3rd Parliament · 2nd Session
Mr. Speaker took the chair at 2.30 p.m., and read prayers.
– Is the Prime Minister yet able to make an announcement in reference to the new mail contract ?
– The contract is now being finally drawn up, and that has brought under consideration, by both the Government and the lowest tenderer, even its smallest provisions. Consequently, the formulation of its exact terms has taken longer than expected.
– Agreement has not been reached.
– Agreement has been reached on the main terms generally included in such a contract, but not on all particulars. The consideration of new terms and the reconsideration of old ones makes it impossible to give a complete and final statement until next week.
– On Tuesday I asked if Brisbane is to be made a port of call, and the Prime Minister replied that that is quite possible, and that he would be able to give full information on the following day. As his reply was very unsatisfactory, I repeat my question. I ask if he can say definitely whether Brisbane is to be a port of call ?
– I have stated the position at length, in reply to the honorable member for Nepean.
– The honorable member’s answer was very unsatisfactory, because he gave no information.
– The honorable member seems to forget that we have to consider other matters besides that to which he has drawn attention, and as no contract can be made until there is agreement as to every detail, no information can be given about any proposed condition until all have been settled. The honorable member, as a business man, must realize that we have no other course than to decline to give information until the agreement is complete. If I could, without impairing the interests of the Commonwealth, I would do so.
Report (No. 10) presented by Mr. Hutchison, read by the Clerk, and adopted.
– The correspondence between the President of the Senate, Mr. Speaker, and the Government of Western Australia on the subject of the Tariff is preceded by a letter transmitting it from the Governor-General to both Houses. Was that letter sent with the knowledge and approval of the Ministry?
– The communications from Western. Australia were sent direct to the Governor-General, and referred to me by His Excellency. I returned them in order that they might be sent to those to whom they were originally directed.
– It was done with the honorable member’s approval?
– As we have almost reached that part of the Tariff which deals with metals and machinery, I wish to know what action the Treasurer intends to take in reference to the Iron Bounties Bill. Does he propose to introduce it before dealing with Division VI. ?
– I was in consultation with the Comptroller-General of Customs this morning on the subject, and, so far as I can gather, it will not be necessary to deal with the Bill until we come to Division VI. a. There may be two or three prior items which it may affect, and they can be postponed.
– Should not honorable members, before we come to Division VI. a, be given an opportunity to decide whether the production of raw iron in Australia. is to be encouraged by the imposition of a duty, or by the granting of a bounty? The rates of duties upon manufactured products will, to some extent, depend on whether there is a duty on raw material. I suggest to the Minister that the matter might be considered.
– I think that if the Bill is introduced before we deal with the Division VI. a that will be early enough. There are only three previous items which it will affect.
– The duties on machinery must depend upon whether there is a duty on raw iron?
– I do not think that they are much affected by that consideration. I have had thematter under review, and it seems to me that it will not matter much, if I have the Bill ready, whether the measure is dealt with before or after we get to the Division VI. a. In any case, the same amount of time will be occupied. If I have the Bill ready, as I think I shall, it will probably be introduced before we commence the consideration of Division VI.
– Are we to understand that the Bounties Bill will be introduced before we get to Division VI. ?
– It would be better if that were done.
– Its provisions must closely affect the items in Division VI., which comprises such articles as pipes, sheet iron, bars, and rods. The consideration’ of the measure will take the same amount of time whether it is dealt with before or after we consider Division VI. I wish to know whether the Treasurer intends to introduce the Bill before we commence Division VI.
– I shall not pledge myself to introduce the Bill before we come to Division VI., which stands in a different relation to it from that in which Divisions VI. a and VI. b stand. There is no objection to introducing it before we come to Division VI. If, tonight, we finish with Division V., I may ask the Committee to deal with some of the items in Division VI. before the Bill is introduced ; but, when I get the opportunity - probably on Tuesday - I shall give notice of my intention to introduce the Bill.
– Have final arrangements been made for the construction of the Commonwealth trawler ? If so, who is the succesful tenderer?
– The matter is under the control of the Department of, Home Affairs.It has been announced thatarrangements havebeen completed with the Government of New South Wales for the building of the vessel.
– What is. the construction ofthe trawler to cost?
Mr.AUSTIN CHAP MAN.- £1 4, 445
– Is the report in the Age correct, that the Department of Trade and Customs has decided to collect Excise on the manufactures of a South Australian firm which is not complying with the requirements of the Excise Tariff (Agricultural Machinery) Act?
– As I have already told the honorable member, the Department has been making inquiries into the whole matter, and has decided to collect excise from one of the manufacturers. I am having special investigations made into the conditions of employment, and the wages paid in several factories, with a view to having the law observed. Those who are not paying proper wages should be compelled to pay Excise.
– I wish to know from the Postmaster-General, in reference to the stoppage of letters addressed to Mr. John Wren, of Melbourne, whether he has positive knowledge that Mr. Wren was using the Post Office illegally for the purpose of betting, or had he that knowledge before ordering the letters to be stopped? I ask the question because of the statements published by Mr. Wren.
– Every step I took was on legal advice, and based on a firm foundation.
– No doubt the PostmasterGeneral has the legal power to stop any one’s correspondence, whether justly or not; but had he, before stopping Mr. Wren’s correspondence, knowledge that Mr. Wren had been using the Post Office for illegal practices? I am not asking what the legal position of the PostmasterGeneral is ; I merely desire to know the facts, so that Mr. Wren may have fair play, if he has been within his rights.
– Unquestionably, I had.
– I desire to ask the Minister of Trade and Customs whether he has received any information regarding the conditions of labour which obtain in the distilling industry ?
– I have not complete information upon the subject, although it is practically complete. I gave the distillers until the 1st inst. to furnish declarations, which of course will be forwarded to the collectors of Customs in the different States. I have wired to these officers to send along the declarations with a view to seeing whether the distillers are observing the conditions imposed by the law.
– Hear, hear. We shall get something done in five or six years time.
– The honorable member seems to have a craze for making statements of that kind.
Undermanning of Junee and Narandera Offices
asked the PostmasterGeneral, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follow -
asked the PostmasterGeneral, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follow : -
– On the 31st October the honorable member for. Lang asked a series of questions - Hansard, page 5416 - regarding the overtime worked by certain officers in the Electrical and Account branches of the Postal Department at the Sydney General Post Office. I promised to cause an inquiry to be made, and as the result I have been furnished with the following replies from the Acting Deputy Postmaster-General, Sydney -
I may add that the Deputy PostmasterGeneral, Sydney, has been instructed (a) to obtain temporary assistance, with a view to obviate the necessity for the overtime work referred to, and (b) to take all preliminary steps towards the appointment of additional permanent hands, for whom provision has been made on the1907-8 Estimates of Expenditure, so that no delay may occur when the Estimates have been approved by Parliament.
– On the 24th October the honorable member for Wannon asked three questions - Hansard, page 5130 - as to the number of adult employes in the postal, telegraphic, and telephonic services, the number of youths between sixteen and eighteen, and the number between fourteen and sixteen years of age so employed. It was stated that inquiries would be made, and further information was promised. That information I am now in a position to furnish. The Public Service Commissioner has furnished the following replies -
Of the total number of 1,951 under 2 and 3 the number occupying positions as Telegraph Messengers is 1,584.
WAYS AND MEANS(Formal).
Excise Tariff (Spirits) Act. - Excise Tariff (Agricultural Machinery) Act. - Post Office, Cairns. - Postage on Packets. - Alleged Undermanning of Post Offices. - Leave of Public Servants Competing in Rifle Matches. - New Protection. - Telegraph Messengers. - Rights of Transferred Officers. - Hours of Business in Post Offices. - New Appointments, Postal Department.
Question - That Mr. Speaker do now leave the chair, and that the House resolve itself into Committee of Ways and Means - proposed.
– I wish to say a few words in connexion with the unsatisfactory administration of the Excise Tariff (Agricultural Machinery) Act.. Some time ago I supplied the Minister of Trade and Customs with definite information concerning certain firms who were evading the law. The existing condition of things is causing the greatest dissatisfaction amongst employers and employes in South Australia. They feel dissatisfied with the action of myself and my colleagues, because they imagine that we are not discharging our duty in seeing that the law is administered. I do not wish to be a party to any legislation which is not to be made operative. We ought not to be always “fooling” the workers.
– Surely we ought not to fool them at all.
– But that apparently is what has been done in regard to the Excise Tariff (Agricultural Machinery) Act. A long time ago I told the Minister that the firm of Messrs. Brebner and Keefe are not obeying the law, and that they had informed their employés that they did not intend to obey it. They are working their employés fifty-six hours a week, and yet not a single step has been taken to enable this House, and the public, to ascertain whether or not the Act itself is defective. Only the other day I credited Messrs. Hawke and Company, of Kapunda, with having faithfully observed the law, but I am now in possession of information to the effect that they are doing nothing of the kind. From the answers which I have received from time to time, it is evident that the Government imagine that they have no power to proceed against firms who have been exempted from the payment of Excise. But I would point out that they are only exempted conditionally upon their carrying out the terms of the award of the Conciliation and Arbitration Court. Those terms were agreed to by both the employers and employés, and firms which fail to comply with them render themselves liable for the payment of Excise. It seems to me to be simplicity itself for the Minister to deal with such firms. If an excessive duty is levied upon any article which is imported the importer has no option but to pay that duty under protest. Why has not a similar provision been applied to those manufacturers of agricultural machinery who are disobeying the law?
– Where is the Minister to obtain a standard?
– The standard is fixed by the Conciliation and Arbitration Court. Mr. Justice O’Connor has declared that, provided manufacturers adhere to the terms of his award, they are to be exempted from the payment of Excise. But those terms have not been observed by quite a number of firms in South Australia, and yet no real effort has been made by the Government to ascertain whether or not the revenue of the country is being protected. Surely it is easy for the Minister to say to Messrs. Bagshaw and Sons, or Messrs. Hawke and Company, or Messrs. May and Company, “ We are going to charge you Excise on the agricultural implements which you have manufactured.” It would then be for those firms to say, “We are not liable to pay any Excise.” The Department would then be in a position to see that the revenue was protected. If the employers supplied false information to the Department the employes would be able to come forward and tell the Department that it had been misled. It is due to the House, to the manufacturers of agricultural machinery throughout the Commonwealth, and to their employes, that they should know whether the Department intends to carry out the provisions of the Act so that all may be placed on an equal footing. If I were an employer, I certainly should not continue to pay fair wages if my competitor across the street were permitted to pay unfair wages, and to take away my trade. I am surprised that the Minister of Trade and. Customs should for so long have continued to furnish such evasive answers. If he is not prepared to administer the law, I am ready to go to the length of seeing that he is displaced by some person who will.
.- I desire to direct attention to a matter which is nothing more nor less than a public scandal. As the House has been sitting so late in discussing the Tariff, I naturally felt a certain amount of compunction in bringing it forward upon the motion for adjournment, as otherwise I should have done, and the matter to which I refer could scarcely come within the scope of the question. The subject to which I invite the attention of the Government is the unconscionable sweating which is being carried on in theCairns post-office.
– In Queensland?
– And yet an officer has been brought from that State to put things right in the General Post Office, Melbourne.
– Exactly. I wish to know why this state of things is permitted to continue. In the first place, however, I should like to ascertain who is responsible for the erection of these post-offices. I am aware that after the necessary money has been voted for their erection, the work passes to the control of the Department of Home Affairs, which is charged with the task of preparing plans and erecting the buildings. But in many cases these postoffices when erected are totally inadequate for the purposes for which they are constructed. The Cairns post-office, which was only recently erected at a considerable outlay, has already been found to be too small for the work which it has to perform, with the result that the old building has had to be utilized in order to provide additional accommodation. A few days ago I showed the Postmaster-General a telegram from Irvinebank, in my own electorate, where an office which has only just been opened is already too small for the requirements of the public. As a matter of fact, the accommodation which it provides is less than that which was provided by the old building. In the Cairns post-office, the sweating which is carried on is a disgrace to the Department. There are only eight men employed there, and they have to handle a very large quantity of mail matter. In this connexion, I cannot dobetter than quote an extract from a local newspaper, which, after referring to some complaints which have been made in this House concerning the General Post Office, Sydney, says -
As a matter of fact, though the Sydney figures seem big at first glance, they work out at much less than do the hours of the employés at the local office, who, in a fortnight, put in from 14 to 17 hours’ overtime, forwhich they get time off - and have to get it when they can, but not necessarily when they want it. As a general average, there are about 30 tons of mails inward and outward, passing through the Cairns office each week, numbering about 1,450 bags and parcels. One has to see the condition of the office on mail nights - and especially up till the last week, in the old building - to realize the work entailed. Much of the mail is, of course, made up of bulky parcels, but thousands of letters and papers go to make up the balance, and which have to be sorted and sifted and packed in the right box, bag, or pigeon-hole, And this work is being done with a staffof eightat the most, after drawing on all available employés in the office…… As an instance of the extra strain which is occasionally put upon the local staff, the occasional clashing of the southern and western mails may be cited, as occurred on Tuesday last. The Kuranda arrived late, and the western mail arrived in on top of it, the eight men on the mail staff, between the hours of 6 o’clock on Tuesday evening, and 3 a.m. on Wednesday, had to deal with a mail of 262 bags and parcels. This, of course, is not a weekly experience, but it is an occurrence by no means rare. In the Telegraph Branch, also, the officers are asked to perform tasks and put in hours which are far in excess of those in other portions of the State.
In corroboration of that statement, I might cite figures from the annual report of the Cairns Chamber of Commerce, which says that the cash receipts of the local postoffice for the year ended 31st December, 1906, were£107,772 19s. 8d., and the cash payments £58,491 13s.10d. The total cash transactions in 1906 were£166,264 13s. 6d., as against £120,916 18s. for 1905. The letters received from other offices numbered 1,014,036, and the newspapers 1, 006, 200. The letters despatched to other offices totalled 1,120,517, the. mails despatched to 20,984, and the mails received to 29,314. These figures go to show that the press reports have not exaggerated the quantity of mail matter which has to be dealt with in the Cairns post-office. I ask the Postmaster-General to take this matter into consideration. This is the first occasion on which I have voiced in the House a grievance of this nature, and I have taken this step because there is some one beyond the Minister whose ear I wish to reach. I recently brought under the notice of the Postmaster-General another matter in connexion with which he could not do that which he desired, because of the position of an officer who has a great deal to do with the Public Service.
– The dictator !
– I am not prepared to go so far as to so describe the officer in question, but it is undeniable that the sweating which is taking place in the Postal Departmentthroughout the Commonwealth is not the fault of its officers. The Department is now a paying concern, and therefore one cannot speak too strongly of the sweating which is taking place in connexion with it. I do not know what spirit animates the present Administrator, but his immediate predecessor proposed to confer on a section of the community a boon at the expense of the employes in his own Department. There has been in the Department for some years a system of sweating in operation, and if this boon is to be conferred it will be at the expense of those who ought not to be asked to bear the burden. I refer to the introduction of penny postage.
– I must ask the honorable member not to refer “to that matter.
– Then I shall content myself by asking the Postmaster-General to’ give his attention to this matter, and I trust that I shall not have to repeat in this House the statements I have made this afternoon.
.- The honorable member for Hindmarsh has drawn attention to a matter so serious that I am surprised that it has not received more attention on the part of honorable members. He asserted that the Excise Tariff (Agricultural Machinery) Act had practically been set aside. When we voted for that measure it was understood that it would be put in operation wherever those to whom it applied failed to observe fair conditions of labour. If the law is faulty the sooner we amend it the better. Within a short period the Government propose to introduce a similar Bill in respect of certain industries as to which increased protective duties have been, or are, to be granted, and it is just as well- that we should know at once whether the trouble in regard to the agricultural machinery trade is due to faulty legislation or to the failure of the Minister to put the law into operation. The honorable member for Hindmarsh intimated that if the law were effective, and the Minister were not prepared to carry it out, he would be ready to turn out the Government. The honorable member invariably states his case in a temperate manner, and if the position is as serious as he has represented it to be, there is only one course open to us. I am surprised that the leader of the Labour Party has not taken action. I should have liked to see him submit a motion of censure against the Government. When the honorable member for Hindmarsh said that we ought not to be always fooling the workers, I interjected that we had no right to fool them at all. We ought ‘not to fool any section e of the community, and if the Excise Tariff (Agricultural Machinery) Act was intended to be a mere sop, and will not enable us to carry out the object that we have in view, the sooner we amend it the better. If, on the other hand, it is effective, then the Minister of Trade and Customs should lose no time in putting it into operation. A similar complaint has been made . in another place, in regard to the administration of the Excise Tariff (Spirits) Act, and I should like to have an explanation from the Minister, who, I trust, will give his serious attention to the matter. There is another grievance which I desire to voice, and which I have already . brought under the notice of the Postmaster-General. It appears that the postal authorities have recently isssued a new regulation regarding the postage upon packets. Under the old regulation circulars or other correspondence enclosed in envelopes partly opened at both ends were carried at a reduced rate. That regulation, however, has been repealed, and the reduced rate now applies only to parcels one end of which is completely open. Very little publicity has been given to this alteration, with the result that many people, ignorant of the change, are complying with the old regulation, and the persons to whom they write are being subjected to surcharges. One of my constituents had to pay a surcharge of 8d. in one case, and 6d. in another, although the old regulation had been observed. He is a keen business man, but he was not aware of the new regulation. Within the next few weeks thousands of Christmas cards will be passing through the post, and in the absence of greater publicity being given to the new regulation many people will be penalized. I hope that the Postmaster-General will make it clear that those who obey the old regulation will not be surcharged or penalized in any way, and that on the other hand if the new regulation is to remain iri force he will promise that the utmost publicity shall be given to it.
– I think that the Ministry will admit that I have never harassed them in regard to the policy of the new protection. But I am one of those who entered the House on the wave of that policy, and unless I am able to show my constituents that the statements which I made on the public platform with regard to it were absolutely sincere and had some foundation in fact my position must necessarily be weakened. If the Excise Tariff (Agricultural Machinery) Act is ineffective the Minister should at once inform the House of that fact, and afford it an early opportunity to pass amending legislation. If there be some doubt as to its efficacy then it would be well to have a test case which would put the matter at’ rest. The Minister by his inaction is jeopardizing the passing of the Tariff. Many of us have assured the public that by means of the new protection the workers and the people generally will be afforded an opportunity to participate in the benefits which the new Tariff will confer upon various industries. Is it not idle to tell the worker that the new protection will benefit him if the Government are not prepared to put it into operation? I do not suggest that they are not doing their duty, but if the dissatisfaction with regard to the administration of the harvester legislation is not speedily removed they will experience great difficulty in securing the imposition of higher duties on items shortly to be dealt with. The Protectionist Party, as well as members of the Labour Party, have been returned pledged to the policy of the new protection, and we desire to see it speedily carried into effect. If nothing is to be done then some of us may have to seriously consider our position, and I suppose that the Government, under the circumstances, will have to do likewise. I believe that in this industry thereis as much capital invested, and as many workers employed, as in most of the manufactures carried on in Australia; and if legislation is to break down in its application in this connexion, what may we not have to face when the whole of the protected industries of the Commonwealth are concerned? The Government will have to assure honorable members and the public that something will be done to bring the present legislation into operation, or that more effective legislation will be introduced ; otherwise Ministers can only admit that the new protection cannot be carried into operation. The honorable member for Herbert has ventilated a grievance in connexion with the administration of the Post and Telegraph Department in Queensland ; but complaints are not confined to that State. The mass of the people believe that the PostmasterGeneral has the supervision of the whole of the administration, and he is blamed for what has been described in most of the States as the present state of chaos. If the Postmaster-General is not to blame, then it is just as well that the public should know whether some other official, or the law, can be held responsible.
– Too much centraliza tion is the trouble.
– That is quite possible. We have been told that the administration of this Department in
Victoria is chaotic - that the Public Service Commissioner has not been able to selectfrom the whole of the service in that State an individual fitted for the position of Deputy Postmaster-General. What has been done? I do not know who is responsible, but a gentleman - no doubt a very worthy gentleman - has been brought from Queensland in order to fill the position.
– Surely that is not a grievance ?
– It is a grievance, because it is admitted by representatives of Queensland that the Department there is not administered properly.
Colonel Foxton. - No.
– The honorable member for Herbert has ventilated a wrong which ought to be righted.
– The honorable member is too parochial ; let us have the best man for the position.
– I amnot complaining of the fact that the new Deputy PostmasterGeneral for Victoria has been brought from Queensland, and it is unfair to suggest that I am making any such complaint. What I am pointing out is thatin the whole of the service in Victoria, the Public Service Commissioner was unable to find one man fit for the position, and that an officer has been brought from Queensland, where the administration of the Department is admittedly as chaotic as in Victoria.
– I have heard every representative of Queensland state that there is something wrong in the administration of the Department in that State.
– Name one.
– I have heard similar complaints made in regard to all the other States ; and the public are entitled to know where the fault lies and how it may be remedied. I shall not dwell on this question any longer ; but I think I am perfectly justified in placing the facts before the Committee. However,I have a grievance against the Defence Department. We have been told time and again that one great essential to defence is to teach our men to shoot ; and I may say that in the Commonwealth Public Service there are a number of officers who have qualified themselves in this connexion. Members of the Public Service in Victoria were very successful in competitions in Queensland, and also when pitted against the British team in New
South Wales. However - and this is my grievance - when these officers returned from New South Wales, after representing, not only Victoria, but Australia, they found they had to “ pay the piper,” inasmuch as the time they had been absent was deducted from their holiday leave.
– Were these Federal servants ?
– Yes. Is it right, when we make such a point of military training and shooting, that these men should be penalized under the circumstances to which I refer?
– Are those public servants paid their salaries while they are away shooting ?
– Does the honorable member wish them to receive double pay?
– No; but I do not see why the time they spend in representing Australia in competitions of the kind should be deducted from their annual leave. On the contrary, I think that all the expense should be borne by the Commonwealth.
