3rd Parliament · 2nd Session
Mr. Speaker took the chair at 2.30 p.m., and read prayers.
Mr. HENRY WILLIS presented a petition from Helena Molyneux Parkes, president of a public meeting held in Sydney on the 14th October, embodying its resolutions, and praying the House not to pass into law the high duties proposed in the Tariff.
Petition received and read.
– I have received the following letter -
In the Argus of this morning we notice you moved that potato flour should be reduced from 2d. to1/2d. per lb., which was the old duty.
We note the Minister struck the item out. Not quite understanding how we stood, inquiries were made at the Customs House this morning, and we now find that potato flour is included as “starch flours, dutiable at21/2d. per lb.” Therefore, the position is worse than ever, the former Government proposal of 200 per cent. having been practical ly increased to 250.
We would point out that this potato flour is used for manufacturing purposes only, as far as we know.
I wish to know by whose authority duty is now being collected on potato flour, seeing that that item was last night struck out of the Tariff, and, although starch flours are dutiable, there is no authority for the collection of duties on potato flour at the rate fixed for starch flours.
– I told the Committee, when we were dealing with the proposed duty on potato flour, that I was willing to permit the item to be struck out, so that when we had under consideration the duty on other starch flours we might deal with them all together, as in the Kingston Tariff.
Mr. BAMFORD. When will the Senate’s amendments of the BountiesBill be submitted for discussion?
– There are two measures - the Excise Procedure Bill and the Australian Industries Preservation Bill - which are more urgent than the Bounties Bill, but it is thedesire of the Government to pass the latter as soon as possible, if it can be done without unduly delaying the consideration of the Tariff.
– The consideration of the Senate’s amendments should not take more than an hour or two.
– I do not think that it will take very long. The amendments made by the Senate are not very extensive.
– When will the Prime
Minister be in a position to take the House into his confidence in reference to the proposed new mail contract?
– I doubt that I can do so to-morrow, but hope to do so on Tuesday or Wednesday.
– Is the Prime Minister trying to provide that Brisbane shall be a, port of call for steamers under the new mail contract?
– When tenders were invited tenderers were given the widest scope for suggesting additions to the service which would render it more useful to Australia, and were asked to state the terms upon which they could be made. Full advantage has been taken of that invitation, and a number of contingencies are provided for which are now under consideration.
– In view of the con tinued misrepresentations and misapprehension in London concerning Australian affairs, will the Prime Minister take steps to provide for the appointment of an officer to represent the Commonwealth there ?
– The High Commissioner Bill will be introduced, and its consideration proceeded with, so soon as the Tariff is disposed of.
– In view of the fact that the Victorian Government has declared Tuesday next- Cup Day - a public holiday, that the occasion is a great ore for the gathering of Christians from all parts of Australia, and that most members, being Christians, desire to attend, will the Prime Minister arrange for the meeting of the House then at half-past 7 instead of at half-past 2 p.m.? If he does he will be sure of aquorum.
– The arrangement made the year before last, when we agreed that Mr. Speaker should take the chair at halfpast 2, and, if a quorum were not then present, resume it again at half-past 7 p.m., was regarded as satisfactory.
– It was not a fair arrangement.
– We ought to agree either to meet at the usual hour or not to do so. In my opinion, we should meet at 2.30 p.m. as usual.
– The circumstances under which we are now sitting do not permit us to weigh this proposal as we might in an ordinary year, when we might be inclined to alter our hour of sitting. Any delay in dealing with the Tariff would be so serious that we cannot afford to lose even a few hours.
asked the Prime Minister upon notice -
In the representation of the Commonwealth in future Imperial Conferences, will he endeavour to arrange - so as to place these gatherings upon a democratic and permanent basis- that those members, additional to its Prime Minister, representing Australia shall be chosen by popular election?
– The answer to the honorable member’s question is as follows-
The late Conference widened the representation so as to include Ministers generally whenever questions affecting their Departments are under consideration. The next Conference summoned upon the same principle will assemble four years hence. It will rest with the Commonwealth Government of that period to submit its proposals for any changes in the construction of the Conference which it may desire. These, if approved, would, of course, be subject to ratification by the Parliaments of the United Kingdom and the Dominions.
asked the PostmasterGeneral, upon notice -
– The information is being obtained, and will be furnished as early as possible:
asked the Minister of Trade and Customs, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follow -
– On the 29th October, the honorable member for Kennedy, on behalf of the honorable member for Coolgardie, asked - Hansard, page 5240 - in reference to the export of £419,530 worth of fruit mentioned in the Budget Papers, what were the sugar contents, what sum was allowed the exporters, when was the practice of allowing rebate commenced, and whether rebate is allowed on the sugar contents of beer, wine, preserved milk, andother articles. It was promised that the information would be obtained, and I am now supplied with the following replies -
Confectionery Fruits, canned and
Jams and Jellies, preserved,
Jellies (table) in Milk, condensed, packets, Chocolate.
The amounts allowed till end of 1906 as drawback on the several items were : -
In Committee of Ways and Means (Consideration resumed from 30th October, vide page 5366) :
Item 68. Hay and Chaff, per cwt.,1s.
Upon which Mr. Thomas Brown had moved, by way of amendment -
That the words “ and on and after 31st October, 1907, free,” be added.
And Mr. McWilliams -
That the amendment be amended by adding the words “ until 31st October, 1908.”
– Before the discussion of the item is continued - and I hope that we shall not have much more speaking upon it, because nothing is to Be gained by prolonging the debate - I wish to place before honorable members information which has been prepared concerning the importations of hay and chaff during the years 1901, 1902, and 1903, which cover the last period of extreme drought.
– The present rate of duty was in force then. I remember moving its suspension.
– The Kingston Tariff was introduced in October, 1901, and the duty collected from the day of its introduction.
– At any rate, the Commonwealth duty was not collected throughout 1901. In that year there was imported into New South Wales, from the other States, 447,562 cwt of hay and chaff, on which no duty was paid.
– The State duties prevailed until the Commonwealth duty was imposed.
– The figures which I have read show how the other States came to the help of New South Wales.
– Can the honorable member tell us at what they sold their produce in New South Wales ? They made a very good thing out of it.
– And why not? Was it not better for New South Wales to buy from the other States than from people outside ?
– That is what the honorable gentleman said at the time. He said that our disaster was their opportunity.
– The figures which I am about to give show how, even in a time of the most extreme drought, the States were able to help each other. The following table gives the full details
– During the first nine months of 1901 Inter- State duties were operating.
– It seems to me that, having regard to the figures I have quoted, it would be absurd to waste time over the consideration of this question.
– They show that the stock-owners preferred to allow their sheep to die rather than to pay the prices that were then demanded for fodder.
– That is the position in New South Wales at the present time.
– It is useless to argue this question with honorable members who represent large centres of population.
– But what is the point ?
– The point is that one State came to the assistance of another, and that the duties paid on importations of hay and chaff during the last drought did not aggregate a very large sum. (Mr. Page.- What rot ! The honorable member knows that a big deputation waited on the right honorable member for Adelaide, when he was Minister of Trade and Customs, and appealed to him to suspend the fodder duties.
– I have quoted an absolutely correct return as to the importations of chaff and hay for the three years during which the drought prevailed. It shows that the total duty paid was about £3,300. I have put the plain facts before honorable members, and do not intend to argue the question.
– The return is useless in the absence of information as to what the consumption was. We do not know to what extent stock-owners, for want of fodder, had to suffer losses of sheep and cattle.
– That is a fallacious argument. The States where the drought was most severely felt obtained most of their fodder from other parts of the. Commonwealth. I was informed last night by a farmer from Tasmania that if the rainfall isnot too heavy, this season will be one of the best that has ever been experienced in that State. A good season is also anticipated in South . Australia, Western Australia., and in the south of Victoria. I do not think that there should be very much discussion on this question. The present drought is not nearly so severe as was that experienced in 1901-2-3, and during which only about £3,300 was paid by way of duty on importations of hay
.- I have listened with a great deal of surprise to the Treasurer’s statement. His attitude is only in keeping with that which the Government have taken up in regard to the farmers throughout the consideration of the Tariff. Five or six years ago, when the drought was at its worst, I moved that the fodder duties be suspended in order that the stock-owners of Queensland, New South Wales, and other parts of the Commonwealth where stock was dying for want of food, should have an opportunity to obtain supplies for their starving flocks and herds. That motion was rejected, and we are told to-day by the Treasurer that it is absolutely absurd to discuss this question. What is the position? In many parts of New South Wales and’ Queensland there is a great scarcity of fodder, and many stock-owners there prefer to allow their sheep and cattle to dierather than pay the extravagant prices that are being demanded by the Sussexstreet produce merchants.
– There is a bit of a ring in Sussex-street.
– Under the fodder duties there has sprung up - in Sydney and Melbourne more particularly - a large ring which is charging extravagant prices for fodder. The Minister knows perfectly well that when the suspension of the fodder duties was refused some five or six years ago the merchants of Sussex-street were making large sums of money out of the unfortunate farmers.
– They do the same with the imported as they do with the locally grown produce.
– Whilst the Government are prepared to grant all sorts of concessions to manufacturers on the banks of the Yarra, and in other large centres of population, they refuse to make even a slight concession to the very men who are keeping our large cities going. Some consideration ought certainly to be extended to the stock-owners in the drought-stricken areas of the Commonwealth. Whilst we are all glad that one State is able to come to the assistance of another which is suffering a drought, we must recognise that the existence of these duties enables the dealers in fodder to raise the price to the consumer. In the Illawarra district, which is one of the most favoured parts of New South Wales, the price of fodder is practically prohibitive, and many farmers there are allowing their stock to die. I do not blame people for trying to get as much as they can for their produce; but I do. object to the people in Tasmania, or elsewhere, attempting to make large fortunes out of our present distress, when, as a Federation, we ought to be helping one another. Mr. Atkinson. - They are not making large fortunes, and the drought is not their fault, but the faultofthe rotten climate of New South Wales.
– That is a nice expression to come from a member of a Federal Parliament! Last night the honorable member for Franklin, so far from taking the same view as that taken by the honorable member for Wilmot, gave notice of an amendment to suspend the fodder duties for twelve months; and I should like to show from some newspaper extracts what are the conditions -prevailing in some of the best parts of New South Wales. The Sydney Morning Herald, in the column “ On the Soil,” refers tothe Camden and Pictoh districts, which are amongst the most favoured so far as rainfall is concerned. These articles are written by a special reporter ; and I quote the following -
The whole of the country embraced in the Camden electorate, extending from the mean angle to Liverpool, is experiencing the rigours of an exceptionally severe drought. In several respects, it is asserted that the districts have never previously passed through such a time of tribulation as is now being endured . Mr. F. W. A. Downes, M.L.A., who has had years of experience as a farmer on an extensive scale at Brownlow Hill, unhesitatingly pronounces the present as the worst season during that period. His carefully-kept rain records for the last twenty years are especially interesting just now, and they may be accepted as a criterion for the whole electorate. They show that the last succession of good years terminated in 1894, in which year there was a total of 35.22 inches, while the average for that and the previous four years was about 40 inches. There have only been two good years in the last period of 1900 and 1904, when the rainfall amounted to 39 and 35.8 inches respectively. In 1905 there is a record of 20.25, and in 1906 it fell to 18.08. This year to date only 10 inches have been vouchsafed, and of this only 1 inch has fallen during the past four months. A very serious aspect of this continued absence of adequate replenishing supplies of moisture is that the ground has never been thoroughly saturated for three years, and the water supply has generally become more and more limited. The creeks upon which farmers away from the river frontages have been dependent have stopped running, and in most instances the large holes in the beds of these’ watercourses have also dried up. . . . The dairy cows and other stock, as a general thing, look better than might be, expected. This is entirely owing to the careful way they have been nursed by their owners. It has entailed great expense”, but hand-feeding has been followed without intermission practically the whole of the year, and, generally speaking, the stock have not been allowed to get into hopelessly low condition. How much longer this can be kept up is the problem. Many previously prosperous farmers, who have done a good deal to make the district what it was at its best, have exhausted their resources and their credit. The immediate future for such looks dark indeed.
I should now like to direct attention to the South Coast district in regard to which the special reporter says -
Most doleful news come from the South Coast. Each item tells a more distressing tale than the last, and the farmer one meets in the city is almost unable to describe the condition of affairs in his district. At sales of fodder every day South Coast farmers are regular buyers, and they are called upon to pay high prices for very poor stuff.
I do not know whether that was Tasmanian fodder, but I know from experience that some of the stuff offered for sale is very poor indeed. Last week prices as high as £6 10s. per ton were paid in Sussex-street, Sydney; and it will be admitted that that is a pretty high price.
If they do not buy, their good cattle must starve to death, and it is an open question as to which policy is likely to result in the greatest loss.
In other words, the question is whether the greater loss is involved in buying fodder or in allowing the cattle to die. Honorable membersknow that in the South Coast and Camden districts was originated what has proved to be a great national industry in New South Wales and parts of Queensland. The finest herds of dairying cattle in the world at the present time have been gathered together there; and those herds are now in danger owing to dairy farmers not being in a position to pay the high prices asked for fodder.
– They must be very valuable herds if they are not worth buying fodder for !
– The honorable member is one of those Victorian representatives who have not the slightest appreciation of what a real drought is. The honorable member, and others who live in the Western District of Victoria, have no idea what a country becomes when there is no grass with which to feed the cattle. The Government ought to be alive to the national importance of the position, and do their best to assist the farmers and others under the present distressing circumstances. Time after time in France, Germany, and other highly-protected countries, duties have been suspended in national emergencies ; and we ought to remember that our flocks and herds - the basis of one of our great primary industries - have made Australia what she is at the present time. We must remember that the manufactures of Melbourne, Sydney, and other places are not responsible for Australia’s greatness.
– How will this little duty hurt the primary industries?
– An honorable member, with the vast experience of the honorable member for Swan, asks how the absence of fodder will hurt the primary industries. .
– We never import any fodder, or, at any rate, very little.
– How can fodder be imported, when, in addition to the cost of freight, there is a duty of£ per ton ?
– Surely Australia can grow enough hay and chaff for its own needs ?
– In New Zealand, from which I suppose our supplies would largely come, there is great scarcity.; and I contend that, in a time of stress such as the present, the world’s markets ought to be open to us. I sincerely trust that the Committee will see their way clear to give our producers an opportunity to obtain fodder at the cheapest possible rate.
– We all sympathize with the unfortunate producers who are suffering from the drought; and I quite agree with the honorable member for Illawarra that, having entered Federation, it isour duty to help one another. But there is quite enough fodder in Australia at the present time to supply all the requirements of the Commonwealth. Honorable members who are opposed to these duties would prefer the outsider to get the money rather than that the enhanced prices should benefit those within Australia.
– That is an absurd statement, in which there is not a tittle of truth.
– From the remarks of the honorable member for Illawarra, I take it that he is in sympathy with the suggestion of the honorable member for Franklin to suspend the operation of this duty for twelve months. I should like to show, however, what kind of friend to the farmer and pastoralist, in time of drought, the honorable member for Franklin would prove. There is enough fodder in South Australia, Tasmania, and Western Australia to supply the Commonwealth under the present circumstances.
– What nonsense !
– I defy the honorable member todisprove the statement.
– I shall do so in two minutes after the honorable member has concluded.
– No evidence has been brought before us to show that Australia cannot supply its own requirements in this respect. I regret that prices are so high; but I remind honorable members that if fodder be brought from abroad, the same prices will have to be paid to the same ring referred to by the honorable member for Illawarra. I am tired of the hypocritical sentimentalism indulged in by honorable members like the honorable member for Franklin. Only yesterday that honorable member voted for a duty on potatoes ; and yet, in one mining district alone in South Australia, 1,400 miners have been dismissed, in addition to many hundreds of men formerly employed by the Tasmanian Mining Company, who carry on operations in the same State. Surely we ought to have as much consideration for starving miners as we have for those who did so well up to the time of the drought, and who should now be able to afford to pay better prices for fodder. I am assured that in the Wimmera District 10s. a head was received for lambs this season ; and those who sell at such a price ought to be able to pay a little more than formerly for theirfood stuffs.
– Did the honorable member see what the price of lambs was yesterday ?
– The question is not the price of lambs, but whether sheep and cattle can be fed. I am sorry that sheep should be sold at such an enormous sacrifice as at present, but, at the same time, I cannot see how the suspension of the duty would help in this matter. We have only a partial drought now, but we may have a complete drought in the following year, while under the suggestion of the honorable member for Franklin the duties would be suspended for only one year from now.
– But there could be a suspension for anotheryear.
– We might suspend the duties for twelve months, as suggested, and find the following year quite a prosperous one; and we should then hear what the farmers would have to say about the abolition of protection from outside competition. The duty is a mere bagatelle, as proved by the figures quoted by the Treasurer, and it will not affect the suffering producer. If we suspended the duties for one section of the community we must do so for every section. The first we ought to protect are men like miners, who live from hand to mouth, and who, whether seasons be good or bad cannot save a single shilling.
– The honorable member is all the time clapping duties on the commodifies used by the miners.
– Exactly, and I do so for the benefit of the miners who have shown that they know protection is fortheirgood.
– I do not agree with that.
– The miners of Western Australia have passed resolutions in favour of protection, because they know it is better to employ our own people than to employ other people. I desire to be a real friend of the farmer; and I contend that we ought not, simply because there is a partial and slight drought, taking the Commonwealth as a whole, to abolish a duty which has “been a vast advantage to him in the past.
– This means life or death to thousands of people.
– The honorable member has not shown that taking off the duty will have the effect he anticipates.
– The honorable member has not shown that the retention of the duty will help these people.
– I have done so. I have stated that the duty, in good times, gives enormous benefit to the producer. A majority of this Parliament would never have been induced to impose the duty unless it would be of benefit. I object to this attempt to deal with the producer in a different way from that in which other sections of the community are dealt with. Some honorable members appear to forget that when the producers experience bad times the manufacturers also feel them. Yet no proposal is made to help the latter class. So long as our primary industries receive all sorts of concessions it seems that our secondary industries may go to the wall.
– The honorable member ought to be ashamed of himself to talk like that.
– Of course, I recognise that, in endeavouring to get this duty remitted, the honorable member for Illawarra is acting quite consistently. He is endeavouring to mislead the farmer by mere sentiment.
– If the honorable member visited the drought-stricken areas, he would not say that my objection to the duty was based upon sentiment.
– I have just as much sympathy with the farmer as has the honorable member, but until it has been proved that we do not grow sufficient fodder for our own stock requirements we ought not to interfere with the operation of this duty. Reference has been made to the formation of a ring in fodder.I am sorry to say that it is only because we did. not get sufficient support from honorable members upon the opposite side of the chamber that the existence of rings in the Commonwealth is permitted.
– The honorable member’s party is giving them a show all the time.
– That is the opinion of the right honorable member. The difference between honorable members upon the other side of the chamber and myself is that I prefer to assist a ring which is inside the Commonwealth to one which is outside of it, whereas they are content to support rings both inside and outside the Commonwealth. I am satisfied that the Committee will insist upon the retention of this duty.
