3rd Parliament · 2nd Session
Mr. Speaker took the chair at .3 p.m., and read prayers.
Mr. JOHN THOMSON presented a petition from certain persons on the Clarence River, New South Wales, interested in the fishing industry,- asking the House not to impose a duty on fishing nets and cork floats:
Petition received and read.
Christmas Adjournment - Tariff - ‘ Extra Sitting Day
– When does the Prime Minister intend that we shall adjourn for the Christmas holidays? And for how long is the adjournment to be?
– The inquiry is rather early. I hope that we shall have dealt with the Tariff at least a week before Christmas, and shall then be able to adjourn over the month of January, reassembling as early in February as honorable members, after considering the question between then and now, may feel convenient.
– Does not the ‘ Prime Minister think- that, at the present rate of progress, it will probably be nearer Chrismas twelve months than next Christmas when we have finished with the Tariff? Have not the Government considered some method for expediting the work?
– The Government have considered several proposals for expediting business. The honorable member has been no sinner in the matter of ‘making long speeches, but he had the long discipline of the Tariff Commission. If that result of its meetings could have been-‘ foreseen, there would have been an inclination to appoint every member to the Commission.
– Does the Prime Minister think a week long enough to enable honorable members who reside in distant States to reach their homes? In 1901, when the last Tariff was under discussion,’ we adjourned from the 13th December to the 14th January following ; but, at our present rate of progress, we shall not be so far advanced this December with the present Tariff as we were in. December, 1901; with the Kingston Tariff. When the Prime Minister is taking into consideration the question of adjournment, I wish him not to forget the position of honorable members whose homes are in distant States.
– I said “ at least a week,” by which I meant a sufficient time to allow the member who lives furthest from Melbourne to arrive home by Christmas day.
– Let us make art effort to get away before then.
– The Government would be only too happy, with the assistance of honorable members, to close by or before the 1,3th December.
– All that is needed is a little moderation on the part, of honorable members opposite.
– When do the Government intend to sit an extra day. or two, as, last week, the Treasurer spoke of doing?
– .We are willing to commence at once, but have not hitherto proposed it, because of appeals from various parts pf the .House. Perhaps it would be a good thing to make a beginning this week.
– Can the Prime Minister give the House definite information as to whether Brisbane is to be .made a port of call under the new mail contract?
– The honorable member’s question relates to one term of a proposed agreement, and until the whole is settled, no term can be regarded as fixed.. It is possible that I may’ he in a position to give the information to-morrow.
– Has the Prime Minister inserted, or will he insert, in the proposed agreement a proviso requesting the mail company- whose tender is accepted to, whenever possible, dock its vessels in Australia?. . Mr. DEAKIN. - That is one of the matters which) has had some consideration. I hope to be able tq put the honorable member out of has suspense to-morrow, or Thursday at latest.
– I have received a letter from the Australian Agricultural Implement and Machinery Employes’ Association, pointing out that Messrs. Hawke and Company, of Kapunda, in South Australia, are not paying, the wages agreed upon by the moulders. Will the Minister of Trade and Customs cause inquiries to be made in regard to the matter, and if this statement is substantiated, collect the Excise from the firm?
– If the honorable member will let me have the letter to which he refers, I shall be pleased to look’ into the matter. I am at present making inquiries with a view to compelling all the firms in the industry to observe the law.
– Has any decision been arrived at. with regard to the request of mail contractors to be paid monthly instead of quarterly as heretofore?
– A recommendation to that effect has been made.
RABBIT DESTRUCTION. Dr. DANYSZ Experiments .
– Has a report been received . from the officer appointed to supervise the experiments for the destruction of rabbits carried out by Dr. Danysz in New South Wales? If so, is it determined to take any further action in the matter, and, if a- final report has been presented, will honorable members fee supplied with copies of it?
– I saw the statement in the press that the Government have received a report, but I have not seen it, and. I do not think the Prime Minister has. . .
– Did the Minister order the cattle to be destroyed ?
– Yes. When. I was last in Sydney, Dr. Tidswell- asked me what was to be done with a few cattle which had been obtained for the purposes’ of experiment; whether they should be turned loose or sold. I said, “Kill them,’-‘ thinking . that that would be the most satisfactory thing to do.
Norwood, and.. -Unley. Mr. BATCHELOR asked the PostmasterGeneral, upon notice -
Whether a favorable decision hai been arrived at on the question of establishing telephone exchanges at Norwood and Unley?
– The answer to the honorable member’s question is as follows -
Inquiries in connexion with this matter, which are being made by the’ Chief Electrical. Engineer, who looked into this question when recently in Adelaide, have not yet been completed.
asked the Postmaster-. ^General, upon notice -
Postmaster-General, in reference to the use of typewriting machines by telegraphists in Sydney ?
– The answer to the honorable member’s question’s is as follows -
Inquiries are being made, and the desired information will be supplied as early as possible.
In Committee of Ways and Means (Consideration resumed from 1st November, vide -page 5519) :’
Postponed item 89. Oilmen’s Stores, n.e.i., being Groceries, including Culinary and Flavouring Essences non-spirituous, Soap Dyes, Condition Foods, and other preparations used in the household, including Food for Birds, ad. val. (General Tariff), 20 per cent. ; (United Kingdom), 15 per cent.
– I move -
That after ‘the word “Birds” the words “but excluding infants’ and invalids’ foods “ be h>serted.
Under the old Tariff, infants’ and invalids’ foods were specially exempted from duty. Several petitions have been.. presented to the House from different organizations associated with the care of children and invalids, who have requested that in the interests of the poorer classes the duty on these articles should be abolished.
– What does the honorable member refer to - patented preparations ?
– Yes, amongst others. There are a number of patented preparations which have only been produced after considerable research and experience, and, unless they are specially exempted, they will be included under the head of oilmen’s stores.
– In reference to this matter, I have received from an officer the following report -
In regard to infants’ and invalids’ foods, I have consulted Dr. Norris, Chairman of the Victorian Board of Health, as directed. Dr. Norris lent me, for your information, a copy of the latest edition of Food and the Principles of Dietetics, by Hutchinson, who is regarded as the leading authority of the world on this subject. On page 460, the author summarizes the conclusions to be drawn from the evidence obtained by analyses, &c, as to the disadvantages and injurious results following upon the use of the proprietary foods for infants then before the public. On pages 461-5 is given the compo.sition of infants’ foods as disclosed by fresh examinations by the author, together with a “ General description and remarks,” by the author upon the analyses. On page 535 and following pages, the author treats upon “ Artificial and Pre digested Foods and Artificial Feeding,” and shows that “ invalids’ “ foods are only of use as additions to ordinary food, provided they make up any deficiency in the ordinary food. Dr. Norris states that the public are victimized to a large extent by certain invalids’ foods, and also by certain infants’ foods.
– Why does not the honorable gentleman bring in the Bill which a long while ago he promised to introduce to deal with these matters i
– That is the . way in which -to deal with them. I thin’k that there has been great dereliction of duty on the Minister’s part.
– The Minister will bring in all these measures when honorable members of the other side have put the Tariff through, but not until then.
– And children can die in the meantime.
– When the honorable member is finished I shall proceed. and he is strongly of the opinion that if they are to be admitted at all, they should not be free, since most of them can be made here. He suggested that if there is to be any exemption it should be limited to “ infants’ foods suitable only for infants under the age of six months, and which, when prepared as directed by any accompanying label, contain no starch, and which then contain the essential constituents of, and conform approximately in proportional composition to normal mother’s milk.” The above is the standard fixed under the Victorian Pure Foods Act, and Dr. Norris states that the leading makers of these foods in Europe are making arrangements to conform to that standard.
I may ‘ mention that under the Victorian Pure Foods Act of 1905 the following regulation as to infants’ food has been made by the Board of Public Health-
Definition. - Infants’ food is food described or sold as an article of food specially suitable for -infants of twelve months of age or under.
Standard. - Infants’ foods shall contain no woody fibre, no preservative substance, and no mineral substance insoluble in acid ; and, unless described or sold specifically as’ food suitable only for infants over the. age of six months, shall, when prepared as directed by any accompanying label, contain no starch, and shall contain the essential constituents of, and conform approximately in proportional composition to normal mother’s milk.
That is the report from Dr. Norris.
– What has that to do with the imposition of this duty ?
– Will the honorable member allow me to finish what I have to say ?
– What has this to do with a 15 per cent, duty?
– The imposition of the duty may perhaps prevent the articles from being introduced in the wholesale way in . which they have been imported.
– Well, this is wise legislation.
– I do not know that it is- necessary to detain the Committee, but in the work which I have just quoted, and which has been lent by Dr.. Nords, there are numerous instances given where the importation of food of this kind’ should be restricted as much as possible. I quite admit that there is a’ great deal in the statement made by the honorable member in reference to the prohibition of these foods, or to having them more clearly defined than they have been. We cannot do everything at once. The Minister of Trade and Customs tells me that in view of what has taken place - and the persistency of some honorable members has had a good deal to do with it, perhaps, though it has been the intention of the Government to act since last year - a measure will be laid upon the table in about, ‘or perhaps less than, a week, and then the matter can be dealt with. There is no necessity to exempt these foods at the present time. We propose an increase of duty, which certainly will not do any harm, and may do a great deal of good by preventing the wholesale importation which is now taking place. I think that it would be unwise to exempt all these foods. I have no statement in writing on the subject, but I know that Dr. Norris has said also that they are not equivalent to the ordinary milk that we can produce in Australia, and therefore it would be unwise to allow them to come in indiscriminately._
– Could not a special line be inserted providing for the admission of all infants’ foods that are up to a standard to be prescribed?
– For their admission free of duty?
– That suggestion has just been made to me by the Comptroller-General. We might ‘insert words providing that “ infants’ foods, as prescribed by Departmental by-laws,” may be admitted free*
– And all other foods to be- prohibited ?
– When the Bill is under consideration it will be open to us to ‘ prohibit such foods as should be dealt with in that way. I am quite willing to agree to such an amendment as I have suggested.
– The honorable gentler man should himself move it.
– I am prepared to do. so.
– Hear, hear. I am willing to withdraw my amendment.
Amendment, by leave, withdrawn-.
– Before the amendment suggested by the Minister is proposed, I desire to move a prior amendment -
That after the words “20 per cent:,” the words “ and on and after 6th November, 1907 (General Tariff), 15 per cent.,” be inserted.
If that amendment be agreed to, it will bring the item into line with the recommendation of both sections of the Tariff Commission.
Question - That after the words “20 per cent.,” the words “ and on and after 6th November, 1907 (General Tariff), 15 per cent.,” be inserted - put The Committee divided.
Question so resolved in the negative.
– 1 moveThat after the words “ 15 per cent.,” the words “ and on and after 6th November, 1907 (United Kingdom), 10 per cent!,” be inserted.
I should like to take this opportunity of making an appeal to the ex-leader of the Labour Party to vote for a substantia] reduction in an item of this kind.’ I remember distinctly that he and his confreres rushed over to Sydney during the recent State elections, and begged the people there to withhold their judgment until the Tariff was through, undertaking on their part to vote down these duties on groceries in any way that might be open, to them.
– That statement does not happen to be true, but it is near enough, I suppose.
– But here they are voting for 20 per cent, duties without the slightest compunction, and apparently without the slightest reference to the solid promises made by them to the people of New South Wales.
– I think that the honorable member might stick to facts occasionally. It would be rather interesting if he did.
– I fancy I have heard that from the honorable member before.
.- I venture to say that the honorable member has not heard me say a word to the effect of the statement he has made to the Committee concerning me.
– It is substantially correct.
– I made no such speech.
– I referred to the honorable member’s followers also.
– The honorable member singled me out ; and I do not know that there was any other member of the party to which I belong who made such a statement, as has been suggested.. I have already told the Committee what I am prepared to do with regard to the Tariff, and I intend to stand by what I have said absolutely. I made a speech declaring my intentions at least a fortnight before the New South Wales State elections.. I am not going any further than I then said. We intend to endeavour to get in free all the infants’ foods that are approved. That is a reasonable condition. If the honorable member were anxious to do a fair thing by the Tariff, he would be prepared to agree to an arrangement on that basis, rather than take up an extreme position in support of which there is not the slightest hope of securing a vote from the Committee.
Item agreed to.
Amendment (by Sir William Lyne) proposed -
That the following new item be inserted - “ 80A. Infants’ Food as prescribed by Departmental by-laws, free on and after 6th November, 10,07.”
.- I should like to inquire how the Minister expects the Department to carry out the conditions required by his amendment. The Department of Trade and Customs cannot reasonably be expected to discharge all the duties that are sought to be thrown upon it. I believe that it is the intention of the Minister to introduce a Pure Foods Bill.. Surely this is a matter which can be dealt with under such a measure more effectively than under the Tariff. The particular duty proposed will not affect my vote on the question. I am well aware that a considerable quantity of the foods at present put upon the market ought to be prohibited. They are simply chemical productions, and not foods in the true sense of the word. Mr. Beale’s report does not go exhaustively into this matter, but states that he has information at hand with regard to foods the publication of which will be beneficial to the Commonweal th. If Mr. Beale intends to publish the results of his investigations, the Minister would be well advised in letting the matter stand over for a while. Whether these so-called foods are locally made or imported, they should not be permitted to go into consumption if they are pernicious,. It appears to me that the Customs authorities are not sufficiently armed with means to carry out this provision effectively. Too much is being placed on the shoulders of the Customs officers. It has to be remem- bered that they have not the. machinery of a Health Department at their command, and, if we take the course proposed, the Minister may not be able to fall back upon the Health Departments of the States-
– I hope that honorable members opposite will not object to the amendment. The Bill to which reference has been made by the honorable member for Dalley can prohibit certain of these importations, and if the amendment is not adopted, then the foods to which it refers cannot be allowed in free. Hitherto the Customs authorities have been in the habit of consulting, and will continue to consult, the officers of the Board of Health of the various States. At present there is no Commonwealth Board of Health, and I am not sure that there will be one under the Quarantine Bill ; and, therefore, this matter is likely to remain within the jurisdiction of the Boards of Health of the States. In Victoria, for instance, Dr. Norris, the Chairman of the Board of Health, is anxious to assist ; and the same ma.y be said of the Board of Health in New South Wales. We shall be just in the same position as though we had our own Board of Health, though, of course, there must be some head authority.
– Is it intended to introduce a Pure Foods Bill ?
– I do not think it is intended to introduce a Bill under that name. In any case, a Bill passed by the Federal Parliament can only affect imports. The honorable member for Dalley knows that many questions have been asked on this subject by the honorable member for Barrier, who is anxious that the Act passed last year shall be carried into effect. Under that Act, it is provided that all imported foods shall bear upon their coverings information as to the materials of which they are composed ; and I think that any future legislation may go further and give the power of prohibition. Such new legislation, however, will not be called a Pure Foods Bill, but will be on the lines of the legislation which has already been carried.
.- I think that the proposal of the Treasurer will meet the case. If brands of food are admitted free under departmental by-law, we may be sure that people will not be slow to take advantage of the fact, and that the effect will be better than that of a remis sion of. the duty. People who are compelled to buy such food will regard their free admission as a guarantee of purity.
– But impure, foods will be admitted at a. duty of 15 per cent.
– Such foods ought, in my opinion, to be prohibited.
– - f wish I could think that human credulity is such as the honorable member imagines. Our experience of human nature is that if goods of the kind be cheap people will run all sorts of risks in using them. There would be the greatest difficulty in the world in persuading some. people that certain infants’ foods are impure, notwithstanding what Mr. Beale or the Customs medical authority may say. I do not think that we’ ought to tinker about a matter of this sort, which is certainly one for regulation by the health authorities. It “would not appear that by the proposal before us we should add ‘to the precautions that ought to be taken, or that the difference of 15 per cent, will materially affect the consumption. If an article is cheap, and, therefore, free, it will continue to find its way into use.
– Why not prohibit the importation of impure foods?
– I think such foods ought to be prohibited, but there are ways, other than by means of a Tariff, of ascertaining what is ,:pure and what is not. I can understand the Customs Department deciding as to values for duty purposes, but the responsibility of deciding what are pure foods involves a function which a Customs laboratory could not perform and which, as the Treasurer has admitted, must be performed by the States. Why not leave the matter to the States? Why not leave the States to pass Pure Foods Bills and perform the proper policing in this connexion? The proposal appears to me to be dividing responsibility, and I am afraid the result will be that the work will not be so well done as it would if left to one authority.