.- I think that the Postmaster- General might look a little, more into one or two matters to which attention has from time to time been called. I am not making any complaint, but, personally, as the representative of a district from which complaints have “ come, I should be glad if one or two comparatively small matters engaged a little more attention than they have received hitherto. In South) Australia a good deal of dissatisfaction exists because of the nonsupply of telegraph messengers. There is a rule of the Department, I believe, that unless so much revenue is received at an office, the outlay of £25 a year for a messenger is not regarded as justifiable. At the same time, there is a feeling amongst the public that the old system of employing messengers is far more encouraging to business than one which is really parsimony and not economy. There are also complaints in regard to excessive -work thrown on the postmasters in some of the towns in South Australia. I do not desire to specify any particular town, but it is urged that too much work is expected for a comparatively small salary; and I know that the PostmasterGeneral will look into the matter and do what he can to dispel the discontent. In regard to the new protection, I really think it would be better for the Government, now that they intend to re cast the whole system - to establish a new and . extensive inquisitorial machine - to test their powers to pass such’ legislation. I speak . as one sympathetic with the object in view. The honorable member for Melbourne Ports mentioned the anxiety of protectionists to take steps in this connexion, but the honorable member forgets that free-traders, feeling that protection has not accomplished what was predicted of it, are also anxious to see that the workers share in the benefits of any duties that may be imposed. I may say that the first time a provision found its way on to the statute-book, protecting the labourer, it was at my instance, in the case of the Australian Industries Preservation Act. There is a provision in that Act that it shall not apply to any industry in which the conditions of labour are not fair. That amendment, I may say, was the Government gloss on the amendment which I tabled, and which they at first opposed, but, finding the House favorable, finally adopted,- and fathered before the country. Under that provision the Commonweal’th can refuse to stop imports unless the conditions of labour in the local industry are fair and reasonable; and, in this, of course, we have absolute jurisdiction, seeing that imports only are affected.
– But what can be done if employers are fair in one State, and not fair in another?
– I am not dealing with the administration of the Act. Does the’ Postmaster-General wish me to engage in a long discussion as to the possible operation of the law?
– :No; I am merely pointing out that, on the face of it, the provision is absolutely impracticable.
– Then why did the Government adopt it, and claim credit for it, on the hustings? If the provision be impracticable, why the hypocritical pretence by the Prime Minister at Ballarat, when he referred to the wonderful stroke of business on the part of the Government in including it in the Act? I do not wish to be tempted into a discussion of whether the provision be operative or not; but the fact remains that the Commonwealth has the power to refuse to stop imports if the conditions of labour in the local industry are not fair and reasonable.
– Of course, but it would be manifestly unfair to punish the whole of the manufacturers because of the sins of a section.
– The Postmaster-General is impugning his own legislation, and, perhaps, I have a higher respect for the time of the House than he has. The honorable gentleman seeks to tempt me, as if I were an untried member, into a useless discussion as to the possible effect or fairness of the provision. The new protection is engaging the attention of the Courts, and we are apparently throwing on the Judiciary a task which it may be unable to accomplish fairly, in the view of all those interested. The Ministry now propose to bring in a Bill to appoint a permanent Board, armed with extraordinary inquisitorial powers, whose operations may be going on for years, and it is as well that we should test our right to place such legislation on the statute-book. I do not wish to offer an opinion on the subject. There are dicta of American judges which throw great doubt on our right to pass this legislation. As our Acts expressly profess to exercise powers of industrial legislation, under the guise of imposing Excise provisions, it seems to me that their constitutionality is more than a little doubtful. If, after all the trouble thrown on the Bench, and the incidental heartburnings to which the proceedings must give rise, we impose a very burdensome Tariff, and it is found that our legislation is all bad, the position will be deplorable. I therefore ask the Ministry to act on the suggestion of the honorable member for Hindmarsh, to test the constitutionality of our legislation by requiring some person who has not applied to the President of the Arbitration Court to pay Excise from the beginning of this year. If it is found that we cannot do justice to labour under these provisions, it will be incumbent on Ministers to seek for other means. The matter is important, and the sooner it is dealt with the better.
– I am loth to delay the consideration of the Tariff, but I have a few words to say on the Excise question. I have sympathized with Ministers in their desire that employers should be given sufficient time to accommodate themselves to the new conditions imposed by the Excise Acts; but the question now arises whether they are not getting too much consideration, so that the Acts are becoming a dead letter, and what should have been an objectlesson to us in the preparation of new legislation has failed to have that effect. The Acts in question were experimental, and admittedly somewhat difficult to administer ; their constitutionality we need not argue now.
– Up to the present time the Government seem to see nothing but difficulties, and apparently cannot find a way to overcome them.
– And I suppose the honorable member cannot do so.
– If I were a Minister I would try to find a way to overcome them.
– It is useless to accentuate the difficulties, and apparently nothing is being done to overcome them. Before we proceed to new legislation of this nature, or even with the Tariff, we should know what are the defects of the Acts which we have passed; whether they are administrative and preventible, or such as we cannot deal with. I do not wish to be always hammering away at the Government in connexion with this matter, but Ministers should use as much energy as possible, and it is questionable whether they have clone all that the Acts allow. In my opinion they have not. I drew attention, a month or two back, to the fact that in October last the time allowed to the distillers to comply with labour conditions would expire. It has been stated that the Government had given the distillers twelve months’ grace; but that was really given to them by the Act.
– The term of grace applies only to certain provisions of the Act; that requiring that only a certain proportion of boys shall be employed came into operation at once.
– Yes. The distillers having had twelve months’ grace, they have surely had time enough to comply with the new conditions, and so soon as the period of grace expired, the Act should have been put into operation.
– The Government should have been ready to take action.
– Certainly. They might have been expected to collect all necessary information within the twelve months.
– Why did not the caucus say that they must do it?
– I am not the caucus, although for some time I have been drawing attention to the matter. The whole blame does not lie with the present Minister of Trade and Customs. When the Treasurer occupied that position, I drew his attention to the fact that the Act would come into operation on the 12th October, and asked that the necessary information should be collected beforehand. I .understand that that information is now being collected.
– That is the answer which the Government gave four months, ago, in another place.
– It is the fault qf the caucus that nothing has been done. The Labour Party is only bluffing.
– I wish to know how much longer the Government will take to collect this information ?
– So long as the members of the Labour party support them.
– Why do not the members of the Opposition take action? They claim to be equally interested.
– Will the honorable member support us if we do?
– Surely it is the duty of an Opposition to bring down motions without first obtaining promises of help from Government supporters. Have not its members sufficient pluck to do this? If they ‘brought down a motion affirming that the Government had not been particularly active in this matter, I should be placed in somewhat pf a difficulty.
– Why does not the honorable member move a motion?
– There is the professional Opposition; let it do something. I believe that all sections are desirous that the new protection policy shall be a success, and I hope that honorable members generally, without trying to gain an advantage for themselves, will urge the Government to expedition, so that the real difficulties which exist may be ascertained before we proceed further on these lines.
.- It is only natural that .grave dissatisfaction should ‘be expressed on this subject. Over twelve months ago the Government wheedled Parliament into imposing high protective duties for the benefit of manufacturers who are now persecuting their employes, making their lives a burden, and ruining them by law expenses. If it takes twelve months to apply an Excise Act to a few manufacturers of harvesters, how long will it take to apply the new protection to all the manufacturing interests of Austra-`Iia? In every item of the Tariff, manufacturers are getting increases which the Committee would not grant if they knew that the Excise law would be inopera tive. Did not honorable members hope that the employes would also benefit? Yet, after more than ‘ a year has elapsed, the Government has not . attempted to give effect to Acts passed to secure that in. the case of certain industries. Is this inaction due to defects in the law, or to want of grit on the part of Ministers ? It may be very well to say that the present Minister of Trade and Customs is not to blame, but Ministers as a whole are at fault, because they have done nothing, and nothing will be done until the House bestirs itself, and demands that action be taken.”
– There is not a quorum present. [Quorum formed.]
– It is twelve months since the Act was passed, and yet no serious attempt has been made by the Government to administer it. I have no hesitation in saying that a large number of honorable members have supported the imposition of high Tariff duties in the expectation that the workers will obtain some benefit from their operation under the scheme of new protection which isto be introduced. But, judging by what has already, taken place in connexion with the administration of the Excise Tariff Agricultural Machinery Act, they are doomed to disappointment. I warn honorable members not to allow the Tariff to be transmitted from this Chamber in sections until the Bill relating to the new protection has been disposed of. Otherwise they will be at the mercy of the Government. Anybody who read the reply of the Treasurer to the deputation which waited upon him yesterday in reference to the collection of Excise under the Excise Tariff (Agricultural Machinery) Act will agree with me that it was a thoroughly “yes-no” reply. It consisted mainly of a plea that the manufacturers must not be harassed.
– The honorable member is making a deliberate misstatement.
– I ask whether the Treasurer is in order in describing my remark as a deliberate mis-statement.
– If the honorable member considers it offensive I will ask the Treasurer to withdraw the remark.
– What remark?
– The Treasurer stated that- a certain remark by the honorable member for Grey was a deliberate misstatement. The honorable member for Grey desires that that observation, which he considers personally offensive, shall be withdrawn.
– I withdraw it.
– A remark of that kind made by the Treasurer when sitting in his seat does not amount to a withdrawal.
– I did not repeat the remark of which the honorable member complained.
– I am aware of that. But without rising the Treasurer said that he would withdraw the remark. That is not courteous to the House, and as I am quite sure that the honorable gentleman desires to be courteous, I ask him to rise and withdraw the remark in the usual way.
– I withdraw it.
– Numerous high duties have been agreed to by honorable members in the belief that the new protection scheme will benefit not only the manufacturers but the workers and the consumers. I do not wonder that the protectionist members of the House - and particularly, of the Labour Party - are becoming anxious about this matter, because when the Tariff has been disposed of - if the new protection proposals of the Government are not satisfactory - they will be perfectly helpless. There is another matter to which I desire to direct attention. I refer to the way in which the Commonwealth public servants of South Australia have been treated. Upon a number of previous occasions I have dealt with this question. When the draft Constitution was under consideration in the Federal Convention it was clearly laid down that all existing and accruing, rights would be preserved to transferred officers. But what are the facts ? As a result of the reclassification scheme - and I should not have mentioned this matter but that the officers affected cannot obtain any satisfaction from the . Public Service Commissioner - 100 postmasters in South Australia have had their salaries reduced by amounts ranging from ^5 to ?150 per annum. Any attempt to secure redress of these grievances is flouted by the Public Service Commissioner, and if an officer dares to approach a member of Parliament he is threatened with the penalty that attaches to a breach of internal discipline. I wish to quote a few passages from the speeches delivered by members of the Federal Convention with a view to show how our public servants have been misled in this connexion. Undoubtedly it was the intention of the framers of our Constitution that all existing and accruing rights should be preserved to our public servants. In speaking at the Adelaide Convention when clause 83 - which is now section 84 - of the Constitution was under consideration, Mr. Gordon said -
Two points arise out of this. Is it the intention of the draftsman to make compulsory service under the Federal Parliament, whether the officers like it or not? The second point is more important. In the sixth line of the clause, it says, “ and every such officer shall be entitled to receive from the State any gratuity, pension, or retiring allowance, payable under the law of the State, on abolition of, his office,” so that if a man only happens to be twenty-one years of age, and is transferred to the Federal authorities, he is to receive from the State the full compensation he is entitled to receive on the abolition of his office, although for the rest of his life, he may be employed by the Federal authority.
Sir George Turner, speaking upon this matter, said -
What you want to say in this clause is, not that he is to get a certain sum under all circumstances, but that whatever his rights are, you will preserve them.
Mr. O’Connor said
I think we are all agreed that when an officer is taken over by the Commonwealth, he should not be placed in an unfair position, or lose any rights by being taken over, because it is no fault of his that the continuity of his service has been broken.
Mr. Barton said
All that we suggest is that, where a person is entitled to a locally accruing right, under the law of the State in which he has served, that right shall not be impaired; but where, under the law of the State in which he has served, he is not entitled to any gratuity, pension, or retiring allowance, the mere fact of the transfer does not give him” the right to the payment of such.
Mr. Deakin said
I do not understand why all rights and privileges are not simply continued, and why a change of master should involve any change in the conditions under which he is employed. Any statutory rights which exist should be continued”, as the change is only a change of master, and not a change of functions.
Mr. Isaacs said
I think it highly important that we should have some provision such as is suggested by my honorable friend, Mr. Deakin.
Mr. Reid supported that suggestion. Mr. Trenwith said -
While it would be difficult for some time, as indicated by Mr. Gordon, to adjust the different conditions running side by side, it would be unjust not to make some provision to maintain the rights already in existence. We should be doing different from what any conscientious company would do……. Various States have now a large number of servants, with whom they have entered into contracts for periods denned by Acts of Parliament. If these servants are to be taken over, it is incumbent upon the States in justice to the people -
Sir Graham Berry. There is no obligation to take them over.
Mr. TRENWITH. Whether they are taken over or not, there should be an obligation to treat them fairly, and where such servants are required, there should be an obligation to take them over with the condition under which they were serving the States which originally employed them. If this is not done, there will be a manifest injustice to a very great number of citizens in Victoria, and, without imputing selfishness or want of patriotism to civil servants of Australia, I have no hesitation in saying that we shall be inducing a large number of citizens to vote against Federation in defence of their own rights and their living, and in defence of justice.
Accordingly a provision was inserted in the Constitution which declares that all existing and accruing rights are preserved to transferred officers. But, as a matter of fact, experience has, shown that quite the reverse is the case. I have already referred to the fact that, under the classification, a large number of officers suffered a reduction of salary, ranging from ?5 to?150 per annum. About ninety officers have been deprived of increments, ranging from ?10 to ?30 per annum, to which they were entitled under the State law. Section 9 of the Civil Service Act of South Australia provides that -
Every class in each division as aforesaid except the first class shall have a minimum and maximum limit of salary, and every officer therein shall be entitled to receive an annual increase, that is to say, for the officers of the second class - who are entitled to a minimum salary of ?350, and a maximum of ?425, an annual increase of?15. Officers in the third, fourth, fifth, and sixth classes, under the same Act, were entitled to an annual increase of ?10, the only condition being that - in no case shall any annual increase be granted except upon satisfactory proof of the industry and general good conduct of the officer.
I do not know whether it is generally known that officers transferred from the South Australian Public Service have been deprived of all these increments. I have on other occasions referred to the discontent prevailing in the Public Service of the Commonwealth, and it is no exaggeration to say that, from one end of the service to the other, the utmost dissatisfaction prevails. Officers consider that they were misled by the speeches delivered by members of the Convention when clause 84 of the Constitution was under consideration. Another grievance is that not the slightest attention has been paid to the provisions of the South Australian Civil Service Act in regard to the retirement of officers who have reached the age of 65 years. Under that Act -
The Governor may require any officer who has become incapacitated for the performance of his duties, to resign his office, and, in the event of non-compliance may remove such officer who shall thereupon be entitled to the compensation provided by this Act.
In many cases officers transferred from the SouthAustralian to the Commonwealth service, on reaching the retiring age, have been summarily dismissed, and have not received the advantage of the six months’ notice to which they were entitled. I know of competent letter carriers, mail-cart drivers, and others who were thus turned adrift, although they were capable of rendering for many years good service to the Department. Under the State law, they would have been allowed to remain in the service, but they have been unable to obtain any satisfaction from the Commissioner. He is a law unto himself, and interprets the Constitution as seems to him best. Notwithstanding that many eminent counsel, including Sir Josiah Symon, are emphatically of opinion that, under section 84 of the Constitution, the rights and accruing rights of officers at the time of transfer must be observed, nothing has been done. It may be asked, “ Why do not these men go to law “? My answer to such a question would be that the law is a very expensive luxury, and that the cost of conducting a suit against the Commonwealth would be very great. The speeches delivered by some of the present occupants of the High Court Bench when, as members of the Federal Convention, they were discussing clause 84 of the Constitution, should satisfy honorable members that the men to whom I refer have been done a very grave injustice. Under the South Australian law, a public servant, after a certain period of service, is entitled to eight months’ leave. The Public Service Commissioner of the Commonwealth, however, has placed an entirely new construction upon that provision in so far as it relates to transferred officers, and practically disregards it. I would also point out that almost every conceivable duty is piled upon officers in the Postal Department. They are made clerks of courts and Customs officers in country districts, electoral registrars, and deputy returning officers, and they have, in addition, to carry out the work of Savings Banks agencies. Under the State law of South Australia they received special remuneration for these additional duties; but as officers of the Commonwealth they do not. The only exception is in the case of a man who is appointed a deputy returning officer ; he is granted £2 2s. for discharging the duties of that office. Can any one deny that these public servants have not every reason to be dissatisfied, seeing that, apart altogether from the additional duties that are being piled upon them, they have been called upon to make great sacrifices for the Commonwealth? I am sure that no honorable member desires to see any member of the Public Service deprived of his rights. The rights accruing to transferred officers when the Department was taken over by the Commonwealth certainly ought to be preserved. The recruits, of course, come under the new law, but why should men who, under the State legislation at the time of their transfer, were entitled to receive increments of £10 and £15 per annum, be deprived of those increases? And why, I ask, should a vigorous old man be turned adrift when he is capable of doing his work, and is even more reliable in some cases than are younger members of the service ?
– Those who have reached the retiring age object to being retired, whilst those under them object to their retention in the service.
– All that I ask is that the rights of these men shall not be disregarded. New men are coming into the service, and in course of time the old transferred officers will die out.
– It is said that they never die.
– I knew a man who, as a boy, served in the office of Sir Charles Todd, one of the oldest officers in the Postal Department of South Australia. After his transfer to the Commonwealth his salary was reduced, and he took the matter so much to heart that he died soon afterwards. I think that the Prime Minister should take action. A month ago it was shown in this House that there was much dissatisfaction in the Department in New South Wales, and officers in the Department in South Australia, in the staternent of their case, from which I have made quotations, clearly prove that they have a strong claim for consideration. Nevertheless, they can obtain no satisfac tion from the Commissioner, and if they appeal to a member of this Parliament to assist them, they are held to have committed a breach of the regulations, and to be deserving of punishment. The matter ought to be looked into.
– Why does not the honorable member bring in a Bill to amend the Public Service Act? He would be well supported.
– I do not think that, so far as this matter is concerned, an amendment of the Act is necessary. The wording of section 84 of the Constitution was followed in the Public Service Act in order that the rights of transferred officers should be preserved; but the Public Service Commissioner has so interpreted the law that they are not being recognised. The only alternative open to these men is to resort to law, but when a man is turned adrift,with perhaps only a few pounds by him, he does not feel much disposed to engage in costly litigation. I trust that the Ministry will take action with a view of remedying these grievances. If they do not, I shall bring the matter forward again and again until redress is obtained.
– Prior to the close of the last financial year, steps were taken to secure the. appointment of 1,000 additional officers in the Postal Department of the Commonwealth. It was recognised that at least that number was required. But as I have already stated, the Treasurer was of opinion that we were passing through abnormal times, and that it was unnecessary to appoint such a large number of permanent hands. He has, however, made provision on the Estimates for 600 more employes, and has promised to provide for all the temporary hands that may be required to tide us over the interim.
– Is the PostmasterGeneral or the Treasurer in the best position to determine how many hands are required in the Postal Department?
– It is a fine thing to see Ministers at variance on the floor of the House in regard to a question of control !
– It is useless for the honorable member to try to magnify a diversity of opinion between a PostmasterGeneral and. a Treasurer. Suchan incident is by no means novel.
– The honorable member has no right to attempt to put the blame on another member of the Government.
– I am not seeking to do so. I am merely stating a fact, the responsibility for which was taken by the Treasurer when he delivered his Budget statement. The Treasurer has to say what amounts he will place on the Estimates; and he evidently had the support of honorable members when he said that, in his opinion, these were abnormal times, and that to provide for the full number of permanent hands, who could not be removed, would be unwise at this particular juncture.
– Does the PostmasterGeneral think that the Treasurer is right?
– My predecessor applied for 1,000 additional permanent hands.
– And we should like to get them.
– That is what we think ; but the Treasurer is responsible to Parliament for the expenditure. This is not a new matter. Sir George Turner, prior to his very last financial statement, reduced the expenditure of this Department by £50,000. As I say, this is not by any means a new matter ; but it illustrates the extreme difficulties there are in administering a Department of the kind. On the one hand, there is the Treasurer reviewing the proposals, and, on the other, the Public Service Commissioner, who regulates the number of employes ; and then, in addition, the public works are carried out by the Department of Home Affairs. No one knows the difficulties of the position better than does the honorable member for Parramatta; but I think that he, and honorable members generally, will give me credit for doing my best to meet the extraordinary demand. I have already issued instructions that, after the 1st January next, all post-offices are to close at 6 o’clock. That will relieve very considerably the sweating that is complained about.
– I am afraid the public will be greatly inconvenienced.
– That is just the argument that was raised against the early closing of shops ; but, as in the case of the latter, we shall find the public adapting themselves to the changed hour.
– That is all very we’ll in Melbourne, where the people can get everything they want.
– The honorable member . is talking without knowledge; he evidently knows nothing about the matter.
– I desire to know whether the Postmaster-General is in order in telling an honorable member that he “ knows nothing about the matter “ ?
– If the honorable member for Fremantle considers the remark offensive-
– I do.
– Then I ask the PostmasterGeneral to withdraw the remark.
– I withdraw the remark with the greatest pleasure, and I need hardly say that no offence was intended. I will say, in another form, that if the honorable member were fully aware of the facts, he would know that in Western Australia, at any rate, there would be no inconvenience to the public. The present is one of those regulations which impose a great hardship on employés without any corresponding benefit to the public.
– Does the new regulation include all post-offices in the Commonwealth ?
– The regulation will provide for uniformity, and will very considerably reduce the hours of the employés; and honorable members will find that the public will not be inconvenienced.
– I think they will.
– The honorable member will, I think, find himself to be wrong. I know that exactly the same argument was used in reference to the early closing of shops. There are little post-offices in Victoria kept open until 8 o’clock at night, where all other business establishments are closed at 6 o’clock.
