3rd Parliament · 2nd Session
Mr Speaker took the chair at 2.30 p.m., and read prayers.
– I wish to know from the Prime Minister whether the endeavours of the Government to recover the penalty of £25,000 guaranteed in connexion with the late abortive mail contract have got to the length of beginning an action in the Courts of England for the recovery of the amount ?
– In the absence of my honorable colleague the Attorney-General, the last information received by me is that our legal advisers in London feel confident about the recovery of the money, and are taking the steps necessary to obtain it. I am not clear as to whether their . procedure has reached the stage mentioned by the’ right honorable member, but I think that it has.
– Does the Prime Minister think that he is within measurable distance of the day when he will be able to make an announcement to the House with reference to the negotiations . which, have been proceeding for some time in connexion with the new mail contract?
– We are waiting only for the intimation on one point to which I referred yesterday. Every other matter has been settled, subject to an agreement on that point
– Does the Postmaster: General recognise that the choice of a design for the first Australian stamp is a matter, of such importance that he should give the House an opportunity to consider the matter upon the Estimates before a selection is finally made?
– As soon as the report on the subject, is ready, it- will be laid” on the table.
-What I wish to know is whether the Postmaster-General intends to adopt any design before the Estimates for his Department are considered?
– I propose to call for competitive designs, so that there is nochance of the matter being settled before the Estimates have been dealt with.
– I hold in my hand an international reply coupon lately sent to mefrom England. In accordance with the instructions printed upon the back of it, I applied at the General Post Office, Melbourne, to-day, for the stamp which it represents, and was told that the Stamp Officedid not know anything about’ the matter. I understand that the international reply coupon system was proposed and formulated by the representatives of Australia at the recent . International Postal Congress. What I wish to know from the PostmasterGeneral is how much longer will the public of Melbourne, have to wait for the putting, into operation here of a reform proposed by Australia, and already adopted and in operation in England?
– Instructions in connexion with this system were issued three or four weeks ago. I shall inquire why they have not been carried out.
– In view of theannouncement in this morning’s newspapers, that the Government have given notice to Mr. H. V. McKay, the harvester manufacturer, that he must pay Excise upon the harvesters which he has made since the 1st January of this year, I ask is it really intended to enforce the provisions of the Excise Tariff Agricultural Machinery Actin respect to wages paid , during the period before which certain rates were determined to be unfair and unreasonable, when the manufacturers concerned could not ascertain what rates would be regarded as fair and reasonable ?
– In . accordance, with the promise made yesterday, . I now lay on the table a copy of the notice served on Mr. H. V. McKay, and a copy of a general notice sent to. all the manufacturers . of agri-‘ cultural implements in the Commonwealth
The notice sent to Mr. H. V. McKay concludes in this manner -
You are further notified that, in view of the decision above noted, the provisions of the said Act have been in force in regard to your factory since 1st January, 1907; and further take notice that, in accordance with the said Act, it will be necessary for you to pass proper entries for all dutiable goods before delivery from your factory from the date hereof.
We also require Mr. McKay to account for the whole of the machines manufactured since 1st January of this year. In the copy of the notice sent to manufacturers generally, the amount of security to be required is not stated, a blank being left ; but in the notice sent to Mr. McKay an amount of £5,000 is fixed as security.
– If the money is as difficult to collect as the mail contract guarantee, the provision is not worth much.
– As Mr. McKay is carrying 611 business in Australia, while the guarantors of the mail contract are domiciled on the other side of the world, the cases are not the same. If Mr. McKay thinks the demand made On him inequitable in any particular, or that there are grounds upon which he can ask for consideration, it is for him to make them known. Should he do so, it will be the duty of the Government to consider his application.
– The law will have to be altered before he can obtain a remission of the Excise.
– Will the Prime Minister cause the judgment in this case to be made a State paper ?
– Having regard to the circumstances and the importance of the finding in relation to both present and prospective legislation, it is highly desirable that the judgment . should be printed in extenso. As soon as a copy of it is available, I shall lay it on the table of the House, and move that it be printed.
– Is the collection of the import duty on harvesters at the rate of £16 each to be conditional on the Excise Act being held by the High Court to be within the legislative powers of the Commonwealth Parliament? If it be found that the Excise cannot be levied, will the import duties remain at £16 per harvester? Have the Government thought out what they will do in the matter?
– The import duties will remain as they are until altered by Parliament.
– I suggest that the judgment in this case be not printed until the schedule of wages which Mr. Justice Higgins is having prepared is complete, and can be published with it.
-I do not know that I quite understood the Prime Minister’s reply to my question. If I followed him rightly, his remarks amounted to this : that unless any of the manufacturers affected can allege circumstances of a special character, entitling them to a particular indulgence, the law will be strictly enforced against them as from the 1st January of this year.
– Yes. The first paragraph of the notice to which I referred impresses upon the manufacturers the fact that they will be required to pay Excise upon all dutiable goods comprised within the schedule, and delivered from their factory since 1st January, 1907.
– What will be the policy of the Government if the Excise Act be found to be invalid ? Parliament has determined that the protection given to manufacturers shall be . £10 per harvester, that being the difference between the import duty of£16 and the Excise duty of£6. What will be the position if the High Court decides that we cannot, by imposing Excise, regulate the rates of wages? Will the import duty of £16 per harvester remain for the protection alike of those who pay good wages and those who pay bad?
– If the High Court should determine that the Excise Act is invalid, the Government will have to consider the situation, but we are not bound to do so in anticipation.
– If the Excise is collected, will it be paid info the Consolidated Revenue? If it is, in what better case will the employes be who have ‘been declared to be so shockingly underpaid?
– Before paying the money into the Consolidated Revenue, we shall take into accountthe circumstances to which the honorable member refers.
– I desire to ask the Prime Minister whether, in the event of the High Court ruling that the provisions of the Excise Tariff Agricultural Machinery Act are unconstitutional, the Government will reduce by proclamation the duty placed upon manufactured articles?
– That would be a. very extraordinary power for the House to in1 trust even to this Administration. This Government may have exceptional claims to consideration, but I do not wish even to suppose for a moment that the legislation we have passed can be held to be unconstitutional. It would take a great deal to satisfy us on that point. If the Act were field to be unconstitutional, it would probably be because of our adoption of some method not essential to the task we have to perform.. We should then take other measures to make sure of giving effect to our intentions. The step to which the honorable member has alluded, after all, represents a counsel of despair.
– When will the Manufactures Encouragement Bill be introduced and dealt with?
– True to my promise, as I always am, I shall introduce the Bill to-day, and set’ it down to be read a- second time to-morrow; but I do not propose to proceed with the second reading until the Committee of Ways and Means has dealt with Division V. of the Tariff. I intend to proceed with the Bill before Division VI. is dealt with.
– Will the Prime Minister consider the advisability of bringing in a Bill to provide for a referendum for the alteration of the Constitution, to enable the Federal Government to nationalize coal mines and other public utilities?
– The industrial conditions of Australia have already obtained a good deal of attention from this Parliament. We have now on the statute-book two measures, the second of which is running the usual gauntlet of legal tests, and until it is disposed of, I do not think the honorable member can expect us to make any larger essay.
– I do not think that the Prime Minister understood the question which I put to him. I asked not that the State should regulate the conditions under which men are employed in coal mines, but whether the Prime Minister would consider the desirableness of bringing in a Bill to enable a referendum of the electors of the Commonwealth to be taken on the question of amending the Constitution to enable the Parliament to nationalize coal mining and other public utilities.
– The Government already have under consideration more than one project which, if they are to be given effect to, will require to be dealt with by a referendum at the next general election. They are not prepared on any ground which has yet been disclosed to add to such an extension of Federal powers as the honorable member proposes.
– I wish to make a personal explanation. I do not complain of the lack of courtesy shown by the PostmasterGeneral in replying! to questions, but I certainly do object to having my veracity impugned. I wish to explain the facts connected with certain questions which I put to the honorable member upon a previous date. Commenting on an article which appeared in the Argus in regard to the employment of hands in the Sydney General Post Office, I said -
I desire to know whether it is a fact that the Deputy Postmaster-General in Sydney has applied for 600 additional hands, of which number only one-half has been allotted?
The reply which I received was as follows -
The honorable gentleman is again wrong in his facts. The Deputy Postmaster-General did not apply for 600 hands……
In reply to a question which was put to the Postmaster-General by the honorable member for Lang, on 17 th October, namely -
Did the Deputy Postmaster-General in Sydney ask that provision should be made in the Estimates for 1907-8 for a considerable increase in the staff of his Department, to insure the efficient administration and working of the same in New South Wales?
The honorable gentleman said, “ Yes.” The second question put to him by the honorable member for Lang, was -
If so, how many additional officers did he estimate were required?
The Postmaster-General replied, “600.” The third question was -
For how many additional officers has provision been made in the Estimates?
The answer was, “ 267.” I think that I have shown conclusively that I was right, and not wrong, in my facts as the Post-. master-General alleged. Since he said, “ The honorable gentleman is again wrong in his facts,” I presume that he was alluding to a previous question which I put to him, namely - ‘
I desire to ask the honorable gentleman if the Department has taken upon itself to reduce the fee which was fixed for holding a conversation over the trunk lines from Sydney to Melbourne. . . .
On inquiry at the Department this morning,. I was informed by one of the officials that the original charge was 6s., and that that charge has since -‘been reduced to 5s. I, therefore, think that I have conclusively proved that the Postmaster-General, apart from his discourtesy, was altogether wrong in the reply which he made, and thatI was right.
asked the PostmasterGeneral, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follow
asked the Prime Minister, upon notice -
Whether he has communicated with the Government of the Argentine Republic in reference to the unnecessary embargo on the importations of Australian cattle into that country; and, if so, with what result?
– The answer to the honorable member’s question is as follows -
Yes. The Colonial Office was asked on iSth May last to communicate with the Argentine Government, for the purpose of procuring the removal of the prohibition.
The Argentine Government has intimated its preparedness to consider the. question, if it is officially notified that Australia is free from cattle disease.
Replies of a satisfactory character have been received from five State Governments to my inquiry in this regard. The Government is now awaiting the receipt of advice as to the condition of the herds in the remaining State before giving the desired assurance to the Government of the Argentine.
– On the 6th November, I promised to obtain information for the honorable member for Corio in reference to the work of the staff of the Bacchus Marsh post office, and the business there. The following replies to the questions - Hansard, page 5601 - which he then asked have been supplied by the Acting Deputy PostmasterGeneral, Melbourne -
Postmistress. - 8.10 to 8.20 a.m., 9 a.m. to- 12.30 p.m., 1 to 3 p.m., 5 to 8.10 p.m., and to receive mails 9 to 9.20 p.m.
Assistant. - 8.15 to 1 p.m., 2 to 6 p.m., 7 to. 8 p.m.
Messenger. - 8.10 a.m. to 12 noon, 1 to 5 p.m., 6 to 8.10 p.m.
On Tuesday and Thursday the Assistant ceases, duty at 6 p.m. The Assistant and Messenger are off duty on alternate Wednesdays from 1 p.m.. to 6 p.m.
I am advised that the proposed appointment has now been approved by the Public Service Commissioner.
– On the 5th November the honorable member for Lang asked two questions - Hansard, page 5520 - with reference to the supplying of typewriters to New South Wales telegraphists. The replies since made available are as follow -
– On the 26th September the honorable member for Bass, on behalf of the honorable and learned member for Bendigo, asked the following questions -
The replies since made available are as follow -
I may add that I have given instructions for tenders to be called for 100,000 insulators of Australian manufacture.
MINISTERS laid upon the table the following papers -
Excise Tariff (Agricultural Machinery), 1906. -
Copy of notices given to Mr. H. V. McKay and other manufacturers in view of the decision of Mr. Justice Higgins, President of the Court of Conciliation and Arbitration.
Federal Capital : Proposed Sites. - Report by State Acting Chief Engineer for Rivers, Water Supply, and Drainage, on the water supply.
Report by the State Government Architect, regarding local supply of building material.
Census and Statistics Act - Commonwealth Statistics - Trade Shipping, Oversea Migration and Finance - Bulletin No. 8, August, 1907.
Population and Vital Statistics - Bulletin No. 3 - Vital Statistics, quarter ended 31st March, 1907.
In Committee (Consideration of GovernorGeneral’s Message) :
– I move -
That it is expedient that an appropriation of revenue be made for the purposes of a Bill for an Act for the encouragement of manufactures in the Commonwealth.
I trust that honorable members will not expect me at this stage to make a speech which may give rise to discussion. I propose to introduce the Bill to-day, and to move that it be read a second time as soon as we have disposed of the division of the Tariff with which we were dealing last night.
– Does this motion relate to the iron bounties?
– Can the honorable member mention the lines on which he proposes to proceed ?
– Three Bills of this kind have been before the House, and that to which this motion relates follows, with one exception, much on the same lines.
– In connexion with iron?
– Yes. The schedule relates to pig iron, puddled bar iron made from Australian pig iron, steel made from Australian pig iron, galvanized iron, wire-netting, and wire. The addition of the item “ wire “ is a departure from the provision of the last Bill.
– Is iron wire the only class of wire dealt with in the Bill?
– The Bill relates to iron and steel wire, but not to copper wire. The schedule also includes iron and steel tube pipes, except riveted or cast, of not more than 4 inches internal diameter. I have likewise included, as before, a provision relating to a bounty on the production of reapers and binders. I find that reapers and binders are not made at the present time to any extent in Australia. I do not know that they are made in marketable quantities. I have made inquiries, but have not yet discovered that they are. That being so, I have allowed the item to remain in the schedule. I do not wish the consideration of the Tariff to be interrupted for a long time in order that this measure may be passed, and on moving that the Bill foe read a second time I shall ask that a test vote be taken. Whether that vote be favorable or unfavorable, I shall know exactly what to do with regard to the Tariff. I am sure that honorable members are’ just as anxious as I am that the Tariff shall be dealt with by this House before Christmas. I have introduced the Bill at this stage in order to obtain from the House, before we deal with Division VI. of the Tariff, an intimation of whether or not a Bounties Bill will be accepted. .
– Have the Government the necessary fund for the purposes of this Bill ?
– Some honorable members have said that the Tariff will yield a revenue of£12,000,000 per annum. If it does I shall have plenty of money.
– But the honorable gentleman says that it will not.
– I do not think that it will ; but in any event, I believe that I shall have sufficient revenue available for the purposes of this Bill.
.- I fall in with the desire of the Treasurer that we shall have no discussion at this stage, but I see at once that the intrusion of this Bill at the present time may have a most unfortunate effect bn the progress that we shall make with the Tariff. It involves a number of most important considerations.
– I merely wish to obtain a test vote upon it.
– I rather deprecate the introduction at present of anything that will take away the mind of the Committee, for any length of time, from the Tariff. I think, however, that we might certainly allow the Bill to be introduced, so that we may see what its provisions are.
.- I presume that this is a Bounties Bill. On the last occasion that such a proposal was before us many of us were somewhat surprised, because we did not see the scope of the Governor-General’s message. On this occasion, however, the message is of the widest possible character, and anything relating to the encouragement of manufactures may be dealt with under it.
– Is this an official intimation ?
– I am guided by the GovernorGeneral’s message, which has been read to the House, and under which, . it seems to me, we can make whatever provision we please in regard to the encouragement of manufactures in the Commonwealth. Did I understand the Minister to say that he. desires this Bill to be passed before we proceed to the consideration of the next division of the Tariff?
– No; I said I wanted a test’ vote on this Bill in order that I might know whether it is going to be accepted.
– That is practically passing the Bill.
– It is; but at the same time the taking of a test vote will not occupy very much time, and my desire is to get on with the Tariff. If honorable members are in favour of a Manufactures Encouragement Bill, that fact will affect some of the duties in division VI.
– What about Division VI.a?
– Last night I suggested Division VI. a, but other members pointed out that there were items in division VI. which will be affected. That is why I desire to deal with this Bill before we proceed with that division, in which items may have to be reduced or struck out if the Bill be agreed to.
.- I agree with the Minister that the sooner we ascertain the will of the Committee in regard to this Bill the better.
– That is all I want.
– Let us take a test division on the first reading. ‘
– I think not. I desire to see this Bill; and I have never, under any circumstances, opposed the first reading of a Bill. I desire to see a measure before I condemn it.
– But this would be a vote by arrangement.
– Let us see the Bill.
– I also desire honorable members to see the Bill.
– I am quite sure that honorable members will be. better able to come to a decision when they know what are the merits of the Bill.
– Is it understood that if we vote for this motion we are bound to vote for a bonus on iron ?
– Because if that be so, I aim. dead against it.
– I desire to have a test vote on the second reading.
– I was not here when the Treasurer made his statement, and I should like to know whether he contemplates any departure from the old Bill, so far as the scope is concerned.
– The motion is just as vague as it could be.
– I desire to place the Bill before honorable members so that they may see what its scope is. In fact, the scope has been somewhat curtailed.
– A little while ago we had before us a Bounties Bill in reference to Australian products. It was then found that, although this Chamber did not pass many of the items and reduced some of the proposed bounties, we were not able to apply, as we desired, the amounts thus saved to any other purpose. I desire to know whether, under the present Bill, there will be power to do what we desired to do under the last Bill.
.- Is there any provision made for a bounty for wire-netting ?
– Are there any items in the Bill other than wire-netting and iron ?
– I have already read the items to honorable members. I have added wire, because we ought to be able to produce not only the wire-netting, but the wire; in fact, I understand that wire can easily be produced here. In reply to the honorable member for Herbert, I may say that the Governor-General’s message is quite comprehensive enough to permit of our doing almost anything in the way of varying the bounties proposed.
– Does the Bill include steel rails?
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Resolution reported and adopted.
That Sir William Lyne and Mr. Chapman do prepare and Bring in a Bill to carry out the foregoing resolution.
Bill presented (by Sir William Lyne) and read a first time.
In Commitee of Ways and Means (Consideration resumed from 12th November, vide page 5856) :
Upon which Mr. Glynn had moved by way of amendment -
That the words “ Cotton, Linen,” paragraph E, be left out.
– An amendment to that effect may be moved at a later stage.
.- It is possible, I am afraid, that if the amendment before us be carried, we may render cotton and linen subject to a higher duty under some other heading. The Tariff is so framed that we have to be sure that when omitting any articles we are not placing them, as I say, under some other heading which means a higher duty. I desire the assurance of the Minister that the effect of this amendment will be that intended, namely, to omit the item altogether from the dutiable list. This is an item of enormous importance, representing as it does , £3,300,000 worth of imports.
– It is the largest item we have, and the ‘ duty paid is £166,000.
– I should like to know from the Minister what proportion the value of the cotton and linen bears to the value of - the whole of the imports embraced by paragraph e.
– The cotton and linen imports are practically the whole.
– There are so many enormously high duties producing such a very large excess of revenue, even, beyond the expectations of the Government, that my disposition, whenever I get the chance, is to vote for making items free. When I find honorable members, who, no doubt, from conscientious motives, have been voting for high duties on other lines, disposed to vote for lower duties, I am inclined to take advantage of their assistance.
– This is not an honest proposal ?
– Why not ?
– I almost invariably give way to the suggestions of the honorable member for Indi, because of his vast practical experience, but I desire the honorable member to realize my view. If this were a symmetrical Tariff-
– That is just what it is.
– If this werea symmetrical Tariff I admit that the omission of items might destroy its harmony. My view, however, is that there is nothing symmetrical about this Tariff. The rates imposed upon many articles which are necessary to the whole community are so high ; the chance of getting a line like that under consideration admitted free - a line which is almost universally used by the poorer classes - is so rare; and the proposed reduction, if carried, would throw such a gleam of light upon the whole Tariff that I will cordially support such an amendment.
Question - That the words “Cotton, linen,” paragraph e, proposed to be left out (Mr. Glynn’s amendment), stand part of the item - put. The Committee divided.
Majority … … 2
Question so resolved in the affirmative.
Amendments (by Sir William Lyne) agreed to -
That the word “ jute,” and also the words “ other than striped and fancy,” paragraphE, be left out.
Amendment . (by Mr. Joseph Cook) proposed -
That after the words “10 per’ cent.” paragraph E, the words’ and on and after 14th November, 1907 (General Tariff), ad val. 5 per cent.,” be inserted.
– The honorable member for Parramatta wishes to reduce the 10 per cent, rate levied upon the items enumerated in this paragraph to 5 per cent., with a view to admitting the manufactures of Great Britain free. As I pointed out last night, the annual imports under this heading are valued at £3,300,000, of which Great Britain supplies over £3,000,000 worth. It will thus be seen that only a very small proportion of these goods comes from other countries. If the amendment of the honorable member for Parramatta be carried, the bulk of our imports under this heading will be admitted free. I hope that for the sake of the revenue that is involved honorable members will not agree to that proposal.
– I cannot understand why a Government which is professedly protectionist should cling so limpet-like to revenue duties - to duties which have no other object than the collection of revenue from the people. If any question of encouraging local industries were involved - of affording them an opportunity to stand against foreign competition - I could understand the attitude of the’ Ministry, and could sympathize with it. Personally, I could give them every possible support -
– As upon the question of rice, for example?
– I objected to the collection of revenue duties upon rice. The Treasurer knows full well that the imposition of high protective duties must for a considerable time involve a certain amount of sacrifice by the people. Higher prices are inevitable until our industries are in a position practically, to supply our own requirements. But, in addition to this load, this sacrifice that we are asking the people to bear for the benefit of posterity - for the future of Australia- the Government ask them to pay revenue duties upon such articles as moleskins and calicoes, which we cannot produce in the- Commonwealth. I want honorable members who are protectionists to recollect that a protective policy is supported by men and women throughout Australia who have nothing but sacrifice ahead so far as they are individually concerned - by miners in the districts of Western Australia, by miners, shearers, and others in Northern Queensland, who will derive no direct benefit whatever from such a policy. But these persons look to the larger issue. They ask themselves, “ What will this policy do for the development of the country ? Will it make us self-contained and self-reliant?” It is because of the answer which they give to that question that they are willing to make sacrifices in the meantime. But- is it fair to ask those who are prepared to throw aside their own selfish interests to bear a burden which has no possible connexion with a protective policy - the burden of revenue duties, which are imposed with the single object of saving from taxation the’ landed proprietors of Australia? That is the only object of such duties. They are being levied merely to save from taxation those who are well able to pay, but who are selfishly unwilling to pay.
– They are sufficiently taxed already.