– The honorable member for Hindmarsh has indulged in some statements which do not redound to his credit. In a debate of this character, honorable members ought not to attribute all sorts of callous and unworthy motives to those who occupy seats upon the opposite side of the chamber, las the honorable member for Hindmarsh has done. He has said that we have no sympathy whatever with any section of the community other than the primary producers.
– Who said that?
– The honorable member did. He declared that we were willing to allow the manufacturers to go to the wall so long as the interests of the primary producers were safeguarded. I make bold to say that there is more genuine . sympathy with the bond fide manufacturer to be found upon this side of the chamber than there is to be found upon the other side.
– Lip sympathy.
– The honorable member has spoken with so much confidence because he has only viewed one side of this question. In the same way the Treasurer has regarded this supremely important matter to Australia from only one aspect. He has quoted figures to show that during times of drought we have not imported very much fodder, but that during such periods there have been large InterState transfers of fodder. He has argued that we have no need to remit the proposed duty, because we have sufficient fodder to tweet all our requirements. If his statement be accurate, how is it that we have witnessed such a positive holocaust upon the bare and barren fields of Australia?
I could understand the Treasurer’s argument had we been able to keep all our stock alive. But the fact is that after we have exhausted our supplies, after we have imported all that we can afford to purchase, millions of sheep have perished for want of fodder. Their owners were unable to purchase it at a price which would permit of the stock being kept alive. Does not the Treasurer see that the moment fodder touches an unreasonable price our stock must die? That is the point. It is not a question of what movements of an Inter-State character may have taken place during times of drought in the matter of fodder or grain supplies. Everything depends upon the price which has to be paid for these supplies, and whether it has paid the stock-owners to keep their starving stock alive. The figures of Coghlan tell their own sad tale of what the price of fodder must have been in those years. Had the Treasurer desired to present the Committee with a complete statement of the case, he would have told us what were the average prices which ruled for fodder during the drought years. We should then have been able to draw our own inferences. In his statistics Coghlan points out that during the ten years prior to 1903 there had been more or less of drought conditions obtaining in Australia. Owing to the difficulty experienced in feeding our live stock, there was a decrease in the number of our sheep from 1,06,000,000 to 55,000,000. In other words, half our sheep died during those years. That is the answer to all the twaddle which is talked about there being sufficient fodder in Australia to keep our starving stock alive.
– If fodder had been only half the price, the stock would still have died.
– A lot of stock would not have been saved if fodder had been at the lowest possible price upon the coast.
-I am not suggesting that all of the stock which perished would have been’ saved, but I do say that the death-roll would have been very much less if cheap fodder instead of dear fodder had been obtainable.
– Where would the honorable member get cheap fodder ?
– The honorable member said just now that we had plenty of fodder for all our stock requirements in Australia.I have quoted figures to show that during the ten years prior to 1903 more than half our sheep died. If we had all those sheep to-day we should be millions sterling richer than we are. Is it notstrange that those honorable members who are most demonstrative in this debate represent portions of Australia which are particularly well off in the matter of fodder for stock? The honorable member for Hindmarsh hails from a State which is enjoying most favorable conditions just now. The honorable member for Wannon, who has just left the chamber, and who has been interjecting that it is unnecessary to remit the proposed duty upon fodder, represents one of the most favoured constituencies in Australia, where, I believe, at the present time the. cattle are nearly hidden in the fulness of the growth which obtains.
– That shows that we have plenty of fodder in Australia.
– That is an absurd statement to make ! What nonsense it is to suggest that because there are some rich and succulent paddocks in particular portions of this continent we have sufficient fodder for all our stock requirements. It is true that there are some beautiful spots in the Commonwealth, which are still enjoying most prosperous conditions because of their assured rainfall. But the fact remains that in the remote portions of the continent there exists a state of drought and disaster. There the stock-owners are feeding their flocks where they can, and allowing them’ to perish where they cannot. The story that I have told in regard to sheep is also applicable to cattle. During the two years mentioned by the Treasurer there was a decrease of 20.000,000 in our sheep alone.
– Did they not die in New South Wales when no fodder duties were operative?
– But they did not die in such numbers.
– Yes, they did.
– Will the Treasurer permit me to proceed. In ordinary years they do not die in such quantities as to reduce the total number of our flocks. But in the two years which I have indicated 20,000,000 of sheep were lost to Australia.
– To whatyears is the honorable member referring?
– To the years from. 1901 to 1903 inclusive.
– But owing to the lack of means to conserve water internally millions of sheep died in New South Wales when no fodder duties were in operation.
– I am not disputing that. I am disputing that stock died in such quantities during ordinary seasons as to diminish the total number of our flocks.
– But in 1898, 1899, and 1900, they did die in such quantities as to diminish the number of our flocks.
– Coghlan points out that the years mentioned by the honorable member were for the most part drought-stricken years. The simple answer to the honorable member’s statement is that more stock would have died during those years if a duty upon fodder had been operative.
– There was no duty upon fodder then.
– The position is in a nut-shell: Can the honorable member purchase as much fodder at ^5 per ton as he can at £4. per ton? If he has to pay jQi per ton duty in addition to the famine prices for fodder in drought time, he can, feed less stock than he could if fodder were plentiful and cheap. The Minister told us of the quantities of fodder which were moved from one State to another during the last drought; but he ought also to have told us of the millions of sheep which rotted on the plains because fodder could not be obtained for them at reasonable prices.
– Should not those who grow hay receive consideration?
– They do. In times of drought the prices of their produce are double and treble what they are in ordinary times. The question is, should we make them higher still by agreeing to this duty.
– Why should the farmers be the only class in the community not permitted to take advantage of a duty ?
– Duties on produce give no advantage to the farmers, except in times of drought, when the bulk of the land-holders of Australia are suffering loss to the extent of millions of pounds. The loss of flocks affects not only the pastoralists, but, through them, the secondary industries of the community, arid causes the Commonwealth itself almost to stagger. The question is, should a few individuals “Mr. Sampson. - The farmers are a considerable section.
– Of course they are, but those who have fodder to sell in times of drought are very few in comparison with those who want to buy it, and in this, as in all other matters of legislation, we must consider the greatest good of the greatest number. We ought not, in times of national disaster, to make it more difficult for the pastoralists to feed their starving flocks. I find from a newspaper that to-day wheat is 6s. a bushel, flour £12 15s. a ton, maize 5s. a bushel, and hay £7 a ton.
– The duties have nothing to do with those prices.
– If it were not for the duty, hay would be £6 a ton.
– It is ^7 a ton at Maitland, where it is grown.
– The Hunter River district cannot supply us at the present time.
– If it were not for the duty, hay at Maitland would be j£6 a ton.
– That is a very fair price.
– It is a very high price.
– The duty could be suspended when prices reached a certain rate.
– We ask that the proposed duty on hay alnd chaff be .free or suspended for twelve months. Queensland and New South Wales are suffering most at the present time. They always suffer most from droughts. As an evidence of the effect of the drought in New South Wales, I call attention to the statement of the Treasurer last night that in his district pastoralists are renting land at 20s. an acre for six months, or at the rate of 40s. “an acre per annum, to depasture sheep. They would not do that unless the drought were very severe.
– The honorable member’s remarks are stupid. He knows nothing about the subject.
– One does not need to know much about it to know that this is not right.
– The Treasurer has been squatting all his life, but he told us the other night that he has nothing, so that he would appear to know all about it. Perhaps that is why he is so ready to lecture squatters who have succeeded, and to tell them what they ought to do in times of drought.
– A man engaged in politics has not much time to attend to his private affairs.
– Then he might speak more mildly. According to him, no one knows anything about any subject.
– The honorable member is a walking encyclopaedia !
– I know what the figures tell me, and what I am taught by my observation and experience. The prices of the necessaries of life are increasing by leaps and bounds, which seriously affects the poorer classes. To-day, milk in Sydney is 6d. per quart, an increase of 33& Per cent., while bread is 3½d. per loaf, which is more than it was five or six years’ ago, during the last drought.
– That is because of the high price of grain in other parts of the world.
– If the price of grain in other parts of the world is high, it is absurd to impose a duty to make.it more difficult for our people to obtain. I am in full sympathy with the proposal of the honorable member for Franklin that the operation of this duty be suspended for twelve months.
.- When last this question was discussed in a former Parliament, the circumstances were different from those which at present exist; the Tariff having been passed, and Parliament having no right, by remitting duties, to discriminate between the States. New South Wales asked for the remission of the duties, and the Prime Minister did all he could to persuade the authorities of the other States to agree to their suspension for a certain period ; but three or four of them refused to do so. To-day, however, Parliament is engaged in framing a new Tariff, and can determine whether the proposed duty should be agreed to, and, if so, when it should come into force. I am not in favour of entirely removing the duty on hay and chaff, nor do I think it necessary to suspend it for twelve months ; I think that its suspension for six months would be sufficient. According to a New South Wales official of high repute, who has given great attention to the cycle theory, we ‘shall next year enter upon a really first-class season, to be followed by several others. Those who know the central parts of that State - the Riverina district - are aware that rain, to be of value, must fall at certain periods of the year. Just now, unless it were excessively heavy, and were to be followed by slight showers a few days later, it would be worse than useless. I plead with the representatives of the States which are more fortunately situated at the present time than are New South Wales and Queensland.
– The honorable member should plead with the Minister.
– I plead with him, too; but he is in the hands 0* the Committee, which must decide this matter. I ask honorable members to consider the special circumstances of the case. No one can deny the seriousness of the present drought. During the last drought the loss of stock- was enormous. No doubt some loss was inevitable, but a great deal more stock would have been saved had fodder been easily obtainable.
– Whence could fodder be imported ?
– Chiefly from New Zealand. According to the Minister’s statement, the revenue paid on importations of hay and chaff amounted to only £3,670. During the last drought, although hay and chaff were exceedingly dear, as they are now, cereals were much cheaper than they are at present, and were used - wheat especiallyfor keeping animals alive, so many ounces or pounds being allowed per animal. As the Committee has agreed to the duty on cereals, we can give relief only by suspending the operation of the proposed duty on hay and chaff. I ask the representatives of South Australia, Victoria, and Tasmania to remember that the drought will affect not only the large pastoralists; farmers are also suffering. Surely the farmers in the more favoured parts of the Commonwealth should be prepared to forego this protection for a time, in order that, their less fortunate brothers in the drought-stricken areas may be benefited. The honorable member for Parramatta quoted from Coghlan figures showing that as the result of the last drought the sheep of New South Wales were reduced from 63,000,000 to about 30,000,000. After the breaking up of that drought the difficulty of obtaining stock was so great that small farmers had to pay as much as 25s. and 30s. per head for breeding ewes. At the present time, in consequence of the dry season, ewes which four or five months ago were selling at 25s. per head in Riverina are now being sacrificed at 2s. per head in the Melbourne market, because of the inability of their owners to obtain fodder for them. In this connexion the farmers are not producers but consumers ; many of them are compelled to purchase hay .and chaff to keep alive not only their sheep and cattle but the horses which they must employ to put in another crop. Their position is very serious, and since we now have an opportunity to come to their assistance we might fairly agree to a suspension of» this duty. But instead of suspending it, as proposed by the honorable member for Franklin, for twelve months, I think it would be better to move that the suspension should extend until ist May, 1968. I am hopeful that a further suspension will not be necessary, but if at the end . of the period I have mentioned the drought has not broken up we shall be able to take a more drastic step. The honorable member for Parramatta, when referring to the high prices of hay and chaff, forgot to mention that those prices are being obtained not by the producers but by some merchants who have cornered our fodder supplies. As a matter of fact, chaff in Adelaide is selling at from £3 5s. to £3 10s. per ton, whereas in Sydney those prices have been nearly doubled. This shows that a corner has been formed in New South Wales. T should like to aim a blow at the Combine.’ There is no warrant whatever for anything like the prices now being demanded. A few men have manipulated the market, and, having cornered chaff and hay, say in effect to the purchaser, “These are our prices, and you must pay them.”
– I doubt whether free imports would correct the trouble.
– They would not entirely correct the trouble, but they would tend to minimize it.
– During the last big drought cargoes of grain stuff entering Sydney Harbor could not find a purchaser except at the ring’s prices.
– That is so, but if the duties were suspended it would be possible for farmers to obtain supplies direct from other places. On the occasion of the last drought many stock-owners in the drought-stricken areas of New South Wales were able to shift their flocks to the eastern part of that State, where good supplies of grass were obtainable at a fair price. _ At the same time those in the drought-stricken areas of Victoria removed their flocks to the southern part of the State’, where grass lands could be leased at a reasonable rate. But on this occasion even the grass has been cornered, and exorbitant prices are being levied. I know of a case in which 30s. per acre is being paid for a six: months’ lease of grass land. Such a pricecould be paid only in respect of a certain, class of stock. It would be impossible to lease land at so high a rate for the grazing of ordinary flocks. In the Deniliquin district, where stock-owners have been paying highprices for breeding ewes in order to raisetheir flocks to a normal level, we have today the sorry spectacle of thousands of sheep being driven to the freezing works to be boiled down for the little tallow obtainable from their carcasses. This has to be done because fodder cannot be obtained at a reasonable price. It’ is a. national calamity that such a state of affairs should prevail. I intend at the proper time to move that the duty shall be suspended! until ist May, 1908.
.- A few moments ago I said, bv way of interjection, that the present high prices of fodder were due to the rotten climate of New South Wales rather than to this duty. That was an unfortunate expression, and lest it should be taken to indicate on my part a want of sympathy for the stockowners of the States where the drought is being severely felt, I wish to explain that my desire was simply to point out that the present high prices were not due to this duty. The duty of is. per cwt. has very little effect on the price.
– It increases it to the extent of is. per cwt.
– I think- I. can show that it does not. The unfortunate occurrence of a drought, and not the mere imposition of this duty, has been responsible for the increase in prices. When hay and chaff are selling at £6 per ton in Sydney, there is nothing to prevent prices being regulated by importations from New Zealand or any other country having ‘ surplus supplies. No one recognises more fully thanI do the deplorable effects of a drought onthe people generally. I intend to vote for this duty for the reason that I assigned for the vote which I cast yesterday infavour of a duty on potatoes. When Federation was established, it was understood that the farmers would receive some protection, and, as I told the electors that I should support- the existing duties’, I intend to do so. This duty is not of much assistance to the farmer, but since he cOnsiders that he is entitled to it, he can have it so far as I am concerned. In normal seasons it may protect our producers against importations from New Zealand. Instead of suspending the duty for twelve months, I think it would be better to give the Minister power to suspend it when occasion arises. No advantage would be gained by suspending the duty for six months if a drought extended over three years. In some circumstances, if we had to wait for Parliament to suspend the duty, all the sheep in New South Wales might die before action could be taken.
– Does the honorable member think it would be fair to place such- a responsibility upon the Minister? If Tasmania were enjoying a good season while the other States were suffering’ from drought, the suspension of the duty would be received with a howl of indignation on the part of the farmers of the island State.
– I do not think that the Minister would hesitate in such circumstances to suspend the duty. He would know that he would be fully justified in taking that action if the price of chaff went up, as it has done, to £6 or ^7 a ton. The duty could be re-imposed as soon as the price fell to about £4. per ton. We have heard a great deal about the existence of a ring in New South Wales.
– There was such a ring in existence during the last drought, and it has never been removed.
– I am sorry to hear it, but that is no reason why the farmer should be- penalized. I have been charged with inconsistency, and “my attitude may afford another opportunity for the honorable member for West Sydney to play the part of Satan reproving sin. I feel, however, that I am perfectly consistent in voting for this duty, because I am acting in accordance with my electioneering platform, and, at any rate, in accordance with what I consider to be the dictates of justice.
.- It is a recognised fact that a considerable portion of Australia is very frequently in a condition of drought, and, therefore, it is of no use making any arrangement merely to meet the circumstances- of the present year. In New South Wales alone, sheep were reduced by the last drought from about 61,000,000 head to about 28,000,000 head. I know that that loss extended over several years ; but in one year the loss was about 18,000,000 sheep, and if we value these at £1 per head, we get some idea of the tremendous loss, not only to the owners, but to the community generally. Doubtless by making fodder more accessible some sheep might be saved in time of drought, but, as a matter of fact, owners who are beyond the railway service do not attempt feeding,, removing their stock, if possible,, to districts ‘ where there is grass. Indeed, there are owners of millions of sheep who have decided that in times of drought they will not attempt feeding, but will, depend on moving them, if it be possible, by railway, the State allowing a rebate of 75 per cent, on the ordinary freight I know that in the past some stock-owners, instead of taking their stock by railway, have moved them by road, and carted hay for feeding; but much in- that way cannot.be done, unless, of course, hay is at a very reasonable price. Those who do attempt feeding stock in times of drought are mainly those within 300 miles of the coast ; and in those districts where smaller areas are held. Some honorable members seem to think that the farmers most affected are those who produce grain for sale; but, as a matter of fact, the stock-owners and wool-growers- not big squatters with capital at their backs, but men in a small way - feel more acutely any shortage in the supply of fodder. During the last drought these people made great efforts to feed their stock, seeing that they could not do much in the way of moving them ‘about, owing to the prices charged for pasturage in more favoured districts. We have been informed to-day that as much as 25s. or 30s. an acre for six months was paid for paddocks leased for the purpose of feeding starving stock. Those who are fortunate enough to have such paddocks are now following the example of the ring of which we have heard, and are taking advantage of other people’s sufferings in order to make profit for themselves. In my own electorate I find great extremes ; there are places with very good pasture, and other .places with less pasture than could be found in Bourke-street, and any spare grass is eaten up by grasshoppers. I wish to emphasize the point that, unless some relief is given, either by a remission of the duty or the empowering of the Government to suspend it, stock-owners do not intend to attempt much feeding during the coming drought.
– Stud stock must be fed.
– Quite so; but experience of the high prices charged during the last drought has’ caused . stock-owners to determine, as a policy, that they will not again attempt feeding during drought. Many who did make, some attempt to preserve their stock during the last drought lost everything, not having sufficient capital behind their backs to carry them successfully through. We ought to remember that all over the world there is a threatened shortage of cereal supplies ; and here, in the antipodes, our situation may be worse than that of other countries, seeing that in a “time of great scarcity we” should have to depend on ourselves, or,- it may be, on New Zealand. Our local supply is sufficient under normal conditions, but,unfortunately, there is no great demand until what may be called a universal scarcity arises. So long as stock-owners can shift their stock to grass country near the coast” they will not buy fodder, and, only a few weeks ago, when I was in my electorate, I found that the whole of the available railway trucks had been engaged for the purpose of removal. Only on rare occasions does a drought extend to the coastal districts ; and the people of Victoria, as compared with the people of New South Wales, do not know what a drought is. In Victoria, a farmer, who has a tank capable of holding a four weeks’ supply, thinks there is a drought if there is no rain for a month; but in New South Wales it may not rain for four months, and at one place there was no rain for seven years.
– There has been very little rain for seven years on the coast near Sydney!
– Just so. Leaving the western district, I should like to deal with the circumstances of those who have dairy herds in the coastal districts. Here, the animals are of greater value, and feeding is resorted to:
– Where is the fodder got from ?
– I am pointing out- that when a drought reaches those districts, it is a very serious calamity for the whole country ; and the question arises whether the local supply of fodder is sufficient, and whether some means should not be devised for obtaining fodder supplies from outside. Our only chance in this respect is, I think, in New Zealand. .