– There are exceptions.
– Yes, but the vast majority of establishments are closed. We have found, from returns, that the amount of business does not warrant the keeping of employes engaged until 8 or 9 o’clock at night ; and the present is a system of long; hours and sweating, which, I think, every thoughtful member will support me in abolishing.
– Will mails be delivered after 6 o’clock?
– The delivery of mails will not be interfered with.
– I am afraid the Postmaster-General will bring a hornet’s nest about him.
– Oh, no; and I look to honorable members who have complained of sweating, to assist me in putting down the evil.
– Sweating and the keeping open of the offices do not necessarily go together.
– The cry is that we should put down sweating, but the moment any one is inconvenienced in the slightest degree-
– There could be additional officers.
– Of course; but that, would mean additional expense. To incur additional expense, in order to keep the offices open during the present hours, in which many are merely pretending to do business, is simply impossible.
– .Many mails arrive late in the evening.
– Those mails will not be interfered with. After consulting with the Prime Minister, I have issued instructions that, as far as possible, temporary hands are to be employed to relieve the immediate pressure, and every step is being taken to carry out the initial stages of employing the permanent hands provided for in the Estimates.
– What about the additional hands for which the Estimates do not provide?
– I shall certainly deal with that matter at the earliest possible moment. The complaints in regard to the post-office at Cairns have already reached me, and I have wired to Queensland for a.i immediate- report, with a view to relief being afforded, if the case is as stated by the honorable member for Herbert. The honorable member for Dalley is all wrong in his reference to the postage on packets ; there has been no new regulation for years.
– Then it is an old regulation being enforced in a new way
– The surcharge is in pursuance of an old regulation which has hitherto not been carried out ; but inquiries are being made into the particular case. This shows the unwisdom of introducing a subject of this kind into an important discussion like that on the Tariff. Some regulation has been broken, though no new regulation has been made; and good reasons can be given for the surcharge to which the honorable member referred.
.- I should like it made perfectly clear whether or not mails will be delivered at post-offices after 6 o’clock under the new regulation indicated by the Postmaster-General. The honorable gentleman has told us that no mails will be delivered after 6 o’clock in the evening.
– I said nothing of the kind.
– That is what 1 understood, at any fate; and I point out that a good many mails arrive in country districts after that hour.
– Provision will be made, for those.
– Some mails arrive at country towns at 7.30 in the evening, and it will be a great hardship if the public are deprived of the privilege of obtaining these letters shortly after the mail arrives, which they have enjoyed for the last thirty years.
– In many cases there is only the one mail a day.
– That is so; and if a hard-and-fast line be drawn, much inconvenience will be suffered.
– At Portland, fpr instance, the mail does not arrive until 9 o’clock at night.
– If we desire people to live in the country, they must be given postal and other facilities. The new regulation, if carried out, will cause a hue and cry from the Gulf of Carpentaria to Cape Leuwin ; and I advise the Minister to reconsider the matter. Mr. HUGHES (West Sydney) [4.26].- A grievance which I laid before honorable members on the last occasion of this kind remains unsettled, namely, the nonpayment by the Postal Department of moneys properly due to persons under contracts for certain works. I now understand that the claimants ought not to have applied to the Postal Department, but to the Department of Home Affairs ; and this appears to me to be a very interesting way, of evading responsibilities, though not one to commend itself to any business man. If the firm of David Jones and Company, or Foy and Gibson, had to refer an account from the mantle department to the department of stockings and underclothing, there would not be a delay of ten or fifteen weeks in the settlement ; and there ought not to be any such delay in the case of Government accounts. It reflects great discredit on a great Department when, time after time, men have to ask for money they have- honorably earned. As to the undermanning in the Department, there has been as yet- no1 marked improvement in Sydney. No doubt the Postmaster-General has his hands full ; but I do press on him the necessity of doing something. The aim of the Department is not merely to save money, but also to spend money properly by doing good service to the community ; and I hope the honorable gentleman will see his way clear to make such appointments as are necessary.
– The Postmaster-General, in the latter part of his remarks, said that the new regulation in regard to closing at 6 o’clock will not apply to those post-offices where the mails arrive after that hour. It that be so, then the first statement of the Postmaster-General, that the regulation will apply to all offices, must be wrong. This is a point on which we ought to be quite clear. In country districts and mining towns, evening is the only time when the bulk of the people can attend to their postal business ; and the new regulation will prove a great hardship. There is no doubt that many of the postoffices could be closed during the day for hours, but in the evening it is highly necessary that they should be open for business.
– I should not have taken part in this discussion but for the extraordinary statement of the Postmaster-General, who, I think, would be very well advised if he reconsidered his decision. Post-offices exist for the convenience of the public - to give the maximum and not the minimum amount of convenience. At the same time, we do not desire to see our public servants worked unduly long hours or sweated. The postal authorities tried to meet the difficulty by arranging for the employment of additional hands; but on the refusal of the Treasurer to make available a sufficient sum to provide for them, the PostmasterGeneral is meeting the case by giving instructions that, from the 1st January next, all post-offices shall be closed at 6 p.m. But why stop at 6 p.m. ? Why not close at 4 p.m., or even, earlier, and thus effect a greater saving? If the honorable member thinks that the public convenience would be served by keeping the post-offices open only until 6 p.m., he will find that the public takes a different view. In country districts mails often arrive late in the evening, and unless provision is made for their distribution on arrival, the local community is greatly inconvenienced.
– The new regulation will apply only to post-offices which can be closed at 6 p.m. without serious inconvenience to the public.
– That is an important qualification; but I think that the Postmaster-General will find that the arrangement will not effect any very great saving. Should the Postmaster-General close all post-offices promptly at 6 o’clock, he will soon find a hornet’s nest about his ears. I trust that the honorable gentleman will not discontinue his efforts to put a stop to sweating, but that, before he reduces the hours for which the postoffices are open to the public, he will give the greatest consideration to the matter, so that inconvenience may not be caused. He should aim at giving the public the maximum amount of convenience, at the same time setting his face against sweating of any kind.
.- To my mind, it was the intention of Parliament, in passing the Excise Acts, that applications for exemption should be made as cheap as possible to the applicant. The Excise Tariff (Agricultural Machinery) Act provides that it - shall not apply to goods manufactured by any person in any part of the Commonwealth under conditions as to the remuneration of labour which -
Notwithstanding that provision in the Act, Queensland applicants for exemption are being put. to great inconvenience. Any one may act as the agent for an applicant, and I have been asked to appear as agent for a Queensland applicant, who, on the 12th June last, received the following letter from the Industrial Registrar -
I have the honour to acknowledge the receipt of your application for an order of exemption under section 2 of the above Act, and in reply to inform you that His Honor the President of the Court will deal with your application at the Law Courts, William-street, Melbourne, on Tuesday, the 3rd September next, at 10.30 a.m.
It will be necessary for you to be present personally at the Court on that date, or be represented by counsel or by a solicitor or agent.
Your representative should be thoroughly conversant with all the details of your business as to wages paid, hours worked, &c.
Later on we received an intimation that the holding of the Court had been postponed until the 23rd September.I attended on that day, and learned that it was again postponed until either the 7 th or 10th October - I am. not sure which. Personally I am not much concerned in this matter, although I have been watching the case from the 3rd September until the present time, and do not know yet when the application will be heard ; but it seems to me monstrous that applicants in Queensland should be asked to enter an appearance in Melbourne, and be subjected to these extraordinary delays.Employers, of course, will not suffer as much asemployes, should the workers attempt to oppose any application. I am not complaining of the action of the Court officials, who, I think, have tried to facilitate matters as far as they can ; but I think that, in the interests of fair play, provision should be made for the hearing of these cases in Queensland.
– In this case probably there is no evidence to be taken ; it is merely a matter of making application.
– Surely evidence must be taken in every case?
– The evidence may be furnished by affidavit.
– The application is not opposed, but the applicant must be represented.
– The President of the Court may hear cases in Queensland if he thinks that necessary. Cases have been heard in Adelaide and in Sydney.
– Great inconvenience will be caused if applicants for exemption are compelled to come to Melbourne in every instance. I do not think that the President of the Arbitration Court should be the only person competent or the only one asked to take evidence. In my opinion, the fun has not yet commenced, so far as the administration of this Act is concerned.
– Surely the honorable member is in favour of its principle.
– I am not in favour of trying to do the impossible. The Constitution does not give us power to enforce such legislation. That will be seen when an appeal is made to the High Court on the subject.
– I understand that the Postmaster-General has explained that he does not intend to close all post-offices at 6 p.m., and I strongly impress upon him the need for leaving the present arrangements unaltered, so far as country offices are concerned, since they have given fair satisfaction. There have been complaints of shortness of staffs, but I do not think that many officials have complained of the hours which they are called upon to work.
– I have had quite a number of complaints about the length of the hours.
– The public hasbeen justified in complaining in some cases about the hours fixed by the Department for the closing of mails. I remember an instance, which occurred in New South Wales, when, after the starting of the western mail train had, for the convenience of the travelling public, been put back an hour, the Department closed the mail an hour earlier than it had previously been closed. The honorable member for Calare, myself, and others, had a big fight before the authorities would alter that arrangement. This is a country question. Take Brewarrina and Bourke as an illustration. These places enjoy only a tri-weekly train service. The train arrives at Brewarrina at 7.5 p.m., and the residents are obliged to obtain delivery of their letters after that hour, and to reply to them the same evening. Otherwise a loss of several days would be involved, and that would be a very serious matter to business people. In the case of Bourke, coaches run from that town to the Queensland border to connect with the mail service of that State. They arrive at the Bourke post-office after the ordinary hour of closing, and local residents are obliged to obtain delivery of their correspondence the same evening, and to reply to it forthwith, otherwise a fortnight’s delay would result. At these towns the postal officials have not complained of the existing arrangement. They are content to work in with the public. Any attempt to close the offices earlier than is now done would necessitate a new arrangement being made in regard to the arrival and departure of the coaches, quite apart from the question of the delivery of the letters. Of course, in the cities, where the correspondence is delivered by letter-carriers, the position is altogether different. I am quite prepared to support the Postmaster-General in any attempt to enforce reasonable hours being granted to employes, but special arrangements must certainly be made in country districts.
– I can assure the honorable member that throughout the. Common- wealth there are dozens, if not hundreds, of cases which can be relieved in the way that I have suggested.
– Regarding the statements of the honorable members for Hindmarsh, D alley and Boothby, I think it will be recognised, when the- circumstances of the case are made known, that no charge of negligence can be laid at the door of the Customs Department. On the contrary, every effort has been made to give effect to the principle which is known as the new protection. Of course it is very easy for honorable members to inquire, “ Why does not the Department collect the Excise ?” Let us take the case of the distillers as an illustration. The honorable member for Boothby has stated that, some time ago, he warned my predecessor that the twelve months’ grace which the distillers were allowed under the Excise Tariff (Spirits) Act would soon expire, and that consequently he ought to take time by the forelock, so that he would be ready to enforce the collection of the Excise upon the very day that the measure became operative. But what does the Act say ? -
Provided that all spirits distilled in Australia, and not having been matured by storage in wood for a period of two years, may, until the thirty-first day of December, One thousand nine hundred and seven inclusive, be delivered at the respective rates of duty specified in the Excise Tariff 1902.
Provided further that if any distiller -
Does not, after the expiration of one year from the passing of this Act, pay his employes a fair and reasonable rate of wages per week of 48 hours ; or
Employs more than a due proportion of boys to men engaged in the industry, the Governor-General may, in pursuance of a joint address by the Senate and the House of. Representatives, impose an additional Excise duty of1s. per gallon on each of the items mentioned in the schedule as regards such distiller.
The Act is dated 12th October, 1906, and consequently the distillers were not obliged topay a fair and reasonable rate of wages until 1 2th October of the present year. Where then wouldhave been the use of taking time by the forelock, as was suggested by the honorable member for Boothby? The honorable member for Perth also inquired, “ Why does not the Department collect the Excise?” Surely we are not to penalize any section of the community without first ascertaining whether they are liable to any penalty for an infringement of the law? When we are satisfied that the distil lers are not paying fair and reasonable wages, we may, upon a joint resolution of both Houses, impose the additional Excise.
– When is a resolution to be submitted to both Houses?
– Does the honorable member suggest that we should submit such a resolution until we have reasonable ground for believing that the distillers are not paying fair wages? Undoubtedly the proper course for the Department to pursue is first to ascertain what wages are being paid. Then if it is satisfied that reasonable wages are not being paid, I shall be in a position to bring the matter before the House. I repeat that the Act only came into operation on the 12th October last. What has been done since? We have already asked the distillers to supply us with sworn declarations as to the wages they are paying. I gave them till the 1 st inst. to supply the Collectors of Customs in the different States with this information, and I have asked the collectors to let me have that information within seven days.
– That is all right.
– Nothing more could have been done. We are determined to carry out the law.
– What about the Excise upon agricultural implements ?
– It is part of the Government policy to see that good wages are paid by manufacturers. But we are not prepared to hound any section of the community or to practice oppression. We shall see that all those concerned observe the law, otherwise nobody will be readier than I shall to compel them to pay the Excise. The honorable member for Macquarie has asked me a question in reference to the Excise upon agricultural implements. We all know what the law is in that respect. It provides that if the manufacturers do not pay their employes fair wages they are liable to pay an Excise. The Act in question became operative at the beginning of the present year. Now it is rather a large order to ascertain throughout Australia what wages are being paid in all the shops and foundries where agricultural implements are being manufactured. As a matter of fact they are being manufactured in some very small shops, which employ only a few hands. The principle which the Act seeks to enforce is an entirely new one, and honorable members can easily understand that we have not the perfect machinery for giving effect to it that exists in the Customs House so far as the importation of goods are concerned. Some honorable members have asked “ Why does not the Minister collect the Excise under the Excise Tariff (Agricultural Machinery) Act and under the Excise Tariff (Spirits) Act in the same way that the Department collects Customs duties”? But I would point out that in the latter case we have only to say to the importer “ You must pay up or you will not get your goods.” The Excise Tariff (Agricultural Machinery) Act reads -
Provided that this Act shall not apply to goods manufactured by any person in any part of the Commonwealth under conditions as to the remuneration of labour which -
are declared by resolution of both Houses of the Parliament to be fair and reasonable; or
are in accordance with an industrial award under the Commonwealth Conciliation and Arbitration Act 1904; or
are, in accordance with the terms of an industrial agreement, filed under the Commonwealth Conciliation and Arbitration Act 1904; or
are, on an application made for the purpose to the President of the Commonwealth Court of Conciliation and Arbitration, declared to be fair and reasonable by him or. by a Judge of the Supreme Court of a State or any person or persons who compose a State industrial authority, to whom he may refer the matter.
Consequently it is clear that the Excise has to be paid or the manufacturer has to prove that he is paying proper wages. How is he to prove that? He may establish the fact to the satisfaction of the Commonwealth Court of Conciliation and Arbitration. In connexion with this matter I claim that the Government have adopted the proper course. It seems to me that we ought not to enforce the payment of the Excise until we have given the manufacturers of agricultural implements an opportunity of showing that they are paying reasonable wages.
– How long should it take them to do so?
– They have to make application to the Court. This law applies to agricultural machinery makers scattered over a great continent, and unfortunately we have not at hand all the machinery that we require. But we pressed these manufacturers to apply for certificates, intimating that unless they obtained them we should demand the payment of Excise. That, I think, was a proper course to take.
– Have all the imple ment manufacturers in South Australia obtained exemptions?
– A very large number have; but we have not followed up every little country blacksmith employing one or two men, because I do not think it was intended that the Act should apply to them.
– The honorable member for Hindmarsh did not refer to such cases.
-I shall deal with the cases to which the honorable member referred. Applications were made in different States, and the President of the Conciliation and Arbitration Court wrote to the Attorney-General; requesting the Government to stay their hand until the issue of the Wages Board scale. The reasons which Mr. Justice O’Connor gave for this proposal are public property. He wrote, in May last -
There are over fifty applications by Victorian agricultural implement manufacturers for declarations under the Excise Tariff Act of 1906 set down for hearing next week in Melbourne. I understand from the Registrar of the Industrial Arbitration Court that a Board under the Victorian Factories and Shops Act is now settling the rates of wages in the agricultural implement makers’ trade, and that they will have the scale of wages completed in about two months. It would be very much to the advantage of masters and men that the declarations asked for, if made, should be made on the basis of the scale of wages settled by the Board. I am, therefore, disposed to postpone all the applications until after the Wages Board scale has been issued. Before doing so, however, I would be glad if you could give the assurance that the Government will take no action to enforce the provisions of the Act against any manufacturer who has applied to the President of the Arbitration Court under the Act until his application has been finally disposed of.
– That letter had nothing to do with manufacturers in South Australia.
– The Court sat in South Australia, and held an inquiry to determine whether reasonable wages were being paid.
– It discovered that reasonable wages were not being paid.
– The Court sat in South Australia, and exemptions were obtained by a number of manufacturers.
– After agreeing to pay fair wages.
-I have here a copy of one of the exemptions. The honorable member for Hindmarsh, who is usually very fair, was this afternoon, perhaps unintentionally, very unfair. He has put a dozen questions to me as to the payment of Excise.
– And the honorable member has not acted on the information I have given him.
-I have supplied the honorable member with all the information at my disposal. I certainly did not desire to draw upon my imagination in order to please him.
– I admit that, but I repeat that the honorable member has not acted upon information which I supplied to him.
– Let me deal with the facts in their order of sequence. The Court sat in South Australia, and granted exemptions to those who were paying reasonable wages.
– It granted an exemption to certain manufacturers, on condition that they paid fair rates of wages, which had been agreed upon ; but those wages have not been paid in every case.
– Here is a copy of the exemption granted to May Brothers -
Upon hearing Mr. S. H. Skipper, on behalf of May Brothers and Company Limited, and upon reading the affidavit of H. J. Finch, sworn the 16th day of April, One thousand nine hundred and seven, I, Richard Edward O’Connor, President of the Commonwealth Court of Conciliation and Arbitration, in exercise of the powers conferred upon me by the Excise Tariff Act 1906, declare that the conditions as to the remuneration of labour subsisting in the business of May Brothers and Company Limited, of Gawler, in the State of South Australia, are fair and reasonable, and have so been from the first day of January last until the end of the week of employment current on Thursday, the sixth day of June instant, and thenceforward shall be deemed’ to be fair and reasonable so long as the said May Brothers and Company Limited observe the conditions as to remuneration of labour as set forth in the agreement embodied herein…….
– If they do not observe that award, what happens?
– It will be the duty of the Government to collect the Excise.
– I have shown the honorable member that some firms have not paid the wages agreed upon.
– Let us see what May Brothers say.
– Not May Brothers alone.
– But I do not wish to deal with the matter in a general way. Let us hear what one of the firms has to say.
– We want to know what they are doing, not what they say.
-We have a method of proving whether or not they are telling the truth. The honorable member complained that May Brothers were not observing the conditions under which they obtained an exemption, and I sent an officer to their works to make inquiries as to whether the wages referred to in the exemption certificate were being paid. I have here a report by the officer showing the various rates paid by the firm.
– No officer could get the information.
– Then how are we to obtain it?
– By sending with the officer a man in the trade who can determine whether the men have been properly classified.
– The workers are classified as blacksmiths, engineers, and so forth.
– We need to see what is the work done by men who are classified as slow or of average capacity.
– It is somewhat to be regretted that the award provides for two classifications - for slow and fast men.
– Who is to determine their capacity?
– The honorable member for Hindmarsh complained that certain men were not being paid in accordance with the award. I sent an officer to the works to make inquiries, and am now told by the honorable member that it is useless to send an officer to any of these factories unless he is accompanied by a man in the trade, who can determine the capacity of the workers. The difficulty appears to arise from the fact that two rates are fixed.
– I think that the policy of the award in differentiating between the capacity of the workers is wrong.
-I agree with the honorable member. It is because of that differentiation that a difficulty arises. This is what the officer reports -
With reference to your instructions to inspect the wages-sheet at Messrs. May Bros, and Co. Ltd., Gawler, agricultural engineers, I have the honour to report having visited their factory on the 7th inst.
Mr. May, the managing director, the secretary, and the general manager gave me every facility for inspection, and assisted me in every way.
I took as a basis the wages for the last fortnightly pay, and checked the time worked by each man during ordinary hours and the amount paid when working overtime. I compared the total amount with the heel of the cheque drawn upon the bank for the fortnightly pay. They agreed. I also made this comparison for the last three months, and found it correct.
The result of my inquiries is as follows : -
The amount shown in brackets after the class of mechanic enumerated, is the minimum rate of wages (day of eight hours) agreed to at the conference between employers and workmen.
He proceeds to show the wages paid to the various employes under the award. Blacksmiths of average capacity were to receive 9s. per day. The officer found that the firm were employing one at 9s. 6d. a day, one at 9s., and one at 9s. to 14s. The rate of pay of blacksmiths under average capacity was fixed at 8s. per day, and the officer found that five were employed at 8s. 6d. and two at 8s. per day -
Fitters, average capacity. (9s. per day), one at11s., one at 10s. (piece-work only); four at 9s.10d., one at 9s. (piece-work only).
The rate fixed for turners of average capacity was 9s. per day and the officer found that May Brothers were employing two at 9s.10d. per day, and one at 9s. per day.
– What about those of less than average capacity ?
– They are dealt with in the report. The rate fixed for wood workers of average capacity was 9s. per day ; the officer found that the firm employed on piece work only one at11s., two at10s., and one at 9s; 6d.
– None under that amount ?
– No; that was the total number employed. The rate fixed for moulders of average capacity was 9s. 6d. per day’. The officer found that one was employed at11s. per day, one at 10s., and five at 9s. 6d. The rate fixed for labourers used to the trade was 7s. 6d. per day. It was found that the firm was employing one at10s. 4d.,one at 10s., one at9s. 6d., one at 8s. 6d., three at 8s., and twelve at 7s. 6d. So far as the officer could judge, this firm was paying the wages agreed upon.