.- An ‘ interjection by the honorable member for Barrier compels me again to address the Committee. The honorable member said that I had already voted to place a duty of t.5 per cent, on impure articles of food; and I desire to explain that that vote had nothing to do with infants’ foods, but merely with ordinary groceries.
– Has the Treasurer any objection to including invalids’ foods?
– I do not think that the inclusion of invalids’ foods is necessary. Anything may be invalids’ food.
– 1 suggest the advisability of including invalids’ food. A number of preparations for invalids are quite as important as are infants’ foods, though differing materially in their composition, and . ought also to be placed on the free list. There are often prescribed for invalids foods which would not be safe for infants. I move -
That the amendment be amended by inserting the words “ and invalids’ “ after the word “ infants’.”
.- Invalids’ foods ought to be included in the proposed new item. The Government will be safeguarded by their power to define the foods by regulation. By that means they can so limit the exemption as not to include the injurious articles which have been mentioned. Benger’s foods are used for invalids as well as for infants. I suppose that some invalids in Australia are practically living on foods of that kind ‘at present. It would be a serious matter to exclude, or even put a duty on, what are really invalids’ foods. They should be obtainable as cheaply as. .possible. I shall support the amendment moved by the honorable member for Lang.
– It is not quite a legitimate use of the Tariff to endeavour by it to secure the purity of foods. For -that purpose other legislation is desirable and necessary. If we include invalids’ foods in the proposed new item, it will be very difficult to define where it begins and where it ends. Benger’s food is used both for infants and Invalids, and therefore would necessarily be included in the Minister’s proposal. Those honorable members who are asking for the inclusion of invalids’ foods are already accomplishing a great deal by the Minister’s proposal, inasmuch as many children’s foods can be, and are, used for invalids. The Minister has made a reasonable concession, and it is not desirable to press the amendment.
Question - That ‘ the amendment be amended by inserting after the word “ infants’ “ the words “ and invalids’ “ (Mr.
Johnson’s amendment upon Sir William Lyne’s amendment) - put. ‘ The Committee divided.
Question so resolved in the negative. Amendment of the amendment negjatived.
Proposed new item agreed to.
Postponed item 94. Rice, viz, : -
– 1 move -
That after the figures “3s. 4d.,” paragraph a, the words “and on and after 6th November, 1907, free,” be inserted.
A few weeks ago we made provision in the Bounties Bill to grant a bounty on the growing of rice hi Australia. This item can only be a revenue-producing one until an appreciable quantity of “rice is grown in -the Com’monwealth. That is not the case, at present. I object to revenue being collected upon an article of this description - an article which is an absolute necessity to a large portion of our population. I voted in favour of the Bounties Bill under a misapprehension. The Government led me to believe that the proposal to grant a bounty upon the production of rice was a bond fide one, and I understood that it was submitted in lieu of a protective duty. But it now appears that, having induced Parliament to agree to the Bounties Bill, they wish to impose a duty upon rice which cannot have a protective incidence, and which will be merely revenue producing. To raise about ,£80,000 annually from rice, which is an article of diet amongst the poorer classes of the community, is utterly indefensible. Many of those who are not able to get other articles of food can obtain rice and milk–
– Which the honorable member voted to tax the other day.
– I heard the honorable member for Parramatta speak strongly in favour of the imposition of a duty upon condensed milk.
– The honorable member did not.
– The honorable member voted for a duty upon condensed milk. He spoke very strongly in favour of it.
– In the language ot the late leader of the Labour Party, the honorable member should “ tell the truth if he is able to do so once in a while.”
– There is no member in the Commonwealth Parliament who makes as many misstatements as does the honorable member for Parramatta. Under any circumstances, 1 am not” responsible to him as to how I vote upon rice or any other item; I am responsible only to my constituents. I do not favour the raising of revenue through the Customs House. I prefer a direct tax of any description to an indirect tax, which must have the effect of very largely increasing- the price of goods. Seeing that rice is an article of daily ‘ diet with a large number of our people, and that we have already authorized the payment of a bounty to encourage its production, we should at least wait until the period covered by the bounty has expired before imposing a duty upon the commodity.
.- I intend to support the honorable member for Cook. We have now practically dealt with the whole of the food supplies of the .people, and we are in a position to afford them relief only upon the few articles which await consideration. Seeing that the Tariff in its present form imposes very stiff burdens upon the masses, I am compelled to vote in favour of placing as many of the remaining items as possible upon the free list. A duty of 3s. 4d. per cental upon rice is equivalent to about d. per lb.
– About one-third of a penny.
– Seeing that there are 100 lbs. in a cental, the duty approximates more closely to Jd. per lb. than it does to Jd. per lb. By the time that the importer has passed on the burden to the retailer, and the retailer to the consumer, it will certainly spell more than Jd. per lb. As has already been pointed out, rice is .a commodity which is used by the poorest section of the community. The desire of those who favour the adoption of a protective .policy in respect of rice has already been met by the action of this Parliament in authorizing the payment of a bounty upon the production of that article. I do not consider that an industry which requires to employ the cheapest labour .procurable, in order to make it profitable, is a desirable one to establish in Australia: We have already levied heavy imposts upon the food supplies of the people, and in view of this fact I am prepared to extend to the masses as much relief as possible’ on the remaining items in this division.
– The honorable member for Cook has apparently overlooked the fact that the bulk, or a large quantity, of the rice imported into the Commonwealth is used for starch making. A proposal Kas been made by certain starch makers that starch should be free of Excise duty, and, to counteract the resulting loss of Excise revenue, that an import duty be imposed on rice for the manufacture of starch. No rate of import duty is suggested, but it could not be less than that on uncleaned rice, namely, 3s. 4d. per’ cental. If this were agreed to, and the import duty on rice for starch making were fixed at 3s. 4d. per cental, there would be a loss of revenue of ,£11,876, based upon 1906 returns,’ and assuming tha* all the starch- is made from rice. Thus : - Revenue from Excise of id. per lb. on starch, 1906, ,£27,709. Actual weight of starch on which this. Excise was- paid, 6,650,160 lbs. -Weight of rice required to produce, that quan- tity of starch,assuming that the starch produced is 70 per cent. of the rice used, 9,500,229 lbs. Import duty on 9,500,229 lbs. at 3s. 4d. per cental,£15,833. Loss of revenue, £11,876. The import of rice last year was 490,669 centals, valued at £248,603 ; rice, uncleaned, 264,198 centals, valued at £117,910. The import of rice for the manufacture of starch was, from India, 930 centals, and from the Straits Settlements, 4,899 centals ;a total of 5,829 centals, valued at £2212. Of rice, n.e.i., principally cleaned, the total import was 279,522 centals, valued at £128,481. I wish in this matter to carry out what is really the recommendation of the Tariff Commission, as there is very little difference between the duties recommended by both sections of that Commission. For this and other reasons, . I hope that the honorable member will not press his amendment. He should recognise, also, that the Excise duty on starch will have to be dealt with. I point out that the Excise duty on starch made from rice is1d. per lb. ; and we propose that, if made from materials grown in the Commonwealth, it shall be free of Excise duty. I do not wish to delay matters, and I should be glad if the Committee would come to a vote on this item as soon as’ possible.
– I do not think that we are justified in voting for as high a duty on rice as that proposed under the old Tariff. It is purely a revenue duty, and will continue to be so unless the attempt to encourage the rice-growing industry by way of a bounty is successful. Its success is a matter on which I am at present withholding judgment ; but, even if the industry should prove to be successful, it is not likely to beattended by any important results for a considerable time to come. Speaking for myself, I object to revenue duties as such where they can be avoided. I have no big objection, however, to duties on narcotics and stimulants. As one who smokes and drinks a little, I am prepared to pay a little extra for luxuries of that description. I feel that raising duties under a protective Tariff on articles the manufacture of which we wish to encourage in Australia, we must in a large number of cases inevitably increase the cost to the consumer for a time at any rate. “ The new industries can only be brought into existence gradually, and, of course, in the meantime, the price of the imported article must go up. When we are imposing that burden on the consumer I do not think we are justified in adding to it by imposing high revenue duties as well. I think that honorable members generally, and especially protectionist members, should take action to prevent even the maintenance of the present comparatively high duty, on this item. As bread is likely to be dear for some time, to come owing to the comparative failure of the wheat crop, there is an additional reason why the duty on rice should be reduced to some extent, in order that a) substitute for wheat may be available at a low cost. I am prepared to support the amendment of the Honorable member for Cook.
– I informed the Minister a few days ago of my intention to move in connexion with this item that the duty on rice used for the manufacture of starch should be maintained, and that the Excise duty on starch should be remitted. 1 have here a letter from Messrs. Lewis andWhitty, starch manufacturers, who put the case in this way. They say -
The Government proposals as to Excise on starch, are as follows : -
Made from rice, per lb.,1d.
Made from materials grown in the Commonwealth, free.
The result of (a) is that the starch mill is really a. bond under supervision by the Customs officials, and the Excise is payable on starch, leaving it at the rate levied,1d per lb. The mill being thus a bond, the Customs officials will, we are informed, not permit the manufacture of starch from materials grown in the Commonwealth such as wheat, maize, or potatoes, as the yield would, they think, in a mill where starch is also manufactured from rice, be difficult to trace, and possibly loss to the revenue would result.
There would be no difficulty where the manufacturers have two mills, as they could make starch from rice in one mill, and from materials grown in the ‘Commonmealth in the other. Where the manufacturer has only one mill, the factory is practically a bond, and he is compelled to pay Excise on his starch whether made from imported’ rice or from materials grown in the Commonwealth. In . this way, the small man, who has only one mill, is penalized. Messrs. Lewis and Whitty go on to say -
In our case, as we have only one mill (though we understand that other manufacturers have two which they could utilize, one for rice starch and one for other classes), and as the manufacture of starch is essential for many purposes, we would be prevented from manufacturing starch from materials grown in the Commonwealth unless we erected a new mill at a cost of many thousands of pounds, which the industry does not warrant.
To get over this difficulty and assure full payment to the revenue, we would ask that a duty be levied payable on rice for starch purposes, before it is converted into starch, equivalent to the amount of the Excise duty.
They ask really for an alteration in the method of levying the duty. They go on to say -
The Departmental representatives fix 68 per cent. as the starch yield of a ton of rice; therefore the duty would be a fraction less than £67s. per ton, equal to the Excise of1d. per lb., or, say, 6s. 4d. per cwt.
I believe that the rice used in the manufacture of starch is that included in the Tariff as “rice n.e.i.,” and dutiable at 6s. per cental, so that under their proposal they would have to pay slightly more on rice they use than they have to pay under existing circumstances. I trust that the Minister will accept the alteration I have suggested, in order that the small manufacturers of starch may be placed on equal terms with those who have more than one starch mill. Under this proposal, once the rice was imported and destroyed for the purpose of starch-making, there would be no further trouble ; whilst under the existing system, the Excise officers are compelled to be present at the factory during the whole of the time the starch mill is working, and the factory is practically a Customs bond.
– I should like to be quite clear as to what the honorable member’s suggestion is.
– In the first place, the manufacturers of starch should pay dutv on rice for the manufacture of starch just as duty is paid on it when imported for any other purpose. The Minister, or, at any rate, his officers, have this information. I trust, therefore, that he will agree to my suggestion. If he does so, it will not place the Department in a worse position than it is in to-day.
.- The Tariff Commission obtained very little evidence on the subject of rice, and, therefore, the section wilh which I was identified felt itself unable to recommend any alteration of the old duty upon uncleaned rice. Now that the matter has come before Parliament, I shall vote to make the duty on rice as low as possible, if I cannot get this article placed on the free list. Ithas been said that rice is used chiefly by the- Chinese. If that be so, the white inhabitants of Australia will do well to ta.ke a leaf out of their book, and use it more largely. So far as children are concerned, rice cooked with milk is the finest food in the world.
– Rice is not so good a food as is oatmeal. I have had enough of rice.
– The difference between the proposed duty on uncleaned rice - 3s. 4d. per cental- and on rice n.e.i. - 6s. per cental - gives an unreasonably large protection to a very simple industry.
– If the operation of cleaning rice is a simple one, is not that good reason for doing the work here?
– I think not. The work cannot employ any labour to speak of, and the difference to which I have referred will go mostly, info the pockets of the employers who undertake the cleaning within the Commonwealth, while the general public will, probably, have to use rice of a poorer quality than they have hitherto been in the habit of using. Since I have lived in Victoria, attending the meetings of this Parliament, my household has found it very difficult to obtain rice as good as that which we used to get in Western Australia, and I speak with some knowledge of the article, as, in the early days of the gold-fields there rice and condensed milk was a very popular food. In my opinion, the general inferiority of the rice now used is due to the Tariff, the Western Australian duty having been much lower than the Commonwealth duty. It wouldbe of advantage to the general public to make these duties as low as possible, and the revenue would not suffer materially if we made a smaller difference between the rates on cleaned and uncleaned rice. In my opinion, the finer qualities of rice are imported cleaned, and it is only right that the preparation of this commodity should take place in the country of origin. How absurd it would be if tea were sent here in a half -prepared state.
– So it is. All the bulk teas are put through a cleaning process, and hundredweights of dirt are removed.
– I think that the honorable member- is mistaken. Of course, there must be a certain amount of dust in tea. The rates for cleaned and uncleaned rice are altogether out of proportion to their respective values.
.- So far as the duty on uncleaned rice is concerned, it must be regarded whollyas a revenue duty, because rice is not yet produced in Australia. We have agreedto the granting of. a bounty, to encouragethe production of rice, and. it may hereafter be thought proper to impose duties to protect it; but at thepresent time we are considering what is merely a revenue duty on the food of the people.
– And a bad food at that.
– I question , that. But, whether a good or a bad food, rice is usedby very many people. The poor have to use it when flour goes up in price.
– Flour will shortly be down to a normal price .
– I do- not think that any honorable member can say what will be the price of flour in the future. When the price of flour increases, the consumption of rice increases, rice being used by poor people as a substitute for flour; As this is a revenue duty, Ishall vote for as low a rate as . I can get I thinkthat the Government -would do Well to comply with theevident wish of the Committee.
.- I understood the Treasurer to say at the beginning of his speech that about two-thirds of the imported rice is used in the manufacture of starch. He quoted anumber of figures which. I cannot make tally with the total quantity he stated. According to the schedule which has : been placed in. our hands about 549,549 centals ofricewere imported last year. But I find thatthe quantity of rice used in the manufacture of starch and delivered free as prescribed by the byJaws was only 5,829 centals. I desire to ascertain fromthe Treasurer whether that represents the total quantity used in making starch.
Mr.STORRER (Bass) . [4.32]- I . do not understand why the honorable member for Cook shouldpropose that because we have offered a bounty upon the production ofricethearticle should be. admittedduty free. If we give a bounty and remove the duty, it. will meanagreater loss . to, the grower, of , rice than would . be thecase if wemaintained, theduty, and offered no bounty. On the other hand; the honorable member stated, that, this is purely arevenue duty. If it is a revenue duty, andit is removed, where shall we get the revenue withwhich to pay the proposed bounty ? Ifwe loseallour revenue, we shall have no money available for that purpose. If, however,itisaprotectionistduty,as was admittedbythe deputy, leader- of the Oppositionsome timeago, I. do hot think that honorablemembers, should repeal . duties which have been imposed . for some time. In my opinion, the, Committee will dowell to consider the requirements of the States. The Commonwealth Governmentmay. afford to do without -the revenue -from this duty, but seeing that three-fourths-.of the Customs . and Excise- revenue has tobe returned to the. States, we should’ consider their position . as well as our own..
Mr.Thomas.- Would thehonorable member tax thefood of the people in order to allow rich mento go scot free?
– My experienceisthat the man who occupies- most land is not always the wealthiest man, because, as it is generally encumbered with a big mortgage, he has not a- very ‘ large interest in it. I notice that the protectionist section of theTariff Commission recommended a duty of3s.4d. per cental, as the Government have -proposed; while the free-trade section recommended a dutyof 3s.. per cental. I intend to vote for the duty remaining as it is.I hope that the Committee and the Government will keep in mind the revenue requirements of the various States.
.- I give the honorable member for Bass credit for his -intention to vote for the imposition of a dutyonan article which cannot be grownin his ‘own State. It is contended by some honorable members that this must be regarded as a revenue duty because no rice of a marketable kind is . being produced.. We agreed to a bounty upon the production of rice, because we believed that it would become a natural product of the Commonwealth.