– The prices in. New Zealand are as high as they are here, owing lo the drought there.
– I have already said that our present prices are not due to
Tariff influences, but to a world-wide shortage of supply ; and I am afraid that we shall not be able to rely on New Zealand if the drought is going to .be as severe as some people suppose. In dealing with this Tariff we are, I suppose, legislating tor a number of years ahead, and doubtless a suspension o.f this duty might afford some slight help, though I- am afraid it would not “reduce prices very much. But although prices for stock were extremely’, high (some time ago, they are rapidly falling. The price of fodder is increasing, whilst that of stock is decreasing, owing to the fact that the small owners are being compelled to dispose of their stock to prevent them dying of starvation. The position is a very serious one. A great deal has recently been said in reference to the establishment of rings and combines. But it seems to me that such organizations are inevitable under the social conditions under which we live. What is the complaint of the producer to-day? Is it not that the middleman- secures the major portion of the profit? Irrespective of whether or not a duty is levied upon fodder, a combination will endeavour to make all that it can out of that commodity. I should like the Treasurer to recall what happened when the memorable drought of 1002 was in progress. Upon that occasion practically everybody, with the exception of the Commonwealth Parliament, did what they could to assist our stock-owners. The Railways Commissioners carried fodder at freights which ‘ involved them in a- loss, and moved starving stock from place to place at very low rates, whilst the Commonwealth Government collected” from the stock-owners .£500,000 by way of Customs duties.
– The States received most of that money back again.
– I am quite aware of that. It is our duty to assist the stockowners in time of disaster, and to make the burden imposed upon them as light as possible. In m’v judgment, the best way out of this difficulty is to place fodder upon the free list. If that course is notadopted we ought to vest in the Executive the power to suspend the operation of this duty. The latter mav not he a- very workable plan, and I think that Parliament will be very, loth to adopt it. Nevertheless our stork-owners ought to know definitely what is to be done, so that they may make their arrangements accordingly. I repeat that fodder should be placed upon the free list, but if it is not, the Executive should be given power to suspend the operation of the duty.
– - The honorable member for Parramatta has made some observations as to the losses sustained by New South Wales during the great drought of 1901-2-3. I Wish that he had referred to figures for years further back. I intend to show the Committee the losses of stock sustained by New South Wales when there was no fodder duty operative, in that State. In 1891 New South Wales possessed the largest number of sheep that she has ever had, namely, 62,000,000. Bad seasons were experienced, and, as a result, in 1894, the number of her sheep had been reduced to 56,000,000 ; in 1898 it had declined to 41,000,000 ; and in 1899, to 36,000,000. Honorable members will observe that these losses were sustained before the imposition, of the Commonwealth Tariff. It will thus be seen that the number of her sheep was reduced by 26,000,000 at a time when the stockowners were at liberty to buy their supplies anywhere, conclusively proving that the absence, of a duty had no effect in the saving of stock.
– I did not say that it had.
– I am merely emphasizing the point which I made previously. New South Wales has not since sustained such a big loss, in sheep. The operation of the duty upon fodder has had no effect whatever in that direction.
– In quoting the figures which he did regarding the losses of sheep sustained in New South Wales, the Treasurer attempted to convey an entirely wrong impression of my remarks upon this subject. What I said was that the losses in sheep were sustained in spite either of the .duty upon fodder or of the supplies which were available in Australia. I declared that stock died simply because there was not sufficient fodder to keep them alive. When sheep are perishing by millions, it is absurd to impose a duty upon fodder merely for the purpose of making it dearer, and consequently more difficult to obtain.
.- I think that the honorable member for Darling has suggested the proper method of dealing with this item, namely, the placing of it upon the free list. The suggestion that the operation of the duty should be suspended is open to all sorts of objections. In the first place, it would really amount to an intimation to persons in advance of what the duty would be upon a certain date, a course of procedure which is opposed to all rules of Customs administration. Then, in the absence of a settled policy, there would always’ exist in some of the States a feeling that an injustice had been done to them. We had an illustration of that feeling a few years ago, when a strong remonstrance was entered by those States which possessed fair supplies of fodder against the proposed suspension of the duty upon that commodity, whilst others were suffering acutely from drought. I would also point out that contracts have already been entered into upon the assumption that we should have a continuity of policy, and that, if the operation of the duty upon fodder be suspended, these contracts will be unduly disturbed. I hope that the Committee will remit the proposed duty. The Treasurer has quoted figures with a view to showing that under Inter-State free-trade we are making the abundance of one State minister to the scarcity of another. If that be so, casual suspension is destructive of the very object of Inter-State free-trade. But it seemed to me that he failed to prove his case by the statistics which he cited. He mentioned that, in 1902-3, 6,065,000 cwt. of hay and chaff were imported into New South Wales. The local production was 4,866,000 cwt., making the supply in that lean year 10,913,000 cwt. In the previous year, which was a much better one, the local production of New South Wales was 9,452,000 cwt., but it and the importation amounted to 1,000,000 cwt. less than in 1902-3. What do those figures show?
– That there was less grass in the later year.
– Yes; a larger quantity of hay and chaff having to be purchased by some of those hard pressed, to take the place of grass. A true comparison could be made only by showing how the supply of grass was affected in any two periods.
.- In listening to the debate, I have come to several conclusions. In the first place, it is evident that no one could tell the Committee, with the expectation of being believed, that the fact that millions of sheep, and thousands of the cattle, are in danger of perishing, and that the primary industries of New South Wales are engaged’ in a struggle which means life or death, is unimportant. But is it wise to be hysterical on the subject, and to paint the condition of the State in such colours that the representative of another State was led to interject, “ It is on account of the rotten climate “ ? We are trying to induce white people to come to this country; but if some of the speeches which have been made to-day get into the press of the world, persons abroad will regard Australia as a magnificent place to keep away from. One of our newspapers, which is very Australian in spirit, has gone so far as to brand certain persons who have besmudged the Commonwealth as the “stinkingfish “ party. I do not say that there are any members of that party in the Committee, but I deprecate hysteria in this matter. Would it not be better to calmly face the facts? Western Australia is sending chaff to the eastern States; South Australia has had a good rainfall, and has plenty of grass ; Tasmania has plenty of grass, and a large part of the continent is in splendid condition. But many of the speeches which have been made this afternoon might lead persons to believe that Australia is an abominable place. It is because of similar speeches in the past that the tide of immigration has flowed so strongly to Canada, although no member of Parliament, notwithstanding that the country, for several months of the year, is covered with ice and snow, so that stock have to be fed, thinks of drawing attention to the circumstance.I consider that those who have been fighting for the suspension of the proposed duty have wasted time. I belong to a party which stands for Australia first and always.
– Never for Foster?
– I am for fostering the native industries of Australia all the time. Honorable members have spoken of the fodder which, if it were not for the duty, would come from New Zealand to save our starving stock. But, on the 25th of this month, in Wellington, prime oaten sheaf chaff was selling at £6 5s. a ton, and could be bought in Melbourne for £6 a ton, while prime chaff was selling at
– Everything is high in New Zealand because of the price of labour.
– Does the honorable member wish us to believe that, if the farmers of New Zealand had an immense surplus of. chaff to sell, they would be getting these high prices? The high price of labour in New Zealand has enabled them to get better prices, but not famine prices. There would be something in the contention of those who ask for the suspension of the proposed duty, if we could get large supplies of cheap produce from New Zealand ; but under present circumstances there is not much justification for it. Still, I should be willing to empower the Government to remit this and other duties if exorbitant prices were being charged by those whom they protected. I have no sympathy with those who charge the Australian public too much. I believe in protection because, by increasing production and creating competition, it tends to reduce prices.
– The honorable member cannot produce rain.
– I am not like the hon orable member for Franklin, who voted for a duty of£1 a ton on potatoes and now asks for the suspension of the duty on chaff. If he were sincere, he would have taken similar action in regard to the potato duty, because he knows that potatoes are a good food for starving stock.
– Potatoes have been as low as £1 a ton this year.
– At the present time they are fetching a big price in New South Wales.
– The profits of the farmers at the. present time have been referred to as blood money; but it often happens that farm produce is unsaleable, and if, when they demand high prices because supplies are scarce, they are to be charged with exacting blood money, I ask what is to be said of the conduct of manufacturers and importers in increasing their prices ?
– I was not speaking for myself.
– Although honorable membershave spoken of the high prices of produce now reigning, and of them being due to the existence of a ring, they have not done anything to prevent the formation of such rings. . During the last drought a ring increased prices, and honorable members who were in Parliament at the time knew that that was so, yet, when the party to which, I belong has tried to deal with rings and trusts, by nationalization if necessary, they have opposed it.
– They have never opposed action for the prevention of rings and trusts.
– When sellers form a ring to rob the people, it is our duty to pass measures to put an end to the existence of such monopolies. I shall vote for the proposed duty because, in my opinion, it will not. affect prices. It will operate to the advantage of our farmers only when prices are very low, and I object to its suspension for a long period. I would, however, urge the Ministry to suspend the duty if prices were unduly raised, and I hope that later on, when we are considering measures for the new protection, or other means for preventing extortion, honorable members will assist us to make such legislation effective.
– I hope that the Committee will suspend this duty; and since it has not been sought by the farmers, and is unlikely at any time to benefit them, I think ‘we should be wise in remitting it.
– Does not that argument apply to maize?
– Not to the same extent.
-Because it is grown in Queensland ?
– In good seasons we produce in Queensland enough fodder to supply the wants of the whole Commonwealth, and are sometimes glad to obtain £1 a ton for it. When we have a good season the duty is inoperative. The honorable member for New England has referred to the existence of a ring. During the drought of 1901-2-3 I had the painful experience of seeing the incomes of the dairymen in the Moreton district dwindle away from £20,000 per month to the vanishing point, whilst during the same time their outlay on fodder amounted to something like £20,000 or £30,000 per month. We obtained a considerable proportion of our fodder from Victoria and South Australia, and although in. the first-named State it was selling at £6 per ton, the stock-owners of Queensland, owing to the action of the shipowners, who favoured the produce merchants, were unable to obtain it at less than £14 a ton. The result was that we had to draw largely upon supplies obtained from the Argentine and other countries. The honorable member for South Sydney and the Minister of Trade and Customs drew a harrowing picture of the loss of millions of sheep in New South Wales in 1897, when there was no duty on fodder. Do they wish to add to the enormous losses of the stock-owners by taxing them to the extent of £1 per tonin respect of all the fodder they import?
– How can we tax them when there is no fodder coming in? The price of fodder in New Zealand is dearer than it is here, and there has also been a drought in the Argentine.
– There are other countries from which it can be obtained. If, under the new protection proposals, the honorable member can devise a scheme which will enable the farmers in, say, Queensland to obtain fodder from South Australia during a drought without being at the mercy of a ring of shippers or produce dealers, than I shall be prepared to listen to him.
– Will the honorable member help us?
– Everything will depend upon the nature of the proposal that is submitted. I hope that the Committee, in its wisdom, will determine to suspend this duty.
– I was greatly amused by the statement of the Treasurer, who shed crocodile tears over the unfortunate lot of the pastoralists in the Western. Districts of Queensland and New South Wales. No honorable member is more familiar than he is with the difficulties by which farmers and pastoralists are assailed ; but it appears that because he has “ soured “ against the settlers in the country, he wishes to penalize the country which has penalized him. Every sheep in the Commonwealth is a national asset, since it creates work for many people. Those who have been engaged in the pastoral industry alone know the value of each of our sheep to Australia. During the existence of the last drought the Commonwealth Government, instead of coming to the assistance of the principal primary producer in Australia, slapped heavyduties upon his fodder. My experience during the drought was that the duty of £1 per ton meant that the price of every ton of fodder that I had to buy was increased to that extent.
– What did the honorable member have to pay for his fodder?
– Up to £12 per ton.
– The duty becomes inoperative after the price goes beyond a certain stage.
– The duty had to be paid : on every ton of fodder that we imported from the Argentine. I hope that honorable members will endeavour for a moment to place themselves in the position of the men on theland who are struggling to save their flocks and herds, and that they will be prepared to extend to them the same consideration that most of them are always ready to give to the manufacturers in our big cities.
.- The honorable member for Angas and a number of other free-traders have declared their intention of voting for the remission of this duty. As a. protectionist, I assert that as long as protection is the settled policy of the country every person in the community should enjoy to the greatest possible extent the advantage of that system. The Government propose to continue the old duty of £1 per ton on hay and chaff, and I am prepared to support that proposition, because it is in accordance with the settled policy of Australia. At the same time, I recognise that there are peculiar circumstances of which we must not lose sight in imposing this duty. It has been proposed by the honorable member for Franklin that the impost shall be suspended for a period of twelve months, but the honorable member for Riverina has urged that a six months suspension would be sufficient. As a matter of fact, it may be found necessary to suspend the duty for two years in order to meet the exigencies of a drought. Our desire is to pass a Tariff that will stand for a number of years, but we must not lose sight of the fact that after the Tariff has been passed we shall not be in the same position as we are to-day to make special provision to meet the exigencies of a drought.
– We could next year, if necessary, extend the proposed suspension.
– I doubt whether we could do that. The Treasurer, a few moments ago, quoted figures which showed that, even under free-trade in New South Wales, there had been enormous losses of stock owing to drought. That is admitted ; but, nevertheless, it is obviously the duty of Parliament, in a matter of such great national concern, to minimize the loss as much as possible. I shall vote for the duty proposed ; but, at the proper stage, I shall move the addition of the following proviso -
Provided that when the wholesale value rises above £6 per ton at the chief ports of entry of any State, the duty shall be remitted.
– The duty could not be remitted in one State and not in another.
– Just so; but surely any remission ought to be so made as to automatically apply where the necessity arises. I see no insurmountable difficulties, though, of course, there may be some in regard to details. The interests involved are vast ; and we should do our utmost to make conditions as easy as possible under the present drought, and any similar visitation in the future.
– It seems to me to be straining the principles of protection to endeavour to apply those principles to staple products, of which, as a general rule, we have large surpluses, and the prices of which are regulated entirely at Mark-lane or in the markets of the world. As a general rule, any measure of protection cannot apply to such products ; the only time at which a duty does apply is during a shortage, and when that shortage is naturally being taken advantage of by the shipping ring and produce merchants to regulate prices. I am prepared to admit that those to whom I have just referred will regulate prices whether there be a duty or not; but because they choose to make the necessities of Australia their opportunity that does not justify the Government in asking for £1 per ton out of the proceeds of the exploitation. I should like some measure enacted to check such exploitation ; but I confess I cannot conceive of any on the spur of the moment. I realize that the ring will be only too pleased to place on the Government the responsibility for any increase in prices. I, for one, decline to take any share in that responsibility, although I admit that our action will not materially affect prices. I am prepared to believe that the prices will be high whether or not there be a duty ; but I decline to join in robbing the public. I believe in protection which stimulates industries and is accompanied by a measure to prevent the exploitation of the public, but I do not belive in a duty which enables the Government to assist in that exploitation.
– I have heard some honorable members express sympathy with the farmer ; but, so far, no such sympathy has. been shown by the Government. I am a farmer myself, and largely interested in farming pursuits; and I am quite satisfied that the farming community do not desire any duty on fodder.
– Perhaps not in the honorable member’s neighbourhood.
– I do not think that the farming community in any part of Australia desire a duty on fodder. Australia is large enough, and sufficiently self-contained, to enable the farmers to put aside any such selfish desire for spoon feeding. I speak as a protectionist when Isay that I do not think that any protection is required in the case of fodder. I shall support the proposal of the honorable member for Franklin that the duty, if imposed, shall be suspended for twelve months, and I ask the Treasurer to adopt the suggestion.
– Never !
– The proposal of the honorable member for Franklin is in the interests of Australia generally. Who will benefit by such a duty as that proposed ? Certainly not the farmers, who, on the contrary, will have to pay an increased price in consequence of its imposition. The honorable member for Maranoa told us that if this duty be imposed he will have to pay an extra £1 per ton for his fodder. It is all very well to pose as the protectors of the farming industry, but who are suffering from the present drought? Many honorable members seem to failto recognise that there is a drought ; but I can say that all through my district sheep are being sold from the shears down to1s. per head, owing to there being no grass ; while at the same time farmers have to pay £7 per ton for adulterated hay-chaff.
– To whom is that price paid? To other farmers.
– It is paid to Melbourne produce merchants; and farmers who, two or three months ago, sold hay for £2 or £3 per ton, have now to pay £7 for it in an adulterated state. In my opinion, this duty is not a protectionist proposal ; because protection ought to mean protection to each and every one of us. The duty is neither more nor less than a tax on the primary producer, and I am certain that the farmers do not desire it.
– I am not surprised at free-traders opposing this duty, but I am surprised that farmers’ representatives should desire to penalize all farmers because certain farmers in their own districts are suffering from drought.
– “ Penalize “ ! Then the duty does make a difference?
– Yes. If there is one thing that we require, it is some fixed policy in regard to protection. When Federation was adopted, it was on the understanding that all the States would benefit in some direction or another. We in Tasmania were told by the advocates of Federation that the Union would form an outlet for our produce on the mainland, especially in times of shortage. Now, however, when there is a shortage - for which we are all sorry - it is suggested that the duty should be removed, and that the produce which South Australia, Western Australia and Tasmania have for sale must compete with produce allowed in free of duty from other parts of the world. That, to my mind, is a very one-sided kind of policy. The undertaking in regard to the Kalgoorlie to Port Augusta survey has been carried out, and I contend that the equally binding promise in regardto protection to Tasmanian industries should be respected. The honorable member for Franklin used very strong language when he described this duty as blood money, and asserted that Tasmanian producers were living on the misfortunes of others. The honorable member should be more careful about the language which he uses. Farmers resemble other traders in this respect - they sell in the best market for the best prices they can secure. I suppose that if a man had his house burnt down, and had to have it rebuilt, the honorable member for Franklin would call the money paid for the rebuilding blood money?
– I do not see the parallel.
– Perhaps not, but that may be because the honorable member looks at these matters from a different point of view. The honorable member for Parramatta told us that a large number of sheep died during the last drought ; but that loss, I contend, was due to the difficulties encountered in conveying fodder to where the stock were located. I know that many people in Queensland, for instance, lost thousands of sheep because they were hundreds of miles from any railway, and if they could have got fodder for nothing in Melbourne or Sydney it would have been of no use to them. The honorable member for Illawarra suggested to us that a number of valuable sheep and cattle in New South Wales would be allowed to die if this duty were imposed. But if the stock be so good as represented, I am sure they will not be permitted to die because of such an. impost
– Has the honorable member ever fed stock for an extended period?
– I was brought up in the country, and know something of stock ; and I am convinced that a duty of 1s. per cwt. will not cause owners to allow valuable stock to die. We have not heard honorable members complain very much about the ring which charges for fodder a great deal more than 1s. per cwt. profit ; and I do not think so much noise should be made about the small duty proposed by the Government. In a time of drought like this it is the small farmer who receives the greatest benefit, because he usually keeps two or. three stacks from one year to another, and is thus enabled at such a time as the present to sell at an enhanced price. In this case we ought to consider the small farmer in Tasmania, who experiences great difficulty in earning a livelihood during moderate seasons, whilst his competitors upon the mainland are making fortunes. We know that large squatters upon the mainland make thousands of pounds annually “during good seasons. Of course they sustain losses during bad seasons ; but they can better afford to submit to a loss than can the small farmer, who has to struggle for an existence from year to year. In my opinion, if the small farmers were to combine, just as do the merchants, their position would be greatly improved.