– What about Messrs. Brebner and Keefe, who have done nothing?
– They say that they are making so little in the way of machinery that is subject to Excise, that they do not care to comply with the conditions under which they obtained an exemption.
– Then they ought to pay the Excise.
-I have made a demand for the payment of Excise as from 1st January last, when the Act came into operation, and the question at issue is whether they are liable to pay from that date, or from 6th June last, when they obtained an exemption. They have offered to pay Excise from the latter date. I think the honorable member for Hindmarsh will recognise that the Department is trying, as far as possible, to deal with all these cases. The honorable member for Hindmarsh also made a complaint in regard to a manufacturer named Bagshaw. But I point out that that gentleman’s firm has got an exemption, and surely the honorable member does not hold the Department responsible under those circumstances. It is the business of the Department to see that proper conditions are observed; and I cannot believe that the honorable member really means what he says when he accuses the Department of having made no effort in that direction. In connexion with this particular case, on hearing the complaint made by the honorable member, I sent an officer to Mr. Bagshaw, who made the following sworn declaration -
I, Edward Gilbert Bagshaw, of Elizabethstreet, Adelaide, in the State of South Australia, agricultural engineer, do solemnly and sincerely declare as follows : -
I am one of the permanent directors of J. S. Bagshaw and Sons Limited, of Elizabethstreet, Adelaide aforesaid, agricultural engineers.
That I am a practical engineer, and have been engaged in the manufacture of agricultural implements since the year 1896.
That I have had charge of the factory where the business of the company is carried on, and have worked with and directed the operation of the employés since the year 1900 ; and it is part of my duty to engage the employés of the company.
From my knowledge of the business of the company and from the experience I have gained in working with and directing the operations of the employés of the company I know exactly the capacity of the several employés of the company as regards the class of work they are employed to do.
Forthwith after the declaration of exemption was granted to the said company by the President of the Commonwealth Court of Conciliation and Arbitration I classifiedthe company’s employés according to their ability to perform the work set them to do, and they were satisfied with such classification, and have been paid by the company according to such classification.
Every employe of the company who was not at the time of the making of the declaration of exemption receiving wages at the rate fixed by the agreement set out in the declaration of exemption has been paid, and is now being paid an increased rate of wages in terms of the said agreement.
The increased wages paid by the company to its employes in obedience to the said agreement amounts ratably to upwards of£1,500 per annum. 8.I say that the conditions of the exemption have been and are being complied with by the company.
– Buthe sacked many employes, because they were not satisfied. This is the man whom the Judge proved to be a liar in Court.
– But this is Mr. Bagshaw’s sworn declaration.
– I would not take his word on his death-bed.
– These are not words,but facts.
– They are not facts.
– They have been sworn to, and accepted by the Judge.
– This is the witness who swore that his firm made no profits.
– According to this sworn declaration, the conditions of the exemption are being complied with. I must say that the honorable member for Hindmarsh makes his complaints in a reasonable way, though some of his charges are very general and indefinite. However, we have had three cases before us. In one case, I demanded Excise, and the only question at issue is whether the manufacturers will pay, as I contend they should, from January last; in the next case, the officer who was sent to inquire found that a great number of the men are being paid more than the statutory amount ; and, in the third case, we have the sworn statement which I have just read, showing that the award means an increased expenditure of£1,500 per annum. No reasonable man could expect the Department to do more than has been done. In obedience - not in obedience, but in deference to the representation of the honorable member for Hindmarsh-
– The first word is the right one.
– If the honorable member for Parramatta made representations to me with as much earnestness as that exhibited by the honorable member for Hindmarsh, I should, though the facts might appear to be against him, feel it my duty to make further inquiry. I have instructed an officer to make careful investigation so that we may know whether these manufacturers are evading the law. If they are evading the law, then it will be a pleasure to me - as I know it will be a pleasure to honorable members to help me - to see that reasonable wages and conditions are observed. But we must not penalize men until we have some proof. I may say that these inquiries are a labour of love with many of the officers, who recognise that a great principle is involved; but, at the same time, we must not hound down or oppress anybody. There will be great difficulty in working out some of the details of the system.
– The Minister will find the manufacturers a bit too strong for him in the end.
-I doubt that very much. It is a good thing to have these matters threshed out here, because we are thus enabled to find the weak links in the chain. The Treasurer and the AttorneyGeneral are preparing a Bill with a view of cutting out those weak links, and perfecting the legislation on this subject. Whatever power is given to me under the law I shall certainly use. It is against public opinion, and the desire of this Parliament, that manufacturers should continue to enjoy benefits of legislation relating to bounties and duties, while they do not observe reasonable conditions in relation to their workmen. As far as possible, we shall endeavour to prevent such manufacturers evading the law. I think, however, that the honorable member for Hindmarsh must admit that there is nothing in his charges, the making of which I put down to his zeal. All I ask is that honorable members shall not generalize. Of course, it is rather a hard matter to introduce men’s names into such a discussion. At the same time, there ought to be no false delicacy in dealing with a matter of this description. Workmen naturally feel that if they give information they may be penalized ; and, of course, this represents a difficulty which has to be overcome. The honorable member for Hindmarsh contends that the men in the factories referred to have been classified on the wrong basis; but I shall be glad to know how he would propose to better the position. There is no doubt that the kernel of the question was touched by the interjection of the honorable member for South Sydney; and, possibly, legislation will get rid of the difficulties to which reference has been made. I invite honorable members who know of cases to give particulars, so that investigation may be made. But it is not desired that there shall be an army of inspectors running about the country; and, therefore, we are “going slow “ in order that the new law may not become so obnoxious as to cause any delay in its coming into full operation. Let us be warned by our mistakes in legislation in the past, and I can promise honorable members that any information or suggestion that they may make will be carefully considered. At the same time, I feel it to be my duty to stand up for men who are placed in the position of Mr. Bagshaw; there must be fair play all round. I am assured by my colleague that he is almost ready with the legislation to get over the troubles referred to; and I think I have proved up to the hilt that everything possible has been done by the Department.
.- The Minister of Trade and Customs, in the latter portion of his remarks, touched the kernel of the case when he said that it was the award which appeared to be wrong, and which was causing the trouble. In my opinion, the award, in allowing the employer to be the judge of what men are slow or of average capacity, places him in a position to take advantage of all legislation in the shape of bounties or duties, and to leave his employes just as they were before any. such legislation was passed.
– TheJudge is not to blame ; that was agreed to by both parties.
– I am not going to comment on the action of the Judge. What I desire to point out is that a mistake has been made - I care not by whom - and it is the duty of the Government to introduce an amending measure. It appears to me unfair and iniquitous to allow an employer to be a judge of the capacity of any particular man in his employment. What right has the employer to be the judge in such a matter any more than has the employe himself ?
– Then who is to be the judge ?
– There should be an independent judge. If the honorable member and myself were to go to law, would it be reasonable that either of us should be the judge in our own case? Of course, I do not say that the independent judge should decide in each case individually, but only collectively, according to the rules always observed in the employment of men generally. Beyond deciding what is a minimum wage, I do not think we ought to go - that is, a.minimum wage based on the cost of living and what is necessary to keep a man in the average comforts of life, according to our standard of living. It would be impossible for a Court to decide as to the capacity of particular men. In any case, I say that a mistake has been made, and that it is necessary to amend the law. This is the first instalment of the new protection, and if the second is like the first-
– We do not desire it.
– Quite so. There is the difficulty that while we are talking of new protection, as provided in the legislation of last year, I can quite see a means by which cunning and unscrupulous employers would wheedle from the House very high protective duties, while giving nothing in return.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
In Committee of Ways and Means (Consideration resumed from 6th November, vide page 5647) :
Division V. - Textiles, Felts and Furs, and Manufactures thereof, and Attire.
Item 115. Blankets (except of Rubber); Blanketing; Flannels, including Domett; Rugs, n.e.i., including Buggy Rugs or Aprons, and Rugging, ad val., 30 per cent.
– Item 115 having been called on before progress was reported last night, we cannot go back.
– Will it be possible to deal with item 114 at some future stage?
– Yes ; when the resolutions are reported.
.- It seems to me that flannels should be brought under item 124 as piece-goods, but should be distinguished from other piece-goods. Is not their inclusion here a mistake?
– I am informed, too, that domett is an obsolete term as applied to woollen material, being now used to designate heavy flannelette. If that is so, it should be omitted from this item, or the words “all wool or containing wool” inserted immediately after it.
– It is made of wool for surgical bandages.
– Then I will not press the matter. The old rate of duty onthe articles comprised in this item was 15 per cent., and the A section of the Tariff Commission recommended a duty of 25 per cent. But the Minister proposes 30 per cent.
– I intend to move to make the rate 25 per cent. against the United Kingdom.
– In my opinion, the General Tariff rate should not exceed 25 per cent., and that against the United Kingdom 15 per cent. Under the old Tariff, importations greatly decreased.
– They are practically not worth considering now.
– The importations from the United Kingdom in 1903 - which, by the way, were mainly due to the inability of the local mills to supply requirements - were valued at £67,986, and in 1906 at , £51,079, while from other countries in the two years they were valued at £2,960 and £2,427 respectively, so that there has been a very substantial falling off.
– Our own mills cannot execute the orders which are being given to them.
– Yes. I am coming to that. The total importations in 1903 were valued at £70,946, and in 1906 at only £53,506. Rugs aremade in Australia, but not to the same extent as blankets and other woollen goods. There has been a considerable increase in the importation of rugs, because of the prosperity of this country during recent years. As most of the rugs imported come from the United Kingdom, the duty will affect chiefly British manufacturers. According to the information with which I have been supplied, the importations of rugs, rugging, and lap dusters from the United Kingdom last year were valued at £43, 784, from New Zealand at £3,032, and from all other countries at £7,426 - a total of £54,242, of which £46,816 came from within the Empire. In 1903 the importations were valued at £27,098. Blankets and blanketing are nowbeing extensively manufactured in nearly all the States, the conditions here being naturally favorable to the industry, as Australia is an immense producer of wool, which is grown almost at the doors of the factories. The industry is native to the country, and would have existed without any protection.
– In that case there can be no objection to a high duty.
– It shows that there is certainly no need for a high duty in this case. It has generally been argued by protectionists that import duties are necessary to protect our manufacturers from the competition of other countries, where men work longer hours, and are not so well paid as our workmen.. Duties are always asked for, in the first instance, on the fallacious plea of enabling industries to start, and that, being once started, they will be able to take care of themselves.
– That is not the protectionist view, but John Stuart Mill’s theory.
– It is the view put forward by the Treasurer, and others who first preached these poisonous doctrines . in New South Wales. I would point out that this is an industry which is indigenous to the Commonwealth. The wool is grown at our doors - there is no expense of importation - and the value of the finished product is chiefly the value of the raw material. In comparison with the machinery which is used in the industry, only a very small amount of labour isemployed. Only a few days ago I was conducted through one of the Victorian woollen mills, and I could not fail to be struck with the enormous amount of work which is performed by machinery. Only about half-a-dozen boys and girls were employed in the room where the spinning machines were at work. Even in the finishing processes very few men are employed. Of course the hygienic conditions which obtain in the establishment to which I refer are all that can be desired. If honorable members will take the trouble to peruse the report of the B section of the Tariff Commission, they will see that the conclusion at which its members arrived is altogether unfavorable to the imposition of any higher duty than 15 per cent. The report is a most exhaustive one, and bears evidence of having received very careful consideration. Certainly it compares more than favorable with the report of the A section of the Commission, which slurs over the principal points that the free-trade section emphasize. I have no desire to impute intentional unfairness to the protectionist section of the Tariff Commission ; but I do say that its report betrays evidence of strong fiscal bias. In speaking of blankets And woollen piece goods, the B section of the Commission say -
We, the undersigned, while acknowledging the report prepared at the instance of the Chairman to be a full presentment of the case for higher duties, regret to find it imperfect and misleading, both as a summary of the evidence in general and as purporting to give a true value to the evidence adduced against any increase of the Tariff.
That is a very strong statement for one section of the Commission to make in reference to the other section. It really amounts to a charge of unfairness on the part of the protectionist members of the Commission in their presentment of the case placed before that body. The document continues -
In the Chairman’s report, the “ reasons assigned for increased duties” are re-iterated at the end of a summary of evidence, in which these reasons have already been emphasized to the fullest possible extent. The objections to increased duties, however, which should in natural sequence follow the former, and which as a matter of ‘fact were tendered in rebuttal, are very briefly and imperfectly summarized in the introduction. The effect of this is undoubtedly to minimize the weight and value of the evidence against increased duties. We therefore find ourselves once more under the regrettable necessity of preparing practically a fresh report, in which we supply the matter lacking in that signed by our colleagues.
I ask honorable members to read the report . of the free-trade section of the Tariff Commission, with a view to ascertaining whether there is any justification whatever for increasing the duty of 15 per cent, which was levied under the old Tariff. That section of the Commission recommend the imposition of a duty of 10 per cent, upon flannels and of 15 per cent, upon other woollens. From reading their report, I know that they were satisfied that in making that recommendation they were extending ample protection’ to our local manufacturers. The whole of the disabilities under which the manufacturers, themselves alleged that they were labouring did not represent a difference between the cost of production of more than 12 per cent. In speaking of the woollen industry before Federation, the B section of the Tariff Commission say -
The Victorian witnesses were positive in their assertion that the woollen manufacturers of that State could not carry on without higher duties. They had enjoyed for the greater part of their pie-Federation experience a higher duty than the present Commonwealth Tariff. But it was also admitted that the history of the trade during that period “ had not been particularly encouraging,” most of the mills having had to be re- constructed at one time or another, while some had gone out of existence. - (Grainger, Q. 10460.)
The latter misfortunes had occurred under a high State Tariff. At that time, however, the industry had been carried on “without that dash which now characterizes it.” - (Grainger, Q. 10720-2.)
It was further admitted that the result of the inquiry of the Victorian Tariff Commission of 1895 had been a reduction of the duty, and the object of that - declared the witness - “was to give us (the manufacturers) notice that in process of time we should have no duty at all.” - (Grainger, Q.10714-5.)
A witness produced extracts from the published statistics of Victoria, which showed that the high duties in this State had absolutely failed to increase employment in the woollen mills. - (Hirsch, Q. 12858.)
As a matter of fact, it was contended by a great many witnesses that the effect of the operation of high duties in Victoria had been to greatly discourage the woollen industry. In passing, I may mention that in New South Wales the industry had been carried on successfully without the aid of any protective duty. I propose now to quote some figures showing the duty upon woollens, and the number of hands employed in the industry in Victoria during specified years. I find that’ in 1878 there was a duty of 11 per cent, upon these goods, and that the number of hands employed was 736. In 1881 the duty was 16 *</inline> per cent., and the number of hands employed was 776. It will be seen, therefore, that the number of operatives did not increase proportionately to the increase of duty. In 1886 the duty operative was
This witness also referred to an investigation made by what is generally known as the Sweating Board of Victoria - a Committee of the Legislative Assembly, which some years ago investigated the condition of the sweated industries. The report of this body distinctly states that the evidence submitted was largely to the effect that, owing to the high duty on woollens, the clothing industry had materially suffered.
Notwithstanding that report we are asked to grant an increased duty -
The woollen manufacturing industry of New South Wales had existed previous to Federation practically with no protection, and, though it gave employment to fewer hands and less capital than that of Victoria, it appears to have got along much better.
We have evidence that since Federation a high condition of prosperity has obtained in the woollen industry; that the mills have been running full time; that orders have been given which they have not been able to fulfil, and that these have accumulated to such an extent as to necessitate considerable importations. It cannot be expected that those who are unable to obtain supplies from local manufacturers should refuse to import goods to enable them to carry on their business. In connexion with this aspect of the matter, we have, at page 14 r, the statement that a witness named Grainger - was asked if the position of the woollen industry was correctly represented in Mr. Ord’s report for 1003, as follows : - “ I have again to report that the woollen trade industry has been exceptionally busy during the whole of the past year, an average of 300 workers having been constantly employed in one of the mills. In my last “report I mentioned that additional machinery had been ordered from England. A complete set of carding, combing, spinning, and winding plant has been added during the year, together with new machinery, throughout the various departments of the mill, and the business is extending to the other States, clearly showing that there is an increasing demand for woollens of colonial manufacture.” The witness admitted that this extract correctly represented the position. - (Grainger, Q. 10762.) The witness, when asked what ‘dividends his company paid, attempted to mislead the Commission bv statins that it worked out at per cent, on the total subscribed capital of ^’60,000. The balancesheets of the company, with which the witness was confronted by a Commissioner, showed that the capital of the .company was ^30,000, upon which 15 per cent, dividends had been paid for several years.
It will thus be seen that one interested manufacturer went so far in his desire to obtain the imposition of an exorbitant duty as a further protection to his industry as to endeavour to throw dust in the eyes of the Commissioners.
– The company had paid a dividend of 15 per cent.
– The balance-sheets showed that they had done so. This is only one of many instances in which we hear of manufacturers either refusing allow their books to be opened for inspection so that a fair idea of their profits and expenses might be obtained, or else trying to mislead others by false statements as to their actual working expenses and profits.
– Does the honorable member apply that remark to all the manufacturers ?
– I do not. It would be very unfair for. me even to insinuate that, all manufacturers are guilty of this practice. Those who advocate the policy of protection are generally’ disposed to regard all importers as thieves and rogues, but I do not take ‘tip the same attitude in regard to manufacturers or my protectionist friends.
– Are there not some bad importers ?
– I have not said that there are not ; I merely urge that we should be fair to each side. If we made an investigation, however, I believe that we should find that the balance of honesty rests on the side of the importers. One of the reasons advanced in support of the proposed increased protection is that we must protect the home market against imported shoddy. Shoddy is at all times objectionable, but it is produced locally as well as imported. The whole of our manufacturers are not entirely guiltless of its production. Here, again, I quote from the report of the free-trade section of the Tariff Commission a corroboration of my statement. At page 147 it is stated that -
Of the samples of Australian flannel, 4c) in number, 40, or 81 per cent., contained cotton, the proportion running from 0.3 to 87.1. The Australian flannels are classified as obtained (a) in Victoria, and (b) in New South Wales. Of 39 Victorian flannels (a) 2 were all wool, and out of 10 New South Wales (i) 4 were pure wool.
In another paragraph on the same page, we have the statement -
While it was generally declared bv the manufacturers “that they had been compelled to introduce cotton into their woollen goods in order to compete with similar adulteration of imported fabrics, one New South Wales manufacturer stated that his trade in flannels had been killed through the introduction into that State of inferior goods from oversea and also from Victoria.
Here was a- New South Wales manufacturer complaining of shoddy, which had been supplied to him from Victoria - “ The Victorian flannel was of good appearance. It had less yarns to the inch than our flannel, but the face was all ‘ gigged up ‘ to look nice and woolly. It was quite as good in appearance as our own flannel, and no doubt, owing to the use of a certain amount of cotton in the manufacture, it could be sold at a lower price.” - (Blackmail, Q. 27228.) Flannel was coming into New South Wales from Victoria at 6£d. per yard ; it was really no good. It had no virtue as flannel. - (Blackman, Q. 27233.) Internal competition in Victoria was also responsible for bringing down quality and price in that State. - (Harrison, Q. 12495-6.)
When we hear of complaints in connexion with this industry as to the importation of shoddy, we must not forget that in and around Melbourne - in this centre of protected manufacturers - just as much shoddy can be produced when the opportunity offers as we are likely to import. We have here an application of the old adage that people who live in glass houses should not throw stones.
– There is some shoddy made in New South Wales also.
– There is no evidence to that effect j the evidence is all the other way. Out of ten samples submitted from New South Wales, four were pure wool, while of thirty-six samples of Victorian flannels, only two were all wool. It will bt: observed that in the case of the Victorian flannels it does not say that the two samples were of pure wool, so that it may have been wool of the most inferior quality. Furthermore, it was stated that the use of cotton as a mixture with wool is confined to Victoria. In 1903- the total importation into the Commonwealth of raw cotton amounted to 464,964 lbs., of which 417,609 lbs. came direct to Victoria, and 176,453 lbs. were transferred to that State from other States. It will be seen that practically the whole of this raw cotton came to Victoria, and, according to the Victorian Year-Book for 1903, the mills of the State in 1899 used 154,388 lbs., which had increased by 1903 to 368,749 !bs. All these figures bear out the statement that the use of cotton in the production of woollen goods in Australia is confined to Victoria. There is much more of great interest in the report, though it is too lengthy for me to quote. I think I have said sufficient to show that if shoddy materials are im ported, similar materials are made in Victoria under the stimulus of a highly protective Tariff. The alleged disabilities under which manufacturers labour in Victoria are dealt with in a striking’ paragraph in the report. On page 150 we are told-
The total disability of the Australian woollen manufacturer compared with his British competitor, is, therefore, on these findings, not more than 2 per cent, on equipment and 10 per cent, in labour, or a total of 12 per cent, .on the value of the product.
As against this the British manufacturer who competes in Australia pays 15 per cent, duty and from 7£ to 12^ per cent, charges, or a minimum total of 22^ per cent, on his goods, and this without taking into consideration an average increase in the cost of Australian wool, delivered at the mill in England, of 16J per cent.
The evidence given before the Tariff Commission clearly shows that there is really not a farthing of duty required - that the charges to which manufacturers outside Australia are subjected amount to a great deal more than is necessary to give ample natural protection to. the local manufacturer.
– What does the protectionist section of the Commission say ?
– The reason that the free-trade section reported as they did was that the protectionist section suppressed or slurred over the facts so as to give a wrong impression.
– That is a great reflection on the protectionist section of the Commission.
– It is not a. reflection made by me, but it is a direct charge contained in the report of the free-trade section of the Commission, who felt it necessary under the circumstances to re-state the case, and submit a complete separate report, so that Parliament might not be misled. Without a doubt, this industry was successfully carried on in New South Wales, and could be carried on to-day, without a duty; and I do not know that the manufacturers of that State are asking for any more protection. I feel certain that some of the New South Wales manufacturers do not desire more protection; and I am still more certain that the Tasmanian manufacturers do not.