– Why not put on a duty instead of giving a bounty ?
– The time for the. honorable member, as well as others, toadvance that argument was when, the. Bounties Billwasunderconsideration, and not now!
-Does. the honorable member reallythink that we are likelyto producer ice within ten . years ?
Mr.FISHER.- I havegreat hopesth at itwillbe produced witinthreeyears. It is produced in countriesnotfarfrom Australia - in Fiji and Hawaii.
Mr.Thomas. - With whitelabour?
-I am sorry tosay that it is not. In thoseislandsthereisno sugar produced bywhite laboureither?The question is whether the Committee is desirous of assisting . those industries of the soil which it is most difficult to establish and maintain on a .white labour basis. While this may be a revenue duty now, the object is to make it a protective duty, and, of course, to encourage production. It would not be defensible at the present time on a purely revenue basis. The honorable member for Perth has urged that it would be far better to allow rice to come in free from. other countries. It must be iri the recollection of honorable members who have been reading the newspapers that a large importation of lime-coated rice has taken place. Surely no one would be prepared to allow lime-coated rice to come in as cleaned rice.
– Would not the Commerce Act deal with that?
– It would. I am merely answering the argument which has been advanced in favour of making the article duty free. In view of the State Health Acts, and Pure Foods Acts, and also in view of our policy of new protection, which I hope will be enacted during this Parliament, it is only fair that we should do everything that is possible to encourage the production and manufacture of every kind of article. Besides being the means of assisting the farmer to grow rice, this duty will enable our manufacturers to clean imported rice. That undoubtedly follows. I take it that if the duty be removed, the local industry of rice cleaning will disappear.
– Whilst much might be said regarding what has transpired in connexion with the cleaning and production of rice in Australia, I think that under our Wages Boards and the new protection fair and reasonable conditions of labour and remuneration will be assured to the employes in this and other industries. Before deciding, to abolish the duty we ought at least to allow time for the bounty on rice to operate. If, after a year of two, it . be found that rice is not being locally produced, it will be open to Parliament to place it on the free list.; but since there is hope of its being produced in Australia I trust that the Committee will support . the Government proposal.
.- The honorable, member’s concluding argument is a very, specious one. He urges the Committee tQ support the duty .on the .under standing that if within the next few years we have not a very considerable production of rice in Australia we should be able to place this item on the free list. The honorable member knows perfectly well that there will be little chance of re-opening the Tariff, more particularly to deal- with only one item, during the next three years.
– If the Tariff is seriously reduced the honorable member will see what chance there is.
– I shall always hail with delight an opportunity to vote for a reduction of the Tariff. I intend to vote for the amendment, and should like to know why the Government have raised the duty beyond the rate proposed by the protectionist section of the Tariff Commission. Even the honorable member for South Sydney, who is astaunch protectionist, said he would not care if the duty were removed. Apparently he does not attach very much importance to its retention. There are certainly less than twenty hands employed in the rice cleaning industry in Australia. The invoice prices of rice f.o.b. are as follow : - No. 1 uncleaned, Japan, £14. 17s. 4d. per ton; Straits Settlements, £8 7s. 6d. per ton; No. 1, cleaned, Japan, £17 per ton ; Straits Settlements, £ 10 5s. per ton. The Australian rice cleaners import these varieties in about equal quantities and mix them for sale. They sell the cleaned product as the best dressed rice. Rice sold in the local market during the last few years has deteriorated. The differential duty is equal to 2s. 8d. per cental, or about £3 per ton in favour of the rice cleaners. Surely that is an enormous concession. In Law’s Grocers’ Manual, a recognised authority, the process of rice cleaning is described as follows -
Rough rice is called “ paddy,” but before coming into the retailers’ hands it is softened and husked in a mill : a sort of mortar, studded in. side with metal, to prevent the pestle crushing the grain while rubbing off the skin or husk, after which operation it is quickly dried, and is then ready for use.
It will be seen that this is a very simple operation. Practically the whole expense entailed is the cost of the mill. The total cost of manufacture certainly does not exceed j£i per ton. The whole process consists of the employment of a man to feed a machine and to take away from it the sacks as. they are filled with the cleaned product. Twenty men could supply double the requirements of the whole Australian market. Rice was dressed in Victoria before the honorable member for Mernda or any one else asked for a protective duty. Apparently the duty was imposed in response to al request by a certain individual interested in the trade in Victoria, and the only result of the duty has been to create a monopoly, the whole business really being in the hands of three firms. The operation of the duty has resulted in an inferior kind of rice being foisted upon the Australian market. In the circumstances I see no reason why the amendment .that ‘ the item be placed on the free list should not be agreed to. In the event of its rejection I shall move that the duty be reduced to 2s. per cental.
.- I shall heartily support a proposal to impose a duty on prepared rice. Unlike the honorable member for Perth, I think that we cannot have too much supervision over articles introduced from countries such as those from which rice is imported. The honorable member said that tea comes in free of duty and ready for use. But 1 happen to know that some of the large firms - Edwards and Company, for instance - have machines for the purpose of cleaning a quantity of the tea which they sell. It is during the packing and shipping that the dirt gets into these commodities. The argument of the honorable member for Perth in regard to rice seems to me rather absurd. Rice that is imported in the husk is protected against dirt to some extent. If the cleansing is done here, we shall have a guarantee that we are getting rice, and not something with Chinese, Japanese, or Hindoo mud upon it. Honorable members should also give attention to the fact that when these articles are packed in Australia we encourage the manufacture of such goods as .tins and packets. If we impose a high duty on cleaned rice we shall achieve our purpose in that respect.
– Rice is always imported in bags.
– Ground rice is sometimes tinned. I shall not support the amendment of the honorable member for Cook, because, on account of the source from which rice comes, I think there ought to be a little duty upon it. But I shall vote for a reduction of the duty on uncleaned rice.
-53] - I am quite prepared to vote to allow uncleaned rice to come in free. I look upon this as absolutely a revenue-producing item. It is one in which the Treasurer is interested rather than the Minister of Trade and Customs. I shall vote against increasing the duties on any items that I regard as principally revenue-producing. If I thought there was any chance in the immediate future of rice being produced in Australia, I should be prepared to vote for a duty even on uncleaned rice, but the very fact that the Government proposed a, bounty on rice shows that they do not think there is much likelihood of its being grown in Australia:
– Oh, yes.
– If the bounty is not sufficient I shall be prepared to support the Government in giving a higher one. I should even be prepared to double, treble, or quadruple the bounty if the Government made a proposal to that effect. It is all very well for the honorable member, for Wide Bay to say, “ Give the duty a trial for a few years, and then, if we find that rice is. not being produced in Australia, we can reduce it;” but we have had a duty for a number of years, and not a single cwt. of rice has been produced in Australia.
– Did the honorable member vote for the bounty on rice?
– I was in favour of it, though I forget whether I was present when the division took place. I shall not hesitate to vote against this or any other item which is merely revenue-producing. I trust that rice- will be admitted free. It is a very good food. It enters not only into the homes of the poor, but is also consumed by the well-to-do. It is unwise and unnecessary to tax the food of the people, and in this instance a high duty would be unworthy of the Government and of this Committee.
.- There is no doubt that to some extent this is a revenue-producing duty, but it also has a strong protective incidence.
– Has the former duty had the effect of producing a single cwt. of rice in Australia?
– We have not had the bounty and the duty working in conjunction yet. But it is protective .in another way than from the prospect and opportunity the duty affords of enabling rice to be produced here ; and that is in regard to the manufacture- of starch. It is not a very high duty.
– It produces£80,000 per annum.
– It amounts to about one-third of id. per lb. There is, I think, some misunderstanding as to what is done with rice imported for starchmaking purposes. Such rice goes into bond or into bonded starch-making premises,, and an Excise ot “ id. per lb. is icharged as it is taken out. Maize and other things are mixed with it. In a given quantity of . starch there may be 70 per cent, of rice, the balance consisting of maize. The imported, rice will have to pay the id. per lb. . Excise; but any goods produced in the Commonwealth that’ are added to it for starch-making purposes will notbe charged the Excise.
– That has not been so hitherto.
– I am going to propose that now, with a view of encouraging the making of starch in Australia.
– We are not dealing with starch, but with rice for consumption.
– The two questions are bound up together. If honorable members will turn to the Excise duties they will find that starch made from rice - that means imported rice - is charged id. per lb. ; starch made from materials grown “in the Commonwealth is free.
– Will that be so if starch is made from rice grown in the Commonwealth ?
– In that case it will be free. I have inserted this duty to offer every inducement to persons to invest capital and employ labour in growing rice here. They will probably be induced to do so by the fact that locally-produced rice Will be exempt from the Excise . in connexion with starch. Therefore ‘ this is the proper method to. adopt.
– If we are to fill up the, empty spaces of- Australia, certainly.
– That is the ih: tention of the whole proposal. The duty ris . a small one ; and I simply desire to explain46 honorablemembers, that the desire is to induce people to grow , rice for the manufacture of star.ch in. order to compete with imported rice.,
– The honorable Treasurer doesnot see; his , way to accept my suggestion to impose, a- duty on rice imported for starch making?
-WhatI pro= pose is -an -Excise, though it will” have ‘the effect of a duty-.. : The Customs ‘authorities
Avill know the proportion: of rice which -.is made, into starch, and the proposed Excise will’ give an advantage’ to’ the produce of Australia. I may say’ that the honorable member, for Adelaide, whenMinister of. Trade and Customs, proposed a duty of 5s. 3d. per cental-
– But that wasnot passed:
-Quite so.I find, however, -that’ in New- -Zealand; the duty is 20 per cent.’, -and.’ in the United States 3s. ijd”. and 5s.- ‘ 2 Jd: per cental-, according to the variety. This- shows -that there is nothing new in -‘the’ present, proposal, which simply seeks to carry out the recommendation of both sections of the Tariff Commission.
.Iregret that the information I asked ‘for has not been furnished.
– Thefigures are 582,900 lbs., or 5,829 centalsof rice.
– It appears/ then, . that out of 549,549 centals of- rice, 544,000 odd are used as food, and only 5,000 odd are used in the manufacture of starch. In reality we are dealing ‘with what is really a food rather than a raw material of manufacture. I support the free admission of this item, because it is; essentially a poor man’s food.’ The ‘‘argument of the honorable member for New’ England about clean rice does not apply, because most people know what they are buying.’ It may be true that rice “mixed1 with’ dirt is imported, but we do not see much of it ; and, as pointed out by the’ honorable member for Perth and the honorable mem”per for Lang, the result of the increased duty under paragraph’ c’ has been” the importation of rice of an inferior quality. Rice is ‘a- really good food;’ which would be much better, especially.: for children, than an entirely meat diet.”! >Rice is becoming more and more used . as<-.&. porridge food. .
-I never saw it so used.
– I can say that -in. some of -the. best hotels in New,,- South ; Wales rice, and milk - are . served as a; porridge food. Rice, is also’ used as. a. vegetable, arid, in times of scarcity, it . is. desirable to have, a cheap substitute of,’ . the kind.
.- But for . the revenue.’ ^spect of ‘the matter; . I should vote for the free admission of this item,’, seeing that it is.’ an . article of diet for poor people.’ Rice has not been, grown here hitherto, and is not likely to be produced *to any considerable extent. I know that We have agreed to give a bounty for its cultivation ; but, in any ‘ case”, some years must elapse before it is placed on the market in .’any. reasonable quantity., The revenue aspect is important,; and- I intend to vote against the proposal of -the honorable member for Cook, but I shall support a reduction pf the present “duty.. .
Question 14– That after . the figures “ 3s. 4,d.,”’ paragraph a, the words “ and on and after’; 6th November 1907, .free ‘.’ (Mr. J. H. Catts’ amendment) be inserted - put. The Committee divided
Question -so resolved in ‘.the negative.- Amendment negatived. . ‘ Amendment “(by- Mr. Johnson) put - ;
That after the figures “3s. 4d.,” paragraph a, the words ‘“:and- on .and after’ 6th” November, 1907 per cental, 2s.JV ,be: inserted. . ‘
The Committee divided. Ayes
Question so resolved in the negative, j. Amendment, negatived.
.- The’ discrepancy between “ the duties on cleaned and uncleaned rice’ is. altogether -too large. The . term- “ uncleaned “ is . misleading. It- should really be- undressed.”] The .imported dressed rice in bulk com’-: pares favorably in the matter of cleanliness with.’rice ‘dressed locally’. The opera.-, tion is really one- of unhusking the rice… -J - Mr. Joseph Cook.- Is it not also necessary to polish if up and make it- present-‘ able?
– Unfortunately, a” practice has arisen of touching the rice up with, chemicals as well, “but that ‘.’is an altogether illegitimate process.. The operation qf unhusking is carried on almost entirely by. machinery. No’ human labour is. involved except the small amount necessary to feed the mill and- take the full bags away. I move -
That after the figure “ 6s.,” paragraph c, the words “ and on and after 6th November, 1907, per cental, 4s.,” be added.
Question put. The Committee divided.
Question so resolved in the negative.
– - Although I voted in favour of the last amendment, I am inclined to think that the margin between 3s. 4d. and 4s. per cental would not be sufficient to compensate for the loss that is involved in the cleaning of rice. Not only is there a considerable loss sustained from the standpoint of quantity, but the labour that is employed has also to be considered, and the two combined would scarcely be represented by a difference of 8d. per cental. I, therefore, move -
That after the figure “ 6s.,” paragraph c, the words “ and on and after 6th November, 1907, ?er cental, 5s.,” be added.
Question so resolved in the negative. Amendment negatived.
Item agreed to.
Postponed item 95. Salt, and Table Preparations thereof, in packages of any description not exceeding 14 lbs. net weight, ad. val., 15 per cent.
.– This item is one of very great importance to the dairying industry. The duty under the old Tariff was 12s. 6d. per ton or 15 per cent, as oilmen’s stores, and under that duty our producers of salt were able to carry on their industry profitably in the manufacture of all classes of salt commonly used. In these circumstances there is no necessity to further tax the dairying industry.
– The honorable member is dealing with the wrong item.
– I think this item includes the salt used in the dairying industry - brown or dark-red rock.
– No, that is dealt with in item 96b.
– The salt I refer to is a very fine salt. At all events, I move -
That after the words “ 15 per cent.” the words “and1 on and after 6th November, 1907, per ton, 12s. 6d., or as oilmen’s stores, 15 per cent.,” be added.
– If the honorable member desires to carry out the view which he has expressed he has chosen the wrong item for his amendment. The item with which the Committee is now dealing refers only to preparations of table, salt imported in packages not exceeding 14 lbs. net weight.
– It is my intention to deal with the salt which is used in the manufacture of butter, and if that is dealt with, as I think it may be, under item 96b-
– I think it is.
– I am disposed to think now that it is covered by the item “ N.e.i., including pink rock,” and if the Minister will agree to a reduction in that item I shall be prepared to withdraw my amendment.
Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.
.- I am prepared to move that this item be free. It is fine salt that is used in tho dairying industry.
– This item covers salt packed in tins.
– No, it says “ in packages of any description.”
– But not exceeding 14 lbs. net weight.
– I have just” inquired, and I find that the salt referred to by the honorable member for Corangamite is- included in item 96b, “ Salt - N.e.i., including pink rock.”
– I ask the Minister whether he will be prepared to recommit the item if it is subsequently discovered that (he salt used in the dairying industry is imported under item No. ‘95 ?
– Yes, I can safely promise to do so.
– I should like to know the reason for the altered form of the duty on this item, and its probable effect. The Government are in this case substituting an ad valorem duty for a duty at a- fixed rate per ton. So far as I can gather, the alteration will not make any great difference in the amount of the duty to be paid, and that being so, I think it is undesirable to substitute an ad valorem duty for a fixed duty on an article that is always sold by weight, when in such case it is” much easier to check a fixed duty.
– A good deal of salt was imported under this heading as oilmen’s stores.
– The duty under the old Tariff was 12s. 6d. per tori, or 15 per cent, as oilmen’s stores. When we have a specified line in the Tariff referring to salt, I do not see how the article could be legally classified as oilmen’s stores. It would only be salt in bottles that was so classified. I think it would be ‘ preferable to have a fixed duty on this item, and I should like to have some information on the subject and some reason given for the proposed change in the form of the duty.
– The information supplied to me is that there is practically no alteration in the amount of the duty, and that no exception can be taken to the proposal on that account,
– Why is the form altered ?