.- I am sure that the honorable member for Bass in the course of his remarks made it very obvious to the Committee that he was really speaking against the better instincts of his generous disposition. After the way in which I stood by Tasmania upon the question of paraffine wax I am very sorry that my honorable friend does not see his way to meet me in the same spirit upon a much more important matter. As sympathy appears to be going round theChamber, at no expense to anybody, I quite sympathize with one aspect of the case which has been presented in opposition to the reduction of the proposed duty. At first sight it seems very fair to say that fodder duties are very seldom of any service to the farming industry of Australia.
– Or to the Government.
– Or to the Government. Therefore, it seems only right that when they would be of some service to the farmers the latter ought to get the benefit of them. There is a certain amount of truth in that statement. It is only some very large and pressing consideration that would induce one to pass it by. It is a melancholy fact that the primary industries - although some of them are supposed to be protected - very rarely derive the slightest benefit: from protective duties.
– Because farmers are exporters.
– Yes. The moment the bucket overflows, it is all ocean, and there is no protection, so far as the farmer is concerned. That has been the experience of farmers generally, and I quite sympathize with those representatives of constituencies in which plenty of fodder is being grown, who say “Year after year we have derived no benefit from a protective Tariff, although we have been subjected to the burdens which it has imposed. Now that a good time has come why should we not get the advantage of it ?” If we could study the interests of our primary producers at the expense of all other interests we should say, “ By all means enjoy the advantage.” But we have to recollect that the drought conditions which obtain are so severe that they extend even to New Zealand.
– Ninety-five per cent of the fodder in the Commonwealth was sold to hay and corn dealers long ago.
– The honorable member for Indi ought to know a good deal about that matter. I should like to know if the statement is correct.
– A good deal of it has been sold.
– What I wish to say to the farmers, who naturally desire to get some benefit out of a protective policy, is that the state of drought which obtains is so severe that in dealing with this duty in the way proposed we know that we shall not deprive them of any legitimate advantage. Why ? Because the drought conditions have had the effect of raising prices by 100 per cent.
– By more than that.
– I want to put the position as moderately as possible. In dealing with this duty we shall not rob the farmers of any legitimate advantage to which they are entitled, because they will get the benefit of an advance of 100 per cent. upon normal prices, and most farmers- when their brethren are suffering under such abnormal conditions as now obtain - will be content with that.
– How will they get the advantage of an increase of 100 per cent. ?
– I believe that in ordinary times the price of chaff ranges from £3 to £3 10s. per ton, but it is now selling at £7 per ton.
– It only realized 35s. per ton last year,
– But we must accept as the basis of our calculations the prices which obtain in the country, because the farmers do not live in our cities. We must not take the Melbourne price of fodder–
– The prices which have been quoted to-day were those which obtain in the metropolis.
– I am aware of that. That is quite a fair course to adopt in reference to importations. The farmers who have hay to sell will enjoy a great advantage by reason of the drought conditions which obtain. I wish the honorable member for Wimmera to recollect the kind of man that the farmer is when his brother farmer is in distress. When the farmers in the Wimmera district were suffering from a terrific drought, the Gippsland farmers provided their stock with grass free of charge. That is the way in which one farmer treats another in time of adversity. I only learned of this incident to-day, and I am glad to be able to publish it throughout Australia as one of the best things of which I have heard, displaying, as it does, a real brotherly spirit.
– Is the honorable member talking of the farmers of Gippsland or of the graziers, because I know that the latter exacted a very heavy toll ?
– I use the word “farmers.” The generosity underlying their action is so splendid that it deserves to be published broadcast. Then, in the course of time, the settlers of Gippsland were overwhelmed by a series of disastrous fires, and immediately the farmers of Wimmera came to their rescue and acted in a spirit of similar generosity.
– That is the real fanners spirit.
– Such conduct might well be held up to general admiration.
– They are true Socialists.
– If a man is a Christian he is called a Socialist nowadays. What I wish to point out is that the farmers who have hay or chaff to sell will obtain a magnificent return by reason of the normal price of these commodities being doubled. Consequently, they are not being unfairly treated. With regard to the effect of the duty upon the owners of starving stock, do honorable members recollect the nights that we spent in discussing the welfare of the 800 young ladies who are employed in a cigarette factory ? I remember that the honorable member for Hunter told us what a beautiful factory they had to work in, and of the admirable healthy conditions which obtain there. As a result we were induced to raise the Tariff in the interests of these female operatives. May I add that the lot of artisans in our big cities under a protective policy is, to say the least of it, a much more enviable one than is that of those settlers in the country who have to battle with the adversities of nature, who are beset with pests upon every side, and who, just as they have a prospect of securing a splendid harvest, sometimes find almost every blade of wheat destroyed. Surely we can exhibit as much sympathy with these persons as we extend to those who have a comfortable roof under which to work, and who are never afflicted with bad times, because people will always smoke. I suggest that the present affords us an opportunity to show a certain amount of practical sympathy with a great struggling industry. Let us suppose that a great catastrophe occurred to the manufacturing industries of Australia. Surely protectionists would come to their rescue, and assist to tide them over the crisis. I think that even free-traders might do the same without any sacrifice of principle, because calamities ought towipe out all fiscal distinctions. I repeat that we have an opportunity of showing our sympathy with the producers in a practical way. Even if our action does not conferany good upon those who aresuffering, it cannot do one bit of harm. We have been told that if the duty be suspended we cannot secure chaff from any other portion of the world. In that case the suspension will do no harm, but it may possibly help the selectors and dairymen all over Australia. At present they are. suffering from a double loss. They are suffering from a lost harvestand from drought conditions which result in starving stock, even in parts of New South Wales which generally enjoy splendid seasons. But I am not thinking so much of the settlers in those districts as I am of the settlers in areas which are frequently afflicted with droughts. These are the persons to whom we ought to extend some consideration, and I would certainly suggest that the amendment of the honorable member for Franklin might fairly be adopted.
.- The debate upon this item does not appear to me to partake of an ordinary fiscal controversy. We who are protectionists say-
– We who are protectionists ?
-We who are protectionists say that protection causes competition, and thus decreases the price of the protected article. Can any member of the Committee say that this protection will result in decreasing the price of hay required for feeding starving stock? Furthermore, I ask the Treasurer how is he going to apply his new protection theories in this case. Is he going to impose an Excise duty of £4 a ton on the farmers who sell at £6 a ton? I know that he has a large heart, and I ask him, therefore, to remember the position of the wretched people who are struggling against the drought, and to bear in mind the disaster which will ensue if the splendid herds referred to by the honorable member forIllawarra are decimated. Such herds cannot be built up in a lifetime. In my opinion, it will be a reasonable compromise to consent to suspend the operation of the duty for twelve months.
– Why not make the suspension automatic?
– That is a little beyond us.
– I am surprised that this appeal for sympathy and help is being made so early. The magnificent dairy herds which have been referred to are the result of years of careful selection, and undivided attention, and we should all deplore their loss; but it must not be forgotten that they have paid their owners handsome returns. It has been part of my business to make myself acquainted with the present condition of affairs, and I have been assured that the supplies of fodder in the Commonwealth are at least enough to last for twelve months.
– The honorable member does not know anything about the matter.
– In Victoria, to-day, trucks cannot be obtained for the carriage of starving stock, unless they are ordered three weeks in advance.
– That proves nothing. The same thing occurs in times of good harvests.
– Not to the same extent. We have never had a worse time with the railway people.
– I admit that the honorable member for Indi has special facilities for obtaining knowledge on this subject. But even if the circumstances were as distressing as they have been depicted by some honorable members, must we not remember the rights of those who, in ordinary years, do not participate in the advantages of protection?’ When fodder is £12 a ton, the duty does not operate.
– It operates in regard to importations.
– When fodder is £12. a ton, it is ridiculous to say that the price is affected by a duty of £1 a ton. It is due to the operations of a ring, which has effected a corner. The price would be equally high if there were no duty.
– The honorable member cannot get away from the fact that the duty has to be paid on imported fodder. What about that brought from the Argentine?
– I understand that £3,000 has been paid in duty on importations.
– For hay and chaff only ; but there have also been importations of grain.
– Even if we admit that every penny of the duty is paid by those who buy fodder, and that prices have not been increased by the operation of the ring - though we know, as a matter of fact, that during the last drought some persons made vast fortunes by effecting a corner in produce - it must not be forgotten that the Governments of the various States are making concessions to the pastoralists which more than compensate them.
– These concessions would be made in any case.
– They have ultimately to be paid for, mainly by those on the land. It is the land-holders who are chiefly called upon to make good deficits in railway revenue. What difference is there between making good these losses and paying a duty?
– They have to pay the duty in addition to paying for concessions.
– I thought that I had cured the honorable member of his habit of doubling charges. Last night, after he had stated that certain persons pay two charges, he had to admit that they pay only one.
– The honorable member is a political “quack.”
– I hope not. I am acting honestly, having no axe to grind. The district which I represent is suffering from the drought, and I .certainly am a loser by it. But I wish Parliament to deal fairly with the Commonwealth as a whole. It is not because there is a scarcity of feed in one part of the Commonwealth that we should expose those on the land to the chilling winds of unrestricted competition, to adopt an expression which the leader of the Opposition is said to have used.
– That is a fabrication of the Age. If the duty will do no harm to the buyer, it cannot do good to the seller, so that by suspending it we shall not injure the farmers.
– I do not like to heaT of fodder being £2 a ton. But the position now is different from what it was during the last drought. At the present time many farmers are holding back stocks’; produce is not in the hands of speculators to the extent that it was in 1902 and 1903. But if we open our ports to the unrestricted importation of produce, any relief which mav be given will be temporary only, and, as we are so far from sources of supply, large importations will be dumped here, with the result that the market will be glutted, and for months, and, perhaps, a year to come, prices will be reduced below a proper and remunerative level.
.- The honorable member for Laanecoorie has expressed the opinion that this appeal for the suspension of the duty has been made too early. But from all parts of New South Wales and Queensland comes the cry that fodder is needed to keep alive dying stock, while the leading prelates of Australia have joined with their congregations in appealing to God Almighty to send rain. Speaking for my own district, as other ‘honorable members have spoken for theirs, I say that the position was never more serious. When I was there three weeks ago, old residents informed me that they had never known a condition of things comparable with that which exists at present.
– Are the people themselves blameless?
– I do not say that they are. Is any of us entirely blameless in respect of the way in which he carries on his own business ? This misfortune, however, is due to natural causes. In the Illawarra district the settlers have been accustomed in the past to a regular rainfall, and are we to judge them because they expected that normal conditions would continue?
– The cattle, at any rate, are blameless.
– The honorable member is making a mountain of a very little molehill when he speaks of the condition of the farmers being affected by the duty on hay and chaff. It does not affect them at all. This is only a waste of time.
– According to the Treasurer, those who speak against his proposals always waste. time. We are lighting to help our people in a period of national calamity, and it is strange that the honorable gentleman does not appreciate their true position.
– I appreciate it more than the honorable member does, but I do not make stupid proposals which will not do good.
– I should like the honorable gentleman to hear the farmer’s opinion on the subject.
– The farmers always stick to me. They will say that I am right.
– Why did the Treasurer back down so quickly on his wire-netting proposals? In the first instance, he said that he was satisfied that the farmers were behind him. But a petition from the farmers of Wagga brought him to his knees. ‘’
– The honorable member knows that that is not correct.
– I know that it is correct. What other reason had the Treasurer for receding from his first position?
– I knew that I could noi carry the proposed rate.
– This is what the Svdney Morning Herald says about the position of affairs in New South Wales -
The condition of things caused by the want of rain has made it necessary to invoke the aid of the Railway Commissioners once more. We have heard much about the demand for more trucks lately, but in that respect the department appears to be hampered by its limited supplies of rolling stock. There is thus a difficulty in meeting the immediate demand for assistance, at any rate to a satisfactory extent. But in another” direction the Commissioners have shown themselves not unmindful of the requirements of starving stocky and not slow to amend their regulations in special cases. One of these regulations says that the reduced rates fixed for this emergency shall not apply to places within 100 miles of Sydney; and it is obvious at once that there are excellent grounds for that limitation. In ordinary circumstances, when the country is visited by drought, the parts within that radius of Sydney have no reason to ask for special concessions. This is especially the case on the South Coast, which has been in the habit of getting a very fair supply of rainfall. But just now and for some time past this rule does not apply. The drought is exceptionally severe there, arid we had a pitiful tale to report the other day about the straits to which the Dapto dairy farmers were reduced.
Dapto is on the south coast, about 60 miles from Sydney.
The cost of hand-feeding is so high that they find it less costly to let their stock perish, hoping to buy more when the season changes and the rain comes. It looks like a cold-blooded calculation, but we are bound to believe that such a resolution would not be come to except under pressure of the direst necessity.
If honorable members had the same opportunity as I have to know the class of stock that is being allowed to perish in this way they would readily understand my feeling in this matter.
In these circumstances the Railway Commissioners have seen fit to adapt themselves to the requirements of the occasion, and amend their 100-mile regulation. ‘They are applying their reduced rates to districts within 25 miles of Darling Harbor, to bring the afflicted Illawarra and Camdendistricts within the reach of succour. That step evidences the liberal spirit in which the Commissioners construe their duty to the State and to the public. They are pledged to run the railways on a sound basis as a commercial concern, and free from political and local influence. But : they are broad-minded enough to recognise that the showing of a large credit balance at the end of the financial year, especially in these days of railway prosperity, is not the be-all and end-all of railwaymanagement. The whole community is made up -of stockholders in our railways. They are meant primarily for the public Service, for facilitating settlement, and for helping the primary producer, who paysthe expense of running them. It is the revenue derived from him and the money he puts into circulation thatgives us our returns from traffic and passenger trade. When times are good with him everything is satisfactory. But when the seasons are adverse it is but right that he should get all the assistance the railways can legitimately afford him.
That is the position taken up by the Railway Commissioners of New South Wales, and in the circumstances I submit that if the Treasurer recognises how necessary it is that those engaged in the dairying and pastoral industries - two of the great primary industries that are keeping the Commonwealth going at the present time - should be supplied with fodder at a reasonable price, he will at least accept the amendment of the honorable member for Franklin, and agree to the suspension of the duty for twelve months.
– I was very much surprised by the statement of the honorable member for Laanecoorie that we have in Australia enough fodder to tide us over the next twelve months. I think that we are face to face with one of the worst droughts that we have ever experienced. Even in some of the best parts of the Western District, where the rainfall is usually generous, the effects of the long spell of dry weather are being felt, and it is idle for any one to assert that we have in Australia a twelve months’ supply of fodder.
– What supply have we?
– We have not one-fourth of the quantity necessary for our flocks and herds. Those who live in Melbourne and other large cities, where there are beautiful parks and gardens that are freely watered and always look green and refreshing, have no idea of the state of the country. One has only to travel between Melbourne and Sydney to realize how severely the people on the land are suffering.
– Or to travel between Melbourne and Bacchus Marsh.
-Quite so. Thesettlers who recently acquired from the Government land in the Melton district, near Bacchus Marsh, will not obtain this year any return from their properties. They will have no crop, and they have not enough feed for adonkey. I do not regard this as a protectionist duty; we might just as well impose a duty on wool or coal as levy a duty on hay and chaff. As a matter of fact, except during a drought, we export large quantities of produce. Are we not trying at the present time to open a market in England for compressed fodder? Have we not exported compressed fodder to Manila and the Cape ? It is only during a drought that we need to import a little fodder, and the farmers in the more favoured districts, who are obtaining £7 and £8 per ton for their hay!, should be prepared to extend some consideration to their suffering brethren in the drought-stricken areas of the Commonwealth. We have to remember that this is a matter which applies not merely to the pastoralist but to the small farmer.
– Where shall we obtain supplies of hay even if we remit the duty ?
– I do not know. As a matter of fact, we are sadly in need of oats and ought really to have removed the duty on grain. We shall be able to obtain some hay from New Zealand and lucerne from other countries, and I do not think it is worth while insisting on the imposition of this duty for, at all events, twelve months.