– Are not the poor men with whom the honorable member was so sympathetic a short time ago sufficiently taxed? The honorable member for Indi is ready to increase by a few shillings a year what the poor man must “expend on moleskins, but he declares that the land-owners are already sufficiently taxed. We can understand the measure of sympathy ‘with the working men felt by honorable members of his stamp. The crocodile tears which they are perpetually shedding can be gauged at their true value this afternoon when they are asked to choose between imposing a duty on moleskins and admitting them free. The working men of Australia are willing to make a sacrifice for the future of their country ; they are willing that prices shall be raised so that goods may be manufactured in Australia. But an unnecessary and unjustifiable burden will be piled on them if we saddle them with the payment of revenue duties, the incidence of which can benefit only those well able to bear taxation in other forms.
– Forty-five per cent, on apparel !
– I imagine that the honorable member for Swan has some sympathy with the girls employed in the whitework industries of- our large cities. These industries he must know to be the worst sweated in the civilized world. If any of our industries are to be protected, we should extend the most liberal protection to what are known as the white-workers of Australia. I am quite prepared to give more consideration to sweated industries such as theirs than to other industries. But I urge protectionists not to continue to vote for revenue- duties which impose unfair and improper burdens upon the working classes. I ask them to be satisfied with giving effect to the policy on which they were elected, leaving it to the Government to shoulder the responsibility of providing revenue.
– I cannot allow the speech of the honorable member for South Sydney to pass without replying to it. He says that these proposals have been put forward with a view to preventing the imposition of land taxation. He should know perfectly well what are my opinions on the subject of direct taxation.
– The Minister should speak for the Government, not for himself.
– I am in charge of the Tariff, and I absolutely deny the accuracy of the statement of the honorable member for South Sydney that these duties have been proposed with a view to preventing the imposition of land taxation.
– The Government is breaking its compact of last night.
– I regret that the honorable member for South Sydney has imported so much heat into the discussion. Does he expect me, as Treasurer in charge of a Tariff like this, to forego all revenue duties? I cannot do it. I do not pay much attention to revenue duties, but I must obtain a fair amount of revenue, and in this item £166,000 is involved, or, striking out linens and cottons, about £150,000. I do not think that it would be very judicious or creditable to throw away revenue in the manner the honorable member proposes. I cannot do it, because I must have money with which to carry on. The statement of the members of the Opposition that the Tariff will increase the revenue by £2,000,000 a year is absolute nonsense. The returns are now becoming normal, and will not amount to much more than my estimate ; that is, to something between £800,000 and £900,000 a year. Therefore, we have to be careful. Whilst those who are opposed to revenue duties may not like to see them carried, I hope that it will not again be attributed to me that I have proposed them to prevent the imposition of direct taxation.
– That will be the effect of them.
– I am as honestly in favour of direct taxation as is the honorable member, or any honorable member, and I shall not permit without challenge any one to say the contrary. I think that the honorable member spoke on the spur of the moment when he attributed to me the desire to prevent the imposition of direct taxation. I have to vote for duties of this kind. But what is the rate proposed in this instance? Only .5 per cent.
– This is not the only revenue duty ; there are many others in the Tariff.
– I intend to meet the honorable member in regard to some of the items, but in this case the duty is only 5 per cent., so that I do not think an individual purchaser will feel it, since it will affect” prices so slightly. But there are revenue duties which I feel very much disposed to forego, because they are purely revenue producing, and not protective in their incidence.
– The proposed duty, if carried, will make it 5 per cent, harder for the working man to live.
– I do not think so. I have replied to the honorable member for South Sydney because I cannot allow any one to say that I am not in favour of direct taxation.
– The Government are not.
– The Government are not, but I am. I fought my last election on the question.
– The honorable member represents the Government.
– I have charge of this measure. I am also as much in’ favour of old-age pensions as is any honorable member. Probably we shall have to impose taxation of another class before we can establish a pensions system; but unless we can by remitting duties effect some great good, we should not forego a low duty like this. If the proposed rate were 10 or 15 per cent., there might be a good case for a reduction, but a rate of 5 per cent, cannot do much injury to any one.
.- The statement was made yesterday that as soon as it was known in England that certain preferences had been given, cablegrams were sent out to Australia increasing prices to the amounts of the preferences, and if we make the general Tariff rate 5 per cent., and admit British importations free, the prices of British goods may be increased accordingly. I wish to make the whole item free.
– We cannot do that after the vote which has just been taken.
– I understood that only part of the item had been dealt with.
Question - That after the words “ 10 per cent.,” paragraph e, the words “ and on and after 14th November, 1907 (General Tariff), ad val. 5 per cent.” (Mr. Joseph Cook’s amendment), be inserted - put. The Committee divided.
Majority … … 9
Question so resolved in the affirmative.
Amendment agreed to.
Amendment (by Mr. Joseph Cook) put -
That after the words “ 5 per cent.,” paragraph B, the words “ and on and after 14th November, 1907, (United Kingdom) free,” be inserted.
The Committee divided.
Majority … …25
Question so resolved in the affirmative.
Amendment agreed to.
– I move -
That after the word “ goods,” paragraph F, the letters, “n.e.i.,” be inserted, and that the words “ or wool “ be left out.
The object of this amendment is to clearly show that the paragraph applies only to flannelette. It is not manufactured in Australia, and medical men very strongly urge that its use is undesirable.
– It is very much used, and by the poorer people.
– It is very much used, I am told, to “the detriment and injury of those who use it, seeing that it is very inflammable, and has caused many fires.
– Where is it proposed to place flannelette in the Tariff?
– This item means flannelette. If honorable members do not desire to allow this material to come in to the injury, mainly of the younger people of the community, they will permit this duty to be imposed. If they desire to make it free because it is piece goods, that, of course, is a matter for themselves to consider.
– Why not use the word “flannelette”?
– “Flannelette” is an indefinite term.
– What does the item include besides flannelette?
– Nothing. When I was administering the Customs Department, I had material brought to me, presumably flannel; and some of it, though flannelette, was most difficult to distinguish from the pure article; and the- wording of this item has been prepared by the Department with the intention to embrace all classes of flannelette. If we use the word “ flannelette,” we shall not ‘be able to check the importation of many spurious flannels, and, as I have already indicated, it is scarcely possible, sometimes, to distinguish between flannel and flannelette.
.- After the division which has just been taken, I think it would be most invidious to single out this article, which is mostly used by the poorer classes. I disregard altogether the objection taken by the medical fraternity to the use of flannelette. We must allow the people to exercise their own judgment and discretion; and the phraseology of the item shows how difficult it is for the Customs Department to distinguish what is really a flannel. I observed that the honorable member for Melbourne yesterday, when referring to various dress stuffs which -are sold at 3s. or 4s. a yard, showed one which was distinctly a flannelette ; and under the item as proposed by the Treasurer, anything of a cotton nature which resembles a flannelette is to be called a flannelette. I have lately had occasion to call the attention of the Department to various kinds of cotton goods which are not flannelettes, but which are imported as plain gingham. This material has been rolled over the hot rollers on one side only, and the other side is left with the fluffy appearance of flannelette, as though it had been teased. An ordinary print is run over the hot rollers on both sides, and in the process all the soft and fluffy hairs are removed. If for cheapness of production, or other reasons, material is rolled only once, there is left on the other side the raw character of the manufacture; and under this item, that would be deemed by the Customs Department a teased article, and, therefore, a .flannelette. This sort of material gives rise to a great number of difficulties as between importers and the Department. We have already dealt’ with cotton and linen goods in a liberal spirit; and I suggest to the Treasurer that he permit this item to be banished from the Tariff so that it may remain amongst the piece goods which we ‘ have already made free. It is unusual, I know, for one who always votes for a revenue Tariff to make such a request. But I know the difficulties which have arisen between importers and the Department; and in view of the fact that this material is used, not by the well-to-do, but by the poorer classes, the proposal of the Treasurer is, in my opinion, an invidious distinction.
. Flannelette is chiefly, if not exclusively, used by the poorer classes. It is imported extensively for the manufacture of women’s blouses, and for underclothing and nightclothing for both children and adults. It is found warmer than calico, and cheaper than flannel, even of the lightest description. Flannelette of ordinary qualities can be purchased at from 2jd. to 6d. per yard, whereas the cheapest” flannel costs about 9d. per yard. As to the Treasurer’s statement about the injury which flannelette does to children, it may be described in the expressive word “ flam.” Flannelette is said to be very inflammable, but, as a matter of fact, blacksmiths use it in preference to other materials, because they find that if a spark does lodge on it, it can be very easily brushed off, and that other cotton materials have, been found just as inflammable. I find that in 1903 there was imported from the United Kingdom £181,849 worth, and in 1906, £203,669 worth. From Belgium in 1903 there was imported £2,312 worth, and in 1906, £768 worth; from Germany in 1903, £13,209 worth, and in 1906, £33,784 worth; from the . Netherlands in 1903, £2,128 worth, and in 1906 the value was £8.965; from all other countries, in 1903, £4,091 worth, and in 1906, £6,467 worth. The total importations in 1903 amounted to £203,589 worth,’ and in 1906 to £253,653 worth. In 1903, the British imports were 89.3 per cent, of the whole, leaving a little over 10 per cent, of imports from abroad ; and in 1906, the British imports amounted to 80.3 per cent, and the foreign imports to 19.7 per cent. If this duty be imposed, the cost of a material for underclothing, which is chiefly used by the poorer classes, will be increased ; and the evidence given before, the Tariff Commission, and the report of the Commissioners themselves. < supports the view I have placed before honorable members. Mr. Kirkland, a witness, stated that the duty had not reduced the imports of flannelette, but had only lowered the quality, while Mr. Sharp, a blouse manufacturer, said that if the duty were reduced, people would get better value for their money. In reply to another question, Mr. Sharp submitted that the duty, with profits added, constituted a heavy tax upon wage earners, and said that there was scarcely a family amongst this class of the community whose dress was not largely composed of flannelette. The evidence tendered to the Tariff Commission showed that a reduction in the old rate of duty would cause a better material to be placed upon the market, and that, as a result, the masses of the people would secure wearing apparel of superior quality. I would futher point out that the importing charges - apart from the duty - represent a natural protection of 18 per cent. Before I proceed I should like a quorum to be present. [Quorum formed.’] In proof of my statement that the importing charges, apart from the duty, amount to 18 per cent., I wish to quote the following copy of an invoice for twenty-one cases of flannelette : -
– I wish to call attention to the .state of the Committee [Quorum formed.]
– I have had to remonstrate with the Treasurer on several occasions previously against his perpetual interference with me when I rise to address the Committee. I do so again, and if he persists in his interruptions, I will prolong my speech accordingly. I regret that my right to address the Committee should be challenged by the Treasurer upon almost every occasion that I rise to my feet. I trust that this will be the last occasion upon which I shall be subjected to that experience. If it is no.t, I shall have to assert my right to speak much more frequently than I have done. At a later stage I shall move that after the words, “ 20 per cent.,” paragraph f, the words, “ and on and after 14th November, 1907 (General Tariff), 5 per cent. (United Kingdom), free,” be inserted.
– I protest against the attempt which has been made to prejudice the votes of honorable members by raising the bogy that the use of flannelette is dangerous. As a matter of fact, about 75 per cent, of the children of the Commonwealth wear underclothing made of this material. It is a cheap material, which is largely used by the poorer classes of the community. - Probably, if the matter could be probed to the bottom, it would be found that some of the woollen mills are behind the endeavour which is now being made to levy a prohibitive duty upon this article. I am not aware that any more burning accidents have resulted from the use of flannelette than have resulted from the use of’ any other material. It seems a piece of absolute villainy to attempt to exclude this article merely because it resembles woollen goods. I ask honorable members to vote upon this paragraph on its merits.
.- It is not at all clear why the Treasurer wishes to amend the wording of this paragraph. It is well known that it refers exclusively to cotton goods - to flannelette. Why does the Treasurer desire to impose a prohibitive duty upon that material, which is used more by the working classes than by any other section of the community ? Evidently he desires to penalize those who cannot afford to purchase an article of better quality. Under the old Tariff the duty imposed upon flannelette was 15 per cent., and even that rate was too high. .This material ought to be treated in the same way as other cotton piece goods.
– I would prohibit its importation if I had my way. It is an absolute crime to let it come. in.
– lt is a much greater crime to levy a duty of 25 per cent, upon it.
– I am desirous of expediting the consideration of the Tariff in every way that I can, and that is the reason why I have abstained from speaking upon many of the items which have engaged the attention of the Committee. But the Treasurer does not wish to get the Tariff out of the way for a few months yet. He dasires to allow honorable members to uselessly occupy the time of the Committee. Of course, I do not imagine for a moment that we shall complete the consideration of the Tariff by the end of the present year. Our task will more probably be concluded by the middle of next year. I wish to emphasize the fact that the items enumerated in this paragraph refer only to cotton piece goods - to flannelette. Why the Treasurer should desire to levy a prohibitive impost of 25 per cent, upon that article I cannot understand. The protectionist section of the Tariff Commission recommended the imposition of only a 5 per cent. duty. That I think would be a very fair rate. Those who are accustomed to handle flannelette say that it is a fabric composed entirely of cotton. They add -
The Tariff Commissioners recommended to include this item in the 5 per cent, list with all other cotton piece goods. We strongly support this recommendation, because cotton piece goods are not made in Australia, nor are they likely to be for long years to come. Flannelette is largely used by the ‘workers of Australia, especially in the warmer latitudes, on account of its cheapness and general suitability for shirts, underwear, dresses, &c. Ordinary flannel . worn next to the skin during the hot summer is uncomfortable to large numbers of toilers, and it tends to irritation and skin troubles. The proposed highly increased duty will discourage local making up of the garments.
As cotton piece goods have already been placed upon the free list, I claim that flannelette ought to be included in the same category.
– Having had considerable experience in the handling *of piece goods in the warmer districts, I should like to say a few words upon this proposal. Flannelettes have been spoken of as forming the clothing of the poorer classes; but while some kinds of flannelettes are sold very cheaply, and even at as low as 2½d. per yard, the better qualities used for blouses are sold at much higher prices than those which have been mentioned, and are used by all classes of the-community. Flannelette is a cotton material which cannot be palmed off as woollen, and every one knows its nature. As to its use being harmful, and justifying the prohibition of importations, I prefer to take the opinions of housewives to those of medical men, and the best housewives who come into my establishment buy flannelettes all the year round. Flannelette is a material which is used at all times and for all purposes, and I fail to see why it should be dutiable at higher rates than those applying to other cotton goods. I hope, therefore, that the Minister will accept the suggestion of the honorable member for Denison. Flannelette has now come into such general use for children’s underclothing, men’s shirts, ladies’ blouses, and a hundred and one other things, that it can. scarcely be done without.
– The information which we are now getting is so valuable that there should be a quorum to hear it. [Quorum formed].
– I do not understand why the recommendations of the Tariff Commission on this subject have been disregarded. The importations of flannelette come chiefly from the Old Country. I do not intend to go into figures on the subject, seeing that that has been done by the honorable member for Lang; but of the- total importations, £253,653, only a comparatively small quantity comes from foreign parts, £49,669, the balance coming from- the United Kingdom. I wish to emphasize the recommendations of the Tariff. Commission, which were signed by all the members, protectionists and free-traders -
The chief reasons which induced your Commissioners to recommend the reduction of the duty on flannelette from 15 per cent, to 5 per cent, were -
The great irritation to importers caused by the opening up of cases containing flannelette and other cotton goods;
The suitability of flannelette as a material for wearing apparel, especially in the tropical portions of the Commonwealth;
The fact that no special import duty is placed on kerosene, methylated spirits, celluloid, or firearms, because of the danger attached to the careless use of such commodities.
As to the statement that the article should not be imported because it is inflammable, I do not think that, because a few accidents have been caused by the ignition of flannelette clothing, we should discriminate between flannelette and other cotton goods in the rates of duty.
Colonel FOXTON (Brisbane) [4.36].- We have had during- the progress of these discussions some very anomalous situations, and the present is not the least curious of them. I feel that the reason given bv the Treasurer for imposing practically prohibitive duties on flannelette is altogether unsatisfactory, and I agree with the last speaker th.at the best judges of the value of a material of this kind are the housewives of Australia, who use it largely fov clothing, especially for the night clothing of children. The fact that they use it so largely shows that they consider it a valuable fabric, and is a reason why its importation should not be prohibited, because we cannot make it here. As between allowing flannelette to be imported free and imposing duties of 20 and 25 per cent, on it, I would choose the former course, for the reasons which I have stated. But in this instance I am influenced by the consideration which prompted me when voting on the last item, the need of revenue on the part of the smaller States. Honorable members who represent States whose revenues have enormously increased as the result of Federation may lightly brush aside a consideration of this sort, but it is a serious one to those who represent States whose revenues have materially diminished since the Union. As the honorable member for Bass interjected not very long ago, in this instance the interests of one’s own State must be considered first. It may be objected that the revenue needs of a State like Queensland need not be greatly regarded at the present time, because it is enjoying a surplus : but these surpluses are due to a series of exceptionally good seasons, and when bad seasons return the revenue will fall, as it did two or three years agc, when, as I know from my experience as a Minister, the Queensland as well as other Governments were hard pressed to obtain money to pay their way. and huge deficits resulted. While I would vote to admit flannelette free- rather than impose prohibitive duties .upon its importation, I think that we might reasonably impose duties of 10 and ? per cent., and therefore I shall vote against the amendment to make the general rate 5 per cent., in the hope that, if it be defeated, I shall have an opportunity to move to make the general rate 10 per cent., and that against the United Kingdom 5 per cent.
– I do not agree with those who hold the opinion that flannelette is a harmless and beneficial dress material, nor am I in sympathy with the Minister in proposing high duties to prevent its importation. Flannelette is such a cheap material in comparison with flannel that the only effect of imposing duties upon it must be to increase its price ; while the argument that the housewives and mothers of Australia must know what is the best wear for themselves and their children has no weight with me, because, in my opinion, the wives of working men must often consider first of all the state of their purse, and, finding in flannelette an article having the appearance of flannel and pleasant to the touch, they do not inquire closely into its hygienic qualities. In a hot climate the only safe wear for underclothing is material composed largely of wool, which will absorb perspiration and prevent chills. I attribute the pneumonia and similar diseases which are so frequent in Victoria to the general wearing of flannelette in a climate where changes are very sudden. Undoubtedly flannelette was invented and named, to convey the impression that it is a woollen fabric, although, as a matter of fact, it is made wholly of cotton, with a teased surface, which does not add to its wearing qualities, and almost entirely disappears on the first washing.
– Does the honorable member say that flannelette is not warmer than ordinary cotton?
– It is not warmer, because it is only cotton. For many years ‘ I have given attention to accidents arising from the ignition of clothing, many of which proved fatal. One or two of these have come closely under my own observation, and in all cases in which I could obtain positive information as to the clothing worn, I have found that it was flannelette that had taken fire. A new piece of flannelette, on a match being applied to it, flares up like gunpowder. It is little short of criminal for women to clothe their children in this particularly inflammable substance, and to allow them when so clothed to stand near a fire, or to play with matches.
– But they do it.
– I know that they do. The parents of a child who is burnt in such circumstances are guilty of criminal negligence. The trouble undoubtedly lies in the fact that flannelette is bought by many women under the impression that it contains a percentage of wool. I have met many women who held that ‘belief, and have even heard of shopmen who recommended its use, inferring that it was a mixture of wool and cotton. I should be glad to see its use restricted as much as possible ; but I recognise that a high duty, unless it approaches a prohibitive rate, will not shut it out. It is so cheap that even if a duty be imposed, it will be used to almost as great an extent as if it were on the free list. I should like the name of this material to be altered from “ flannelette “ to “cottonette.” Certain firms manufacture a flannelette which, as the result of chemical treatment, is practically inflammable. If a duty is to be imposed, we ought to differentiate between flannelette of that class and the more dangerous variety.
– I made that suggestion three years ago.
– I am glad to hear it.
– What is the difference between the prices of the two kinds of flannelette ?
– It is insignificant. The chemical’ process is not expensive, and results, I believe, in making the article much safer than it would otherwise be.
Colonel Foxton. - Even after the flannelette has been washed?
– I cannot say. That is a question which would have to be investigated by the Customs authorities. It is possible that the non-inflammable quality given to this material by the chemical process to which I have referred, would disappear after washing. I would, at any rate, commend to the Government the desirableness of insisting on an alteration of the name, and, if a duty is to be imposed, of differentiating between the two classes of flannelette which I have mentioned. I am certainly with them’ in the desire that the use of flannelette in Australia shall be restricted as much as possible, but I cannot agree with them that the relatively high duty which they propose would achieve the desired object.
-49J– It is now too late to talk about altering the name of this material. It is universally known as flannelette, and although it might be imported as “ cottonette, “ it would continue to be sold to retailers and the general public under its old name. We have no power to follow up importations to prevent their being retailed as flannelette, and. as a matter of fact, I believe that very fewpeople are misled by the term. Almost every one knows that is consists only of cotton. In my ignorance, I was impressed with the statements made during the consideration of the last Tariff as to the injurious nature of flannelette, and went home fired with an enthusiasm to prevent its use. When I mentioned the matter to my wife, however, she very quickly told me that I knew absolutely nothing about it ; that, from her experience in rearing a family, she had no hesitation in saying that flannelette, in many cases, was most suitable for children’s wear, and that its use should be encouraged rather than prohibited. It is a low-priced “article, largely used for children’s clothing, is easily cleaned, and, generally speaking, is not injurious.
– That is not the view of medical men.
– In regard to some of these matters I would sooner be guided by the views of the mothers of- our families than by those of medical men, many of whom have “fads.” No sufficient ground has been shown for imposing such a high revenue duty as ‘25 per cent. The duty will add to the cost of the material without causing its use to be reduced. It will simply mean that the very poorest sections of the community, who would otherwise use flannelette, will have to use other cotton goods that have not a teased surface. The effect of the teased or rough surface is to make the material slightly warmer than ordinary cotton goods are.
– Flannelette only feels warmer.
– If we can enable the people to obtain, at a cheap rate, air article which, at all events, feels warm, and cannot be said to be injurious, we shall do well. We shall act wisely in dealing with flannelette as we have with other cotton goods, by providing . that imports from foreign countries shall be dutiable at 5 per cent, whilst those coming from the United Kingdom shall be free. The honorable member for Denison advanced some strong arguments as to the difficulty of differentiating between one class of cotton goods and another. By adding to the difficulties of interpreting the Tariff, we run the risk of losing a good deal of revenue, and I certainly think that no sufficient reason has been adduced for imposing this high duty.
– Having listened to this interesting and somewhat anomalous discussion, I propose now to quote a statementmade by the right honorable member for Adelaide, showing the reasons which actuated the Government of which he was a Minister in proposing a duty on flannelette under the first Federal Tariff. At page 8223 of Hansard, Vol. VI., he is reported to have said-
– There is not a quorum present. [Quorum formed.]