– For departmental reasons.
– What are the reasons ?
– I think that the departmental reason - that in this form, as likely to lead to fewer disputes, it would be much easier to collect the duty - is a very good reason. I have had great experience of the work of the Customs Department, and nearly all the trouble in that Department arises in defining the item under which a particular article imported should be included. The change is proposed for greater convenience in administration.
– The Minister’s explanation is not satisfactory.
– This is also recommended by both sections of the Tariff Commission.
– To my mind, a fixed duty is infinitely better than an ad valorem duty, and the “Minister has admitted that in this case the fixed rate suggested is practically equivalent to the. ad .valorem rate. As -all ether- salt - is charged . at . a. fixed rate, I think . that we shouldnot make- an exception in this case.
.- I venture to : think thai’ the reason;. for charging an’ ad- valorem ‘rale : in ‘this case is that duty may be’ levied on the bottles containing the salt.’,. There can be no other reason.- for , - adopting an” ‘ ad valorem rate^in preference. to a -fixed rate.
I therefore. move-
Thatthe words “ and’on’and af.£eiL6th November;1907,.’per.ton, -jasi ‘6jd..,” be. adde’d.
.- The honorable member for Parramatta’ ‘has- found ; a mare’s nest. ‘ The duty to be levied on bottles will be determined when we. deal with the item “Bottles.” If it is decided not to impose a duty on bottles, jio duty will be levied onbottles containing salt. In dealing with pickles we dealt with’:a similar” item.
– The Minister’’ hasadmitted that the ad valorem and fixed rates are practically the same. Salt is. always sold by weight, -and it” is, moreover,’- always desirablewher e possible ‘ to charge -a- fixed rate, instead oEai&ad- Valorem rate.
.- The salt to which the proposed duty will” apply ought, really to be dealt, . witli. . under, the heading of “Oilmen’s stores.” It, is imported, in fancy packages, at prices’ which vary considerably, ‘ and the Tariff Commission, in recommending a.n. ad valorem’ . rate’, had. that fact in mind.
Item agreed . to.
Postponed item 96. Salt -
.- I- wish to -know fiom the Minister why. salt, used, for . manures is. not to be admitted free of duty, “as it -was under the old Tariff.
SirWILLI AM LYNE (Hume - Treasurer) [5.51]. - This item ‘ ‘includes rocksalt, and also. Liverpool . salt.
Mr.Dugald Thomson.- It was ‘the first item I was inquiring about .
– I ‘was; describing -what kincis of salt . ‘come - under the item. The brown or ‘dark red rock-‘ saltisusedfor manure to’ a certain extent,and for stock “of all kinds. r That is made duty freeunder -ri’afagfaph5 a. “Thfe other salt-,’ to which the honorable member has referred,’ is the salt that- will- come into competition directly with the salt made in Australia, ind with nothing else.
– I was not referring to thajf, but. tb -manure salt . only.
.- I move -
That after the figures “20s.,” paragraph BJ the words “ and on and after 6th November, 1907, per ton, 12s. 6d.,” be added.
-No, make it- 15s.
Mr.WILSON.- The old rate was a fair one, but the present rate is really a tax upon”the dairying industry;
. -I hope that the Minister does not intend to agree, to the amendment.
– I am not going tb agree to an abatement, of the duty by one sixpence.
– ; No salt is made in:’ my . constituency. “I had a considerable disagreement with the chairman of the Castle Salt Company on account of the way in which he lobbied to get the duty fixed in the old Tariff, because he was an outLand^.out free-trader.
– So was the honofable member for Grey.
– There was a good deal of v misunderstanding about what the honorable member’ for Grey did.
– I never Voted against it. Sir William Lyne.- The honorable member never voted for it.
-It must fee -known to honorable members that the salt industry in South Australia was built up by a much higher protectionist duty’ than’ was imposed by this Parliament. : Unless further protection is given, what has. hitherto beeri -a very flourishing industry will be destroyed.
– Not at all.
– If the honorable member refers to page 6 of the report of the protectionist section of the Tariff Commission he- > will find that when- the industry was established in Victoria the duty “was 20s. a ton. In Western Australia- the duty was 20s. a tori, but in South” ‘Australia.’ if- was 25s.’;’ and in -Tasmania 30s. When the Commonwealth duty, was imposed ‘ the Castle Salt Company of South Australia reduced ‘-the price of their salt by’ ios’. a-fon.’- But that act ‘ was immediately followed’ by- a r’educ-‘ t’ion of “30s.’ a. ton in the : price b’f ‘the Ehgiish’ ‘article. ‘ That’, as’ honorable ‘memibers are-;’aware, was ‘done witfi’a view to ‘drive tlie -local article - out of the market ‘ “Let me: now point out’ how- thev local - producers -of -salt’ have -been’ handicapped.’ ‘ It-costs more -to send salt” from South Australia’ to Victoria and. Queensland than- from” the Old “Country to. Australia. ‘ : . .Sir William Lyne. - ;Hear; ‘ hear,- but salt is being, manufactured in Victoria, too.
– It costs rriore in some cases from 20 per .cent, to ..’40’ per cent, more-7-to send- salt “from’ South Australia to New South Wales than from’ England to Australia,. A duty of 12s-.. 6d.. a ton will #hot cover the freight f rpm the “Old Country to Australia. /The argument has been’ advanced that. the. salt industry ‘.does not require more protection, because the production has overtaken the consumption, but that is not so. . If honorable members will make inquiries, they will’ find’ that a good deal of . salt ‘ which is exported’ .is crude salt. If they deduct- the ‘crude salt from the other ‘.salt, they will find- that 4,000 tons were . imported, “last year. ‘In fact, the , imports are increasing greatly. Since the’ present duty was imposed one company have gone to the “.wall,” and I have ‘ no. doubt but . that, others will succumb unless something ‘more is” done for the industry’ than has been done. It “should ‘ also be remembered that, lately trie price of labour has increased greatly, in South Australia the manufacturers have raised the wages of “unskilled labourers from 6s. to 7s. a day, and the wages of skilled workers in - .proportion, and ‘‘they have not’ added “to- the cost of their salt. I suggest f hat when., the manufacturers -are prepared to make such, increases honorable members should .give them a. little, encouragement. It should, also be pointed, .out that this is not a. small. industry. In -South Australia .about -3,500 persons, derive their existence from. the salt industry. . - .
Mr..- Page.- Tha’t” .was’ .under the old Tariff. “ ‘ “ ‘ « -. ‘ »;.:
Mr. HUTCHISON years the Castle : Salt Company have v sent salt- to Queensland and New ..South Wales-.” From 1898 to 1902 they never.. paid. a-. dividend, showing that it was not. a profitable, concern. In , some -seasons/ .the , salt, is - very plentiful I, but in other seasons .it is not only not plentiful, . but,, on account of. the high -winds which, prevail, the cost of ‘collecting it is a, great: deal more.- . - Mr.” Dugald -Thomson. - Which, company :did” not pay. a. dividend from: 1898 to 1902 ?.. . ‘. c :;!!.;’ , :’. :.’
– Castle”. -‘S ali: Company:. - nl . dor. riot ‘ think, that the Cheetham Salt Proprietary, Geelong^ did very well either: At. any. rate, they-have spent about £40,000 on the industry. Under the: ‘qld– duty , they, were “not able- -to. compete, against the imported article, i” This was due largely to the- prejudice against Australian, salt- -We . should be prepared -to. do something- to. enable local. salt producers,. whose output is of excellent quality, to supplant the imported “>’ article: v;-‘:’M<r. -Charles’ Barnes, who;:. ‘I believe,- ;is:’.the -largest- bacon-curer iri: -New”. Souths Wales, states that he has not only been, using’ -it with: every satisfaction -to himself, but that he has not received one complaint from’ his customers ‘ regarding bacon” cured by 1 him with colonial; ‘,salt,, although he .specially requested them, tq notify him of any .fault that was ! to be found with it, as compared with bacon ‘cured in the old days with imported ‘salt’’ ’” The Downs Co-operative Dairy ; Company’ at the_ exhibition’ held’1 recently, in Brisbane, secured the champion prize for butter cured with Australian- salt’, -and- at the exhibition held in London- by -the British Dairy Farmers’ Association !: it also secured the first’ prize ‘ for ‘butter sp cured.” Since’ the industry7 give’s- employment to a large number of hands’, arid.’ fs subject to- unfair ‘competition-, I- am- confident ‘tha’t ‘honorable’ members will be” prepared’ to agree* to- the increased- duty’.’’- ‘‘“j
Mr FOWLER (Perth) ft. 3].- The sal’t_producing”: industry received considerable,, attention from, the Tariff Commission, and in the report, of the . free-trade- section honorable members -will find incontrovertible.’ evidence that under the old duty it was making very satisfactory progress. . . Instead, .qf manufacturers in Australia being unable -to’ compete with importations we: found; that they had been ‘able to export, large quantities of their salt into markets beyond:the Commonwealth* . The ..’ Castle.- SaltCooperative 0 Company of South Australiafor “some, years. ., has. been sending large quantities, to ‘New .Zealand,;, its .average annual shipments to that Colony, according to evidence .submitted , by_ . the company being from 5,000’ to 6,000 tons. That does not1 suggest that the:.local companies -‘are unable to compete with .oversea productions. <;It has been said, that the importation ‘, qf .salt -has been increasing. ., The facts do not support that contention.- A statement compiled from the Commonwealth Trade, and Customs returns. shows .that, .the importations of all salt other than brown rock salt have been as follows: - 1899, 128,183 tons; 1900, 19,632 tons; 1901, 22,022 tons; 1902, 18,416 tons; 1903, 8,650 tons ; 1904, 14,868 tons ; 1905, 13,555 tons > ar,d 1906, 8,796 tons. These figures show, on the whole, a steady decrease in importations, and, taking into consideration our exports of salt, it may be said that we are able to produce practically all that we require. There is one paragraph in the finding of the free-trade section of the Commission which I recommend to the attention of honorable members. It reads1 -
The total cost of production, including harvesting and all charges, is nearly covered by the present duty. Freight, present duty, and other transit charges on imported salt, vary from 75 to 130 per cent, on the f.o.b. value, while the present duty alone is equal to more than, 50 per cent, of the shipping value of the best coarse salt, which is used for curing purposes.
The conclusion arrived at was as follows -
Finally, the evidence clearly proves that the salt industry in Australia has greatly expanded under the operation of the Commonwealth Tariff, and that it has been more profitable than previously to the manufacturers, although consumers have in some States contributed through enhanced prices to this prosperity.
The reference to the enhanced prices means that there has been an arrangement by which the trade of the States has been apportioned. If honorable members wish to accentuate that state of things they have only to vote for the Government proposal. On the other hand, if they are satisfied that this industry, as the evidence undoubtedly shows, has fared very well, that it has practically secured the whole of the trade, and that only an insignificant portion is supplied from over-sea, then I feel sure that they will vote for a reversion to the old duty. Since salt is undoubtedly a requirement of the great butter industry of the Commonwealth, it is highly desirable that the duty should not be increased, because that would simply mean a tax upon that industry. I do not say that Australian salt when properly refined is not equal to the very best imported salt. When proper care is taken in regard to the refining process Australian salt is equal in quality to any that is imported. The question is really whether the butter- producers of Australia are to be taxed for the benefit of the salt-producing industry which, as the evidence submitted to the Tariff Commission shows very conclusively, was able to carry on very comfortably under the qld rate of duty.
– I intend to support the reduction of the duty to 12s. 6d. per ton, and wish to avail myself of this opportunity to reply to the references that have frequently been made to the attitude which I took up on this question when the first Federal Tariff was under consideration. If any honorable member doubts my word, it is quite easy for him to trace my votes in Hansard. As a matter of fact, the duty originally proposed under the old” Tariff was £x per ton. The Committee reduced it to ios.- per ton. Then there was an attempt to make it 15s. per ton, but a compromise was arrived at, and the duty was fixed at 12s. 6d. What I did - and this is the vote which has induced some honorable members to say that I slipped - was to refuse to support a recommittal. I regarded the duty of 12s. 6d. per ton as a compromise, and would not vote for interfering with it. I believe that that duty is quite sufficient. I observe that whenever the Queensland representatives have a chance of securing a duty on an item which specially interests their State, they vote for.it solidly, irrespective of whether the commodity in question is actually being” produced in Queensland or not. However, their conduct has nothing to do with me ; I intend to be consistent, though I suppose that I’ could very easily put forward a good -case on behalf of the producers of salt for a higher duty.
– Would the honorable member vote for making salt free?
– No, I would not. Weeks ago I gave notice of an amendment to reduce the duty to 12s. 6d. per ton, in conformity with the compromise arrived at when the last Tariff was debated. If the Minister takes the trouble to look through the list of amendments which I have circulated, he will find that the duties which I support are considerably below those in the existing Tariff.
– I consider that the honorable member for Grey has been perfectly consistent in- his votes regarding salt. I well remember the incident to which he has referred. The duty of 12s! 6d. per ton was the result of a compromise.. But the honorable member has forgotten to tell the Committee that had he voted with the Opposition on that occasion for a recommittal of the item, that duty, in all probability, would have been reduced.
– The motion for a recommittal was after the compromise had been arrived at.
– The honorable member is quite correct. This is an industry which especially concerns the electorates of the honorable member for Grey and the honorable member for Corio. I know the salt pans on Yorke Peninsula very well. They are close to the sea, in St. Vincent’s Gulf, and there is no expense attached to the conveyance of the commodity to a railway or to the port of shipment. The natural protection given to the industry is quite sufficient of itself. I used to do a good deal of business in this class of salt some years ago, and the South Australian company, at that time, used to sell salt at £1 per ton. Since then the industry has developed into a very fine thing, and numbers of people have gone into it. It is flourishing. The honorable member for Perth has told us that salt is now being exported. Of course, people who have been in the habit of using very fine imported salt for table purposes will continue to use it, no matter what the duty may be. But we now export -quite as much as we import, and the local competition has been sufficient to bring about a reduction in price. At the period to which I ha.ve referred, salt was produced in competition with the world, and was freely purchased for the curing of hides and skins, the making of bacon, and for dairying purposes. There is no difficulty in producing an excellent article. If we were to carry out the suggestion of the free-trade -section of the Tariff Commission, we should impose a duty of no more than 5s. a ton, which would be. about 25 per cent, on the value of the class of salt I am now speaking about. . That duty will be. quite sufficient for the industry. .The quantity of labour employed is not . considerable, though there is sufficient salt produced to supply the demands of Australia.
– There are 3,000 or 4,000 people employed.
– The output is considerable, and it would be still larger if we had a greater population to supply. If we increase the duty the chances are that the price of salt will be increased in the same ratio. I trust that the Committee will adhere to the understanding arrived at amongst honorable members in the last Parliament, namely, that we should adjust anomalies in the Tariff, but not increase duties upon those articles the producers of which are doing very -well. We should rather give a helping hand to those industries that are languishing. This is an industry that is thriving, and could do without any protection whatever. As, however-, we are expected to adhere to the old Tariff as far as possible, I shall vote for a duty of 12s. 6d. per ton.
.- I -am glad that in this case no attack has been made on the quality of the Australian article concerned. The honorable member’ for Perth has testified to the fact that the quality of the Australian salt produced is excellent. The only criticism that I have to meet, therefore, is that of the honorable member for Corangamite, who naturally wishes to do his best for the pastoral and dairying industries, and who has argued that an increase in the duty will have the effect of raising- prices owing to the probable establishment of a ring. But if that were likely to be the effect, it would have resulted when the Victorian Parliament imposed a duty of £1 per ton. At that time, although the Moolap Company, which carries on business near Geelong, had the benefit of that duty they sold their salt at 22s. per ton. The honorable member for Corangamite will see. that if the company had sold at the price of imported salt, the Moolap salt would have fetched £2 5s. per ton. We are facing a great danger if we do riot protect the industry sufficiently. There is no doubt that salt is the subject of a worldwide trust. The Financial News of. 8th July, 1901, contains the following -
There have been specific denials of the accuracy of cables on the part of the Salt Union of England.; but a New York correspondent informs us that the formation of a trust to control almost the entire salt output of the world has been definitely announced at the offices of the National Salt Company, located in the Standard Oil Buildings, No. 26 Broadway. The new company (he says) will embrace the Salt Union of England, the Canadian Salt Company, and the National Salt Company, under the title of the International Salt Company. The concern will also! include the Saleina Espanola Spanish salt mines, which were recently acquired by the Union Salt Company, and incorporated under the laws of New Jersey. Standard Oil Company interests, which own the majority of the stock of the National Salt Company, are behind the deal. This will be the first international combine ever formed. The consolidated company will control the salt output of every civilized country on the globe, with the exception of the salt, mines in Russia. The capital will exceed 50,000,000 ‘dollars. Prominent banking interests have agreed to take charge of the underwriting.