– When the drought has broken up and. the farmer has been freed from the anxiety which it entails, he will probably have time to glance at the records of the House, and will be very much surprised to find how many friends he has in it. He will also be astonished to learn how many of his so-called friends in this Chamber have any knowledge of the actual conditions under which he labours. If we could only send some honorable members to the drought-stricken areas in order that they might obtain a little practical experience of the disadvantages under which the man on the land is labouring, the probabilities are that the farmers would have a few more real friends in this Parliament than they have at present. Unfortunately, we are subject to periodic visitations of drought, and we can only hope that human ingenuity and intelligence will enable us to some extent to counteract their effect. Progress is already being made in that direction, but we cannot expect to accomplish everything in a day. The farmers are learning by bitter experience the conditions which they must be prepared to meet from time to time ; a very large expenditure of capital and labour is necessary to enable them to successfully cope with them. We have in this connexion a national problem to face. Until the States Governments provide large national reservoirs on the tablelands, the man way-back will be able to do little to minimize the effects of a drought. During this debate we have heard some honorable members inquire why the farmer has not resorted to irrigation in order to secure ample supplies of fodder. But those who talk in that way do not realize that during a long drought, such as we experienced in 1902-3, and such as we seem to again have immediately before us, the water necessary for irrigation purposes is not available. Our natural sources of supply are dried up, and it will be necessary for the States Governments to take steps for the conservation of water in good seasons in order that the severity of the effects of a drought may be minimized. Such an undertaking would be so gigantic that no individual could think of entering upon it. It is a task which the States Governments must take up, and I am glad to say that they are beginning to see that water conservation is just as much a national work as is the construction of a railway. The Government of New South Wales, in the construction of the Barren Jack reservoir, have launched a large water conservation scheme, which involves great engineering skill and the employment of a vast amount of labour. I refer to that fact only as indicating the difficulties with which the farmers have to contend, and in support of my contention that’ those who object to the remission of this duty on the plea that the farmers and graziers should provide themselves with supplies to carry them over a drought need some little practical experience. The effects of a drought visitation are intensified by the rabbit and grasshopper pests. Unfortunately, the rabbit pest is ever present. It is with us in good seasons and in bad. But the grasshopper pest, by which we are assailed from time to time, has again assumed serious proportions in New South Wales. Although by the exercise of forethought and the expenditure of a large sum of money a farmer may think that he has made sure of a certain return from his land, even in good seasons he is brought face to face with a pest which often deprives him very largely, if not completely, of the whole results of his work. Yet in face of all the disadvantages under which the men on the land labour, some honorable members tell us that the losses of stock which they are now suffering are due to their indifference and. failure to secure themselves against the ravages of drought. The Government practically say to the man on the soil,. “ We ask you to grant protection by way of high duties to the manufacturers in the cities, and we compensate you by placing high duties on the fodder which in dry seasons you have to import.” In this item we have an excellent advertisement of the benefits which protection confers on the farmer ! We might as well impose a duty on wool or minerals as on fodder or any other agricultural . produce. Such a duty never operates except in times of drought and shortage, when it is necessary to call for outside supplies in order to make up the local deficiency ; and it means artificial and increased prices. So far from being of benefit to the farmer, dairyman, and small agriculturist generally, it is a detriment; and the only advantage gained is in the shape of increased revenue by already wealthy States. So far as we can judge, there is bound to be a shortage in grass and fodder, unless we are favoured with an abnormally wet summer. The Treasurer has been very liberal in quoting figures showing the large decrease of stock in New South Wales prior to the imposition of a Tariff ; but the honorable gentleman did not tell us that that decrease was brought about by the rabbits, which practically -drove the stock from the western district, and which are now operating in the central district where, fifteen years ago, its presence in Australia was not regarded as of much consequence. A further reason for the decrease is the discovery by stock-owners that it is not a good principle to overstock - that wealth is not to be computed by number but by quality. There has been a large expenditure in the direction of perfecting the sheep and dairy and other herds, and the animals, though smaller in number, are of considerably tetter quality. It would not pay, therefore, to permit them to perish in a drought season. Perfection has been gained only after long and expensive experiment ; and if losses are occasioned by drought, they cannot be replaced as previously by merely breeding up numbers. Sir George Turner, when Treasurer, stated in his Budget speech, after the imposition of the former Tariff, that the whole of the financial arrangements with the States for 1902-3 had, to a certain extent, been upset, because of the large amount of revenue received in consequence of the fodder duties. In a list which is published in Hansard, Vol. XV., page 2621, Sir George Turner showed that the increases under this head were, in New South Wales, £272,409; in Victoria, £148,884; in Queensland, £68,530; in South Australia, £5,584 ; in Western Australia, £17,164; and in Tasmania,’ £6,575. From these figures it will be seen that the fodder duties operated not only in New South Wales and Victoria, but over the whole of the Commonwealth, owing to the importations that were then found necessary because of the drought. There is no reason,, unfortunately, to suppose that such a duty will never operate again; the probability is that it will operate, and very speedily. In order to show that this is a revenue duty, I. have only to refer honorable members to the- Budget
Papers laid before us by the Treasurer himself when he made his Budget statement for the current year. I there find figures showing that the revenue derived from the grain and fodder duties in 1902-3 for the whole of the Commonwealth totalled £597,719; and in 1903-4 it was £265,219. Then, with the recurrence of good seasons in 1904-5, the revenue sunk to £29,000, while in 1905-6 it was £31,000, and in 1906-7 £22,000. Under normal conditions, the Treasurer expects to receive something like £20,000 from this source; and such a reduction, as compared with the receipts for 1902-3, shows the character of this taxation. If I cannot appeal to the Treasurer, who is so thoroughly imbued with protectionist principles that apparently he is prepared to ride them to death, I may, I think, appeal to some of my brother Labour representatives who are protectionists, but who, I hope, will regard this question from a sensible point of view. Is it reasonable that the whole of the community, and particularly the toiling small farmer and dairyman, or the man with only his horse and cart, should bear this heavy impost under exceptionally trying conditions? In good seasons, possibly, these men would not mind bearing an additional charge, if the duty then operated, but, as I have already . shown, that is just the time when the duty does not operate. It is flying in the face of facts to contend that the duty does not operate in time of drought, and that it is not a charge which falls very heavily on people who are ill-prepared to bear it.
– Where is imported fodder to come from ?
– That is a matter for consideration ; at any rate, this duty will operate as against importations. I remind the honorable member that a serious proposal was made to the State Government of New South Wales, by those who call themselves Socialists, that, under severe conditions such as prevailed in 1902-3, it is the duty of the Government to import fodder for the purpose of helping people who cannot help themselves.
– There is no fodder to-be imported.
– The honorable member may know more of the matter, than do a number of us ; but I think it will be discovered that there are sources of supply : otherwise it will be unfortunate foi Australia. The Treasurer claimed that prices are not being affected by present conditions ; butI have here an extract from the Sydney Daily Telegraph, which shows that in 1904, after the break-up of the big drought, chaff was selling in Sydney, on the 29th October, at £3 15s. ; on the same date a year later, at £3 6s. 8d. ; on the same date a year later still, at£3 16s. 8d. ; while last Tuesday the price in the same market was from£6 to £6 10s., and even as high as £7 a ton. There is no doubt that that rise is owing to the present scarcity, and to the anticipation of still greater scarcity, large stocks being bought up and held inreserve.I hope the Committee will remove this duty, which only operates when taxation is not justifiable. If the. Committee do not see theirway to remove the duty, I hope they will insert a proviso, such as that which the Treasurer has indicated was in operation in Western Australia, providing for the suspension of the Tariff on certain items under exceptional circumstances. I do not think, however, that if it be decided to provide for a remission of the duty, it should be remitted at the caprice of a Minister, but that it should be done by a resolution of Parliament.
Question- That the words “until the 31st October, 1908 “ (Mr. McWilliams amendment) be added to Mr. Thomas
Brown’s amendment - put. The Committee divided.
Majority … … 2
Question so resolved in the negative.
Amendment of the amendment negatived.
Amendment (by Mr. Chanter) proposed -
That the amendment be amended by adding the words “ until 1st May,1908.”
– I do not think that we are likely to arrive at the mind of the Committee on this question. There are honorable, members upon either side of the Chamber; who are opposed to the particular proposal upon which we are asked tovote. If we can get the opinion . of honorablemembers focussed upon a definite proposal it would be very much moresatisfactory. I suggest-
– I rise to a point of order. I desire to know whether the honorable member for Parramatta is in order in interposing at this stage? The question of whether or not the amendment is in order is one for you, sir, to decide.
– I would point out that the honorable member for Parramatta was speaking upon a question of order when the honorable member rose. Where any doubt exists as to the way in which an amendment should be put, it is only right that I should listen to any honorable member who wishes to make a suggestion, and then decide whether or not he is in order.
– And you might decide foryourself sometimes.
– I must ask the hon orable member to withdraw that remark, andto apologize tothe Chair for having made it.
– I withdraw and apologize. Still, I think that the procedure might be improved.
– I must ask the hon orable member to withdraw the. remark unconditionally.
– I withdraw.
– I must ask. him to withdraw the remark, and to apologize for having made it.
– I have already withdrawn and apologized. How many times do you require me to do that ?
– Order. I again ask the honorable member to withdraw his remark, and to apologize to the Chair.
– I withdraw and apologize.
– I suggest that the honorable member for Calare, might withdraw’ his proposal for the present until the question of whether the operation of the duty shall be suspended has been decided.
.- If the honorable member for Calare withdraws his amendment, and the proposal to suspend the operation of the duty for six months be carried, will he be in order in afterwards re-submitting the amendment?
– It would not be competent for the honorable member for Calare or for any other honorable member to do what the honorable member suggests. The Committee would have already decided upon a certain course of action.
Sitting suspended from 6.30 to 7.45 $.m.
– I should like to know how the item will read if both the amendments before the Chair are carried..
– If both amendments are -carried, it will read -
Hay and Chaff, per cwt., is., and on and after 31st October, 1907, free, until ist May, .1908.
– How will the amendment of the honorable member for Riverina affect the proposal to place hay and chaff on the free list?
– The effect of carrying both amendments will be that for six months to come hay and chaff will be on the free list, but, after the ist May, 1908, dutiable at is. per cwt.
– Would it be possible for the honorable member for Calare to withdraw his amendment? .
– The amendment of the honorable member for Calare could not be withdrawn unless that of the honorable member for Riverina were also withdrawn, and neither could be withdrawn without the consent of the Committee. If both were withdrawn, the question before the Chair would be “ That Item 68 be agreed to.”
– Our difficulty is that we want to vote for the suspension of the duty for six months, if we cannot succeed in getting hay and chaff placed on the free list. If we negative the amendment of the honorable member for Riverina, and are defeated on the amendment to place these commodities on the free list, will it be possible afterwards to move for the suspension of the duty for, say, nine months ?
– It seems to me that the most convenient course would be to allow both amendments to be withdrawn, and then to have each proposition stated separately, as a substantive motion. The amendment of the honorable member for Riverina is really inconsistent with that of the honorable member for Calare. At any rate, it creates this difficulty : that there are honorable members who would like to place hay- and chaff on the free list, and, failing that, would vote for the suspension of the duty for six months; but as the amendments have been moved, they may, after negativing the amendment for the suspension of the duty for six months, find it impossible to carry the amendment placing these commodities on the free list.
– Unless the amendments are withdrawn, I must put them to the Committee.
– It is a usual thing, in circumstances of this kind, to permit the withdrawal of ‘amendments to prevent confusion.
– If we negative the amendment of the honorable member for Riverina, shall we have an opportunity to vote to make the item free?
– If we negative the item, the Government will be liable to an action by those from whom duties have been collected, if in excess of the rates under the Act, because there will be no parliamentary sanction for their collection.
.- Before a division is taken, I wish to make my position clear. I intend to vote against the amendment of the honorable member for Riverina, because I wish to vote for the amendment of the honorable- member for Calare to place hay and chaff on the free list. Had the position of the amendments been reversed, I should have voted, first, for the amendment of the honorable member for Calare to place these commodities on the free list, and had it been defeated, I should have voted for the amendment of the honorable member for Riverina to suspend the duty for six months. But, as the latter amendment will be put first, I shall have to vote against it in order to obtain an opportunity to vote to remove the duty on hay and chaff.
.- After consultation with the Chairman. I found that I could not move my amendment until that of the honorable member for Franklin had been disposed of. I think that I have made my position in this matter pretty clear. While I wish to provide a remedy for a present condition of affairs–
– Which may continue.
– Yes ; but in my opinion it will not. Whilst I wish to provide relief for those who are suffering from the drought, I do not desire to depart from my protectionist principles by voting to place hay and chaff on the free list for all time. The honorable member for Parramatta, of course, wishes to go much further than I am inclined to go. In my opinion, it would give ample relief to those who are suffering from the drought to suspend the duty for six months.
– Is the honorable member sure?
– The probabilities are that even if the drought continues, rain which will give relief will fall in March, and my amendment will cover the intervening period. I ask those who, while they wish to support a protectionist proposal desire to relieve the pastoralists who are suffering from the drought, to vote for the amendment which I have moved.
Question - That the words “ until 1st
May, 1908” (Mr. Chanter’s amendment) be added to Mr. Thomas Brown’s amendment - put. The Committee divided.
Majority … … 24
Question so resolved in the negative.
Amendment of the amendment negatived.
Question - That the words, “ and on and after 31st October, 1907, free “ (Mr. Thomas Brown’s amendment) be added - put. The Committee divided.
Majority …. … 4
Question so resolved in the affirmative.
Amendment agreed to.
Item 69 (Straw) agreed to.
Item 70 (Herbs, dried - -not medicinal) negatived.
Item 71, Honey, Jams, and Jellies; including Calves’ Foot but not Meat Jellies,. per lb., 2d.
.- I oppose this duty on general principles, but I think it just as well to give a few details in justification of my opposition. The duty has been increased beyond the recommendation of11/2d. per1b. by the protectionist section of the Tariff Commission, and is1/2d. more than the duty imposed under the Tariff of 1902. In 1906, the cash value of the importations of jams and jellies was £8,270 odd, of which £8,125 represented the importations from the United Kingdom Right through this debate we have paid much attention to the products of the Old Country, and it has been urged that it is the foreigner whom we are to tax. It appears from the figures, however, that we have little to fear from the foreigner, so far as jams and jellies are concerned ; and, in my opinion, no matter what duty we impose, practically the same quantity will be imported from the United. Kingdom, because the importations consist of special brands, for which a certain section of the public are always prepared to pay the higher price. We are told by experts that jams consist of 50 per cent. of sugar; and jam manufacturers may, therefore, complain that they have to pay’ an Excise duty of 3s. per cwt. My own opinion is that a duty of 1d. per lb. is quite sufficient, but I am content to revert to the old duty of11/2d. I should like to hear some reason from the Treasurer why it is proposed to increase the duty on jams and jellies by 331/3 per cent., considering that, according to the information we have received, sugar has decreased in price. So far as honey is concerned, I - regard the duty as a sham one. Honey is largely exported from Australia, and I suppose that in no past of the world is a larger quantity produced. The imports of honey during 1906 amounted to only £27 in value, whereas the value of the exports amounted to over £1,000. I move -
That the words “ and on and after 1st November, 1907, per lb.,11/2d.,” be added.
– I hope honorable members will not discuss this item atany length.
– Why not accept my amendment?
– I cannot be expected to accept every amendment.
– Leave the duty at 2d., but impose a preferential duty of11/2d in favour of Great Britain.
– The importations under this head amounted to 381,747 lbs. last year. I can understand the Opposition desiring that there should be no duty, but even in taking a train journey one can see that the industry of bee-keeping is extending in all directions, and that it is carried on mainly by poor people, for whom we ought to have some consideration. However, this is really a small matter, and, in order to save time, I am prepared to agree to the suggestion made by the leader of the Opposition, and accept a proposal for a preferential duty of11/2d. per lb. in favour of the Old Country.
– I am prepared to agree to that compromise.
Amendment (by Mr: Wilks) agreed to -
That the words “ and on and after1st November, 1907 (United Kingdom), per lb.,11/2d.,” be added.
Item 72. Hops, per lb., 6d.
– I ask the Government to consent to this duty being increased. It is only right that the duty on hops should be made higher, seeing that the duties on other commodities have been increased. The honorable member for Swan and others are always talking about the small importations of certain items, but I see that in 1906 the duty paid on hops was £35,450.
Item agreed to.
Item 73 (Linseed), item 74 (Linseed for the manufacture of oil and cake under Departmental by-laws), item 75 (Linseed Meal),and item 76 (Linseed Cake and Oil Cake) agreed to.
Item 77. Arrowroot,, Macaroni, and Vermicelli, per lb.,1d.
– I should like to know why the duty on arrowroot has been increased from1/2d. to1d. Only £19 in duty was collected last year in respect of arrowroot, the total importation being 9,118 lbs., of which3,828 lbs. came from the New Hebrides. I understand that the arrowroot growrnin the French settlements is admitted free to France and other French possessions; whereas the British missionaries are placed at a disadvantage, inasmuch as on the arrowroot they produce they have to pay a duty when it enters the Commonwealth. I understand that the chief missionary work in the New Hebrides is done by the Presbyterian Church, which has spent £100,000 in efforts to civilize and evangelize the natives. The increased duty is felt as a great hardship, particularly in view of the policy of the French authorities in the direction I have already indicated. ,
– Do not keep us too long over this item.
– Will the Minister consent to the duty on arrowroot being made1/2d. ?
– The Prime Minister stated the other evening that the whole question of our trade relations with the New Hebrides would be considered in connexion with the proposal to encourage British settlement in those islands. I have no doubt that a preferential arrangement will be arrived at between the Commonwealth and the New Hebrides, and that, if possible, a similar agreement willbe entered into with Canada and New Zealand. But the amount involved in the point raised by the honorable member for Grey is really so small that it is scarcely worth discussing. Rather than waste two or three hours in debating it, I move -
That the following words be added : - “ and on and after 1st November, 1907, arrowroot, per lb.,1/2d.”
.- I am rather surprised at the attitude adopted by the Treasurer this evening in view of his action last -night in. holding out so tenaciously for a duty of 2d.per lb. on cornflour. I think that the growers of arrowrootare entitled to some consideration at the hands ofthe Committee.
.- I am very glad that theTreasurer has consented to reduce the duty upon arrowroot, because that article islargely used in Tasmania, although it isnotgrown there.
Amendment agreed to.
Item, as amended, agreed to.
Item 78. Malt, including granulated, maize, and rice malts androasted, or torrefied barley, per cental, 6s.
.- I would point out that the duty upon barley, from which malt is manufactured, has been increased, to 2s. per cental, and therefore it is necessary to increase the duty upon malt to a similar extent if the farmer is to be protected.
– What shrinkage is there in malt?
– I do not think that there is very much. To make the duty upon malt harmonize with that imposed upon barley, it is necessary to increase the proposed tax upon malt by 6d. per cental. Otherwise, we shall be completely stultifying ourselves.
– Barley is used for purposes other than malting.
– It is chiefly used for malting purposes. If the Treasurer desires to protect the farmer, he will move in the direction I have suggested.
– Will the honorable member be very good, and vote with me hereafter if I do so ?
– I cannot give a blind promise of that sort. It was. stated the other evening that the brewers manufactured their own malt. But I find, as the result of inquiry, that there is only one brewer in Victoria, and that there are very few brewers in the other States who are maltsters. The maltster is usually a person. between the farmer who produces the barley and the brewer who uses the malt.
Item agreed to.
Item 79 (Malt Extract) agreed to.
Item 80. Matches and Vestas of all kinds -
– The proposed duty upon this article represents an enormous increase in the old rate. Under the former Tariff, the duty levied upon matches was 6d. per gross of boxes, whereas the proposed duty is1s. 6d. per gross of boxes upon the product of the United Kingdom, and1s. 9d. per gross of boxes upon matches of foreign origin. I would remind the Committee that there was a Chancellor of the Exchequer in a British Government who lost his office as the result of proposing a much smaller tax upon matches than that’ under consideration. I think that the very strongest reasons should be advanced before we agree to any increase whatever in the old rate of duty. I need scarcely point out that matches are used quite as freely by the poor as by the rich, and that the proposed taxation upon them would,in the aggregate, represent an enormous sum. Under the old Tariff, the revenue collected upon matches totalled £41,000 annually. I do not suggest for a moment that under the proposed rate the revenue would be increased in a corresponding ratio with the increase of the duty. If it did,£1 20,000 would be taken out of the pockets of the people of Australia every year. The probability is, however, that more matches will be made locally, and fewer imported, and I have made an allowance for that, though I cannot say what the difference between the present and future importations will be. I do not speak of my own knowledge, but I have if on good authority, from persons engaged in purchasing matches wholesale, that there is an arrangement of the London makers, of whose establishment the local factory is a branch, that only a certain output shall be allowed to Australia, and that for locally-made matches prices must be charged approximating the selling prices of imported matches duty paid. If that is so, the local output is not likely to greatly increase, while buyers will be charged higher prices if the duties are raised. I do not know why the Minister has proposed an increase in these duties.
– It is recommended by the A section of the Tariff Commission.
– No evidence was given in support of the recommendation.
– The only evidence given was that of a Western Australia lawyer, whoopposed an increase.
– No evidence was given by the trade in support of an increase, the only witness examined on the subject being a Western Australian who, according to the honorable member for Kalgoorlie, is a lawyer. He pointed out that, under the old Tariff, the people of Western Australia, in 1904, paid £4,971 to encourage the manufacture of matches elsewhere, But that only £19 worth of our output had been sent to that State. The proposed duties are really much higher than they appear to be. The old duty was equivalent to 25 per cent. ad valorem, and the cost of importation to 15 per cent., the total being 40 per cent. ; whereas the proposed rate is equivalent to 75 per cent., and the protection, adding 15 per cent. for the cost of importation, to 90 per cent. But it must be remembered that the boxes generally contain only between forty-five and fifty matches, and each box is charged as if it contained 100 matches.
– Each box contains on the average between eighty and ninety matches.