– That is not correct.
– The honorable member for Denison, if he were here, would confirm my statements; because he has shown me letters from which it appears that the Tasmanian mills have so many orders that they are running to their fullest capacity. I saw one letter in which it was stated distinctly that no further protection was desired by Tasmanian manufacturers.
– I have a letter here to the opposite effect.
– In any case, . the manufacturers are not unanimous in their demand for any higher protection. The highest asked for by the most greedy when before the Tariff Commission was 25 per cent, but the Government- have put the duty up to 30 per cent. The high duty proposed is prohibitive of all but the cheaper classes of woollen-cotton blankets, which, I may say, are not produced here. There is a blanket called the Union blanket, made of wool and cotton, invoiced as low as 6d. per lb., whereas colonial Union blankets are, at least,’ is. $d. per lb. As to the cost of production, I find, from the evidence given before the Tariff Commission, that, in the case of flannel blankets, it has largely decreased since 1899. Mr. Hogarth, a witness, said -
Five or six years ago I imported some machinery, and there was a saving of two and ahalf limes in the labour in weaving.
This probably accounts for the substitution of flannels and blankets for tweed and worsted in many of the local mills. The same substitution is affirmed by Mr. Grainger, a witness, who said that it largely took place between the years 1899 and 1 901, under the Victorian Tariff. With regard to the industry itself, there is evidence throughout the whole of the Commonwealth - and I have made personal inquiries from people connected with the trade - that the mills are running to their full capacity, and are really choked with orders. It is significant that a number of the mills are refusing orders, and in some cases absolutely ignoring them. In this connexion, the following Melbourne newspaper extract may be of interest -
A large Melbourne firm wrote to a Hobart manufacturer with whom it had previously done no business, asking to be supplied with a quantity of flannel. Under ordinary circumstances a manufacturer would only be too anxious to seize the chance of doing new business, particularly as it was made dear to him that the firm paid cash for goods supplied. He replied that he was so full of orders from his regular customers that he could “ not accept any new business.” The same Melbourne firm wrote to another Hobart manufacturer asking for goods, and received no reply.
The manufacturers know that we pay cash, and that it is good business, yet they are in this extraordinary position that they are unable to pick up several thousands of pounds waiting for them here. What the total arrears to all distributing houses is I do not know, but, judging by the quantity of stuff due to us, it must represent an enormous sum. This is the beginning of the light summer trade, and supplies show a tremendous shortage. We are at the mercy of the Australian manufacturers. The goods are popular, and I must say of excellent quality. When the tariff increased the duty “from 15 to 30 per cent. I had to cable countermanding an order placed in England, because we would have lost seriously on it. This rnakes us all the more dependent on the Australian manufacturers. Of course, the inevitable ultimate result of the stoppage of importations and the under-production and increasing demand finally will be a rise in price.
– Perhaps the manufacturer did not receive the order.
– The strong probability is that the order was received, but that the manufacturer did not desire to be bothered with it. The mills of Castlemaine and Geelong are in exactly the same position. One manufacturer wrote to a large customer stating that he was full of orders for the 1908 season, a year ahead; and I may say that that letter was written before the increased duty came into operation.
Sitting suspended from 6.30 to 7. 4.5 p.m.
– The argument that an unreasoning public prefers the imported to the locally manufactured article ca>nnot be used in this case, it being admitted that the latter is of high quality, and that the warehousemen would be willing to take it to the exclusion of the former, if they could get enough of it; but, not being able to do so, have, in order to keep faith with their customers, to obtain additional, supplies elsewhere. There is no justification for any duty at all in connexion with the articles comprised in this item, which we manufacture to such’ an extent that we cannot keep up with the demand. But for the futility of making the proposal in an assembly like this, I would move to strike out the duty altogether. As I have no hope of carrying such an amendment, I intend to move to reduce the duty on the general Tariff from 30 to 20 per cent., a protection which will be 8 per cent, more than the disabilities asserted by the most rabid manufacturers, surely a sufficient margin. Later, I intend to move to reduce the duty against the United Kingdom to 15 .per cent., which is the old rate. Seeing that we are giving our manufacturers the advantage of these high duties, tinder which they will have practically a monopoly of the local market, we should make sure that the articles which’ they sell to the public shall be what they are represented to be. Therefore, all locally made goods should be compulsorily labelled or marked with a trade description which would enable the public to know exactly what they were buying. This might well be made a feature of the new protection to which honorable members opposite are so fond of referring. I think that the arguments which I have adduced, the evidence which I have quoted, and the facts which I have brought forward, prove conclusively that it is unnecessary to increase the duty. I move -
That the words “ and on and after 8th November, 1907 (General Tariff), 20 per cent.,” be added.
.- I understand that domett is an article made of cotton, which should not be in this item, but should be classed as a flannelette. Therefore, 1 should like the honorable member for Lang to withdraw his amendment, to enable me to move the insertion of the words “ of wool or containing wool.”
.- At the beginning of my speech, I pointed out to the Minister that domett is. largely composed of cotton, but he objectedto any amendment in connexion with it. I am willing to withdraw my amendment, to allow the honorable member for Grey to move his.
Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.
Amendment (by Mr. Poynton) proposed -
That after the word “ domett “ the words “ containing wool “ be inserted.
.- Domett is a light flannel, woven of wool, or of wool and cotton, from which bandages are made - generally wide - for abdominal use. There is a domett which is made wholly of cotton. The amendment will meet the case.
– The honorable member forgets the difficulty which the Department will have in distinguishing one kind of domett from another.
– Difficulties of that kind are always arising.
– Yes; in connexion with all kinds of material. An officer could quickly tell whether a material contained cotton.
– The application of a match would decide the matter.
– Yes, or the use of a microscope.
– I accept the amendment.
.- Is it intended that the duty under discussion shall apply only to woollen goods? There are flannels which may not consist wholly of wool. We should see that there is no inconsistency.
Amendment agreed to.
Amendment (by Mr. Johnson) proposed -
That the words “ and on and after 8th November, 1907 (General Tariff), 20 per cent.,” be added.
.- There is one way in which we canhelp Australian woollen manufacturers very much better than by imposing an inordinately high duty upon woollen goods. There can be no doubt that some of the difficulties experienced by our woollen mills have been due to the fact that they have not supplied the public with a pure article. The evidence given before the Tariff Commission, and the analyses of various samples which were submitted to that body, show that unless steps are taken to compel our woollen manufacturers to use pure wool instead of wool with an inordinately high percentage of cotton, our mills will never be a success. Personally I should like to compel them to mark upon every article that they turn out its exact constituents. We can deal with the imported article under the provisions of the Commerce Act. But if we are going to extend a higher measure of protection to our woollen manufacturers and to compel them to pay reasonable wages to their employés, it is our duty to protect theindividual who is producing an honest article as against the manufacturer of shoddy. Only the other day I visited the largest millowner in Tasmania, and had a conversation with him in reference to the duty on woollens. He informed me that he was quite prepared to continue operations under the old rate so long as we. compelled every manufacturer to disclose the quantity of wool contained in each article that he produces. He declared that if steps were not taken to enforce the use of pure wool, he would either have to lower the standard of the article which he produces, or to cease business altogether. We know from the testimony of the manufacturers themselves that some mills have practically ruined their businesses by reason of the fact that they have produced an. inferior article.
– And those are the mills which are most loudly whining for more protection.
– Let us protect the honest manufacturer, who is endeavouring to supply the public with a pure article. When the Commerce Bill was under consideration in this House, it was pointed out that whilst it empowered the Government to deal with imported goods, it gave them no power to deal with articles that were manufactured in Australia. It was then urged that the proper time to consider this question would be when the Tariff was under review.
– Would the honorable member apply the principle which he is advocating to imported goods?
– Yes. I am merely pointing out that whilst we have power under the Commerce Act to deal with imported goods, we have no power at the present time to protect the honest manufacturer against his dishonest rival, who is engaged in foisting an inferior article upon the public. I am convinced that by adopting some such provision as I have suggested we should do more to encourage the woollen industry than we can accomplish by means of an inordinately high duty.
.- In regard to the quality of goods manufactured in Australia, it is only reasonable to suppose that the States Governments will do their duty in the way of compelling the contents of manufactured articles to be disclosed. The Commonwealth would experience great difficulty in dealing with local, manufacturers, whereas the States would be confronted with no such difficulty. It has been pointed out that there is a legitimate demand for an article which is composed of cotton and wool. But if we are going to compel manufacturers to produce only woollen goods - if that is the suggestion of the honorable member for Franklin-
– So long as the contents of goods are disclosed I shall be satisfied.
– That is a matter which may safely be left to the States. I wish the Treasurer to give the Committee some information which would justify us in imposing a duty of 30 per cent. upon blankets. I have rendered the Govern ment very consistent support upon this Tariff, but I find that the protectionist section of the Tariff Commission recommend that blankets should be dutiable at 25 per cent. Even that rate, they declare, is a higher one than the manufacturers themselves have asked for. I think that honorable members are entitled to some information as to the reasons why the Government propose an addition of 5 per cent. to the rate recommended by the A section of the Tariff Commission. From conversation with representatives of several big firms a little time ago, I learned that the Victorian woollen mills are unable to supply the local demand for blankets. Under such circumstances it is extraordinary that we should be asked to support the imposition of a duty of 30 per cent.
– The duty will practically amount to 25 per cent., because most of the blankets imported come from the United Kingdom.
– I cannot exhibit any great enthusiasm on behalf of mills which will not launch out when business is awaiting them. I suppose that the real truth of the matter is that their owners are not prepared to invest more capital in the enterprise. If that be so, why should we come to their aid? The prejudice which formerly existed against Australian goods is, I am happy to say, rapidly disappearing. Indeed, the public now purchase a great quantity of goods of Australian manufacture under the impression that they have been imported. The report of the Tariff Commission does not justify the imposition of a duty of 30 per cent. upon blankets. I should like the Treasurer to supply us with some information as to why that rate of duty is proposed, especially in view of the fact that at the present time our own mills are unable to supply the local demand.
– The whole position may be briefly explained. As the item stands in the schedule, the Government propose a duty of 30 per cent., but when we reach the second column I intend to propose that the duty on imports from Great Britain be 25 per cent. The value of the imports of blankets in 1906 was £53,506, and of that total £51,000 worth came from Great Britain. It will thus be seen that a preference of 5 per cent. to imports from Great Britain will practically mean a general duty of 25 per cent., since nearly the whole of our imports of blankets come from the United Kingdom. I agree with the contention of the honorable member for Darling, and will practically meet it by the amendment I have just indicated.
– What about the factories who have booked orders up to 1908? Many Of them cannot supply the present demand.
– There is no reason why we should not make all the blankets that we require.
– But there are, firms which Cannot be supplied by the local factories.
– Surely if we give local manufacturers nearly the whole of the home market, we shall find in our midst people ready to invest their capital in an Australian venture. I have read the evidence given before the Tariff Coramission as to the quality of Australian blankets, but an incident which occurred whilst I was Premier of New South Wales may be of interest to honorable members. Complaint was made that the Government of New South Wales was using imported blankets, and I obtained from Mr. McLean, I think, who was then Premier of Victoria, samples of some of the Victorian blankets that were being used in Government institutions in tins State. We found that one Victorian blanket was worth nearly two of the imported blankets which we were using. Although the Tariff Commission obtained evidence which rather told against the Victorian blankets, I know perfectly well that the samples which we received from this State were much superior to blankets that were being imported at that time. I presume that the position is still the same.
– But I am assured by one of the biggest firms in New South Wales that, although they are prepared to pay their price, they cannot get supplies this year from the local mills.
– Even if that be so, it does not justify the contention that we should reduce the duty in order to allow importations to come in more freely. Whilst importations of blankets are not increasing, there has been no material decrease. In 1904, .£57,720 worth were imported ; in 1905, £57,899 worth; and in i9o6> £S3>S°6 worth.
– How can they decrease when the local manufacturers are unable to fulfil orders?
– That argument does not apply, because we have the wool, the money, and the people to manufacture these goods.
– The existing firms cannot fulfil all the orders which they are receiving.
– Very likely there are some manufacturers who do not wish to have further competition. If weimpose this duty, competition is sure to be increased, and we shall probably be in a position to make all the blankets that we require. I hope honorable members will agree to the Government proposal.
– I do not propose to labour this” question, since we have heard all the arguments for and against the Government proposal. I rise merely to state that I intend to vote against the amendment moved by the honorable member for Lang, and also against the Government proposal to make the duties go per cent, and 25 per cent. I shall later on move that the duty on blankets be 20 per cent, in the case of imports from the United Kingdom, and 25 per cent, on imports from other countries.
– The Government will not accept that amendment.
.- The honorable member for Darling has put the position- very fairly. He told the Treasurer that he had been a consistent supporter of the Government, but was not disposed to vote for this duty, of 30 per cent., until some reason for the increase had been given. The Treasurer, in reply, said that the matter could be explained in a few words. I appeal to the Committee to say whether he. showed any justification for increasing the duty of 15 per cent, under the old Tariff to 30 per cent, as now proposed. The extreme request made before the Tariff Commission by Mr. Grainger, manager of the Ballarat Woollen and Worsted Mill Company-
– For heaven’s sake do not go into all the details. I do not pay any attention to statements picked out of the evidence of one witness, whilst the evidence of others is disregarded.
– We are entitled to pay some attention to sworn evidence given before the Tariff Commission, particularly when we have the Treasurer appealing to the Committee to accept the Government proposal without any explanation.
– He has the numbers, and does not want the facts.
– I know that the Minister has the numbers behind him, but I am going to put before the Committee one or two “facts which the honorable gentleman may answer if he can. Even the protectionist section of the Tariff Commission recommended a duty of only 25 per cent. That was the extreme request made on behalf of the woollen manufacturers of Victoria in a document dealing with the capital invested, interest and depreciation, capital unemployed, and wages and excessive competition, which was signed by C. E. Grainger, manager of the Ballarat Woollen and Worsted Company Limited ; G. Hirst, managing partner of G. Hirst and Company, Excelsior Woollen and Worsted Mills, Geelong; Alexander Gray, director of the Albion Woollen Mill Company, Geelong.; M. E. Collins, sole partner in Collins Brothers, Geelong; Aaron Hume, for the Breakwater Woollen Mills; E. D. Williams, chairman of the Castlemaine Woollen Company Limited ; Charles E. Denniston, manager of the Doveton Woollen Mill Company Proprietary Limited, Ballarat; Laycock, Son and Nettleton, of South Melbourne; Walter Gaunt, of the Alfred Woollen Mills, Williamstown; and John Y. Hooper, chairman of the Australian Woollen Company Limited. As a matter of fact, no justification has been given for increasing the duty even to 25 per cent. All the big warehousemen say that our woollen mills are unable to supply them with the blankets required for the population of Australia. Some of the mills will not book orders for twelve months ahead. What was the evidence given by Mr. Hogarth, a well-known Tasmanian manufacturer engaged in the production of blankets ?
– And a very stiff protectionist.
– He is not.
– The Tasmanian manufacturers were doing so well that they refused to join with the woollen manufacturers on the mainland, who asked for a general Tariff of 25 per cent. They did not ask for more than 20 per cent. The free-trade section of the Tariff Commission report -
In Tasmania the Commonwealth Tariff had reduced the protection on blankets from 20 per cent, to 15 per cent., while the rate on woollen piece goods had remained unchanged. It was, however, readily admitted that the Tasmanian woollen industry had profited by Federation. ‘ It had given the manufacturers of that State a “shake up,” but “on the whole it had done them good.”
That was the evidence of Mr. Hogarth. Mr. Grainger also admitted that the reduction of the duty had been the means of putting more dash into the business.
– In spite of that evidence the Tariff Commission recommended a duty of 25 per cent.
– That was the recommendation of the protectionist section of the Commission. I must object once more to the report of one section being referred to as the report of the Commission.
– The Treasurer will not even adhere to the recommendation of the protectionist section.
– That is so. Mr. Hogarth, when before the Commission, was examined as follows : -
Has your trade been increasing or stationary since the Federal Tariff has been in operation? -It has been stationary this last two years. There had been a gradual increase after the 20 per cent. State duty had been put on. We doubled ourselves in seven or eight years.
Do I understand you to say that you are not progressing because ‘the duty is not sufficientlyhigh? - I won’t say that.
How are you stationary ? - We cannot go on increasing for ever.
Is your output up to the full capacity of your mills? - Yes; we cannot do another bit.
That is the position of many of the mills in Australia to-day. They are working up to their full capacity, and are unable to fulfil many of the orders sent to them. Reference has been made to the desirableness of so marking goods as to’ indicate their constituent parts. I should like to draw the attention of honorable members to the report of the free-trade section of the Tariff Commission on this item -
Finally, we summarize the conditions under which, in our opinion, the woollen manufacture would progress rapidly towards that importance which it ought to occupy among Australian industries : -
Compulsory indelible marking on every article or yard of so-called woollen fabric, whether imported or manufactured locally, its proportion pf purity or adulteration.
The great reason that led us to make that recommendation was tha adulteration in connexion with the manufacture of flannels, more particularly in Victoria.
– Poor old Victoria !
– I should like to see Victoria flourish and prosper, along with every other part of the Commonwealth; but the analyses which were made show that adulteration was more prevalent in that State than in any other. Our opinion was that the first analysis was not carried out in a satisfactory way, and, in order to make absolutely certain, we had a second analysis underconditions at which no one could cavil. We found, as a result, that there was more adulteration in the case of Victorian flannels than in the case of any imported flannels.
– The Commission could not get imported flannels for investigation. The flannels were refused by the Flinderslane people.
– Imported flannel was obtained.
– And special directions were given to the experts to get the worst examples of imported flannels.
– What the honorable member for Perth says is absolutely correct; and the statistics in regard to the consumption of raw cotton show that it was in Victoria that the adulteration mainly took place, nearly the whole of the imported cotton being consumed in that State.
– Mr. Moore, of SouthAustralia, said that he would not use any cotton in his manufacture.
– That is so. It was in consequence of the extensive adulteration that we made the suggestion for the compulsory indelible marking of goods ; and I trust the Government will see the advisability of acting on that recommendation, so that the people may know what they are buying, and get value for their money. So far from there being an increase in the importation of blankets and blanketing, there has been a very large decrease. From the statistics submitted to us, I find that £111,624 worth of blankets and blanketting was imported in 1899; £134,2 33 in 1900; £122,399 in1901; and £114,503 in 1902. From 1903 to 1906 the value of these imports dropped from £70,000 to £53,506,the latter being the lowest figure in the period with which I have dealt. When we find Australian manufacturers unable to fulfil the orders they receive, and when importation has decreased to such a large extent, what justification is there for the proposed heavy increase in the duty? The Treasurer hastalked a great deal about preference to the Old Country, and his great desire to help its manufacturers ; but, as a matter of fact, it is from the Old Country that our imported blankets come, andhere is now a deliberate attempt, without any justification whatever, to prohibit their entry into this country. Considering all that has been done for. us by the Mother Country, and what she is doing for us at present, the time has not arrived in the history of this young Commonwealth when prohibitive duties should be raised against British manufactures. We have been told of the position which Australian manufacturers occupy as compared with the manufacturers of the Old Country ; and it was urged very strenuously by some of the witnesses before the Commission that they were unfavorably placed in regard to the purchase of the raw material. But if honorable members take the trouble to read the evidence they will find that, so far from our manufacturers being in a comparatively bad position, they are in a much better position than that occupied by the British manufacturer. The Australian woollen manufacturer can go into the wool market almost at any time of the year,and buy what he requires, whereas the British manufacturer has to pay insurance, freight and other charges on the wool to England, and similar charges, together with the duty,when he desires to get his finished product into the Australian market. It was admitted by protectionist witnesses that there is a very large measure of natural protection in favour of the Australian manufacturer. The duty under the old. Tariff was 15 per cent., but, as a matter of fact, when all charges are taken into consideration, it amounted to 40 per cent., and in some cases to over that rate. An industry which cannot progress under protection amounting to 40 per cent. is, in my opinion, an industry not worth bothering about. I am as anxious as any one to see our woollen industry progress and prosper, and I am looking forward to the time when we shall be large exporters ; but my opinion is that the old duty is quite sufficient to develop the industry. In New South Wales, long before there was Federation and protection, there were woollen mills at Marrickville, on the Blue Mountains, and at Parramatta.
– Werethose mills not largely retail tailoring shops?
– If the honorable member will take the trouble to visit the mills he will find that, in regard to plant and every other requirement, they are quite as much up to date as any mills in Victoria.
– Quite so, but was it not possible for any one to buy a suit of clothes at the Parramatta Mills?
– All I can say is that the mills in New South Wales were, at the time I speak of, manufacturing as high a class of tweed as is turned out in any other of the Australian mills; and so far as blankets are concerned, I agree with the Treasurer that none superior are made in any part of the world. It was further stated that Australian manufacturers labour under a disability in connexion with the greater initial outlay on buildings and plant. But one reason for the greater outlay on plant is the high protective duty on the machinery required. This is the old story that the duty which protects one industry penalizes another ; and I submit that if the whole of the duties were removed, and the woollen manufacturers enabled to obtain their machinery duty free, they would require no protection. The industry was carried on under such conditions in New South Wales years ago; and the whole of the evidence tends to show that, with free ports, the woollen industry of Australia would live and prosper. One advantage which the English manufacturer has over his Australian brother is that he can get his machinery at a cheaper rate. There was also a further contention that the Australian manufacturers are handicapped by higher wages and shorter hours than prevail in other parts of the world. The protectionist section of the Commission did not seem to trouble themselves about the labour cost, although, in my opinion, that is the principal consideration when we are dealing with protective duties. We must remember that some years ago, when we were told so much about the strangled industries of Victoria, the great argument was that our artisans had to work against the low-paid artisans of other countries. But the Commission found, after a thorough investigation, that a duty of 10 per cent. would more than cover the whole of the alleged disability in this connexion. The circumstances certainly do not justify the duty proposed by the Government. Much was also said about local prejudice;but any prejudice there may have been seems to be fast disappearing, in view of the fact that only the other night we had the Treasurer boasting that he was wearing a suit of Australian tweed. As a matter of fact, right through the Commonwealth there is such a demand for Australian tweed that it is impossible for the manufacturers to supply it. What is there in the allegations as to prejudice, the greater outlay of capital required, the shorter hours and the higher rates of wages, the local prejudice, and unfair competition, to warrant the proposals of the Government? I sincerely trust that the Committee will vote for the old rate, under which our manufacturers have prospered and flourished to such an extent that to-day they are unable to fill orders.