If the Australian industry is stamped out, instead of a decreased price to our dairymen,weshall have an increased price. IfIthought that a ring would-be formed in theAustralian industry, I should not vote fora duty.But I think that the best protection we can afford our dairymen is by seeing that our local companies are not destroyed. To show the way local competition is decreasing prices tothe consumer,I find thatin the Melbourne Ageof10th October, 1907,: thereis” the following-
In March, 1904, “imperial fine salt,” a wellknownVictorian’ brand,. Was quoted at£3per ton. ‘ In November,1904, theprice was £2. 15s.; in December, 1904, £2 10s. ; and in April, 1906, £2. Between March, 1904, and October, 1906, the’ price of imported salt dropped from£4 5s. to£35s. The same reduction in prices is noted inthe case of dairy salt. In July, 1905, imported dairy salt was quoted at £5 5s.; in October, 1906, it was £4 . 2s. 6d. ; and in August, 1907, £4 12s. 6d. ‘ “ Mermaid “ dairy, the local product, ruled at£4 to £45s.Through the competition of the local article, users of the imported salt have, therefore,, been able tomake great savings.
I certainly thinkthat if we desire to protect our dairymen,we ought to so increase the duty as to induce internal competition.
.- As to theincrease in the salt duty forming a tax on our butter companies, I draw attention to. the following extract from the report of the protectionist section of the Tariff Commission -
The-.point as towhether an increased duty on salt would prejudicially affect any of the. primary industries of the Commonwealth came under the notice of your Commissioners. Havingin viewthe relatively small quantity of it which wasused in either meat curing or dairying processes, the extra cost,-which ‘a higher duty would entail to such industries would be infinitesimal in “amount. This fact is brought out by the Secretaryof the’ Castle Co-operative Salt, Company, South Australia, who says, “The absurdity of12s.6d. per.ton,for duty falling heavily upon thedairy industry is shown by the fact “that only 3. per cent. of salt” is used in -butter-making. The averageprice” ofa tonof butter would Be about£100. The saltit contains, at 12s.6d. per ton”, equals 4d.,. or, in other words, there is 1d. worth of salt, at60s. ‘per ton (price paid by dairies) in 1 cwt. of- butter, valued at £5.
We are of opinion that a strong case’ has been made’ in ‘favour of a substantial increase in the existing duty on common salt used for culinary, pickling, and “household purposes. Such salt can be obtained inseveral of the States”; it is of excellent quality,” bearing favorable comparison with thebest imported article. The development of the salt industry in Australia, and the consequentcompetition resulting therefrom, has had the effect of reducing in a very marked degree the selling price of. salt; to consumers inthis country.
.- The’ honorable member for ‘Gippsland seems to have fallen in line withthe opinions expressedby the protectionist “section ofthe Tariff Commission.- As one who has had a great deal to do with the dairyings industry, I may ‘ tellhonorable members that salt in the manufactureof butter is an expensive item.
Mr.Groom. - Are the figures which have been quotedincorrect?
– The figures are practically correct, but anything may be done with figures. We are piling on duty after duty.
– We are at present dealing with the duty on salt.
– Butthe honorable member knows the old’ Scotch saying that “ many mickles make a muckle.
Mr.Batchelor. -Why did the honorabje ‘member ‘not. apply that maxim to the item of rice?
– I feel very grateful to the honorable : member for Grey for the lecture he has given us on the subject of rice;but I shallnot vote in such a way as to reduce the old Tariff.
– But the honorable member will vote insome instances to increase theold Tariff?
-In regard to some items, when I . think itnecessary to do so in order to do away with anomalies. The honorable member forCorio has. drawn attentionto a ring which he says’ exists outside of Australia, but it so happens that there is’ a ring alsoin Australia. Prior to the formationof that ring’ we could buy salt at£ 1 per ton less than we could subsequently,’ and as. there are only two salt manufactories in the. Commonwealthhonorable members will see how easily a ring can be formed.
– Do not forget that salt is made in Queensland.
– I understand that salt was at one time made in Queensland; but that the industry has now been given up.
– Salt is made at Mackay now.
-I am pleased to hear that.However, any contention is that12s. 6d..per ton is ample protection.
Sitting suspended from 6.30 to 7.45 p.m.
– If the duty on salt is increased from12s.6d. to£1per ‘ton; it will not have the effect, Which some honorable members anticipate, of keeping out imported salt. - The colonial salt has had a thorough ‘ trial” throughout - theCommonwealth, and I am pleased to say that it lias given general satisfaction both to butchers and butter makers. I have used it for the last twelve to fourteen years, and prefer it to English salt for butter making, as it is more soluble in butter, and-. Jess liable to crystallize after it is used.But that is not the experience of some of the bacon curers. The imported salt is,. at present principally used by bacon curers and a few butter makers, who still prefer it to the colonial, whether - through Want of giving thelatter’ a proper . trial, or through prejudice;I do not know. I have recently received a communication from Mr. John Reid, Queensland manager for Messrs.’ J. C. Huttonand Company. I need not say anything about the’ qualityof the Pineapple brand of bacon-‘ and” -hams, wliich have commended themselves to. the whole of Australia, and to many other parts of the world.
– Hutton’s are not. asking for free salt.
– I am not, either.
– They are not asking even for. a reduced duty.
– They are asking for the old duty to be retained.
– They ought to be ashamed of themselves. They have a big protection.
– They . did. not write to me, and- they have a big factory in my electorate.
- Mr. Reid writes-
We have given the. colonial salts from Adelaide a full and exhaustive experiment,’ and the invariable result is that the bacon is dark in colour, very hard and dry, . and altogether a depreciated cure as compared with that which results from the use ‘of English salt,so that’, if we are forced to use colonial salt,, it means that the reputation which we have got for the cure of our hams and bacons in Australian “and Eastern markets will belargelydiscounted- to the manifest detriment : of the > curing industry. The; writer is. protectionist enough -to at once support, a colonial industry, if the productsf rom that industry are as good as can be got from other countries ; but we see at once that the colonial salts are not “fitted forthe high-class cures at our’ various’ baconwork’s. They ‘willsuit beef-curing, but. are altogether unsuitable for bacon.
In addition to this,we.have pointed put to the Federal Government thatthe cost of landing salt, without any dutyatall,is 320 percent. on English cost - a - large natural protection, which surelydoes not require fiscal protection in addition.
– We oughtto recommit the item Bacon “. , so as to give the people cheap bacon .
– We are not allowed to discuss bacon at. the present time.
– This fellow is getting a protection of 3d. perlb.on his bacon; ‘-and now he wants freesalt.
-He didnotask for 3d. protection.
-The honorable member ‘is pleading for cheap salt for Kim now.
– He ought to be very glad to pay for his salt. .
-Salt is more heavily protected than baconis. The , ‘ old duty of 12s. 6d. per ton on salt was over 25 per cent. It is now proposed to add an extra” protection of7s. 6d. perton.
– If the honorable member worked out the duty on bacon in the same way, he would find that it is over 50 per cent.
– The honorable member for Corio saidto-day. that theVictorian Salt Factory were selling their salt sortie time ago at22s. 6d. per ton. A duty of 12s.6d.at that , price -is over 50 per cent. protection. Before Federation, when there was a fairly heavy dutyon salt in Victoria and South Australia, the South Australian salt was sold in New South Wales and -Queensland at 45s. ‘per ton. ‘ I believe there wasno duty in New’ South Wales at that time, but the South Australian companies paid the freight to Queensland, and the duty under the Queensland Tariff, and still sold their salt in Queensland at the same price as it was” sold at in South Australia.
– -W asthere- a duty in Queensland, at that time?
– There was a duty of £1per ton in Queensland then. Since Inter-State free-trade has ‘ been brought about, those factories have begun to pay dividends. Before that they paid the dividends away indutyin’ orderto tryto compete’’ in the” outside’ markets. Since they have had the whole of Australiato themselves,: they have been able to pay a dividend,” as. they have done for the”:last four, years, of about 7½ per cent. onthe capitalinvested. They havealso written downtheir capital considerably, and reduced their overdraft by about one-half the amount it was some four years ago.
Mr.Mauger.- Is not that a dreadful thing for an Australian companyto do ?
– I dp riot think that it is “dreadful.It is pleasing tothink that an Australian companycandoit.
– The honorable member wants to knock them out. .Mr.. SINCLAIR.- I do not. - I want to give them the same opportunity in- the future as they have had in the past. If they have been able to write down their capital considerably, and pay something like ^£4,000 off their overdraft during the past four years, with a protection of 12s. 6d. per ton, I think that they have been doing fairly well. If we wish them to do any better in the future, they are going -to do it at the expense of the consumers of salt.
– The honorable member said that the duty on salt in Queensland prior to Federation was 20s. per ton. I see by the list of Commercial Tariffs’ that in 1899 salt was free in Queensland.
– I obtained my information from the report of the Tariff Commission. If that report is not correct, then my statement is wrong. Prior to Federation we <were able to purchase Australian salt for 45s. a ton. Its price has now advanced to 65s. per ton. The price of imported salt usually ranges from 75s.- to 85s. per ton, so that the Australian article appears to enjoy a very good natural protection. It has deservedly earned a name for itself amongst the consumers, and consequently it has nothing to fear from outside competition. To my mind, 12s. 6d. per. ton represents a very heavy impost.
– Various statements have been made in connexion with the salt industry, some of which will scarcely withstand analysis. The honorable member for Hindmarsh has said that if the present duty is nol increased from 12s. 6d. to 20s. per ton, the industry in South Australia will probably be destroyed. I am aware that this Committee has displayed great liberality by granting to many industries a protection which, according to the evidence given before the Tariff Commission, they do not require. I disagree with the Honorable member in the view which he entertains, because the whole of the testimony presented to that body shows that since the imposition of the first Commonwealth Tariff, under which a duty of 12s. 66. per- ton was collected, the salt companies both in South Australia and Victoria have been doing remarkably well.
– The companies in South Australia have paid a dividend during only one year.
– I, shall show the dividends which have been paid in that State. It has been said that one South Australian company has gone to the wall. I am quite aware of that fact, because I happened to be a shareholder in it. But that company did not go to the wall in consequence of competition from beyond Australia. It failed purely owing to internal reasons. That this is so is shown by the fact that a number of those who were interested in the venture formed a new company, which was perfectly satisfied that it could profitably conduct its operations under the old rate of duty. From the report of the free-trade section of the Tariff Commission I find that -
The Cheetham Company, in Victoria, paid no dividends prior to 1896, then only 2^ per cent. ; no dividend in 1897, and . in the four years 1898-1901, the dividends paid average 6J; per cent. In the complete three years subsequently, viz., 1902-4, the average dividends amounted to 7^ per cent, per annum.
That statement evidences the progress of the .company, under the operation- of the old Tariff’. From the same report I learn -
The Castle Salt Co-operative Company of South Australia, according to the evidence of its secretary, did not pay any dividends prior to Federation ; the first dividend paid was is. per share in one half-year of 1902. In the years 1903 and 1904 the dividends were is. 6d. per share, and 9a. per share had been declared for the first half of the year 190.5, equal to l per cent. There had been, however, considerable writing down of plant and purchase of new machinery out of proceeds, whilst the company’s indebtedness to its bankers of £8,297 in the 1904 account, had been reduced to ^4,400 in the 1905 statement. The actual net profits earned, without special provisions for repairs, &c, appear to have been a shade over 10 per cent, per annum in those two years.
That is testimony that the company in question progressed more under the operation of a duty of 12s. 6d. per ton than it did under the old South Australian rate of 20s. per’ ton. The reason for this is obvious ; the market for its product had been enlarged. The honorable member for Corio has stated that the Australian companies were entirely dissociated from combines. I understood him to say that if they were not, he would not support the increased duty .proposed. Here is a statement from the report of the free-trade section of the Tariff Commission in reference to the Castle Salt Company -
The average annual shipments of this company, according to that witness, were 5,000 to 6,000 tons. The salt was consigned to agents in New Zealand, and sold on the company’s account at prices about the same as* in Victoria, although the freight was less to that State, but they did as well out of the business in New Zealand as out of that in Victoria, there being a difference in the qualities of the salt. It was admitted, in reply to further questions, that there was an arrangement with the’ English Salt Union as to the- partition of the trade of New Zealand, regulating the quantities each should sell, and the prices, which were made uniform. This arrangement gave the English salt a little better result than it obtained in Australia. lt will be seen, therefore, that this company forms part of a large combine which is operating in New Zealand. But there is nothing to prevent it adopting similar tactics in the Commonwealth. Apart from that fact, the progress of the .salt industry, under the operation of the old rate of duty, has been very gratifying. Since 1899 the imports of salt have declined from 28,000 tons to 8,700 tons. Our manufacturers have captured nearly the whole of the trade of the Commonwealth, the consumption of which is estimated at from 40,000 to 50,000 tons per annum. Under these circumstances, what reason can be advanced for departing from the old rate of duty of 12s. 6d. per ton?
Question - That after the figures “ 20s.”, paragraph b, the words “ and on and after 6th November, 1907, per ton,- 12s. 6d.” (Mr. Wilson’s amendment) be added - put. The Committee divided.
Question so resolved in the negative. Amendment negatived.
Amendment (by Mr. Wilson) negatived -
That after the figures “ 20s. ,”_paragraph b, the words ‘ and on and after 6th November, 1907, per ton, 15s.,” be added.
Item agreed to.
Postponed item 100. Soap, ad val., 25 per cent.
.- I intend to propose a reduction of this duty. The old duty on perfumed, toilet, and medicated soap was 3d. per lb., and on soap n.e.i., including polishing, Jd. per lb. The duty now proposed is an all-round duty of 25 per cent. I am at a loss tb understand why the Minister has not proposed a , preference in connexion with this item, seeing that the great bulk of our importations of soap come from the Old Country. Of perfumed toilet and other similar soaps, we imported from the United Kingdom 583,918 lbs. Importations were received also from Canada, Hong Kong, India, New Zealand, Straits Settlements, Belgium, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, and the United States. As compared with the importation from the United Kingdom, our next largest importation was from the United States, from which we received 235>243 lbs and the third largest importation was from Germany, from which country we received only 55,026 lbs. of the perfumed and fancy soaps. Of the soaps n.e.i. which are imported, by far the largest quantity! comes from Great Britain. The total importation of soaps n.e.i. is 1,147,486 lbs., of which 1,125,656 lbs. come from Great Britain, and only n.,830 lbs. from other places- Cape Colony, New Zealand, the Straits Settlements, Belgium, France, Italy, Germany, and the United States. Therefore the duty falls mainly on British manufactures. The old duty on perfumed toilet and medicated soaps was equivalent to from 20 to 40 per cent. ad valorem according to quality, while the expenses of importation amounted to 20 per cent. Of polishing soap, Brook’s Monkey brand is practically the only kind imported. It is invoiced at 17s . 3d. per 50 lbs., arid the old duty was equivalent to 12 per cent”.’ ad valor em, the importing expenses coming to 20 per cent.On household soaps invoiced at from21s. 3d. to 24s. 3d., the old duty was equivalent to about 22 percent. ad valorem, while the expenses of importation were about” 35 per cent. Therefore it willbe seen that, with the exception of the cheaper toiletsoaps, the substitution of the proposed ad valorem ratesfor the old fixed rates means really a substantial increase’ of duty. In 1900, prior to Federation and theimpositionof the first Commonwealth Tariff, the importation oftoilet soaps’ Was 820, 774 lbs., and in 1966 65,840 lbs., an enormous falling off. Of household soaps there were imported in 1900 1,572,592 lbs., and in 1906 1,147,486 ‘ lbs. - During recent years the Commonwealth has commenced to export soaps largely to other countries.
– Does the honorable member wish toputan endto that exportation?
– No.To’ decrease theduty would not do’ so.
– Would ‘it riot increase the importations ?