– No; from forty-five to fifty. It may be asked why do not importers increase the size of their boxes? I believe that that has been tried, but that the publicwill not buy the larger boxes, finding them inconvenient. Therefore the duty, while nominally1s. 6d. per 100 gross of matches, is really equal to 3s. per100 gross.
-The duty is less than one-tenth of a penny per box.
– That comes to a good deal when multiplied by the number of boxes imported. As I have pointed out, the output from the Australian, factory is not likely to be large, and under no circumstances could it reach gigantic proportions. The wages average only about 14s. 6d. per head, which is perhaps not low, seeing that the employes are mostly girls; but the total amount paid is so little that it would be cheaper for the community to support the employes than to pay the high rate of duty proposed for the protection of the industry. I hope that the Committee will not agree to this proposal. .
– The honorable member is making an enormous fuss about a very small matter.
– At the present rate of importation the higher duties will mean increased taxation to the amount of £80,000 per annum.
– The working man will have to pay most of that.
– He will feel it especially. We are asked to tax the community to this amount to support an industry which has not asked for additional protection, although the Tariff Commission advertised that it was ready to hear the complaints of all manufacturers who did not think themselves justly treated under the old Tariff. I move -
That after the figures “1s.9d.” in paragraph
A, the words “and on and after1st November, 1907 (General Tariff), per gross, 9d.,” . be inserted.
I intend, later on, to move to make the duty on matches imported from the United Kingdom 6d., which will leave the rate of preference that which the Government pro pose. If my amendment be carried, the rate against matches imported from foreign countries will be increased by 3d. per gross, while that against those imported from Great Britain will remain what it was under the Kingston Tariff.
.- The hon orable member for North Sydney has stated the case in a nutshell. The proposed duties will bear more heavily on the masses than any other in the Tariff. I cannot understand why the Treasurer has proposed an increase.
– These rates are based on the recommendation of the Tariff Commission.
– Which there was no evi dence to support.
– The Minister quotes the Tariff Commission only when it suits him. If all the duties were based on the recommendations of the Tariff Commission, the Tariff could be passed through Parliament within a week. Although the Tariff Commission advertised throughout the Commonwealth that it was prepared to listen to the complaints of manufacturers, those interested in the making of matches did not think it worth while to come before it.”
– The only evidence was in opposition to the duty.
– That is a good reason why the duty should not be increased. The duty on a large box of wax matches is exactly the same as is the duty on a small box such as tobacconists give away with a plug of tobacco. In Queensland and the western parts of New South Wales tin boxes of matches are used. These come either fromEngland or Belgium. Then we have the flat boxes designed for carrying in the pocket, which contain the same quantity of wax vestas as are to be found in the large boxes. Can the Treasurer explain why the duty oh the small flat boxes is the same as that on the large boxes ?
– If the honorable member wishes to move an amendment in the direction indicated by him, I am prepared to withdraw mine.
– That is what I desire to do. Under the old Tariff the duty was 6d. per gross of boxes, whilst we have now a duty of is. 6d. per gross of boxes on imports from the United Kingdom, and of 1s. 9d. on imports from foreign countries. The Treasurer has not explained why he has increased the duty.
– I have already said that I have increased it because of the recommendation of the protectionist section of the Tariff Commission.
– Every one uses matches, and I fail to understand why a duty should be imposed upon them. I have here a statement of the case which should prove of interest to honorable members -
Vestas are sold in the following three styles of boxes : -
Round plaid, containing an average of 45 vestas.
Royal (flat box), containing an average of 85 vestas.
No. 4 (oval tin box), containing an average of . 145 vestas.
Royal (flat box), 6s. 6d. per gross.
No. 4 (oval tin box), 10s. per gross.
Of the above lines only the round plaids are manufactured by the local factory.
That is a point which I desire to emphasize. Matches used in Queensland and in the western districts of New South Wales are not manufactured within the Commonwealth -
The consumption runs almost entirely on the round plaid, save in the case of Queensland, where a fair proportion of the oval tin box is used-, owing to its. beinga safeguard to the contents against the moisture of the climate.
The consumption of the Royal (flat box) is nominal.
The late duty of 6d. per gross was equal to a protection of , seemingly, 25 per cent. to the local factory, but was in reality fully double that amount, owing to the way in which it was levied on the number of vestas.
The new duty is equal to a protection of, seemingly, 75 per cent. to 871/2 per cent. oil United Kingdomand foreign respectively, but in reality fully double that amount, owing to. the way in which it is levied on the number of vestas’.
In other words, there are not so many vestas in a locally-produced box as there are inan imported box-
The foregoing is exclusive of the natural pro- tection in transit charges, which amount to about another 15 per cent.
Besides the above protection, the local factory is not required to use tin or zinc-lined cases in their packing, by. which a saving is effected, as compared with imports, which are required to so pack their goods as a protection against fire in transit, of about1s. 6d. per case, i.e.,11/2d. per gross.
– I suppose that the statement which the honorable member is reading was written by a foreign importer?
– Am I a foreign importer?
– No; but the letter is written; by one.I do notthink that it is a true statementof the case.
– The honorable member is a one-eyed Australian. He can see on only oneside of the fence - and that is the protectionistside.
– I do not think that the Writer of that letter, who is an interested party, is telling the truth.
– I know the gentleman; he goes to church three times every Sunday. The letter continues-
As the duty is levied on the basis of 100 vestas to the box, . and the round plaid boxes contain only 45 vestas, the duty, whatever fixed, is actually more than double the protection to the local manufacturers which it appears to be.
It may be said - why not import larger boxes to hold just under 100 vestas, and so pay duty on full limit allowed, instead “of less than half? This has been attempted, but without success, as it is a clumsy package, and disapproved by consumers.
The price of the locallymade round plaid article was 2s. 2d. per gross prior to about the middle of last year, before the local factory, by some arrangement come to with London, advanced, their price 6d. per gross, such advance being the amount of the import duty then in. operation.
It will likely be contended, and with some show of justification, in extenuation of an advance in price by the local manufacturers, that there has been an increase in the cost of production, owing to the increased cost of raw materials. The increase, however, is at most about 5 per cent., or equal to about1d. per gross, as against the advance in sale price above-mentioned of 6d. per gross, and pertains equally to the imported as well as the locallymade article.
The. annual output of the local factory is about£30,000 on late quotations, out of a consumption of. about£160,000 for the Commonwealth, or under 20 per cent.
How does the manager of the local factory explain the fact that under a practically prohibitive duty it has producedonly 20 per cent. of the matches used in the Commonwealth ?
Though the Tariff Board took no evidence on? this line at its sittings, the members of it are reported to have made recommendations. On what premises?
The wax vesta is a very valuable article to the Australian community,far more so than the safety match, as it is always at hand for, ignition without other paraphernalia, its great merit being’ its “ strike anywhere “ value.
Impressions formed of its being the cause of bush fires are being modified, in that by many pastoralists the danger from the after-glow of a badly-impregnated safety . ( ?) match is considered greater than the danger from combustion of a wax vesta.
– Is the honorable; member reading a book?
– If it is, it is the Book of Fate, so far as the Government proposal is, concerned. .
– It is the “ Book of Germany.”
– No; I am now advocating: a preference to Great Britain.
– What does the honorable member propose?
– Anything in reason that the honorable member will accept.
– I am prepared to agree to a duty of1s. per gross of boxes on importations from foreign countries, and of 6d. on imports from Great Britain. Mr. PAGE.-Make the duty 6d. and 3d. respectively.
– I am prepared to spring another penny, and to. suggest that the duties be 6d. and 4d. The statement continues -
The industry itself is surelynot one of which Australia need be proud, seeing that at the International Conference on labour regulations, held at Berne a few months back, France, Germany, Holland, Denmark, Switzerland, Luxemburg, and Italy decided to prohibit the use of the injurious material, white phosphorus, as it gives rise to the disease of necrosis, or “Phossy Jaw.”
I know what “phossy jaw” means. As a boy I lived close to’ Messrs. Bryant and May’s match factory in London, and I then saw sights which I do not wish to see in the fair country of Australia.
Better far for Australians to leave the manufacturing of this very useful and necessary little article to the over-populated centres of London and the Continent, than to tax the poorer classes here, who are far and away the largest consumers of it, to the extent of somewhere approximating £83,000 annually (which it will amount to under the new duties), to foster an industry ( ?) which is a menace to the health of its operatives and the wage earnings from which do not amount to more than£3,000, or thereabouts, per annum (vide evidence of manager of local factory before Victorian Tariff Commission, 1895, pages 341 to 343, of Second Report of Board).
The profits made by the local factory must amount to over£10,000 per annum since the late rise in prices, to which, later, if the increased duties become effective, and the price accordingly increased, a further£13,750 per annum, or thereabouts, is likely to be derived, or at least£23,750, which will go to, and be spent in, London.
Recommendation. - That the duty be 6d. per gross on the basis of boxes containing 50 vestas or less, and 6d. per gross additional onboxes containing each additional 50 or portion of 50 vestas.
If the preferential policy is approved, that 3d. per cross be conceded imports from the United Kingdom, such preferential proposal would about level up the cost to the consumer here of the foreign and United Kingdom pro- duce, as the produce of the United Kingdom is. quoted about 3d. per gross higher than the Continental produce.
I have a. mass of figures, with which, however, I do not desire to detain the Committee. I hope that honorable members will consent to a duty of 6d. per gross as against the foreigner; and of 3d.or 4d. per gross as against the Britisher.
– Who wrote the memorandum whichhas been quoted by the honorable member?
– The ideaof the Treasurer askingme such aquestion as that ! For whateverI readI take the responsibility, and that ought to be sufficient for the honorable gentleman Can the Treasurer refute any statement which I have made or read ?
-i wish to know whether the memorandum was written by an interested person.
– This day week, when thehonorable member for Yarra was asking for an increased duty on confectionery, the Treasurer did not ask any such question.
– The honorable member for Yarra told us where he got the information.
– In any case, I take the responsibility for anything I have said. I tested the statements by communication with another person, by whom I was informed that the facts and figures I have laid before the Committee were practically correct, although, I may say, he was a member of a firm of importers.
– Hear, hear; and big importers, too.
– I do not know the difference between a “ fat “ importer and a “fat” manufacturer; and I do not think the Treasurer could tell the difference if he saw the two walking up Bourke-street together.I do not see why a man, because he is an importer, should be regarded as an utter vagabond. I am with the honorable member for North Sydney in regarding the proposed duty as the most iniquitous tax that could possibly be imposed on the masses. I cannot for the life of me understand a Labour representative being induced to vote for an increased duty on matches.
.- The honorable member for Maranoa has put the case very clearly against the proposed duty ; and I ask the treasurer whether he, even as a protectionist, can assert that this is a desirable industry to encourage in Australia? There are, however, other grounds on which I may appeal to honorable members. We have heard a great deal in the courser of the Tariff discussions about combines and’ the match industry is in the peculiar position of being a combine which is in operation not only outside Australia, but inside Australia. Messrs. Bell and Company, of London, conductthe only local match factory in Victoria, and that firm is in combination with Messrs. Bryant and May, notonly for the production of matches in Great Britain, but also on the
Continent of Europe. Here is strong evidence that the public of Australia have to pay according to the duty. If a duty of 1s.9d. be imposed, imported matches will be1s.9d. per gross dearer; while the same manufacturers will be able to sell the locally produced article at1d. per gross cheaper, so that the Australian people will have to bear a burden equal to1s. 8d. per gross.
– Has the price of the locally manufactured article been increased since the imposition of the duty?
– No; but the manufac turers have done worse, inasmuch as they have ceased to take orders, only completing those taken prior to the introduction of the Tariff. The honorable member for Yarra cannot, I think, defend this industry, seeing that, so far as capital is concerned, it is not an Australian enterprise.
– Messrs. Bryant and May are just about to open a factory in Australia.
– But Messrs. Bryant and May are in combination with Messrs. Bell and Company in the Old Country ; and we may take it that these firms are not coming 13,000 miles in order to cut each other’s throats. The two firms practically regulate the price of matches for the whole of the world, whether the matches be manufactured in Great Britain or in Europe. I have here a little information–
– Where did the honorable member get it?
– No man would be more annoyed than the Treasurer if every time he read a speech in this chamber he was asked where he obtained his information. At times the honorable gentleman throws on the table compilations of facts and figures relating to, it may be, preferential trade; and I may say that, although I have a shrewd suspicion where his preferential trade arguments are manufactured, I have never been rude enough to question him on the point. What I desire to read is information supplied, not by any freetrader, but by a Victorian Tariff Commission in 1895,who, in their report, say-
It will be remembered that when safety matches were made free of duty, the tax was left on wax matches, neither for revenue nor protective purposes., but to discourage their use, as it was considered that in this country they werea source of danger.
It will be seen that the duty was proposed, not to protect the industry, but to discourage the use of wax matches in Victoria. But fashion has overridden legislation; and. notwithstanding any danger which may attach to their use, the public insist on being supplied with wax matches. The report from which I have quoted says further -
The result of the duty has been to encourage the establishment of a local factory. A well- known firm of British makers has found it more profitable to manufacture in the Colony than to pay the Victorian duty. The tax has, therefore, had a wholly unlooked-for effect. It must, however, be stated that, apart from the establishment of this factory, the tax has failed as a prohibitory measure, wax vestas being so generally in demand that large quantities were imported notwithstanding the heavy duty.
Again, let me emphasize that these are not statements of importers, but of fullblooded protectionists on the loyal soil of Victoria. Again -
Taking all the circumstances of this industry into consideration, we do not think it is of sufficient value to the country to warrant the large loss of revenue which will follow its development; but we cannot overlook the fact that the duty has remained on vestas for a long period, and that directly it is proposed to take advantage of the protection afforded an outcry is raised for its repeal.
In face of all this information, does the Treasurer really think that he has anything to fight for? Is the industry a desirable one for Australian women?
– I have already made a suggestion, meeting honorable members half way.
– Under ordinary circumstances, the Treasurer’s offer would be a very fair one. I understand it to be that the duty shall be reduced to1s. and 6d. That is a very fair offer upon its face. The honorable member for North Sydney has made out a very strong case in favour of a reduction of the duty upon this commodity. He pointed out that the Government propose an increase in the old rate of more than 300 per cent. I ask the Treasurer whether he would like to see the women of Australia engaged in this industry ? Undoubtedly it is one that we ought not to encourage. Under ordinary circumstances, the honorable member for Yarra, who is a strong protectionist, would have risen to defend the duty proposed.
– I intend to do so.
– I am surprised to hear the honorable member’s statement. Under ordinary circumstances he is opposed to combines, especially if they are located upon the other side of the world. In the present instance there is a Match Combine operating both inside and outside the Commonwealth. Messrs. Bryant and May form the Combine in the United Kingdom, and they own the factory which is conducted by Messrs. Belt and Co. in Australia. The honorable member for North Sydney, who is a cautious man of business, has estimated that under the operation of a duty of is. gd. per gross of boxes, the Commonwealth will take about ,£140,000 annually out of the pockets of the people. But after making a most liberal allowance, it is clear that the amount of taxation involved would be at least £100,000. In view of that fact, I ask the Treasurer to accept the amendment which has been submitted.
.- The honorable member for Maranoa read a’ letter from an importer, in which its author requested that a duty should not be imposed upon matches.
– It was not a letter that I read, but a statement.
– The honorable member read a statement from an importer, who protested against the imposition of the proposed duty. Then he declared that the match industry was not a desirable one to establish in Australia. He also asked : “ How can any Labour representative support the proposed increase of duty ? “ I ask him : “ How can any Labour representative support the admission into the Commonwealth of cheap matches, seeing that the boxes containing them are manufactured by women who receive only 2jd. per gross ? “
– Does the honorable member wish to reproduce the same conditions here ?
– No. Under our Factories Act such conditions could not obtain. At the London Exhibition held last year, women were seen manufacturing match boxes - a trade in which many thousands are employed. These boxes were rendered so limp with paste that they had to be dried before a fire, the cost of which was deducted from the earnings of the women. I am satisfied that the masses of Australia do not desire to sweat operatives in other parts of the world in order that they may obtain cheap matches. What we require to do is to establish our own industry.
– And poison half the people by giving them “ phossy “ jaw.
– That is not so.
– I have seen it with my own eyes.
– I want to remind the Committee that about two years ago Mr. R. J. Jeffrey visited Australia to inquire into the conditions of- trade with the United Kingdom. He reported that Great Britain was losing its trade with Australia so far as matches were concerned, because foreign countries were coming into competition with her. In the match industry in Australia wages are so high that it will be impossible for it to become firmly established in the absence of an adequate measure of protection.
– If the industry is of a deleterious character, it ought not to be established here.
– During the past five years no less than ^£650, 000 worth of matches have been imported into the Commonwealth. If the Government will adhere to their proposals in connexion with this item I will support them, but I will not support the imposition of duties merely for revenue purposes. In the United Kingdom the wages paid, to operatives in the match industry average only 16s. per week, whereas the wages paid to adult males in Messrs. Bell and Co.’s factory average 35s. 5d. per week, females receiving 16s. per week. In the Old Country, a woman, working in the industry in conjunction with her four children, is able to earn only about nd. per day. If we. are going to establish the industry here, let us accord it a fair measure of protection. I trust that the Ministry will insist upon obtaining the highest possible duty.
– I have listened attentively to the statements of the honorable member for Batman.
– We are going to remain here all night.
– I do not see why the Treasurer should make such a threat.
– It is not a threat; but we must make better progress.
– I take an interest in this matter from a medical stand-point.
– I think, sir, that we ought to have a quorum. - [Quorum formed.]
– The Minister may gag his own side, but he will not gag- me. I saw the Government Whip approach the honorable member for Batman, who, although he had a sheaf of notes in his hands, immediately sat down.
– I was supplying him with a good argument.
– Although the Treasurer has complained that we are not getting on quickly enough, his interjections only cause delay. I shall oppose strongly the proposed increases* The honorable member for Maranoa has very forcibly presented most of the arguments against the Ministerial proposal, having left me, therefore, nothing to say ; but I should like to ask the Minister why he wishes the duties increased. He has told us that the A section of the Tariff Commission recommended an increase. No doubt if the Chairman of the Commission were present he could give us a reason for the recommendation; but I cannot find any in the report or minutes of evidence. The only witness examined on the subject of matches was a gentleman who, from his name, I suppose to be of French extraction - Cecil John Reginald Le Mesurier - who was also examined in regard to the duties on sugar, cocoa, coffee, bacon and hams, biscuits, butter and cheese, candles and soap, milk, jams, pickles, sauces, rice, and other things. Apart from his evidence - and he opposed any increase - there is only this bare recommendation -
Matches and Vestas.
We recommend the following duties : -
For each100 matches or vestas, or part thereof -
Wax, per gross,1s. 6d.
D.. Wood, or other, per gross,1s. 6d.
The higher duties will particularly affect the working men of Australia, who use matches so largely. We have already increased the price of tobacco by imposing higher duties on it, so that tobacconists now no longer give away matches to purchasers of plugs, and the effect of these duties, if carried, will be to make matches dearer. Match-making is such a dirty and unhealthy trade that we should be well content to leave it to the people of Norway, Germany, and other countries.
