3rd Parliament · 2nd Session
Mr. Speaker took the chair at 2.30 p.m., and read prayers.
Mr. POYNTON presented a petition from certain music teachers of South Australia, praying the House not to alter the old duty on pianos.
asked the Minister of Defence, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are. as follow -
In 1902 the Government of the day decided that the status and rank gained by officers on active service should only be regarded as honorary rank, so that to obtain substantive rank officers would have to pass the prescribed examinations as required by the Defence Act. It might justifiably have been urged that officers should have been permitted to retain the rank obtained on active service without being required to passa further examination. This, however, was not done, and’ it is especially difficult to make any alteration now, as the procedure adopted in 1902 has been followed since. Many officers have submitted themselves to examination, and obtained the promotion in the ordinary way, i.e., by examination, while others have not.
The matter will be further inquired into.
– Some have been permitted to retain their honorary rank, while others have not.
– There have been three special cases. I agree with the honorable member for Parramatta that some recognition of service should be made, but what was done happened some years ago, and I find it very difficult to arrive at a reasonable solution of the difficulty.
asked the Minister of Trade and Customs, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follow -
asked the Postmaster-General, upon notice -
Mr.MAUGER.- Inquiries are being made, and the desired information will be furnished as early as possible.
In Committee of Ways and Means (Consideration resumed from 5th November, vide page 5558):
Division V. - Textiles, Felts and Furs, and Manufactures thereof and Attire.
Item 106. Apparel and Attire - woollen or silk or containing wool or silk - partly or wholly made up; including articles cut into shape, ad val. (General Tariff), 45 per cent., (United Kingdom), 40 per cent.
.- I desire to make the Tariff on these goods which are the manufacture of the United Kingdom, 27½ per cent., and on all other importations 30 per cent. ; but as I wish to save time, I move, without discussing the question. -
That after the words “45 per cent.” the words “ and on and after 7th November, 1907 (General Tariff) 30 per cent.” be inserted.
.-I would point out that, although the making of articles of apparel and attire such as come within the scope of item 106, is an industry which employs a large number of persons, only two witnesses connected with it came before the Tariff Commission, neither in a representative capacity. They were both Victorian manufacturers, one being a maker of mantles and costumes, and the other a maker of ready-made suits for boys and men, and they use materials supplied by the wholesale houses. The fact that there is a large number of manufacturers in this industry, and that only two of them came before the Commission to complain of the old Tariff, cannot be disregarded by the Committee. The Treasurer ought to give us an explanation of the Government proposals. The highest rate of duty that was asked for by any one was only 40 per cent. upon importations generally, but the Treasurer proposes to put a duty of 45 per cent. on general importations, and of 40 per cent. on importations from the United Kingdom. It was alleged that the importations of the class of goods which come within the scope of the item have been increasing, but statistics do not bear out that statement. As a matter of fact, comparing 1906 with 1 90 1, there has been a considerable reduction in the oversea importations, and a large increase in the numberof hands employed in the industry. In Victoria, in 1900, the number of hands employed was 5,601;in 1901, 5,456; in 1902, 5,596; in 1903, 5,490; in1904, 5,845 ; and in 1905 - the last year for which figures are available - 6,113. These figures do not show that the industry is waning, but rather that it is growing. One of the reasons why some of the Victorian manufacturers have felt dissatisfied is that the inter-State transfers have increased. In 1890, New South Wales sent to the other States only £2,607 worth of apparel, while in. 1904 - the last year for whichstatistics were available to the Tariff Commission - she sent £83,684 worth, part of which came to Victoria. Of course, at the same time, Victoria has been increasing her transfers to the other States. In 1899,. those transfers were worth £119,875, and in 1904 they had increased to £382,000 worth. I hope that the Treasurer will be able to furnish us with the latest statistics with regard to inter-State transfers.
– Why does the honorable member want them? They are a matter for the Budget.
– If it can be shown that the transfers from Victoria to the other States have increased, thereasonable deduction will be that the Victorian industry, instead of waning, is flourishing and prosperous. At first sight it would appear that there was a decrease in the number of hands employed in the industry in 1 901 as compared with 1900, but the report of the Chief Inspector of Factories of Victoria shows that in 1901 the underclothing trade was separated from the clothing trade in the official returns, so that there was really a large expansion of the industry. It is to be regretted that a mistake, which was made in respect of this change, in connexion with the examination of one of the witnesses before the Tariff Commission should have been quoted by the Chairman in support of the assertion that the industry in Victoria is waning. I would further point out that the high duties which prevailed under the Victorian Tariff did not result in additional employment. In 1891, 1892, and 1893, when high duties prevailed in Victoria, the number of hands employed was less than the number engaged in the industry under the comparatively low duties of the first Federal Tariff. In 1890, when there was a duty of 44 per cent, in operation, 1,417 males and 4,7°° females, or a total of 6,117 operatives were employed in the clothing trade in Victoria. In 189 l, with the same rate of duty prevailing, there were only 1,150 males and 3,209 females, or a total’ of 4.359 employed. In 1892, with a duty of 55 per cent, in operation, there were 987 males and 3,581 females, or a total of 4,568 operatives, so that under the higher duty there was a very serious decrease in the number of male operatives employed in the industry. In other words, it would appear that the higher the duty the smaller the number of males employed. In 1893, with a duty of 55 per cent, still in operation in Victoria, there were 716 males and 3,523 females, or a total of 4>239 operatives.
– What was the total increase in both cases?
– In 1890, with a duty of 44 per cent., 6,117 operatives were employed, and in 389t, under the same rate of duty, there were 4,359 employes in the industry. In 1892, with a duty of 55 per cent., there were 4,568, while in 1893, under the same duty, there were 4,239.
– That was the year of the bank smashes.
– In 1898, with a duty of 38J per cent, there were 1,292 males and 5,246 females, or a total of 6,538 ; in 1899, under the same duty, 1,288 males and d.642 females, or a total of 5,930. In 1903, under the Federal duty of 27^ per cent., the number of males increased to 1,724, whilst 5,241 females were employed, or a total of 6,965. Last year there were 1,827 males and 5,840 females, or a total of 7,667, the highest number of operatives employed during the years I have mentioned.
– Then the honorable member suggests that if we placed thisitem on the free list more employment would be given?
– I make, no such suggestion. I am pointing out that under the comparatively lower duties of the old Federal Tariff there were more male operatives than were employed under the higher duties of the Victorian Tariff.
– The years 1891, 1892, and1 1893 were the very worst years for business that Victoria has experienced. They were the years of the bank smashes.
– But what about the* returns for 1890? In 1892 and 1893 there was a duty of 55 per cent, in operation,, and prior to 1892 there was a duty of 44 per cent. I admit that the collapse of the boom was largely responsible for the falling off of employment in these industries, but it led to the development of the dairying industry, which has to a very large extent brought back that prosperity which we hope Victoria will long enjoy.
– The boom began to break in 1892, but did not collapse until 1893.
– The figures I have quoted relate to employment in the clothing industry. I now propose to give statistics as to the number of hands employed in other industries to which this item relates. In the corset-making trade in Victoria, in 1900, 42 females were employed, whilst in 1906 there were 34 females employed. In the making of dresses, mantles, millinery, and ladies’ underclothing, there were 88 males and 6,668 females employed in 1900, whilst in 1906 there were 132 males and 10,725 females employed. In the hosiery trade there were 35 males and 15 females employed in 1900, whilst in 1906, there were 29 males and 393 females in the industry. In the shirt-making industry in 1900, there were 60 males and 883 females as against 70 males and 1.255 females in 1 906:. whilst in the making of ties and cravats there were 5 males and 116 females employed in 1900. as against 1.1 males and 228 females in 1906. The total number of operatives engaged in 1900 in the several industries to which this item relates was I3)5I3 as against 19,129 in 1906, or an increase of 5,61.6. In these circumstances,, surely no one can say that the industry in Victoria - from which complaints have chiefly come - requires further protection than it enjoyed under the first Federal Tariff. On the contrary, the figures I have quoted show that the Committee would be justified in reducing the duties.
.- I intend to support the amendment. I notice that the collections under the 25 per cent, rate last year amounted to ^362,000, and
I would remind the Committee that we have in this case another illustration of the hypocrisy of the preferential trade proposals of the Government. Out of a total importation of £1,450,000in respect of goods coming within this item a little over £1, 080,000 worth come direct from the United Kingdom, and the Ministry show their love for the Mother Country, by increasing the duty on imports from the United Kingdom by 15 per cent.
– But there is a preference of5 per cent. in favour of imports from Great Britain.
– The Government have added four bricks to the Tariff wall and have removed one so far as imports from the United Kingdom are concerned. That is a preference which the people of Great Britain do not greatly appreciate. This duty must necessarily penalize thousands and thousands of consumers for some years, until the local output will be equal to the demand.
– We have enough factories to produce at a reasonable price all that we require.
– We shall not produce for some time all that we require.
– There are factories lying idle in Victoria.
– That is nonsense.
The Tariff Commission failed to discover any.
– Every clothing factory in Victoria can obtain as much work as it can carry out.
– I suppose that it would be impossible to induce the Government to re-arrange the item. The trade generally complain of the way in which the different items are set out in this part of the schedule. The unanimous opinion of a large meeting of those interested in the trade in South Australia is that this Tariff is more complicated from the point of view of administration than any Tariff hitherto in operation in that State. The inconvenience is experienced in connexion with clearances, and so forth ; and it is urged that there ought to be a re-arrangement of the items under different headings. Through lack of business knowledge the Customs authorities do not appear to have fully appreciated the difficulties which arise from the present arrangement of the items ; and greater simplicity is required. I suppose that this item will, more than any other, affect the dwellers in the bush and country districts, who, necessarily, have to wear made-up apparel. The local output is not anything like equal to the demand, and the consumer will now have to pay 40 per cent. plus business charges, seeing that the great bulk of the goods come from the United Kingdom. One effect of a high duty of this kind is to greatly increase retail prices, or to lead to the substitution of shoddy, not only by importers, but by local manufacturers. I hope the Committee will show some consideration for that large section of the community who, of necessity, purchase madeup apparel. Of course, it is unfortunate that people have to wear clothes at all, but there is the fact ; and I venture to say that the coming winter, not only in regard to clothing, but also in regard to foods, will be felt very severely as a result of the Tariff. Such a duty as that proposed shows very little consideration on the part of the Government for the comfort and wellbeing of the people.
– I wish the honorable member had as much consideration for the people as I have.
– The only person for whom the Treasurer seems to have any consideration is the manufacturer waiting on the doorstep; the producer or the consumer is quite disregarded so far as the Tariff is concerned, as is generally acknowledged throughout the country.
– The honorable member knows perfectly well that that is not true.
– There never was a measure more crudely presented to the House, and never was a Minister more insolent than is the Treasurer in his” presentation of it.
– “ Bullocking !”
– Yes, the Treasurer is simply “ bullocking “ the Tariff through. He knows that he has the numbers, and he will have the Tariff passed whether it be right or wrong. Thank God, I am not under the whip of the Minister. I would not be responsible for this Tariff, even for my seat in this House, much as I value the latter.
– I am delighted that I am responsible for the Tariff.
– The Treasurer has nothing to be proud about, unless, of course, he takes a pleasure in penalizing the unfortunate public. I have no hesitation in saying that this is altogether a town Tariff, and that the country interests have in no way been considered.
– Does the Treasurer not represent a country district?
– Apparently he does not.
– It was said for a very long time that I do.
– At any rate, I know one duty which the Treasurer was very pleased to get rid of, although he himself proposed it.
– What was that?
– The duty on wirenetting.
– The honorable member’s statement is absolutely incorrect, and he has no right to make it.
– Order !
– I venture to say that a number of other items in the Tariff will not be appreciated by the Treasurer’s constituents so much as he at present seems to think.
– What has all this to do with the item of apparel?
– I have a perfect right to express an opinion ; I am not one who sits on the coat tails of the Ministry, as the honorable member does.
– That is not true.
– The Government have only to crack the whip, and some honorable members follow like - I shall not say what. This duty cannot be justified, and no attempt has been made by the Treasurer to justify it. I shall support the reduction of the duties to 30 per cent. and 27½ per cent., which, in itself, is an increase on the old Tariff.
.- It is refreshing to find some honorable members remembering that there are such people as consumers. The honorable member for Maranoa and others have shearers amongst their constituents ; and I should like to ask those honorable members what protection men so engaged will have under this Tariff. There are some 13,000 people, men and women, engaged in the Post and Telegraph Department, and there are many thousands engaged in the various Railway Departments, Education Departments, and other Departments of the States ; and I ask what protection are they afforded under these fiscal proposals of the Government? All our attention has lately been given to manufacturers; and, I have taken the trouble to ascertain that out of the total population of Australia of 4,200,000, there are only some 267,000 employed in manufactures.
During the last few weeks, in which we have dealt with some ninety items of the Tariff, we seem to have forgotten to pay any attention to consumers, and have devoted all our consideration to those interested in manufactures. The entire population of the Commonwealth have to pay the extra cost of imported goods in order to find better wages for 267,000 persons.
– The honorable member has changed his opinions since I followed him in dealing with the last Tariff.
– I have in no way changed my opinions. I regret that, at that time, honorable members considered it necessary to impose a duty as high as 25 per cent. on apparel. Before that time, in most of the States, the maximum duty had been 20 per cent. ; and yet, under the increased duty of 25 per cent., we have not found any decrease in the imports, which,on the contrary, have, during the last seven years, increased year by year.
– Hear, hear; that is what the imports should not have done.
– Whatever duties may be imposed on textiles and apparel, importations cannot possibly be prohibited. It is certainly time that we had some practical man to deal with Tariff proposals of the kind before us; we ought not to permit a frenzied leap in the dark. My firm opinion is that, even under the Tariff proposed by the Minister, if it be passed, textiles and apparel will continue to be imported as heretofore, and that there really will be no opportunity presented for developing their manufacture in Australia. Honorable members ought to consider how little there is of the garments we are wearing at the present time manufactured in Australia, and how little it is possible to have manufactured here within the generation to which we belong.
– It is utterly impossible within the present generation to manufacture in Australia the class of textiles which most of us in this Chamber are now wearing.
– They are manufactured in Australia now.
– Undoubtedly textiles are manufactured in the woollen mills of Tasmania and Victoria -
– And in Sydney, the best of all are manufactured.
– But most of the textiles manufactured in Australia are of one pattern.
– That is not so.
– I know better; and I repeat that the class of textiles which most of us are now wearing, never have been manufactured here, and are not likely to be manufactured here within the present generation.
-I am wearing clothing manufactured by Vicars, in Sydney.
– But the material is imported.
– The denial of the honorable member will not influence practical experienced men. I say that it is impossible in Australia now to weave the yarns which are necessary for the manufacture of garments such as those we are now wearing. There are a few yarns made in Australia, but not a tithe of what are necessary to manufacture goods of the kind. However, all that is beside the question. I find that under the old duty of 25 per cent. imported goods, invoiced at £100, were retailed at £197. I hope honorable members will give their attention to what I regard as a most important fact. Under the operation of the old rate of duty, namely, 25 per cent. it was necessary that the retailer should obtain at the very least £197 for goods of an invoiced value of £100. In other words, apparel and textiles, which in England were worth £100, had to be retailed in the Commonwealth at nearly £200. If we agree to the Government proposal the price of these goods to the consumer will be considerably enhanced. In the first place, we have to recollect the arbitrary provision in the Customs Act under which 10 per cent. is added to the invoice value of goods for Customs purposes. We know perfectly well that so far as apparel and textiles are concerned a charge of 10per cent. upon their invoice value is altogether disproportionate to the cost of importation, although in respect of many articles the cost of importing more nearly approximates 30, 40, and 50 per cent. If we add 10 per cent. to goods of the invoice value of £100, and also levy a duty of 25 per cent. upon them, we shall increase their landed cost to £137 10s. Then it is necessary that the importer shall get at least 15 per cent. upon their value to cover his expenses. This would bring their cost up to£158. As there is no retailer in Sydney or Melbourne who could afford to sell goods for less than 25 per cent. on their cost to him-
– Most of them add 45 per cent. to the cost of goods.
– The retailers must get at least 25 per cent. upon the value of the goods. No retailer can import apparel and textiles, cover his trade expenses and make a profit if he charges less than 25 per cent. upon their value.
– But he could do so if the goods were manufactured here.
– We thus increase the value of£100 worth of goods to £197. Surely an article, the cost of which is increased by nearly 100 per cent. in transit is already sufficiently protected? Do honorable members think it is fair to the consumer that more than 100 per cent. should be added to the invoice value of goods? If that measure of protection be not sufficient the industry is unworthy of our attention. In other words we should be paying too dearly for increasing the number of our mills and the number of our factory employés by adopting the Government proposals. But in addition to the primage of 10 per cent. upon the invoice value of goods to which I have referred, the Treasurer now proposes to levy a charge upon the cost of the cases in which they are imported - a charge which is at least equal to 3 per cent. upon their invoice value. Surely honorable members know that these cases which come from abroad are chiefly used for the purposes of firewood. Certainly none of them are worth one-tenth of their invoice value. Notwithstanding this fact, however, it is seriously proposed to levy an ad valorem rate upon them. It will thus be seen that under this Tariff the landed cost of £100 worth of goods will be increased to £113. If we impose a duty of 40 per cent. upon this item that will represent an additional £45 4s.,thereby increasing the sum to £158 4s. To this the importer’s charge of 15 per cent. has to be added, still further increasing it to £1811s. 7d. The retailer’s charge of 25 per cent. upon this sumand the Treasurer himself admits that an allowance of 25 per cent. in this connexion is altogether too small - would bring the amount up to ^227. That would be the cost of goods of the invoice value of £100 in London, before they reached the consumer. I can personally vouch for these facts, and I ask the Committee once more to reflect where the consumer is considered.
– The honorable member should rather inquire where the distributor is considered.