.- The honorable member for Illawarra has told the Committee that the Australian woollen mills are so busy that the local warehousemen are unable to get their orders filled. Let me read a letter which is a sample of the orders given by the local warehousemen and importers -
Sydney,11th May, 1907
Messrs. Gaunt and Co.,
We would be glad if you will submit samples of flannels for indent to arrive about January 1st, 1908. The lines we require are blues, greys, heather, navy, and white; and if you can do a special low line at about 5¾d. we desire to place orders for same. As these goods show a very large sale with us, we will be glad if you will let us have samples asked for, at your very earliest.
Petersen, Boesen and Co. Ltd.,
Per Arthur Boesen
– The reply sent was that the material which they wished to buy at 5¾d. was worth 7½d., and thereupon the importers declared that they would send to England for it. This is one of the firms which have been complaining that the Australian mills are so jammed with work that they cannot meet their orders. The right honorable member for East Sydney, who appointed the Tariff Commission, designedly put upon it only one protectionist and two free-trade members of the House of Representatives, and, unfortunately, the former is absent from this discussion.
– It is very unfair to say, that that was done designedly.
– In support of my statement, I need only refer to a debate which took place after the appointment, in which the right honorable member promised an opportunity for its discussion, which in the long run was not given. The honorable member for Illawarra founded his speech on the basic principles of freetrade. He said that if the woollen manufacturers were not interfered with, they would not. want protection. Let us consider what is meant by such non-interference.
The honorable member for Parkes, a consistent free-trader, shows in his book that free-trade is more than a mere fiscal belief. The free-trader does not want to be interfered with by any humanitarian legislation. The free-trade manufacturer does not want to be interfered with by Arbitration Acts and Wages Boards, under the operation of which wages in Australia are 50 per cent. higher than they are in Yorkshire.
– At Geelong they are on strike for a wage of 17s. 6d. per week.
– That is quite an inaccurate statement. The wages of weavers and other workers in the mills have been fixed in Victoria by a Wages Board, and although the probability is that they will be increased because there is to be a new WagesBoard, at the present time, while the average wage in Huddersfield for thirty picks is 8s. 6d., in Australia it is 16s. 6d. ; for forty picks it is11s. in Huddersfield, and in Australia 21s.9d.; while we pay 26s. 3d. against 13s. 6d. paid in England, and 31s. 3d. against 16s.
– The Yorkshire widthis greater than the Australian width.
– Will the honorable member for Corio say; that mill hands here earn twice as much as is earned by mill hands in the United Kingdom?
– Another form of interference, to which perhaps the honorable member for Illawarra as a free-trader objects, is that which compels manufacturers here to be satisfied with a week of fortyeight hours, whereas in Yorkshire a week of fifty-six and a half hours is regarded as ordinary. The honorable member said that the Parramatta mills prospered without the protection of a duty.
– They did not prosper ; theyhad to reconstruct.
– Some of the Victorian mills had to reconstruct, notwithstanding a protective duty of 40 per cent.
– I asked the honorable member for Illawarra whether the Parramatta Woollen Mills have not made their profits partly by entering into competition with retail shops and making slop clothing.
– That is totally incorrect.
– It is absolutely true.
– The fact did not come before the Tariff Commission. I based my case on sworn evidence.
– Why had the Footscray mills to close?
– It may be that they were not protected by a sufficiently high duty. In this matter I am a prohibitionist. We shall not be satisfied until we get proper duties. Some honorable members who were returned as protectionists are tiddlywinking with the Tariff, by voting for compromises. In doing so, they are only postponing the evil day.
– The evil day ?
– The evil day for them.
– The evil day for the country.
– The evil day for all who will not accept the Australian policy of protection, and face the fact that Australia must build up its industries and employ its own people. If we go on whittling down duties, there will be another fiscal fight at the next election, and the majority pledged to vote solidly for protection will be increased.
– May the election come soon.
– Let us have it on this Tariff.
– If duties are reduced, the Tariff question, instead of being settled for ten or twelve years, will be re-opened at the next election.
– Are honorable members opposite game to take the Tariff to the country? If they are, we will gladly go with them.
– The honorable member could not take the Tariff to the country any more than a mosquito could turn an elephant. Do I understand the honorable member wants to challenge me in my constituency ? Undoubtedly, I speak for my own constituency, which is a sane one.
– It is as well that the honorable member says that, because some persons might not think so.
– In my opinion, Corio returned a good man, and, I think, desires an honest, protectionist Tariff.
– It does not want a prohibitive Tariff ; it wants a reasonable one.
– We should impose rates of duty which will settle the fiscal question for a long time to come. In China there are what are called “ rice Christians “ - persons who become converts to Christianity because of the rice which they can obtain from the missionaries. There are members of this Committee who are rice protectionists. They are protectionists only for the purpose of securing seats in this House. They are free-traders at heart, free-traders by conviction, and free-traders when they come to deal with a protective Tariff. They wish to whittle down the duties upon woollens among other duties.
– Let us come to a vote upon the item.
– When an honorable member is speaking who does not agree with the deputy leader of the Opposition the latter always exclaims, “ Let us come to a vote.” I ask him to put on another record. The phonograph always seems to be saying the same thing. For goodness sake, let the honorable member occasionally change the record. If there is one duty in this Tariff which ought to partake of a protective character it is the duty upon woollens. How did England build up her woollen industry? Was it not because she produced the best sheep in the world - as Australia is doing now - and because her far-sighted monarch, Queen Eliazbeth, absolutely prohibited the importation of woollens? Those persons who constantly quote England as the great exemplar in the matter of free-trade overlook the fact that it was only after she had built up her industries as the result of 240 years of absolute prohibition that she was able to throw her ports open to the world.
– Where did the honorable member learn his English history? He is a bit “ rocky “ upon it.
– The honorable member’s views are antiquated enough to warrant one in believing that he was born about 250 years ago. I repeat that the duties levied under this division form the crucial test of whether or not honorable members axe protectionists or rice protectionists. Personally I regret that I cannot double the proposed duty on blankets.
-Ifind that there is no possibility of carrying my amendment, and as I have no desire to waste the time of the Committee I ask leave to amend it by substituting “25 per cent.” for “ 20 per cent.” I shall afterwards move to make the duty against the United Kingdom 20 per cent.
– I object.
Amendment amended accordingly.
– I objected to leave being granted.
– If the Treasurer wished to object he should have risen in his place.
– I objected twice.
– The Treasurer objected when the honorable member for Lang was indicating the form in which he desired to amend his amendment. But when I stated the form of the amendment to the Committee the Treasurer did not object.
– I objected twice, and fully intended to prevent the amendment being amended.
– Imust appeal to the Treasurer to restrain the impetuosity of the honorable member for Corio.
– He made a very good speech.
– He might have made a very good speech had it been of a superior pattern.
– Why did not the leader of the Opposition restrain the honorable member for Lang, who spoke for two hours this afternoon?
– I was not present at the time, but I do not think the Treasurer’s statement is correct. I do not believe that the honorable member for Lang could speak upon this item for two hours. But I rose for the purpose of mentioning something which occurred in New South Wales before blankets were manufactured there. The name of Mr. Vicars has been mentioned in this debate as that of a gentleman who has a first-rate tweed and blanket factory at Marrickville, Sydney. When I was Premier of New South Wales - there was no duty upon blankets then - Mr. Vicars interviewed me, and informed me that if I would give him a five-years’ contract for the supply of blankets to the Government, he would erect a plant and enter upon the manufacture of blankets straight away.
– Would not that have been a form of protection ?
– A five-years’ contract without any duty whatever? May I remind the honorable member that I put that contract up for tender between Mr. Vicars and the importers. I called for tenders, which were open to the whole world. Mr. Vicars competed, and his quotation was within a very small figure of the competition of the world. His blankets, too, were of a superior quality, and actually constituted a better bargain, so far as the Government were concerned, than did the imported article. He beat the importers in the open market. I do not wish to prolong the debate, and I merely mention this fact to show that there is no necessity for the imposition of a high duty upon blankets. Mr. Vicars, I believe, is now manufacturing these articles in a very considerable way.
– I should like to make a few remarks in support of the amendment of the honorable member for Lang.
– Here is another protectionist.
– And a good one.
– The honorable member ought not to call himself a protectionist again.
– If the Treasurer were possessed of a commercial and manufacturing experience, he would not propose a prohibitive Tariff. It would be interesting to hear his definition of fair and reasonable protection, but this explanation is withheld. I have heard some honorable members who possess no practical commercial knowledge speak upon this item. They are professional men, who can view the subject only through parochial glasses. I would remind the Committee that we are not yet a selfcontained people, and we cannot afford to levy such a high duty upon blankets’ as the Government propose. Just now I heard some one compare the attack of the honorable member for Corio upon the honorable member for Parramatta to the attack of a mosquito upon an elephant. I prefer to liken the honorable member to an infant in swaddling clothes attempting to run before it -can walk. Until we are a self-contained community we cannot afford to impose prohibitive duties. The working man will be called upon to bear the largest portion of our Customs taxation, particularly in connexion with imposts upon blankets or textiles in any form. Earlier in the evening I asked the Treasurer if he would agree to accept a duty of 25 per cent, under the general Tariff-
– I have not turned a free-trader yet.
– I would remind the honorable gentleman that 25 per cent, is jo per cent, in excess of the rate which was levied under the old Tariff. We know very well that the manufacturers themselves have not asked for a higher duty than 25 per cent. What has the Treasurer to p»v to that? Seeing that we appointed an intelligent body of men to take evidence upon this question, surely we ought to pay some regard to their recommendations?
– The honorable member does not always stand by the recommendations of the Commission.
– I should be very sorry to stand by all the recommendations of the honorable member, when he talks in favour of prohibitive protection. Those who have travelled the world know what a prohibitive Tariff means in America. I want to protect the workers, as well as the manufacturers, of Australia, but I do not wish to destroy the confidence of capitalists. Surely the fact that we produce the finest wool in the world is in itself equivalent to a very large measure of protection. I say that when we are asked to support a duty in excess of 25 per cent, we are invited to levy a prohibitive impost. In addition to that, the duty proposed would have the effect of strangling competition, and we require healthy competition to teach us to improve our manufactures. I desire to see the woollen industry placed upon sound commercial lines, and, therefore, I ask the Treasurer to accept the amendment of the honorable member for Lang. I am sure that it would commend itself to the country generally. The Government proposal means that in the future we shall sacrifice more revenue.
– That is a freetrade argument.
– Not only will it involve us in a loss of revenue, but it will destroy the confidence of capitalists, because sooner of later we must impose an Excise upon all the industries which it is proposed to protect. An army of Excise officers will then be created’, That, I suppose, will be the character of the new protection policy that the Government intend to propose. I hope that it will not be so, but it is just such a proposal as would be likely to emanate from the Government side of the House.
– The honorable member will never see it.
– I hope not. It would certainly, mean the strangling of industries. The honorable member for Wide Bay and his followers would like such a proposal to be made, and in this connexion I class the Treasurer as the leader of the Labour Party because he is playing into their hands. He is destroy^ ing the confidence of capital and is. doing no good to the country by proposing pro- hibitive duties. The honorable member will not even explain to the Committee what he regards as fair protection; but puts forward prohibitive protectionist proposals that are detrimental to the progress of. our own industries. They will mean over-production in Australia. We cannot at present compete against England and the rest of the world in the manufacture of blankets, but surely we should be able to do so with duties of 20 and 25 per cent. The Government proposal, if carried, will mean over-production and a consequent falling away in quality,by which the working man will surfer. I ask the Treasurer to accept the amendment, and regard the Government proposition as prohibitive. I am prepared to support the recommendation of the Tariff Commission with a preference to Great Britain. We wish to give a genuine, and not a bogus, preference to the OldCountry. We do not wish to see prohibitive protection imposed in order that a false preference may be given.
– We do not want bogus preferences, or bogus protectionists. The speech just delivered by the. honorable member for Grampians, coming, as it did, from one who describes himself as a protectionist, was a most extraordinary one. The arguments which he used were freetrade and anti-Australian. I am surprised that a constituency should be so gulled as to return to this House a representative who is ready so soon after his election to turn his coat. If will not be my fault if, at the next general election, his constituents do not learn what manner of man he is. If there was one question more than another that was brought prominently before the people at the last general election, it was the desirableness of passing a truly protectionist Tariff. The honorable member says that I am not prepared to explain what I regard as protection. He has only to turn to the Tariff to find an answer; he will see there an answer to every attack and every slur sought to be cast upon me. Unlike the honorable member, I am not a shandygaff protectionist. I am sorry that he is not as good a protectionist as his wine is good. He said that he would support a protectionist policy. Does he know that the protection we propose is absolutely low as compared with that which prevails in the United States of America? There they have such duties on these items as11d. per lb. and 30 per cent.,1s. 4½d. and 35 per cent., 5½d. and 50 per cent., 2s. 6d. and 40 per cent. Those are rates of duty selected from what is, in the truest sense of the word, a protectionist Tariff. America protects her industries. She does not protect the foreigner - the Chinaman and the Hindu - as the honorable member is prepared to do. I should be ashamed to describe myself as a protectionist if I could make such a ridiculous speech as the honorable member for Grampians has just done. He asked me to agree to duties of 25 and 20 per cent. upon this item. I have not descended so low as toagree to anything of the kind. I am going to ask the Committee, in all earnestness, to support the Government proposition that the duty on blankets be 30 per cent. as against foreign imports, and 25 per cent. as against imports from Great Britain. The bulk of our imports of blankets come from Great Britain, and we, therefore, propose to grant, not a bogus, but a genuine preference. It was unfair for the honorable member who classes himself as a protectionist to make such a speech as that to which we have just listened. I shall not say that it disgraced him, because such a statement would be out of order, but I should consider that, as a protectionist, I had disgraced myself by giving utterance to such views. I do not desire the honorable member’s assistance if he has correctly stated the sort of protection for which he is prepared to vote. I ask his constituentsto watch the movements of this turn-coat in politics.
– Is this torrential abuse in order?
– The Treasurer must withdraw the remark he has just uttered.
– I withdraw the remark, if it is disagreeable to the honorable member.
– I do not ask the honorable member to withdraw it. It is only what I expect fromhim.
– After this, I expect nothing from the honorable member. The right honorable member for East Sydney said that Mr. Vicars years andyears ago tendered very closely to the importers’ prices. Let me read a few words from Mr. Vicars’ evidence before the Tariff Commission. In passing, I should like to say that I do not think the honorable member for Illawarra was quite fair in reading only the evidence given on one side of this question. What did Mr. Vicars say ? -
Our firm, John Vicars and Co., commenced business in Sydney upwards of thirty years ago in a four-set mill. We have only increased to six sets, and this I believe is the greatest expansion of any surviving mill. Practically there has been no protection here ; certainly, on a couple of occasions we have had a light duty, but even then only for a limited period. In earlier times the mills depended entirely on what was known as “ colonial tweeds,” a good honest cloth, and made a name and trade for it; but this was smothered about fifteen years ago by the importation of a shoddy imitation. After “that it was a case of making cloth at a price, eliminating quality altogether. For many years past, and even to-day, the mill’s are existing only on a fringe of the trade, depending on Government contracts and odd lines that warehouses may be short of and have not time to replace from Home centres.
I know that that is true. The Parramatta Woollen Mills absolutely had to succumb some little time ago; but it is quite true, as the honorable member for Corio has said, that they had in Sydney a factory where they made up clothing for distribution among the retail houses. I visited the factory many times, and am able to say that it was by taking this step that the company improved its position.
– Why should they not make up clothing?
– I do not say that they should not do so; I referred to the matter only because the statement that the Parramatta Mills had made up clothing was denied. I believe that the position of the company at present is improving, but up to the last twelve months it was not doing too well. This is my answer to those who pay that the woollen mills are doing well, and I appeal strongly to honorable mem- bers to support the Government proposition.
.- I do not think that the Treasurer can accuse me of voting generally in the direction of very low duties. Last night I voted for what I considered to be a proper duty on woollen clothing, and intend to vote for what I believe to be a reasonable duty on blankets, as well as on cotton piece goods. I have not arrived at this decision at the last moment. I have carefully considered the matter, just as I have endeavoured to consider every other item in the Tariff. I have been guided by the evidence tendered to the Tariff Commission. The protectionist section of the Commission recommended a duty of 25 per cent., and I am prepared to agree to such a duty, with a preference of 5 per cent. in favour of Great Britain. The protectionist section of the Commission reported -
That under the operation of a 15 per cent. Tariff the importation of woollen goods into Australia has increased, and is still increasing; that it should be diminished ; that there has been a decline in the local manufacture of cloth and tweed goods, that such decline is not compensated by any. increase in the output of blankets and flannels, seeing that £1,000 worth of wool turned into tweeds and serges yields a finished article worth £4,000, whilst a similar quantity of wool converted into blankets yields a finished article worth only about £1,500.
It is because there is not anything like the same degree of labour involved in the manufacture of blankets that I consider the industry can be carried on with a lower duty.
– I wish to explain an interjection made by me in respect to the Parramatta Mills. The statement made by the Treasurer that those mills had to succumb is entirely misleading.
– The companyhad to re-organize.
– The company had not to succumb.
– It had to reorganize.
– The Parramatta Mill was employing more hands before this new Tariff was imposed than ever before, and their output has been steadily increasing year by year. It is true that the proprietors of this mill have a large warehouse in York-street, Sydney, which is the centre of their distribution; and, moreover, they have always been large contractors, not only for the New South Wales and other State Governments, but for the Commonwealth Government. When I was first elected to the Federal Parliament, this company was paying a dividend of 6 per cent. without anyTariff, and since then the business has continued to increase. These are statements which I challenge the Treasurer to deny.
– I do deny them; they are not correct.
.- I was delighted by the speech made by the honorable member for Grampians. That honorable member was a good enough protectionist for the Melbourne Age to select, while I and others of the Labour Party were not considered by that newspaper as good enough protectionists.
.- I may say that, so far as the honorable member for Grampians is concerned, it would not matter tohim whether he was or was not selected by the Melbourne Age. I believe that the Melbourne Age did not select me as a candidate for Corangamite, but I am here all the same.
– The honorable member got in by a split vote.
– And the honorable member for Gippsland got in because of any amount of lies told by the Melbourne Age.
.- On looking through the report of the Tariff Commission, I find that Victorian manufacturers applied for a duty of 25 per cent. on flannels, a duty of 30 per cent. on tweeds, and a duty of 40 per cent. on clothing. I voted last night for 40 per cent. on clothing, and I propose to vote for a duty of 25 per cent. on the present item, because I take it that the people who are in the business know what they require. I find, further, that the manufacturers of New South Wales asked for a duty of 25 per cent. and I do not think I shall be voting against protection if I vote for the duty preferred by men in the trade.
.- In reply to the remarks of the honorable member for Balaclava as to the duty which was asked for by the manufacturers, I remind honorable members that if we are to give a preference, that preference must take the shape of a duty lower than that imposed on foreign goods. What did the protectionist section of the Tariff Commission mean when they recommended a duty of 25 per cent. ? Was the recommendation for the purpose of reducing the duty by 10 percent. in favour of Great Britain ? Certainly not. The honorable member for Bendigo, who was Chairman of the Commission, said in this House -
Speaking for myself only, I wish to say that in presenting these recommendations I consider that they represent duties of a sufficiently substantial character to protect our industries against the whole world, including Great Britain.
It was intended by the honorable member for Bendigo that the duty of 25 per cent. should be as against Great Britain; and the fact must not be forgotten. In reference to the assertion by the honorable member for Corangamite that I was returned in consequence of lies told by the Melbourne Age, I may say that there was pro- bably no person to whom I owe my seat more than I do to the honorable member.
– The honorable member was returned on gross misrepresentations !
– The honorable member was good enough to go through the Western district-
– Order !
.- I should like to say just a word in reply to the honorable member for Gippsland as to the opinion of the Chairman of the Tariff Commission on the question of preference. I do not think the honorable member can point to that as the opinion of the A section of the Commission. As a matter of fact, if he cares to look at the report of that section, he will find that, on the whole, it is distinctly unfavorable to any preference. I desire to point to the wonderful magnanimity of. the Treasurer in connexion with the preference he is prepared to give to the British manufacturer of blankets. The Treasurerproposes a general duty of 30 per cent., to be reduced to 25 per cent. for the benefit of the manufacturer in the Old Country, although the Australian manufacturers told the Tariff Commission that he desired a duty of 25 per cent. in order to keep out English blankets.
– No; they did not.
– If that is not prohibition - if it is not the flimsiest pretence at preference - I do not know what hypocrisy is.
Question - That the words “ and on and after 8th November, 1907 (General Tariff), 25 per cent.” (Mr. Johnson’s amendment) be added - put. The Committee divided.
Majority … … 3
Question so resolved in the affirmative.
Amendment agreed to.
Amendment (by Mr. Johnson) put -
That the words “ and on and after 8th November, 1907 (United Kingdom), 20 per cent.,” be added.
The Committee divided.
Question so resolved in the affirmative.
Amendment agreed to.
Item, as amended, agreed to.
– I have been asked by honorable members generally to move the recommittal of item 114.
– Is the Minister in order? You, Mr. Chairman, ruled earlier in the afternoon that, item 115 having been called on before progress was reported last night, we could not go back to item . 114.
– That is so; but in this case, before item 116 had been called on, the Treasurer rose to make a proposal to the Committee.