– The honorable member does not object to benefiting by the sacrifice of his fellow beings in other parts of the world.
-If they are so poor that they must earn their living in this way, by all means let us assist them; but letus not encourage the establishment of such industries in our midst: A protectionist told me last night that our manufacturers are going the wrong way to work that by obtaining heavy duties they will encourage others to enter the field, and bycreating competition will cut their own throats.
– That is what we want.
– The Treasurer tells us that he has brought forward these proposals so that the Australian manufacturers shall cut their own throats. Not only is the match-making industry injurious to those engaged in it, but it leads to a great deal of sweating. The honorable member for Batman has told us that unfortunate women earn only 21/4d. for pasting together 144 match -cases.
– Not in this country.
– If honorable members opposite have their way, these things will happen in Australia. This country is worth living in at the present time, but they are doing their best to render it uninhabitable. In the Old Country, I have seen the results of phosphorus poisoning, due to the inhaling of fumes in the processof match making. The disease is one of the most painful that any one can suffer from, and affects chiefly women and children.
– Why will not the Minister be reasonable?
– Be is willing to make the duties1s. and9d.
– I think that the rates should be lower than that. In a work by Dr. J. T. Arlidge on the Hygiene, Diseases and Mortality of Occupations, published as recently as 1892, it is stated -
The particular morbid result following exposure to phosphorus fumes is necrosis of the maxillary bones. Usually the first complaint among the matchmakers is toothache, whichthough relieved by extraction of teeth, is not cured, but speedily followed by ulceration, death of the subjacent maxillary bone, and there, upon all the usual signs of necrosis - fetid suppuration and destruction of tissue, hectic and fatal exhaustion. The progress of the disease varies in rapidity from six months to two, or even more, years, when the sufferer perished from debility, with some inter-current disease such as phthisis.
– Those facts constitutea reason for imposing a heavy duty to keep out matches made under such conditions,
– A cable message has been published in our newspapers to the effect that, as the result of the increase in the duties, another firm of matchmakers intends to start in Australia; but I regard such statements as merely bluff. I urge that, in the interests of our people, nothing; should be done to encourage the industry here.
.- The statementsof the honorable member for Hunter afford a good reason for prohibiting the importation of matches made abroad. The honorable member, apparently, is willing to take advantage of the sweating and cruelty practised there. Every writer on these subjects has spoken of the sweating in the matchbox-making industry.
– Are we to legislate for the whole world ?
– I am in favour of passing such legislation as will prevent the use in this country of articles made by sweated labour. If all the matches used in Australia were made here, we could prevent sweating in regard to their manufacture. The honorable member’s argument is “ Never mind ; these people are out of sight, and die upon the doorsteps of others, not upon ours.”
– Can we prevent the industry from being an unhealthy one?
– Yes. Therehas never been a case of “ phossy “ jaw in Australia, and the Inspector Of Factories has never reported adversely upon the local industry. It is said that for the sake of a small industry we propose to impose a heavy tax upon the working man. I do not suppose thatthe average man uses more than one box of matches a day, but assuming that he does, a duty of1s. per gross of boxes would mean a tax upon him of 2s. 6d. per annum.
– How many half-crowns would the honorable member call upon him to pay if he had his way?
– I seek to find employment for workers in Australia, whereas the honorable member says to the Committee, “ Do not let us make matches here. Let them be made in Great Britain.” I intend to vote for the encouragement of industries in Australia, where the conditions of labour can be fixed. I am sorry that the Treasurer has consented to a reduction of the duty. For my own part I should absolutely prohibit the importation of the products of the sweated labour of other countries. Ido not thinkthe people desire us to take advantage of the extremely poor conditions of labour in other countries. Why should we not make an effort to establish industries in Australia where fair conditions of employment can be insisted upon?
.- When the first Federal Tariff was under consideration in 1901 I moved that the proposed duty on matches of1s. per gross of boxes be reduced, and intimated that I intended to propose an Excise duty of 3d. per gross.
The Committee reduced the duty to 6d. per gross, and the proposition that an Excise duty be imposed was lost by only five votes. Those facts constitute a fairly strong case against the impositionof the increased duty. In order that there might be no misapprehension, between the date on which I moved that the import duty be reduced and that on which I moved for the imposition of an Excise duty, I saw some of the representatives of Bell and Company, and endeavoured to put a view of their case before the Committee. Had the Excise duty of 3d. per gross been imposed the protection would have been reduced to only 3d. per gross. In these circumstances I do not think that the offer of the Treasurer is good enough for the free-trade section of the Committee. It has been mentioned by the honorable member for Batman that a good deal of sweating takes place in connexion with this industry in other countries. It is a curious fact, however, that in 1900, under the Victorian duty of 1s. per gross, the wage paid in the local factory was 18s. 8d. to the male employes, and 14s. 11d.- to the female employe’s, or an average of about 16s. per week, whereas the honorable member for Batman tells us that under the lower Federal duty the female employes are receiving 16s. per week, whilst the male employes receive 33sor 34s. per week. If labour has been protected under the reduced duty imposed by us, surely it will be hereafter protected in the same way by a duty of 6d. per gross. Evidence given before the Victorian Tariff Commission in 1895, by, if I remember rightly, a representative of the local factory, was to the effect that a very slight addition to the plant, and the employment of thirty or forty additional hands, would enable it to supply the whole of the requirements of Australia. If that be so, I fail to see that the imposition of the increased duty proposed by the Government would give much more employment in Australia. The evidence was that at a total wages cost of less than £3,000 per annum the whole of the demand for matches in Australia could be met. In 1901 only about ninety-three hands, of whom sixtysix were women and twenty-seven men, were employed in the Victorian factory. If we prohibit imports we shall not help to abolish sweating in the industry in the Old Country. As a matter of fact, the sweating which takes place there is not a bit worse than was the sweating in the industry here in 1901. I trust that in the circumstances the Minister will have a little more consideration for the revenue, which would be affected by the imposition of a lower duty.
.- If there is one item in the Tariff that is more absurd than another it is this. There is no evidence to support it, and no attempt has been made by the Minister to justify it. For the sake of this industry, which at the best is a bad one, giving employment to only a limited number of hands, at an average wage of about 14s. 3d. per week, we are asked to impose a duty equivalent to11/2d. per dozen boxes of matches. - Last year, there was paid by way of duty on safety matches £18,000, or £41,000 on the combined imports of wax and safety matches. It may be argued by some honorable members that the local industry has tended to reduce prices. I have quotations showing, however, that from the outset the price of the local matches has been just below the margin of the duty. An increased price, therefore, has been clearly paid by the users. If I had my way, I should make the manufacture of matches a prison industry. It seems absurd to tax the whole of the community to the extent proposed by the Government in order to encourage an industry which is chiefly carried on by girls, and which must ultimately have a detrimental effect on the health of those engaged in it. I should certainly be prepared to prohibit the introduction of wax matches into Australia, since they are highly dangerous ; I could point to cases where lives have been lost as the result of the striking of a wax match. The old duty afforded substantial protection to the industry. The report of the Chief Inspector of Factories of Victoria deals with the number of hands engaged in the Richmond factory, where match-making, as well as the manufacture of fire-kindlers, is carried on. It is difficult to ascertain the number of hands actually employed in each branch, but I find that in the combined industries there were, on the male side, two employes receiving a wage of11s. 3d. per week, seven employed at 7s. 8d. per week, five at 8s.1d., one at 17s., three at 15s. 8d., one at 16s.,one at 20s., and seventeen at 35s.5d., or a total of thirty-seven. The female employes are as follow : - One at 7s. per week, eleven at 7s.10d., thirty at 10s. 7d., twenty-three at 12s. 3d., twentysix at. 13s. 4d., twelve at 13s., twelve at 13s.10d., and twenty-three at 16s.11d. ; or a total of 138. I am anxious to know what the Treasurer’s proposal is. We have been told that he refuses to agree to any duty less than1s. and9d., and also that he is willing to agree to duties of 9d. and 6d. Which is correct?
– I thought that the arrangement was quite understood. The offer that was made, and agreed to, was that under paragraph a, the duty should be1s. and 6d. ; under paragraph b, 2s. and1s., which is in the same proportion as under paragraph a.
– That is leaving the Tariff exactly as it was.
– Yes. Then under paragraph c it was agreed that the duties should be1s. and 6d., paragraph d remaining as printed.
– Is the same proportion observed all through?
– I am prepared to accept the suggested arrangement.
Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.
Amendments (by Sir William Lyne) agreed to.
That after the figures “1s.9d.,” paragraph A, the words “ and on and after 1st November, 1907 (General Tariff), per gross,1s.,” be inserted; and that after the figures “1s. 6d.” the words “ and on and after 1st November,1907 (United Kingdom), per gross, 6d.,” be inserted.
That after the figures “3s. 6d.,” paragraph B, the words “ and on and after 1st November, 1907 (General Tariff), per gross, 2s.,” be inserted ; and that after the figure “ 3s.” the words “ and on and after 1st November, 1907 (United Kingdom), per gross,1s.,” be inserted.
That after the figures “1s. 9d.,” paragraph C, the words “ and on and after 1st November, 1907 (General Tariff), per gross,1s.,” be inserted; and that after the figures “1s. 6d.” the words “ and on and after 1st November, 1907 (United Kingdom), per gross, 6d.,” be inserted.
Item, as amended, agreed to.
Item Sr. Meats. Poultry. and Game. viz. : -
Mr.JOSEPH COOK (Parramatta) [10.22]. - Here we have a series of small advances over and above the recommendations of the Tariff Commission.
– I do not think that we ought to import any meat or poultry.
– The quantity that is imported is not worth considering. I do not think that we ought to go beyond the old duty, which, after full investigation, was recommended by both sections of the Tariff Commission; and, therefore, I move -
That after the figure “2d.,” paragraph A, the words “and on and after 1st November, 1907, 1d.,” be inserted.
Amendment (by Mr. Joseph Cook proposed -
That after the figure “ 2d.,” paragraph A, the words “and on and after 1st November, 1907 (United Kingdom), per lb.,1d.,” be inserted.
– Only £8 was paid in duty on this commodity last year; and I think the Treasurer might very well accept the amendment.
– I move -
That after the words “ 25 per cent.,” paragraph B, the words “ and on and after 1st November, 1907, 20 per cent.,” be inserted.
This is an item, small as it may appear, that is very important in the back blocks of Australia, where people are unable to obtain fresh meat, and have to resort to the potted varieties.
– These potted or concentrated meats are very largely made in Australia.
– And exported, too.
-They are made so largely that both sections of the Tariff Commission recommended no increase in the duty. I appeal to honorable members, for once, to adopt a unanimous recommendation of the Commission. Will the Treasurer give us any reason why the duty has been increased ?
.- There is a very small importation of these commodities, a certain class of which - invalid foods - we do not produce in Australia.
Question - That after the words “25 per cent.,” paragraph b, the following words be inserted: - “and on and after 1st November, 1907, 20 per cent.” - put. The Committee divided.
Majority … … 11
Majority … … 5
Question so resolved in the negative.
Amendment (by Mr. Joseph Cook) put -
That after the words “ 25 per cent,” paragraph B, the following words be inserted : - “ and on and after 1st November, 1907 (United Kingdom), 20 percent.”
The Committee divided -
Question so resolved in the negative.
Amendment (by ‘ Mr. Joseph Cook) negatived -
That the following words be inserted after the figures “11/2d.,” paragraph d : - “ and on and after1st November, 1907, 20 per cent.”
– I regard paragraph e, Meats, n.e.i., as simply an inducement for Customs officers to tax the public at their discretion. This “n.e.i.” business is something like a policeman taking a man into Court ; the chances are that he will get convicted whether he deserves it or not.
Mr.JOSEPH COOK (Parramatta) [10.46]. - I trust that the Government will agree to put the duty with regard to paragraph f, Meats preserved by cold process, back tothe old rate. I understand that it includes the hams which are imported at Christmas-time, and the duty therefore -means a ‘fax on our’ Christmas food.
– Is the honorable member in order in anticipating debate on the next item 82, “Bacon or Hams partly or wholly cured “ ?
– I did not understand that the honorable member had started to discuss thatduty.
– I am speaking of carcasses which are imported frozen, and which include our Christmas hams. It is the custom to bring in whole carcasses of pigs, especially at about Christmas-time.
– Why should not people eat local pork?
– Surely our pigs do not need protection against the pauper pigs of New Zealand? Is there a black labour question involved? Are not the conditions under which New Zealand pigs thrive at least equal to those under which they are reared here? I see no necessity for the duty. .
– Is it not a fact that there is swine fever in New Zealand?
– If that be the reason, I will say no more. But I do not think it is.
– I do not always agree with the honorable member for Parramatta, but, if the information given to me be correct, I am in accord with him with regard to paragraph f. I am advised by some of the large bacon curers in this State that they cannot get sufficient quantities of hams at Christmastime from the local pig-growers, and that they have to import carcasses from New Zealand. If it be true that we cannot supply our own wants at this time of the year, I do not see why we should keep out legs of pork from New Zealand. The duty will probably mean closing the curing factories at Christmas-time and throwing a number of men out of employment. Of course, I am simply giving the Committee information which has been supplied to me. If any honorable member can contradict it, I am willing to give way.
– The hams consumed at Christmas-time are cured long before.
– If I am correctly ad vised, we cannot obtain sufficient supplies in this country.
– Yes ; we can.
– If I have been misinformed, I trust that other honorable members will supply the Committee with accurate information.
– From what I know of the ham curing business, it would be a mistake to remove the proposed duty. If that course were taken, we might as well do away with the duty of 3d. per lb. on bacon and hams. Before the meat is put into salt it has to be chilled, andI am informed that the Americans have resorted to the practice of placing meat in the refrigerated chambers of steamers, so that it arrives here all ready to be- salted. Both items must be treated alike.
– The honorable member for Balaclava thinks that the legs of pigs should come in free, and I shall vote for that proposal, hoping that if the legs get in, the carcasses will f ollow them. Could not the Treasurer agree, as a compromise, to allow legs to come in free, putting a duty of 2d. on carcasses? We must make a stand somewhere, and we had better make it on the legs. Considering how close we are to Christmas time, a tax on hams is a serious matter.
– I wish to point out that it does not occupy many men, or take a long time, to cure legs already chilled, because pyrogallic acid is used, what is known as the quick process being followed. I urge honorable members not to give a vote, which will have the effect of bringing into Australia a large quantity of frozen meat. Surely we can produce enough pigs to supply our own requirements. I am aware that the honorable member for Balaclava, although the representative of a city constituency, has large country interests. He knows that Messrs. Farmer and Company, baconcurers of Ballarat, take prizes for their products all over Australia. But if we allow chilled legs to come in duty free, we shall deprive a number of small farmers, who rear pigs which they hope to sell to bacon factories, of the opportunity to make ready money out of their animals.
.- As ‘ I do not wish to mislead the Committee, I asked the officials of the Customs Department whether frozen meat or pork is sent from America to be cured here, and I am informed that only 1 ton came from America last year, the rest coming from New Zealand. We might well make preserved pork dutiable, allowing fresh frozen legs to be imported free, for the benefit of our manufacturers.
– What guarantee have we that the meat is sound?
– In New Zealand the inspection’ is closer than it is here.
– I think that there is no doubt about the soundness of the meat. I have my information on the subject from’ Melbourne bacon-curers, not from any one in Ballarat. I do not suppose that frozen pork would be sent to Ballarat to be cured. Our manufacturers, however, should be allowed to import raw material, should they need to do so at a time of shortage in local supplies.
– In the schedule which has been laid before us it is made to appear that both sections of the Tariff Commission recommended that meat preserved by cold process be admitted free of duty. But, on page 36 of the report of the Commission, I find that its members unanimously recommend, in regard to bacon and hams, no alteration in the duty, but draw attention to the fact that fresh pork may be imported free of duty under division IV., item 36, exemption b - “ meat preserved by cold process, free.” They recommend a duty of id. per lb. on pork preserved by cold process.
.- This is but another instance of the way in which the members of the free-trade section of the Tariff Commission are misrepresented. The honorable member for Wimmera has referred to page 36, and the report on the item Bacon and Hams, in which the statement is made -
We recommend a duty of id. per lb. on pork preserved by the cold process.
If honorable members will look at the following page, and at the signatures to the report given there, they will find that, whilst there are eight signatures, an asterisk is set against four of them, which refers to the following footnote -
Signatories indicated by asterisk assent to the report only. Their recommendations will follow.
So that the free-trade members of the Tariff Commission have- nothing whatever to do with the recommendation quoted by the honorable member for Wimmera.
.- Perhaps I did not give the report the- careful study I should have given, it, but, looking at the honorable member for Illawarra, I suggested that if anything in connexion with the recommendation I quoted required explanation it might be explained by any member of the Tariff Commission who happened to be present. I .accept the honorable member’s explanation, and it is therefore only necessary now to say that the recommendation I have quoted is that of the protectionist section of the Commission.
.- The Western District of Victoria produces more pork than does any other part of Australia. What the honorable member for Balaclava has said on this question is correct. The firms who use these pork hams secure them in time for the Christmas trade each year, and they are our biggest buyers. Their representatives visit Koroit, Warrnambool, Terang, Colac, and other centres where pigs are sold, and buy enormous quantities. They buy all we can produce, and give us a good price for them.
– Then the settlers should produce more.
– They cannot do so. Pig-raising is such a profitable industry in the Western District that the settlers produce every pig they can.
– The honorable member for South Sydney appears to doubt my statement, but I can tell him that the limit to the production of nigs is the supply of skimmed milk available.
– What about lucerne and maize?
– I wish to see the industry increased throughout Australia. I am in no sense a partisan of the firms using imported pork as their raw material, but I believe that they have upheld the industry in this State. They are only importing the raw material for their Christmas trade.
– It is too late now for the Christmas trade.
– I remind the honorable member that we are passing a Tariff which, I hope, will operate many years.
– I hope that we have not dealt with hay and chaff finally for many years.
– The honorable member for Corangamite will have to face the music for some of his votes when he is before his electors.
– I shall be willing to face it, and at the same time Ministers and their partisan newspaper. These preserved hams are introduced from New Zealand, where the inspection is more careful than it is in Victoria, only as the raw material required by the producers of bacon and hams for the Christmas trade, and no harm can arise to the pig-raising industry in the Commonwealth through these goods being admitted free. The honorable member for Laanecoorie has in this matter cast a slur upon those engaged in the production of bacon and hams in the Commonwealth, in saying that they are produced by a process that is injurious to health. They are not so produced. The hams produced by J. C. Hutton and Farmer and Company are as good as any produced in any part of the world.
– Those firms buy local pork.
– I can tell the honorable gentleman that J. C Hutton and Farmer and Company are large importers of legs of pork for the Christmas trade.
– Then I am in favourof a reduction of the duty on the finished article.
– There is no necessity for. that. The duty under the old Tariff was satisfactory, and we have to consider here merely the question of giving our manufacturers of bacon and hams an opportunity to procure the raw material they require for the Christmas trade. The honorable member for Laanecoorie ought to be ashamed of himself for casting a slur upon one of our industries.
