission have made certain recommen dations which, as the honorable member for Bendigo remarked, represent the “ high- water mark of protection” against the world.
– When the .honorable member made that statement the other evening he was contradicted.
– Yes. I hope that the - honorable member for Gippsland will take note of the fact that what I stated upon that occasion was absolutely correct. I am prepared to support the recommendation of the protectionist section. of the Tariff Commission, and if the Government think it desirable to extend a preference to Great Britain, I am ready to grant it by reducing the duty levied under the general Tariff, but not by way of increasing the old rate.
.- I fail to see the need for such a high duty upon candles as 2½d. per lb. I take it that the Government, as a protectionist Administration, are of opinion that a duty of 1½d. per lb. will be sufficient to exclude candles of British origin, otherwise they would have imposed a higher duty. I think that the candles consumed in the Commonwealth should be made in Australia.
– They are being made here.
– I admit that. The Government evidently think that a duty of 1½d. per lb. is sufficient to prevent the importation of candles from Great Britain, otherwise they would have levied a higher impost.
– I am not aware that the duty does exclude British candles, because we have importations from the United Kingdom.
– If the duty is not sufficiently high, why does not the Government propose to increase it, so as to prevent British candles coming into competition with candles of local manufacture?
– I make a great difference between the treatment we accord to .the United Kingdom, and that which we extend to the foreigner.
– Is the Treasurer prepared to allow the operatives of Australia to become unemployed simply because the goods which result in their displacement may be imported from Great Britain? Whilst the present Government would, doubtless, prefer to see an Australian displaced by an Englishman rather than by a German, I presume that they do not wish to see him displaced at all.
– -What is the honorable member’s position ?
– I am prepared to impose a sufficiently high duty upon candles to enable them tq be manufactured within the Commonwealth. I am not a protectionist, but I take it that if a duty of id. per- lb. were not sufficiently high to exclude British candles, a protectionist Government would increase it.
– I do not say that at all.
– Is the Treasurer a protectionist or not?
– The honorable member is really asking me whether I am a prohibitionist.
– If I were a protectionist, I should be quite prepared to say that a prohibitive duty should be levied upon those articles which can reasonably be produced within ‘ the Commonwealth. A protectionist who is afraid to say that he is a prohibitionist must be a very milkandwater kind of protectionist.
– A man may take drink, but not be a drunkard.
– But the question is whether the duty of 1½d. will prevent the importation of candles from England interfering with the Australian industry. The honorable member for Fawkner has stated that he desires a higher duty in order that the dividends of a certain candle company may be increased, the present dividend being very low.
– Next to nothing.
– And also in order that the company may get more capital.
– Yes, in order to obtain better machinery. The question is whether the proposed duty as against England will enable the local candle company to increase its dividend. I am prepared to vote for the duty which the Government think sufficient to enable candles to be made here. Had the Government said that a duty of 2d. was necessary as against England, and 2-Jd. against the world, I should have voted, for the duty of 2d. all round, just as I am now. willing to vote for a duty of I4d. all round, seeing that the latter duty must be regarded by the Government as sufficient to prevent candles coming from England. I understand that the Government are prepared to adopt protection sufficient to prevent an importation of candles, not only from’ foreign nations, but from England.
– Will the honorable member not vote for a duty of 2 id. ?
– If the Government had proposed a duty of 2½d. as against England and 4½d. against the world, I should have agreed to 2½d. all round as sufficiently high to enable candles to be made here.
– The question which has first to be decided is whether the duty of 2d. shall be reduced to id.
– I am merely stating that I am prepared to vote for a duty of lid. all round. There is no doubt that, owing to the duties, the price of candles has gone up.
– Dividends cannot be increased unless prices do go up.
– We are told that the local manufacturers now have 87 per cent, of the trade, and the other 13 per cent, could not increase their dividends very much unless the price is made higher. I understand from some figures quoted by the honorable member for Kooyong that if the Government proposal is adopted it will mean an extra cost to the Broken Hill Proprietary Company at £3,800 a year. Personally, that consideration does not give me much concern, because I have no doubt that if the prices go up, the Broken Hill companies will commence to make their own candles, just as they are now making their own coke, the price of which was affected by the duty previously imposed. Only the other day I was talking to the manager of one of the big Broken- Hill companies; and made that suggestion to him. He admitted that the idea had not occurred to him before, but he made a note of it; and I am hopeful that if a duty is imposed. the result may be the manufacture of candles ‘by the mining companies.
– The mining companies will have to employ- men to make the candles.