– The distributors represent a very small proportion of the community. Certainly they do not number 267,000, which is the total number of manufacturers and their employes within the Commonwealth. I am perfectly astounded that the public should sit quietly by and permit this House, almost without protest, to enormously increase the duties even upon the necessaries of life. Before we pursue this course any further we should pause to inquire whether it is necessary for us to do so from the standpoint of revenue, whether the imposition of higher duties will result in increased employment and in the establishment of more factories in our midst, and whether we can manufacture the articles which we are so heavily taxing. The difference between the 25 per cent, duty which was charged under the old Tariff and the 40 ‘ per cent, which it is proposed to levy -upon British goods under this Tariff will represent an increase, not of 15 per cent., out of ,£29 5s. id. per cent. In that respect it resembles the duty which has been imposed upon chairs, and which is unquestionably a monstrous duty. Despite what the Treasurer may say of the possibility of manufacturing these goods in the Commonwealth, practical men affirm that it will .be impossible to manufacture them, no matter what rate of duty we may impose upon them. Under this Tariff every article used by us, from the cradle to the grave, is to be heavily taxed - from the wicker cradle to the wooden coffin. I have always supported a. revenue Tariff, and we have always secured sufficient revenue. In this connexion I think I might emphasize some remarks that I made on a previous occasion - remarks to which exception was taken bv the Treasurer. My observations were based upon returns pre.sented to the House - returns which showed that this Tariff, during the first month of its operation, produced £200,000 more revenue than did the previous Tariff. The second month’s experience of it shows that that increase has been maintained. In other words, the new Tariff will yield approximately ,£2,500,000 more annually than did the old Tariff.
– That increase does not come from the foreigner. .
– It is quite refreshing to hear a Tasmanian representative declare that we are getting too much revenue.
– I am not prepared to support a Tariff which attempts to prohibit imports, but which will utterly fail in its purpose. Not many days ago I challenged the Treasurer’s estimate that this Tariff would yield only an increased revenue of ,£900,000.
– Does the honorable member intend to connect his remarks with the question immediately under consideration?
– Whilst I desire to allow the honorable member the fullest latitude, I would point out that if I permit him to discuss the question of the general finances I shall not be able to prevent any other honorable member from doing so.
– I do not propose to transgress, but I think that I am entitled to call attention to the fact that this Tariff is month by month producing a great deal more revenue than the Treasurer anticipated.
– That is not correct.
– Within the past few days the Treasurer himself has stated that during last month the Tariff yielded £200,000 more than did the old Tariff.
– If the honorable member will look at the’ returns for the last three weeks he will see that his statement is not correct.
– Then I shall not pursue that line of argument any further. I am content to await results. I hope that in respect of apparel and attire we shall revert to the old duty of 25 per cent. If that rate is not sufficient to pro- tect our industries we shall impose these duties in vain, and we shall only assist to provide the Treasurer with a big surplus revenue. Honorable members know the serious results which flow from the possession of large surpluses. We are far better without them. I have already called attention to the fact that out of 4,200,000 persons in the Commonwealth only 267,000 are engaged in pur manufactures. These figures have been obtained from the
Government Statistician, and may be relied on. They include all bread-winners, as well boys and girls of the age of sixteen years as married people. If to the number of married people we allow a household of three dependents, the total number of those who are directly and indirectly interested in manufacturing becomes 600,000. Every one will admit that fair wages are being paid, to those engaged in manufacturing. I believe that our factories cannot employ more hands than are at present working in them, and that they cannot, without new machinery, manufacture goods other than goods of the kind which they are now making, to obtain which machinery a very large outlay of capital would be necessary. It is not likely that much of this special machinery will be imported into Australia. In the United Kingdom, manufacturers limit themselves to particular lines, but our mill-owners attempt to produce different kinds of goods in the one factory, and thus fail to produce so cheaply. In Manchester, Halifax, Liverpool, and other manufacturing centres, the various kinds of textiles are being produced by separate mills, each employing special plant, and if Australia were to try to manufacture all the classes of goods which come under the heading of apparel and textiles, she would have to import new machinery of enormous value, and would have to persuade persons of special skill to come here. As it is claimed that the object of the Government in framing the Tariff was to increase the number of factories . and mills, I ask what has been the effect of the fiscal policies of Victoria and New South Wales during the past twenty or thirty years? Although Victoria had had a protective Tariff for a very long time, so that when these States joined the Federation her factories were .well established, her population during the last seven years has increased by only 5,500 per annum, whereas that of New South Wales, where, prior to Federation, there was no protection for manufactures, has increased by 10,-300 per annum.
– The increase of population in New South Wales during the last seven years proves the effectiveness of the Commonwealth Tariff.
– If it proves anything, it proves that, notwithstanding the protection which Victoria enjoyed for so long, her industries are not so prosperous as those of New South Wales, which, prior to Federation, were not protected by import’ duties. In those lines in which the local manufacture may be expected to overtake the local requirements, it is largely doing so. We cannot supply our own requirements in connexion with all classes of apparel and textiles, but we can supply our requirements in the matter of boots. I find that .Victoria produces 4,000,000 pairs of boots annually, whilst the population of the Commonwealth is only about 4,200,000 ; so that most of the boots worn by our people are made in Australia.
– Where did the honorable member get the figures relating to the manufacture of boots ?
– From the Journal of Commerce, a few days ago. They were copied from the trade returns. I ask honorable members who, do they think, will have to pay for these enormous increases in duties ? While we may be prepared to give a great deal of consideration to the 267,000 persons employed in manufacturing, we must not lose sight of the interests of the millions who constitute the total population of the Commonwealth. In all the Tariffs with which I have been associated for nearly forty years past, I have endeavoured tto impose such duties as will, first, produce revenue, and, secondly, not only incidentally but necessarily, increasethe number of factories, and provide additional employment. The reports of the Tariff Commission show that not one manufacturer in Tasmania, has asked for higher rrates of duty than those imposed by the Kingston Tariff. With duties of 20 per cent, the manufacturers of Tasmania have been able to largely supply the requirements of the State in the matter of boots, hats, shirts, apparel, woollens, blankets, and flannel. Such articles have been produced in Tasmania more satisfactorily than similar articles have been produced on the mainland, where in some of the States .the duties were higher. With these 20 per cent, duties, manufacturers were able to enlarge their factories, duplicate their machinery, and increase the number of their hands, without unnecessarily increasing prices. If, by increasing the Tariff rates unduly, you increase prices, you must increase wages. In the past I have been in favour of increasing wages, but, when wages are unduly increased, workmen have to pay more for their t009, clothing, rent, and it seems to me that in Australia we may have reached a time when wages cannot be increased further with advantage to the working classes. How many new mills is it hoped will be established, and how many extra persons is it thought will be employed, if the proposed rate is agreed to?. Supposing the answer to those questions to be satisfactory, I ask, is it worth while to increase by perhaps 100,000 the number of persons employed in manufacturing, to the disadvantage of the 4,000,000 consumers who have been so little considered in the framing of the Tariff?
– The honorable member for Denison says that we are legislating for the. 267,000 persons employed in factories, for whose benefit 4,000,000 other persons who are not connected with manufacturing are to be taxed. But, in the first place, the 267,000 persons to whom he has referred as connected with factories are bread winners, and have many others dependent on them, while, in the second place, in a community like this,- every class is so interdependent, that it is impossible to draw a rigid line of demarcation between those who are interested in manufacturing industries and those who are interested in the producing industries. Those engaged in manufacturing and their dependents must give an immense amount of employment to those engaged in producing. We have also been told that our factories are going continually, and cannot produce enough to supply the demands of Australia. No doubt, those who have made that statement “believe it to be true, but I know that it is not. For eight months out of the twelve, the large (clothing factories are going at a fair speed ; but, during the remaining four months, those connected with them earn very poor wages, and . a very large quantity of wearing apparel is annually imparted. Do not our own people require consideration ?
– Then why increase the cost of their wearing apparel?
– That will not be the effect of increasing the duties. I am speaking with some special knowledge of this subject. In Australia, taking the rates of wages into consideration, we get as good value for our money in wearing apparel as is to be obtained in any other part of the world. If the duties were lowered, the wages of those employed in our factories would be lowered. But the increasing of duties will not .increase the price of wearing apparel, although it will give more work to those who are employed in making it, and will open up new avenues of employment for the benefit of those who are without work. Even those who are opposed to the proposals of the Government will admit that, in the clothing industry in Australia, there is a great deal of competition. There are not dozens, but hundreds of factories making wearing apparel of all sorts, and the competition between them is extraordinarily keen. It was rather cruel to- say that we who desire to protect the manufacturing industries of Australia have no consideration for those in the back blocks. It can be proved beyond assertion to the contrary that with regard to two commodities - boots and wearing apparel protection, instead of increasing, has reduced prices. Under our protective system we receive for our money as good value as is obtainable in any other country, having regard to Australian wages and conditions of labour. We have conclusive evidence that protective duties do not tend to permanently increase prices. The effect of a duty may be to slightly increase prices for a time, but local competition soon comes into play, and reduces them to their normal level. Those who do not represent constituencies in which apparel is manufactured need have no fear as to the effect of the Government proposal ; local competition is sure to keep down prices to a reasonable level, and no man will- be called upon to pay more for these goods than he ought to do, having regard to the wages that’ he receives.
– - I do not intend to weary the Committee by making a long speech, but having listened to the able and exhaustive address delivered by the honorable member for Denison, I feel that the industry is already highly protected. The honorable member for Melbourne Ports applies only one test to all these proposals. * If any imports are coming in he would impose higher duties to shut them out. He would have made in Australia every thread of clothing that we require.
– Especially when that system does not tend to raise prices.
– I have not the slightest objection to our making in Australia all the “clothing that we require the moment that we are able to do so without penalizing the people throughout the length and breadth of the Commonwealth.
– The honorable member cannot prove that this duty would penalize them.
– I propose to be guided by the experience of the honorable member for Denison, who has been interested in the business for many years, and is familiar with all its ramifications. He tells us, most emphatically, that no matter what duty we impose, our local manufacturers will not be able to supply the whole of our demand for clothing and textiles.
– Does the honorable member say that the honorable member for Denison has been engaged in the business of making up apparel ?
– I was referring to the fact that he had been engaged in the business of importing clothing. I know that, in the eyes of many honorable members, that is enough to make him anathema. So far as I am aware in Victoria, there is no crime so bad as that of being an importer. I suppose that from the point of view of some honorable members the best thing to do with importers in Victoria is to shoot them at sight; apparently they ought to be destroyed instanter. I have no doubt, however, that they are fulfilling a very useful function; if they were not they would not exist. I do not share the view of some honorable members, who shrug their shoulders the moment the name of an importer is mentioned. I believe it to be a fact that we cannot supply all our own requirements, and therefore it is the height of folly to make it impossible to obtain supplies from oversea. I shall be the very last to stand in the way of any effort to facilitate the operation of our Victorian manufacturers.
– What about the manufacturers in New South Wales?
– I believe they are doing very well under the present duty. The honorable member forIllawarra mentioned the remarkable fact that none of these manufacturers . whose business is said to be in course of being strangled, went before the Commission to complain. Only one witness made any complaint regarding the alleged insufficiency of the old duties relating to this item. Had the manufacturers been in extremis, had their industry been in a parlous condition, such as has been alleged, they would readily have availed themselves of a Commission prepared to hear their complaints, with the possibility of a remedy being found. The fact that they did not appear before the Tariff Commission may be accepted as proof that they were doing fairly well under the old Tariff. That being so, why are we unnecessarily piling on these duties. Under the old Tariff there was a fair duty of 25 per cent. plus a very large natural protection, which the honorable member for Denison has pointed out makes the total protection very high indeed, and having regard to that fact I move -
That after the figures “ 45 per cent.” thewords “ and on and after 7th November, 1907 (General Tariff), 25 per cent.,” be inserted.
.- Honorable members of the Opposition, whilst pleading for the importers, have accused honorable members on this side of the House of fighting for the manufacturers. They have pointed out that our manufacturers are few in number, and they are disposed to be angry because we wish to abolish the business of importing. In this connexion, I have only to say that there is ample room for our importers to invest their capital in woollen manufactories. The imposition of a substantial Tariff instead of injuring them will afford them an opportunity to invest their money in a more solid business, which will be beneficial to the Commonwealth. The people of Australia can make up woollen goods as well as can those of any other country. My chief reason for desiring that work to be done here is that I think the farmers of Australia should have the pleasure of feeding the workers who make up their raw material. I heard just now a plea for the poor shearers, who go far into the interior to carry on their industry. Half of those men are engaged, for the greater part of the year, in farming. They pro- duce food which the workers in our factories consume, and they do not lose sight of that fact. I desire not only to provide the primary producers of Australia with a splendid home market, such as is open to the primary producers of the United States of America, but to see thousands of men engaged in our factories working up the raw materials produced in Australia, so that if we ever have to defend ourselveswe shall be able to obtain from within the Commonwealth the men and the food and clothing that we require. The honorable member for Melbourne Ports was on solid ground when he urged that the extent of our importations of these goods showed that an increased duty was necessary. In passing, I should like to point out that the Government propose duties of 30 and 35 per cent, on woollen piece goods, and that I think that an increase of those duties to 35 and 40 per cent, would not be unreasonable on made-up goods. I hope that the Government proposal in this case will be carried. There is no industry which could be more truly described as native to Australia than is that of woollen manufacture. We produce sufficient wool not only for our own use, but to supply thousands of the looms of Belgium, Germany. England, France, and other countries. It has been argued that certain patterns of woollens cannot be produced in Australia. The reason is that the turnover of our factories is not large enough. The population is not sufficient to justify the production of an immense variety ; but if we wish to encourage our manufacturers to obtain up-to-date machinery, and to specialize, we should endeavour first of all to give them the local market, and then to expand that market by means of. an increased population. There are certain lines which every one admits can be produced in Australia. Some Australian tweeds are really magnificent, and I should like to see them exported as well as used locally. We produce wool in immense quantities, and why should we not export the tweed as well as the raw material ? I should also like an almost prohibitive duty to be imposed on blankets. Why cannot Australia largely export them? The honorable member for Denison was at one time engaged in the importing trade, and I am prepared to discuss with him the question of prices. What prices do we pay tq-day for the woollen goods containing a ‘ large admixture of shoddy? We start by taking the wool from the sheeps’ backs to the sea-board, and then sending it on a trip round the world. The Australian who buys goods made abroad from Australian wool has to pay for that trip. The wool is taken to the wharves from the railway, and certain charges are incurred in getting it on board the boats. It is then shipped to foreign countries., a charge, of course, being made for freight and landing when it arrives. It is then taken to the factories- at another charge, and there made up.
– Is the honorable member quite sure of all this?
– I can quite understand the anxiety of the honorable member to side-track me. I am now stating something which is not quite obvious to everybody, because they have not thought out the question. It is suggested that Australian manufactured woollens must necessarily be shoddy - that if we have protection in the country where the wool itself is produced we shall find shoddy placed on the market. However that may be, after all those charges have been paid, the manufactured wool makes a return trip to Australia, other charges of course being incurred; and then it is sold, in the shape of clothing, to Australian consumers. Yet importers wish us, as intelligent men, to believe that woollen goods could not be sold cheaper in Australia if they were manufactured on the spot. I have argued over and over again that when the raw material is produced in a country, and manufacture can be carried on to any extent, it may reasonably be expected that the finished article will be produced more cheaply there than in any other country. Honorable members opposite appear to be a little hilarious over my description of the trip of our wool round the world. There is, however, just another . item tq which I should like to call attention, namely, the importer’s profit. I am very sorry that the honorable member who preceded me did not give us more- information on this point.
– The experience is that the locally-manufactured article is not sold more cheaply, or as cheaply, as is the imported article.
– I am quite aware that under the present distributors’ methods, with private enterprise, in .Australia as elsewhere, there seems to be a tremendous price added to the real value of the goods. I hope, however, before long to have the opportunity to -vote for a. measure which will enable us to deal with those persons who charge exorbitant prices; and, if anything be done in this connexion, we ought to deal not only with importers, but any other distributors who penalize the public. I have previously spoken of prices being raised in consequence of the Tariff, but, as a matter of fact, prices have been raised in relation to articles which bear no duty whatever. It seems to me, however, that if a storekeeper or a merchant desires to buy a motor car or anything else, he can always raise prices independently of the Tariff. However, free-trade will not make people honest; if a dealer desires to be dishonest, he will be dishonest no matter what the fiscal policy of the country may be. I admit that for some years to come the manufacturers in Australia will not be able to produce all the patterns which are now imported, and that, therefore, certain classes of apparel must continue to come from abroad. But a plea has been made on behalf of the poor workers. These people are not able to afford the fancy materials; and those who demand them can very well afford to pay any little extra price that may be asked. 1 only wish that every poor man could afford to buy two or three suits made of the best Australian tweed, because I am sure that they would be then very well clothed. Another amusing argument has been advanced ‘ in reference to the number of people employed in this industry. It must be remembered that all the people outside the Public Service - and even public servants assist in distribution - are producers.
– Whom does the honorable member call a producer?
– I call a man a producer who assists, we will say, in getting the raw material, or in transporting it to the consumer; we may call such an one a producer, or an aider in production.
– That definition is economically very defective.
– I am not giving a book definition; I prefer to leave book definitions alone and give common-sense definitions. It has also been contended that an increase of wages is really of very little benefit, seeing that the price of commodities is raised accordingly. I do not see how that state of things can be altered by abolishing a Tariff ; but if workers find that they are being penalized in that way, they have one remedy, outside a good system of arbitration, namely, co-operation, to which I hope they will resort.