-As we can now compete in themarkets of the world with the manufactures ofother countries, the soap industry of the Commonwealthcertainly does hot need higher duties; I believe that it could do without any protection. In 1900 we exported 9,280 lbs. of toilet soaps’, and in 1906 the exportation had increased to52, 986 lbs. Of household soaps we exported in 1900 1,687,504 lbs., and in 1906- no ‘ less than ‘4, 652,816 lbs.
– This sounds like a speech by the Minister.
-I am afraid that it is not being appreciated by the Minister, because it presents very solid arguments against the proposed” increases, showing them to be wholly Unnecessary. No polishing soap is manufactured in Australia.
-Perhaps its manufacture is a trade secret. . ‘Next to copra, stearine is ‘ah important ingredient insoap, and the smaller makers have ‘to ‘purchase this from protected’ manufacturers - chiefly one firm - at whose mercy they are.
-Pl’entyof ‘^qap is made without stearine.
-Stearineenterslargely intothe compositionofgood soaps. ‘ I move
That, the’Vords arid on “and”af ter 6thNovember, 1907,15percent, beadded.
.- Last year we imported over 2,000,600 . lbs. ofsoap.
Mr.Johnson. - And we exported 4,000,000 lbs.
-I dp .not know whether the object of the amendment is to increasethe importationof. soap. It cannot be -said that adutyon soap will affect the breakfast, ‘ or the dinner, or’ the teatable of the muchtalkedabout poor working man. We know that Australian common soap does not come into competition withimported soap. -The imports consist chiefly of perfumed and fancy soap, which someperson’s like to use in their baths and which, I think, can very well afford to paya’ duty. In view of the fact that most labour is used in the production of fancysoap, I think that the Government might very well have considered the matter from a. different standpoint. The duty on perfumed soapused to be 3d. a lb,,’ but, in spite of that, we must have imported£70,000 worth per annum. We might encourage the local production of that soap, and ‘therefore I suggest to the Government that they should seriously consider the question of raising the duty on imported soap to 6d. a lb. In making that suggestion I am not advocating “uncleanliness, because those who buy perfumed soap and shaving sticks can afford to pay the price charged. I do not believe that the extra amount which they would have to pay if my suggestion were adoptedwould be a great consideration to them. It is certainly of great commercial ‘interest to Australia that the higher class of soap should be manufactured here, because its. manufacture would employ a large quantity of labour, and would not injure one person in the community. I feel satisfied that even the electors’ who returned , the members of the Opposition wouldnot object to pay a little more for their perfumed soap.
– Then the consumer does pay the duty after all anditsimposition increases the price of the article ?
– I amassumingfrom the stand-point of. the Opposition,thatthe imposition of the duty does increase the price of thearticle. The only use of’ the duty on common soap is that -it prevents the community from being swamped with importedsoap from other places’.I believe thatcommon soap canbe produced as cheaply here as anywhere else, arid, that but for the. imposition of theduty , it would be imported out of pure cussedness.
Si’r WILLIAM LYNE (Hume- Treasurer) [8.29]. - It is represented to me by the Department that the proposed ad valorem duty of 25 per cent, is equal to a reduction of id. in the old duty on toilet and fancy medicated soap. . It is also suggested to me that the item should be altered so as to read -
Soap, Toilet, Fancy, Medicated, per lb., 4d., or ad valorem, 25 per cent., whichever rate returns the higher duty, and all other .soaps, n.e.i., 25 per cent.
That proposal, which of course cannot be submitted until the present amendment has been disposed of, would enable our manufactures to compete with imported fancy soap. So far as I can judge, the new rate means a reduction of id. a lb. in the duty on ‘toilet and high-class soaps, which, I think, are valued at is. 5d. or is. 6d. a lb.
– It is an immense increase in the duty on soaps in common use.
– I hope that honorable members will soon come to a division on the amendment before the Committee.
.- I - was hoping to hear on this occasion that the T reasurer intended to stick to his guns, because, with an ad valorem duty, the higher the price the higher will the impost be. For that reason, high-class soaps will pay a higher duty than they used to pay. The honorable member for Melbourne Ports, who was pleading for the imposition of a high duty on high-priced soaps, will achieve his object in that way, I think.
– It does not work out in that way on the higher class of soap.
– I thought that at last I had found a simple article on which to vote. The protectionist section of the Tariff Commission, and the Government, were quite agreed as to the rate of duty, and the whole thing seemed quite simple, but now the Treasurer has made the position very complicated. Before I change my ‘opinion, I should like to hear an expression of the views of honorable members.
– The Minister has made it as clear as mud.
– I cannot understand it, any way. On a soap worth is. a lb. the ad valorem, duty of 25 per cent, would come to 3d., and that, I consider, is a very substantial protection. I cannot see why we should be -asked to change our opinions in a. summary manner.
.- I am astonished that the honorable member for
Melbourne Ports, ever since he became a member of this House, has been using Rimmers soap without the slightest protest. It is a gross outrage upon protectionist principles that in all parts of Parliament House we use everything that comes from abroad. If we enter the lavatory, where my honorable friends wash their protectionist hands, we find there a cake of Rimmel’s soap fresh from Paris. We do not see about the House a colonial article except a- suit of clothes which a gentleman wears on exhibition. I do not know who has authority over the arrangements of this building, but I think that in this Parliament we ought to set the fashion in regard to the use of colonial articles. Whatever our fiscal views may be, we ought to give ai preference to all colonial articles that are not absolutely injurious. I understand that my honorable friends draw the line at colonial beer.
– I am very glad to hear it, because I thought that the honorable member for Melbourne Ports was the exception to the general rule. To-day we have seen a foreign horse, which on entering our closely-protected country from New Zealand was not subjected to a duty of even 10s., carrying away one of the richest sporting prizes in the Commonwealth. We have a grand horse-breeding industry struggling against untold difficulties, and yet we have allowed this foreign horse, bred in a foreign country, fed on foreign oats and corn, and groomed by foreign hands, to come into the Commonwealth, and to annex the richest stake known in the sporting arena.
– We were patriotic enough not to back it.
– I was going to say that I find to my horror that thousands of staunch’ protectionists put everything they had on this foreign horse, and landed their wagers. In regard not only to soap, but to everything, else,, we ought to set the fashion’ of using the local article. I do not-object to any duty on toilet soap. Honorable members may make it as high as they please. Soap, is a very necessary article to some people.
.- I move -
That the Item be amended to read as follows : - “Soap- ‘ (a) Toilet, fancy, medicated, ad val., 25 per cent., or per lb., 4fl., whichever rate returns the higher duty. (b) N.E.I., ad val., 25 per cent.”
The bulk of the trade is done in cheap soap. The average invoice value of these is about 6d. per lb., 25 percent, on which is about 2d. per lb., or a reduction of id., per ‘ lb. on the old duty. The manufacturers contend that they cannot compete against the cheaper soaps under a duty of 25 per cent., and I therefore propose this alteration.
.- I would prefer the imposition of a duty of 25 per cent, to a specific duty, for the reason that many imported soaps are sold merely on their advertised qualities. Some of them are very expensive, ranging as high as 2s. and 2s. 6d. per tablet. Sir William Lyne. - These high-class soaps average about is. 6d.
– A duty of 25 per cent, upon high-class, highly-advertised and beautifully put up soaps would be much less than a specific duty of 4d. per lb.’ on soaps of lower grade. ‘ We have a considerable importation of what may be called lowerclass toilet soaps.
– They would all come under the 25 per cent. duty.
– Yes ; but I was going to suggest that possibly there is a reason for the importation of the cheaper class of soaps. I have yet to learn that there is manufactured in Australia .a toilet soap which has for its alkaline basis anything other than ordinary caustic soda, which is undoubtedly injurious to the human skin. Many of the toilet soaps imported and. sold at a’ reasonable rate are in that respect of superior quality, since they contain a harmless alkaline which, so far as I am aware, has not yet been introduced into any Australian soap. I do not wish to name them, but it is unreasonable to impose upon soaps of that class a prohibitive duty. I bare riot how high a duty may be imposed on soaps sold for their paper wrappings and delicate perfumes, but I think that an” all-round duty of 25 per cent, would be a fair impost, and would meet the case even from a protectionist stand-point. Amendment agreed to.
Amendment (by Mr. Johnson) proposed - ~’That the following word3 be added - “and on and after 6th November, 1907 (United Kingdom), 20 per cent., or 3 1/2 d. per lb., whichever rate returns the higher duty.”
.- This seems to be a fair opportunity to offer a very moderate preference in favour of the Mother Country. A very large quantity of imported soap comes from the United Kingdom, and with a duty of 25 per cent, against foreign countries, 5 per cent., which is only one-fifth, is a very moderate preference to offer. After the magnificent oration of the Prime Minister a fortnight ago his supporters might surely be capable of giving preference to the tune of 5 per cent, to the Mother Country. We have now come to the practical aspect of thi-, preference policy. The duty proposed amounts to about 4d. per lb., and surely a preference of one halfpenny might Le tolerated. This is one of those practical little ways in which we can show our loyal attachment to the Mother Country, and which will be much more valuable than a brilliant speech.
The Committee divided.
Question so resolved in the negative. Amendment negatived. Item, as amended, agreed to.
Postponed item 103. Starch and Dextrine (General Tariff), per lb., 2½d., (United Kingdom), per’ lb., 2d.
Amendment (by Sir William Lyne) proposed -
That the words “and Dextrine” be left out.
Amendment agreed to.
. -I move -
That after the figures “ 2½d.” the words “ and on and after 6th November, 1907 (General Tariff), per lb., 2d.” be inserted.
The old duty was 2d., and the recommendation of both sections of the Tariff Commission is that the old duty be adhered to.
– The proposed duty is the same as that recommended by the Commission, so far as the United Kingdom is concerned, and the proposal before us gives a preference.
– The total importations of. starch last year were 1,470,213 lbs., of which 1,204,109 lbs. came from the United Kingdom.
– The honorable member will see that very little of the imported starch will come under the duty of 2½d.
– On the contrary, I think a considerable quantity will be subject to the higher duty. We get from Hong Kong, in round figures, 4,000 lbs. ; from Belgium, 1,000 lbs. ; from China, 1,000 lbs. ; from Egypt, 2,000 lbs. ; from Germany, 228,000 lbs. ; from the Netherlands, 4,000 lbs. ; and also a little from New Zealand and the Straits Settlements. Mr. Justice Hood, in a judgment, stated that thelabour employed in this industry is very slight as compared with the machinery, and, in this connexion, the following letter, which was published in the Melbourne Age, is of importance -
Your statement of the rase for what has been called the “new protection” is timely. I wish to present a side of this question which has hitherto been unduly negated. The cost of the rice from which the starch is made is about £8 a ton; the yield of starch varies, but may not unfairly be put down at 72 per cent., so that to produce1 ton of starch, raw material worth about £11 is necessary. The Excise duty -1d. a lb. - costs £9 6s.8d. per ton ; the cost of producing a ton of starch is £2 12s. 6d., a fact which I have from one of the three manufacturers. Accordingly,£23 represents the prime cost of the starch per ton. Even at a selling price of£34 per ton - which seems to have been the bedrock price - there is left £11 per ton for cost of distribution, advertising, travellers’ expenses, and profits. If, as the manufacturers assert, there is a heavy loss, then with what sense of fairness can they lay it to the account of cost of production, viz., £2 12s. 6d. per ton, an amount of which the wages paid to the workmen is, after all, only a portion? Why not set it down, as every one who knows all the facts, to the exorbitant expenses incurred in ad vertising, travellers’ expenses, rebates to customers, as well as to thecost of distribution ?
The amount set down as the cost of production, £2 12s. 6d. per ton, is not entirely spent on wages. It includes machinery charges, fuel, water, repairs, cost of packages, boxes, &c., and therefore the wages paid do not absorb the whole of this. An increase - say of 20 per cent. - on £2 10s. would bring the cost of production upto £3 per ton, but even then this would be comparatively small as compared with the£11 per ton which the manufacturers assert is spent in other ways. The Judge was therefore correct in practically saying that in this unhealthy and unnecessary competition the workmen suffered. Competition may be the life of trade, but it need not mean death to humane feeling.
– Who signed that letter?
– It is signed “Rice Starch.”
– Exactly ; an anonymous letter !
– Does the honorable member dispute the statements in the letter ?
– I do.
– Then, perhaps, the honorable member will be able to refute them.
– I shall not say anything at all ; but it is absurd to read an anonymous letter to the Committee.
– If the honorable member denies the accuracy of the statements in the letter, surely it is only fair for him to put the Committee in possession of the true facts.
– I shall not do anything of the kind.
– If the honorable member refuses to enlighten the Committee, I think we may take it that the letter is a fairly accurate statement of the facts. Honorable members, surely, have not yet forgotten the recent scandalous revelations as to the wages paid and working conditions obtaining in connexion with the local starch-making industry under a heavy protective duty ? Therefore I submit ‘ my amendment.
.- Are we to understand that if this amendment be carried the Treasurer will consent to a preference of½d. in favour of the Mother Country?
– I do not desire this or any other amendment to be carried, i Mr. REID.- Then I shall not vote for the amendment.
Item, as amended, agreed to.
Postponed item 104. Starch Flours, per lb. (General Tariff), 2 1/2 d., (United Kingdom), 2d.
– 1 observe that both sections of the Tariff Commission recommend a duty of Jd. per lb. on this item, that duty being in accordance with the old Tariff. In face of that recommendation, the Government propose to place starch flours on the same plane as starch; and I” think that that must have been done under a misapprehension. Although, in a chemical sense, starch flours are starch, still they are not starch in a commercial sense. Starch flours are not used for laundry purposes, but are largely used for food purposes, and for ‘confectionery dressings, and so forth ; and it is absurd to place- the duty on this commodity at the ridiculous figure proposed. I should like to move that after the word “ flours “ the words “ for making laundry starch “’ be inserted.
– Does the honorable member propose to follow the article from the factory to the wash tub? Mr. JOHNSON.- The Minister may be in possession of some information as to the uses to which starch flours are put, other than those which I have already pointed out.
– Ever since the last Tariff was passed the Department has had a good deal of trouble in deciding the difference between starch and starch flours. The items have been separated in this Tariff, because it was found to be almost impossible to tell which was which. No doubt a good deal of advantage has been taken of the Department on that account. It was impossible to tell exactly what the article was without constantly referring to the- chemists in every State. Cornflour is a starch flour, and the duty on that has already been fixed at 2d. ‘ Mr. Johnson. - Cornflour is only starch in a chemical sense. Tt is not what is known commercially as starch for laundry purposes.
– I am advised that cornflour is in the same category as starch flour. It was found almost impossible to collect the duty under the condi tions that existed before this Tariff was introduced. Although it is a small matter in itself, it has caused constant, trouble to the Department, and there have been disputes almost every few days as to whether an article was starch flour or not. Mr. Sinclair. - Could it not be got in as arrowroot?
– I do not know whether that has been done. The Department is very anxious to have the items separated in this way, so that there can be no trouble
Amendment (by Mr. Johnson) negatived -
That after the figures “2£d.”‘the words “and on “and after 6th November, 1907 (General Tariff), id.,” be inserted.
Item agreed to
Motion (by Sir William Lyne) agreed to-
That the remaining items be postponed until after the consideration of Excise duties.
.- In order to make this item perfectly clear, I move -
That the word “ imported “ be inserted before the word “ rice.”
– I think that the Department has adopted the safest plan in this proposal. The effect of the arrangement is to throw -upon those who wish their starch to be free of Excise duty the onus of showing that it is made from materials grown in the Commonwealth. That Would include rice with other materials.
.- I had intended to move the same amendment as that moved by the honorable member for Moreton. I am. however, prepared to rely upon the Minister’s word if he assures the Committee that paragraph b will cover it. ‘ I wish the Minister to make it perfectly clear that if any manufacturer is engaged in making starch from such materials a? potatoes or maize, he will be also allowed to carry on in the same factory the operation of making starch from rice. I have no doubt that the Customs Department can look after itself, except perhaps, in the . matter of the harvester ‘ Excise, in which apparently thev have not moved: I hope that they will see that the small manufacturer is not penalized by compelling him to have one factory for making starch from rice and another factory for ma’king starch from other materials. That would Le giving the large manufacturer too great an advantage.