Mr. THOMAS. Exactly; and it seems to me that if employment is given it does not matter whether it be bv big mining companies or by individual manufacturers.
– How about miners engaged in a small way ?
– So far as the individual consumers are concerned, the duty will probably result in an increased price. We must not forget, however, that the Government promise a Board or Commission to regulate prices to individuals as part of the” new protection scheme - that consumers and workers, as well as manufacturers, are to be protected.
– Does the honorable member think that prices ever will be regulated bv a Board?
– Time ‘ will show; I am neither a prophet nor the son of a prophet. I am prepared to give the new protection scheme a fair trial; and I shall be delighted if it proves successful; if it does not, we can only try something else. Under all the circumstances, I am prepared to impose an all-round duty equivalent to that which the Government thinks sufficiently high to prevent the importation of candles from England.
– We have now been engaged two days in debating one item, and, though we have had quite a flood of information in regard to the candle industry, I regret that we should not have come to a division before, now. Our difficulty is to obtain information from those who have practical knowledge; but the honorable member for Fawkner is in that position, and has shown us .the results of a Tariff which was previously in operation. As a result of the Victorian Tariff, certain people with whom that honorable member has been closely associated embarked in the industry, and it has been successful, and has been the means of reducing the price of a commodity in common demand. The candle works to which the honorable member referred have been in existence since that time, and the industry is now pretty well distributed throughout Australia; indeed, I have had some pleasure, and, I hope, some profit, in handling these goods, which. 1 may say, were all that they were represented to be. As a result of the work of the Sydney Soap and Candle Company, and other companies, the consumption of candles in Australia is now almost met by the local supply, and it may be taken that the article produced gives satisfaction to the people generally, allowing, of course, for a certain proportion who, from taste or sentiment, prefer to have their goods from abroad. It is a fact that, before the time referred to by the honorable member for Fawkner, candles were much dearer in Australia than they are now; and it has been shown that the article manufactured here is not only equal, but, in many cases, superior to that imported. That being so, it appears to me that, though I am in sympathy with the policy of the Government, I might make a suggestion which would meet the circumstances in which we find ourselves. The duty of id. per lb. previously imposed has been successful in so ‘ far that the industry is now fairly well established ; and, that being so, I do not think we need go quite as far as the Government proposal, although the industry will be affected by the proposed duty on stearine and paraffine wax.. I intend, after the amendment of the honorable member for Lang has been disposed of, to move that the duties of 24d and 2d. be reduced to 2d. and 1½d., leaving the other duties as they appear. If the honorable member for Lang could see his way to withdraw his proposal, the amendment I have indicated could be submitted now.
– I rise to make a personal explanation. The leader of the Opposition last night took exception to a statement that I made respecting the wages paid to those engaged in the manufacture of candles in Rangoon. I desire to draw his attention to the sworn evidence given before the Commission by John A. Kitchen, and appearing on page 664 of Minutes o:f - Evidence, volume 2 -
The daily earnings of the makers of those candles are only about 3d. -
– What does he know about the wages paid in Rangoon ?
– At page 626, will be found question 45 11 -
You have told the Commission that the wages paid in Rangoon to those who are engaged in making wax .candles range from 3d. to 6d. per day? - Yes; I obtained that information from a gentleman who has just come from Ran-‘ goon, and who has seen the operatives working.
Surely that testimony should satisfy the right honorable member.
.- The Government have shown that there is no’ necessity for the increased duties proposed by them since five-sixths of the Australian trade is supplied by local manufacturers. If. we place the people in the hands of the importers, without competition., we shall have exactly the same results as we should obtain from the placing of the people in the hands of the manufacturers, and shutting out all outside competition. The imports of candles are a mere bagatelle, but they are sufficient to keep down prices to a reasonable level. The moment we increase the duty, as the Government propose, by 100 per cent, m the one case, and by 150 per cent, in the other, we shall give the local manufacturers a monopoly of the trade. The manufacturer is not one -whit more considerate than the importer. A reasonable competition between the local manufacturer and the importer is the only protection that the consumer can be given. One of the disadvantages of protection is that under it manufacturers have no difficulty in combining. Reference has been made to the wages question, and I propose to quote from the report of the Chief Inspector of . Factories in Victoria for 1907 some significant figures bearing on that phase of the question. Appendix C to that report gives, the average weekly wages paid in various trades, and, under that heading, we find that there are 152 hands employed in the candle-making industry in Victoria at an average wage of £1 4s. 8d. per week. There are eleven receiving 6s. 8d. per ‘ week, nineteen receiving 9s. id. per week, ten at 12S. 10d., eighteen at 15s. 7d., eight at 16s. ixd., five at 20s. 7d., three at 23s., and seventy-eight at 35s- per week, or, as I have said, a total of 152 receiving an average weekly wage of 24s. 8d. . Evidence was given before the Commission that men were receiving £2 2S- ar,d £2 IOS- Per week. The Chief Inspector of - Victoria, who has no axe to grind, presents an impartial report, from which we learn that the highest wage paid is 35s. per week. Either that report is incorrect, or the employers swore falsely when before the Commission. _ I venture to assert that the report of the Chief Inspector will be found to be correct, and, if that be so, honorable members must recognise that it is necessary to enact that the employes in all industries shall secure a fair proportion of the advantages of the protective duties imposed.