.- If the honorable member for New England had had the advantage, or the disadvantage, of being a member of the Federal Parliament when the first Tariff was under discussion, we should, perhaps, have been spared such a dissertation on the merits of protection as that with which he has just favoured us. We went all through that kind of thing ad nauseam a few years ago. I can assure the honorable member that anything he has said on the subject at the present time is very stale news to those of’ us who went through the mill in connexion with the last Tariff. Theories of protection are very beautiful until we come to analyze them. The fallacy of that system whereby all may become rich and prosperous, like the old ladies in the French village, by taking in each other’s washing, has been exposed time and again ; but the honorable member inflicts it on us once more. Let me remind the honorable member that, supposing we desired to protect to the very utmost town industries, we can only ‘ afford protection to a very small fraction of them. The carpenter, the butcher, the baker, and hundreds of others engaged in town industries, can derive no benefit whatever from any protective duty Parliament can impose. When it comes to dividing up the work between country and town - when we come to consider the advantage of the town producer buying from the country producer, and vice versa - the protectionist forgets entirely that a comparatively few farmers can produce sufficient for an immense number of residents in town. The moment an overflow of rural produce into foreign markets takes place, then the rural producer derives no benefit whatever from any protective duty. If the rural producer has to depend on town consumption alone for his market, even in Australia, with our handful of farmers, comparatively speaking, the number of the latter would have to be reduced in the most disastrous fashion in order that the method* of primitive barter should be continued according to the ideas of the honorable member for New England. That honorable member has given us a . magnificent argument in favour of low duties,’ or of no duties, in connexion with many Australian industries, particularly the woollen industries. He has quoted to us the remarkable series of charges on Australian’ wool which is sent abroad in order to be manufactured into cloth for ultimate consumption in Australia. If the honorable member reads the report of the freetrade section of the Tariff Commission on the woollen industries, he will find all those facts related very carefully, as a striking illustration »of the enormous amount of natural protection enjoyed by woollen manufacturers in this country. I am not one who desires to encourage the importer ; I say undoubtedly that Australia should manufacture all, in reason, for her own requirements. But any one who has observed the peculiar circumstances of Australia ought to realize that our geographical isolation from the manufacturing centres of the world is such that any industry, which has a chance of success under existing natural conditions, will Le far better left alone. We ought not to impose upon the rest of the community a tax in order to bring it .into existence before natural conditions would otherwise operate. If we attend to the natural development of the country, we shall find ‘all those industries in which the honorable member is so much interested gradually following that development. The object-lesson in Australia at the present time ought to be sufficient to make the honorable member pause with regard to the alleged advantages of protection, especially when he finds that the capital city of a highly protected State, such as Victoria, has a greater proportion of population than is in the whole State behind. Such a condition of affairs is fraught with danger to any country. When the honorable member speaks of the necessity for population in order to protect Australia, does he mean that there should be a system by which we crowd all our youths into unhealthy factories, and leave our immense areas lacking that bone and sinew which would undoubtedly bring wealth to the country, and advance the interests of the whole community ?
– I would sooner buy goods made in Australian factories than goods made in sweated British or German factories.
– If the honorable member knows anything about factory life under the most ideal conditions, he must realize that it is on our wide plains and mountain sides and in our rural industries that we must rear our defenders.
– Does the honorable member desire to establish unhealthy factories in Australia?
– Even under the best conditions, factory life is undoubtedly detrimental to the health of those who engage in it. The honorable member has only to visit many of the establishments in Melbourne to realize that. If he had seen - as I have done - the serious results which flow from life in factories in other lands, he would pause before he desired to reproduce them here. But I rose chiefly for the purpose of making one or two points in connexion with the particular item under consideration. The honorable member for
Melbourne Ports has pointed out that, in connexion with ready-made clothing, i her are hundreds of factories throughout the Commonwealth. Undoubtedly it is a large, important, and growing industry. But for his benefit I wish to read the deliberate finding of the free-trade section of the Tariff Commission, which I venture to say cannot be challenged by any person who takes the trouble to peruse the evidence tendered to that body. In speaking of the clothing trade, the B section of the Commission say -
Out of the whole of this extensive industry only two witnesses directly interested, both Victorian, appeared before the Commission. Neither came forward in a representative capacity.
In other words, they came “ on their own.” One of them was engaged in the manufacture of mantles and costumes, and the other in that of ready-made boys’ and men’s suits. The report continues -
One was engaged in manufacturing mantles and costumes; the other ready-made boys’ and men’s suits,. &c. It is noteworthy that both these witnesses worked principally on materials supplied and owned by wholesale houses.
They were not. manufacturers in the proper sense of the word. The report proceeds -
Out of the large number of bond fide manufacturers engaged in this industry as the purchasers of materials, and the sellers of finished articles, not a single one came with a complaint of oversea- competition or of insufficient duties.
These statements speak for themselves. The honorable member for Illawarra has shown that the industry is growing steadily, and I am quite sure that if it were left alone, under the old rate of duty, it would continue to grow until the importations from abroad, which produce such a feeling of horror in the minds of honorable members like the honorable member for Melbourne Ports, had entirely disappeared. It would be far better for the industry that those importations should be wiped out gradually than that any violent measures should be taken with that end in view. I am satisfied that by increasing the duty from 25 to 40 per cent, we shall not benefit the industry, but undoubtedly we shall disadvantage the consumer. Of course, it may be argued that the industry progressed under the high duty which was formerly imposed under the Victorian Tariff. In this connexion, I wish to read an extract from the finding of a Board which was appointed in 1895 to inquire into the fiscal system of this State.
– Does the honorable member really think that the opinion of the
Committee will be altered if he continues to talk for a week?
– I fear that, in considering this Tariff, facts and arguments are to a large extent wasted at the present time. But I have a duty to perform as a member of the Tariff Commission, namely, to see that the more salient features of each item are put before the Committee.
– The honorable member is not susceptible to the arguments of his opponents, I suppose?
– If the honorable member can adduce any weighty arguments in opposition to the view which I am presenting, I shall be happy to give them consideration. The report states -
Some manufacturers of clothing made from free material went so far as to assert that they required no protective duty, and that the entire abolition would not lead to a return of importations. The manufacture was now so firmly established that the makers were able to compete with the British factories on equal terms.
Whilst the members of the Tariff Commission were returning from Western Australia, I made the acquaintance of a gentleman who is connected with one of the largest clothing factories in Melbourne. This factory does a large business with Western Australia and the other States, and the gentleman in question assured me that he had no intention whatever of appearing before the Tariff Commission, because he was well satisfied with the existing duty. I saw him again a few weeks ago, and he then informed me that the Government proposals were preposterous, that there was absolutely no justification for an increase in the old rate of duty, that his factory was working at the highest pressure, and that it was maintaining its maximum output. I may add that it is a factory which pays good wages to its employes, and in which the general conditions which obtain will compare favorably with those of the best factories in Australia, and indeed of any other part of the world.
– Is the honorable member sure that the gentleman to whom he refers is not doing a bit of importing as well?
– He is not.
– Perhaps he enjoys a monopoly.
– No. The fact that no bonâfide manufacturer has asked for higher duties is surely sufficient evidence that the preposterous rates proposed by the Government are not desired, even by those engaged in the industry itself. I trust that the Committee will pause before it adopts a duty which will undoubtedly constitute a serious tax upon the community. I wish now to point out what I conceive to be a mistake in regard to the classification of these items. In the form in which the Tariff has been presented to us, we are asked to deal first with manufactured articles, whereas we ought to begin with the consideration of the duties to be levied upon the raw materials - that is upon piece goods. The free-trade section of the Tariff Commission suggested a classification to the Government, which they have carefully ignored, but which I venture to think would have been a vast improvement upon the classification which they have adopted.
– Is it quite fair to have a general debate , upon every item in each division? We have already had three or four second-reading speeches upon this subject.
– I do not think that the Treasurer will expedite matters by attempting to curtail reasonable discussion. I wish to know - in common with the honorable member for Denison - where the interests of the consumers are considered ?
– Will not the consumer be protected from having to pay unreasonableprices ?
– The honorable member’s theory is that the higher the duty we levy upon an article the lower will be its price. If a jump from 25 per cent. to 45 per cent. in the rate levied upon apparel will not increase its price, I do not know why the increase is proposed.
– Because we wish to manufacture the £1,500,000 worth of apparel which is imported.
– The honorable member wishes us to assume that under this Tariff there will be an increase of production, but not an increase of price. That is certainly not the experience of the highly-protected countries of the world. Take the great protectionist example, namely, America. One of the chief complaints that we hear is that American manufacturers are “dumping” their surplus into Australia. The reason they are able to do this is that their own market has been so assured to them that they can charge the home consumers a price sufficiently high to reimburse them for selling at a loss in foreign markets. I ask my protectionist friends if they wish to reproduce a similar state of things here? Do they desire our local market so secured to our manufacturers that the latter will be able not only to supply that market, but to “dump “ goods in foreign countries? We are told that that is what obtains in protectionist countries, and we are asked to impose a duty upon importations into Australia to give fair play to Australian manufacturers- But axe not our consumers to be considered? In my electorate there are no big factories. My constituents are primary producers, men who have to go on the land, and battle hard for their livelihood. They have been successful in meeting the requirements of the Commonwealth, and now depend chiefly on foreign markets for their returns from wool, meat, wheat, and other exports. Our farmers have to sell their wheat in Mark Lane, against the competition of the farmers of every other country. They do not receive any special coddling.
– I ask the honorable member not to unnecessarily debate the general question.
– I do not wish to do so, but I am constrained to make this plea on behalf of the primary producers, who are the wealth makers of the Commonwealth. I desire that consideration be extended to them. Moreover, I do not wish to see here the conditions which, we have been informed by protectionists, exist in protectionist countries. I shall be willing to support methods brought forward to prevent such conditions from arising here. In the Committee there is a majority pledged to support higher duties ; but we cannot know, until a division has been taken, what rates any particular member will support, and while the minds of honorable members are open to a certain extent, I ask them to consider the position of the producers as well as that of the manufacturers. I am bv no means hostile to the encouragement- of local manufactures, but I wish to see it done by fair and legitimate methods. One section of the community should not benefit at the expense of a larger section which has to contend with the forces of nature. I do not desire that additional burdens shall be placed on the shoulders of our graziers and farmers. If we get a Tariff such as some of the extreme city protectionists desire, we shall, perhaps, find that, like the old woman in the fable, we have killed the goose that lays the golden eggs. Our manufacturers must largely depend upon the support of our producers, and, if the conditions of those on the land are made harder, and their earnings reduced, the manufacturers will ultimately suffer. The honorable member for New England drew an interesting picture of the methods in which wool is obtained on our stations and farms,, and the different processes through which it goes before being shipped to the Old .Country, to be returned to us in thi: form of tweed and cloth. He argued that we should do our own manufacturing, and even said that he would prevent all importations. I ask him, would he prevent all exportation? If he is not prepared to prevent the exportation of our wool, gold, wheat, minerals, and other products, he must be prepared to admit importations as a quid pro quo, because we must buy in exchange for what we sell. I would direct his attention, and that of those who think with him, to the fact that many of the Victorian woollen manufacturers have not been satisfied to manufacture Australian wool, but, in order to increase their profits, have largely adulterated it with cotton. The Tariff Commission obtained samples of imported and locally manufactured woollen goods, to make a comparison between them in respect to adulteration. The subsequent analyses disclosed that of thirty-six samples of imported flannel, five contained cotton in proportions varying from 28 to 40.4 per cent., while of twenty Victorian samples, fifteen contained cotton in proportions of from 26 to 58 pet cent.
– We never hear of the iniquities of our own manufacturers.
– No. On the casting vote of the Chairman, the Commission decided to have another set of samples tested, which the Customs Department was requested to procure. I am not surprised that the Chairman, an enthusiastic protectionist, received the first analyses with doubt. When it was known that further samples were to be collected, the Department, in the attempt to obtain them, met with extraordinary difficulties.
– Surely not created by the Australian manufacturers ?
– Yes. The second series of analyses disclosed that of 136 samples of imported flannels, fifteen, or 11 per cent., contained cotton in proportions varying from .8 to 63.4 per cent. ; while of the’ samples of Australian flannels, -forty-nine in number, forty, or 81 per cent., contained cotton in proportions of from .3 to 87.1 .per cent. The Australian flannels were obtained from Victoria, and New South Wales, and of thirty-nine Victorian samples, two were all wool, while four out of ten of the New South Wales samples were pure wool. According to the Year-Book of Victoria for 1903, in 1899 cotton amounting to 154,388 lbs. was imported, while the importation in 1900 was 178.332 lbs.; in 1901, 250,184 lbs.; in 1902, 273,335 1bs. - a considerable increase - and in 1903, 368,749 lbs. - a still greater increase. The report shows that the use of cotton in woollen goods is practically confined to Victoria; it does not appear to be used as an adulterant in New South Wales or the other States to anything like the same extent. Yet the Victorian woollen industry has been coddled for twenty-five years. Although millions of pounds of wool have, during that period, been exported, the local manufacturers of woollen goods have, in some cases, used as much as 81 per cent, of cotton in their production. Now they are asking for duties of 40 and 45 per cent, to protect them from outside competition. I ask the honorable member for New England, is he- willing to support these high duties for the purpose of protecting manufacturers who resort to practices such as I have spoken of ? The Tariff Commission’s investigations showed that adulteration takes place in imported goods in respect to a smaller number of articles, and to a lesser degree, than in locally manufactured goods. Before the Committee consent to increase the protection of the local manufacturers, something should be done to compel them to use Australian wool, and to prevent them from selling as woollen goods fabrics which contain a very large proportion of cotton. Under the old Tariff local manufacturers had a very fair margin to work upon. The reports of the Tariff Commission show that one manufacturing .interest, with a capital of £3°-°°°, under the old Tariff has been paying 15 per cent, dividends. Many of those engaged in primary industries would be glad to obtain such a return upon their investments. Whilst honorable members are pleading for the manufacturer, I should like to ask : What is the position of the farmer, the settler, and the shearer? Are their interests to be considered, as well as the interests of those who are actually engaged in this industry? If it can be shown that they are safeguarded, I shall be prepared to allow the whole matter to go, but until I am satisfied on that point
I shall not hesitate to raise my voice on behalf of those whom I represent.
.- I do not wish to discuss this question, at length, but it seems to me that a number of honorable members have rather missed the point in dealing with the adulteration of so-called woollen goods with cotton. The adulteration in respect *of which the honorable member for Calare has expressed so much concern has occurred under what we consider the inadequate duty of 25 per cent, which has prevailed during the last five years.
– And it occurred in Victoria when high duties were in operation.
– Quite so. That shows that the practice has nothing whatever to do with the imposition of high or low protective duties. Any one who chooses to make inquiries on “the subject will ascertain that it is due to the keen competition between different wholesale as well as retail houses. When a representative of a wholesale house says to a ‘ manufacturer, “We will take your goods at so much per yard,” knowing very well that those goods must consist of an admixture of wool and cotton if they are to be made at the price offered, he is largely responsible for the practice.
– A number of the best woollen manufacturers do not put an ounce of cotton into their woollen goods, and they can sell all that they produce.
– -They cannot sell all that they produce. A Tasmanian manufacturer of flannels who puts no cotton into his goods last year did not make a penny profit because he could not obtain an output for his manufactures. Honorable members are simply wasting their time in talking about the responsibility of the Tariff for adulterations. It is useless for us to expect our local manufacturers to maintain a high standard unless we deal with the retailing of all classes of locally made and imported goods. The only way to prevent goods containing cotton from being sold as flannel is to absolutely prohibit their sale, whether they be made in Australia or abroad. So long as we have offered for sale in Australia ;m ported “flannels” containing a large proportion of cotton, it stands to reason that the local manufacturers, in order to obtain a footing in the market in respect of the cheaper lines, must also he prepared to adulterate their goods. The practice of selling as flannel fabrics containing a large proportion of cotton is the worst that could prevail. lt is especially injurious to the poorer classes, and ought to be prohibited by law.
– Does the honorable member think that high duties are the cause of the practice?
– I do not think so, because such goods come from England and every other part of the world where woollen goods are manufactured. I dare say that the honorable member is aware that retailers are always on the lookout for cheap lines. They say to a wholesale house, “ Can you supply us with a line to sell at, say, 6d. or od. a yard”? The wholesaler replies, “ Oh, yes, but you will have to take an admixture of wool and cotton.” The retailer probably answers, “ That is all right; as long as it has a good appearance, and we- can sell it at the rate named, we shall be satisfied.”
– Would not a little wool be better than none?
-Probably it would, but the avocations of some men cause them to perspire freely, and health considerations require that the perspiration shall te quickly’ absorbed by the flannels they wear, lt is almost a. crime to palm off on- such men so-called flannels, which consist largely of cotton.
– The poor people suffer.
– Quite so. But even if we had no duty on this line the people would be subjected to such treatment at the hands of commercial houses. I do not blame any soft-goods warehouse. It is the competition which goes on that forces .them to go a little further and further in the direction of adulteration.
– The fraud is in selling the article as being something which it is not.
– That is so, and the practice must be dealt with by measures altogether apart from the Tariff. I do not know that we have power to deal with the question, except in so far as imports are concerned.
– We should insist upon a proper trade description.
– I am inclined to think that we have no power to deal with the question except in regard to Inter-State trade and imports from abroad. Our constitutional power in this respect is very limited. I would urge honorable members to recognise that the question of adulteration, in so far as woollens are concerned, has no bearing whatever upon the Tariff. Adulteration is the inevitable result of keen competition amongst those who are catering for the public, and unless the authorities step in and prohibit that class of trade the practice will continue, and the people will suffer even if we remove the duty on woollens.
– Divide ! Divide !
.- I admit that on some of the minor items there has been an unduly long debate ; but the Treasurer must agree that this is one of, perhaps, half-a-dozen items in the Tariff which are so important that it is really necessary that some of us should express our views upon them. I look upon this item, and the next half-dozen, as being amongst the most important that’ we shall have to consider, and if there has been a waste of time in connexion with minor items that’ is no justification for the plea that we should not discuss those of importance.
– The right honorable member will not alter a vote.
– That is a remark which, coming from the Treasurer, is ominous, because it means that he knows exactly how the vote will go.
– I know nothing of fh<; kind.
– Then it is worth while offering a few remarks. If the Treasurer knew exactly how the vote would go, I should be disposed to speak for only about live minutes, and then to put my head on the block.
– Is that what the honorable member is going to do?