– The right honorable member for Adelaide said -
The reason is that flannelette is a fraud. It is an imitation of wool, and is disposed of under circumstances in which many people mistake it for the more valuable article, with results altogether to be deplored. The Government sympathize with all the observations which fell from the honorable member for the Grampians. Flannelette is highly dangerous, and half the deaths from burnings are occasioned through wearing this material. So far from possessing the quality of flannel in regard to warmth and comfort, flannelette after being washed gives no warmth, but exposes the wearer to danger and disease due to changes of temperature.
– Why not keep it out altogether?
– There is a great deal to be said in favour of keeping it out, and one step in that direction is to subject it to a higher duty. The Comptroller-General speaks warmly in support of the duty, pointing Out that flannelette largely competes with our staple production here,is sold to people who believe it to be wool, and is so dangerous that over and over again coroners have emphasized the risk of wearing it, especially to young children and infants. Anybody taking a portion of flannelette and setting a light to it will be astonished at the rapidity with which it blazes, and the difficulty of extinguishing the flames before the article is absolutely consumed. Under the circumstances, the Government are justified in going to the length they propose, if not in adopting more stringent measures.
I have made this quotation in order to show why we differentiated in the first Federal Tariff between flannelette and ordinary cotton piece goods-
– The Treasurer proposes an increaseon the Kingston Tariff.
– Yes; and I agree with what has been said by coroners in very many cases, namely, that the use of flannelette ought to be prohibited. This duty is not proposed with a view, to protecting any industry, but only with a view to restricting importations.
– This is sentimentalism run mad !
– Nonsense ! The duty, is proposed on the recommendation of those who know, perhaps, more than do any honorable members here on the subject. So far, the only opponents of the duty that [ have observed are those who are interested in the trade - those who are interested in the business of . importing. I allude to the honorable member for Denison.
– Is the Treasurer in order in imputing dishonorable motives to honorable members by saying that they are interested in a business way in connexion with the importation of flannelette?
– I did not sav anything of the kind.
– I wish distinctly to saythat I am not interested in the flannelette business. The Treasurer pointed at me, and mentioned the honorable member for
Denison. Let me say that I have not been interested in any business for the last fifteen years.
– I must ask the Treasurer to withdraw the remark which is considered offensive.
– I withdraw the remark. Honorablemembers who make speeches in favour of flannelette are mainly those who have been, or are, interested in the business; and I was under the impression that the honorable member for Oxley was still interested. I have read what the honorable member for Adelaide said when Minister of Trade and Customs.
– Is he an authority on flannelette ?
– I know that the honorable member for Adelaide then spoke on the authority of professional men; and if he could he would have prohibited the importation of flannelette.
– For the reason that the importation interfered with the flannel industry.
– Surely the honorable member does not say that that was the motive of the honorable member for Adelaide ?
– He s.aid so in the extract which has just been read.
– The honorable member for- Adelaide was then quoting the Comptroller-General, and the duty was then proposed, not to protect any industry, but to protect the public. Statistics show that there are more childern destroyed by fire through wearing flannelette -
– That is really because nearly all children wear flannelette. More people die in their beds than anywhere else.
– A little while ago I had a conversation with Mr. Mark Foy iri Sydney, and he, who has had great experience, told me that flannelette was one of the most dangerous materials imported.
– He is interested in the trade.
– I know, but he is interested in promoting the importation of flannelette. Mr. Foy, moreover, told me that if there was a Tariff to check the importation of this material we should find the ‘importation of flannel increase.
– What duties does the Treasurer want - 10 and 5 per cent. ?
– This is different from the protective duties for which I have fought in this Tariff; and I am quite prepared to accept a lower duty if the Committee so desire. Personally, I should like to see the duty kept high for the reasons I have given ; but, if the Committee wish for a lower duty, I am prepared to meet them-, though I hope it will not be proposed to have a duty of 5 per cent. The revenue derived from this duty is about £40,000 per annum.
.- There are many things which the Treasurer can do graciously, but if there is one that he can do more graciously than another it is to back down on his proposals. If he should stand to his guns on any item, it is on this item, from his own point of view. The honorable gentleman tells us that this is a deleterious article, and dangerous to life, and, therefore, should bear a high duty ; and yet he tells us that the high duties he proposes will not be by any mean’s prohibitive.
– I did not say anything of the kind.
– That was my impression from the Treasurer’s remark?. On turning up the report signed by both sections of the Tariff Commission, I find a very strong argument in favour of the imposition of this particular duty - that is, from the Treasurer’s point of view. Mr. Williams, who is managing director of a Victorian woollen mill, said in his evidence that the duty on flannelette should be doubled, for the purpose of prohibiting material which is dangerous and unhealthy. He further said that in the beginning flannelette was made with the object of so resembling flannel that the general public could not tefl the difference. The honorable member for Adelaide, when Minister of Trade and Customs, told us exactly the same thing - that flannelette is a fraud and a deception. The witness. Williams, regarded flannelette as a source qf danger to the wearer on account of its inflammability, and pointed out that, in the opinion of medical men, those who use flannelette for underwear are very liable to catch cold. This witness further said that those who wear coloured flannelette run great risk of blood poisoning from, the dye if the skin becomes broken. Notwithstanding this evidence, the members of the Commission actually recommended that the duty on flannelette should be reduced from 15 per cent, to 5 per cent. The honorable member for Perth lias so clearly and distinctly placed the case before the Committee that I need not say more from the point of view he presented. I quite recognise the fact that1 flannelette is dangerous, owing to its high inflammability ; and we can realize the risk which is run when a small child is surrounded with a material which, when ignited, goes off like gunpowder. ‘Three years ago, on the 7 th December, I asked the then Prime Minister, the honorable member for East Sydney, the following question -
Whether in view of the fact of the alarming prevalence of burning accidents caused by the wearing of a highly inflammable material known as “ flannelette “ he will bring the matter under the notice of the Tariff Commission, and recommend that a flannelette rendered non-inflammable by special treatment be admitted at a reduced rate of duty, in . order to discourage the use of the highly inflammable material so generally in use?
Honorable members will note that his reply was very different from the replies I am accustomed to receive from the Treasury Benches to-day -
I beg to say, in reply to my honorable friend, that this matter will receive attention.
Flannelette is dangerous to life much in the same way as are cheap pea-rifles ; and if I could I would prevent, to some extent, its use. I recognise, however, that it is not our duty to tinker with the matter, which is one that might be more satisfactorily dealt with by the States themselves. I see no method by which we can absolutely prohibit the use of the material, because a prohibitive duty would simply encourage the manufacture of flannelette here. As a consistent free-trader, I shall support a duty of 5 per cent, under the General Tariff, and will vote in favour of admitting the manufactures of the United Kingdom free.
– I should like the Treasurer to agree to the suggestion of the honorable member for Brisbane to make the goods enumerated in this paragraph dutiable at 10 per cent, under the General Tariff, and at 5 per cent, under the Tariff of the United Kingdom. * I recognise that if we desire to encourage the use of flannel in preference to flannelette, we should have reduced the rate levied upon the cheaper kind of flannel. I think it may reasonably be urged that fully 70 or 80 per cent, of the working classes use flannelette, and, under these circumstances, I fail to see why it should be taxable at 25 per cent., which is practically a prohibitive impost.
.- If the Treasurer persists in retaining the duties levied upon this item, I shall support him, because I believe that, from the stand-point of its inflammability, flannelette is a dangerous material to wear.
– Does the honorable member think that its use is dangerous from any other stand-point?
– Yes. I believe that if children get wet, the wearing of flannelette next to the skin is’ much more dangerous than is the wearing of flannel. I shall support the proposal of the Treasurer, and, if it be defeated, I shall vote in favour of admitting these articles free.
– It is all very well for the honorable member for Yarra to affirm that it is better to wear woollen garments next to the skin than it is to wear flannelette garments. Nobody will seriously question that statement. But the honorable member must know that the great majority of the poorer classes cannot afford to purchase woollens for their large families. That is the whole point at issue. It is not a question as between the use of flannelette and that of flannel, but as between the use of flannelette and other kinds of cotton. As the honorable member for North Sydney reminds me, the position taken up by the Treasurer is quite an illogical one. If the use of flannelette be dangerous, and if the article is a fraud, as is alleged, why does the Treasurer propose to admit it at a lower rate than that which has been imposed upon woollens? Of course, he has told us that the duty proposed is a revenue duty, pure and simple. It is because it was a revenue duty that I proposed a reduction in the last paragraph, and it is for that reason that I shall support a reduction on the duty nowbefore us. I have no sympathy whatever with the rhodomontade of the honorable member for South Sydney, who has declaimed against the imposition of revenue duties, and who has affirmed that the object of levying them is to avert direct taxation. The fact is that we have an overflowing Treasury just now, and if the Tariff be passed in anything like its present form, that elasticity and buoyancy will continue.
– From where shall we obtain the money with which to pay oldage pensions?
– I would remind the honorable member that in voting against this duty we are not casting the revenue which would be derived from it into the sea. It will still be available for the purposes of old-age pensions if we should require it.
– Will the honorable member support the imposition of special duties for the payment of old-age pensions ?
– I am under the impression that the honorable member voted for the Bill authorizing the imposition of special duties for that purpose in the last Parliament. I do not at all sympathize with the tirade which was indulged in by the honorable member for South Sydney. I wish- that he were in the chamber now, because another speech of the kind that he delivered this afternoon might possibly bring the Treasurer to heel. However, in his absence we must endeavour to impress the Treasurer with the reasonableness of the reduction that has been suggested. My experience is that flannelette is superior in every way to cotton. Of course, nobody has ever asserted that it is equal to woollen goods. But the point that we have to remember is that the poorer sections of the community cannot afford to purchase it. I shall support the imposition of a lower rate of duty tharr that proposed by the Treasurer.
.- I understand that the Treasurer has insinuated that in moving for a reduction of this ‘duty some honorable members upon this side of the chamber-
– Order ! The honorable member must not pursue that subject.
– My attention has been called to the fact that the Treasurer has inferred that I am interested in flannelette. I wish to say that I have nointerest whatever - financial or otherwise - in the production of that article.
– I ordered the Treasurer to withdraw his remark.
Amendments agreed to.
Amendment (by Mr. Johnson) put -
That after the words “ 25 per cent.,” paragraph f, the words “ and on and after 14th November, 1907 (General Tariff), ad val. 5 per cent.,” be inserted.
The Committee divided.
Majority … … 11
Question so resolved in the negative.
Amendment (by Colonel Foxton) put -
That after the words “25 per cent.,” paragraph f, the words “and on and after 14th November, 1907 (General Tariff), ad val. 10 per cent.,” be inserted.
The Committee divided.
Majority … …13
Question so resolved in the affirmative.
Amendment agreed to.
Amendment (by Colonel Foxton) agreed to-
That after the words “20 per cent.,” paragraph f, the words “ and on and after 14th November, 1907 (United Kingdom), 5 per cent.,” be added.
Item, as amended, agreed to.
– I intended to move the insertion of another paragraph, to deal with piece goods other than wool or silk, covering importations of boot linings chiefly ; but after the votes which have been taken, I shall not attempt to put a duty upon these articles.
Item 125. Waddings and Cotton Wool, ad val. (General Tariff), 20 per cent. : (United Kingdom), 15 per cent.
– I propose to ask the Committee to negative this item.
– I wish to know if waddings and cotton wool will be admitted duty free if the item is negatived, or whether they will be dutiable under some other heading?
– My desire is that the item shall be free, and if the negativing of the item will have that effect, and not merely transfer these goods to some other division, I shall be satisfied.
.- I intend to move that this item be placed on the free list, unless I receive from the Treasurer an assurance that under his proposal it will be free.
Amendment (by Sir William Lyne) proposed -
That the following words be added : - “ and on and after 14th November, 1907, free.”
.- I do not wish to debate the question, since the Treasurer has anticipated my own wish in respect to this matter, but” I desire to call attention to a very important section of the Customs Act, which gives the Minister of Trade and Customs a power which is sometimes used most arbitrarily.
– I shall point out a specific instance in which this power has been so used. In the comparative table circulated amongst honorable members, we have the statement that this item was free under the “Tariff of 1902 and amending Acts.” Even if that be so, it was not free under the regulations issued by the Department. Section 138 of the Customs Act provides that if an article can be classed under two headings in the Tariff the higher of the duties applicable shall be charged. Where an article is free under the Tariff, that provision cannot be applied ; nevertheless an instance - which perhaps is only one of many to which reference might be made - has come under my notice, where a Minister, acting as a strong protectionist, availed himself of this provision to almost prohibit the importation of an article which the Parliament of 1902 had declared should be absolutely free. I allude to the collection of duty on wadding. Wadding appears among the list of special exemptions in the Tariff Act of 1902, and was so dealt with in order that manufacturers of clothing should be able to obtain it free of duty. When my opinion was asked by the Customs Department as to what was the definition of an article that was put before me, I at once declared it to be “ wadding,” and said that as such it should be free. Almost immediately afterwards, however, the then Minister declared that it came under the denomination of “cotton piece-goods.”
– Which Minister did that?
– That point is immaterial. It is absolutely necessary that the Minister of Trade and Customs should have the power conferred upon him by section 138 of the Customs Act; but I hope that the present Minister of Trade and Customs will not be induced to avail himself of it in order to impose a duty on an article which has been placed on the free list. In the Tariff of 1902, wadding appeared in the list of exemptions, yet under a regulation issued by the Customs Department duty has been collected on it as cotton piece goods.
– It is very doubtful if the collection of the duty was legal.
– Very doubtful. During the last few months we have had collected in Western Australia a lower duty in respect of certain goods than has been collected in other States, this differentia- ‘ tion being due to their having arrived at Fremantle the day before the new Tariff came into operation. Honorable members will recognise how. difficult it is for the mercantile community to protect themselves against such idiosyncrasies without instituting legal proceedings against an allpowerful Government. Although right mav be on the side of the mercantile community, the power remains in the hands of the Ministry by subsequent enactment to . de- ‘ clare the act complained of to be legal.
– It is unfair to force them into protracted litigation.
– It is. I have called attention to this fact in the hope that the Ministry will exercise more discretion with respect to the operation of the section of the Customs Act which I have mentioned. I am glad that the Treasurer proposes to make this item free. I had made a note of the fact that it ought to be on the free list, and I thought that, in the absence of a statement, that under the Customs regulations wadding has been dutiable, the statement in the comparative table that, under the Tariff of 1902,- and amending Acts, it has been free, would be misleading.
– I do not know to what Minister the honorable member for Denison has referred ; but my experience is that a Minister in dealing with such matters always acts on the recommendation of his officers.
– The decision to which I have referred was contrary to the recommendation of the officers of the Department.
– I would far sooner trust my own officers than an interested party. I do not know to whom the honorable member refers.
– He did not refer to the honorable member.
– When I was Minister of Trade and Customs I always acted on the recommendation of my officers’. I do not know the exact nature qf the case to which the honorable member for Denison has referred, but if the regulation was published during my occupancy of the ‘ office of Minister of Trade and Customs, it was upon the strong recommendation of the officers of the Department. I presume that whatever Minister was responsible, he was guided by the recommendation of his officers.
– I repeat that whilst Minister of Trade and Customs, I never took action without having behind me the strength of the recommendation of my officers. What does a Minister know as to the particular heading under which certain goods should be classed? I do not know anything about fabrics, and when I have had submitted to me various articles with a request that I should determine under which heading of the Tariff they were dutiable, I have always, or nearly always, acted upon the advice of my officers. When I have not done so, it has been because there seemed to me to be good reasons for adopting a different course.
.- I draw a marked distinction between wadding and cotton wool, and wish to know how cotton wool is to be classified. Wadding is used chiefly for padding dresses and other clothes, but there are various kinds of cotton wool used in surgery. We have the ordinary cotton wool, and also an absorbent cotton wool which is specially prepared for use in surgical, operations. I wish to know whether ‘ absorbent cotton wool is to be free or is to be dutiable at. 10 per cent, under the heading of “ surgical appliances,” in which “medicated wool “ is included. Medicated wool is nothing more nor less than cotton wool.
– I propose to make this item free, and if there is any doubt as to the classification of medicated wool it would be better for the honorable member to discuss the matter when . we come to the item dealing with it.
– The question is whether or not the item with which we are now dealing covers cotton wool used for surgical purposes.
– Surgical appliances from the United Kingdom are free, whilst those coming from other countries are dutiable, at 10 per cent.
– Nearly all our supplies of surgical wool are obtained from foreign countries : the English manufacturers being unable to supply the local market. We obtain a great deal of our supplies from the United States of America and
Germany. I am speaking of surgical cotton wool, which, I am sure, will not be made in Australia for many years to come.
– Why cannot it be made here?
– Because it has to be prepared in a way which at present is impossible in this country. It is wool used, in many instances, by poor people at a time when, owing to sickness, they are unable to bear expense.
– This is not a protective duty if the cotton wool cannot be made here. The Minister has agreed to make it free.
– What I desire to point out is that there is a distinction between ordinary wadding and surgical cotton wool.
Amendment agreed to.
Item 126 (Bunting, etc.) agreed to.
Item 127. Saddlers’ Webs, Upholsterers’ Webs, Collar Check, Kersey, Saddlers’ Serge and Felt, free.
– I think that after the words “collar check” the words “collar cloth” ought to be inserted. The two are used for practically the same purpose, and, unless the amendment be made, any collar material which is not check will not be able to come in free. I move -
That after the words “collar check,” the words “ collar cloth,” be inserted.
Amendment agreed to.
Item, as amended, agreed to.
Item 128 (Horse Hair Cloth, etc.), agreed to.
Item 129. Milling Silk, free.
– I suggest that filter cloth, as well as milling silk, should be included in this item, because the two are used for a somewhat similar purpose. Milling silk is used as a sieve for the output of mills, and filter cloth is used to sift or separate the output of mining mills; and I think there is merely an omission which requires remedying.
– I think I can meet the honorable member by moving -
That after the word “silk,” the following words be inserted : - “ filter cloth for mines, camels-hair cloth for pressing crushed copra.”
Mr. POYNTON (Grey [6.7].- I do not know whether this is the right place, but I should like to submit to the Minister a list of minor articles, submitted to me by manufacturers of South Australia, which it is suggested ought to be placed on the free list, as being necessary for the manufacture of goods within the Commonwealth. The list comprises - bindings not being edgings; boot laces, except of leather; bodice and corset steels; brace fittings, metal; cane covered and uncovered for corsets; eyes; featherbone, covered; fetterings; filletings, hangers, plain; hooks; piping cord ; protectors ; placquet fasteners or closers in the piece; stay laces; stay fasteners ; shields ; skirt steels ; statute galoons ; tapes ; tips for corset shields ; webs ; webbing ; whalebone covered and uncovered : wire ; wire ribbon ; rings ; hooks; slides; band slips; bow clips; steel points; steel slips; stud spikes, and tie springs used in the manufacture of ties. I’ have another list which deals with articles in connexion with hats and caps.
– Perhaps it would be better if the honorable member were to let me have the list. I have not heard of it before, and I should like to have it analyzed, in order to see what effect the placing of these articles on the free list might have, and where, if it be so desired, they could be placed in the Tariff.
– That is the object with which I submit this list to the .Minister. I hope that he will confer with his officers, and see how far the wishes of these manufacturers may be “met.
Amendment agreed to.
Item, as amended, agreed to. - Item 130. Canvas and Duck, Tent Sail and Tarpaulin Makers’, Free.
– I suggest that rugs for covering cattle ought to be included in this item.
– Those rugs are made of canvas.
– Tents, sails, and tarpaulins are made here, and the object of this item is to free the materials of which these are made. I make the suggestion in order to bring about equality; and, as tarpaulins are used to cover goods, so are canvas nigs to cover cattle, and I desire to free the canvas of which they are made. I do not altogether approve of this method of exempting goods from the payment of duty, because I recognise that it is a dangerous principle to make an article dutiable Or free according to the use to which it is to be put. But if we are to make any Exemptions, it is absurd to place upon the free list material which is used for cover ing goods, and to subject to duty material which is used for covering cattle. I suggest that after the word “sail” the word “ rug “ be inserted.
– I move -
That the words “ tent sail and tarpaulin; tinkers’ “ be left out with a view to insert in lieu thereof the words “ not suitable for apparel.”
– I will acceptthat amendment.
– I agree with the honorable member for North Sydney that the same allowance should.be madein the case of rugs used for stock that ismade in the case of tarpaulins. But it seems to me that so many articles are being; placed upon the free list that we might with advantage frame an entirely newTariff. If the Treasurer agrees to the suggestion of the honorable member for NorthSydney he will probably lose more revenue than he. anticipates. I think that he proposes to give away altogether too much.
– Do I understand that the Treasurer has agreed to place canvas which isused for wearing apparel upon the freelist?’
– I would point out that canvas is not made in the Commonwealth. Certainly we shall manufacturecotton goods in Australia before we shall produce canvas. Consequently, I fail tosee why the wearers of canvas should bespecially penalized.
.- I would point out that it is not desirable to add any words to this item. Canvas and duck are largely used in the making of sails, tarpaulins, rugs, waterbags, &c. In* addition, certain qualities of this material1 are used in the manufacture of clothing, and these, I think, should be placed uponthe free list. They are merely used to> dress clothing, in order to make it stiffer. * The item, as it now stands,’ will meet therequirements of all the trades which usecanvas and duck as their raw material.
– The amendment of theTreasurer, if adopted, will involve practically no loss of revenue, because, underthe old Tariff, canvas and duck were admitted free, with the exception of thecanvas used by tarpaulin-makers.
Question - That the words “ tent sail’ and tarpaulin makers’ “ be left out - resolved in the affirmative.
Question - That the words “ not suitable for apparel.” be inserted - resolved in the negative.
Item, as amended, agreed to.
Item 131. Hessians and Brattice Cloth, fred
– I move -
That after the word “ cloth “ the words “ and jute piece goods” be inserted.
Under the old Tariff jute piece goods were included under the heading of “ piece goods.”
– I wish to include bookbinders’ cloth.
– I have no objection.
.- I support the inclusion in this item of book-‘ binders’ cloth. I do not think that it should be limited to that kind of cloth which is akin to hessian. We admit books free, and it seems very hard that a man who wishes to produce a book in Australia should be required to pay duty upon his raw material.
.- I ask leave to amend my amendment by adding to it the words “ and book-binders’ cloth.”
Amendment amended accordingly, and agreed to.
Item, as amended, agreed to.
Item 132. ‘Fringes of textile materials, not being for attire, free:
.- I would point out that certain kinds of coverings used for the decoration of furniture, and which are not manufactured in Australia, come under this heading. They consist generally of fringes, and are used chiefly by upholsterers. Perhaps the honorable member for Bass is in the position to give the Committee some information upon the subject.