– I rise to point out that it is absolutely necessary for honorable members to closely follow quotations made from the evidence given before the Tariff Commission. There has been on the part of the honorable member for Batman an attempt, unconsciously, perhaps, to mislead the Committee. A few moments ago he quoted from the report of the Commission! on the candle-making industry, question 451 1 -
You have told the Commission that the wages paid in Rangoon to those who are engaged in making wax candles range from 3d. to 6d. per day.
Then the honorable member quoted only a part of the answer -
Yes; I obtained that information from a gentleman who has just come from Rangoon and who has seen the operatives working.
That gentleman was never brought before the Commission. The honorable member for ‘Batman forgot to quote the latter part of the answer -
Beyond that I do not know whether the statement is correct.
I think that the Committee will agree that the full quotation should have been made.
– The honorable member for Grey has produced evidence as to the wages paid in the candle-making industry in Victoria. All protectionists to-day claim to be new protectionists, and the object of a high duty is to enable high wages to be paid to the employes in the industries to which those duties relate. I admitted during the debate on the Address-in-Reply, that unless protection were given to the worker - unless he secured in the shape of higher wages some of the advantages of protection - I should not vote for any duty. I repeat that statement. We are determined -under the new protection policy that better wages shall be paid. Unfortunately, we have to admit that in the past the placing of a duty upon a commodity has not insured the payment of good wages to those engaged locally in producing that commodity. I do not make one statement on the’ platform and another in this House. I admit that almost starvation wages have been paid by many of the manufacturers, and it is to insure higher rates of pay and better conditions of labour for the worker - whilst at the same time protecting the consumer- - that the policy of the new protection is to be put in force. By the imposition of higher duties we hope to improve the conditions of the worker whilst at the same time safeguarding the interests of the consumer.
.- The honorable member for Fawkner has admitted that under the old duty of id. per lb. local manufacturers secured five-sixths, of the Australian trade, so that only about 14 per cent.’ of the trade remains to he captured by them. If, as proposed by the Government, the duty be raised to 2 ki. per lb. they will have an absolute monopoly. The honorable member pleaded that although this large proportion of the trade has been secured by Australian manufacturers, they were paying meagre dividends, which did not represent a fair return on the capital invested. Is it likely that the profit, to be derived from the remaining 14 per cent, of the total trade would be sufficient to enable them to pay reasonable dividends? I think not. But if we pass these higher duties the manufacturers will be able to obtain an absolute monopoly, and so raise prices as to insure the payment of pood dividends. That is a point of which I hope honorable members will not lose sight. The members of the Opposition are at one with the members of the Labour Party in desiring to see good rates of wages paid. None of us has ever done anything to show that he would like to see low wages paid. But we do not wish to bring into existence a monopoly, and I appeal to my honorable friends in the Labour corner to assist us in preventing the creation of a monopoly. If there is one thing to which they object more than to another, it is a monopoly. I had other remarks to make, but, as most of what I intended to say has been said by other speakers, I shall -not detain the Committee longer.
.- Several assertions have been made by the Treasurer and has supporters, with, I believe, the deliberate purpose of misleading the Committee, being not at all in accordance with fact. With regard to what has been said about the Rangoon candles, I wish to inform honorable members that I have learnt from a reliable source that it is only the poorest kind of labour that can be hired in British India for 4d. a day, and that the coolies employed in making candles in Rangoon are paid a rate which approximates, in British money, is. a day, while a large amount of white labour is used, to which wages are paid twice as high as those ruling in Australia for the same kind of work.
– Tell the whole story.