– Not if I can help it. I am very much struck with the wonderfully philosophic attitude taken up in connexion with this matter by the honorable member for South Sydney. During the recent general election in New South Wales, two of the leaders of the Labour Party in that State - Mr. McGowen and Mr. Fred. Flowers - came down in post haste to Melbourne to see the head of the “ustralian Labour Party with a view of endeavouring to relieve the masses of the people from some of the more exorbitant duties that are included in this Tariff. The honorable member for South Sydney will admit that clothing is one of the necessaries of life, and that this duty is of the greatest consequence to the poorer classes of the community. A tax of 50 per cent, or 100 per cent, is a matter of perfect indifference to the wealthy, but the position is different in respect to the great masses of the people who have to look carefully at every shilling they spend in maintaining the decency of their homes and families? What is one of the chief items of expenditure of the wives of the ^workers ? It is the clothing of the husband, the wife, and the children. This is not a matter to laugh about. Millionaires, or those who have an income of ,£2,000 or £3,000 a year, can afford to laugh at the duty, but to the great masses of the workers in all industries it is unquestionably a serious matter. To those who believe that high duties tend to make goods cheaper and better, this is a joyful occasion. They would put on another 50 per cent., and spread cheapness and plenty of clothing among the homes of Australia. Why have they not the courage of their professed beliefs, if they think that the higher we raise the barrier between the abundance of the rest of the world and the needs of Australia, the surer we are to promote cheapness and competition, and all the blessings of a happy life? But from my point of view, even the protectionist must always be prepared to draw a line, because the moment we go beyond a certain point we encourage, not the best kind of competition, but all sorts of illegitimate combinations. It is one thing to say, “We will crush them by Act of Parliament”; it is quite another ‘ thing to do it. It has not been done yet, and I tell my honorable friends opposite that they will find me helping them in the most thorough way I can to bring to bear upon this matter some sort of scheme in the hope that it will be of service. In the meantime, whilst we are trying to boom manufacturers in the big towns, we should ask ourselves how the spread of cultivation is progressing in the great country districts of Australia. It is at this particular time when we are’ seeking to double the hands employed in slop-making factories that we should look at the hard facts of the industry of which our large cities are the costly superstructures. From the Budget papers I have obtained some very ominous facts as to the position of the greatest of our industries - the tilling of the soil of Australia. I find that in 1906-7 the area under crop in Victoria, as compared with the area under cultivation in 1903-4, had declined by 86,000 acres. In Queensland, it has declined by 7,000 acres, in South Australia by 98,000 acres, and in Tasmania by 15,000 acres.
– What has been the increase in the output of butter?
– What a cheerful, lovely disposition my honorable friend has !
– His interjection was a very pertinent one.
– .Surely we are looking forward to the development of the cultivation of Australia.- Do honorable members look on these figures with any kind of satisfaction ?
– The honorable member for Bass made a home shot !
– It is a very good sort of “home shot” for certain . intellects, but when we are dealing with the broad question of the agricultural industry of a newly settled continent, surely the fact that in four States out of the six there is a decrease in the area under cultivation-
– The farmers are making more money out of butter.
– But is that the reason foi the decrease in the area under cultivation ?
– To what years is the honorable member referring?
– I am referring to 1903-4 and to 1906-7. The last year was certainly not a drought year, though I do not know what sort of season that of 1903-4 was.
– That was a drought year.
– However, we all know that 1906-7 was a grand year for the agricultural industry ; but, in spite of that fact, in four out of the six States there was not only no increase in the area under cultivation, but stagnation or retrogression. The two States which show an increase are New South Wales and Western Australia. In the latter State the figures show a magnificent increase in three years from 283/000 acres to 460,000 acres. New South Wales, with’ a very much larger area under cultivation, showed an increase of 280,000 acres. Putting those two States aside, however, there has been something which, at least, looks like stagnation in regard to agriculture. I do not think that the figures for South Australia can be accounted for by the butter industry, which, so far fi 5 I know, has not shown any marvellous development. While we are looking after the roof of national greatness, and making it more beautiful and strong, we ought to remember that it must rest on foundations, and that the foundations of national strength, in a country like this, must lie in the rural districts and not in the cities. Surely, when we see the trend of population, we can realize that high duties, if they have the result intended, will intensify the crowding of the population into the towns, and away from country industries. Would that be advantageous? I think not. I do not desire to go into ancient history, but merely to mention one fact. When we were under the blighting influence of free ports in New South Wales, in 1900, just before the Federal Union, we had in our clothing factories there 5,676 hands employed, as compared with 6,291 hands employed in Victoria after twenty or thirty years of high protection, represented by duties ranging from 25 to 50 per cent. I point this out merely to show that it is not necessarily suicide to throw our ports open.
– And there were more women and children employed in the Victorian factories than in the New South Wales factories.
– The males employed in the “slop” factories of Victoria, in 1900, were 1,400, as compared with 2,000 males employed in the New South Wales factories under free-trade. However, I do not desire to go into these old matters.
– I recognise the skirt of an old speech in those figures.
– That may be, but my skirts always have pleasing trimming on them, and that is more than I can say even for the Treasurer’s’ petticoats. I do not desire to take up too much time, because I recognise that we are all in sympathy with the Minister in his desire to dispose of the Tariff as soon as possible.
– I am glad to hear that.
– Fortunately, we have a common interest in disposing of the Tariff as soon as we can, without, of course, forgetting our duty as representatives of the people. That duty we must not forget, and, apart from that, we are all anxious to expedite public business. We have heard something about adulteration, and my friends opposite find the grand secret in competition. Of course, there is some truth in that view ; but one of the greater causes of adulteration is high Tariffs. If a policy be adopted which tends to increase prices - which enables traders to in crease prices whether rightly or wrongly - what is the inevitable result? It is that those who sell to the public will try to meet the natural craving there is for cheap articles. That is the most natural craving in the world with those who have only a few shillings to spend; and, really, it is not a craving, but a necessity. If wages are limited, articles are not bought at all unless at a low price, and even high wages form no abundant fund. The honorable member for South Sydney said easily that we all desire to prevent- adulteration. But if high Tariffs are imposed, consumers have to choose between shoddy and nothing at all, and they are glad to get a garment with any wool in it. If, in a very proper spirit, some law is applied which prevents the sale of woollen garments containing any cotton, then woollen goods are placed beyond the reach of large numbers of persons who have, not money for the purchase of expensive articles. It is notorious that in the United States, where, in many parts, the climate is bitterly cold, the poorer classes, in spite of high wages, cannot afford the luxury of woollen clothing.
– Cotton and wool ought to be sold as a mixture.
– That is only right and honest; but I am pointing out that the masses cannot afford the luxury of articles which are beyond a certain price. I do not desire to see the Tariff, even from a protectionist point of view, strung up so tightly as to make the element of wool even more slender in the clothing of people of limited means. There are some commodities which every one ought to have, but, unfortunately, there are people who cannot afford to purchase them, and who have to wear cheaper goods when the higher priced clothing would be more healthy and lasting.
– Can the honorable member not see that, considering that this country really lives on its wool, we ought to do everything to advertise that commodity, and show that woollen goods are much better than wool and cotton mixed?
– There have been a large number of very able calculations made on the effect which Tariffs have on the purchasing power of wages* The result of a number of inquiries in the United States undoubtedly is that, whilst the Dingley Tariff raised wages to a very substantial extent, the prices of the articles which the wage earners consumed went up so much that the Tariff was absolutely of no benefit to the workers. I know that we freetraders have no chance of carrying our views into effect in this Parliament, but I appeal to protectionists here not to raise the Tariff too high. I make that appeal in the interests of the masses of the people for whom the goods under discussion are the necessaries of life. Of course, we have been told about the extent of the importations, but, naturally, importations increase in prosperous times. We must not forget that the last three or four years have been comparatively very prosperous ones; and, as I say, imports are always much greater under such circumstances than in dull times. We must not conclude, therefore, that the importations are the result of an ominous attack upon the clothing industry. A Tariff Commission was appointed and sent to- the doors of the manufacturers of Australia in order to enable them to bring before Parliament their grievances and claims to increased protection. And the fact that manufacturers did not, in any number, attend and represent their industries as in a troubled state and exposed to adversity is one which we ought not to overlook. It does not show that the industries were being strangled when those concerned did not take the trouble to go before the Commission, which was empowered to hear complaints and recommend relief. Surely if the men most concerned do not trouble to make any complaint, it is one of the strongest proofs in “the world that they are not feeling any pinch. It is of no use endeavouring to represent that this duty is not a serious matter. The actual sovereigns which are being taken out of the pockets of the people through the Customs are being collected, to speak moderately, at the rate of .£2, 000,000 a year. Those two million sovereigns are being paid down by the business men at the Customs House; and we may be sure that by the time the consumers have been supplied, another ,£300,000 or .£400,000 will have been taken from the people of Australia. Surely the people of the country districts are not in a position to give another £2,000,000 a year to the people in the towns? Surely, as it is, the .towns are drawing enough of . the life blood of our country districts? . There never was a more misplaced effort than that represented by this Tariff. I admit, of course, that by a majority the people of Australia have indorsed the protectionist policy, and, in the remarks I am making, I have no desire to lecture. But it is, to my mind, a matter for infinite regret that, at a time when the public should have thought about the primary industries, they supported a policy which looks more to the interest of the towns. It would be absurd to ask that this duty should be reduced below that of the old Tariff.
– I should think so ; or anything like the former Tariff.
– But I think the honorable member, from his long political experience, will agree that when, one has a majority anything may be done. The Treasurer, when he has a majority, very properly works it for all it is worth, and makes use of it, as he believes, in the interests of the country. I recognise the fact that the majority of honorable members are utterly opposed to my views on the fiscal question, and I merely urge that we should get on some common ground where we can all agree. There is not an honorable member who would dare say that the primary industries are not the foundation of the manufacturing industries. Is there one honorable member - be he the member for Melbourne Ports, for Hume, or for Batman - who, however strong his belief may be in protection, will affirm that the primary industries are not the foundation of all other industries? If we make the primary industries strong and progressive, all other industries must have a better chance.
– If we are all agreed as to that, why labour the question?
– - Because, while the honor able member agrees with the main premise of my syllogism, he draws most illogical conclusions from it. I get my friends opposite to agree that white is white, but, by their votes, they show that white is black. There is no logical connexion between the argument and the attempt to increase this duty to an extravagant rate in order to benefit the industries of the towns at the expense,” to a large extent, of the people who are engaged in the primary industries. Why was there that spasm in favour of the settlers of Australia on the question of wire netting? Upon that item - although there is a large majority of protectionists in this House - there was a spasm of sympathy with the settlers of Australia, which led to the reduction of the duties from 30 per cent, under the general Tariff, and 25 per cent, under the Tariff for the United Kingdom, to 10 per cent, and 5 per cent, respectively. But surely I am now making an appeal in the interests of a much larger body even than the settlers of Australia. I am appealing in the interests of that great body in this country whose weekly means are limited, and to whom these articles are prime necessaries of life. While I cannot hope to secure a reduction of these rates to the level of revenue-producing duties, surely honorable members will not maintain them at 40 and 45 per cent.
– I hope that they will.
– I know that some of my more rabid protectionist friends desire to do so.
– The duties are very low as they stand.
– Some time ago the Labour Party suggested that a referendum should be taken upon the fiscal question. I am not quite sure that I did not throw out the suggestion first. I know that two or three years ago, when I mooted the subject, many of the leading newspapers which support free-trade did not agree with the position which I took up. But I said then - as I say now - that to obtain a thorough settlement of the fiscal question we must put it to the people by way of referendum.
– What would the honorable member put to the people?
– It is really unfair to ask me to solve a difficulty of that sort at a moment’s notice. But I am prepared to address myself to that question upon a future occasion. It is only an honorable member who is possessed of the brilliancy of the honorable member for West Sydney who is equal to the task of solving it offhand.
– The honorable member put it forward as the solution of a difficulty.
– Before the Tariff has been finally disposed of, I shall have an opportunity of putting my views in a concrete form as to the way in which the referendum should be taken.
– The honorable member might do it upon the third reading of the Tariff Bill.
– Perhaps an opportunity will be afforded me of doing so when I am addressing myself to the Bill which will embody the Tariff resolutions. Personally”, I would rather see a referendum upon the fiscal question taken at a time when no general election was in progress. I quite admit that a referendum taken during a general election might very easily be mixed up with a lot of other issues.
– Was not a fiscal referendum taken at the last election ?
– My honorable friend asks whether a referendum upon the fiscal question was not taken at the last general election.
– The honorable member cannot get rid of it in that way.
– It is rather an admission from the Treasurer to say that a referendum would get rid of the fiscal question.
– It would get rid of the honorable member’s position.
– There is no generosity in talking in that way.
– I withdraw.
– I have fought all my life for a certain view, and the fact that Iwas beaten does not disgrace me. There is room for a certain amount of charitable feeling, even amongst the most ardent disputants upon the fiscal question. I should like to see a referendum taken upon that qu estion in a proper way, and I believe that it can be taken.
– As to whether we should have duties of 25 per cent. or 50 per cent. ?
– It is not fair to ask a man even with the long experience which I have had, to frame the form of the referendum upon the spur of the moment. The honorable member would not like to undertake the task.
– It is very obvious either that the referendum is, or is not, a method of settling the question. If it is, we must come down to details.
– I am quite aware of that. I propose, when dealing with the Bill embodying the Tariff resolutions, to put before the country a concrete way of settling the question. But for any honorable member to say that this Tariff was approved by the people would be to make an extraordinary statement. I believe that a majority of the electors have expressed their opinion in favour of a protective as against a free-trade policy, but it is absurd to suggest that at the last election the people knew that duties ranging up to 45 per cent. were to be imposed on apparel. I do not think that there was anybody outside of the Government who contemplated the inclusion in the Tariff of an item of this sort. However, it is idle to talk of a referendum upon the fiscal question until we can arrive at a sensible way of putting a proper issue to the people. But we shall get no real settlement of the question until it is put to the people apart from all the complications which arise at an election time. For years past I have been in favour of the adoption of that course, and I cannot understand how anybody can shrink from it, if the referendum is put in’ a proper way to the electors. I suppose that- the clothing industry will come under the new protection proposals of the Government. I assume that honorable members opposite would not be prepared to vote for higher duties unless they were assured that that was so. Unfortunately, in this particular trade - whether it be under free-trade or protective conditions - there is too much reason to believe that sweating is practised. I believe that there is more sweating in the clothing industry than obtains in any other industry irrespective of whether it is under free-trade or protectionist conditions.
– We want other legislation to deal with the sweating evil.
– The new protection will, I trust, to some extent do that. I said “ I trust,” because the ingenuity of some persons in evading an Act of Parliament is simply marvellous. Just as we think we have them, they adopt a simple contrivance, and get out. of their difficulty. However, I am prepared to help any sensible effort to catch people who break the law. We must not forget that before duty is imposed upon any goods, a charge of 10 per cent, is added, to their invoice value. Thus, the duty upon apparel, which is invoiced at .£100, will be calculated upon .£110. A duty of 45 per cent, upon the .£10 thus added would represent nearly £5. Honorable members should not forget that;
– The duty is chargeable upon the value of the goods with 10 per cent, added.
– Then the 45 per cent, duty will be charged upon ,£110. I understand that the .cases in which goods are imported are also to be subject to an ad valorem rate. That is a very harsh proceeding, because although these cases, when they are made for conveying goods across the seas, are worth a certain amount, the moment they have been emptied of their contents they become merely stuff for firewood.
– In a great many instances they are used for other pur poses, but I admit that they do not possess the value of new cases.
– But under this Tariff they will be valued upon their arrival, and a high valuation will be placed upon them. At least they depreciate to the extent of one-half the moment that the goods are taken out of them. As the honorable member for Denison has pointed out, the 45 per cent, duty which it is proposed to levy upon this item thus really becomes * 50 per cent. The duty upon the cases will probably add 2 per cent, or 3 per cent., so that honorable members will see that instead of the duties levied upon this item being 45 per cent, and 40 per cent., they are in reality 50 per cent, and 45 per cent. Now, in Victoria, where a protective policy has been believed in to an extent far exceeding the beliefs of the electors of other States, the people have never yet approved of a duty of 50 per cent, upon clothing. I think that in the midst of a financial crisis the duty was raised to 64 per cent. But instead of adding to the revenue, this rate proved most disappointing in its operation, and it was brought down with a run. Consequently in Victoria, which is in a special sense the home of protection, the people have never yet indorsed the imposition of a duty of 50 per cent, upon this line.
.- To a large extent, I agree with some of the premises of the honorable member for East Sydney.
– Then the honorable member has no right to be here as a protectionist.
– The Treasurer is rather too prone to jump to conclusions, and it would pay him to consider those who are prepared’ to go with him as far as they consistently can. I agree with some of his premises; but do not follow the syllogism of the honorable member for East Sydney, as he very aptly remarked. We both agree that it is desirable to stimulate Australian industries, but I think it is a deplorable circumstance that we have annually to import the best portion of £2,000,000 worth of woollen goods into a country which grows more wool than does any other country in the world.
An Honorable Member. - They are not woollen goods.
– They come in ostensibly as woollen goods. If they were manufactured in ‘Australia they would be woollen goods. I am prepared to extend to the clothing industry a little more protection for the purpose of stimulating the development of woollen manufacture in our midst. I admit that we have to incur certain risks, but as nation builders we want to see the Commonwealth progress. It has been laid down again and again that owing to our isolation it is absolutely necessary that we should develop our resources. Consequently we must incur some risk in building up these industries. I’ am just as keenly alive to the dangers that we have to run as is the honorable member for East Sydney. I agree with him that it is necessary to stimulate our primary industries. But already our primary producers are complaining that they do not possess a sufficient home market. I know that some of them take a short-sighted view, but we must recollect that we have to deal with men who take that sort of view, and meet them as far as we can. They say, when we talk of putting more farmers on the land, “ What is the good, until we have more people here to consume their products?” One way of obtaining a larger consumption for their products is to increase the number of persons engaged in manufacturing in Australia. If the leader of the Opposition were willing to make it impossible for any man to hold land who would not put it to the best uses, I should be ready to support him, but, holding the views which he does, and backed by the Corner Party, I feel that if he were in power we should find it more difficult to stimulate primary production than it is under present circumstances. In my opinion, these prices will not be increased by raising the rates’ of duty. Locally made tweeds are cheaper than imported tweeds, if not quite so good in some instances. That they are not more sought after is not so much because of their want of quality as because of the prejudice against them.