Item agreed to.
Sitting suspended from 6.28 to 7.45 p.m.
Item 133. Socks and Stockings, Woollen, with or without Silk or other ornamentation, ad val. (General Tariff), 30 per cent. ; (United Kingdom), 25 per cent.
– The Committee will see that items 133, 134, and 135 all deal with socks and stockings, and, as it has been represented to me by importers and the Department that this differentiation causes great expense and confusion, I propose to make all socks and stockings dutiable at 25 and 20 per cent. This can be done by negativing items 134 and 135, and making item 133 read -
Socks and Stockings of all kinds for human attire, ad val. (General Tariff), 25 per cent.; (United Kingdom), 20 per cent.
The rates which I suggest are lower than the average of the rates now being levied, the rates for woollen goods being 30 and 25 per cent. ; for silk goods, 30 and 20 per cent. ; and for cotton goods, 25 and 15 per cent. It has been found extremely difficult in some cases to distinguish cotton from woollen socks, and generally the differentiation causes trouble to both importers and the Department. I produce samples of stockings supplied to the Railway Department by Messrs. Yule and Company, of South Melbourne. ‘ I move -
That after the word “stockings” the words “ woollen, with or without silk or other ornamentation “ be left out, with a view to insert in lieu thereof . the words “ of all kinds for human attire, ad val. (General Tariff), 25 per cent. ; (United Kingdom), 20 per cent.,” be inserted.
.- The Minister has forestalled me in this matter, as, in accordance with a request from the trade in Sydney and in Adelaide, I intended to move to bring all classes of socks and stockings under the one heading. I think, however, that the rates proposed by the honorable gentleman are altogether too high, seeing that under the old Tariff the duty was only 15 per cent. Although socks and stockings are manufactured in Australia, I do not think that silken goods of this class are made here. In 1903 the industry employed 10 males and 197 females; whereas in 1906. it -employed 20 males and 223 females. In view of those facts, it does not seem to need more protection, and therefore I wish to move to reduce the rates to 20 and 15 per cent.
– To give the honorable member an opportunity to do that, I shall simply put the first part of the Minister’s amendment : That the words “ of all kinds .for human attire” be inserted.
Mr. EDWARDS (Oxley) [7.54J.-I am glad that the Treasurer proposes to bring all kinds of socks and stockings under one heading. By doing so he will simplify matters for importers, and make things easier for the Customs officials, it being now very difficult to discriminate in some cases between one class of goods and another. Queensland importers have suggested to me that socks and stockings should be all put in one item, and made dutiable at 15 per cent., except that knitted woollen goods, which can be made in Australia, should be dutiable at. 25 per cent. I regard the rates proposed by the Ministeras too high, and shall therefore support the suggested amendment of the honorable member for Grey.
.- The rates proposed by the Treasurer are altogether too high in view, of the state of the industry, but the honorable gentleman is absolutely ignorant of the position of affairs. That is a strong declaration, but if he objects to it I invite him to justify his proposals. Probably, as on other occasions, he will take no notice of my challenge, because he is not prepared to take the action which I suggest. He knows nothing at all about these matters, and, as he gives the Committee no information, I feel bound to put before it the findings arrived at by the free-trade section of the Tariff Commission on the sworn evidence which they heard on this subject.
– We all have copies of the Commission’s reports.
– No. 66 Bourke-street ‘ has been remarkable for the protectionist ideas with which it has been associated, but the honorable member is unable to justify these duties. I invited him last night to justify other duties when the Treasurer was unable to do so.
– The honorable member has been sufficiently insulting.
– I do not wish to be insulting, but I am bound to be outspoken, so that the Committee and the country may know exactly how matters stand. The Treasurer cannot have read the recommendations and conclusions of the free-trade section of the Tariff Commission, because, had he done so, he would not have made the proposals which have been put before us. On this subject they found that -
The requests’ for higher duties on woollen socks and stockings were largely based on the alleged industrial disabilities in Australia compared with importing countries. When, however, specific proof of this was sought, the Commis sion was supplied with the usual cut-and-dried general statements regarding ‘ wages and hours of labour. These, on cross-examination, were supplemented with statements which, on account of their conflicting nature, are of little value a-s evidence.
A remarkable feature of the investigations of the Tariff Commission was that a very large number of manufacturers who were examined by us, and complained that they laboured under certain disabilities, absolutely failed to justify their position. The Minister should be prepared to explain the reason for the proposed increase. If the Committee intends to vote for this duty- on a statement made by the Treasurer, which really throws no light on the subject, our position as legislators is a hopeless one. Surely honorable members on all sides areentitled to know why they are asked to vote for this duty. Is any honorable member prepared to support a position taker* up by the Treasurer, which he himself cannot justify. He knows nothing about the matter, and even with the assistance of his officers, who are at hand, can offer no reasonable explanation for his proposal. The treatment meted out to me in this connexion as a member of the Tariff Commission is on all-fours with that which all the free-trade members of it have received at the hands of the ‘Ministry. Are the reports of the Commission, the preparation of which involved such a great expenditure of time and money, to be set aside as so much waste paper? It appears that they are. Like the Treasurer, the Postmaster-General, who certainly ought to be able to offer some justification for the position taken up by the Government, as well as the Minister of Trade and Customs and the Government Whip, remain silent. Have we reached a stage in our history when a Ministry, by mere force of numbers, can carry any proposal that it chooses to make without offering any reason for it? The report of the free-trade section of the Commission continues -
One witness declared that the wages cost was about 50 per cent, of the value of the goods - an obvious exaggeration -
Any honorable member who knows anything about the hosiery trade will recognise that it was an obvious exaggeration -
Another stated that it cost 16 per cent, more to manufacture here than in England, and 12 per cent, of this total was accounted for by the difference in wages. The same witness said that the proportion of wages to output in his factory was roughly about 25 per cent. A third witness said that if his firm sold ^3,000 of goods, wages would approximately run to ^1,000.
In the absence of carefully prepared figures and solid facts, which would probably have been readily adduced in support of the request for higher duties had they been available, we are obliged to deduce the labour cost in this, as in many other cases, from definite statements made in relation to other phases of the general subject……..
Taking the manufacturers’ price of the lower class goods referred to as averaging 8s. per dozen and that of the superior as 15s., and the weekly wages of the worker as 15s., which is a. decidedly nigh figure (see Factory Inspectors’’ reports), a simple calculation shows that the labour cost of knitting these goods works out in respect of both classes at 12 per cent. If we allow another 6 per cent, for the additional labour of finishing, &c, -it will be seen that the present duty almost covers the entire labour cost.
Since the old duty almost covered the entire labour cost, how can it be contended that a higher duty is necessary ? The principal claim made by those engaged in various industries was that duties should be imposed to make good the difference between the labour cost in Australia and in the competing countries. If the Treasurer is not prepared to show that a higher duty than 12 per cent, is necessary to cover the difference between the labour cost in connexion with this industry in Australia and other countries, we . shall, be fully justified in voting for a lower duty than he proposes. The Opposition desire that Australian industries shall flourish and prosper; but surely we insult the workers of Australia when we suggest that even if we protect them to the extent necessary to make good the difference between the wages cost, they cannot compete with the workers in England and Europe. In view of these facts, the Committee should seriously consider whether itis necessary to impose this duty.
.- The honorable member for Illawarra has quoted from the report of the free-trade section of the Tariff Commission, but has failed to deal with the other side of the question. In 1906, woollen socks and stockings of the value of £31 1,41 2 were imported into Australia, whilst our importations of cotton socks and stockings were valued at £150,000. In round figures, £460.000 worth of cotton and woollen socks and stockings were imported last year. The honorable member for Illawarra, like other honorable members, is unable to state what is the output of the hosiery trade in Australia. He has referred us to the report of the Chief Inspector of Factories in Victoria, and assuming that it correctly sets forth the rates of wages paiid in the trade, and that the employes work all the year round, we find that the whole of the operatives in this State last year received £.15,000 by way of wages. If the wages cost represents one-third of the total cost of production, then the output of hosiery in this State last year was of the value of only £45,000.
– These men were engaged in making certain apparel, as well as socks and stockings.
– That would show that the output of socks was even less than J have suggested. Victorian hosiery manu facturers alone appeared before the Com mission, and I do not know that the industry is in existence in the other States.I understand that at least 95 per cent, of the woollen hosiery used in Australia today is imported. The Treasurer was illadvised in reducing the duty on imports from the United Kingdom to 20 per cent. That will practically be the duty collected on all woollen hosiery imported into Australia, since out of a total importation of £3.11,000 worth last vear, £305,000 worth came from Great Britain. On the other hand, two-thirds of our importations of cotton socks and stockings came from Germany. I trust that the duty will not be further reduced. . There is another aspect of this question which . certainly deserves consideration, and particularly in connexion with the new protection proposals. I refer to the fact that warehousemen and large shopkeepers in Victoria import large quantities of yarn for distribution amongst home workers. This results in some of the worst sweating conditions that could possibly exist in any industry.
– In Victoria?
– Yes, in Victoria. We have had a case before the Law Courts in connexion with home workers in the clothing trade, in which there is a” Wages Board, and it was proved that the work was being done at less than the Wages Board rates, but there is no Wages Board in connexion with the industry under discussion.
– Is there any reason for that ?
– The reason is the presence of a number of honorable members in the State Legislature who would probably support the right honorable member, opposing the introduction of Wages Boards into every trade.
– Is there any necessity for that sort of personality ?
– Even if there were a Wages Board, there is always much greater difficulty in seeing that a determination is carried . out in the case of home workers than there is in the case of factory workers. We ought to give fair protection to this industry, and, if possible, see that, under the new protection proposals, the. workers obtain their share of the benefits. This particular line is bound up with the question of varns.
– Get the Government to collect the Excise now.
– I wish we could; and I hope we shall have the support of the honorable member in this connexion.
– Have our support to close up factories?
– Yes, if fair wages are not paid. On the hustings I said I would do my best to obtain protection for the workers ; and I hope that in this industry the workers as well as the manufacturer will be considered- Consideration to the workers can only be obtained, as the right honorable member for East Sydney admitted the other night, bv means of some such proposal as that suggested by the Labour Party.
– How do we protect industries if we shut factories up?
– The factories will not be shut up for very long. I regret that the Treasurer has decreased the protection on the item under our consideration, seeing that at least 95 per cent, of the woollen hosiery used in Australia is imported. We are in the dark as to the quantity produced locally, compared with the quantity imported ; and a proper conclusion as to the operation of protection cannot be arrived at until we have the figures. The Treasurer’s proposal will leave the industry in a slightly improved position; and I hope that honorable members will not support any suggestion to reduce the duty still further.
.- According to the Statistical Register of Victoria, there were in 1889, in Victoria, four factories and 109 employes; in 1900, there were five factories and 146 employes; and in 1901, there were five factories and 131 employes. The last was the year when the Federal Tariff was brought into existence. But what do we find in 1905 under the smaller duties of the Federal Tariff? There were then sixteen factories with 374 employes. Under the circumstances, what justification is there for any increased duty ? It is perfectly clear from the figures that the decreased duties have given those concerned the opportunity to develop their industry, and I think we are entitled to some explanation from the Treasurer as to his reasons for the proposed increase.
.- There is a phase of this question which is not disclosed in the figures relating to the number of hands employed in the factories.
There has recently come into operation a system of employing home workers who are sold knitting machines on a similar plan to that on which sewing machines are sold. Advertisements appear in the newspapers announcing that agents are prepared to sell these machines; and, in consequence, there is a considerable amount of home work done, though how much we do not know. One of the machines on the market is sold only in Melbourne, but they find their way to New South Wales, and there some who have become expert in the manufacture of socks give lessons to others who are desirous of doing home work. I think, with the honorable member for Yarra, that probably, under this system, a good deal of sweating goes on. Those who sell the machines are supposed to make their profit entirely out of the sale, but they have also a profit on the yarn which they supply to the home workers. The advertisements declare that a woman can make £1 a week by purchasing one of the machines ; and purchasers, if they choose, may sell their work direct to the warehouses. This system is being pushed by advertisement, and is introducing a business quite apart from the factories ; and, under the circumstances, it is impossible to obtain any figures as to the output. For instance, in one of the big buildings in Melbourne the machines are sold in an office upstairs, and in an adjoining room the machines are working. Although the Victorian Factory Inspector exercises supervision, there can be no doubt but that the real object is the disposal of machines with the idea of giving home work. One of the most advanced knitting machines costs £IO-IOS., while others are sold at £.] 10s., on terms, as are sewing machines. This system, of course, may not be a bad thing if fair prices are paid ; indeed, it might prove very advantageous to many persons. But we know that where work is done at home there is a tendency, in the present struggle for existence, to cut down prices ; and there are many, notably women, willing to work all hours, day and night, to keep body and soul together. This is a phase of the question of which we ought not to lose sight. I do not say whether or not a duty would better the conditions, but the idea of a duty is, of course, to enable people to get better prices for their work. I do not know that the machines have so far come into use in this way to any large extent, but it is a branch of industry that is certain to grow, in view of the fact that it gives women an opportunity to work at home. A considerable number/of course, are already at work in this way, and they ought to be added to the number employed in the factories.
– I think that the Treasurer’s proposal is a fair compromise, which practically falls in line with the recommendation of the free-trade section of the Tariff Commission. On item 397, n.e.i., it is provided that there shall be a duty of 5 per cent, on hose yarn ; and the proposal of the Treasurer practically gives what has been asked for. We may congratulate the Treasurer on falling into line with the views of honorable members who do not. desire prohibition, but reasonable protection. I hope the Treasurer will take the same attitude in regard to other items, and so assist the speedy passing of the Tariff.
.- In reference to the remarks of the honorable member for Darling, I may say that the free-trade section of the Tariff Commission suggested that any falling off in the production of the factories was to be accounted for by the labour of the home workers, who have been equipped with machines and materials at the instance of warehousemen desirous of saving factory proprietors’ profits. If the proposal of the Treasurer be carried, it will give those warehousemen of Flinders-lane, York-street, and elsewhere, a further opportunity of fleecing the factories, the public, and the people who work for them ; and this is a matter which we ought seriously to consider in connexion with this duty.
.- The honorable member for Illawarra quoted the Victorian Statistical Register to show that the number of operatives in this industry had increased between the years 1902 and 1905. It is well known that that was a period of prosperity and improvement in trade generally. The honorable member did not read from that portion of the Tariff Commission’s report which shows that the imports of cotton socks rose from £93,000 worth to £150,000 worth between 1903 and 1906, while the imports of woollen hosiery increased in value from £187,000 to £311,000. In other words, the imports increased in a greater ratio than the number of workers, clearly demonstrating that the measure of protection afforded to the industry was not sufficient.
.- The honorable member for Illawarra implied that the introduction of these machines for the manufacture of socks and stockings had led to sweating.
– I never uttered a word about sweating.
– The honorable . member suggested that the manufacturers gave out work and thus got it done at a reduced price by means of the home worker.
– Let the honorable member confine his attention to the Victorian mills. What are they doing?
– I know a widow who attempted to earn a livelihood by teaching music. She was unsuccessful, and she then procured one of these machines, by the use of which she is able to earn £3 weekly, and thus to support her family. If a woman can earn that amount, surely the industry is one which should be assisted, seeing that it may prove so helpful to widows and others who ave in necessitous circumstances.
– If, under the operation of the old rate of duty, a widow is able to earn £3 per week at home, is there any necessity for so large an increase in the duty as that which is proposed ?
– I did not deal with the question of the increased duty at all.
– But incidentally the honorable member supplied us with the best proof that this is not one of the strangled industries. If by means of these machines women can earn as much as £3 per week at home, it seems to me that the industry is doing verv well, and does not need the assistance of the high protective duties proposed by the Treasurer.
– The honorable member for Balaclava did not tell us the number of hours worked by the widow whose case he cited.
– No. Is the honorable member for Balaclava able to inform us whether she worked only eight hours per day? I have heard nothing during the course of this debate which would warrant the imposition of the excessively high duties proposed. I think that those indicated by the honorable member for Grey are quite sufficient for all purposes. Certainly thev afford any protection that may -be requisite to make the industry prosper.
Amendment agreed to.
.- I would point out that under the old Victorian
Tariff cotton socks and stockings were admitted free, whilst woollen socks and stockings were dutiable at 25 per cent., yarns being free. Under the New South Wales Tariff both lines were admitted free, [n Queensland, hosiery was dutiable at 15 per cent., and yarns were upon the free list or 15” per cent: In South Australia, the former line was dutiable at 20 per cent., and the latter was admitted free or at 15 per cent. ‘The protectionist section of the Tariff ‘Commission recommended the imposition of a duty of 25 per cent, upon woollens either with or without silk, and of 15 per cent, upon the other lines.. I think, therefore, that my proposal will be in conformity with the conditions that existed in the various States prior to Federation,, whilst closely approximating to Ihe recommendation of the protectionist section of the Tariff Commission. I move -
That after the words “30 per cent.” the words “ and on and after 14th November, 1907 (General Tariff), ad val. 20 per cent.,” be inserted.
.- It seems to me that upon this item we have an opportunity of encouraging that best possible form of industry amongst our wo”men folk, namely, home work. I happen to know that the remarks of the honorable member for Balaclava in regard to women working these machines are substantially correct. Throughout New South Wales our women folk are employing them. But their complaint is that they cannot dispose of their product - the socks and stockings which they make - on account of the retail system which obtains, and because of the introduction of foreign goods. The regular channels of supply are so closed to them that it is difficult for them Co obtain an entrance to the market. The merchants’ are in the habit of dealing directly with the importers, and will not depart from their business routine in order to oblige these women who are in a position to supply socks and stockings at less than the importers’ price. The honorable member for Parramatta, with characteristic facility has seized upon the fact that one woman earns .£3 per week by the use of the home knitting machine for the purpose of proving that the industry does not need assistance. If it could not be shown that any one was making these goods, the honorable member would have argued from that that a duty was not necessary. But I would point out that there may be peculiar circumstances which enable the individual in question to earn that sum. Possibly she happens to be in the good graces of the merchants who, out of their kindness of heart, have broken away from the established rule by providing her with employment. That is an argument in favour of making it compulsory that our local traders shall deal with those’ persons in our midst who make these socks and stockings. This is the simplest form of industry that we can protect. To embark upon it does not involve any large outlay. Further, there is no danger of a combination being formed amongst the thousands of persons who use these machines. The great factor wanting in connexion with this industry is the exhibition of that patriotism which induces persons touse goods of local origin.
– I will guarantee that the honorable member is wearing imported socks.
– I challenge the honorable member for Parramatta to produce as many home-made socks as I can. I have been in the habit of wearing them. I know that they are cheaper than is the imported article, and that they last a good deal longer. I challenge the honorable member to show that he .has been equally patriotic.
.- An instructive commentary .upon the high duty levied upon socks under the old Victorian Tariff is furnished by the evidence of a manufacturer who appeared before the Tariff Commission. In answer to questions 51,751 to 51,754, and also to questions 61J45-6, Mr. Woolnough, in explanation of the fact that cotton socks are more largely used in Victoria than in any other State, said -
The great popularity ‘of cotton socks in Victoria results from the old Victorian Tariff, which, if I remember rightly, imposed a duty of 27^ per cent, on woollen socks, while cotton socks were free……
From that does it not appear that the protective duty, which was intended to develop woollen sock making, only drove the people to utilizing imported cotton socks ? - Yes : I do not think there is any doubt of that. It made the woollen sock clearer, and, the cotton sock being cheap, people used it.
The effect of high duties in Victoria, the home ‘ of protection and of coddled and sweated industries, has been to make the public buy cotton instead of woollen socks, because thev are the cheaper.
– Reference has been made to the duties on these articles in force elsewhere, and, to prevent misunderstanding, I wish to point out to the Committee that the rate proposed by the honorable member for Adelaide was 25 per cent., whilst the old Victorian rate was 25 per cent., and the New Zealand rate is 20 per cent., and the Canadian rates 25, 32½, and 35 per cent.
– But the manufacturers themselves asked for 25 per cent. only.
Question - That after the words “ 30 per cent.” the words “and on and after 14th November, 1907 (General Tariff), ad val. 20 per cent.” (Mr. Poynton’s amendment) be inserted - put. The Committee divided.
Majority … … 24
Question so resolved in the negative.
Amendment (by Sir William Lyne) agreed to -
That after the words “ 30 per cent.” the words “ and on and after 14th November, 1907 (General Tariff), ad val. 25 per cent.,” and that after the words “25 per cent.” the words . “ and on and after 14th November, 1907 (United Kingdom), ad val. 20 per cent.,” be inserted.
Item, as amended, agreed to.
Item 134 (Socks and Stockings, Cotton), and item 135 (Socks and Stockings, Silk) negatived.
Item 136. Tents and Tarpaulins, Sails, and Flags : -
– The materials of which tents, tarpaulins, and sails are made are free under item 130.
– Cotton piece goods are not free, and tents are largely made of cotton.
– Most of the materials of which tents are made are free.
-What preference is it proposed to give to the United Kingdom ?
– As the item is so small, I do not propose to give any preference. The proposed duty will give encouragement to the manufacture of tents, tarpaulins, and sails here.
– They are now made here in large quantities.
– The duty will offer still greater inducements to their manufacture here.
.- The Minister ought to explain why, after the protectionist section of the Tariff Commission had recommended a duty of 5 per cent., he proposed a duty of 15 per cent.?
– The free-trade section of the Tariff ‘ Commission recommended a duty of 15 per cent.
– The Government have not taken notice of the recommendations of the free-trade section.
– We have done so on this occasion.
– By . reducing the duty on cotton piece goods by 5 per cent., we have already given assistance to the local makers of tents, tarpaulins, and sails ; because there are more tents made of cotton than of anything else. If the Minister in originally imposing a duty of 15 . per cent, thought that a fair margin would thus be allowed the manufacturer, he should be prepared now to reduce the item by at least 5 per cent., since the duty 011 the raw material has been reduced.
– It is only a small item.
– But the protectionist section of the Tariff Commission must have had some reason for recommending that the duty should be only 5 per cent.
– Let it go.
– I think that the Treasurer might agree to let the item go. When the raw material of the local manufacturer was not free, only £142 was paid by way of duty on these goods. This shows that the great bulk of those used in Australia are locally made. The manufacturers have now secured a. reduction of the duty on their raw material, and I fail to see why the Minister should not agree to reduce the duty to 10 per cent, and 5 petcent., under which rates those engaged in the trade in Australia would have more protection than they enjoyed under the old Tariff.
Item agreed to.