– That is what I am doing. The Treasurer spoke of the poisonous character of the fumes given off by the Rangoon candles, but, .as a matter of fact, none but the purest material is used in their manufacture. Their constituents are ‘mineral, not animal, and the exhalation is pure carbon, which is not nearly so poisonous as the acid fumes of stearine candles. Moreover, because of the great heat in India, wax of a low melting point cannot be made, and, therefore, only the best paraffine wax is used. The protectionist members of the Tariff Commission report that the Sydney Soap and Candle Company employs only no hands all told, including every one engaged in the industry. The company pays .£8,500 a year in wages, an average of about 30s. a week per employe - a magnificent wage, truly. But only ,£2,000 a year is actually paid in the making of candles, the balance being paid to employes in other branches of the company’s business. From the same source I learn that, while Messrs. Kitchen and Sons have something like £100,000 invested in their business, the total value of the plant used in candle-making does not exceed £1,000, and of the hands “ employed, only 15 per cent, are engaged in making candles. Therefore, the candlemaking industry is a very small one.
– The making of stearine is the real industry, but it would be impossible to make stearine candles if there were no stearine industry
– No doubt that is so; but the stearine duties are dealt with in item 42. As a matter of fact, the total labour cost of manufacturing stearine is only from 5 to 6 per cent. . Let me conclude my remarks with this quotation from the report of the protectionist . section of the Commission -
Messrs. J. Kitchen and Sons Limited had in their factories at Brisbane and Melbourne about ^’120,000 worth of plant, of which from £80,000 to £100,000 was represented by machinery for the manufacture of stearine. The candle plant, exclusive of the stearine equipment, was worth not more than £1,000
From the details supplied, ..nd the unanimity of the testimony, there are reasonable grounds for concluding that in the manufacture of highgrade stearine a much larger proportion of labour is utilized than in the mere moulding of it into candles.
It seems to me that Ministers have mixed up the stearine industry and the candle making industry. We are asked, to vote for an increase of 150 per cent, on the old duty on candles for the benefit of an industry which, as I have shown, is very small, and employs only a very few hands.
– So much has been said about the devastating effects of the competition of Rangoon candles, that I think it my duty to place before the Committee three extracts taken from the evidence of the ‘Tariff Commission. The first extract is from the evidence of Mr. John Miller, manufacturer of candles in Tasmania -
Have you seen any of the Rangoon wax candles ? - No.
Have von an)’ reason to believe that they are* being imported to a considerable extent? - I know nothing of them except what I have stated1 in the form of evidence before this Commission.
Are you afraid of the competition of these candles in Tasmania? - No.
Then this is the evidence of William Charles Upton, manufacturer of candles in Sydney -
The Customs returns for 1903 show that during that year 67,637 lbs. of candles were imported into the Commonwealth from Burmah, and 258,968 lbs. from India? - That would be only 15,000 boxes; we make that quantity every month.
Then you are not afraid of the importation of Rangoon candles? - No.
– He is a Sydney bred manufacturer. He has not been suckled all his life.
– That is so. This is the third quotation I desire to make - from the evidence of Mr. Thomas Testro -
You are not afraid of the Rangoon candle? - Not at all.
Honorable Members. - Divide
.- On hearing honorable members call “ divide “ so impatiently, a stranger might imagine that they were all Socialists, and wish me to divide my substance with them. As a matter of fact, if I did they would not get very much. I should not have spoken’ but for the remarks of the honorable member for Melbourne Ports. I like his breezy manner, but he made some strong admissions. He stated that in the past, under protection, starvation wages have been paid in many industries. That is one reason why I, and other members of the Opposition, have always opposed protection. We contended that, under that policy, the public were unduly taxed, while the employes received only starvation wages. But, the honorable member continued, there was now the new protection. New protection is a very new idea to the Treasurer. Although, for years, he has been supporting protection, ‘under which it is admitted starvation vages have been paid to the employes, he has heard of the new protection only since it was invented for him by the Labour Party.
– And he forgot to mention it in his Budget speech.
– I am for the new protection ; but the manufacturers will not like it. The honorable member for Melbourne Ports told us that he favours the increase of the duties because of the new protection. His remarks reminded me of the patter of the cheap-jack, who tells his audience, “ My patent, cure-all at 2s. 6d. a bottle is very good, but, mind you, it is necessary to have the pills as well, at 2s. 6d. a box.” The honorable member says, “ I will go in for high duties, but, mind you, this is not to benefit the manufacturer, but to benefit the employes.” He has, however, admitted that in the past the employes in protected industries have been starved. Why should we increase the taxation of the people to increase starvation? I shall vote on every division to make the duties on this item as low as possible.