– Some of the locally-made woollen goods contain as much as 70 ,per cent, of cotton.
– We can take means to put a stop to adulteration of that kind. T think that we should compel the public to be patriotic, if they will not be so of their own accord. I know that when I order a suit of clothes I frequently do not think to. say to the tailor that I require colonial tweed, and, no doubt, the leader of the Opposition and others often forget to do so’ - supposing that they are patriotic enough to desire to wear locally-manufactured clothing. I am quite prepared to be compelled to use Australian tweeds, and I think that patriotic Australians hold the same views as I do. ‘ Many tailors whom I have consulted have told me that the effect of the duties has not been to increase prices^ and that Australian tweeds are cheaper than the imported tweeds. It hasbeen said that wham we have more effective protection the Australian manufacturers will unduly increase prices; but we have the promise of the Ministry that legislation will be introduced, which the honorable member for East Sydney has volunteered to support, to provide against such imposition. Surely, we are not going to admit that we are unable to cope ‘with all the tricks of trade?
– It would seem that we are, judging by what we have heard regarding the harvester Excise.
– That is a point I am keen about. We have arrived at a time when we need honest administration rather than more legislation. We have quite enough legislation. If the Labour Party were in power, there would be an Administration which would, see that the laws were observed to the letter.
– If the honorable member will make that clear, we shall help to put the Labour Party in power.
– The laws could be enforced by the punctilious discharge of Ministerial duty. There is just as much capacity, just as much latent roguery, in those appointed to administer them, as there is in any business man; and I take it that a certain amount of business cunning is needed to deal with business cunning.
– Did the honorable member say roguery?
– I used the .term, for the want of a better word.
– It was a very apt one.
– I said “latent roguery.” The honorable member for East Sydney says that the Tariff will take ,£2,000,000 out of the pockets of the people. He also objects to it because it will be protective, and will build up monopolies. But it cannot take money out of the people’s pockets if it brings about the local manufacture of our requirements.
– Yes, it can.
– So far, prices have not gone up.
– They have gone up.
– I have proved to my own satisfaction that they, have not. I have made inquiries of numerous importers, and of tailors in particular, and they have told me that prices have not gone up. The prices of local manufactures can be regulated. There is no need for the public to be exploited, either through the medium of the local manufacturers or through the medium of the Customs Department. If the duties give an effective protection, the public cannot be exploited through the medium of the Customs Department, and we can prevent their exploitation by local manufacturers. But, in view of the prejudices which have tobe considered, and of the fact that this is a tentative proposal, I think that the rates should be reduced to 40 per cent. in the General Tariff and to 35 per cent. on goods produced or manufactured in the United Kingdom, and Ishould like to move to bring that about.
– There is already an amendment before the Committee.
.- I regret that the Minister has not given way to the representations made to him, to allow the Committee, in considering these duties, to begin at the bottom, laying, in the first instance, a secure foundation. In America some very large buildings have been commenced from the top, but, in the first place, a frame-work has been necessary, and I think that we should do better in this instance in building from the bottom, considering first the duty on piece goods. I should have moved the postponement of preceding items, had I not known, as has been said, that the Treasurer has the numbers behind him, and that it would be useless to do so.
– I hope to carry the rates which I have proposed in connexion with the item under discussion ; but, whatever rates are agreed to, they must, I admit, bear a relation to the rates on piece goods.
– So that, if these ratesare reduced, the rates on piece goods must be reduced proportionately?
– There must be a certain margin allowed.
– I hope that that margin will be 10 per cent.
– I am not prepared to say anything more on the subject now.
– From the general tenor of the Minister’s interjections, the Committee may regard that as likely. I have looked for enlightenment in regard to these proposals to the reports of the Tariff Commission, and particularly to those of the protectionist section, but I have not found it. It has been stated that the manufacturers concerned did not come before the Commission for reasons best known to themselves. Had they done so, they would have found themselves in a difficult position, because they would have been asked: ‘‘Are not your mills at present working at high pressure ? “ I know that they are. I have made inquiries today, and have ascertained that in some instances orders cannot be filled for six months from date.
– Is the honorable member speaking of the manufacture of clothing?
– I am speaking of the manufacture of piece goods, which is the foundation of the whole industry. The manufacturers cannot now supply the orders which are sent to them. This morning I had the assurance from a large consumer that before the Cup meeting he was prepared to take a considerable quantity of local goods, but could not get them.
– There may have been a rush for a week.
– The state of things of which I speak has existed for a considerable time. We ought to help this industry in every way we can, and therefore I can- not support the amendment before the Chair. I think that it was a waste of time to propose it.
– The honorable member is wasting time.
– The honorable member for Corangamite cannot have the slightest hope of carrying his amendment.
– Not when the honorable member shifts his position so frequently.
– Will the honorable member for Corangamite show how I have shifted my position? I understand that he proposes a duty of 25 per cent.
– No; duties of 30 and 27½ per cent.
– When the honorable member spoke to me on the subject, I said that I would not go below a duty of 35 per cent., and, at the proper time, I shall move for a duty of 35 per cent. on the General Tariff and of30 per cent. on the special Tariff for goods from the United Kingdom.
– I cannot accept thoserates.
– In the face of the recommendations of the Tariff Commission, and of the fact that the mills are as full of work as they can be, I think that we shall deal liberally with the industry if we agree to those duties.I shall not discuss this matter in detail, but I have no mandate from my electors to increase the old rates beyond 10 per cent. Such an increase I take to be justified, because, for humanitarian reasons, the Government intend to pass legislation to regulate wages and industry, which, no doubt, will impose additional obligations on manufacturers.
Question - That after the words “ 45 pur cent., the words “ and on and after 7th November, 1907 (General Tariff), 25 per cent.” (Mr. Joseph Cook’s amendment), be inserted - put. The Committee divided.
Majority … … 15
Question so resolved in the negative.
Question - That after the words “ 45 per cent.” the words “and on and after 7th November, 1907 (General Tariff), 30 per cent.” (Mr. Wilson’s amendment) be inserted - put. The Committee divided.
Majority … … 9
Question so resolved in the negative.
.- I propose to move -
That after the words “ 40 per cent.” the words “ and on and after 7th November, 1907 (General Tariff) 40 per cent., (United Kingdom), 35 per cent.,” be inserted.
.- I have a prior amendment. I move -
That after the words “ 45 per cent.” the voids “ and on and after 7th November, 1907 (General Tariff), 35 per cent.,” be inserted.
– I hope that honorable members will not agree to the amendment moved by the honorable member for Kooyong. I am quite prepared to accept that foreshadowed by the honorable member for Macquarie. It must not be forgotten that we have yet to deal with piece goods. I desire that there shall be a fair margin between the duties on piece goods and those on the manufactured article, and if this amendment be carried it will prevent us from giving such a margin as I should otherwise like to provide for. I hope that the margin between the two will not be cut down too low. My desire is to bring down the duties on piece goods reasonably low, and togive, at all events, a margin of 10 per cent. between them and those on the manufactured article.
– I trust that the Committee will not be prepared to vote for more than the excessive duties proposed by the honorable member for Kooyong. The first Federal Government introduced a Tariff in which they proposed a duty of only 25 per cent. on this line, and we now have an honorable member who was a member of that Ministry asking us to grant an excessive increase without any reason being offered even by those in the trade. It has been admitted, even by protectionists throughout Australia, that some of the duties in the Tariff press very heavily upon the people, and especially upon the poor of the community.
– What protectionists admitted that ?
– Many protectionists ; and some of the divisions which have been taken support my statement. Protectionist members of the Labour Party went over to New South Wales during the elections, and some of them stated that they were not responsible for the Tariff - that, in their opinion, some of the duties would bear heavily on the working classes, and that when those duties came to be considered they would be found trying to reduce them.
– What duties were those?
– The duties were not indicated, but that is the statement which was made. It will be realized, especially by the public, who have to pay, that no duties will press more heavily than those now under discussion.
– Absolute nonsense !
– It is an absolute fact. I am very glad to see this excitement amongst the supporters of a high Tariff, because it shows that my arguments are going home. I hope the Committee will not impose these duties, because the manufacturers themselves have not said they are necessary ; and it is absolutely absurd to imagine that the new protection, if it be applied to selling prices, can reach a trade like this, which deals with such an immense number of articles.
– Do not forget the 10 per cent. that is added.
– That is not added - it is a mistake.
– A member of the Government says that when an ad valorem duty is charged, 10 per cent. is not added.
– Ten per cent. is added to the value, but not to the duty.
– If there be. a duty of 50 per cent., and £10 is added to the value, that means another 5 per cent. added to the duty.
– It does not make anything like 5 per cent.
– I am not here to teach the Postmaster-General arithmetic.
– I desire to protest against the ridiculous and outrageous proposal of the honorable member for Kooyong. That honorable member was returned as a protectionist, and when before the electors he said he would support the protectionist policy. But because of a few anonymous letters in the Melbourne Argus, which threatened some opposition at the next election, he has never since voted within these walls without having his ear to the ground in orderto ascertain, if possible, public opinion. The honorable member is afraid to vote according to his election promises as a protectionist.
– I should like to take your ruling, Mr. McDonald, as to whether the honorable member for Corio is in order in making the imputation that the honorable member for Kooyong is influenced in his votes in this chamber by letters to the newspapers ?
– No honorable member is in order in imputing motives to another honorable member. If the honorable member for Corio intended to impute motives, he is distinctly out of order.
– I impute no motives, but I do impute continuous political inconsistency of a disgraceful sort on the part of the honorable member for Kooyong.
– Order !
– I withdraw the latter part of my remarks. If the Committee accept the amendment, there is no possible chance of protecting the woollen industry in relation to piece goods, which have yet to be considered. If the honorable member for Kooyong thinks that this is not an Australian industry which needs protection, he does not know what protection is. I think that the next time the honorable member appeals to the electors as a protectionist they will know what he really is.
– It appears to me that the working classes have no champions in this Committee. Surely honorable members are not prepared to vote in favour of a duty of 35 per cent. on goods which represent a value of £1,600,000 a year, and which must of necessity be imported for many years to come, no matter what the duty may be. Is no word to be said on behalf of the large body of consumers who will suffer by reason of this impost? I should feel utterly ashamed to vote in favour of even 25 per cent. The free-trade section of the Tariff Commission, after giving the question every consideration, came to the conclusion that a duty of15 per cent. was adequate; and the recommendation by the protectionist section of the Commission, that a duty of 40 per cent. be imposed, was based on the fact that there is adulteration of imported goods.
Honorable Members. - Divide !
– Shall not a member be heard who comes from a State which represents one-third of the people of Australia, and which will have to contribute nearly £1,000,000 of this taxation ? The Treasurer is restive if there be any argument ;but if we do not argue this question, what question are we to argue? Personally, I see no honour in voting fora duty of 35 per cent. Representatives of the Labour Party have gone all over Australia declaring that they are in favour of reducing the cost of the necessaries oflife. I remind those honorable members that the goods under discussion cannot at present be manufactured in Australia, and some years most elapse before the necessary machinery can be obtained. We are told that it is because of the great output in England that these goods are supplied to us at present prices; and there is not the slightest doubt that, even if the duty were made 60 per cent., the local manufacturers could not supply the demand. All the talk about an export trade in this class of goods is beside the question. Every protectionist knows that it is impossible for us to go into the markets of the world and compete successfully with older and better equipped and organized manufacturers. I protest against the excessive duty proposed, and would rather walk out of the House than vote for 35 per cent., were it not for the fact that these goods must be imported whatever the impost, and that I feel it incumbent on me to save the people from being robbed of even 5 per cent.
Question-That after the words “ 45per cent.” the words “and on and after . 7th November, 1907 (General Tariff), 35 per cent.” (Mr. Knox’s amendment) be inserted - put. The Committee divided.
Majority … … 3.
Question so resolved in the negative.
Amendment (by Mr. Wilson) put -
That after the words “ 45 per cent.” the words “ and on and after 7th November, 1907 (General Tariff), 37½ per cent.,” be inserted.
The Committee divided.
Majority … … 5
Question so resolved in the negative.
Amendment (by Mr. Carr) agreed to -
That after the words “ 45 per cent.” the words “ and on and after 7th November, 1907 (General Tariff), 40 per cent.,” be inserted.
Amendment (by Mr. Joseph Cook) put -
That after the words “40 per cent.” the words “ and on and after 7th November, 1907 (United Kingdom), 30 per cent.,” be added.
The Committee divided.
Majority … … 7
Question so resolved in the negative.
Amendment (by Mr. Joseph Cook) negatived -
That after the words “40 per cent.” the words “ and on and after 7th November, 1907 (United Kingdom), 32½ per cent.,” be added.
Amendment (by Sir William Lyne) agreed to -
That after the words “40 per cent.” the words “and on and after. 7th November, 1907 (United Kingdom), 35 per cent.,” be added.
Sitting suspended from 6.37 to 8 p.m.
– I wish to move an amendmentwhich will make the item read -
Apparel and attire, woollen and silk, or containing wool or silk, partly or wholly made up, including materials cut into shape therefor.
– The Committee having added words to the item, the Treasurer cannot move that amendment.
– Then I shall have it moved elsewhere.
Item 107. Apparel and Attire of any material, n.e.i. ; including Armlets; Cuff Sleeve and Necktie Holders and Clips not used in the manufacture of apparel ; Lace Collars ; Lace Bows ; Scarfs and Cravats; Lace Fichus; Plastrons; Yokes; Rabats and Fronts; Garters; Corset Supporters ; Skirt Bands ; Skirt Elevators and Retainers; Dress and Stocking Suspenders; Children’s Rope Lanyards; Teething Necklaces; Eye Shades; Belts and Belt Frames and Supports; Braces and Brace Ends; Girdles; Collar Springs Frames Loops Supports and Fasteners; Hair Frames Binders and Fasteners ; Hat Guards; Puggarees; Pins of all kinds, n.e.i.; Handkerchiefs of Silk ; Suspensory Bandages ; Artificial Bosoms; Chest Protectors; Shoulder Pads; Baptising and Wading Pants; Bridal Sets; Leggings, n.e.i.; Gaiters; and Puttees, ad val. (General. Tariff), 40 per cent., (United Kingdom), 35 per cent.
– I move -
That all the words from “ Apparel “ to “Puttees” inclusive be left out, with a view to insert in lieu thereof the words, “ Apparel and attire, n.e.i., for the human body, partly or wholly made up, of any material not containing wool or silk, including materials cut into shape therefor.”
– What does the Minister propose to do with item 108 ?
– To alter it, too. I am practically reverting to the descriptions in the Tariff of 1902.
.- It is a pity that the Minister does not give us some intimation in advance of his intention to propose these changes of category.
– Why should he? He has. a lot of automata following him in everything.
– Do not be , so insulting. You insulting brute, keep quiet.
– Is the honorable member for Werriwa in order in calling the honorable member for Parramatta an “ insulting brute “ ?
– The honorable member for Parramatta insulted the honorable member for Werriwa.
– He called him an automaton.
– I did not hear the words complained pf ; but if they were used, I am sure that the honorable member for Werriwa will withdraw them. I also ask the honorable member for Parramatta to withdraw his remark.
– I used the words, and I withdraw them. I used them on being called an automaton.
– I withdraw what I said, and say that they are not automata.
– I am sorry for having been the cause of this interchange of cour.tesies. I hope that in future the Minister will give us some intimation when he has proposals of this kind to make.
– He does not know from one five minutes to another what he is going to da It depends on what they say there.
– I rose to point out, when item 106 was under consideration, that its wording is different from that adopted in the Tariff of 1902. In the Tariff of 1902 it was declared that the duty was not to apply to piece goods. I am suspicious of these alterations, because I find that the Minister wishes to bring piece goods within item 107, if cut into shape in any way.
– Piece goods will be dealt with later, in a separate item. -The interpretation on the words which I wish to insert will be that which was placed on the words in the Tariff of 1902.
– No, it is altogether a new arrangement. We are departing without explanation from the designations used in the Tariff of 1902, and we may find that very often, under the pretence of merely altering a heading, the incidence of the duty has been altered. It is due to the Committee that, when a change such as that’ now proposed is in contemplation, we should have reasonable notice of it.
– The arrangement was suggested by a collector, who thought it to be an improvement, but after correspondence had been received in reference to it, and it had been thoroughly considered, the Department came to the conclusion that it would be better to use the old designation.
.- Before the item is amended, as proposed by the Minister, I wish to know whether the new designation will include all the items now set forth. Will it include plastrons, and, if so, what are they? Will it include rabats? If so, I wish to know what is the relation of rabats to the human body?
– Will it include surgical appliances and bandages?
– I leave it to the honorable member for North Sydney to obtain an explanation on that point. Will it include garters, corsets, skirt elevators, stocking suspenders, and teething necklaces?
– What about baptizing pants ?
– I am coming to them.
– Perhaps they are being imported as part of the new Sydney bathing costumes.
– No; those would come in as skirts.
– I wish to know what is meant by artificial bosoms. What are shoulder pads? How are they applied to the human body ? And for what particular purposes are baptizing and wading pants used? -Then come bridal sets. I ask the Minister to give us a description of these articles, and their use, and, if his officers have brought samples, to display them to the Committee, so that we may know what we are voting upon.
Amendment agreed to.
.- I intend to move -
That after the words “ 40 per cent.” the words “ and on and after 7th November, 1907 (General Tariff), 35 per cent.,” be inserted.
In dealing with item 106, we reduced the duties from 45 and 40 per cent, to 40 and 35 per cent., and I have proposed this amendment with a view to securing symmetry. I. do not intend to speak at any length, because I shall follow the rule which I have observed in connexion with the telephones since the toll system was introduced, and speak as little as possible. But there is a matter in regard to which I should like an explanation from some New South Wales representative. In Melbourne, corsets are made bv three firms, at prices which range from four guineas to thirteen guineas, and an additional charge of us. 6d. is made for suspenders. In Sydney they are made and sold at 9s. 6d. and 1 os. 6d. each. Of course, a girl employed in a factory at a wage of 10s. a week cannot afford luxuries of that kind, and my object in proposing this amendment is to afford her some slight relief. A girl employed in a factory has to pay about 2s. 1 id. for a pair of corsets, and the strain which her work entails upon them is so great that their life is not more than three months.