Item 137. Trimmings and Ornaments n.e.i. for Bonnets, Hats, Shoes, and other attire, not being in part or wholly of gold or silver; including Buckles: Clasps; Slides; Buttons; Badges n.e.i.; Fringes n.e.i.; Braids n.e.i.; Piping; Gimp n.e.i.; Crowns and Bandeaux for Hats; Natural, and Imitation Birds and Wings; Tinsel Cloth; Tinsel Belting and Thread; Fallings ; Ruffling ; Pleating ; and Ruchings, ad val. (General Tariff), 25 per cent. ; (United Kingdom), 15 per cent.
.- Theusual difference between the- duty on imports from the United Kingdom and those in the General Tariff is 5 per cent., but in this case we have a difference of 10 per cent. Under the old Tariff these goods were dutiable at 25 per cent, and 15 per cent., whilst some of them were free. The protectionist section of the Tariff Commission recommended a duty of 15- per cent., whilst the free-trade section proposed a duty of 10 per cent. Will the Treasurer explain why the duties have been increased to 25 per cent, and 15 per cent. ? I move -
That after the’words “25 per cent.” the words “ and on and after 14th November, 1907 (General Tariff), ad val. 15 per cent.,” be inserted.
If this amendment be carried I shall move that *the duty on goods from the United Kingdom be reduced to 10 per cent.
– There are several reasons for the difference of 10 per cent, between the general Tariff and that relating to the United Kingdom, the principal being that the balance of trade under this item isagainst Great Britain. We are making an attempt by means of a substantial preference to divert some of the present trade’ into another channel. Under the first Federal Tariff the principal duties on the goods included in this item were 25 percent, and 15 per cent., although some of them were free. We have practicallyadopted the old duties.
.- The Committee is losing sight of the fact that nearly all the goods mentioned in this item* are required for manufacturing purposes, and are not made within the Commonwealth. They are the raw materials for the milliner, and should not be subject tothese high duties. I hope that the Treasurer will accept the amendment.
.- The trade has asked that a number of lines be added to the item and made free. Most of the goods enumerated in it are used for manufacturing purposes, and the Sydney Chamber of Commerce suggest that these should be free, or at most pay a revenue duty of, say,10 per cent. They suggest that-
The following braids (not for ornamentation) should be free - plain, mohair, llama, worsted, silk, lacing, Milan, cotton, vandyke, cordon,. French, Lacet, Russia, French, Feather stitch, crochet, antimacassar, corded and brush edging, and similar edgings used for the bottom of dresses to resist the friction of the street.
.- I hope that the Government proposal will be accepted. The honorable member for Oxley said that these goods were the raw material of the milliners. That is true, but we should not lose sight of the fact that a large profit is made on trimmed hats and bonnets, and since we have alreadv this afternoon reduced duties which will involve a loss of revenue amounting to- £200,000 per annum, I hope that the amendment will not be agreed to. We should not lose sight of the revenue aspect of the question.
Item agreed to.
Item 138. Bayonets, Swords, Scabbards, and attachments; embroidered Cap Peaks; Waist Belts; Medals; and all Accoutrements, Badges,. Buttons, Braid, and Lace for Naval, Military, and Militia Uniforms mav be delivered freeunder Departmental by-laws.
– I move -
That the words “ embroidered cap peaks” be left out.
The words proposed to be omitted will then go under Division XVI.
– No duties are mentioned.
– If this amendment be agreed to, I propose that the rest of the item shall be placed on the free list.
Colonel FOXTON (Brisbane) [9.13].- I should like to know why waist belts are included in this item, whilst cross belts are not. Both are made of the same material.
.- The honorable member for Bass told us a few moments ago that an item relating to ladies’ millinery was a good revenue one. In this case we are dealing with an item relating really to millinery for men. A good deal of this gold embroidery, and so forth, is neither more nor less than man millinery for members of our Volunteer Forces. If we are looking for revenue, here is an item to which we might very well direct attention. On female millinery there is a thumping duty of 25 per cent., and I think we might have an equally thumping duty on man millinery. The soldier who is most embroidered is usually the least able in time of trouble.
– The Government have to pay for the embroidery.
– That is not so; the officers have to pay for it themselves.
– The bulk of these articles are imported bv the Government.
– The items referred to by the honorable member for Flinders are, under departmental regulation, made free, but there are other items of personal adornment for many of our drawing-room soldiers, who can well afford to pay for the luxury.
Amendment agreed to.
Amendments (by Sir William Lyne) agreed to.
That after the word “belts” the words “cross belts” be inserted.
That the words’ badges “ be left out ; that the word “free,” in the last line, be left out; and that the word “ free “ be inserted in the first and second columns.
Item, as amended, agreed to.
Item 139 (Artificial plants, &c.) agreed to.
Item 140. Wigs; hairnets; and articles of natural or imitation hair, ad val., 30 per cent.
– I think this is a cruel impost; and the Treasurer, if he has no consideration for the public outside, might have had consideration for some of his own immediate followers. Under all the circumstances, I think we might agree to a reduction of this duty. Under the old Tariff the duty was 20 per cent., and that was the highest duty recommended by the Tariff Commission. I move -
That after the words “30 per cent.” the words “ and on and after 14th November, 1907, ad val. 20 per cent.,” be added.
Amendment agreed to.
Postponed item 121. Gloves n.e.i. of all materials, including mittens and flesh gloves (General Tariff), ad val. 30 per cent. ; (United Kingdom), 20 per cent.
– Under the old . Tariff, bandages, elastic stockings, leggings, knee caps, wristlets, and other surgical appliances were free ; but in the present . Tariff these have been made dutiable. I should like the Treasurer, before we come to that portion of the Tariff in which these articles have been placed, to give us some reason for the change, and also tell us if they are made in Australia.
– I propose to divide this item. Honorable members will see that the old Tariff was 20 per cent., and that that is the duty recommended by the A division of the Tariff Commission. I propose to substitute for the item as it appears the following -
Gloves made from kid (General Tariff), 30 per cent. ; (United Kingdom), 20 per cent.
This will bring the duty down considerably below that in the old Tariff on the latter class of goods. The imports from the United Kingdom, in 1905, amounted to £100,070 in value, and from foreign countries to. £114,256 in value.
– Were those the manufactures of Great Britain?
– They were imported from Great Britain. In 1906 the imports of gloves from Great Britain were valued at £80,981, and those from foreign countries at £141,698. I therefore propose that the duty” levied upon these articles under the general Tariff shall be 30 per cent., and that under the Tariff of the United Kingdom, 20 per cent.
– I would suggest to the Minister the desirableness of inserting after the word “materials” the words ‘ ‘ except Lisle, cotton, cashmere, and knitted wool.” These are the materials of which all the cheaper gloves are made, and the adoption of my suggestion would still leave kid gloves subject to the higher rate of duty.
.- It seems to me that the duties proposed by the Treasurer are altogether too high. Even1 under the operation of a duty of 20 per cent., a revenue of £46,000 was collected upon gloves. I think, therefore, that we should adhere to the old rate of duty.
– Upon reflection, I do not purpose proceeding with the amendment which I have already outlined, but I intend to substitute for it a new proposal, which I think will better accord with the wishes of the Committee. I therefore move -
That all the words after “gloves,” line 1, be left out, with a view to insert in lieu thereof the follo wing words : - “(a) Men’s gloves, of all kinds and materials (General Tariff), ad val. 30 per cent. ; (United Kingdom), 20 per cent.
Gloves n.e.i. of all kinds and materials, including mittens (General Tariff),’ aa val. 15 per cent. ; (United Kingdom), 10 per cent.”
– The present proposal of the Treasurer is a decided improvement upon its predecessor. But I should like to direct his attention to the fact that 30 per cent, is a very high rate to impose upon men’s gloves. We must recollect that, no matter what duty we may levy upon them, some of these gloves will still have to be imported from abroad. They cannot be manufactured in the Old Country, and some of them will require to be imported from Germany, France, and other parts of the Continent. Their manufacture has been specialized, and, under the circumstances, I ask the Treasurer whether it is worth while to impose such an excessive rate as 30 per cent, upon them.
– I have allowed a large margin in both cases.
– I should be glad to extend even a larger preference to the Mother Country, if these gloves could be manufactured there. But since they cannot, where is the use of piling up duties upon goods which must be imported from the Continent, in spite of whatever we may do to exclude them. I suggest that the duty proposed under the general Tariff should be somewhat reduced.
.- I heard an interjection just now to the effect that men’s gloves are a fair subject for revenue. I hold that opinion too. The Treasurer has made a very graceful concession in that he has allowed the duty on gloves worn by women to be reduced by 10 per cent, under the general Tariff, and 5 per cent, under the Tariff for Great Britain. The honorable gentleman is pretty wijy. He thinks that his action in this connexionwill go a long way towards capturing the women’s vote. it will be recollected that some time ago the honorable member for Robertson bombarded the Treasurer with questions as to whether gloves were made in Australia. The first reply of the honorable . gentleman was that they were, but later on he had to admit that they were not. I think that the Treasurer is justi-. fied in endeavouring to secure a large amount of revenue from gloves which are worn by men. These are sold to-day as a matter of fashion-
– As a matter of comfort.
– The fashion of wearing gloves is a dying one, and those who wish to indulge in it will not be deterred from so doing because of a slightly increased dutv.
.- Apparently the Treasurer would like to make it an offence for persons to wear gloves. But my chief concern is for those who sell these articles, and who feel the incidence of this dutv very keenly. If the impost is intended’ to be merely revenueproducing, all I have to say is that the gloves which are sold in Australia will produce a very small revenue indeed. It would only be a graceful act on the part of the Treasurer to reduce the duty upon men’s gloves. I also wish to know whether boxing gloves will be included under this item? We know that Australians are a sporting people, and certainly the manly sport of boxing should be encouraged. Every form of manly sport should receive our encouragement, and consequently I am opposed to the imposition of a high duty such as is proposed unon this item.
.- I rise for the purpose of correcting the statement of the honorable member for Parramatta. He has affirmed that . gloves are not being made in Great Britain.
– I did not make any such statement.
– Unfortunately gloves are being made in Great Britain under sweated conditions. Men’s kid gloves are being manufactured there for is. 9d. per dozen.
Amendment agreed to.
Item, as amended, agreed to.
Postponed item 122. Hats, Caps, and Bonnets -
Of all descriptions and materials, n.e.i., including Forms and Pull-over Hoods and Shapes, and Frames n.e.i., ad val. (General Tariff), 35 per cent. ; (United Kingdom), 30 per cent.
.- I trust that the Minister will agree to an amendment of this item, which would make it read as follows -
Fur Felt Hats, in any stage of manufacture, per dozen (General Tariff), 25s. ; (United Kingdom), 20s.
As a rule honorable members take more interest in the industries with which they are or have been connected than in other industries, and, because of my connexion with the hat-making industry, I take more interest in it than in any other. Practically every European country, with two exceptions, . has agreed to fixed rates of duty on imported hats.
– Can the honorable member give the average prices of imported hats?
– It would be impossible for me to get the prices at which most of the warehouses import, but I can give the price of ait least one of the lines which would be dealt with at the higher of the two rates I propose.
– How do the honorable member’s proposals work out ad valorem”?
– On very low-grade hats, the rates will be slightly higher than those to which we have agreed for apparel and attire, but on hats of average quality they will not be higher than those rates.
– How do they compare with the rates proposed by the Minister ?
– They are an increase on those rates. But, as no doubt the members of the Tariff Commission will admit, more is spent on felt hats than on apparel and attire. The hat duties imposed by the last Tariff have been referred to as prohibitive; but the report of the protectionist section of the Tariff Commission shows that they have not prevented importations.
– Why does the honorable member propose the adoption of fixed rates?
– To prevent the flooding of the market with end-of-the-season goods at slaughter prices.
– It is intended to get nearer to prohibition?
– The rates which I propose will, if adopted, prevent persons from importing hats from Great Britain at less than they are produced for in that country. As our season commences when that of countries in the northern hemisphere comes to an end, we get their end-of-the-season goods. There are in Great Britain, as I stated when the last Tariff was under discussion, about eighty manufacturers of felt hats, with an output ranging from 500 dozen to 1,000 dozen hats per week. He is a pretty clever man who can work to within a week of his turnover during a season, and consequently there are always a number of end-of-the-season goods to be disposed of, and the result is they are dumped here very often.
– The imports of the last three months were greater by £40,000 than those of the corresponding period of last year.
– Honorable members generally have complained that only manufacturers went before the Tariff Commission, but in this industry the workmen did come forward, and give evidence. Let me read an extract from the North Cheshire Herald of March, 1907, the newspaper which has the largest circulation” in the hatmanufacturing districts of Great Britain. Denton is one of the villages where most of the hat-making is done -
The present activity of the industry is due to the English Manufacturer having an unusual opportunity for sending large shipments of Hats to the Colonies. Australia and Canada are among his biggest customers abroad, and the opening for an exceptional amount of business being done with them has presented itself recently, with the result that for months Denton has been a very busy place, with work going on at full pressure in all ils factories.
Possibly English makers are not securing much larger profits from the boom, for the advance in materials has, of course, affected them, but they are strengthening their position in the markets^ of the world, and even if they cannot show a* profit at all, it is better to lose a little money and keep machinery running than to lose a great deal through having plant standing idle. Then, too, the use they make of the present chance, will influence their trade for some time, and in the end no doubt they will obtain substantial benefit from it.
It is there admitted that, although the mills are running full time and trade is booming, probably no profits are being made ; the surplus stock is sent to Australia and Canada, to the advantage of the British manufacturers, but to the injury of the manufacturers here.
– The British hat manufacturers, like most others that we hear about, seem to be living on their losses.
– The importations of hats have increased, and last year more felt hats were imported than were manufactured in Australia. There were more imported from Italy alone than would have kept the Denton Mills going full time for twelve months. It has been said many times that the woollen mills cannot supply their orders, but that cannot be said of the hat mills, because during the last six months the journeymen at the Denton Mills have not averaged thirty-two hours per week, while in other factories a similar state of things has existed, on an average not more than four days per week having been worked.
– Still, the Denton Mills pay good dividends.
– That fact has been spoken of as a reason for not increasing the duties, and even for reducing them. But, according to the Draper of Australasia -
The Adelaide Hat Manufacturing Company held their first annual meeting of shareholders on 25th September, Mr. C. H. Goode, chairman of directors, presiding. The statement of the accounts, embracing the period from 9th February to 30th June, showed that a profit of £S6 3s.9d. had been made.
That was the profit on a capital of about £20,000. I admit that the Denton Mills have paid a dividend, and I am glad of it; but I do not think the profits of the other six Australian mills, taken together, are . equal to those of the Denton Mills.
– Because the Denton Mills have practically a monopoly.
– They do not do onethird of the trade.
– They do the bulk of it.
– The honorable member is strong on statistics, and if he investigates the subject he will find that my statement is correct.
– Perhaps the honorable member includes the straw hat trade?
– No; I am dealing only with felt hats. According to the Customs statistics, the men’s, women’s, boys’, and children’s felt hats imported into Australia last year were worth £129,000.
– Does not that include materials for making up?
– I think it is the value of hats alone. There is a large trade done in ladies’ felt hats. The total duty paid was £38,000, and about £170,000 would have to be paid altogether before the hats could be landed here, so that, allowing for charges of one kind and another, the warehouse value of the hafs would be about , £200,000. Unfortunately we have no bureau of statistics, but I am confident that £150,000 worth of felt hats was not made in Australia last year.
– What factories are there in addition to the Denton Mills?
– The Stockport Mills, the Austral Mills, the Union Mills, the Fairfield Park Mills, the Adelaide Mills, Anderson’s Sydney factory, and a small factory at Leichardt; but, as I have said,
I believe that the Denton Mills have made more profit than all the others put together. No doubt some of those who are in the industry thought that there was a gold mine in it; but now they would be glad . to get out of it again if they could recover the capital which they have sunk. Honorable members have spoken of the large profits to be made in the industry; but if the profits were large would not other mills have started? There are not more hat factories in Australia now . than there Vere before the duty was raised to 30 per cent.
– One factory has been closed since.
– But another has been started. The two Adelaide mills amalgamated, so that the number of factories is the same now as it was when, the Kingston Tariff was passed.
– What are the ad valorem equivalents of the fixed rates which the honorable member proposes?
– On. the average wool hats imported into Australia the fixed rates would equal from 35 to 40 per cent. ad valorem. I intend to give the prices which Woodrow charges to retailers here, and the prices at which he compels the retailers to sell.
– The wool hats are cheaper than felt hats.
– Yes. I have heard soft and hard felt hats referred to as made of different materials, but the material is the same in each case, though the proof or stiffening is of a different strength.
– If the honorable member’s proposal is carried it will be pretty hard to get a new hat.
– When the first Federal Tariff was under consideration the honorable member for Dalley said that the imposition of a duty of 30 per cent, would cause prices to increase. As a matter of fact, hats in New South Wales - and. indeed, in Australia generally - are as cheap after the imposition of the Federal duty as they were before.
– That is not so.
– Not a warehousemanor retailer can show that hats in New South Wales to-day are dearer than they were when they came in free.
– The wearers can.
Mr.TUDOR.- Had the retailers been able to make out a case against the imposition of this duty - had they been able to show that the imposition of the duty had caused prices to increase - they would have done so. The hat-making industry is natural to Australia. We produce wool and fur of first class quality, and have workmen equal to those in the trade in Other countries.
– Whv is it that such an Unfortunate prejudice exists against the Colonial article?
– I do not know, but I would remind the Committee that we have heard honorable members in this House declare that Australians are a decadent race.
– Is it a fact that the Government have accepted the honorable member’s amendment?
– I hope that they will do so.If they are as wise as I believe them to be they will.
– If they wish to retain the honorable member’s support.
– I shall support the protective features of this Tariff whether my amendment be agreed to or rejected. I am not a one-eyed protectionist, nor do I take up the position of the honorable member, who has said in this House : “ I am. after a bit of loot for my electorate, since other honorable members are doing the same. I am going to vote for the iron bounty, because there is’ a shipbuilding yard in my electorate.”
– I say that I am going for it, but do not get it ; whereas the honorable member, although he says nothing on the subject, is going for it all the time.
– I wish to see our industries increase and expand. There is- one matter to which I am loth to refer. A Mr. Lane, an importer and seller of hats, wrote to the Melbourne press a little while ago that Australian . workmen would not hold their own if they were called upon todo the best class of work carried out in an English or an American factory. As a? rule such a statement may be made with some degree of safety since there are not many Australian artisans who could controvert it. Most of our workers are satisfied’ to remain in Australia, and refrain fromtravelling to any extent; but as a journeyman hatter I have held my own in English and American factories. After five years abroad I returned a greater believer in Australia than ever I was before,, and if I lost ray seat in this House tomorrow, I believe I could earn my living once again in the hat mills. The’ Denton HatMills have been denounced on the ground that they refuse to sell direct to the retailers. In that respect they take upthe same position as do the great majority of English factories. They will not serve a retailer, for the reasonthat if they did they would have to make inquiries as to his banking account, and lose a lot of time in doing work which canbe more satisfactorily dealt with bv the warehousemen. When I was in England” I noticed that, according to the trade journals, those in the retail hat trade who failed generally owed a large sum to the manufacturer who served the retailers. Nearly all the English manufacturers do business through the warehouses, who, since they have to supply them- with a number of other lines, are in a better position to trade successfully with the retailers. I do not propose topraise or condemn any factory, but in passing I would mention that Mr. Koz- minsky, of the Austral Hat Mills, who served” direct to the retailers, advertised throughout Australia of his intention to do so, but was, in the end, nearly ruined. The retailers themselves do not care to do .business direct with the manufacturers. Some honorable members of the Opposition have denounced manufacturers who are not prepared to sell direct to the retailers. I should like them to say whether John Darling and Company, who deal largely in wheat, would be prepared to sell a boy 3d. worth of grain for his pigeons, or whether any one would think of applying to Howard Smith and Company for one cwt. of coal. Certain lines of business naturally must be confined to the retail trade, whilst others must be left to the wholesale houses. I propose to compare the prices at which an English firm sells hats in Melbourne with those at which they sell them at Perth.
– They will not let the retailer sell for less than a stipulated price.
– That is so. If a’ Melbourne manufacturer adopted that attitude, there would be a howl of indignation on the part of the Opposition. Let me give some figures from Woodrow’s price list. Their wholesale price for hard hats at Melbourne is gs. 6d. each, or 114s. per dozen, as against 117s. per dozen at Perth. In other words, they charge 3s. per dozen more for the same hats at Perth than they do in Melbourne. The reason for this is that there is no hat factory in Western Australia. It should cost less to ship hats from England to Fremantle than it does fo ship them from England to Melbourne, and I presume that the increased price at which Woodrow’s hats are sold in Western Australia represents the freight which a Melbourne manufacturer would have to pay oh hats shipped from here to Fremantle. The retail price fixed by Woodrow’s for the hats to which I have just referred is 13s. 6d. in Melbourne - or a profit of about 43 per cent. - and 14s. 6d. in Western Australia. The Woodrow’s Dunbar hat - a soft hat - is sold wholesale in Melbourne at ns. 3d., whilst the price at Perth is 12s. The retail price in Melbourne is 15s. 6d., and in Perth 17s. 6d. These figures will - give honorable members some idea of what the people of this State would be subjected to if we were left to the tender mercies of the importers. Those who supplied me with this information requested me not to disclose their names, saying that if I did so, Woodrow’s agent would not supply them. Some honorable members have spoken of the combine in the confectionery trade, and of the treatment the retailers receive from the manufacturers. What have they to say to a statement of this kind? If necessary, I can give the names of my informants in confidence to any honorable member. When the first Federal Tariff was under consideration in the Senate, the late Senator Sir Frederick Sargood said, according to Hansard of 8th May, 1902, page 12405-
In passing, I may say that while the duty in Victoria has been up to 160 per cent., the duty in New Zealand has never been more than 22% per cent., and yet the factories there are doing well. I may add that my firm has just established a very large felt hat factory in New Zealand under the 22^ per cent, duty.”
– That factory is now shut up.
– It is. The secretary of the Tariff Committee of the Australian Association of Felt Hatters, writes -
Referring to the statement that “ The duty in Victoria had been up to 160 per cent.,” I find that from October, 1892, to December 31st, 1900 (the periods when the duties were highest), the value of Felt Hats imported to Victoria was £55,652, and the. amount of duty collected £27,665 ; this is a shade under 50 per cent, ad val., and not 160 per cent. In reference to the rate of duty operating in New Zealand, in 1902 it was 25 per cent, ad val., collected on invoice price with 10 per cent, added, making 27^ per cent, and not 22^ per cent, as Sir F. Sargood stated.