– Order ! The honorable member must withdraw that statement
– I withdraw. Honorable members on this side are pointed at from time to time as persons who decry the industries of Australia. I say that we uphold them, and are willing at all times to advance them. I shall not allow any man to decry a Victorian industry without contradiction. We produce as fine an article in this industry as is produced in any part of the world, and the remission of this particular duty would assist us to increase our output.
– I am very loth to again address the Committee on this item. But in view of the amount of indignation which the honorable member for Corangamite has pumped up, some statement is due from me. The honorable member for Balaclava stated that during the summer it was the custom of persons engaged in this industry to import from New Zealand a certain quantity of legs of pork which had been treated by the cold process for the purpose of turning them into hams for the Christmas trade. I said that if pork legs were imported here during the summer they could not be turned into, hams for the Christmas trade, except by what is known as the quick process, which consists of pumping pyrogallic acid into them. If the honorable member for Corangamite chooses to say that that is an aspersion on the local manufacturers of hams he is welcome to do so. Every other member of the Committee will agree that I did not cast any aspersion upon those engaged in this industry. If,however, the manufacturers- of baconandhams wish to be allowed to importpork free of duty, I say that theyare not entitled to a high duty on the finished product, seeing that they are careless of the interests of those engaged in producing the raw material in Australia.
.- I wish to challenge the assertion of the honorable member for Corangamite that pig-raising cannot be profitably carried on unless the pigs are fed on milk.
– I did not say that the industry could not’ be carried on, but that it could not be carried on profitably.
– I do not wish the honorable member to mislead the Committee. Thousands of pigs are reared on the northern Dividing Range in New South Wales, and driven down to the maize fields to be fattened, and they are turned into excellent bacon. Lucerne is also used in vast quantities for pig-raising. This item should be passed in the interests of closer settlement.
Amendment (by Mr. Joseph Cook) negatived -
That after the figure “2d.,” paragraph f, the words “and on and after 1st November, 1907, free,” be added.
Item agreed to.
Item 82 (Bacon and hams) agreed to.
Item 83. Sausage Casings, per lb., 2d.
.- I think that the Minister might well agree to progress being reported.
– I am not going to agree to an adjournment at this stage. I intend to ask the Committee to pass tonight Item 84, Milk.
– No progress will be made unless some degree of amity is displayed. I quite agree that if the Minister is prepared to extend some consideration to us, we should endeavour, as far as possible, to meet him; but. if not, then, even if the closure be applied in respect of every item, and an honorable member is not allowed to speak to one of them, it will still be impossible for the Government to pass the Tariff before Christmas.
– If that is the honorable member’s determination, we shall go on. I know that honorable members have been aiming at something of the sort.
– I was proposing the very opposite from what the honorable member suggests. I said that any consideration on the part of one side of the Committee -should meet with a response from the other side. It would be ridiculous to attempt to deal to-night with the item relating to milk.
– Supposing I agreed to the postponement of that item, and asked the Committee to proceed with other items in the division ?
– Personally, I am willing that” we should proceed with some of the less debatable items, and go to a division upon them with as little discussion as possible.
– I have shown no desire to be unfriendly, but I feel that we must do some work.
– I quite agree that we must try to get through the work before us as quickly as possible, but that object can be better achieved by an amicable arrangement than by any attempt to force the passing of items.
– If we are to sit all night, we shall take care that the Government get nothing out of the sitting. We are not to be bullied.
– I am endeavouring to avoid anything of the kind. If the Minister would be prepared to postpone the items relating to milk, oilmen’s stores, salt, starch, and soap, I think we might proceed to deal with other items in the division.
– I am quite agreeable to consent to such an arrangement if it will meet with the approval of the Committee. I do not wish to give rise to any bad feeling, but I say, in the friendliest manner possible, that it is absolutely necessary for us to push on with the business before us. I am willing to allow the four or five items mentioned by the honorable member for North Sydney to be postponed.
– Until when?
– Until we reach the end of the division now before us.
– I desire to ascertain from the Treasurer whether he intends to postpone the item of sausage casings?
– We cannot make these articles in Australia.
– We can.
– We have the best evidence in the world that we cannot
The imposition of the duty means increasing the cost to the consumers, who comprise the poorer sections in the community. I hope that the Committee will divide at once, and strike out the item.
– I desire to ascertain from the Treasurer what he really does propose to do? He made a statement which was as vague and as indefinite as it could possibly be.
– I was not allowed to complete my statement.
– I should be very glad to hear the Treasurer.
– I was asked to postpone the consideration of about five items, namely, milk, oilmen’s stores, salt, soap, and starch, and, I think, rice.
– Will the honorable gentleman postpone Item 83?
– No. But I am quite agreeable to postpone the consideration of those items, so that we can deal quickly with the other items in the division, and afterwards consider the postponed items, which might, if proceeded with to-night, provoke much discussion. I desire to meet honorable members opposite as reasonably as I can.
– What is the advantage of postponing those items if we are to sit all night?
– There will be no necessity to sit all night if honorable members will pass the other items without much discussion. Probably they will be passed in the course of a few minutes.
– As the Treasurer has agreed to postpone the consideration of the items - and they are really the debatable items in the division - it occurs to me that we might reasonably pass the other items without undue debate. But I suggest for his consideration that the item of sausage casings is very debatable.
– I can assure the Minister that half-a-dozen members on this side feel very strongly on the item.
– It is not debatable. Let us take a division.
.- I believe that both sides have come to a fair understanding with a view to facilitate business. I have been furnished with some informa tion with regard to the item of sausage casings. We import these articles from
America, and in return send mutton and lamb casings. In order that a division maybe taken at once, I move -
That the following words be added : - “ and on and after 1st November, 1907, free.”
I am told that a very good reciprocal trade is carried on, and that the demand cannot be locally met.
.- We should not go to a division without a discussion on the item. It involves a great principle, and that is, whether we can produce the articles. There is evidence that we do not produce the kind of article which it is proposed to tax. We export to Germany the heavier article, which is made from the entrails of sheep. But theclass of casing which the Australian prefers is the lighter pig casing, which is imported from the United States. The imports and exports are fairly evenly balanced. The imports were worth £41,925, and the exports from Australia £42,915, of which £34,728 went to Germany. This duty will penalize the Australian butcher. It was proposed in the Kingston Tariff to impose a duty of 2d.
– We will make it free now if we go to a vote at once.
.- The burning protectionists are anxious to admit sausage skins free. According to them, Australia can produce electrical machinery the most complicated in the world, but cannot make an ordinary sausage skin. Throughout the Tariff there are duties up to 40 per cent. on the ordinary commodities of life, but the protectionists make the farcical admission that Australia cannot make sausage skins. 1 can understand the Treasurer, as a protectionist, being annoyed with his friends.
– The casing is not made. It is taken from the entrails, cured, and sent away, and a manufactured casing containing a good deal of impure matter is brought back.
– The protectionists in this House now admit that Australia cannot undertake the process of curing and preparing the skins. In the last Parliament, Sir John Quick and Sir William McMillan agreed to the article being placed on the free list. During the discussion at that time, I suggested to protectionists a “ sausage rampant,” or a “ sausage in the summer season,” as a coat of arms. I shall vote for placing this item on the free list, but the Treasurer or Minister of Trade and
Customs ought to rise and apply the whip most powerfully to the protectionists, who in this case are going back on their professions.
Colonel FOXTON (Brisbane) [11.36].- If anybody ought to know whether there is an ample supply of pork skins for sausages obtainable in Australia, it is the butchers of the country. I have here a document, signed by thirty butchering firms in Brisbane, who state, as do other butchers in country towns, that the local article is very much inferior to the imported article.
– That is not true.
Colonel FOXTON. - The butchers ought to know better than the Treasurer does.
– I know more about the question than the honorable member docs
Colonel FOXTON.- As I am not a butcher, the honorable member probably knows more about it than 1 do, but I am voicing the opinions of men who understand a great deal more about it than the honorable member does. I have evidence that the men who are most interested in producing a palatable article protest most strongly against the proposed duty as tending to prevent them from obtaining the best materials. Those opinions may be no more palatable to the Treasurer than sausages with thick skins are to other people.
– The honorable member for Brisbane has challenged my statement. I say that the imported sausage casings are not manufactured from the best material, and are very injurious. Butchers may say what they like, but we export the natural casings which are proper for sausages. We export to the United Kingdom, Canada, Cape Colony, Fiji, Natal, Austria, Belgium, France, Germany, New Zealand, South Sea Islands, Italy, Japan, the Philippine Islands, and the United States, £43,403 worth every year.
– But those are sheep casings.
– It does not matter whether they are or are not sheep casings. I have had to do practically with the business, and I know exactly what casings they are. One reason for the imposition of this duty is a desire to make people use our own natural casings, and not the imported spurious and injurious stuff. -
.- I regard this as one of the irritating items in the Tariff. In the first place, imported skins can always command upwards of 3d. per lb. more than do the colonial skins, so that there is no competition. What the Treasurer has said about our sending away the natural skin is hardly correct, because what we export is the entrails of the sheep, which the German and other people like for the bigger classes of sausage. The butchers use all the skins that can be produced in Australia, and are glad to get imported skins, even at a cost of 3d. or 4d. per lb. more. This,as I say, is simply an irritating duty, which confers no advantage even on those people who breed pigs in Australia.
Question - That the words “ and on and after 1st November, 1907, free,” be added (Mr. Glynn’s amendment) - put. The Committee divided.
Majority … … 3
Question so resolved in the affirmative.
Amendment agreed to.
Item 84 (Milk) postponed.
Item 85 (Mustard Seed) agreed to.
Item 86. Mustard, including French Mustard, per lb., 3d.
Amendment (by Mr. Joseph Cook) negatived -
That the following words be added: - “ and on and after1st November, 1907, per lb., 2d.”
Item agreed to.
Item 87. Nuts - Edible, viz. : -
– I should like to know why a duty of 4d. per lb. has Been levied upon almond kernels. It seems to me that it is practically a prohibitive impost.
– The duty proposed accords with the recommendation of the Tariff Commission, whose members in their report made a strong reference to this matter.
Amendment (by Mr. Joseph Cook) negatived -
That after the figure “4d.,” paragraph D, the following words be inserted : - “ and on and after1st November, 1907, per lb., 2d.”
– I should like to know what is meant by the use of the term” meal ‘ ‘ in association with almond paste?
– It refers to ground meal which is used in the manufacture of cakes.
Item agreed to.
Item 88 (Copra) agreed to.
Item 89 (Oilmen’s Stores) postponed.
Item 90 (Annatto) agreed to.
Item 91. Isinglass -
– I should like to know whyisinglass, n.e.i., is to be taxed to the extent of 15 per cent., seeing that neither section of the Tariff Commission” recommend the imposition of such a duty?
– Because it can be, and is, made in Australia to a considerable extent.
– The Tariff Commission says that it is not made locally.
– According to the Departmental statement it can be made here.
– I take the statements of the Department with a grain of salt. I have had experience of what it knows as to what can be made in Australia. I entertain very strong objections to that Department making recommendations to the Government upon matters of policy. In my judgment, its officers have no right to do that. It is their business to act as tax collectors and not as politicians.
– The honorable member should not go off like that.
– I say that the Department is exceeding its functions in making recommendations to the Minister on matters of policy. Its officers ought to steer clear of all such matters. It is not their place to frame a Tariff for the protection of Australian industries. Their duty is merely to collect the taxes imposed by this Parliament.
– They must collect information for the Treasurer if he requires it.
– It is no part of their functions to say that an industry ought to be protected.
– I have here a memorandum from the officials of the Department, stating that isinglass was formerly included under oilmen’s stores, and was subjected to the same rate of duty which the Government propose to levy upon it now.
Item agreed to.
Item 92. Rennet Liquid, dry, or in tablets; in packages of not less than half a pint, free.
.- I desire to know whether the method of measurement to be applied in this case is not a curious one? Should not the word “pint” read “pound”?
– The word “packages” possesses a special meaning, which covers bottles.
– Unless the item is arranged in the form in which it appears, it will come under the heading of oilmen’s stores.
– Why not say “halfapound “ instead of “ half-a-pint “ ?
– I suppose that half-a-pint was considered a small quantity, such as wouldprobably be used for purposes other than oilmen’s stores.
Item agreed to.
.- We have passed a number of items, the goods enumerated in which are imported in bottles. We are now about to deal with pickles, sauces, and similar goods, which affect three or four hundred thousand dozens of bottles every year. We ought to determine before we go any further what we are going to do with the duty on bottles. If the duty is not arranged on reasonable lines, we shall enormously increase the cost of pickles to the consumer.
– I was about to put to the Minister the. same question as the honorable member for Indi has raised. I am well aware that the item “Bottles” is included elsewhere in the Tariff. But by the time we reach that item we shall have already fixed the duty on a number of goods which are imported in bottles.
– We have already had several instances where numbers have counted but intelligence has not guided votes.
– I should be preparedto agree with the honorable member at any other time than midnight.
.- I should like to have some information with regard to paragraph g, soy for sauces. Why should soy be admitted free ? What is it? I always understood that it was a sauce in itself.
– I am informed that soy is a Chinese preparation, which forms the basis of many sauces which are made in various countries. It is imported into the Commonwealth for the manufacture of sauces.
– I am not satisfied with regard to bottles. There is a good deal in what the honorable member for Indi has said. We may, by agreeing to a certain rate of duty, on the supposition that bottles are in future to be allowed to come in as they used to do, make all the difference in the world as to the price at which bottled goods are sold.
– The same Committee as will settle the duty on pickles will settle the duty on bottles. If the Committee says that the bottles in which pickles are imported are to be charged at a lower rate of duty than that proposed, that determination will, of course, be carried out.
– But the duty is already being collected on the bottles in which pickles and similar goods are imported. If hereafter we make a material reduction on bottles in item 259, it will make a difference of many thousands of pounds to the importers.
– Other items are affected in just the same way.
– But does not the Minister see how unfair it is? He has admitted that there is an anomaly as to bottles, and has promised some amelioration when we come to that item.
– I do not like to make promises in a hurry, but I think I may say that consideration has been given to the question of dealing with bottles. I do. not say that there will be much reduction, but there will be a variation in the directionof a reduction.
– I am glad to hear that. It amounts to something.
– Are the pints and quarts referred to reputed or standard measures?
– In some cases they are reputed, and in others standard measures.
Item agreed to.
Item 94 (Rice), item 95 (Salt and table preparations thereof), and item 96 (Salt, rock) postponed.
Item 97 (Seed, canary, hemp, and rape), item 98 (Seed ; cotton), and item 99 (Seed ; cotton for the manufacture of cake and oil) agreed to.
Item 100 (Soap) postponed.
Item.101 (Spices) and item 102 (Spark lets) agreed to.
– The Treasurer is merely passing dummy items, although he seems to think he is effecting so much.
Item 103 (Starch), and item 104 (Starch flours) postponed.
Item 105 (Tea) -
Amendment (by . Mr. Poynton) proposed -
That after the figure “1d.,” paragraph a; the words “ and on and after1st November, 1907, free,” be inserted.
.-Ihope that the Minister will not agree to the amendment. The packet tea comes chiefly from India, where it is put up by cheap labour, in packets manufactured by and covered with labels printed by cheap labour. If we deal in this way with packet tea, it will be necessary, to be consistent, to deal similarly with other items.
– I should like to see the importation of packet tea prohibited. Surely we can put up into packets the tea that we require. But little supervision can be exercised over tea imported in packets, whereas tea imported in bulk can be easily examined. Prior to Federation tea which was allowed to enter the free ports of New South Wales was not permitted to enter South Australian ports, being considered unfit for human consumption.
– The importation of such tea is prevented by the Commonwealth Customs Act.
-When the amendment is disposed of, I intend to move to prohibit the importation of packet tea.
– If the amendment be carried the honorable member will not be able to do that.
.- The honorable member for Hindmarsh contends that packet tea should be prohibited from coming here, because it is put up by coloured labour, but to be consistent he should refuse to drink tea, because it is all the product of coloured labour.
– Some of the best tea that comes into this market is imported in 10 and 20-lb. packages. I do not think that we should put a duty upon it.
– I think that tea should be brought to Australia in bulk, and packed here. It is undoubtedly easier to supervise the importation of bulk than of packet tea, while we have persons who are trained in the art of blending, which needs special professional skill. The duty will not be. a tax on tea, but it will create employment.
Question - That after the figure “1d.,” paragraph a, the words “ and on and after 1st November, 1907, free,” proposed to be inserted be so inserted - put. The Committee divided.
Majority … … 14
Question so resolved in the negative.
. -I move -
That the following words be inserted after the figure “1d.,” in paragraph a : - “ and on and after 1st November, 1907, tea in packets not exceeding 10lbs., prohibited.”
Honorable members will understand that this is not in any sense a prohibition of the import of tea, but is intended to afford employment to our own people in putting up tea in packets, and in the printing of the wrappers and labels. In addition to giving employment to labour, the effect of the proposal would be to secure a better supervision of the tea consumed in Australia. I chink it is unnecessary that I should say anything further in support of the amendment.
– I should like to know if the honorable member for Hindmarsh is in order in moving this amendment. The original resolution submitted was -
That duties of Customs and Excise be imposed according to the following’ Tariff, to come into operation on the 8th August,1907, at 4 p.m. Victorian time.
I do not think that prohibition or absolute exclusion of an article of import is covered by that resolution. In the circumstances, I do not think the amendment’ is in order.
– I submit that the honorable member for Hindmarsh is proposing a prohibition of trade, whilst the Tariff has been framed, not with the intention of prohibiting trade, but for the purpose of regulating and controlling it.
– Under the Customs Act, we can prohibit the importation of any article.
– In dealing with the Tariff, I think the honorablemember cannot accomplish his object in the way he proposes, though he might do so by proposing that the duty on packet tea should be1s.,1s. 6d., or2s. per lb., and reach prohibition of the article in that way.
– I suggest that the honorable member should not press his amendment in this form. Even if it can be so submitted, there should be some considerstion for those who have shipments of packet tea in transit. I am sure it is not the honorable member’s intention that they should be compelled to send that tea back whence it came in order that the packets may be opened, and the tea re-shipped in another form. In my opinion, the proposition is not in order.
– It appears to me that to accept the amendment moved by the honorable member for Hindmarsh would be to open the door to the insertion of amendments of all kinds in these columns, and that there would be no finality to the debate. In the circumstances, I rule that the amendment is out of order.
– I might be able to effect the purpose I have in view by moving to substitute “ 2oz,” for “ 20 lbs.”
– That would not have the desired effect.
– We should also have to omit the word “ not “ Since the Government are not disposed to support my proposal, and there seems to be some difficulty in the way of its acceptance, I shall very reluctantly abandon it.
– There is the difference of1d.
– We ought to be able to put up more packet tea than we have been doing, and an increase in that direction would involve a great deal of printing, which is now lost to the. Commonwealth. Unfortunately, the average buyer of tea has not the slightest idea of whether he is obtaining a good or an inferior article, and the statement is made again and again that since the removal of the duty on tea there has been no reduction in prices.
– I believe that that statement is perfectly true in respect of many cases, but not in regard to all.
Item agreed to.
Bill received from Senate and (on motion by Mr. Groom) read a first time.
House adjourned at 12.36 a.m. (Friday).
Cite as: Australia, House of Representatives, Debates, 31 October 1907, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/hofreps/1907/19071031_reps_3_41/>.