– I wish to put two facts before the Committee before we divide. We have heard a good deal about (the competition of Rangoon candles, and the lowering of prices by duties. In 1894 a Board was appointed in Victoria to inquire into the effect upon industry and production of the fiscal system of this State. Several well known manufacturers gave evidence before that body, including Mr. John Ambrose Kitchen, who stated that he represented the Apollo Candle Company of Port Melbourne. That gentleman affirmed that 90 or 95 per cent, of the candles consumed in Victoria were of colonial make. That was the substance of his evidence. In other words, notwithstanding the competition of the Rangoon candles and candles of British manufacture, Victoria was pretty well able to hold her own in the manufacture of these articles.
– But there was a duty of 2d. per lb. in operation then.
– That is so. Mr. Kitchen, was further examined, as follows -
I suppose you add to the price because of the duty ? - We could not manufacture without the duty.
That means that you add to your price on account of the duty? - No, we do not, because a less price than we are getting now would not pay the industry.
But if there were no duty the importer would be able to sell for less than you are getting? - No, I do not think he would, because we are making a special candle - I suppose half the trade is in an inferior candle io what is imported, and therefore a much cheaper candle than ever has been imported or ever would be. It is a poor man’s candle, and a candle that would never really be imported, so in that way we get a distinct advantage and give the consumer a distinct advantage.
In other words, the candle manufacturers of Victoria gave the consumer an article which was cheap and nasty as the result of the operation of a duty of 2d. per lb.
– The honorable member must admit that what he is referring to took place thirteen years ago?
– It occurred in 1894. Mr. Kitchen was further examined, thus -
Can you sell your candles as cheaply as the imported candles can be sold with the duty added. - Yes. The European makers have made a tremendous fight for this trade, and for that reason their prices have always been steadily lowered for the Australian market.
When you started manufacturing candles a duty was put on ; did it have any immediate effect in reducing the price to the consumer? - No, that came on very gradually.
Did it have the effect of increasing the price? - I suppose that it did to some extent.
That is the evidence of a Victorian manufacturer, who had had experience of the operation of a duty. of 2d. per lb. for a considerable time. He admitted that the heavier impost increased the price of the article to the consumer, and that, as a result, he was manufacturing an inferior candle.
Question- That after the figures “2½d.” the words, “ and on and after 18th October, 1907 (General Tariff), per lb.,1d.,” be inserted (Mr. Johnson’s amendment) - put. The Committee divided.
Majority. … … 20
Question so resolved in the negative.
– I move -
That after the figures “ 2½d.” the words “and on and ‘after 19th October, 1907 (General Tariff), per lb.,1½d.,” be inserted.
I propose subsequently to move that the duty in relation to the United Kingdom be 1d. Most of the imports are from outside
Great Britain; and this amendment, if carried, will mean an increase by 50 per cent. on the present protectionist Tariff. In the face of the evidence presented to us the duty I propose is sufficient to give the fullest protection, and it cannot be considered, even by a protectionist, as only a small advance.
– Do I understand that the amendment moved by the honorable member for Kalgoorlie refers only to the first column or the general Tariff? I am prepared to vote for higher duties in the first column, but I do not desire to be forced to vote now in regard to the second column.
– I intend to follow the usual course of first putting to the Committee the lowest duty moved, and, at present, the amendments deal only with the first column. The second column is thus left open to amendment subsequently.
– I gave notice of an amendment in the second column, and, as that amendment proposes a lower duty than does any other amendment, I should like to know whether it will have priority.
– I would point out, in the first place, that it is not possible for me to take cognisance of the sheaves of notices of amendment. I can only deal with amendments as they are moved.
– But the lowest amendment will be taken first?
– That is the course which has been followed since the Tariff was introduced, and I have already told the Committee that I propose to follow it now.
Question - That after the figures”2½d.” the words “ and on and after 19th October, 1907 (General Tariff), per lb.,1½d.” (Mr. Frazer’s amendment) be inserted - put. The Committee divided.
Question so resolved in the negative.
Amendment (by Mr. John Thomson) agreed to -
That after the figures “ 2½d.” the words “and on and after roth October, 1907 (General Tariff), per lb., ad.,” be inserted.
Motion (by Mr. Deakin) proposed -
That the House do now adjourn.
– I should like to know whether the Prime Minister has taken into consideration the question of the hour at which we should meet on Wednesday next, having regard to the fact that on that day the Australian Exhibition of Women’s Work willbe opened in this city.
– I propose to move on Tuesday next that the House at its rising adjourn until 5 p.m., on Wednesday.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
House adjourned at 4.10 p.m.
Cite as: Australia, House of Representatives, Debates, 18 October 1907, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/hofreps/1907/19071018_reps_3_40/>.