The following extract from the “ Otago Daily Times “ of February 20, 1907, demonstrates the success attained by this firm in New Zealand under a 27^ per cent, duty : - “ The Industrial dispute between the Otago Felt Hatters’ Union and the Felt Hat Manufacturers of Dunedin, was proceeded with in the Arbitration Court at Dunedin. Mr. Scott appeared for the D. H. M. Ltd., Ross & Glendinning, and the Otago Felt Hat Co. (Messrs. Sargood’s). Mr. W. Scott said ‘ that this was a case which should never have been brought before the Court, and certainly not at the present time. Thousands of pounds had been spent and lost in endeavouring to develop the felt hat making industry, which should have been one of the foremost in the colony. That the industry had been disastrous to the employers, was shown by the fact that the Mill in Auckland had to be shut down. In Wellington he would be surprised to hear that there were three men engaged; and in Dunedin, the largest factory (Messrs. Sargood’s) had practically closed its doors, and of the other two Mills, one had never declared a dividend, and had not got anything like the number of men employed to-day they once had, and the other had not declared a dividend for three years. Fifty per cent, of the men who had been engaged in the trade had had to leave New Zealand. The Union had taken a time when the bottom had fallen out of the industry to come to the Court and endeavour to tie the employers down to rates of payment and conditions of labour that would only be justified were the business on a> sound financial basis and thoroughly established.’ “
There is evidence that in New Zealand, under a duty of 25 per cent., plus 2 J per cent., every factory has closed its doors. In Canada, prior to the preferential Tariff with Great Britain, there was a duty of 33 per cent., and Canada is not in the position that we are, seeing that their seasons run concurrently with those of Great Britain. There has never been a felt-hat industry in Canada, or I should have gone there to work as a means of seeing the country. Honorable members may think that in asking for a fixed duty in the case of felt hats I am asking for something exceptional. I would point out, however, that there is a fixed duty on all classes of spirits, the value of which is considerably greater than the value of felt hats.- Then, in the case of wines, tobacco, and cigars, there are fixed duties, and even the freetrade section of the Tariff Commission recommended the abolition of the mixed duty in favour of a fixed duty. Then there is a fixed duty in the case of cigarettes, biscuits, and confectionery, though we know that in the case of the last-mentioned commodity the value varies from 3d. to 3s. per lb. There is nothing like that margin between the lowest quality wool hat and the highest quality wool hat. Further, there are fixed duties in the case of fruits, pickles, sauces, and other commodities ; and I trust the Government will accept the amendment I have suggested. There can be made in Australia any felt hat that can be made in any part of the world, provided the material and trouble is put into the work. I admit that where labour is cheaper, a greater amount of time can be spent over each particular hat. But what wages do Woodrows’ pay ? I had a chance of going to Woodrows’ to work at 33s. per week of 56^ hours, but I did not think the terms good enough. According to the Victorian Factory Inspector’s report, no charge of sweating can be made against this industry. I find that adult males, last year - including the making of caps, which, of course, lowers the average - earned on the average £2 18s. 9d. a week, and females, 19s. lod. a week. I am positive that if this industry had not been established before Federation, a duty of 30 per cent, would not have established it. In support of this, we need look for no further evidence than the fact that not one factory has been started since , the Federal Tariff came into operation. Importations are increasing. In New South Wales, according to the report signed by the Chairman of the
Tariff Commission, there was imported, in 1900, £203,525 worth of hats of all sorts, while last year there was imported £193,727 worth. If honorable members take the trouble to read the reports, they will see that the imports have either remained stationary or have increased. A fixed duty would stop the swamping of the trade at the end of the British season, and before the season here has started. Honorable members for Queensland have voted cheerfully - and I with them - for a duty of 50 per cent, on sugar. The Excise duty enables us to see at once the amount of sugar imported, compared with that manufactured in Australia; and I can say that if the same conditions applied to the sugar industry as apply to the felt-hat industry, we should have found, not 200,000 tons, but only 100,000 tons of sugar manufactured within the Commonwealth. I contend that there ought to be a Statistical Bureau, whereby all information could be obtained, so that we might know precisely where we are in connexion with these matters. Honorable members in the Opposition corner have stated their belief in effective protection, and I think they will admit that there is not effective protection when the imports amount to more than the manufactures within the country. I have said that practically there is no felt-hatting industry in the Southern Hemisphere ex:cepting in the Argentine Republic and in Brazil; but in the former place there is a duty of 50 per cent., and in the latter, of 60 per cent. According to the evidence given in the Arbitration Court in New Zealand, the industry there has been wiped out simply because of inadequate protection. I appeal to honorable members not to allow prejudice to influence them.- but to deal with this industry as they have dealt with other industries. A fixed duty will not increase the cost .to the consumer, and will have the effect of placing the industry on a better footing than in the past. I” move, with a view to submitting the amendment of which I have given notice -
That the words “ 35 per cent.” be left out.
.- I should like to know whether the Treasurer is prepared to accept the amendment moved by the honorable member for Yarra?
– I had a suspicion that that was so, riot only from the remarks of the honorable member for Yarra, but also -from the way in which the amendment has been prepared and circulated. In common with many other- honorable members, I have no technical knowledge of this industry, and certainly no objection can be raised to the speech of the honorable member for Yarra from this point of view, or to his earnestness in the cause of protection. But the honorable member has not yet convinced me as to the necessity for a high duty. I may say that the machinery for the making of hats is admitted free, as are also the leathers used in the industry.
– I think that the machinery should be taxed, as it is in the case of other industries.
– I am merely showing the advantages which the hat-making industry has, and which the honorable member forgot to present to the Committee. The materials used in the making of hats are common in Australia. I understand that the felt hats are of three kinds, namely, the cheap wool hat, the wool hat veneered with fur, and the hat made entirely of rabbit fur. Now, all these materials are of Australian production, and the only weakness in the position, if there be any, is that the demand is not so great as in other parts of the world. But are we to supply a market for the Australian manufacturer by imposing a high duty? The honorable member asked why we did not read the reports of the Tariff Commission. I maysay that I do read the reports of the Tariff Commission. But th.ere are reports by two different sections of that Commission, and I intend to refer to the report of the freetrade section, which contains the following significant words -
Under cross-examination, however, certain statements were made, which, supported by official statistics, enable us to arrive at the following conclusions : -
That the operation of the Commonwealth Tariff has neither been harmful to the industry as a whole, nor any particular portion of it, in Australia, except that it may have slightly curtailed profits by the imposition of duties on materials which in some States were free prior to Federation.
The honorable member for Yarra spoke about the wages paid, and it appears that there is a difficulty in getting the labour necessary in the making of hats. The report of the Commission states -
The Commission was unable, largely through the unwillingness or want of knowledge of the witnesses, to obtain precise information^ as to labour cost of production. Certain evidence was given that the wages of skilled workers were in
England about 40 to 50 per cent, les’s than in Australia, but the factory returns of Victoria show that the actual average wage of males was 39s. 2d. per week, and of females, who largely preponderate, 15s. per week, while a witness representing the Victorian mills under crossexamination admitted that the actual wages and all salaries’ paid by his own firm did not’ exceed 29s. per week.
That is the evidence of an employ^ in a Victorian mill. The honorable member for Yarra refers me to Caesar, and I go to Caesar, to find that the wages in the Victorian mills are at the low standard I have quoted.
– The honorable member will see why that is - it is the loss of time which reduces the piece-work average.
– On that point the report states -
A great deal of the work is piece-work, but according to the best evidence procurable the. proportion of “wages and salaries to the value of the manufactured articles, i.e., felt hats, was 36 per cent., and, assuming that the cost in England is one-half, it follows that the 18 per cent, would be sufficient to more than adjust the labour conditions.
The last portion of this extract is not evidence, but the conclusion of the freetrade section of the Commission. In regard to felt hats, I am reminded of the statement made by the honorable member for Yarra as to slaughtered prices. I can quite understand slaughtered prices being applied to the straw-hat trade, but I cannot understand it as applied to the felthat trade.
– It applies to felt hats, too.
– The Postmaster-General must admit that the orders for straw hats are invariably given six months ahead of our season.
– So are the orders for the other classes of hats.
– Then, what becomes of the argument of the honorable member for Yarra that felt hats are sold here at slaughtered prices?
– The season in the Old Country closes just at the time that our season begins, and thus we get the dregs of its season’s goods.
– The orders have to be given for hats at a certain price-
– Some of the leading, houses in Flinders-lane have sent Home buyers who have purchased a lot of cheap Italian stuff within the past three months.
– I am not concerned with what the houses in Flinders-lane do, but I am concerned with the interests of the consumer. When I asked the honorable member for Yarra what ad valorem rate his proposal would represent, he said “about 40 per cent.” That is a very unsatisfactory reply.
– It is an obvious attempt to mislead the Committee,
– I will not say that. But, as an earnest protectionist, the honorable member desires to get as heavy a duty as possible without disclosing- its true in-, cidence. The people of Australia cannot afford to pay such a high impost as 40 per cent, upon hats. The wages paid in- the industry are not sufficient to encourage us to vote for such an excessive duty. The material of which hats are made is produced locally. Every assistance which can be given to the industry, both by nature and by the Tariff, has been extended to it. The honorable member for Yarra has said that he wishes to place hats in the same category as apparel.
– But apparel does not enjoy anything like the measure of protection that is proposed upon hats. There is the duty upon piece goods to be remembered.
– That is so. The piece goods of which apparel is made bear a very heavy duty. I have already referred to the different classes of hats. Those made of wool comprise the cheapest line. The second class consists of hats made of wool and veneered with rabbit fur. The veneering process consists in “ dusting” a woollen hat with a fine covering of fur. The resultant hat looks well, but does not wear.
– Where is that process employed ?
– In the Denton Hat Mills, which paid a considerable sum for the right to use this veneering process.
– That was over twenty years ago.
– The Tariff Commission says that the cost of hats to the consumers is unduly enhanced by the method of distribution.
– That is not correct.
– That is the statement of Mr. Ogden in reply to question 13749. The Postmaster-General says that his assertion is. not true. Here, then, is a witness who, according to the honorable gentleman, has perjured himself.
– The statement was made with a lack of knowledge.
– If the PostmasterGeneral has so much knowledge of the industry, why did he not appear before the Tariff Commission ? He declined to do that, and yet he fights in this House for an increased duty. The fact of the matter is that those who desire an increase in the old rate feared to face the Tariff Commission, because they shrank from undergoing a searching cross-examination. If the Denton Hat Mills are not flourishing, why did not their proprietors plead before the Tariff Commission for encouragement to be extended to their industry ? The fact that they declined to do so is conclusive evidence that they were satisfied with the old rate. I trust that some honorable member will move for a reduction of this duty. If the honorable member for Lang will do so I shall be found supporting him, because I hold that the proposed increase cannot be justified.
– I ask the honorable member for Yarra to withdraw his proposal, to enable me to submit a prior amendment.
Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.
Amendment (by Sir William Lyne) proposed -
That the following words be inserted after the word “‘bonnets” : - “ (a) Wool felt hats, in any singeof manufacture, per dozen (General Tariff), 16s. ; (United Kingdom), 12s.”
– This is another proposal to secure an immense duty for this favoured hat industry, which is always making attacks upon the Treasury. Surely the rate levied under the old Tariff was sufficiently high, “not only to protect the industry, but to assure good profits to the manufacturers ?
– The fact remains that thousands of pounds worth of cheap hats are being imported.
– Yet it is actually proposed to levy an enormous fixed duty upon the cheap hats which are worn by the boys and girls of the poorer classes of the community.
– And they will get them cheaper.
– What nonsense.
– The honorable member does not know anything about it.
– The Postmaster-General had better improve his manners, or leave the chamber. He is very lax in his arguments, though he is very ready in making remarks which are not arguments, but are offensive to opponents. He says that I do nor know anything about this matter. I shall not say that of him. He knows about it, and has raided the Treasury very often in the interests of the industry: He has been the champion mover - I shall not say log-roller - in endeavouring to obtain from the Government, not reasonable protection, but absolutely prohibitive duties. The honorable member for Yarra gave it as a reason for his amendment that the protection in respect to hats ought to be as high as that in respect to apparel. I think that he confuses protection with rate of duty. On apparel, the rates of duty are 40 and 35 per cent., but the protection given to the local manufacturers is much less than the Minister proposes to give to the local manufacturers of hats.
– That depends. Manufacturers of apparel may use Australian tweeds.
– In many cases the materials used by the makers of apparel have to be imported, and are subject to rates of duty going as high as 25 and 30 per cent.
– I am sorry that I made the remark to which the honorable member took exception just now. I did not intend any personal offence.
– Of course, I accept the Minister’s withdrawal. I should have no right to speak if I knew nothing about the subject. I do not profess to know as much of the inside working of this industry as is known by the honorable member; but we have to. make up our minds as to what is legitimate in the requests made by those connected with it. The actual protection given to makers of apparel is considerably less than the Minister proposes to give to makers, of hats. But why should we give the larger protection to the latter? As has been pointed out, practically everything necessary for the making of felt hats - except a few. odds and ends, such as bands, which were allowed to come in free - is produced in Australia. If we fix the rate of duty at 30 per cent., the actual protection to the manufacturer will therefore be very considerable. The importation of felt hats last year, according to the Customs statistics, was valued at £128,000. which, I venture to say, is not a large proportion of the value of the hats made in Australia.
– It is more than half the value of the hats made in Australia:
– I do not think so. I understand that the hats worn in Australia are worth nearly £400,000, though, of course, at times, as fashions change, straw or other hats come more into vogue, and lessen the use of felt hats. The largest hat mills in Australia, which, according to the honorable member for Yarra, turn out more than one-third of the local output, pay an excellent dividend, returning to their shareholders 10 pgr cent., after making provision for depreciation, and reserves of one kind and another. In the year 1902, the dividend fell to 8 per cent., but it has in each succeeding year been 10 per cent.
– It was only in 1902 that the dividend fell to 8 per cent. Prior to that it was 10 per cent.
– In the record which I consulted, 1902 was the first year mentioned. The Kingston Tariff certainly did not reduce the company’s dividend. I agree with the honorable member for Yarra that it is impossible to work out the average cost of the imported hats, because we do not know the number of hats imported ; but the wool felt hats on which he proposes a duty of 16s. per dozen would have to cost 53s. per dozen, or 4s. 5d. each, at the port of shipment, to give the result obtained from the duty of 30 per cent.
– My foreign rate is 16s. per dozen, whereas the Minister’s rate is 35 per cent, ad valorem.
– At 12s. per. dozen the hats would have to cost 40s. per dozen, or 3s. 4d. each. But many of the hats imported are cheap hats, while the small hats worn by children are also very cheap, their average cost being often “not more than 18s. per dozen at the port of shipment, so that the duty in many cases would be nearly 100 per cent.
– Such hats are not imported.
– A great many hats of that kind are imported. They are worn by children whose parents cannot afford to pay high prices. In most cases, I prefer fixed to ad valorem duties ; but I cannot support rates which mean such an enormous impost on the cheap hats worn by children. That is why I accept an ad valorem duty on hats. It is impossible otherwise to make a. distinction. If it were possible so to describe hats as to make the cheaper kind pay a lower duty than expensive hats, I should be willing to accept a fixed duty.
– In Victoria, when the duty was 24s. a dozen on felt hats, there was no complaint on account of their dearness.
– They were selling for 1s. 11d. each in Victoria when the duty was 30s. a dozen. I sold hundreds at that price.
– The honorable member always lays it down as a principle that the duty adds to the price.
– The honorable member is absolutely wrong. What I have said is this - that in my opinion there is a tendency for the duty to increase the price to nearly the full amount of the duty, and that in some cases that is the result. I admit, however, that in some cases this does not happen. I also say that a high duty gives an opportunity for the formation of a combination to increase prices to nearly the full amount of the duty. I do not think that that can be denied. When we find that an industry is not declining, but that it is prosperous, and that manufacturers, so far from reducing their dividends, are maintaining them, there is surely no need for increasing the duty.
– They are only increasing dividends in one mill.
– I can only speak of the mill with regard to which I can get figures. The other mills are not owned by public companies, I think.
– An instance has been given of a mill which made less than £100 profit in six months.
– Where were the figures published?
– At their own meeting they showed that their profit was only £863s.9d.
– If honorable members opposite can point to a business in Australia that is not making more than £100 profit in a half-year, that is no argument for putting up a duty on the article manufactured. The Denton Hat Mill is the only one in regard to which I have been able to obtain a balance-sheet.
Mr.Mauger. - Why does not the honorable member refer to one of the more successful importing houses that are making profits of 40 . per cent. ?
– I do not care whether they are making profits or losing money.
– They take care that they do not lose.
– Importers lose money, just as other business men do. The records of the Bankruptcy Court show that.
– What about the great palaces of the importers that we see around Svdney ?
– That is the greatest nonsense imaginable. If the honorable member wants to see great palaces,- he should look at those owned by capitalists who are manufacturers, or partlymanufacturers and partly importers. But that has nothing to do with the question. Honorable members must not think Fhat I am an advocate of importers. When I was in business, I was a manufacturer, and I was convinced that the best policy was not to coddle an industry too much, but to give it a little open competition. The manufacturers of Sydney, without any duty at all, were able to. advance their business.
– There was never a hat mill over there.
– Is a hat mill any better than any other mill?
– It is better than nothing.
– Whether we had a hat mill or not. statistics, made out on the same basis for each State, under an arrangement approved by the statisticians, showed that the persons employed in our manufactures in Sydney were within 10,000 of those employed in Victoria.
– Including the smelting works.
– We had more men employed, and fewer women.
– Sydney never manufactured any hats.
– Hats were made in Sydnev sixty years ago.
– Not” felt hats.
– The honorable member means cabbage-tree hats.
– And other hats ; though I am not putting that forward as proof that there was a hat” industry in New “South Wales.
– It is owing to the fact that there was no industry in Sydney that Anderson had to import his six hatters. He had no labour.
– Hats seem to be an everlasting source of trouble to this country. When the Tariff is before us we are troubled with the duty on hats, and between Tariffs we are troubled about hatters. I maintain that the proposed dutv is altogether extreme, and furthermore it is objectionable because it is inelastic. It applies to the cheapest hats worn by those who cannot afford to pay high prices, just in the same way as it applies to dearer hats.
– People will hot have to pay more.
– Then why is this duty wanted?
– Does the honorable member think that hats should be imported?
– I doubt whether it is necessary to import them. But I cannot see why manufacturers want a duty of 50 per cent, in addition to, importing charges to_ protect them against imported hats.
– Because they cannot get a show.
– I would plead with honorable members that the duty proposed by the Treasurer is quite high enough.. Further than that, inelastic duties on articles that vary so tremendously in price do not conduce to equitable results. So far as the duty will affect prices, the result will be to charge the poorer classes of the community much more than they would have to pay under a duty of 30 per cent. - a rate which, in my opinion, is quite sufficient.
– I think that the honorable member for North Sydney has shown a quite unnecessary concern about children’s hats. I understand from his remarks that he believes that children’s hats are not made in large quantities in Australia at present. If they are made here at all, ‘ I am unaware that the price will be any higher on account of the duty.. I have not to pay any more for the Australian hat that I wear than I had to pay formerly for an imported hat ; and I must say that the hat I am now wearing has been superior to any hat that I ever wore before. I wish to call attention to the statement that no manufacturer came forward to give evidence before the Tariff Commission’ as to his industry. That is not so. If honorable members will turn to the evidence they will find that one of the South Australian manufacturers, Mr. Leaver, gave evidence. He pointed out that with higher protection, the number of employes would be increased by at least three-fold; and that is no doubt true. This industry has been established in South Australia for seventeen years. For year after year no dividends were paid; and the Draper for October states that last half-year showed a profit of £86 3s. o.d. That does not look as though the Tariff had done much for the industry in that
State after seventeen years. The reason is that the Commonwealth duty was considerably less than the State duty in operation prior to Federation. Instead of assisting the industry, the Federal Tariff has had precisely the opposite effect, with the consequence of not only limiting the expansion of the trade, but also preventing the output of certain lines which are manufactured in Victoria and other parts of Australia. The honorable member for North Sydney talks about the natural protection, but I point out that a great many of the hats sold in Australia come from the Continent of Europe. The difference between the labour and material in Australia and on the ‘Continent must be equal to a margin of 60 per cent.
– That is not 60 per cent, on the cost of the hat.
– In South Australia, where day work is paid, no man is paid less than 10s. a day, and in Victoria and New South Wales, with piece-work, even higher wages are earned. Honorable members will see that this is an industry which we ought to have no hesitation in assisting by means of a little more protection. Under the first Federal Tariff, the importation of felt hats from the United Kingdom, in 1905, amounted to £78,113 worth, arid, from foreign countries, to £32,544 worth, or a total of £110,657. In 1906, the imports from the United Kingdom amounted to £89,915, and from foreign countries to £39,748, or a total of £129,667. During 1905, Italy sent £22,467 worth of hats to Australia, and in 1906 £28,121 worth. Although the South Australian Tariff was only a little higher than the Federal Tariff, it enabled the industry to be established. The moment, however, that the Federal Tariff was imposed the imports increased; and I feet sure that the slightly higher duty proposed by the Treasurer will have the effect of enormously extending a well-paid industry in Australia.
– I have taken as much trouble as it is possible to take over this item, and, so far as I can judge, an ad valorem duty on hats has never given any satisfaction. It has always been proved that a fixed duty has been of the most service in the way of establishing and assisting the carrying on of the industry. I point out the remarkable fact that in the first quarter of this year the value of the importations was £130,785; in the second quarter it was £117,263; and in the third quarter £i9°>353-
– That is no increase on the previous jean ‘
– In the previous year the values were, respectively, £119,904, £101,709, and £166,858. The total increase in the first quarter of this year was £10,881 ; in the second quarter £16,554 ; and in the third quarter £23,495. These figures show that the Tariff is not having the effect it should have. With the exception of the Denton Hat Mills, none of the factories seem to be making satisfactory progress. I have made the present proposal at the instance of the honorable member for Yarra, after carefully and thoroughly investigating the matter ;’ and I believe the proposal to be one which will give effective protection to the industry.
.- The protectionist section of the Tariff Commission, after examining a number of witnesses in South Australia, made the following report: -
We cannot see our way clear to recommend any increase in the existing duty, 30 per cent, on felt hats, dress hats, and sewn hats and caps, “hut we are prepared to recommend certain concessions in the. shape of free material.