– The honorable member for Yarra is quite right in saying that the Tariff ought to be framed so that it shall not be. equivocal. Although rice is not being grown in the Commonwealth now, a bounty is to be offered for its growth, and before Parliament deals with the Tariff again it is quite possible that rice grown in the Commonwealth will be used for the manufacture of starch. If the word “imported “ be inserted, it will have the effect that the Minister desires, and at the same time will obviate the possibility of rice produced within the Commonwealth and used for starch-making purposes having the Excise imposed on it. It is quite possible that by-and-by rice grown in Australia will be used for the purposes indicated, in which case it would come under paragraph b, whilst at the same time, being made from rice, it would also fall equally under paragraph a. This apparent contradiction would be overcome by the amendment of the honorable member for Moreton.
– I do not think it is possible to construe this item in the way that the honorable member for Parkes has attempted to construe it. Under it starch made from imported rice will be required to pay an Excise of id. per lb., while starch made from rice grown within the Commonwealth will be free.
– It would come under both paragraphs of this item.
– Starch produced from materials grown within the Commonwealth will be free. There will be no difficulty in the way of giving effect to the suggestion of the honorable member for Yarra. . The Customs authorities have informed me that the provision will work out in the way that the honorable member desires.
.- This item opens up a much bigger question than that mentioned by the honorable member for Parkes. Under it rice grown within the Commonwealth might be’ utilized for starch-making purposes, and it would foe very difficult for the Customs authorities to decide, in a factory, whether the rice so used had been grown locally or had been imported. Of course, it would not matter very much, because rice for the purpose of starch-making is admitted free. But I would point out that what is known as “ laundry “ starch is made from rice, which is the superior article for- the purpose, for many reasons which I’ need not enumerate. But laundry starch can also foe made from wheat and maize. The proposal of the Government, if agreed to, will have the effect of making starch made from locallygrown maize and wheat free, while an Excise of id. per lb. will be levied upon starch made from rice, which is the favorite starch.
– The manufacturers would be using Australian commodities.
Mr.-‘- HARPER.- Until rice can be raised in the Commonwealth in sufficient quantities to permit of starch being- made from it, the manufacturers of rice starch will be penalized to the extent of nearly ;£io per ton as compared with the manufacturers of an article of inferior quality.
– Does the honorable member advocate the imposition of an Exc’se upon all forms of starch?
– At the present stage 1 do. Rice is about to be grown in Australia. We have already authorized the payment of a bounty upon its production. Why, then, should we exempt from Excise starch made from wheat and maize, and levy a duty of id. per lb. upon starch made from rice? The manufacturers of rice starch will be handicapped under this provision to the extent of id. per lb. That is a very serious proposal, and I do not think it is one to which the Committee will agree. As the law stands at present, if laundry starch is made from any material it is dutiable at id. per lb. I say that the proposed change ought not to be made.
– Was not a similar provision contained in the old Tariff?
– No; the proposal is quite a new one, and I do not think that the Government ought to persist with it. It should be eliminated. As the item stands now, its effect will be to strike a serious blow at the existing industry, which will be felt by the smaller factories as well as by the large ones.
– I should- like the Minister to inform the Committee why rice as a basis for starch has been differentiated from cornflour or wheat, as. explained by the honorable member for Mernda.
– It has not been differentiated.
– No one is morecompetent to pass an opinion on the subject than is the honorable member for Mernda, and if, as he says, a large quantity of starch is made in Australia from maize and wheat,- the present proposal means that maize starch is, by omission, to be given an advantage of id. per lb. as against rice starch, whilst it already has an advantage under the duty. The manufacturers appear to have discovered that starch made from rice is preferred by the public, since most of the starch manufactured is made from that article, and the Committee is therefore being asked to handicap the ^particular starch which the public require to the extent of at least id. in the shape of Excise duty.
.- Under the old Tariff starch made from wheat or maize was subject to an Excise duty of id. per lb. Under the proposal in the present Tariff that starch will be free of Excise duty. The Government are proposing that starch made from wheat or maize shall not be subject to an Excise duty, whilst starch made from rice must pay an Excise duty of id. per lb.
.- 1 point out another difficulty in this case. If we turn to item 94 we shall find that rice imported for the manufacture of starch is admitted free.
– Yes ; if it goes direct into the factory.
– Is it not a rather clumsy state of affairs that rice can be imported free, and then when it is used in the manufacture of starch become subject to an Excise of id. per lb. ?
– That has been so all along. There is no change proposed in that respect.
– It is a peculiar state of things that an article which is on the free list as an import should when it has been imported be subject to an Excise duty. That, I should think, is a novelty. We are told that starch can be made from maize, and we know that maize can be imported at a duty of is. 6d. per cental, which is a great deal less than *d. per lb.
– - Starch manufacturers would not import maize and pay a duty on it when they could import rice free of duty for the same purpose.
– Possibly that is so. I think it is a serious question whether we should encumber this industry with an Excise duty at all. In the whole range of Commonwealth manufactures I think there are only ten or twelve which pay Excise duties. I presume that the new protection would apply to the starch industry;, whether an Excise duty is imposed or not.
– It has nothing to do with this Excise.
– I wish to be sure that we are not taking this industry outside the range of the new protection. I do not know whether the honorable member for Mernda has considered the fact that thenew protection principle would - apply to this industry just the same without an Excise duty as with one. *
– We should either impose an Excise duty of id. per lb. on starch made from materials grown in the Commonwealth or take it off starch made from rice.
– Then there would be no inducement to manufacture starch from materials grown in the Common.wealth.
– Exactly ; but rice will be grown in the Commonwealth in sufficiently large quantities within no very long time.
Mr. CARR (Macquarie) ‘[9.32J.- The Ministry have a laudable object in view, as they desire to promote the manufacture of starch from materials grown in the Commonwealth, but it seems to me that their object would be best accomplished by providing that starch made from imported materials should be subject to -an Excise duty of id. per lb., and if made from materials grown in the Commonwealth should be free from Excise duty. The fact that our manufacturers must use rice imported from abroad justifies its free admission for the manufacture of starch; but it does not excuse the Government from taking some steps to encourage the use of materials grown in the Commonwealth in this industry. The honorable member for Parkes spoke of the advantage which maize has at the present time, and his remarks would convey the idea common amongst honorable members of the Opposition, that because there is a duty on imported maize, the price of locally-grown maize must be increased 1 We have combated that argument all along by showing that in the case of primary products a duty is not likely to make the commodity ‘dear, whatever may be the effect of a duty imposed in connexion with secondary products. ;
. -If the honorable member for Moreton will withdraw his amendment, I am prepared to move that the word “rice” be left out, with a view to insert in lieu thereof the words “imported materials.” The item would then read -
Made from imported materials.
Made from materials grown in the Commonwealth.
– I am willing, with the consent of the Committee, to withdraw my amendment.
Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.
– I move -
That the word “ rice “ be left out, with a view to insert in lieu thereof the words “ imported materials.”
– That will not meet the case.
– I think that it will, because it will put them all on the same level. The honorable member contended just now that if paragraph a were limited to starch made from rice, there would be an Excise of1d. per lb. on such starch, while starch made from maize or wheat would be free of Excise.
– Before giving a vote on the amendment, I wish to know how the Committee stand with regard to it. In the early part of the year, some very strong evidence was given in the Victorian Appeal Court about the conditions of the starch industry here, and the rate of wages was fixed at 36s.’ a week. One girl then gave evidence that she was getting 9s. a week for wrapping up electioneering circulars for the honorable member for Mernda. If those are the rates of wages which the industry is going to pay, I am in favour of wiping it out altogether, and will certainly vote for an increase in the Excise. I am sorry that I was out of the chamber when the duty on starch was being discussed, because I intended to give the honorable member for Mernda a roasting in connexion with the evidence to which I have referred, which disclosed a scandalous state of things. Furthermore, the manager of Robert Harper and Company, in a letter to the newspapers, said that the free-trade members of this House had visited the factory, unknown to the management, to get evidence to use in connexion with the consideration of these duties. I asked in this
Chamber whether the members of the Opposition had done so, and they all denied it, and the free-traders of the Labour Party also denied having done so. It was not necessary to go to the factory to get evidence; all that had to be done was to take the Age report of the proceedings in the Appeal Court. I wish to know from the Minister whether this industry will come under his new protection proposals. If it will not, I shall be ready to wipe it out, even if I have to stay here for a week.
– I think that it will come under the new protection proposals.
– In reference to the objection of the honorable member for Mernda to the words, “ made from materials grown in the Commonwealth,” it will be seen that starch made from such materials has not to pay Excise. These wordswere adopted to give an inducement to manufacturers to use local materials, and I did not think that objection would be taken to them, even by the manufacturers of starch. I do not know the details of that industry, but I thought that Australian materials could be used by manufacturers.
– The manufacture of starch from rice is a different process from its manufacture from other materials.
– I thought that the adoption of those words would not only induce starch manufacturers to use materials grown in the Commonwealth, instead of imported materials, but would also encourage the production of rice in Australia. I cannot see any objection to them. If starch can be manufactured from materials grown in Australia, whether rice, maize, wheat, potatoes or anything else, and such starch is free of Excise, the adoption of these words must confer a benefit on the local manufacturers of starch.
– The manufacturers say that they wish to make the best article.
– They say that the best starch is made from rice, and if we grow rice in Australia, surely as good starch can be made from it as from the imported rice. This is wholly a protectionist proposal, and it will require very good arguments to induce me’ to withdraw it. I do not wish to be stubborn ; but I have not yet heard any good reason why starch manufacturers should not be glad to have this provision.
Mr. HARPER (Mernda) [9.44)- I am glad that, the Minister is open to argument upon this, point, and has admitted that he has not much knowledge of the manufacture of starch. Starch may be produced from rice, maize, or wheat; but the processes of production differ, and it would handicap the industry to impose a tax of id. per lb. on starch produced from rice. To produce starch from other material will require altogether new machinery. To require persons engaged in an industry which has been built up with the. encouragement of a duty of id. per lb. to purchase new machinery, and to engage in another process of manufacture, would be an extraordinary proceeding. I can only assume that in making this proposal the Minister did not understand the minutiae of the business. I think that paragraph b ought to be omitted.
– Cannot starch be made from maize?
– In this country only edible starch is made from maize, and the duty on that is 2d. per lb.
– Does the honorable member suggest that the Excise duty on starch be omitted ?
– No; I suggest that paragraph b should be omitted, and if honorable members like, they can add the words “or other materials” to paragraph a.
– Mr. Chairman, I did not understand - and I think that several other members did not understand- the question as you put it to the Committee just now. In order to test the feeling of the Committee, I move -
Th.it after the word “rice,” paragraph a, the words “ or other materials, imported,” be inserted.
– Paragraph a has been agreed to.
– No. I asked for an explanation; but could not get it.
– The honorable member will not submit the same question twice.
– That is a matter for the Chairman-, and not for the Minister, to determine. I am submitting this amendment in order to ascertain whether the Committee does not think .that all starches, whether made from wheat, maize, or rice, should be put on a par.
– Why use the word “rice” it all?
– Because that word has been retained in the paragraph, and, therefore/ I cannot now get it out. In the last division, I thought that the Committee had determined the other way.
– I thought that the honorable member’s amendment was carried.
– You, sir, will now observe that two or three honorable members thought that my amendment was carried. There was so much conversation going on that what really took place was not understood. You, sir, put the question as to whether the word “rice” should be omitted, with a view to inserting certain words, and I, and several other honorable members, understood that it was omitted, but it appears that you took it that the Committee decided that it should remain. I now propose the insertion after the word “rice” of the words “or other materials, imported.”
– Why not put in the words “imported materials “ ?
– Because the word “ rice “ may not now be imported.
.- There vas no distinction made between different starches in the last Tariff, and I do not think that a distinction should be made in this Tariff. How can the Commonwealth superintend the work in the various factories without incurring a lot of expense: If it is -desirable to prevent rice being imported for the manufacture of starch, let us impose a duty for that purpose, but do not let us have inspectors going into every factory, large or small, to see whether starch is being made from imported rice or materials grown in the Commonwealth. If we have done wrong in the past,’ do not let us do wrong in the future. Let us try to save expense if possible. I believe that it would be very difficult for ah officer to enter a factory and distinguish between starch made from imported rice and starch made from local products. When an Excise duty is levied upon the products of a factory the position is quite different. I intend to support the omission of the word “ free.”- , .
.- If the Minister had allowed the Excise duty on starch to remain as it was in the old Tariff - id. a lb. all round - it would have answered every purpose. ‘
– The honorable member, knows that the fact that there was an Excise duty of id. per lb. -was an- argument in support of the Customs duty.
– I admit that. Probably if there had not been an Excise duty the import duty would not have been fixed as it was. This afternoon I asked that there should be no differentiation in connexion with the factories. I suggested that if a factory were engaged in making starch from various materials it should be allowed to do so, and that a manufacturer should not be allowed to make starch from one material in one factory and from rice in another factory. I hope that the Minister will agree to adopt practically one line and so let us get on with items which are more important. I am informed by a firm of manufacturers in my electorate - Lewis and Whitty - that if the two lines are allowed to stand, their machinery which was made for the production of rice starch will become obsolete. The manufacturers say that locally-grown materials, if used, would produce an inferior starch. If they desire to make the best quality they should be commended, and Parliament should not place any obstacle in their way. I hope that the Minister will agree to an amendment if moved or move an amendment to leave the Excise on starch precisely as it was in the old Tariff, namely, rd. per lb. all round.
.- If we had needed an argument for carrying the amendment of the honorable member for Parkes it has been supplied by the honorable member for Yarra, because he has urged that if the manufacturers of starch used any material other than rice their machinery would become obsolete. He considers that, he is a strong protectionist, but what has he to say about the interests of primary producers who grow potatoes, maize, wheat, and other starch-producing articles? He has no primary producers of that kind in his constituency, and therefore they do not concern him one iota. Nor does the primary producer concern the honorable member for Mernda so long as he can get his own purse well filled, and can take what he can out of the pockets of the people, and out of the pockets of his employes too. The primary producer does not concern that honorable member a bit. That is the’ principal argument why in my estimation the amendment of the honorable member for Parkes should be agreed to.
.- It is very unfortunate that the honorable member for Mernda is rich, and therefore has these envious attacks made upon him. I am sorry that the personal element has been introduced. On the other hand, I think that the main attitude which the honorable member for Maranoa has taken up is quite right. If the manufacturers are not ready when the occasion arises to give a preference to Australian articles they are taking a very selfish view, which is not satisfactory to those of us who want to encourage all forms of Australian production.
– They will use the rice if it is grown here.
– There are other articles which can be grown here. The Minister has mentioned three or four articles which may be used in the manufacture of starch.’ If by means of a preference we can induce the manufacturers to use an Australian product, it is only right that we should do so. The amendment moved by the honorable member for Maranoa will be the means of causing Australian products to be used by manufacturers who are heavily protected, and I shall therefore support it. If manufacturers alone were to be protected by this Tariff, many honorable members would not be prepared to support it. Our desire in encouraging our manufactories is that they should also improve the position of those engaged in primary industries by causing an increased demand for the raw material which they produce.
.- I am in sympathy with the object which the Treasurer has in view in separating these items. It should be our desire to see Australian products used, as far as possible, in Australian manufactures ; but, since both sections of the Tariff Commission are agreed as to the position we should take up, I cannot see why ,we should depart from the proposal previously made. It would be far better to have one consistent Excise duty. We are now face to face with one of the complications’ that arise where an Excise duty is not imposed for purely revenue purposes, and where the object in view could better be met by a proper adjustment _of the Customs duty. [ should have preferred the imposition of a lower Customs duty without any Excise.
– We shall get about £27,000 per annum out of this. We do not expect to obtain more revenue from the adoption of this proposal. The return 0 will be slightly less.
– Tt will not be much less, I see no great object to be gained by the adoption of the course proposed by the honorable member for Parkes.
– Starch makers are not likely to use imported cereals, since they would have to pay import duties upon them.
– I think that we should obtain a larger revenue by having only one item of Excise applying to all the material used.
.- I am unable to follow the reasoning of protectionists who ask for a uniform Excise duty upon this article. One of the objects of a protectionist Tariff is to assist the primary producers as well as the manufacturers of Australia. We have given more than reasonable consideration to the starch manufacturers by the admission of rice free from the imposition of Customs duty. We have now a proposal that starch made from rice shall pay an Excise duty of id. per lb., and that starch made from materials grown within the Commonwealth shall be free of Excise. The adoption of that proposal will offer a reasonable inducement to the local starch manufacturers to seek for raw material other than rice that can be produced in Australia. That is certainly desirable. The argument advanced against this proposal, primarily by the honorable member for Yarra, and supported by the honorable member for Mernda, that certain machinery would be put out of use by its adoption, offers no sufficient reason for failing to avail ourselves of an opportunity to encourage the primary producers of Australia to supply the raw material for this industry, instead of our having to import rice for the purpose. The best means of securing the object that I have in view is that of standing by the proposal in the form submitted in the printed schedule.