– Last night, owing to a misunderstanding, an amendment to strike out of item 114 the words “ And salt, gypsum, and manure bags,” was negatived. I believe that that vote was given because, in a schedule laid before honorable members, it was made to appear, through error, that these articles were free in the last Tariff, whereas they were dutiable. I am assured that many votes would have been cast differently had it not been for the misunderstanding so caused. Therefore, it is only fair to recommit the item, and I am willing that it should be recommitted, if the matter can be dealt with without a long discussion. I therefore move -
That the Chairman report to the House the resolution in regard to item 114.
– I shall opposethe motion, because, in the first place, it is a most unusual one.
– The circumstances are unusual.
– In my opinion, they are not. In regard to many of the divisions on the Tariff, honorable members on this side have had reason to think that, could the matter at issue be discussed again, the decision would be different. I have heard honorable members say, on more than one occasion,that, had they known all the facts, they would have voted differently. But in no such case has an attempt been made to recommit. If we are to make progress, we ought not to entertain proposals of this kind.
– A great injustice has been done.
– The fact that these bags were dutiable under the old Tariff was explained last night, so that if honorable members voted under a misapprehension, it was because, through absence from the Chamber, they did not hear that statement. A similar thing has happened before. But if the minority, when a vote is taken, is to constantly ask for recommittals, we shall never finish our discussions.
– In this case a mistake was made.
– Mistakes have been made on other occasions. Last night the facts of the case were plainly stated, and it was shown that salt, gypsum, and manure bags were dutiable under the old Tariff.. Are we to have a recommittal whenever some honorable members have voted under a misapprehension? In my opinion, it would be infinitely better, and would tend to expedition, if we left all recommittals until the end. Then let us recommit such items as a majority think should be recommitted and re-considered.
.- The honorable member for North Sydnev has asked why the Government seek to recommit this item, The answer is that last evening, at the end of a long sitting, when honorable members were tired, an obvious mistake was made. In the division which took place, only thirty-three honorable members voted. Surely the honorable member will admit that an error was committed, seeing that the Committee decided that, whereas the raw material of these bags should be dutiable, the finished article should be admitted free.
– The Treasurer informed the Committee that he_ intended to remove these articles from the free list.
– The honorable member is usually an exceedingly fair critic, and I am sure that he would be the last to destroy an industry merely because a mistake had been made by this Committee. We must recollect that 400 men are engaged in the production of these bags, and that the industry will be entirely destroyed if the error be” not rectified. At least 30 per cent, of those who took part in the division voted under a misapprehension. The questions which we have to consider are : Are we a sane body of men, who recognise that an injury will be done unless we remedy an obvious error? or, are we to stand upon mere technicalities?-
– What is the proposal ?
– Last night, when item 114 was under consideration, an amendment was proposed to omit salt, gypsum, and manure bags from the free list.
– What item would they then come under?
– Under item 113.
– And what duty would thev bear?
– Fifteen per cent. There is also the question of the duty upon twine and upon printed bags to be considered. Protectionists all over the chamber declare that a protective duty should be imposed upon these articles. I hope that honorable members will not prevent justice being done to those persons’” who, in good faith, have embarked upon this industry.
.- This question ought to be settled quite apart from the merits of the particular item to which it refers. The honorable member for Wide Bay has reminded the Committee that only thirty-three members were present when the division was taken last evening. I submit that that is not the question which we have to consider. We must recollect that if we recommit this item now we shall be creating a precedent of a dangerous character. That means that a Minister may at any time, without giving honorable members notice of his intention - when he knows that he can command a majority - place before the Committee a question which has already been dealt with, and thus stultify a former decision of the Committee.
– An Opposition could put the Government out of office next day if they did that.
– That is no answer to the position which I put. I should like the honorable member for Wide Bay to consider, in his representative capacity, what would be the effect of initiating a practice of this sort. In order to ascertain whether or not it is a desirable practice, he will need to ask himself how it might work out in the hands of an unprincipled Minister. Such a Minister might at any time - if he were unsuccessful upon a division - recommit a question, suddenly, without giving notice of his intention to honorable members ; and he might avail himself of a secretly arranged majority to reverse the deliberate decision of the Committee. I know that this item touches the State of Queensland.
– That is quite a mistake.
– In the Mother Country it has been the practice for centuries that the business of the House shall always be notified upon the business-paper, so that honorable members may know what questions are to engage their attention. It is not within the power of a Minister to place a question suddenly before the House.
– I could cite a number of instances in which recommittals have immediately followed divisions in this House.
– The adoption of such a course might lead to very unjust results. There is a medium course to be adopted. The honorable member for Wide Bay will admit that the Committee ought to be informed when this question will again come on for consideration. If the Treasurer were to intimate that he would place the matter before the Committee on Tuesday next, honorable members would have an opportunity of being present, and thequestion would stand upon a fair basis.
– If we did that the whole of the bonds would be cleared tomorrow.
– That is so.
– I think that that could be prevented by an executive act. At all events, it is only fair that all those who were present last evening should be informed when this question, whichthey helped to settle, will be again submitted to the Committee.
– I think that the fears expressed by the honorable member for Parkes are entirely groundless. I do not believe that the Committee would support any Treasurer who sought to take advantage of the absence of honorable members. Seeing that a mistake has been made - a mistake which, if not remedied, will involve the manufacturers engaged in this industry in considerable loss - surely it is our duty to rectify it at once.
– What about salt bags?
– They have been manufactured here for a long period. If we postpone consideration of the item a serious injustice will be done in the interim, because there will be nothing to prevent an order being cabled Home for a large consignment of these bags - sufficient to supply our demands for a long period.
Seeing that a mistake has been made, it is obviously our duty to correct it at once.
.Whilst I fully follow the weighty observations of the honorable member for Parkes, the question of the danger of the revenue being injuriously affected cannot be discarded. I understand that an unfortunate mistake has been made in the printing of the comparative schedule, which makes it appear that these three kinds of bags were free under the old Tariff, and that the Customs Department, following a proper rule, go on collecting the old duty in case the new arrangement may not be carried out. I believe the duty under the old Tariff is really 15 per cent.
– 10 per cent.
– It is clear under these circumstances that if the Committee intends to follow the old Tariff and impose a duty on these three kinds of bags, then if we do not deal with the question at once there is nothing to prevent the people interested from going to the Customs and demanding their goods out of bond free. We do not want to help any one to do that.
– They have done it to-day.
– That is a serious mischief, prejudicing the revenue, and putting every one, except those who get the bags out free, in a false position. In such circumstances I am always prepared to assist the Minister to protect the public revenue. At the same time I most heartily agree with the observations of the honorable member for Parkes. It is only an exceptional case that would warrant this procedure. It will be placed distinctly on record that the Minister only proposes and the Committee only forlows this course because of the immediate urgency of protecting the revenue. On those grounds this is an absolutely fair and proper proceeding, because we must be trustees for the public, and must not allow tricks to.be played with the public revenue. If, after the item is recommitted, the Committee deliberately affirms that these bags shall be free, with a full knowledge that they were dutiable- under the old Tariff, no harm will be done, because in that case to-morrow they will be free. If the Committee decides to retain the old duty, it will simply take a step which will enable the revenue to be protected.
Colonel FOXTON (Brisbane) [10.18]. -I moved last night that bran and chaff, ore, salt, gypsum, and manure bags should be removed from the free list. I explained to the Committee that there was no method of distinguishing between salt, gypsum, and manure bags, and other calico and hessian bags, which were dutiable under the present Tariff at 15 per cent. The Treasure. was impressed with the argument, and consented to what might be regarded as a compromise. He offered, if I would omit bran and chaff bags from my amendment - leaving aside the question of ore bags, as there was a slight misunderstanding about them - to accept the amendment so far as it related to salt, gypsum, and manure bags. On the strength of that understanding, and on the assumption that the Treasurer would be able to carry his party with him, my amendment to remove bran and chaff bags from the free list was put and negatived on the voices. The amendment to remove salt, gypsum, and manure bags from the free list was then put, but when a division was called for a number of honorable members, who had not heard the discussion, and did not know, of the compromise that had been arrived at, came into the chamber and voted to retain those bags on the free list. I am informed on the best authority that the clearance of all classes of bags which can come under this description, whether they were originally intended to be used for these purposes or not,, began today. The bags are indistinguishable except for the brands that are put upon them, as I mentioned last night. The Treasurer, who was clearly under a misapprehension, denied it, and said that he had himself caused no less than 400 bales of bags to be properly branded. He was thinking of a totally different type of bag. I quite appreciate the objections to the course which has been proposed, but I think that the special circumstances fully justify it.
– Although I consider that the proposed course, if taken unconditionally, might be elevated into a very dangerous precedent, I fully recognise the great danger that might result to the revenue if it were not taken. The recommital proposal will be sufficiently safeguarded by the understanding, which the Committee has now emphasized, that it shall not be regarded as a precedent.
.- I have not yet heard any explanation why these bags should be treated any differently from bran, chaff, or ore bags. How are they to be distinguished? When I .was asked this evening not to oppose a recom mittal of the item, I was told that these were calico bags. If so, they are easy to distinguish. Salt bags, except in the small sizes, are not calico bags.
– The honorable member must not deal at this stage with the merits of the case, but must confine himself to giving reasons why the item should or should not be recommitted. He will have the opportunity of discussing the merits of the case if the item is recommitted.
– I was merely following the lines adopted by the honorable member for Brisbane, who went fully into details.
– The honorable member for Brisbane related the facts as they occurred last night, but did not go into the merits or demerits of the item.
– He went so far as to describe the various kinds of bags, saying that there is a difference between chaff bags and salt bags, and that they bore certain brands. The recommittal of this item will be a dangerous move unless we have a thorough understanding with regard to it. If the Government are prepared to agree to recommittals, there are a number of items of which I do not approve, and which I should certainly like to have recommitted. I should commence by moving the recommittal of the item relating to confectionery, and also several other items that we passed yesterday. If we are to have a recommittal of one item simply because there has been a successful whipping going on to-day on behalf of the Government, those who do not share their views on the fiscal question will be encouraged to whip up their numbers in order that items which were carried by a narrow majority, and which were supported by some honorable members who have since expressed their regret for voting for such high duties, may also be recommitted. I am going to oppose both the recommittal and the alteration. More salt is sent away in ordinary cornsacks than in any other bags. Under the old Tariff -
Bags, Sacks, Packs and Bales for Bran, Chaff, Compressed Fodder, Potatoes, Onions, Ore, Coal and Wool, also Sugar Mats and Flour Sacks were on the free list. We might just as well be asked to impose a duty on sugar mats and all other kinds of bags. Later on, I shall have something further to say about this matter.
– I am sorry that the honorable member for Grey does not appreciate the position, as stated by the leader of the Opposition, who said that we were face to face with a national, and not a party, matter.
– I am not making a party question of it.
– The honorable member has been speaking as a free-trader.
– I said that some of these bags were on the free list before.
– The point is that a mistake was made, and I am sure that the honorable member for Grey, as well as others who have spoken in the same strain, do not desire an injury to be done to an industry because of an evident mistake. If, as a result of a mistake, an injury were done to industries and individuals, and a loss of revenue were also sustained, then I think that the honorable member, who now describes himself, not as a free-trader, but as a revenue tariffist, would be one of the most anxious to protect the revenue.
– I am anxious that cornsacks shall be free.
– Exactly. The honorable member is viewing the matter from a strictly party stand-point.
– No. I have regard to the interests of the producers.
– I am assured by the Treasurer that it is not his intention to impose a duty on cornsacks.
– We desire to deal with salt, manure, and gypsum bags, which were dutiable.
– That is a point with which we can easily deal later on. We are now face to face with an admitted error on the part of the Committee, an error that will not only result in injury to industries and persons, but will actually deplete the revenue. I am strongly in favour of the view taken by the honorable member for Parkes that it is inadvisable to manufacture precedents which might result in the House sitting day after day for the purpose of rescinding resolutions previously agreed to.
– We should change the Government if that were done.
– I agree with the honorable member for Wide Bay that if this precedent were abused in any shape or form, the Government responsible for that abuse would not exist for more than twenty-four hours. We are face to face with a national emergency - the loss of even a shilling of revenue is a matter that should be immediately dealt with by the Committee.
– That is very exaggerated language.
– We know that the honorable member has not much concern for the revenue ; he asked on one historic occasion, “What is a million ? “ If, as the result of a mistake, we are likely to inflict injury on individuals as well as to deplete the revenue, we should lose no time in retracing our steps, and should not be deterred from doing so by the old conservative consideration that we ought to stand by a decision merely because it was carried only a few hours ago.
– The arguments that have been advanced have not convinced me that the request made to us is one to which we should agree. It isnot fair to ask that where an error has been committed by some honorable members owing to their being out of the House-
– Owing to a misprint.
– The honorable member ought to know that the misprint was pointed out.
– It was not.
– I assure the honorable member that it was.
– I remember its being pointed out.
– Because honorable members were not present when the misprint was pointed out, they are to have an opportunity to reverse the decision arrived at. Other honorable members who, on various occasions, have voted under a misapprehension owing to their temporary absence from the House when certain explanations were made, have not requested a recommittal, nor would such a request on their part be acceded to. It has been said that it will be difficult to distinguish between flour bags and salt bags; and so it will be in the absence of any printing. We are only creating difficulty if we separate these bags, making one dutiable and the other not dutiable ; and, personally, I should go further than some honorable members propose in order to get rid of an absurd distinction. To attain the object, which the supporters of a recommittal have in view, it will be necessary to recommit also item 113. I think the better way would be to give the same treatment to all calico bags ; but, as I have already pointed out, in order to do that, it will be necessary to recommit item 113. Does theTreasurer propose to recommit that item in order to get rid of an inconsistency ?
– No; if we omit these three lines of bags, they will automatically fall under item 113, n.e.i.
– Then we shall have 2-cwt. bags brought in, which may be for salt, but which may be used for flour.
– No trouble was experienced under the old Tariff.
– But there has been trouble; and that trouble was one of the reasons for making these articles free. If we recommit only item 114 we shall simply create difficulty at the Customs House.
– The reason advanced for a recommittal is that honorable members were under a misapprehension last night as to Tariff conditions, so far as bags were concerned. Personally, I was under no misapprehension at all, and I voted against the proposal because of the discrimination. It was suggested by several honorable members that, because I was not present during the whole of the discussion, I did not understand the position ; but, as a matter of fact, it was the discrimination which decided me, and that discrimination will continue even after the recommittal. However, I shall not oppose a recommittal if the Government have reason to believe that there are honorable members who voted under a misapprehension.
– I recognise that there was an obvious mistake made in connexion with this item; and I agree with the Treasurer that it ought to be recommitted. But, in common with others, I should like an assurance from the Treasurer that this recommittal is not to be regarded as a precedent for the recommittal of other items. For instance, the Treasurer might ask for a recommittal of the item of blankets tomorrow.
– I am going to do so before the Tariff is disposed of.
– No doubt the Treasurer will do so, if he has the numbers, but it is to be hoped that he will keep his temper, and take his defeats gracefully.
– Order !
– I do not desire to be lectured by the honorable member.
– The Chairman did not call the Treasurer to order when he abused me without rhyme or reason, and I think I am entitled to reply. If we have an assurance from the Treasurer that this recommittal will not be regarded as a precedent, I shall support the motion, because I have no desire to do an injustice to any manufacturer.
– I move -
That the words “and also item 113” be added.
If we are to have a recommittal for the purpose of reconsideration and rearrangement, the whole question of the duty on bags should be thrown open for discussion. That seems to me to be only elemental fairness. Will the Treasurer accept the amendment ?
– Certainly not.
– Then, I am inclined to vote against the recommittal. If the words “ salt, gypsum and manure “ are eliminated, we shall have salt bags under a duty of 15 per cent. and flour bags free. It was an anomaly under the old Tariff to have two classes of bags, one free and the other paying 15 per cent. though both were made of the same material. I appeal to the Committee to rectify this anomaly, but the proposal of the Minister will simply continue it. I ask the Treasurer even now to agree to recommit item 113.
– - If the honorable member for Parramatta is to have item 113. recommitted, I wish to have recommitted item 68. The reason why I am prepared to support a recommittal of item 114 is that a judgment of the Committee was obtained by a kind of sleightofhand!; and I do not see why an expression of opinion of that kind should stand as the verdict of the majority. A wrong has been done, and we want to do the right thing, but if any more items are to be recommitted, I shall insist upon the recommittal of item 68.
– What does the Treasurer intend to do with regard to item 114?
– I intend to propose the leaving out of the last three series of bags enumerated - salt, gypsum, and manure bags.
– Does the Treasurer intend to agree to the amendment of the honorable member for Parramatta?
– No; I am opposed to it.
Amendment of the motion negatived.
– I should like to point out that the Committee has decided to create an anomaly, not to rectify one. Let that be distinctly understood. We are creating a fresh anomaly by treating salt bags differently from flour bags. We are going to have the same bags functioning in one case as a flour bag, and in the other as a salt bag, but paying a duty of 15 per cent. in the one case, and being admitted free in the other.
Motion agreed to.
In the House:
Motion (by Sir William Lyne) proposed
That the resolution be now recommitted for the reconsideration of the duty on salt, gypsum, and manure bags.
– In order to afford honorable members an opportunity to reconsider the question of putting all bags on the one footing in the Tariff, I move -
That the words “ and corn and flour sacks “ beadded.
– Ore bags are quite indistinguishable from gypsum bags, and therefore I think that the words “ and ore bags “ should be added to the amendment.
– Does the honorable member for Boothby press his amendment?
– No, sir.
Original question resolved in the affirmative.
In Committee of Ways and Means:
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.
Amendment (by Sir William Lyne) proposed -
That the words “ and salt, gypsum, and manure bags “ be left out.
– Does the Minister intend this proposal to apply to calico bags only, or to bags made of jute and other material ?
– I intend to make jute free when we come to the item.
– Then the intention of the Ministry is to put this taxation on calico bags?
– I am only proposing to put these bags in exactly the same position as they occupied in. the old Tariff. They were dutiable before, and there was no trouble.
– It is illogical to distinguish bags by their contents instead of by the material of which they are made, and therefore I protest against the proposal of the Minister.
.- There seems to be an impression in the minds of some honorable members that the exemption applies to only calico bags. No doubt salt, gypsum and manure are carried in calico bags, but the bulk of the trade, certainly in manures and gypsum, is done in hessian bags. I have no objection to salt, gypsum, or manure bags being made dutiable, but I protest against only these bags being singled out for taxation. It is ridiculous to continue what was an obvious anomaly in the old Tariff. A Royal Commission was appointed to point out anomalies, and we are now solemnly asked to re-enact a most stupid one. We are asked to declare that bags made of precisely the same material shall be treated differently according to their intended contents. It is really offering a premium to dishonesty. It amounts to a discrimination against salt, gypsum and manure, and ought not to be sanctioned by the Committee.
– I protest against a duty being placed on manure bags. It has been a decided advantage to our agriculturists that certain companies have started the manufacture of artificial manures. In an ordinary season the protection which we grant to the agriculturists is practically useless. While wheat or fruit or butter is exported, a protective duty is worthless to the producers of those articles. When our wheat yields are compared with the wheat yields in other parts of the world, it will be recognised that there is a very great necessity indeed for the application of artificial manures in Australia. Why should we impose a duty on the bags to contain those manures? The bags for packing certain articles in are made out of practically the same material, and it is almost impossible to tell the difference between them. If the bags are imported under one heading they will be free, but if imported under another heading they will be dutiable. Let us have something like consistency in our Tariff. Let us put an end to that which in the previous Tariff was a source of endless confusion at the Customs House and opened the door to all sorts of fraud. I think that bags should form the subject of a specific item, and should all be treated alike. If it is the will of the Committee that there should be a duty levied let it be done. Either let all bags be dutiable, or let them all come in free. There should be consistency in the matter.
.- Last night I voted for item 114, under the impression that the “ manure bags “ therein dealt with are the ordinary bags used by the agricultural population, and, more especially, the wheat-growers, for the casing of manure. I thought that such bags should be admitted free. Now I understand that the bags so designated are made of calico or hessian. If that is so; I intend to reverse my vote, but I should like to be assured that “manure bags” is a term which does not include jute sacks.
– I understand that salt is often carried in jute as well as in other bags, and if a jute bag is imported to carry salt, it will be dutiable. Any bag, whether made of jute, hessian, or any other material, if imported to carry salt, will be dutiable.
– The same remark applies to bags imported to carry manures.
.- I understand that corn sacks and flour sacks are to be admitted free of duty as heretofore, and I take it that, once imported, they may be used for any purpose, including the carrying of manure.
.- I understand from the Treasurer that he wishes to give effect to a certain interpretation which the Customs officials gave to the old Tariff, and acted on.
– This has always been an anomaly.
– I was willing to have the two items relating to bags recommitted, to deal with the matter in a business-like way, because I think that at present confusion exists, but, as the Committee has decided against that, rather than injure any one, I shall vote for the reestablishment of the old arrangement.
– I should like to know how the Government propose to enforce this duty. What is to hinder an importer from declaring that his bags are being imported for purposes which allow them to come in duty free, or the
Government urging the contrary ? It seems to me that an opportunity for fraud is being offered to importers, or for imposition on the part of the Department. . I am willing to give support to bag-making establishments; but I fail to see that this duty will do so.
– According to the Treasurer, corn sacks and flour bags, no matter for what purpose imported, will come in free. Therefore, if the Castle Salt Company chooses to import such bags as com sacks and flour bags, they will not be charged duty, whereas if it imports them as salt bags, they will be dutiable. Therefore the proposal is an absolute farce.
– We ought to receive an explanation from the Treasurer.
– If I say anything, it will only lead to further discussion.
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 … … 16
Question so resolved in the negative.
Amendment agreed to.
Item, as amended, agreed to.
Item 116. Carpets, carpeting, floor-cloths, floor and carriage mats of any material except coir; lap dusters; and floor rugs and coverings (including felts and pads), ad val., 20 per cent.