– I have a prior amendment. I move -
That after the words “40 per cent.” the words “ and on and after 7th November, 1907 (General “Tariff), 25 per cent.,” be inserted.
I hope to see voting for this amendment some honorable members who, as I’ have already said, represent free-trade constituencies in New South Wales. I venture to assert that the honorable member for Werriwa, who has just insulted me by calling me a very ugly name, would not have seen the ‘inside of this Chamber had he told his constituents when on the hustings that he would vote for a 40 per cent. duty.
– I must ask the honorable member not to engage in per- sonalities.
– I do not intend to do so. I am simply pointing out that certain, honorable members would not have been returned had they proclaimed their intention of voting for a duty of 40 per cent. They represent free-trade constituencies.
– Constituencies which were free-trade, but have been converted to protection.
– When the duty on wire-netting was under consideration, we saw a sudden conversion on the part of the honorable member. We have many conversions in this House, and some of them are too sudden for my liking. I intend to give those honorable members who are so fond of parading their own consistency, and who see no consistency on the part of others, an opportunity to vote for what I believe to be in strict accordance with the sentiments of their electorates.
– The Treasurer has so far given ho reply to certain questions that have been put to him by the honorable member for Corangamite, and there are also two matters on which I should like to have some information. J wish to know whether leather belts, or belts partly or wholly made of silver or plate, and having no woollen’ or cotton materials therein, should come under this heading, or under the heading of electroplate or silver ware? There is no element of protection in their case, because belts of the class referred to cannot be made in Australia.
– They come within, the Customs interpretation of the word “attire.”
– I also wish to know why the Government propose a duty of 45 per cent, on bridal sets, and whether bridal sets have any relation to the question of the marriage tie? Is it the desire of the Government to make marriage a prohibitive luxury to the poorer classes?
.- I am tired of listening to the lectures of the honorable member for Parramatta. He has made a statement that some honorable members represent free-trade constituencies, and would not have been elected had they intimated when on the hustings their intention of voting for protective duties.
– I called the honorable member for Parramatta to order when he proceeded to refer to that matter, and I must ask the honorable member to refrain from discussing it.
– I merely wish to show that if there is an inconsistent man in this House it is the honorable member for Parramatta.
– I must ask the honorable member to confine his attention to the item before the Chair.
– I propose to read a letter which the honorable member wrote as a protectionist in 1881.
– I hope that the honorable member will be allowed to read it, and that I shall be permitted to reply.
– I must ask the honorable member for Melbourne to follow my ruling.
– I shall record my protest by voting against the honorable member for Parramatta’s amendment, and trust that I shall have a further opportunity of dealing with the matter to which I have referred.
.- The strongest evidence in favour of this duty comes from New South Wales. Mr. Henry Shaw, cutter,’ of Station-street, Harris Park, who appeared before the Commission, said, in reply to the question, “ For what increase of duty do you ask ? “ -
We wish the duty on clothing to be increased to 50 per cent.
Mr. Robert Vicars, a representative of the Marrickville Woollen Mills, asked for a duty of 40 per cent, on clothing.
– Not in respect of. this item.
- Mr. Henry Shaw asked for a duty of 50 per cent, and Mr. John Blackman also asked for a duty of 40 Der cent, on apparel. It will thus be seen that the people of New South Wales are asking for the highest protective duties, and that the representatives of that State, in supporting protective duties, are voting in accordance with the desire of their constitu ents, and are certainly following the suggestion of the Opposition that they should stand by the evidence given before the Tariff Commission.
.- It has been suggested that one reason why I should support a lower duty is that I represent a free-trade constituency. I should like to point out that, at the last general election, my opponent, Mr. Conroy, who was for some years a member of this House, and is a most ardent free-trader, preached free-trade’ from every platform. On the other hand, I preached protection throughout the electorate of Werriwa.. I was returned, and Mr. Conroy was rejected.
– Was the election fought on the fiscal question?
– It was, because Mr. Conroy refused to take up the cry of antiSocialism.
– Did the honorable member fight his election solely as a protectionist ?
– :No; I am a Labour man first and foremost, and always have been.
– Then the honorable member put protection in the second place.
– As the honorable member put free- trade in a secondary position, he ought not to complain. I do not know that the Committee is very much interested in matters of this kind. However, for whatever we may do we have to answer to our constituents. I resent an assertion that I have “ wobbled” or changed my opinion on this question. No doubt, as time goes on, I shall change my opinions on many questions, but I hope that I shall not do so on quite so many as has the honorable member, for Parramatta.
– The honorable member for Batman quoted from the evidence of three witnesses before the Commission, namely, Mr. Moore, Mr. Blackman, and Mr. Vicars. But I find that Mr. Moore, according to the report of the Tariff Commission, said that his company had sent goods into Western Australia previous to Federation, paying the 15 per cent, duty then in existence.’ According to this, Mr. Moore’s company had been able to compete successfully in the western State in spite of the duty. Mr. Vicars told the Commission that his company was able to send goods into Victoria, when the duty there was 25 per cent., and that they had been able to compete success- fully. Mr. Blackrnan told the Commission that his firm had sent goods into the Queensland market, under a duty of 15 per cent., and had done quite as much business in that State, under such conditions, as they were doing at present. The honorable member for Batman is mistaken when he says that these gentlemen would not be satisfied with anything under a duty of 50 per cent., because, as a matter of fact, they asked for no higher protection than that given under the Kingston Tariff. I do not think that the honorable member for Batman intended in any way to mislead the Committee, but made a mistake in quoting from a paragraph which he had in his scrap-book.
Question - That after the words “ 40 per cent.” the words “and on and after 7th November, 1907 (General Tariff), 25 per cent. “ (Mr. Joseph Cook’s amendment), be inserted - put. The Committee divided.
Majority … …11
Question so resolved in the negative.
Amendment (by Mr. Wilson) put -
That after the words “ 40 per cent.” the words “and on andafter 7th November, 1907 (General Tariff), 30 per cent.,” be inserted.
The Committee divided.
Majority …. … 7
Question so resolved in the negative.
Amendments (by Mr. Maloney) agreed to -
That after the figures “ 40 per cent.” the words “ and on and after 7th November, 1907(General Tariff), 31; per cent.,” be inserted.
That after the words “ 35per cent.” the words “ and on and after 7th November, 1907 “(United Kingdom), 30 per cent.,” be added.
Item, as amended, agreed to.
Item108. Articles, n.e.i. ; including dusters, n.e.i.; cleaning pads, kettle holders; polishing, tea,glass, kitchen, sponge, counter, and crumb cloths.; scapular prints;canvas water holders; animal clothing; horse and body rollers; saddle cloths; sleeping sacks; tracing cloth, with designs; hair curlers and wavers; adhesive labels, and letters (textile); hangers, labels, bands, and ribbons, with woven name or design thereon ; scourers, and other articles of a like character, ad val. (General Tariff), 30 per .cent. ; (United Kingdom), 25 per cent.
Amendment (by Sir William Lyne) proposed -
That all the words after “Articles, n.e.i.,” down to and inclusive of the word “ character,” be left out, with a view to insert in lieu thereof the words “ partly or wholly made up from textiles, felts, furs, or feathers, not included under items 107 or 137. and including materials cut into shape therefor.”
– I wish to direct the attention of the Treasurer to the line, “ Hangers, labels, bands, and ribbons with woven name or design thereon.” I understand that the bands referred to are used for the purpose of hanging cloths. Under the old Tariff they were admitted free, and I should like to know whether the Treasurer intends to make a number of these articles free.
– By substituting the amendment which I have submitted for this item we shall make the heading accord with the interpretation which was placed upon a similar item in the old Tariff.
.- Do I understand that the Treasurer intends to reduce the duties levied upon, this item, so as. to make them harmonize with the reductions which have already been made? The item includes a number of articles which are not made in the Commonwealth, and which are not likely to be made here for a very long time. While I intend to support prohibitive duties upon articles which can be manufactured in Australia, I will not vote for the imposition of revenue duties upon articles which cannot be manufactured here.. I certainly think that duties of 30- per cent, and 25 _ per cent, should not be levied upon articles such as towels, which are not made in the Commonwealth. So far we have never attempted to manufacture cotton goods. I hope that the day will come when we shall manufacture them, but in the meantime we ought not to impose heavy revenue duties upon them.
.- I should like to know what the Treasurer has to say in reply to the remarks of the honorable member for Yarra, who Has invited him to reduce tthe duties upon this item. One who is so experienced a protectionist as is the honorable member ought certainly to be able to impress his policy upon the Minister. I have received a communication from Messrs. Stirling and Company, of Richmond, in reference to this item. After specifying a number of lines which cannot be manufactured in Australia for many years to come, they suggest that the duty upon this item should be 5 per cent. Under the circumstances, the Treasurer might accept the advice of such a staunch protectionist as the honorable member for Yarra and reduce the duty to that rate.
– Unless the Treasurer is prepared to differentiate between some of the articles enumerated in this item, I feel disposed to vote against it in its entirety. It is well known that towels, handkerchiefs, and serviettes are not made in Australia, and are not likely to be.
– They are made up here.
– What “making up” is involved in the case of towels? The towels are imported in a woven form, so that one has merely to run a pair of scissors along them to divide them one from the other. I have consistently objected to revenue duties, and- 1 shall continue to do so, especially when they are of a high character, such as are those here proposed. At the same time, I do not wish inadvertently to do an injustice to industries which are carried on in Australia. We all know that saddle cloths and horse rugs can be made in the Commonwealth, and therefore I suggest to the Treasurer that he should select a number of articles not made locally and place them upon the free list.
.- I wish to strengthen the hands of the Ministry in this matter. They have shown a praiseworthy desire to establish new industries, and the industry of snipping towels is one of -the most promising in the Commonwealth. Let honorable members think pf the number of towels that are used every day throughout Australia. Let them reflect upon he 1 thousands of voting ladies who might be kept constantly employed in snipping towels.
.- Included in this item are a number of - articles which are used for manufacturing purposes. If these” are not placed upon the free list, the duty upon them ought to be considerably reduced. I refer .particularly to hangers, labels, bands, and ribbons.
– Why sshould bands be placed upon the free list ?
– I am advised that-
Hangers, labels, and bands should be included amongst minor articles used in the manufacture of apparel, and should be free or at a low tariff to encourage the local manufacturing of clothing. The balance of item 108 should not exceed 20 per cent.
I should like the Treasurer to say whether he will consent to omit hangers, labels, and bands.
– I propose to omit the whole of these articles, and to insert another heading altogether - the heading which appeared in the old Tariff.
– Is the Treasurer prepared to place such items as I have mentioned, which are used for manufacturing purposes, on the free list?
– I intend to place some of these articles - how many I am not prepared to say at the present moment - upon the free list. I proposeto substitute another heading, and the articles to which the honorable member has referred, with a good many’ others, will appear upon the free list.
– What about towels?
– I am informed that towels are made in the Commonwealth. If honorable members will accept the amendment, I shall consider the question of placing upon the free list most of the articles which are not made locally, and which are required in the manufacture of other articles.
.-I hope that the Treasurer, in fulfilling his promise, will recollect that the effect of the proposed duties would have been to make towels cheaper. By placing them upon the free list he may increase their cost to the. consumer. I wish now to put in a plea for canvas water bags. These are used in the Australian bush by men whose lives frequently depend upon their being able to obtain a supply of water. If towels are to be admitted free, why not water bags, which are used by our pioneers?
– They are made in Australia.
– Surely the burst of genius which is equal to manufacturing saddle bags ought to be equal to manufacturing towels.
.- I think that we should all feel grateful that the Treasurer intends to be reasonable. He actually proposes to place certain articles upon the free list upon the ground that they cannot be manufactured in the Commonwealth. But I understand that hair curlers and wavers cannot be made in Australia, and, consequently, they ought to be placed upon the free list. Only last week we had a strenuous fight as to whether sausage skins should be admitted free. I wish the people of Australia to understand that, although it is alleged that we cannot make these things, we can make electrical machinery of the most complicated type. The protectionists, as a rule, will take any fence. They say that everything known to civilization can be made in Australia but the honorable member for Yarra has to except towels and canvas water-bags.
– He said, not that they cannot be, but that they are not, made here.
– Of course, as a freetrader, I shall vote for placing these things on the free list, but I cannot understand the admission.
– Division V. of the old Tariff contains a number of exemptions, some of which seem to be covered by the exemptions enumerated here, while others do not. Among these exemptions were bandages, elastic stockings, leggings, kneecaps, thigh-pieces, and wristlets, surgical. Are we to understand that, as these articles are not set out under a special heading as exempt, they will be dutiable?
– Surgical instruments are free, and so, too, are surgical appliances.
– I should like to know definitely.
– There is no alteration of importance in connexion with these things.
– Do I understand that the articles which I have mentioned are free under this Tariff?
Amendment agreed to.
.- I understand that the articles included in this item were dutiable at 25 per cent. under the old Tariff, and that it is now proposed to make them dutiable at 30 per cent. if imported from other parts of the world, and at 25 per cent. if imported from England, thus leaving the rate what it was as regards importations from the United Kingdom, and raising it by 5 per cent. against other countries.
– The Committee having reduced the rates of duty in connexion with the preceding items, there should be a similar reduction in these rates.
– In connexion with the preceding items increases of duty were proposed.
– The framers of the Tariff intended that there should be a certain relation between the various rates, and having altered the rates in connexion with two items, we should alter them in connexion with this item.
– I do not wish these duties to be lowered, but I intend to analyze the item, and to take out more articles than were on the free list before.
– Surely the honorable member for North Sydney does not wish to make the duties on these articles lower than those under the old Tariff?
– These items are connected with one another, and the average of the present duties will be much above the old rate. Imove -
That after the words “ 30 per cent.” the words “ and on and after 7th November, 1907 (General Tariff), 25 per cent.,” be inserted.
Question put. The Committee divided.
Majority … …. 18
Question so resolved in the negative.
Item, as amended, agreed to.
Item 109. Feathers, Undressed, ad val., 15 per cent.
– The honorable member for Fawkner asked me to move to make feathers, undressed, free.I understand that there is only one ostrich farm in the Commonwealth.
– No; there are at least half a dozen.
– In that case my information is at fault. The dressing of feathers in Australia is an art so well understood that we have now quite a respectable export trade in dressed feathers. Remembering the conditions under which ostrich feathers are grown in South Africa, and the cost of importing them, honorable members will see that ostrich farms in Australia will not be prejudiced if undressed feathers are admitted duty free. Last year the revenue from this duty was only £524. The placing of this item on, the free list would stimulate the industry of dressing ostrich feathers, and would not affect ostrich farmers in Australia. I move) -
That the words “ and on and after 7th November, 1907, free,” be added.
– Under the preferential Tariff agreement with South Africa, ostrich feathers coming from that country are dutiable at 10 per cent. That should largely remove the objection which the honorable member for Corangamite has to this duty.. The preference granted to South Africa would stand unless, with the consent of that country, we made an alteration in the agreement. I therefore hope that the honorable member will not press his amendment.
.- This amendment has been moved by the honorable member for Corangamite on behalfof the honorable member for Fawkner, in whose electorate there is a factory devoted to the dressing of ostrich feathers. It is interesting to observe that whilst a duty of 40 per cent. has been imposed upon apparel and attire - an item of great concern to the masses of the community - the honorable member for Fawkner considers that ostrich feathers used for the personal adornment of those who could well afford to pay a high duty should come in free, because there is a feather-dressing industry in his constituency. I am going back on my free-trade principles to the extent of voting for a thumping big duty on this item. When I cannot induce the Committee to reduce a duty on some of the necessaries of life, I am not going to agree to such an item as this being placed on the free list. This is a rattling revenue item.
– Last year, under a duty of 15 per cent., a revenue of £524 was obtained from it.
– Then we should at least obtain the same revenue from the item.
– I hope that the amendment will not be agreed to. I should like the duty to be increased. If the old duty were increased, the feathers and down of our domestic birds, which are now being absolutely wasted, would be dressed and put to good use. We can grow good mutton, good poultry, and good feathers, and I am prepared to support any proposal by the honorable member for Dalley to impose a high duty on luxuries.
– I am inclined to think that by this time the honorable member for Corangamite, so far as his amendment is concerned, has not a feather to fly with. Having regard to the fact that we have just imposed duties of 30 or 40 per cent. on some of the necessaries of life, I cannot work up any enthusiasm regarding a proposal to remove a duty of 15 per cent. on ostrich feathers. I have risen for the purpose of asking the Treasurer what he proposes to do regarding the preference to South Africa in respect of ostrich feathers ? Unless something be done we shall have to reduce the operation of the duty as against South Africa.
– No ; the 10 per cent. duty under the preferential arrangement with South Africa will take precedence of this item so far as imports from that country are concerned. There is a special provision in the arrangement with South Africa.
– But this, being a later proposal, will alter it.
– It will not be disturbed.
– Then the Government will have to make some special provision for it.
– It is not necessary to deal with it in connexion with this item. We shall take care that the preference with South Africa is not disturbed. If necessary, we shall take action.
– I take it that there is in operation an Act of Parliament under which the duty on undressed feathers from South Africa will remain at 10 per cent., and that this item will not apply to feathers coming from that country. I am sorry to learn that the honorable member for Dalley would increase this duty, since I think that there is no virtue in taxing the people to a greater extent than is necessary for revenue purposes. At the same time, I recognise that the honorable member made a good point when he said that although wearing apparel, required by the poorest section of the community, had been taxed to the extent of 40 per cent. - and I believe that that duty was imposed upon the recommendation of the honorable member for Corangamite - that honorable member now desires that ostrich feathers should be placed on the free list.
– I submitted the amendment on behalf of the honorable member for Fawkner.
– The honorable member for Corangamite dare not vote against what he has moved, although he has moved it on behalf of another honorable member. I am not going to allow the wealthy class to get off scot free, although the ardent protectionists are most anxious that they should do so. The special mission of those honorable members appears to be to tax heavily the wage-earner. I shall oppose the amendment.