Question - That after the word “ rice “ the words “or other materials, imported,” (Mr. Bruce Smith’s amendment) be inserted - put. The Committee divided.
Question so resolved in the negative.
Amendment negatived. Mr. PAGE (Maranoa) [10.7].- After the last division, I am quite satisfied as to the attitude of the Government towards the primary producers of this country. It appears to me that the man on the land is to have no consideration whatever. In Melbourne, where the Treasurer is surrounded by wealthy manufacturers, they can get his ear and the ear of his officers. But the farmers and producers, who are not present to give him the tip, cannot get any protection. All that the amendment of the honorable member for. Parkes meant was to give the starch manufacturers their rice free and to limit the Excise to any other material. We know from the evidence given before the Appeal Board in Melbourne how badly the starch manufacturers want protection ! If I had my way with them, they would get very little of it. I would shut every one of them up to-morrow, considering the wages they are paying. What do they care about the miserable hovels in which the employes live, as shown in the Lone Hani, so long as they can maintain their own palatial establishments? If the Government will not yield to the extent of giving the primary producer some protection, they will receive very little support from me in the future.
– Many honorable members have expressed a desire to see this Excise duty of id. put upon starch of all kinds made in the Commonwealth, whether from materials imported or from materials grown in Australia. I propose to test the feeling of the Committee upon that point by an amendment, the effect of which will be to put starch upon the same footing as it occupied under the last Tariff, where there was no differentiation at all. I propose to impose an Excise duty of id. per lb. upon starch, no matter from what it is made. An honorable member, prior to the last division, asked me why we should have an Excise duty at all. I point out that when we were discussing the Customs duty, the Committee was told that the manufacturers had to pay id. Excise under a subsequent part of the Tariff, and that, therefore, the duty under consideration could not be dealt with without taking the Excise into consideration. A number of other honorable members- have shown a desire to impose an Excise of id. indiscriminately. I am prepared to join in that direction. We must remember that we are now considering the revenue of the country. We have given a high duty to the manufacturers of starch upon the supposition that they were going to pay an Excise of id. per lb. upon all that they manufactured. I propose that we should look after the revenue by making this Excise duty operate irrespective of the material. I therefore propose to move -
That after the word “ rice “ the following words be inserted - “ or other materials.”
If the’ amendment is carried, I shall move to strike out the subsequent words. There are two ways in which what I desire could be done ; one is to insert after the word “rice” the words “or other materials,” and then to move to strike but the whole of paragraph b, or to now move that paragraph b be omitted.
– I point out that I can accept the amendment which the honorable member has indicated, but if he moves to omit paragraph b he will not be in order.
– I should have preferred to impose a duty of id. per lb., and to have no Excise. In mv opinion, we made a mistake five years ago in adopting an Excise as against the original proposal for a simple import’ duty. However, as we have adopted an Excise, it seems that the differentiation between starch made from rice and starch made from other agricultural products gives an opportunity to assist our local primary producer, as suggested by the honorable member for Maranoa. The amendment just disposed of did not appeal to me as. likely to achieve anything, because an import duty of is. 9d. a cental is imposed on cereals, and also on potatoes from abroad, so that it is not probable that these materials would be used by any local starch- makers in view of the additional Excise duty. But the proposal which the Government have now placed before us does give a preference to the local grower of cereals or potatoes as against imported rice. I do not pretend to know anything of technical details, but I think we ought to give some encouragement, by means of a differentiation, of duty, to the manufacturers of starch from our own raw material.
– The honorable member for Maranoa made what I regard as quite an unprovoked attack on me just now. I do not know what the honorable member thought he was voting for; but, at any rate, he was not voting to protect the -primary producer.
– What else was I voting for?
– The honorable member was voting to exactly the opposite effect ; and I shall test the honorable member when we come to deal with paragraph b. What. I am concerned with is the protection of the primary producer, and not the insignificant point raised by -the honorable member. Does the honorable member suppose that those who manufacture starch will import anything else but rice, in view of the fact that there is a duty on maize and all other similar material ? It was blank cartridge which was fired by the honorable member for Parkes. My desire is to see the primary producer protected. The question is not whether the industry of starch making can be carried on with the machinery that is here ; the question is whether we ought to encourage the production of raw material of some kind from which starch may be produced. The proposal I submit is consistent with the principle I have always advocated, but if the Committee do not choose to accept it, well, the matter is not of supreme importance. The revenue cannot amount to much, because there is not much starch made ‘from any material grown in Australia. But the duty is proposed with a view to induce persons to grow rice for the purposes of the industry. This is not a revenue duty, but. absolutely the reverse, and must be regarded as a means of developing the production of our own ra,w materials.
– Mr. Chairman, I did not quite understand your reply to my question. My object is to invite the Committee to charge the Excise duty on all manufactured starch.. I should like to know whether I can attain my object by moving the insertion after the word “ rice1’ of the words “or any other materials,”with a view to subsequently omitting paragraph b, or whether I ought to move the omission of paragraph b now?
– If the honorable member were to move to omit paragraph b, and make the Excise duty id. per lb. all round, the effect would be to increase the duty ; therefore, the honorable member would not be in order in submitting such an amendment.
.- In reply to the Treasurer, I may say that I consider I was on safe ground in saying what I did about the amendment of the honorable member for Parkes. I am still of opinion that that amendment would, if carried, have protected the primary producer, so far as importations were concerned, because the words “ or other material imported “ covers the whole range of anything from which starch could be made.
– But those materials are all subject to duty now.
– After the explanation of the Treasurer, I am satisfied that paragraph b will safeguard the primary producer, though not to the same extent as the amendment would have done.
– Mr. Chairman, you said just now that my amendment would have the effect of increasing taxation. I ask you to notice, sir, that this is an Excise duty. ,
– It is impossible to hear what the honorable member for Parkes is saying. This is due not so much to the conversations that are going on, as to the fact that the honorable member is carrying on a sort of sotto voce conversation with you, Mr. Chairman. That is very unfair to the rest of the Committee.
– If there has been any difficulty in hearing what I have said, it is not because I have not spoken audibly, but because about twenty gentlemen are attempting to speak at the same time. I stopped for a few minutes because of a sort of symposium that was taking place in the Opposition corner. The sort of chorus that is going on all over the chamber has become a habit with the Committee. If you, Mr. Chairman, rule that my amendment would have the effect of increasing taxation, and would therefore be out of order, I will not press it.
– I have ruled all through that no private member can move any amendment that will have the effect of increasing duties. The honorable member for Parkes, in moving that this paragraph be omitted, would practically be moving for an increase of the burden upon the people.
– Honorable members can compass what they want by voting’ against paragraph b. If it is negatived
– It will be necessary to alter paragraph a also, because that refers only to rice.
– Nothing but rice is used.
.- The simplest plan would be to strike out paragraphs a and b, and leave the item in the following form, “ Starch, per lb., id.” That is how it stood in the previous Tariff.
Colonel Foxton. - We cannot alter the first paragraph, because we had a division on it.
– I was not aware that we had voted on the first paragraph. Is it not competent for the Committee to leave out paragraphs a and b?
– I have no control over the votes of the Committee. If the Committee so desires, it can negative the whole item.
– Should I be in order in moving the addition’ of the words, “ and in factories where the wages do not average 40s. weekly for all, employes, 2d.”?
– Such an amendment would not be in order.
– I am not going to withdraw from the position which I have taken up, but if the Committee strike out paragraph b as an indication that all starch is to be liable to the Excise duty of id., I will undertake to insert the necessary words, because no one but a Minister can move in that direction.
– Does the Treasurer mean to strike out paragraph b?
– If the Committee do so, I will undertake to move that all starch be liable to the Excise duty of id.
.- We have already decided to admit rice for making starch free. The effect of striking out paragraph b’ would be to bring imported rice, which is free of duty, into competition with our primary products.
– The rice is not free, but is admitted under supervision, and goes straight into the factories.
– If we admit rice for starch making free, and impose an Excise duty on starch made from all materials,, we shall be bringing Chinese rice into competition with our maize and other cereals from which starch can be made. I voted to admit rice free for starch making, because I had in my mind the fact that we were going to impose an Excise duty of id. per lb. on starch made from rice. The Minister would do better if he stood firm instead of suggesting that the Committee -should negative paragraph b.
– I have not made that suggestion. I showed a way out of the difficulty if the Committee wished to make the Excise duty id. all round.
.- I understand that the honorable member for Maranoa has asked whether he would be in order in moving the following addition to this item: -
I submit that if he moved that the following paragraph be added : -
– I would point out to the honorable member that if I were to accept an amendment such as he has outlined, every honorable member would be at liberty to bring forward any proposal which he might desire to tack on to the Tariff. That would lead to endless discussion and finality would be impossible. Under the circumstances I rule that the suggested amendment would not be in order.
.- I submit that you, sir, cannot limit the Committee’s power to state that it grants exemption’ from the payment of Excise only upon certain conditions. I therefore desire to move as a limitation to the grant that we make to the Crown the insertion of the following new paragraph - c) Made from rice in factories where the wages of all employes average £2 weekly, free.
I submit that it is perfectly competent for us to discriminate in favour of those factories which pay their employes reasonable wages.
– I would point out that I cannot possibly accept the amendment. If I were to do so it would be quite in order for another honorable member to propose the addition of an adden-dum such as “ This duty] shall not be collected until such time as the Government bring down a Land Tax Bill.” Under resolutions of this kind, it is not possible to include certain conditions which ought properly to be included in a Bill.
– Do I understand, sir, that you reject the amendment?
– The .honorable member will not be in order in moving it.
Item agreed to.
Amylic Alcohol and fusel oil, per gallon, 12s.
– As. my proposal has been’ ruled out of order and also that of the honorable member for Corio, I wish to say that I shall deal with the question of starch pretty fully when the new protection scheme of the Government is under consideration.
Item agreed to.
Saccharine and other similar substitutes for sugar, per lb., ^5.
– The Government ‘propose to levy almost a prohibitive duty upon this item. Saccharine, when used for medicinal purposes, is admitted free. Whilst I do not wish to see anything imported which is of an injurious nature I do not think that we ought to’ prohibit the importation of saccharine simply because it is used as a substitute for sugar. The individual who uses it medicinally upon every occasion that he drinks tea or coffee consumes more than does the individual who drinks it in aerated waters ; but we are allowing the one- and preventing the’ other. I am not prepared to say whether or not the use of saccharine is injurious. I know that doctors frequently recommend it. If its use is injurious the Government should prevent its local production, and an Excise duty of ^5 per lb., although it is a very heavy impost may not be’ absolutely prohibitive in an article of this kind.
– Its import has been prohibited and as an Excise of ?5 per lb. is levied no local manufacturer would be likely to undertake its production.
– The most direct way would be to prohibit the manufacture. I should like to know whether the Minister is satisfied that the article is so injurious to health that its importation and manufacture ought to be prohibited, or whether this duty is proposed because its manufacture would be an interference with sugar. If it were only interference with sugar, I should be prepared to move that it should not be prohibited, but if the officers of the .Customs Department have come to the conclusion that the article is absolutely injurious to health, I would not raise the question.
.- In the case of every other item in connexion with which an Excise duty is imposed, the Committee has dealt with the import duty first. I know that the honorable members for Grey and Boothby, and, I think, the honorable member for Angas also, were waiting for this item when we were dealing with the item sugar. I believe that the Minister, at the time, said that he would take it in connexion with item 278. I think he would do well to postpone this item until we have dealt with - the import duty under item 278.
– What the honorable member has said is quite correct. I was not aware that honorable members who desired to discuss this item were absent. If the honorable member for North Sydney will look at item 278, he will find that saccharine is included under “ Drugs and Chemicals,” and is dutiable at 30s. per lb. The importation of the article is not desirable, except for medicinal purposes. This is the recommendation of the Tariff Commission, who were very strongly against the use of the article except for medicinal purposes. This Excise duty of -?5 is really a prohibitive duty. As I remember that some honorable members referred to it previously, and I said I would have it discussed in connexion with item 278, I now move -
That the item be postponed until the import duties have been dealt with.
Motion agreed to; item postponed. Progress reported.
Sir WILLIAM LYNE laid upon the table the following paper -
Banking Returns of the various States of the Commonwealth and New Zealand for the quarter ended 30th June, 1907.
The Clerk laid upon the table
Northern Territory - Particulars as to Holders of Alienated Lands, &?. - Return to an Order of the House, dated nth July, 1907.
Motion (by Sir William Lyne) proposed -
That the House do now adjourn.
– I do not wish to detain honorable members, as this is Tuesday night, but T wish to call the attention of the -Minister of Trade and Customs to a reply which I received to-day in connexion with the agricultural implement industry. I have brought several specific cases before the Minister, but, so far as I can gather, nothing has been done.
– Why does not the honorable member do something?
– Will the honorable member for Corangamite suggest something effective?
-; - The honorable member can insist that the Minister shall collect the Excise.
– I do not know what the law really provides, but Parliament should be informed of the legal position. We should be told whether the Minister can or cannot carry out the provisions of the Act. If he cannot,, he is not to be blamed because nothing so far has been done, and Parliament will be to blame if it does not pass an amending law. But the present condition of affairs is unjust to both employes and those manufacturers who are paying reasonable wages. I hope that the Minister will tell us why he is not collecting Excise from manufacturers who are not paying reasonable rates. The irritation and dissatisfaction which have existed for so many months should not be allowed to continue.
– I* is easy for the honorable member for Hindmarsh to make statements and to talk at large about what ought to be done-
– As Ministers themselves did when introducing the Bill.
– We know how little sympathy the honorable member for Parramatta has with this legislation.
– I know what humbug the Ministers practise.
– When the honorable member does, not agree’ with anything that is being done by the Ministry, he says that it is humbug.
– The Minister should not get off the track. Let him answer the honorable member for Hindmarsh.
– He has .lived on humbug for a long time, but it cannot continue much longer.
– I advise the honorable member for Parramatta to take pills to cure his biliousness.
– I have heard the Minister say that before.
– And I have heard the honorable member say before that the Government has . lived on humbug. I am as anxious as is the honorable member for Hindmarsh_ that effect shall be given to the. Act, but let us see how the case stands. ‘ Certain ‘ manufacturers applied for exemption, which was granted to them by a properly constituted Court. Until we have definite proof that they are evading the -provisions of the Act, how can we demand Excise from them?
– Has it not been proved over and over again that they are not paying the proper rates of wages? The honorable member’ for Hindmarsh has brought forward specific cases.
– The statement has been made that some manufacturers are evading the provisions of the Act, but in due course I shall show chat every step has been taken to try to ascertain whether that is so.
– If the Excise is charged, they will be bound to prove that they have not evaded the provisions of the Act
– The Court has granted exemptions to these manufacturers, and therefore we cannot obtain Excise from them until we can prove that they are evading the provisions of the Act.
– The exemptions were [granted conditionally. ‘
– The Act provided that manufacturers could obtain exemption on satisfying the Court that they were paying certain wages. They have done that, and have obtained, exemption, which they consider equivalent to a receipt for the Excise. The honorable member complains, probably with reason, that they are now evading the Act, and we are trying, to ascertain if that is so. We must satisfy ourselves on the point, but there has been no loss of time in endeavouring to do so. If it can be proved to the Department that the Act is being evaded,, every possible means will be taken to enforce its observance.
– And, if necessary, an amending Bill must be brought in.
– If the Act is found to be faulty, the Treasurer proposes to bring forward an amending Bill, which will enable us to do what we are just as anxious as is the honorable member to have done.
– What proof does the Department want?
– We must have ample proof before we can set aside the decision of the Court.
– After the amending Bill has been passed, another Bill will be necessary to amend it.
– I understand the honorable member’s interjections. He is unsympathetic, and would like to cause trouble; The manufacturers - whether of harvesters or of other things - who obtained concessions from Parliament on condition that they would pay reasonable wages, will get fair play from us, but no more. If some of them- are not paying proper wages, we shall do our level best to make them.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
House adjourned at 10.56 p.m.
Cite as: Australia, House of Representatives, Debates, 5 November 1907, viewed 6 July 2017, <http://historichansard.net/hofreps/1907/19071105_reps_3_41/>.