.- Nearly all these goods are imported, and almost the whole of them from the United Kingdom. I find that the total value of the imports under this item was£124,000 ; and .the imports from the United Kingdom accounted for no less than ,£115,376 of this amount. We are not manufacturing these goods in the Commonwealth, and this may be regarded as a purely revenue duty. I desire to move-
That the words “ and on and after 8th November, 1907 (United Kingdom), 15 per cent.,” be added.
– I have a prior amendment to move.
Amendment (by Sir William Lyne) proposed -
That the words “ and on and after 8th November, igo; (General Tariff), 25 per cent.,” be added.
– An increase of 5 per cent, on the proposed duty?
– Yes, because I propose to insert 20 per cent, in the next column, as nearly all these goods come from the United Kingdom.
– This is purely a revenue duty, and I* am prepared to move that the duty should be 10 per cent, under the general Tariff, and 5 per cent, on imports from the United Kingdom. I understand that these goods are not manufactured here.
– Some of them are manufactured here.
.- We should surely have some explanation of the Treasurer’s proposal. Are carpets being manufactured here, or is not this a purely revenue duty?
– More than carpets are covered by this item.
– Nearly the whole of the articles referred to in this item are imported from the United Kingdom, and when the Minister proposes to increase the duty he has himself submitted in the Tariff, he should give some reason for doing so.
– The honorable member for Grey is always trying to be unpleasant. I do not wish to say any more than I can help, because I have noticed that if I say two words in this Committee they produce thousands of words from other honorable members. Most of the carpets imported into the Commonwealth come from Great Britain. The total annual value of these imports is £1.24,000, . of which £115,000 worth is of British origin. Consequently, the duty which I propose will affect only about £9,000 worth. I intend to increase the duty under the general
Tariff to 25 per cent., and to levy 20 per cent, upon the manufactures of the United Kingdom.
– These goods are being admitted now at 20 per cent.
– Yes ; and I do not wish them to be admitted at a lower rate. I propose to grant a preference to the Mother Country in respect of the £9,000 worth of carpets and other articles mentioned in this item which are annually imported into the Commonwealth from foreign countries.
– A very generous concession.
– I have in my possession a letter f rOm a chamber of manufacturers in Kidderminster, England, who have asked that a preference shall be extended to Great Britain. They say that the trade is practically in the hands of the United Kingdom, and they have communicated with the Governor-General asking this Parliament to grant the Mother Country a preference
– That means a reduction from 20 per cent.
– Nothing of the kind. They simply ask for a preference.
– Are there any carpets . made in Australia?
– There are other articles besides carpets enumerated in this item.
.- The reasons which have been advanced by the Treasurer are about the most remarkable that I have ever heard. At the present time carperts are dutiable at 20 per cent., and he now proposes to levy that rate upon the manufactures of Great Britain, and to increase the duty against the outside world to 25 per cent. I shall oppose the amendment.
.- It is obvious that whatever duty may be imposed upon this item, practically none of the goods enumerated in it will be manufactured locally. The imports will come principally from Great Britain. Personally, I scarcely think that any of these articles have a protective value. I therefore suggest to the Treasurer that he should make the duty under the general Tariff 20 per cent. , and that under the Tariff for ‘ the United Kingdom 15 per cent.
– Make it a freetrade Tariff altogether.
– The Treasurer will not ruffle my temper, whatever he may say.
– I am just about “full” of this. I am badgered upon all sides.
– I sympathize with any Minister who is obliged to assume control of Tariff proposals. But I do not think that any of the duties imposed in this item have a protective value.
– Let the honorable member visit the Exhibition Building and see the carpets which are being displayed there.
– The protectionist section of the Tariff Commission recommend a duty of 15 per cent. upon this item.
– Both sections of the Commission recommend that rate.
– Consequently very good reasons should be advanced before any increase in that duty is sanctioned. From a protectionist stand-point I think that the rates which I have suggested would commend themselves to honorable members.
– Any free-trader would vote for those rates.
– I make the suggestion for what it is worth.
.- It is my intention to support a duty of 20 per cent. under the general Tariff, and of 15 per cent. upon the manufactures of the United Kingdom. Those rates are in accord with the recommendation of both sections of the Tariff Commission,and no reasons have been assigned by the Government why they should be increased.
. -I favour the Treasurer’s proposal to levy a duty of 25 per cent. upon this item under the general Tariff. I am not particular whether the duty upon the manufactures of the United Kingdom is fixed at 20 per cent. or at 15 per cent. The carpets which are imported into the Commonwealth from foreign countries are of an inferior quality. Only a small quantity of these articles are manufactured in Australia. I hope that the Committee will vote for a general Tariff duty of 25 per cent.
– I support theproposal for a general Tariff duty of 20 per cent., if a United Kingdom duty of 15 per cent. is to be agreed to. The protectionist section of the Tariff Commission recommend 15 per cent., which is quite enough. A sum of £71,000 was collected in duties last year. We are not in a position to start a carpet factory in Australia. It would require a large amount of capital to do so. I should like to see the industry established here, but consider duties of 20 and 15 per cent. are quite sufficient.
Amendment (by Mr. Poynton) agreed to-
That the words “ and on and after 8th November, 1907 (United Kingdom), 15 per cent.,” be added.
Item, as amended; agreed to.
Item 117. Coir Mats and Matting, ad val., 25 per cent.
Amendment (by Sir William Lyne) agreed to -
That the words “and fenders” be inserted after the word “ matting.”
.- I intend to support the item. I hope that the Minister will recognise the fact. These articles are very largely made by blind people, and if for no other consideration, I am prepared to agree to the proposed duty. The competition comes from India.
– Ihad intended to move for the reduction of the duty in this case to the old amount. But I confess that the reference of the honorable member for Grey to the blind people has caused me to alter my mind. I shall be very glad to give them a chance to make these goods.
Item, as amended, agreed to.
Item 118. Cosies and Cushions, in part or wholly made up; articles as under and the like, not being piece goods, viz. : - articles of Furnishing Drapery and Napery, including Quilts, Table-covers, Doyleys, Tray-cloths, Sheets, Pillowcases and Covers, Bolster Cases, Counterpanes, Bed Spreads, Table Mats, Splashers, Tablecloths, Runners, Mantle Borders, Toilet Sets, Bags for Linen, Brush and Comb Bags, Nightdress Cases, Antimacassars, HandkerchiefSachets, ad- val. (General Tariff), 25 per cent. ; (United Kingdom), 20 per cent.
– Last night the honorable member for Melbourne pointed out that dressed feathers were the raw material for made-up cosies or quilts. If the raw material - the feathers used for filling cosies and cushions - are subject to a duty of 30 per cent., the duty on the made up article should not be less.
.-I wish to suggest to the Minister the desirableness of inserting after the words “articles of” the words “ furnishingsn.e.i.” Such an amendment is necessary in order to meet an alteration that has been made in the system of dealing with saddlebags, which are used in the furniture trade. It has long been the custom to class saddlebags under the heading I have mentioned, but for some reason a change has been made, and the amendment I have indicated is necessary to avoid confusion. I move -
That after the word “of,” line 3, the words “ furnishings, n.e.i.” be inserted.
.- The amendment proposed by the honorable member for Bass would include all furnishings not specifically mentioned in the Tariff, and is so sweeping a proposal that it should not be made without the consent of the Minister.
– I suggested that it should be moved by the Treasurer.
– I think that it would increase the charges.
-It would do more than that. There may be excellent reasons why certain furnishings should not be dutiable, and I hope that the Minister will give this matter careful consideration before he consents to make the proposed amendment.
– I strongly support the view expressed by the honorable member for Wide Bay. There are in various parts of the Tariff a large number of articles which are used in the manufacture of furniture, and those not specially enumerated, would, under the proposed amendment, become liable to this duty of 25 per cent. I sincerely hope that the Minister will not, without careful consideration, accept the proposition.
.- This item includes several articles which did not appear under the same heading in the old Tariff. I refer more particularly to quilts and counterpanes, or, in other words, bed covers, which are not made here.
– Eider-down quilts are made in Australia.
– I have no objection to their inclusion in the item. I am referring more particularly to the ordinary cotton quilts and counterpanes which are to be seen in every home, and are not made here. I fail to see why they should be subjected to a duty of 25 per cent.
– All bed covers were included at the same rate under the old Tariff.
– They were not ; they came under a different item. Will the Minister agree to omit quilts and bed covers from the item?
– And also table covers and d’oyleys, which are not made here.
– I scarcely think that tablecloths are in the same category as bed covers. I propose, at the proper time, to move the omission of the words “ counterpanes “ and “ quilts.”
– I could not accept the amendment proposed by the honorable member for Bass without knowing what its effect would be. I shall have the matter thoroughly investigated, and if it be shown that the non-inclusion of the words suggested by the honorable member is calculated to do a serious injury, I shall ascertain whether the omission cannot be rectified later on. In the meantime no harm can be done, because we shall not open the door toanything likely to have a very serious effect.
.- It is singular that the Customs Department should have varied the system of dealing with saddlebags for chairs and couches. I do not know whether the Customs authorities have got confused, and, in their confusion, have changed the system.
– I shall have the effect of the duty thoroughly examined.
– I have been informed by one who understands the business that handkerchiefs should come under this item. The effect of the present arrangement is that common handkerchiefs are charged at a higher rate than are silk handkerchiefs.
Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.
– In this item, there is an extraordinary mixture of wool, silk, cotton, and linen. I understand the Treasurer to say that the Government do not want revenue duties.
– The honorable member knows perfectly well that that is not correct. I never said anything of the kind.
– The Minister certainly said so to-night, though, perhaps, he was at the time in a temper. Why should there be a duty of 25 per cent. on linen goods? We cannot grow the raw material or make these goods here, and yet this heavy duty is proposed.
– We can make the finished articles here.
– We can sew pillow cases, I admit, but that can hardly be described as an industry. Linen table cloths, napkins, d’oyleys, and so forth, are woven of a particular size, and there is no hemming or any work of that sort. The Treasurer admits that there ought to be some further consideration of the item, and says that, in the meantime, he will inquire into the matter thoroughly. Would it notunder the circumstances be better to postpone the item in case the Minister should conveniently, or inconveniently, forget to go thoroughly into the matter? I move -
That item118 be postponed.
.- I move -
That before the word “quilts” the word “eiderdown” be inserted.
I intend to subsequently move the omission of the word “counterpanes.”
– Counterpanes were dutiable under the old Tariff, and I do not see why they should be omitted now. If we omit counterpanes, we might as well omit the whole of the articles mentioned. I believe there is not an article in the item which was not dutiable under the old Tariff ; and there is some danger in manipulating or moving the omission of items, because that course may affect other items.
– No attempt is made in Australia to produce quilts, unless they be eiderdown quilts, and, candidly, I am of opinion that other quilts, and also, d’oyleys, traycloths, and so forth, ought to be free. I do not object to any duty for the benefit of an industry which can be conducted in Australia.
– Are not d’oyleys made in Australia ?
– Quite a number of these articles cannot be made here. Take tablecloths, for instance. The only thing that is done in Australia in regard to them is to hem the edges. I have said from the commencementthat I would vote for a protectionist duty on any article that is made in Australia, but seeing that we are placing duties on goods which can be manufactured here we might remove duties from a number ofother goods which there is no possibility of our manufacturing.
– The entire item seems to me to need recasting. Quilts and counterpanes are not made here, I believe, except, perhaps, eiderdown and kapok quilts. Certainly cotton counterpanes are not made here. What is the use of imposing a duty of 25 per cent. simply for the purpose of maintain ing “ the symmetry of the Tariff ‘ ‘ ? Personally, I have not been able to discover any symmetry in it.
– It will be a cemetery Tariff if some of its so-called supporters continue their present treatment of it.
– Well, some portions of it would be better buried. It would be better for the Minister to agree at once as to the exemption of counterpanes. We do not require a duty of 25 per cent. on them.
– The honorable member might move to insert the words “other than linen or cotton.”
-But that would not get over the difficulty created by the opposition of the Minister, who objects to the symmetry of the Tariff being interfered with, and therefore imposes a duty of 25 per cent. on goods which it is not even pretended are made here. Why not at once withdraw the item?
– I would rather withdraw the Tariff altogether.
– That is becoming quite a parrot cry of the Minister, but it has no terrors for honorable members who desire to see formulated a reasonable protectionist Tariff.
.- If the Minister is going to exempt eider-down quilts, I point out that that would be such a limitation as might have the effect of excluding from the operation of the duty other quilts which are made in Australia. There is more than one kapok quilt factory in Australia The word “quilt” has a general meaning. The Minister has promised the honorable member for Bass to reconsider the item thoroughly, and as the honorable member has accepted that undertaking, we might very well leave the whole matter to the Minister.
– If there is any difficulty about this matter
– I have no difficulty about it.
– Surely when a staunch protectionist like the honorable member for Melbourne Ports-
– He has slipped.
– How can the Minister expect an honorable member who has been devoting himself to this arduous task, as we have all been doing, for some weeks - dealing with knotty problems - to pass items which manifestly require fresh consideration ? This is not a logical way of doing business. It would be wiser to postpone the item.
– I will not postpone it.
– The honorable gentleman should not say that, because he knows that he is rather weak to-night. He should not put his foot down until he is quite sure.
– I will not postpone it.
– Then we ought to address our intelligence to the item in order to put it into a proper shape. We may be compelled to stay up all night if the Minister insists, but at least we should deal with the Tariff intelligently. Why should high duties be imposed on articles which afford such little scope for the exercise of protectionist policy? Honorable members opposite surely do not wish to establish a policy of pin pricks by means of the Tariff - to have a Tariff which irritates in a thousand directions for no protectionist purpose. I should say that good policy from the point of view of honorable members opposite would be to pick out lines which would be likely to afford an opportunity for large and expansive industrial employment, and not to impose a number of irritations upon people without extending the area of employment at all. From a protectionist point of view, if you pass a large number of duties affecting the daily requirements of the people without enlarging the employment of Australian labour, you only irritate those to whom you wish to recommend your Tariff. We ought to remove these excrescences, which do no good from any point of view. Why put 25 per cent. on some of these articles, which would not lead to the employment of ten men in all Australia? Is there any fiscal policy in it? I think not. I was very much struck by the remarks of the honorable member for Melbourne Ports, because, excepting the honorable member for Bass, he is the most rabid protectionist in this House; and when he takes a statesmanlike view of matters the Minister might at least amend the item as to lap dusters. I see no future for an industry in lap dusters in Australia.
Question - That the word “ eiderdown “ be inserted before the word “ quilts “ (Mr.
Poynton’s amendment) - put. The Committee divided.
Majority …… 6
Question so resolved in the negative.
– I move -
That after the word “ quilts “ the words “other than cotton or linen” be inserted.
I want to get these quilts relieved froma duty of 25 per cent., because they are not made in the Commonwealth.
– Theyare made here to a very large extent.
– If the Committee will agree to the amendment it will leave eiderdown and kapok quilts dutiable at the rates proposed, but will make linen or cotton quilts dutiable at 10 per cent. under item 124.
– I do not know how far-reaching this amendment, if carried, would be, because the item embraces a number of articles. I assure the honorable member for Grey that cotton and linen quilts are made in the Commonwealth to a considerable extent.
– Not cotton.
– I do not mean to suggest that the material is manufactured in the Commonwealth. The cotton and linen are imported, and quilts, to a very large extent, are manufactured from those materials. I hope that the honorable member will not press his amendment, because it might have a far-reaching effect in regard to other items in the schedule. I trust that the Committeewill allow the item to stand as it is.
– The Treasurer has to make a great many statements in. the course of his en- deavour to pass the Tariff. It is quite’ possible that he may occasionally make statements without instituting very full inquiry, and it sounds like a novelty to hear that in this country we are making cotton or linen yarn and converting it into material.
– I did not say anything of the kind, but the very reverse.
– The honorable gentleman said that we are making these things here.
– I did not.
– I can only repeat that the Minister did.
– I did not say that we are making yarn in the Commonwealth.
– The honorable gentleman said that the things are made here.
– Order ! The honorable and learned member must accept the statement of the Minister.
– If the things are not made here, then the amendment must commend itself to every honorable member, because we do not grow linen or cotton, make linen or cotton yarn, or spin either’ linen or cotton yarn into these articles.
.Under the old Tariff the duty on cotton and * linen quilts was 20 per cent. The protectionist section of the Tariff Commission recommended a duty of 20 per cent., and the Government have proposed a duty of 25 per cent, in the General Tariff and 20 per cent, in the preferential Tariff. Really no difference in the old duty is proposed, because the majority of these goods are imported from Great Britain.
– I think that I know as much about this matter as. does any one in the Chamber. I am dealing in this line, and know that a majority of the goods are imported from Great Britain, and therefore would come in at a duty of 20 per cent.
Question - That the words- “ other than cotton or linen “ be inserted after the word “ quilts “ (Mr. Poynton!s amendment) - put. The Committee divided.
Majority … … 1
Question so resolved in the negative.
.I wish to move the omission of the words “quilts” and “counterpanes,” with a view to their insertion among piece-goods in paragraph e of item 124.
– The Committee, having dealt with ari amendment to insert words after the word “ quilt,” cannot go back.
– If I shall not be in order in moving the amendment of which I have spoken, I shall move to insert the words “ other than cotton or linen “ after the word’ “counterpanes.” None of these articles are being made in Australia. They are woven abroad, and come out here in the sizes. It is robbery to impose a duty of 25 per cent, on such goods. There can be no pretence that the duty will give employment by assisting an industry.
– Move to reduce the duty.
– There are some lines which I think could carry the duty, but there is nothing to justify its imposition on those which I have picked out. I move -
That after the word “ counterpanes “ the words “ other than cotton or linen “ be inserted.
– As the Minister is so obstinate as to refuse to agree to any reasonable amendment, I am not sure that we should not attack the item itself. It includes sheets, pillow cases and covers, bolster cases, counterpanes, bed-spreads, and I do not know what besides. It seems to me the height of absurdity to propose to tax these articles to the tune of 25 per cent., when it can be proved to demonstration that many of them are not, and cannot be, made in Australia. I move -
That after the words “25 per cent.” the words “ and on and after 8th November, IQ07 (General Tariff), 20 per” cent.,” be inserted.
– I direct the attention of honorable members to the fact that on this item I have not proposed an increase in the duties under the old Tariff.
– But new articles are included in the item.
– No, there are no new articles included. I made inquiries from the Customs officials as to whether any new articles were included, and I found that there was only one about which they had some doubt, and that all the others are dutiable at the same rates under the old Tariff. I ask honorable members not to reduce these duties below those imposed under that Tariff.
– We are not reenacting the old Tariff.
– The Treasurer has himself ignored it many times, and he has ignored the recommendations of the Commission.
– The Tariff Commission recommended a duty of 20 per cent, on this. item, and that is practically what the Government are asking for in the case of all but a few of tHe articles included in it.
– I think that the duty on some of these articles was less under the old Tariff.
– I am informed that that is not so.
– The Minister should remember that, as we have increased the duties on a number of items, it is not unreasonable to reduce purely revenue duties.
– I again ask the Committee not to reduce these duties below those imposed under the old Tariff.
– Without desiring to be offensive, I am bound to say that 1 distrust the Minister’s statements. He makes statements, and then contradicts them. When he tells the Committee one thing, and the honorable member for South Sydney tells us another, it is not offensive for me to say that I very much prefer to accept the statement of the honorable member for South Sydney. The Treasurer seems to think that we should be satisfied when he reminds us that these duties were imposed on articles included in this item under the old Tariff. No member of the Committee has shown less respect for the old Tariff, or for the recommendations of the Tariff Commission, than has the honorable gentleman himself. It, therefore, ill-becomes him to appeal to other honorable members to show respect for either. I accept the statement of the honorable member for South Sydney, that some of the articles included in this item were under the old Tariff free, or dutiable at a lower rate than is now proposed. The Committee has shown, by a division in which the Government had a majority of only one, that there is a strong desire to exclude from this Tariff articles composed of linen or cotton. The honorable member for Parramatta has proposed that this duty be cut down from 25 to 20 per cent., and I think that is a very modest request. In view of the fact that about one-half of the members of the Committee believe that these goods should be admitted free of duty, I hope that honorable members will ignore the Minister’s appeal not to reduce the duty below that imposed under the old Tariff, and will vote for the proposed reduction.
Question - That after the words’” 25 per cent.” the words “ and on and after 8th November, 1907 (General Tariff), 20 per cent.” (Mr. Joseph Cook’s amendment) be inserted - put. The Committee divided.
Majority … … 1
Question so resolved in the negative.
Item agreed to.
Item 119 (Curtains andblinds) and item 120 (Furs and other skins) agreed to.
Motion (by Sir William Lyne) agreed to-
That the consideration of item 121 (gloves) and item . 1 22 (hats, caps, and bonnets) be postponed until after the consideration of item 140.
Item 123 (Parasols, sunshades, and umbrellas) agreed to.
Mr. MAUGER laid upon the table the following paper -
Lands Acquisition Act - Land acquired under, atSandyBay, Tasmania - for Defence purposes.
– I move -
That the House at its rising adjourn until 11 a.m. this day.
– Will the Treasurer be good enough to say what arrangements proposes for to-day? How long does be intend that the House shall sit?
– I cannot say at present. We may sit all the evening in order to get some work done.
– But the Treasurer knows that we will not.
– I should sit all the evening if I could keep the honorable member here. The course to be adopted will be announced by the Prime Minister when the House meets to-day.
– It was very incon venient last Friday to some honorable mem bers to find that they were expected to sit until 2 o’clock. The honorable gentleman could state now if the same course is to be adopted, so that it may be announced in the press, and honorable members may be prepared.
– I cannot pledge myself to propose that the House adjourn at 2 o’clock this afternoon, because it is likely that I shall proceed with the Supply Bill. If I do, I shall desire its consideration to be completed. If that is done at 2 o’clock, the House will then adjourn.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
House adjourned at 12.57a.m. (Friday).
Cite as: Australia, House of Representatives, Debates, 7 November 1907, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/hofreps/1907/19071107_reps_3_41/>.