Colonel FOXTON (Brisbane) [9.27].- The question raised with regard to the preference to South Africa is well worthy of the attention of the Treasurer. That preference when given overruled the then existing Tariff, as it was a later enactment of the Parliament, but the Bill which will give effect to this Tariff will also be a new enactment, and will probably repeal by implication, so far as Australia is concerned, the arrangement made with South Africa. The Treasurer should see that a clause is introduced into the Bill to preserve the rights of South Africa under the existing arrangement.
– There is a special Act containing the preference to South Africa. I am not a legal luminary, but the Customs Department hold that that Act must be specially repealed before this Tariff can interfere with it. It will hold good and the duties will be collected without regard to the rates fixed for the item under consideration.
– It is worth the Treasurer’s while to look into the question of the South African preference. He did not seem to know - I do not blame him for it, because it is not his duty to become what he calls “ a legal luminary “ - whether the Act dealing with that preference will apply to Tariff Acts passed subsequent to it. It is quite possible that it provides that whatever Tariff may be passed there shall be a preference, but if it refers to an item the rates on which are different in the United Kingdom and General Tariff columns, how will the South African preference apply? Will the preference be a reduction from the duty as against Great Britain, or a reduction from the duty as against the rest of the world?
– It will not be a reduction from either rate. It is a specific duty.
– Is it a specific duty on each item, irrespective of any Tariff passed?
– It is a specific duty on this item, and I think it is on the others.
– I see nothing in the South African Preference Act to preserve the preference after this schedule becomes law.
– I have just obtained from the Comptroller-General his interpretation of the Act, and a statement of how the Department is working with regard to the South African preference. He understands the Act, and says that it will not be interfered with, but, if it will stop discussion, I will undertake, if there is anything doubtful, to have it dealt with in the Bill covering this schedule.
– Nothing unusual may occur until the matter is put to the test. The Department would be justified in collecting the duty until stopped from doing so. Some one may subsequently test the matter, and show that the whole thing is illegal. The necessary provision can be made to keep the South African preference alive when the Tariff Bill is before us.
– If there is the slightest doubt I will undertake to have that done.
.- I intend to vote for the amendment. It is true that the duties have been increased on articles of necessity used by the poorer classes, but that has not been the fault of free-traders like myself. Ifwe had our way we would reduce the duties very much below anything that has been proposed even from this side. If reductions on a lower scale have not been proposed, it has only been because of the certainty that we could not carry them, and because of our desire not to waste time in useless efforts. Those duties upon the necessaries of life and the clothing of the masses of the people have been imposed in spite of all our efforts as free-traders to have them reduced, and, I am sorry to say, mainly with the assistance of those who claim directly to represent the working classes. That, however, is no fault of ours. It is certainly no fault of mine, because I have done my best to persuade the Committee to reduce the duties considerably. The fact that I have not been successful does not justify me in refusing to try to obtain the reduction of duties on other articles. Whenever I see an opportunity to vote for a reduction of duty, or to free some of the more common articles of daily necessity from duty altogether, I shall do so. Therefore, to be consistent with my principles, I propose to vote for the amendment.
.- I understand that this item is part of an arrangement with South Africa.
– There is a preference arrangement with South Africa, under which the duty on this item would be 10 per cent.
– Under the old Tariff the duty was 15 per cent. on the raw material and 25 per cent. on the made-up article. Under the newTariff, presuming we get our feathers from South Africa, there will be a preference of 5 per cent. in favour of that country. What I desire to say. is that ostrich feathers represent another South Australian industry. There are two or three large ostrich farms in South Australia, but the industry does not seem to have been considered when the agreement was made with South Africa..
– If there had been a feather or two . in Queensland the Tariff would have been different.
– It would certainly have been different if there had been an ostrich farm in the constituency of the Minister.
– There are no ostrich farms in my district.
– Precisely ; otherwise this agreement . would not have been made with South Africa. I desire the Treasurer to remember that South Australia is part of the Commonwealth. However, I am not going to vote for a reduction of the duty.
– I am astonished.
– The honorable member may be astonished ; but surely a duty of 5 per cent, is not too much for the encouragement of the ostrich-feather industry. The only competition comes from South Africa, and there is a preference of 10 per cent, in favour of that country. That, of course, reduces the protection to 5 per cent.
Colonel Foxton. - It is the other way about.
– At any rate, there is a difference of 5 per cent., and such a duty is certainly not extravagant, when we remember that on foodstuffs and apparel we have been imposing duties of 45 per cent., and some which really mean 300 per cent. 1 shall take all the consequences and vote with the Government on this item.
– On this important question I have been more or less misled. I find that a lot of ostriches have been hatched quite recently, and trouble has been falling thick and fast about my head. The only honorable member I have to support me is the honorable member for Lang. The honorable member for Grey, who has been very consistent in his desire to lower duties, feels that on th~is item he must vote with the Government. I cannot understand why the honorable member for Fawkner, and those interested in the industry, desire to have this duty removed, because, as we are often told by honorable members opposite, ‘ a duty always lowers the price of an article. Under the circumstances, in the interest of the manufacturer himself, I beg leave to withdraw the amendment.
– I direct the attention of the Treasurer to a rather important point which arises when we compare the Tariff before us with the Customs Tariff Act, which gave a preference to South Africa. Under that Act it is provided that the rate of duty shall be 15 per cent., with a 5 per cent, preference to South Africa.
– That makes the duty 10 per cent, in the case of South f rrica
– Under the proposals with which we are dealing, both the general Tariff and the Tariff for the United Kingdom is 15 per cent. If the Act bears the same relation to the Tariff we are now considering, as it bears to the Tariff of 1902, it means that we are giving South Africa a preference of 5 per cent, over Great Britain. I do not think that that is the intention of the Government.
– I do not think that that is the effect.
– Under the Customs Tariff Act a preference is given to South Africa over Great Britain.
– I cannot see that.
– According to the Customs Tariff Act, there is a duty of 15 per cent, on undressed -feathers, but the duty in the case of feathers from South Africa is only 10 per cent., whereas the Tariff now before us places both British and foreign feathers at 15 per cent. If the. Customs Tariff Act hold good, South Africa will still have an advantage of 5 per cent, over Great Britain. We must remember that this item: is not confined to ostrich feathers, but extends to feathers of all kinds; and any feathers from Great Britain will have to pay a duty of 15 per cent.
– And so they do under the old Tariff.
– Quite so; but the attitude of the Government towards preference has changed since then.
– In the old Tariff there was no preference to Great Britain.
– The duty was 15 per cent., at any rate.
– But there was no preference, whereas under the present Tariff the Government propose a system of preference.
– Preference is not proposed under this item.
– But South Africa is given a preference over Great Britain.
– The duty is exactly the same as before.
– Does the Treasurer wish to give that preference?
.- I think that a duty of 15 per cent. on undressed feathers is somewhat high, viewing the subject from the point of view of people who use these feathers as a raw material of their industry.
SirWilliam Lyne. - The duty is just the same as it was before.
– The previous Tariff was not perfect by any means, and we ought to make an improvement in the case of the Tariff now before us. I hope that the Treasurer will be prepared to accept an amendment to reduce the duty to 10 per cent.
– I cannot accept such an amendment.
– That is to be regretted, because the importation of these feathers at a lower duty will be the means of giving employment. So far as I can see, the value of the feathers imported last year amounted to only £3,816, in respect of which £524 waspaid in duty.
Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.
Amendment (by Mr. Edwards) negatived -
That the words “ and on and after 7th November, 1907, 10 per cent.,” be added.
– I move -
That the words “and on and after 7th November, 1907 (United Kingdom), 10 per cent.,” be added.
The least we can do is to place Great Britain upon the same footing as South Africa.
Item agreed to.
Item110. Feathers, dressed, ad. val., 30 per cent.
.- I would suggest to the Treasurer the wisdom of inserting after the word “ dressed “ the words “ feathers and downs other than for adornment.”
– How could we tell whether or not they were intended for purposes of adornment?
– I have chiefly in mind such articles as bedding, quilts, and gowns. I would point out that while it is proposed to charge 30 per cent. upon dressed feathers, cosies, which are made up from these very feathers, will, under item 118, be admitted at 25 per cent. and 20 per cent. In other words, the raw material for the manufacture of cosies will be charged 30 per cent. I maintain that the raw material should not be dutiable at a heavier rate than the manufactured article. If honorable members will turn to item 118 they will see that cosies and cushions in part or wholly made up are subject to a duty of 25 per cent. under the. General Tariff, and of 20 per cent. under the Tariff for the United Kingdom. Consequently, if these articles are made in England, they will be admitted for 10 per cent. less than will the raw material. I therefore suggest the addition of the words “ feathers and downs other than for adornment.”
– Do not move in that direction.
– Perhaps before we are called upon to deal with item 118, the Treasurer will devise some means of meeting the difficulty which I have pointed out.
– I move -
That the words “ and on and after 7th November, 1907, 25 per cent.” be added.
I find that the great bulkof the dressed feathers imported into the Commonwealth come from the Old Country. The value of these imports from Great Britain last year was£22,000. Twenty-five per cent. was the rate levied under the old Tariff, and there is not an atom of reason for increasing it.
Amendment (by Mr. Joseph Cook) put -
That the words “ and on and after 7th November, 1907 (United Kingdom), 25 per cent.,” be added.
The Committee divided.
Majority … … 16
Question so resolved in the negative.
Item agreed to.
Item111 - Diving dresses, free.
– If there is one thing which we want more than another in the Tariff, it is uniformity in the description of the articles as well as the duties. In order to have all articles connected with the water made free, I move -
That after the word “ dresses “ the words “baptizing and wading pants” be inserted.
Item agreed to
Item 112 - Regalia, viz., Embroidery, Woven
Sashes and Collars, free.
Colonel FOXTON (Brisbane) [10.0].- I do not quite know what is intended to be implied by the use of the word “’ embroidery,” or what it is supposed to cover, but if its meaning is limited by the words “ woven sashes and collars “-
– No. It means the embroidery which is worked on regalia.
Colonel FOXTON.- I take it that as it is used the word refers to woven sashes and collars. If those articles are to be made free, why should not aprons be included in the item? I do not understand why any of them should- be made free. We are imposing very high duties on that clothing which is a necessity of every-day life. I regard articles of regalia as luxuries, more or less. A man who can afford to belong to a society whose members wear regalia must be in a position to pay a duty thereon equally with the man who has to pay a duty on the coat which he wears. I suggest to the Treasurer that he should impose a duty on articles of regalia, which can be manufactured in Australia as well as they can be made in any other country. A firm in Brisbane which has laid itself out to manufacture regalia of all kinds, even of the most elaborate character, has forwarded to me a specimen which I have within the building, and which has been seen by honorable members. One has only to go up to the Women’s Work Exhibition to see as fine embroidery of thischaracter as can be produced in any part of the world.
– If we struck out this item, thenregalia would be dutiable under item 108.
Colonel FOXTON. - That is what I propose to do, unless the Treasurer is prepared to propose the addition of the words “ aprons and cuffs,” which are also regalia. I cannot make that proposition to the Committee; I can only move-
That the item be left out.
– I rise to order. The effect of striking out this item will be to make regalia dutiable under another item, and therefore to increase the taxation. I desire, sir, to know whether the amendment is in order?
– I believe that two rulings have been given to the effect that when an article is mentioned in the schedule of a Bill it is in the power of the Committee to increase or reduce the proposed duty. When the honorable member for Gwydir proposed to levy a dutyon iron he was ruled outof order by the Chairman, because iron was not mentioned in the schedule.
– Heproposed to add the item to the schedule of the Bounties Bill.
– Yes. When the point was referred to the ‘House, Mr. Speaker said that, inasmuch as iron had not been mentioned in the schedule of the Bill, he, in accordance with a previous ruling, could not permit the honorable member for Gwydir to propose a duty, but he distinctlyadded that if the item had been mentioned it would have been competent for him to move an increase or a decrease in the duty proposed. I submit that, in accordance with those precedents, the amendment is in order, inasmuch as the article is mentioned in the schedule.
– Throughout the consideration of the Tariff I have ruled against any honorable member moving a direct increase in the duty on any item. I do not know whether the honorable member for Parramatta desires me to go through the various authorities I quoted on the last occasion. I still hold that it is only competent for a Minister of the Crown to move to increase a duty. If the Committee were to negative this item it would be practically increasing taxation ; but I have no power with reference to that. For a private member, however, to move that a duty be increased would be distinctly out of order.
– I wishto ask you, sir, for a further decision. As I understand your ruling, you hold that a Minister of the Crown can move to increase a duty, but that a private member cannot. May I submit to you that the power of a Minister of the Crown in that respect does not arise from his being a Minister of the Crown, nor has he additional rights be-, yond those possessed by a private member. He simply acts under a GovernorGeneral’s message, which, must be brought down preliminarily. If you admit, sir, that a Minister of the Crown can move to increase a duty without a GovernorGeneral’s message, then I, as an ordinary member of this House, have equal rights.
– I cannot allow a discussion upon my ruling. If the honorable member desires to challenge it he can move that it be disagreed with.
– I do not think that the question involved is sufficiently vital, but if an occasion arises when such a ruling affects myself, I shall move that it be disagreed with.
– I wish to remind you, sir, that a few days ago an honorable member wished to move an amendment, which, although it did not directly increase a duty, would in your opinion have had the same effect. I forget what the item under discussion was. So far as I recollect, the amendment moved was similar to that which is now being moved. I wish to inquire whether it is competent for an honorable member to move anamendment which will indirectly have the effect of increasing taxation by putting an item under another heading where the proposed duty is higher.
– If a specific case is brought under my notice I shall give a ruling, but I cannot rule on a hypothetical case.
– I rise to support the item before the Committee for two reasons. In the first place, it is about the only virtue which I can see in this Tariff. It affords one consolation for the poor, namely, that if they cannot afford to buy any other clothing they will know that sashes and collars are on the free list. Another reason why I support the item is that I am very suspicious of any proposition made by a Queensland representative. Whenever I see one of them supporting something I begin to think that there is something behind it which is not apparent. I am inclined to believe that the honorable member for Brisbane has a collar factory in his electorate.
Colonel Foxton. - They are in every capital.
– It would be impossible for the honorable member to support any duty unless it affected his electorate. There is every reason for leaving these goods on the free-list.
– Do I understand that the honorable member for Brisbane has been permitted to move his amendment?
– It is useless to move such an amendment, because the honorable member can attain his object by voting against the item.
Colonel Foxton. - That is not ruling my amendment out of order. The question is whether it is out of order or not. Whether it is useless or not is quite another question.
– I have ruled that the honorable member’s amendment is not in order.
Amendment (by Mr. Bowden) proposed -
That the words “ and on and after 7th November, 1907, Aprons and Cuffs,” be added.
– If honorable members look at the old Tariff they will find under the special exemptions, “ Regalia, namely, embroidery woven sashes.” I am informed that that was interpreted to include collars, because the Department could not distinguish between them and other regalia.. So that collars will be free in any case under that interpretation.
– What is the reason for exempting them and not aprons ?
– I think that the honorable member might be satisfied with the item as it stands, knowing that it will be interpreted as I have explained.
– Collars are manufactured in every town in the Commonwealth.
– Collars for this purpose were free under the old Tariff.
.- There is not much in this item one way or the other. The total quantity of regalia imported in the year, for which I have figures, was valued at only ‘^377. Those members of the community who are fond of adorning themselves m this way are well able to pay for their regalia. It is no hardship upon some worthy Grand Master of the Mudbucket, or something of that kind, to compel him to pay a good price for his regalia. The Minister will be well advised in retaining the item as it stands. The honorable member for Grey is pleased that regalia is to be free, but he has not said a word about the aprons which are dutiable under another item.
.- I wish to say that, on behalf of the honorable member for Fawkner, I intend to propose the addition of the words “ clergymen’s vestments and bannerettes.” I understand that these articles are not made within the Commonwealth.
– The honorable member can see specimens of them at the Women’s Work Exhibition.
– I have been informed by the honorable member for Fawkner that these are special clerical vestments, which are not made here. I do not see why any exception should be taken to the addition of the words I propose, seeing that the total value of the imports under this item for 1906 amounted to only £377, and the total value of clergymen’s vestments and bannerettes imported must be very small indeed.
.- I intend to oppose the item altogether, as an intimation to the Minister that I am in favour of the imposition of a small duty on these articles. There are people in Australia making these collars, and they have to pay duty on the material which they use in the manufacture, whilst the made-up articles receive no protection, and have to compete with imported articles of a similar character admitted free:
– I wish to say that I have moved my amendment because I do not think it is fair to differentiate between one order and another.
The members of_ some orders wear aprons and cuffs, and I do not see why all should not be placed on the same, footing. ‘
Amendment (by Mr. Wilson) negatived -
That the words “ and on and after 7th November, 1907, Clergymen’s Vestments and Bannerettes “ be added.
Colonel FOXTON (Brisbane) [10.23].- As it is out of order to move the omission of the item, I wish to say that I intend to vote against it in order that these articles may be dutiable under apparel and attire n.e.i. I wish to remind honorable members that this class of work gives employment to a very large number of poor women who are very much in need of employment of the -kind.
Item ri3- Bags and Sacks of Calico, Hessian, n.e.i., and Linen, and Meat Wraps, whether partly or wholly made up; and Bags and Sacks, n.e.i., ad val.; T5 per cent.
Colonel Foxton. - Shall I be in order in moving to insert in this item “ Salt, gypsum, and manure bags,” which are now in the next item?
– The honorable member cannot do that, but he can move to strike out those words in the next item, which amendment, if agreed to, will have the same effect.
Amendment (by Mr. Poynton) proposed -
That the words “ and on and after 7th November, 1907 (United Kingdom), 10 per cent.,” be added.
– I should like to know why jute bags are not included in this item.
– The bags that are used for wheat are jute baes.
– I understand that jute bags are admitted free under item 114; but it seems to me that it might be well to put a small duty on them, to obtain their better inspection. Many of the bags which now come from Calcutta are practically worthless, as they will bear only one filling.
– The Department some time ago prohibited the importation of bags of poor quality.