It is most singular that those gentlemen, who are four of the strongest protectionists in the whole of Australasia, and who have as much interest in the welfare of this industry as has the Treasurer, should come to that conclusion. In my opinion, there is no fairer system of taxation than the ad valorem system. The proposed duty 5s spoken of as though it were a slight increase; but an Australian hatter, speaking of the fixed duty of 30s., suggested by Victorian hat makers, said that on hats invoiced at 15s. per dozen, the duty would represent 200 per cent. The proposal before us, on hats invoiced at the same price, is equivalent to a duty of 100 per cent, without the natural protection, which is considerable; and if we take hats invoiced at 20s. per dozen the proposed duty represents 75 per cent.
– At what price has the honorable member seen imported hats displayed in the shops?
– I have seen plenty of hats marked up at from 3s. 6d. to 6s. I suppose the next proposal will be- to impose a fixed duty on boots. In the debates on the last Tariff, we showed that the fixed duty amounted to 200 per cent, on the cheaper lines of boots in Victoria. Highclass hats are imported into South Australia in greater numbers than are cheap hats. The man who wants a high-class hat has to pay no more Customs taxation on it than has a man who is compelled to buy a cheap imported hat. There must be something radically wrong about the management of the South Australian factory referred to by the honorable member for Hindmarsh. The output of the Victorian industry, and the number of men employed in it, have increased. The industry has been successful in every direction, but it has no more protection under the Tariff than has the South Australian industry. I was told a little while ago that only about twenty-five hands were employed in South Australia. The drawback must lie in the management.
– We are here to make bad management good !
– It appears that we are here to put on a very unfair duty. Under an ad valorem duty of 40 per cent, on apparel - the honorable member for Yarra makes out that these duties are about the same rate as those on apparel - a man who is forced to buy cheap apparel only pays 40 per cent, on its price, while the man who can afford to buy a higher class article has to pay more in proportion. In this case, however, with a fixed duty, the poorer a man is, the more he is penalized as compared with the man who can afford to wear a silk hat all the week. I can understand now the slavish way in which certain honorable members have supported the Government so far, assuming that the Government have had this duty up their sleeves for them. I have been amazed at some honorable members, even those who .are protectionists, voting for certain duties previously, but it seems that the Government had this proposal up their sleeves as a sort of inducement to those honorable members to vote for the duties on other items. There are certain propositions to be made with regard to mining’ machinery that have induced certain members to vote for high duties on other items. The Government intend to lower the duties on mining machinery, and by that means have obtained on other items the votes of certain members representing mining districts. The Minister has accepted the proposal to increase this duty. He has had it arranged for some time There have been people in the galleries for months canvassing honorable members over this item, but if anybody else - comes into the gallery to suggest a reasonable alteration in the Tariff, he is spoken of by the Treasurer as if he had no right to be there , at all. There has been a daily canvass over this item, and the Government, having, to placate some honorable members, have agreed to this most iniquitous duty.
– I did not ‘ think that such a nice man as the honorable member is could be so nasty.
-When honorable members try to rob the- poor in this way they need some straight talk. The leader of the Labour Party to-day, when advocating the placing of cottons and linens on the free list, stated that the duties already piled on by the Committee meant that people would have to pay increased taxation. He said it was nonsense to suggest that the duties did not increase prices. Every honest protectionist knows that they do. The object is to put a wall up so that the price can be increased. If the whole importation of hats could be prevented, the Denton Hat Mills, although they do not scruple to allow 20 per cent, to Flinders Lane, would not decrease their prices to the public. They play into the hands of the middlemen, for if I were to go to them to-morrow with £1,000 cash, I could not buy a hat direct from them. Yet they come crawling to the House to ask for duties up to 150 per cent, on cheap hats. The thing is monstrous. I suppose that the Treasurer made sure of his numbers before he agreed to the proposed alteration, and it is, therefore, of no use for me to delay progress with the Tariff. If I thought there was any possible chance of defeating the proposal, I should not consider whether my action would or would not delay the Tariff for another week. The Minister agreed to the proposed increase of duty without offering a word pf justification, I should like to hear, from the Chairman of the Tariff Commission why the Commission did not recommend an increase in these duties after taking evidence concerning the industry? Despite the fact that the Commission have not recommended increased duties, the Government are proposing in some cases four times the dutv imposed under the old Tariff, being nevertheless aware that the industry has not only continued to exist, but has done remarkably well under the protection afforded bv the old Tariff. Of course, if the Committee is foolish enough to agree to the increased duties, the manufacturers will not object. One manufacturer said the other day, “ If Parliament is prepared to give us the benefit of increased duties, we shall not refuse them.” He was concerned in the manufacture of condensed milk, and he made it clear that if the extra duties were agreed to a higher price would be charged for the article, and that is what has followed. We may look for the same results in connexion with this industry. The increased duties proposed will not make hats cheaper, but dearer, and the unfortunate part of the matter is that it is the lower-priced hats that will have to bear the additional burden, and so the tax will fall upon those least able to bear it.
.- I propose to move an amendment.
– Is there any reason why we should not deal with this matter to-morrow ?
– I know of none.
– Let us get it through to-night.
– Very well. I remind honorable members that under the Victorian Tariff, prior to Federation, the duty imposed On hats was a specific duty of from 30s. to 60s. per dozen.
– Not on felt hats.
– Those duties were equivalent to from 45 to 100 per cent, ad valorem. When the first Federal Tariff was submitted and a duty of 30 per cent, was proposed on hats, the honorable member for Yarra and the honorable member for Maribyrnong, the present PostmasterGeneral, were loud in their assertions that the effect of the reduction of the old Victorian duties would be to absolutely destroy the industry in this State. What are the facts ? So fair from the industry having been destroyed, it now employs 50 per cent, more operatives, whilst the wages paid average 25 per cent, higher than those which were paid under the excessive Vic torian Tariff.
– And still there are importations of hats.
– The population of the Commonwealth is increasing, and hats of various kinds will continue to be imported in spite of the duty. When we hear so much about the wages paid in these industries, it is useful to remember that in the hat industry it is only the adult males who can foe said to get decent wages. The wages paid to others engaged in the industry are not worth talking about; and only one-fourth of the operatives engaged in this industry are adult males. I wish to submit to honorable members a comparison of employment and wages in this industry under the old Victorian high Tariff and under the first Federal Tariff. The figures I shall quote are taken from the report by the Chief Inspector of Factories in Victoria, and honorable members will therefore accept them as authentic, although I have noticed one mistake in the calculation of percentages. I find that in 1900, under the Victorian Tariff, the number of male operatives under twenty-one years of age employed in the industry was 118, and in 1906,’ under the first Federal Tariff, the number had increased to 165. The number of adult males employed in 1900 was 243, whilst their wages averaged 31s., and in 1906, under the first Federal Tariff, the number had increased to 276, and the wages paid averaged 58s. 9d. The total number of males employed under the old Victorian Tariff in 1900 was 361, whilst in 1906 the number had been increased to 441. The average wages paid to males in 1900, when the high duties imposed by the Victorian Tariff were in operation, was 26s. 10d., whilst in 1906, under the first Federal Tariff, the average wages paid to males was 41s. 7d., a very considerable increase. The number of female operatives under twenty-one employed in 1900, when the Victorian Tariff was in force, was 262, and that number was increased to 438 in 1906. The number of female adults employed in 1902 was 2ii, and in 1906 325. The average wages paid to female adults under the Victorian Tariff in 1900 was 12s. 10d., and in 1906, under the reduced duties of the first Federal Tariff, they were 19s. lod. The total number of females employed in 1900 was 473, and in 1906 763, and the average wages paid in 1900’ to female operatives was 15s. 2d., whilst the average wages paid in 1906 were 1.4s. 9d. The total number of males and females employed in the industry in 1900 was 834’and in 1906 the number had been increased to 1,204; whilst the average wages paid were increased from 20s. 2½d. in 1900 to 24s. 7d. in 1906. These figures prove conclusively that this industry, instead of suffering as was anticipated by protectionists under the reduced duties imposed in the first Federal Tariff as compared with the duties imposed under the Victorian Tariff, has been going ahead by leaps and bounds. I do not deny that some small factories associated with the industry may not have shared in the improved conditions to the same extent as the larger factories, but that has been due, I am told, only to the fact that the larger factories have a practical monopoly of the trade. Mention’ has been made of the Denton Hat Mills, and in this connexion I would remind honorable members that not long since, at a meeting of the Board of Directors of those mills, the chairman, in presenting his report to the shareholders, spoke of the great prosperity which the industry was enjoying. The Denton Hat Mills form one of the largest factories - if not the largest - in Australia. They have regularly paid a dividend of 10 per cent., besides occasional bonuses, and they have also accumulated a large reserve fund. Under such circumstances it cannot be urged that the industry is in need of further bolstering up at the hands of the State.-
– What dividends do the English hat companies pay ?
– I am not concerned with that. The only logical appeal which can be made to this Committee for an in: creased duty must be based upon the. ground that the protection which has hitherto been extended to the industry has proved to be insufficient to fairly establish the industry. But, as a matter of fact,, the evidence tendered to the Tariff Commission shows that, so far from the industry having suffered under the operation of the old rate of duty, it has progressed.
– The honorable member is speaking of only one factory out of seven.
– I am referring to the principal factory. The honorable member for Dalley was scarcely correct when hestated that no hat manufacturers had appeared before the Tariff Commission.. There was a small one from South Australia. But it is significant that no large manufacturer appeared before that body. From that fact it may fairly be inferred that those engaged in the industry were perfectly satisfied with the old rate. We have merely to look at their reports and balance-sheets to realize that the industry is a flourishing one. At the present time the Denton Hat Mills are unable to supply their orders-
– They have not worked four days a week during the past six months.
– I am not in the confidence of the management, but nevertheless I have means of obtaining information. which is thoroughly reliable. Those mills are very much in arrears in the matter of supplying their orders.
– That statement is inaccurate.
– I am perfectly certain that the source from which I obtained this information is a thoroughly reliable one. Still further proof of the progress of the industry is forthcoming in the importation of minor articles used in the manufacture of hats since the Federation was established. I find that in 1903 these imports were valued at £55,977, in 1904 they had increased to £85,804, in 1905 to £104,444, and in 1906 to £134,387- These figures are taken from the Commonwealth Trade and Customs Returns. I. think that they furnish a sufficient reply to anything that has been, urged in favour of an increased duty. They really show that instead of an increase, there should be a reduction in the old rate. But as I know there is no hope of carrying a reduction from the old rates of duty in this Committee, I can only resist the attempt to increase those rates. I intend to move at a later stage the following duties - (General Tariff) 30 per cent., (United Kingdom) 20 per cent.
– It seems to me that if there be any industry to which we should extend a prohibitive duty it is the hat industry. In Australia we have all the materials essential for the manufacture of hats. We have the fur, the machinery, and the men ; and the factories are already established. I cannot understand the attitude of honorable members who oppose this’ proposal because, apparently, they doubt that the public sense of right and wrong in the community will be sufficient to protect the consumers against the result of this protection. Even if the Committee is not in a position to cope with any abuses which may arise under the system of protection, the public sense of right in the community, expressed through the medium of universal suffrage, will rectify any evil results should they arise. That is what may be called the last argument. In reference to the wonderful increase in this trade, how do honorable members account for the fact that the importation of hats has increased considerably ? It is mentioned in a report that when the Tariff was introduced in 1901 Sir George Turner estimated the revenue for 1902 from hats and caps at £47,500. In 1903 it was £79>512’ in I9°4» £8z<799” in 1905, £83>6°2; and in 1906, £90,021, showing clearly that the value of the importations of the articles has continued to increase. With all the facilities here for manufacturing hats, and with legislative power to correct any abuses which may arise - under the protectionist system, there is no valid reason why Australia should not venture to develop the hat industry still more. It has been stated that one factory has done very well. But surely that is no argument against encouraging other factories to do equally well ! The argument which has been put forward seems to be an argument of negation. In regard to the sort of hat which is imported, local manufacturers have assured me that they cannot get the importers to take their goods, because the latter can bring in goods from oversea at a cheaper rate than they can be made here. But that cheaper rate is not expressed in a cheaper price to the consumer. Apparently, the arrangement among the importers is such that it enables them to raise their prices and to prevent the users from getting the benefit of the cheap goods. I am told that hats which are imported at a nominal price per dozen are sold at 10s. 6d. each - a price at which it would pay the local manufacturers to make a hat of good quality. Of course, I am speaking of the ordinary class of hat. The manufacturers cannot afford to place their hats directly with the retailers, because of the various ramifications of trade which have to be coped with. The importers, on the other hand, take .advantage of the cheap products. If we are desirous of stimulating our industries and employing our people, we have no alternative but to make such importations impossible. When one remembers that hats have been landed here at 1 6s. a dozen, it is ridiculous for any one to talk about an ad valorem duty keeping out cheap, shoddy products. -I direct the attention of the honorable member for Grey to the fact that even a duty of 106 per cent, on hats of that value would not be sufficient to deter importers from importing them and putting them on the market at a substantial price. The honorable member spoke of hats being offered at 2s. 6d. or 3s., but I have not seen any hats for sale at that price. I know that in the country parts of New South Wales one will not see a felt hat offered at less than 6s., and the ordinary price is 7s. 6d. I venture to say that some shoddy hats are brought in at as low as 24s. a dozen, and I know that some have been brought in at 16s. a dozen. He is always a poor person who buys a hat at that price. It is no economy to a man to get a cheap hat, because its appearance is spoiled by the first shower of rain, and in the course of a few months its utility is destroyed.
– Did the honorable member say that felt hats cannot be bought at less than the price he named in the country districts?
– In New South Wales, the lowest price in the country for the ordinary felt hats is about 6s., and the average price is 7s. 6d. These foreign shoddy hats are brought in at 16s. a dozen. The PostmasterGeneral has stated to-night that when the duty on these hats was 24s. a dozen, he bought local hats at that price. What do free-traders make of that statement? Do they think that he has made a deliberate misstatement, or can they accept his word? If thev can accept his word, does it not show that the competition is quite sufficient to prevent any abuses which would occur were a combination in existence? It shows that the competition is widespread. The same argument applies to this industry as applies to the stocking industry. As it is so easy to establish the industry, the competition becomes general and combination is not nearly so apt to grow as it is when large funds are at stake, and the identity of interests between capitalists is so pronounced as to make combination imperative. That does not exist in a trade of this sort, because of the small capital which is necessary to start the industry. That has been proved by the experience of those who have dealt in hats. The honorable member for Grey has alluded to the reference by the ex-leader of the Labour Party to high duties as a sort of patriotic sacrifice for working people to bear. That, no doubt, obtains in the case of some duties which have been imposed. There are some duties which, before they can produce their fruits, will no doubt press heavily in some quarters. But that, I contend, does not apply to the duties on hats, because the factories are in existence. to cope with the demand. Therefore, the argument falls to the ground so far as the duty on the ordinary hat is concerned. Wherever the working community have been asked to bear a little impost until the local manufacturers can cope with the demand, they will, I believe, willingly consent, and show a nobler patriotism than honorable members on the Opposition benches have shown when they have voted against the reduction of revenue duties in order to save their own skins.
– The question is, are we going home to-night?
– No; let us go to a division, and finish this item.
– 1 have not the slightest objection to finishing the item, but I should like the vote to be taken in a fuller Committee.
– Has anything prevented honorable members from staying to-night to make a good Committee?
– During the early portion of the evening there was a good attendance.
– The honorable member for Lang talked honorable members out of the chamber, and we have been obliged to wait.
– The honorable member for Lang spoke for fifteen or seventeen minutes just now.
– He has been talking all day.
– If the Minister will agree to take the division on this item as soon as the Committee resumes tomorrow, I will take my seat at once:
– I cannot keep honorable members here until this hour, and then, after the trains have gone, consent to report progress.
– The honorable gentleman knows very well that I made this request to him an hour ago, and that he repudiated it with his usual brusqueness. It is not I who am keeping honorable members away from their homes, but the Minister. I ask him again if he will agree to take a vote on this item to-morrow. All I desire is that the question may be decided fairly.
– I cannot keep honorable members until nearly 12 o’clock, and then not go on with the work.
– Then I shall decline to discuss the matter, and the Government must fake the responsibility for what is done. I hope that the Minister will raise no captious objection when later on I seek to take another vote on this question. The present division will not end it.
Question - That after the word “ bonnets “ the words “ (a) Wool Felt Hats, in any stage of manufacture, per dozen (General Tariff), 16s. ; (United Kingdom), 12s.” (Sir William Lyne’s amendment) be inserted - put. The Committee divided.
Majority … … 7
Question so resolved in the affirmative.
Amendment agreed to.
Amendment (by Sir William Lyne) proposed -
That the following words be inserted : - “ (b) Fur felt hats, in any stage of manufacture, per dozen (General Tariff), 25s. ; (United Kingdom), 20s.”
– The Minister is throwing his first proposals to the wind, and making outrageous changes without a word of explanation.
– I have explained these proposals before.
– The Minister has given no reason for making these changes. Are we to conclude that he is making them because they were proposed by a member of the Labour Party, and that he feels bound to accept them, although he cannot justify them? I protest against his action in tearing the Tariff to pieces without paying the Committee the compliment of giving a reason.
.I have an amendment, which I wish to move in the original paragraph a.
– The honorable member is too late.
– I cannot be too late. I could not move my amendment until the rate of duty in the first column had been disposed of. The Minister proposes to substitute this amendment for the duties originally proposed in the Tariff. I wished “ particularly to guard myself against being shut out from moving an amendment in the rates of duty proposed in paragraph a ; but as it is apparently too late to move an amendment, in that paragraph, I will move an amendment upon the Treasurer’s second amendment. I move -
That the amendment be amended by inserting after the figures “ 25s.” the words “ and on and after 14th November, 1907 (General Tariff), ad val., 30 per cent.”
Question put. The Committee divided.
Majority … … 8
Question so resolved in the negative.
Amendment of the amendment negatived.
Amendment (by Mr. Joseph Cook) proposed -
That the amendment be amended by inserting after the figures “25s.” the words “and on and after 14th November, 1907 (General Tariff), ad val., 30 per cent.”
– I have decided that a duty of 35 per cent, in the General Tariff, and of 30 per cent, against Great Britain, was the lowest that I could support, and that is the reason I voted against the amendment upon the proposal of the Government, which I regret was brought before the Committee at such a late hour. This has not given an opportunity for that consideration which such ah important alteration demands. I shall, therefore, now support the proposal made by the honorable member for Parramatta.
Question put. The Committee divided.
Majority … … 6
Question so resolved in the negative.
– I move -
That the amendment be amended by inserting after the figures “ 25s.,” the words “ and on and -after 14th November, 1907 (General Tariff), ad val., 40 per cent.”
The proposal of the honorable member for Yarra means considerably over 40 per cent. and, that being the case, I think we ought to find out how far honorable members are prepared to go.
– I support the amendment moved by the honorable member for Corangamite, although, at the same time, I am opposed to it. I intended to support the Government’s original proposal, although I thought it 5 per cent, too high, in view of the recommendation, of the -protectionist section of the Tariff Commission. According to the evidence given before the Commission by a South Australian hat manufacturer, it appears that certain duties meant in some cases as much as 500 per cent. The Government have now accepted the proposals of the honorable member for Yarra, which are equal to a duty of 80 per cent, or 100 per cent. That , is a burden which working men will have to bear more than will most honorable members here; and yet we find representatives of the primary producer supporting excessive taxation of this kind. With the honorable member for Corangamite, I wish to ‘see how far honorable members are prepared to go in the way of a duty on this item. If 40 per cent, is not accepted, then we wit see what can be done with a proposal to make the duty 45 per cent, in preference to the present proposals. We shall then find out who are prohibitionists and who are protectionists. Those who vote for the duties of the ‘kind now proposed by the Government do not know the meaning of the word ‘ protection “ ; they are prohibitionists, and the Treasurer is the greatest of them all. The honorable gentleman has not got sufficient commercial knowledge to enable him fo know the meaning of the word “ protection.” That is my experience, and, after to-night, it will be held to be the experience of honorable members generally. If the honorable gentleman went to the country ‘on these high ‘duties he would find the electors against him. I should be prepared to go to the country against the Treasurer to-morrow. On this question I would resign my seat to-morrow, and pit myself against any nominee of the Government, in order to prove that I am right ; and, in addition, I am prepared to pay the other candidate’s expenses if I am proved to be wrong.
– For what seat?
– For the seat which the Treasurer now holds, if that be desired. I am sure that the primary producer does not wish for prohibition, and, in this connexion, does not desire to be legislated for by representatives of towns or capitalists who do not know what primary producers require. If it were not for the country the towns could not exist. Does not the country supply all the raw material required for manufactures? Yet the very men we ought to protect it is proposed to crush with over-taxation. I ask honorable members opposite to be reasonable, and if they cannot accept 35 per cent., not to insist on 80 or 100 per cent., but to agree to 40 per cent. If they will not agree to 40 per cent., let us try whether they will accept 45 per. cent., and so on. I am going to support a duty of 40 per cent. I hope honorable members will recognise that they owe a duty to the country in this matter.
– Is 40 per cent, prohibition?
– And the honorable member is going to vote for it 1
– I am going to vote for it in place- of the concentrated prohibition which the honorable member advocates. The honorable member is supposed to be a representative of the country, but he is no more so than a city member is. Otherwise he would not vote as he is doing to-night. He and others are voting like dumb-driven cattle for prohibition. They do not know the meaning of protection.
– Is the honorable member for Grampians in order in calling honorable members on this side dumb-driven cattle?
– I am sure the honorable member for Grampians will withdraw the remark to which exception has been taken. It has been the general rule in the Committee when objection is taken to an offensive statement for the honorable member who made it to withdraw it.
– If honorable members opposite take exception to my remark I withdraw it with pleasure, , but I think it all the same. I ask honorable members to look at this question from a common-sense point of view. The natural protection on hats amounts to at least 20 per cent., and therefore a duty of 40 per cent, will mean a protection of 60 per cent. But honorable members want a protection of 100 or 120 per cent, and have evidently made up their minds to get it. I hope that common-sense will prevail, and that they will accept the proposal of the honorable member for Corangamite.
– The honorable member for Grampians, evidently intoxicated with his own verbosity, is beautifully illogical. He said he would go as high as 40, 50, or 60 per cent., while he declaims against those who propose to vote for a duty pf 25s. a dozen. He spoke so hurriedly that he could not have figured out his proposals, but I would point out that the great majority of the imported hats would be worth about 10s. each. Supposing that they are only 5s. each, the value would be £3 a dozen. A duty of 40 per cent, on that value is equal to £1 4s. a doze”, whereas we are asking for a duty of only £1 5s. Where is the difference then between what we ask for and the duty which the honorable member for Grampians is prepared to vote for? If the imported hats are worth £6 a dozen, the honorable member for Grampians, by means of a 40 per cent, duty, would impose a charge of £2 8s. per dozen, as against the £1 ?s. per dozen which we propose. The honorable member has taken a very heroic stand without paying any attention to his arithmetic.