– We compelled the imported bags to have in. plain letters the porter and shot marked.
– In my opinion, the departmental inspection is not sufficient. I have been in correspondence with the Department on the subject for some time, on behalf of the Victorian Producers’ Association, and the matter has been dealt with in the commercial columns of the Age. A commercial and financial newspaper called Capital, published at Calcutta, has also referred to it. That paper, I understand, represents the more respectable traders and manufacturers connected with the Calcutta Chamber of Commerce, and interested in the export of bags. They are desirous that the supervision should be stricter.
– It is not necessary to impose a duty in order to obtain stricter supervision.
– It has been argued that a duty on tea would have the effect of securing stricter supervision, and preventing the importation of tea of a bad quality, and the same argument must apply in this case. The Customs officer, seeing that an importation consists of bags, which he knows to be free of duty - many other bags besides jute bags are imported duty free - lets it pass.
– There has to be an import entry in respect of them.
– This is a matter of great importance to the farmers, and if the Minister informs me that the importation of inferior bags can be prevented without the imposition of a. duty, I shall be satisfied. If not, I think that it would be better for the farmers to pay a duty of 15 per cent. and to get good bags. A large part of a farmer’s expenditure goes in providing bags, and he must’ have them of good quality.
– This matter was first dealt with by Mr. Allan McLean, when Minister, but the instructions were not properly carried out until I returned to the Department, and compelled importers to place on the bags, in letters of a certain size, the number of porter and shot, in other words, the strength of the weft and warp. As that is now done, those who buy bags know that certain bags are below the standard, and of poor quality, and if they are content to accept such bags, they must put up with the consequences. It would be rather hard upon the farmers to impose a duty on jute bags, seeing that they are not manufactured in the Commonwealth.
– Some may desire inferior bags, and as long as they know what they are getting, no harm is done.
-Bran bags, for instance, might be of inferior quality.
Colonel Foxton. - There is a considerable trade in bag making.
– Nearly all jute bags are made in Calcutta. . I do not desire to impose a duty on these bags, which have been always free; we might just as well impose a duty on woolpacks. I hope that honorable members will agree to the division that I have made.
Item agreed to.
Item 114. Bags, Sacks, Packs, and Bales for Bran, Chaff, Compressed Fodder, Potato, Onion, Ore, Coal, and Wood ; also Sugar Mats, and Corn and Flour Sacks, and Salt, Gypsum, and Manure Bags, free.
Colonel FOXTON (Brisbane) [10.37].- I propose to put before the Committee information which I have received in regard to this item. My informants write -
Salt, Gypsum, and Manure Bags. - The retention of these lines on the free list would open the door for much confusion and possibility of fraud, as it would be possible to import sugar, flour, and other dutiable bags, and to get them free of Customs duty by describing them as salt, gypsum, or manure bags, there being practically no difference at all between the two classes of bags except the brand printed on them.
– Who made that statement ?
Colonel FOXTON.- One of the largest bag manufacturers in Australia.
– On one occasion I caused 400 bales of bags to be rebranded.
Colonel FOXTON.- The letter continues -
Should a duty be placed on salt, gypsum, and manure bags, it would mean that they would all be made within the Commonwealth, which will be impossible if they are allowed to remain duty free.
Granting that, as the Treasurer says, we can distinguish between these different classes of bags, it appears to me that there is no reason why salt, gypsum, and manure bags should not also be made in Australia. As regards bran and chaff bags, my informants write -
Practically the whole of the Commonwealth requirements in these lines are imported from Calcutta, and we have at present no chance whatever of regaining the trade, which was. a very considerable one under the Queensland Tariff, of·15 per cent. During the years 1900 and 1901 we made and sold 324,000 bran and chaff bags under a15 per cent. protection, while during a corresponding period of time since the duty was removed (the years 1902 and 1904) the total quantity made was only 4,180.
– What can be done to help them?
Colonel FOXTON. - We should omit this item for thep resent.
-I s not this a Queensland industry ?
Colonel FOXTON.- The question put by the honorablem ember for Barrier seems to me to be couch ; d in the same tones as was that put a littl e while ago by the honorable member for Grey. Because an industry is a Queens and one an attack must be made upon it.I have yet to learn from those honorablem embers who are constantly prating about other people exhibiting provincialism hat it is justifiable to condemn an industr y because it happens to flourish in one particular State. I endeavour to avoid anything of the kind; I try to look at every proposal from a national stand-point. It is scarcely fair to twit an honorable member with being a provincialist merely because he advocates, as every honorable number ought to do, the encouragement of industries in Australia generally, and parti cularly those in his own constituency. To proceed with the information I have-
During the year1 902 and also during the present year we havebeen able to make moderate quantities, but this was owing entirely to exceptional circumstances,i n the one case the drought and in the other case an abnormal rise in the market in Calcuttah aving caused a temporary shortage in the market. We have, however, no hope whatever of building up again a regular trade-
They had the trade, and lost it when the Tariff was lowered - as it is impossibleto compete with the Coolie labour of India on equal terms.
– Where is the raw material obtained?
Colonel FOXTON.- In Calcutta-
What we ask for is sufficient protection to enable us with white labour to hold our own against competitors in India, working as we do under the restrictioni mposed by special factory legislation and paying a living wage to our workers.
– There is no factory legislation in Queensland to compel them to pay a living wage - there is no Wages Board?
– There is.
Colonel FOXTON. - If there is not, then the fact that theydo pay a living wage is very much to their credit.
– The statement that they have to pay a living wage is misleading.
Colonel FOXTON.- Has the honorable member any evidence to prove the incorrectness of this letter?
– They are compelled by “ restrictions imposed by special factory, legislation.”
Colonel FOXTON. - We have very excellent factory legislation in Queensland, although we have no Wages Boards. The letter states -
What we ask for is sufficient protection to enable us with white labour to hold our own against competitors in India, working as we do under the restriction imposed by special factory legislation and paying a living wage to our workers. Last year over 10,000,000 bran bags were imported, and if this small amount of protection we ask for was granted the whole of these could be made within the Commonwealth, giving employment to a large number of hands. The duty asked for would not interfere with any export trade, as practically all the bran and chaff bags imported are used within the Commonwealth. We are not asking for a duty on corn and flour sacks, which would still come in duty free ; but, having expended a considerable amount of money in equipping factories suitable for the manufacture of bran and chaff bags, we would respectfully urge our claim for protection.
Ore Bags. - The above remarks apply also to ore bags, but in this line we are under a very serious additional disadvantage, in that while the ore bags are admitted duty free the material from which they are made (jute niece goods) is, dutiable at the rate of 10 per cent.
– That is going to be altered.
– If the raw material is to be admitted free, will it not alter the honorable member’s attitude towards the whole item?
Colonel FOXTON.- I was not aware that that change was contemplated -
The only possible result of this anomaly is to prohibit the trade altogether, as it penalizes the local manufacturer for the benefit of those in other parts of the world. We would strongly urge that our recommendation with regard to “jute piece goods” being admitted duty free be carried into effect, and also that a duty of 15 per cent. be imposed on ore bags.
That is the same rate as they suggest on all other bags. I am on safe ground in appealing to honorable members opposite who, like myself, are protectionists, to support this proposition. I see that these people did give evidence before the Tariff Commission. I move: -
That the words “ bran, chaff,” be left out.
.- I trust that the Minister will agree to the amendment. Although there is no Wages Board for the bag-makers in Victoria, there is a
Wages Board for others who do part of the work. The small flour bags made from calico have to be printed, and the printers must be paid the minimum wage provided under the Factories Act. The manufacturers of those bags have to pay a duty of 10 per cent. on their calico, but, according to this item, the finished article will be admitted free.
– Flour bags are not free.
– Flour sacks are free. I am given to understand that salt, gypsum, and manure bags, which have been added to the free list, were dutiable under the old Tariff. I trust that the Minister will be able to verify that information. If that be so, we are putting the bag manufacturers in a worse position than they were in before.
– Ihopethat the Minister will not agree to the suggestion of the honorable member for Yarra. I wish to draw his attention to the report of the protectionist section of the Tariff Commission. They say on page 245 -
In Victoria the Cheetham Salt Company objected to the imposition of duty on salt bags, which they contended should be free. In South Australia the Castle Salt Company assumed the same attitude of opposition to any duty on salt bags, and their objections were supported by an Adelaide merchant, who said that not only salt, but gypsum or manure bags should be admitted free. A flour miller in Hobart objected to the taxation of small flour, oatmeal, and pearl barley bags. The Chamber of Mines in Western Australia objected to all duties on bags and sacks used in connexion with mining. The general manager of the New South Wales Fresh Food and Ice Company Limited asked for the remission of the duty on calico bags.
The Chairman of the Commission sums up as follows -
I am of opinion that a sufficiently strong case has not been presented to us in support of the proposed removal of bags, sacks, packs, and bales for bran, chaff, compressed fodder, potato, onion, ore, coal, and wood, and corn and flour sacks from the free list. I recommend -
That salt, gypsum, and manure bags be added to the free list ;
That, subject to the free list, the duty on hessian bags be increased from 10 per cent. to 15 per cent., and that hessian in the piece be free as at present;
That the duty on calico bags, subject to the free list, be 10 per cent. clear ; that, in order to secure this, the manufacturers be entitled to receive their calico piece goods free, provided that the cutting be done in bond, and that, if this be not practicable or desirable, the import duty on calico bags be raised from 10 per cent. to 15 per cent.
In view of the very careful inquiries and the findings of, not the free-trade, but the protectionist section of the Tariff Commission, I hope the Treasurer will stand by his proposal.
– I cannot understand why some honorable members oppose the proposed alteration. Bran and chaff bags are not made here in anything like sufficient quantities to meet the large demand, and to impose a duty would be to inflict a direct charge on the farmer. Bags, especially chaff bags, are very dear.
– Chaff-cutters are taxed.
– But chaffcutters can be, and are, manufactured here. Under the circumstances, I do not think that chaff bags ought to be dutiable.
Amendment (by Colonel Foxton) proposed -
That the word “ ore “ be left out.
.- I think that the argument of the Treasurer in regard to bran and chaff bags applies with equal force to ore bags, which are in great request in mining districts.
– Hear, hear.
– It is very difficult to extend the benefits of protection to miners, but I think that in the case of ore bags we might afford some advantage by making them available as cheaply as possible.
.- I am in favour of a light duty on the whole of the commodities embraced within this item. If we except one commodity, ‘we ought to except the whole of them. If bran and chaff bags are to be excepted because they are in such large demand, I think a similar reason might be urged for the exception of the manure bags, seeing that without manure we might have no chaff or bran. In some countries manure is carried free on the railways for the sake of the revenue returned from the carriage of the harvest. I desire to be a consistent protectionist, and, therefore, I would support a light duty on every commodity which can be manufactured within the Commonwealth.
Colonel FOXTON (Brisbane) [11.1].- I have a sort of feeling, in view of the present attitude of the Treasurer, that I have been, as it were, “ had.” I do not impute any deliberate intention on the part of the Treasurer, but my proposal was to omit bran and chaff bags, and bags for ore, salt, gypsum, and manure. The Treasurer agreed to accept my amendment, excepting only bran and chaff bags, and we voted for them on that understanding.
– I hope the honorable member will not misunderstand me. I did not notice that the honorable member proposed to omit the word “ore,” but I had made a note of salt, gypsum, and manure bags.
Colonel FOXTON.- The only point urged by the Treasurer was that the demand for bran and chaff bags could not be overtaken by the local supply, and that, therefore, importations must continue. In regard to the other classes of bags, that argument does not apply, because it is perfectly certain that they can be manufactured here. I was surprised to hear the Treasurer say, “ Hear, hear” to the suggestion of the honorable member for Darling that the duty on all bags would increase the price.
– What I said, “Hear, hear” to was the statement that large quantities of ore bags are required.
Colonel FOXTON.- Surely the resources of Australia are equal to supplying the demand for ore bags, and, under the circumstances, I hope the Treasurer will agree to the amendment.
– I could understand the honorable member for Brisbane moving the omission of sugar mats, but certainly not the omission of ore bags. The latter are used by men who do not get anything like the protection which is enjoyed by those engaged in the sugar industry. A great number of ore bags are used, not by large companies, but by poor prospecting miners in the back-blocks, who have to cart their ore, sometimes long distances, to the nearest railway station.
Amendment (by Colonel Foxton) proposed -
That the words “ and salt, gypsum, and manure bags “ be left out.
.- I understand that the proposal before the Committee is to remove salt, gypsum, and manure bags from the free list. I protest against the Ministry surrendering their position upon every occasion that Queensland representatives begin to bark.
– They have not done so.
– They have done so throughout the whole of the Tariff discussion. Apparently they are willing to yield to a section of the Committee which accords them very little support. That is not what I expected from the Treasurer.
– Is that a reason why we should vote against the proposal?
– It is not a reason why it should be supported. The facts are all against the amendment of the honorable member for Brisbane. I protest against the Government giving way upon these articles whilst resisting the imposition of a tax upon bags which are used in other industries. I am surprised that the honorable member for Brisbane did not include sugar bags in his proposal. As the Government have given way upon the matter it is idle to do anything more to protest against their action. I certainly do object to singling out the industries of one State - as the industries of Queensland have been singled out during the whole of the Tariff discussion - for special treatment.
– The honorable member for Boothby was not present when the honorable member for Brisbane submitted an amendment to omit from this item bran, chaff, ore, salt, gypsum, and manure bags. I did not understand that salt bags were included in his proposal.
– It is difficult to distinguish between salt bags and other calico bags which are made within the Commonwealth.
– Accordingly I stated that I did not mind removing from the free list salt, gypsum, and manure bags. I agreed to the adoption of that course in order to expedite the transaction of business. I am almost sorry now that I acted as I did.
.- I think it would be more satisfactory to the Committee if the Treasurer would agree to put sugar mats onthe same footing as salt, gypsum, and manure bags.
– I think that we had better stop where we are.
– The honorable member for Brisbane made a long speech in favour of making salt, gypsum, and manure bags dutiable. If the Minister would agree to include sugar mats in the amendment, I think that the item, as so amended, would be agreed to. In my opinion, all these bags should come in duty free, but if we are to have a duty on salt, gypsum, and manure bags, then sugar mats ought to be made dutiable too.
Colonel FOXTON (Brisbane) [11.17].- It will perhaps relieve the mind of the honorable member for Barrier if I tell him that had it not been for the fact that sugar bags were already dutiable I should have moved for their omission from this item.
.- I hope that die Government will stick “to their guns. The only help which we can give to a number of primary industries is by allowing their bags to be obtained as cheaply as possible. I do not think that a case has been made out for the omission of salt, gypsum, and manure bags from this item. What have ‘we heard? The honorable member for Brisbane read .a letter from: a firm of bagmakers, and thereupon the Treasurer weakly gave way to him. I think it is time to report progress when the reading of a letter of that character has the effect of inducing the Minister to change his mind regarding any articles.
.- I hope that the Committee will vote in favour of making duty free all the articles embraced in this item. I have not heard of an industry which is prepared to manufacture salt, gypsum, and manure bags at a low price. The raw material for such bags is not produced in the Commonwealth.
– There is a duty charged on the raw material.
Ma SAMPSON.- Perhaps that is a mistake. In the circumstances, I intend to vote against the amendment.
.- It is all very well for honorable members who did not hear the ‘whole of the discussion to rise and deal with a few articles which affect their own electorates. There is not a bag factory in my electorate, although I believe that there is one in Melbourne. The raw material for the manufacture of bags - calico - is to be taxed.
– These bags are not made out of calico.
– Some of the bags are made out of calico, which is subject to a duty of 10 per cent.
– Gypsum- and manure bags are not made out of calico.
– I am informed that some of the bags on which a duty is requested are made out of that article. Some honorable members have stated that these bags were all duty free before, but that was not the case. The salt manufacturers have obtained a duty which is equal to a protection of 50 per cent., but they object to the bagmakers getting a duty which would be equal to’ a protection of about 5 per cent. I hope that the Minister will adhere to his promise tomake salt, gypsum, and manure bags dutiable, as they were before.
– According to the schedule, they were free before.
– The schedule is wrong, as the Minister knows. I trust that the bagmakers will not be put in a worse position than they occupied under the old Tariff.
.- It is all very well for the honorable member for Boothby, who was out of the chamber, and did not know what had been said, to say that because a request was made by an honorable member on the other side of the chamber it was at once granted by the Treasurer. The honorable member for Yarra,, the honorable member for Bourke, and myself mentioned the matter to the Minister prior to the amendment being moved by the honorable member for Brisbane.
– The honorable member and others came to me about the matter before the amendment was moved.
– The honorable member for Boothby was absent at the time, and when he returned he thought that the request had emanated from the other side of the chamber, and he was disinclined to accept our assurance that originally it came from some honorable members on this side. It has been stated that these bags are not made out of calico. My information shows clearly that calico bags are made by the thousand for carrying salt, gypsum, and even manure.
– Not for manure.
– I am willing to make a wager with the honorable member that my. statement is right. I am also informed that these bags are made out of hessian. I hope that the Treasurer will keep his word.
– I will.
.- It has been mentioned that the item in the comparative schedule is incorrectly stated, and, therefore, I desire to elicit from the Treasurer whether these articles came in free under the old Tariff?
– Generally, the comparative schedule is correct, but in detail it is not.
Question- That the . words “and salt, gypsum, and manure bags, “ proposed to be left out, stand part of the item- put. The Committee divided.
Majority … 5
Question so resolved in the affirmative.
Item agreed to.
Mr. MAUGER laid upon the table the following papers -
Census and Statistics Act - Statistics of the Commonwealth -
Shipping and Oversea Migration, 1906 - - Amended Tables - South Australian Shipping Returns - (to be substituted for corresponding sections, Table XXIV., pages 60-63,of Paper presented 8th October, 1907).
Public Service Act - Amendment of Regulation No. 104 (Provisional) - Statutory Rules 1907, No. 115.
House adjourned at11.31 p.m.
Cite as: Australia, House of Representatives, Debates, 6 November 1907, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/hofreps/1907/19071106_reps_3_41/>.