.- I was not dumb on the question of hats, although I am not a hat manufacturer, but the honorable member for Grampians was dumb on the question of wine, on which a fixed duty was placed.
– Order ! If I were to allow the honorable member to proceed on those lines, I could not refuse to allow other honorable members to do the same.
– On a point or order, I should like to make one or two remarks in connexion with the honorable member for Yarra.
– Order !
– On a pointof order, the question of wine is not before the Committee to-night.
– When speaking earlier’ in the evening, I pointed out that in the great majority of items we had agreed -to a fixed duty, and that the margin between the cheaper and more expensive class of article was not greater in this case than in others, which I instanced. I mentioned wine then, and the honorable member for Grampians was in his place.
– I was not here then.
– On what other items did we agree to fixed duties?
– Amongst others, there were spirits, sugar, confectionery, biscuits, tobacco, cigars, cigarettes, ale, pickles, and fruits. The honorable member for Wimmera stuck out for a duty of 3d. (per lb. on currants; this is equal to 150 per cent.
– I did not ask for a duty on wine.
– I never said that the honorable member did. I suppose that he got some one else to ask for him. We are just as much entitled to agree to a fixed duty on this as on anv other item. If honorable members opposite desired to test the question of whether a fixed or ad valorem duty should be imposed, they could have done so by moving to leave out “ per dozen “ and insert ad valorem.
– What is the variation of value in the case of these hats?
– The fixed duty will not amount to anything like 200 -per cent, on the cheaper hats, as the honorable member for Grampians makes out. There has not been a wool hat imported from England into Australia during the past twelve months at 6s. per dozen, nor has there been a fur hat imported at 10s. per dozen, as has been alleged. Woodrow ‘s imported hats are sold in Melbourne by the importer to the retailer at 3s. per dozen cheaper than in Perth. The importers compel the retailer to sell them, at 13s. 6d each here, and 15s. 6d. in Perth. Honorable members on the other side want to hand us over to the importers, in order that the importers may be allowed to fix conditions which are not fixed by the local manufacturers.
– We do not object so much to a fixed duty where the value of the goods is a fairly constant quantity. It is where there is a great margin of variation in prices and values that the fixed duty becomes a delusion and a snare. The honorable member for Yarra told the Committee to-day that the duties which he proposed would amount to about 40 per cent, on the lower priced hats.
– On the average. Taking the British wool hat at 12s., and the fur at 20s., I believe that 40 per cent, is a fair average.
– The honorable member is entirely wrong. I make an appeal to honorable members of the party that is supposed to have sunk the fiscal issue, and who are constantly boasting that for the most part they are fiscal atheists, to assist those who wish to bring about a very moderate rate of duty on hats, amounting to only 40 per cent. I should like them to show that for once the caucus can be generous, and that the party will not always be solid for the imposition of high duties.
.- In response to the honorable member’s appeal, I should like to say that it is possible that he will receive some help if he perseveres in his present conduct. I believe that a duty of 40 per cent., which the honorable member is now supporting, would be, on the higher-priced hats, a higher duty than that proposed by the honorable member for Yarra.
Question - That the amendment be amended by inserting after the figures “25s.” the words “and on and after 14th November, 1907 (General Tariff), ad val. 40 per cent.” (Mr. Wilson’s amendment) - put. The Committee divided.
Majority … … 11
Question so resolved in the negative.
Amendment (by Mr. Joseph Cook) proposed -
That the amendment be amended by inserting after the figures “ 25s.” the words “ and on and after 14th November, . 1907, on hats of the declared f.o.b. value of not more than 30s. per dozen, ad. val., 50 per cent.”
– The honorable member is now attempting to make a farce of the proceedings.
– I rise to a point of order. Is the Treasurer in order in stating that I am endeavouring to make a farce of the proceedings of the Committee?
– I am sure that the Treasurer will withdraw the remark if the honorable ‘member regards it as offensive.
– If the honorable member regards it as offensive, I shall most certainly withdraw it.But the honorable member has himself made the statement which I made.
– I have done nothing of the kind. Am I to sit here and be insulted?
– I understand that the Treasurer has withdrawn the remark.
– The Government have decided upon their policy in this matter, and intend to adhere to a fixed duty. If the honorable member continues to move increases, even up to 200 per cent., we shall not agree to them. It has been said that the duty which we propose represents more than 45 per cent, or 50 per cent, ad valorem. I wish to tell the Committee that it does not. Upon one item it represents only 19 per cent.
– Upon the most expensive hats only.
– Upon the most expensive hats the duties work out . at 19 per cent, and 25 per cent. The average is nothing like so high as that which has been stated by some honorable members.
– This is a simple matter of arithmetic The rate proposed by the Government upon hats of the declared value of not more than 30s. per dozen is equivalent to 66 per cent. , so that I am quite safe in proposing that the duty shall be 50 per cent. I believe that I have very much understated the position. Here are statements from the report of the Tariff Commission upon this very important matter of fixed duties -
The Adelaide Society of Felt Hatters had worked out the proposed scale of composite duties on felt hats illustrating its probable effect and ‘ operation on an ad valorem basis. On ten different lines, ranging from 15s. to 60s. per dozen, they said that the average rate of duty would be 60 per cent, ad valorem. A South Australian hatter said that a duty of 30s. per dozen (the alternative proposal to the duties suggested by the Victorian hatters) on felt hats, all round, gave the following percentages : - On hats invoiced at 15s. per dozen, 200 per cent. ; 20s. per dozen, 150 per cent. ; 25s. per dozen, 120 per cent. ; 30s. per dozen, 100 per cent. ; 35s. per dozen, 85 per cent. ; 40s. per dozen, 75 per cent. ; 45s. per dozen, 66 per cent. ; 50s. per dozen, 60 per cent. ; 55s. per dozen, 54 per cent. ; 60s. per dozen, 50 per cent.
– In connexion with this industry, it is most significant that not a single hatter appeared before the Tariff Commission. The only representative of the Denton Hat Mills who tendered evidence to that body was Mr. Poulter, a paid traveller. Now, it is a well-known fact that the Denton Hat Mills comprise one of the most flourishing institutions in Australia. I wish to quote a few words from the report of the freetrade section of the Tariff Commission in reference to this matter. I know that the Treasurer does not like me to do so.
– I do not care a “ dump,’, because the honorable member will only read just what sulis him.
– Can the Treasurer give us any information upon this matter?
– The honorable member has been fairly insulting all the evening. I do not intend to talk any more to-night.
– If the Treasurer could answer my question he would be prepared to talk freely enough. I repeat that Mr. Poulter, the paid traveller of the Denton Hat Mills, was the only representative of those mills who appeared before the Commission. .
– Did not Mr. Leaver, an Adelaide manufacturer, also give evide.nce?
– I am speaking of the Denton Hat Mills. Mr. Poulter was very careful to withhold all the information that he possibly could from the Tariff Commission. We experienced the greatest difficulty in obtaining from him any information in respect of the establishment which he represented. I would expect the honorable member for. Corio, who puts himself forward as a lawyer, to give attention to such unsatisfactory evidence.
– I have read the evidence, but the point is that the honorable member has first to convert the constituencies, and that until then he cannot convert any votes in the House.
– I am not anxious to convert the honorable member. I am satisfied that there is no argument which could possibly convert him when an item interests his constituency.
– There. is not a hat factorv in my constituency ; but the honorable member has first to convert the constituencies from their protectionist ideas.
– The honorable member is like some other honorable members who are not prepared to listen to reason when it is a question of imposing Customs duties. They will come here and vote bald-headed for the imposition of the duties, without having gone into the evidence one way or the other. . Has the honorable member for Corio read either the evidence or the report upon the question of hats?
– Why should he?
– That is exactly the position so far as a large number of honorable members behind the Government are concerned. The Treasurer cannot justify the position which he has taken up. I feel satisfied that if he would only consider the report of the free-trade section of the Tariff Commission, he would not insist upon the high duties he has proposed. It is a significant fact that not one representative of the larger factories principally engaged in the manufacture of felt hats in Victoria and New South Wales was acquainted with the output, the cost of production, or distribution, or the cost of labour. Does even the Treasurer know the cost of distribution, the cost of labour, or the profit and loss in connexion with the business? He knows nothing about, those matters. He has the numbers behind him, and, therefore, the people of this country will have to submit to the high duties which he has proposed without any consideration for their interests -
Representatives of the Felt Hatters’ Union gave evidence in three States, but, except in the matter of the wages they received and- the number of men at work, it was obvious that the great bulk of their statements were made on hearsay or made without actual knowledge.
Can the Treasurer submit any information of a definite character sufficient to convince honorable members that they are justified in voting for these high duties? I submit, with all respect, that neither he nor any supporter has given any justification for their imposition. We all know that the hat industry is prosperous and flourishing. What then is the justification for proposing these high duties? After careful investigation the free-trade members of the Tariff Commission arrived first at this conclusion -
That the operation of the Commonwealth Tariff has neither been harmful to the industry as a whole, nor any particular portion of it, in Australia, except that it may have slightly curtailed profits by the imposition of duties on materials which in some States were free prior to Federation.
I invite the Treasurer to tell us whether the hat industry in Australia has suffered in any way from the duties which have been in operation during the last five or six years. So far from the imposition of those duties being harmful, we arrived at this conclusion -
That on the contrary in three States, including the two where the principal factories have been established some years, there has been a large increase in the goods produced and the number of hands employed. That in South Australia, the other manufacturing State, there has been an increase of 10 per cent, in the total hands employed and in the proportion of male employes.
I should like some representatives of South Australia to let us know why these high duties should be imposed.
– Let the honorable member for Bourke explain.
– I should like to hear the honorable member for 66 Bourke-street on this proposal. He is the representative of the Government who is supposed to be specially well informed on this question, because for a number of years he has been engaged in connexion with the Protectionist Association of Victoria, and has been directly associated with the hat industry. We ought to have an explanation from him, or the Treasurer, or the Government Whip. It was conclusively proved to the satisfaction of the freetrade members of the Tariff Commission -
That under the Commonwealth Tariff Victorian factories have extended their business from Townsville to Perth, and that trade between States generally has increased.
Nothing has been said in opposition to that statement. The Victorian factories have been sending their products to New South Wales and Queensland, in fact, to all parts of the Commonwealth. It is well known that the Denton Hat Mills are not able to fulfil the orders which they have received from some parts of Australia. The honorable member for Brisbane knows that that statement is quite correct, because recently he quoted here an order which was given to that factory, and which showed that, so far as Brisbane is concerned, it is not able to fulfil the orders it receives. That is the case from one end of Australia to the other. What is the reason? We find that the company is able to pay big dividends on its capital, that the shareholders live in fine homes ; and why should we tax the people of Australia to give them more luxuries than they at present enjoy ? Does the honorable member for Yarra think that he is justified in taxing the people of Australia to give Mr. Bruce and the others interested in the Denton Mills bigger dividends than they are now drawing?
– I merely wish to point out that on the information supplied by the Tariff Commission the proposal pf the honorable member for Parramatta, if adopted, would impose a higher rate of duty than that proposed by the Government. On hats imported at 30s. per dozen, the Government proposal works out at only 33^ per cent., whereas the honorable member proposes 50 per cent.
– In that case the amendment must be out of order.
Colonel FOXTON (Brisbane) [1.9 a.m.]. - In confirmation of what has fallen from’ the honorable member for Illawarra, I remind the Committee that only the otherday I read in this chamber a letter fromthe secretary of the Denton Hat Mills Company, dated from his office, stating; that his company was unable to supply hats, even when ordered eight months inadvance. Therefore the company must bepretty full of orders, notwithstanding that the honorable member for Yarra has stated1 that the mills are not working full time.
– I know that they are not..
Colonel FOXTON.- I thought that those connected with them would be truthful, and would not for ulterior motivesmake statements which were hot correct. I did not suppose that they would put lies to> paper. But if the honorable member for Yarra’s statement is to be accepted, their statements must be regarded with doubt.
– This is characteristic of many manufacturers.
Colonel _ FOXTON.- Both’ manufacturers and importers will get as much as: they can for themselves, and it is apparent that the hat manufacturers are out on the job.
Mr. JOHNSON (Lang) Tt.i2 a.m.].The honorable member for Cowper stated” that the proposal of the honorable member for Pjarramatta, if adjopted, would* lead to the imposition of a higher rate of duty than the Government propose. But he proposes a duty of 50 per cent, on the declared f:o.b. value of hats invoiceH at 30s. per dozen, which works out at 15s. per dozen, or is. less than the Government rate.
– I took the 12s. adozen rate.
– In any case, the honorable member’s conclusion is wrong. On the 25s. a dozen rate the proposal of the honorable member for Parramatta isequivalent to a reduction of 10s.
– I can answer this.
– Let him run down-
– The honorable member for Parramatta at 11 o’clock suggested an adjournment, promising that if the Minister would consent, a vote would’ be taken immediatelv we met to-dav.
– A similar arrangement was made last night, but the Ministerwas the first to break it. I venture to say that the country will be staggered this morning when the people know the drastic nature of the proposals of the Treasurer; and none will be more startled than the Treasurer’s own constituents. Even the duty proposed by the honorable member for Parramatta is far in excess of anything that I could support under ordinary circumstances. But the free-traders are in the unfortunate position of being forced to vote for high duties, simply because they are preferable to the higher and almost prohibitive duties proposed by the Government. When we are practically asked to choose between a duty of 50 per cent, and one of 100 per cent., we naturally choose the lower if we cannot get less. I remember the time when in New South Wales we looked with suspicion on any proposal’ for a duty over 5 per cent., even under a protectionist Tariff. We regarded io per cent, duties as the limit of extreme protection. I recollect that when Sir George Dibbs came down with his 10 per cent, proposals, the country was up in arms at this excessive rate of protection. But now, when we are asked to vote for duties of 30 per cent, and 40 per cent., the protectionists tell us that they are merely revenue duties. As to the allegations that have been made regarding excessive importations, I point out that with regard to women’s cheap soft felt hats, for example - goods which are imported at about 12s. 6d: per dozen - the import charges alone would be 30 per “cent. On men’s soft felt hats, at 16s. a dozen, the import charges would be about 25 per cent. On men’s fur hats, at 60s. to 70s. a dozen, the import charges would be about 20 per cent. ; and on men’s cheap hard felt hats they would be from 30 per cent, to 40 per cent. The average import charges on men’s hard felt hats would be about 25 per cent. These import charges really amount to a natural protection, which has to be added to the protection afforded by the Tariff.
– How does the honorable member make,put that there is such a thing as natural protection? Import charges are balanced by the cost of despatching goods from the manufacturing centre to the places where they are sold.
– I do not think that the honorable member for Wimmera can seriously contend that the cost of sending hats out of a local mill into local stores approaches anything like the cost of importing and distributing hats from abroad.
– I say that the distributor in Melbourne is in no better position than the distributor in London.
– May I point out that the importer has not only to pay all the cost that the Australian distributor has to pay, but, in addition, import charges, which, as I have shown, range from 25 per cent, to 40 per cent.
– The process of distribution in Australia is quite as laborious and expensive in the case of a local manufacturer as in the case of the importer.
– r hope that my intervention at this moment may have the desired effect of bringing about a division. It would take me some considerable time to follow the lines of argument used by various honorable members as to the cost of importation and so forth ; but it is well to bear in mind that the proposal of the honorable member for Parramatta is certainly an improvement on the proposal of the honorable member for Yarra to have a specific duty. Such duties, with regard to articles of varying values, are disadvantages to those who use the cheaper classes of goods. Bowler or soft felt hats may be imported from England on an f.o.b. valuation as low as 18s. per dozen; and I think I am quite right, speaking from experience, in saying that the natural protection amounts to not ‘ less than 50 per cent. That, of course, means a protection of 9s. a dozen; and if the proposal of the honorable member for Yarra were agreed to, we should place the wearers of the cheaper hats at a great disadvantage. My coachman or my gardener may be disposed to give 2s. 6d. for his hat, while I am disposed to pay 10s.. or 15s. ; and yet the honorable member for Yarra proposes to put us both on the same footing, so far as the duty is concerned. Under the old Victorian Tariff there were specific duties on certain sizes of boots, and these worked out in the most absurd fashion, to the detriment of the poorer classes. .. I am” astonished that the Government should have accepted the amendment proposed by the honorable member for Yarra. I hope I am setting an example in remaining here until this unreasonable hour. I felt, however, that this proposal was unfair to the poorer classes,, and that, in order to assist in seeing that justice was done, it was my duty to remain, no matter what the hour might be. I am afraid, however, that no argument will make any difference to the vote. The honorable member /for Yarra has evidently obtained the ear of the Government, who have decided to support his proposal. It is evident that the numbers are with the Government; and, therefore, we may save our breath and energy. We have made our protest, and may take it that we have discharged our duty, leaving the responsibility to the Government.
. - Before the vote is taken I should like to refer to some evidence before the Tariff Commission in connexion with the Denton Hat Mills. Mr. Edmund Ogden, journeyman felt hatter, Melbourne, was asked -
Have not the Denton Hat Mills paid very big dividends? - Ten per cent.
In one year, through various circumstances, they paid as high as 25 per cent.? - I do not know anything of it.
Has their dividend been reduced at all since the establishment of the Federal Tariff? - No.
Those mills have been paying, throughout the whole of their existence, and during the operation of the Federal Tariff, a dividend of 10 per cent, on all the money invested in the business. Are those honorable members who are supposed to represent the labouring classes of Australia prepared, by voting for the Government’s proposal, to give the owners of the Denton Hat Mills an opportunity of making themselves richer at the expense of the people of Australia? Although a free-trader, I am prepared to ive all Australian industries a fair show, ut the people of Australia are entitled to know the reason why, in the face of the flourishing condition of these mills, the Government propose higher duties. It makes one think that there must be something behind the Government which we do not know anything of. I do not wish to impute motives.
– What does the honorable member mean by making a statement of that kind?
– I impute no motives, but why do not Ministers justify their proposal?
– It is a crime, in the honorable member’s opinion, for any Australian industry to pay at all.
– I am only too delighted to see every Australian industry prosper, but this is one of the most flourishing of all. I take the following from the evidence of Mr. Poulter, the representative of the- Denton Hat Mills: -
Speaking generally, is there a’ very big difference between the price of a hat when it leaves the Denton Hat Mills and the price of the hat when it reaches the consumer? - There is the difference of the two profit’.
Am I taking an outside margin when I say that there is a difference of 5s., speaking generally? - Very outside, I should say.
What would be a fair margin to take? - I am not justified in answering that question.
Is there any shop in Melbourne where I could purchase a hat and know that it had been made in the Denton Hat Mills?- Yes, I should think that most of the shops would be honest enough to tell you whether it was of Denton make or not; they all know our hats.
Do you deal directly with those shops at all? - No, we deal with only the wholesale houses.
Is there any shop in Melbourne with which you deal directly? - Not one.
The fact is that the Denton Hat Mills, like a number of other Victorian industries, are absolutely in the hands of the men who carry on their business in Flinders-lane, not only as manufacturers, but as importers. If the Committee agree to the proposed duty they will not be helping the Victorian Hat mills, because they do not want help, as they are prospering, but they will be giving Mr. Bruce and others, who are the proprietors of the Denton Hat Mills, an opportunity of putting into their pockets even bigger dividends than the 10 per cent, which was sworn to in the evidence. Surely 10 per cent, is a big enough dividend for any industry. The Committee is entitled to consider the evidence given before the Commission. The Minister of Trade and Customs knows nothing at all about it. The Treasurer knows nothing about it. When a big company is paying a dividend of 10 per cent., there is no necessity to increase the duty on its manufacture. We all desire to see Australian industries made to pay, but we want to insure that the Australians who are engaged in the primary industries and developing Australia do not have to pay too much. The proposal of the Government will make them pay through the nose for the benefit of those who are carrying on industries of this kind around the cities of Melbourne and Sydney. Why should we consider the men who employ a few people in their factories in turning out felt hats, and neglect the interests of those who are producing the wealth of Australia?
Question - That the amendment be amended by inserting after the figures “ 25s.” the words “and on and after 14th November, 1907, on hats of the declared f.o.b. value of not more than 30s. per dozen ad val., 50 per cent.” (Mr. Joseph Cook’s amendment)’ - -PUT. The Committee divided.
Majority … … 6
Question so resolved in the negative.
– The Committee has decided by the last vote that hats of moderate value shall be dutiable at at least 66 per cent.
– That is not so.
– It certainly is so. On hats of the value of 30s. per dozen, the duty voted for was 25s., and honorable members cam reckon up the percentage for themselves. I wish now to take one more test of the opinion of the Committee as to the duty on the lowerpriced goods. I therefore move -
That the amendment be amended by inserting after the figures “25s.” the words “and on and after 14th November, 1907, on hats of the declared f.O.b. value of not more than 20s. per dozen, ad val., 75 per cent.”
– We cannot vote for a duty of 7 5 per cent.
.- It is all very well for honorable members to sneer at a duty of 75 per cent., but I point out that they have been voting for duties as high as 150 per cent. In the last two or three divisions, honorable members have been voting for a duty of 25. per cent, on the lower-priced hats, and, according to the evidence of a South Australian hatter, quoted by the protectionist section of the Tariff Commission, a duty of 30s. per dozen on hats valued -at15s. per dozen is equal to 200 per cent. ; on hats valued at 20s., 150 per cent. ; on hats valued at 25s., 120 per cent. ; and on hats valued at 30s. per dozen, 100 per cent. When honorable members sneer at duties of 50 and 75 per cent., they are only trying to cover up their tracks in voting for duties equal to 150 per cent. I want to say that this is the most scandalous piece of work that ‘was ever attempted in this House since I “‘have been a member of it. Until 11 o’clock last night, no member of the Committee knew that the Government was going to make this proposition.
– That is not correct. The Government . proposal was circulated yesterday morning.
– My statement is absolutely correct. With the exception of those honorable members who were allowed to be absolutely “in the know,” no member of the Committee knew that this proposal was to be made until at 11 o’clock last night the Minister made his statement.
– That is not true.
– It was only last night that the Minister gave the amendment to the honorable member for Yarra.
– Gave it to the honorable member to move?
– That is not correct.
– Then members ofthe Labour Party are being made tools of by the Government.
– The honorable member for Yarra asked me to get the amendment drafted for him.
– I ask the Minister to refrain from interjecting, and I ask the honorable member for Parramatta and other honorable members to cease interjecting from the Treasury benches.
– Except those who were privately informed of it, no honorable member knew that the Government intended to submit this proposal. I venture to say that some honorable members have gone to their homes who were not aware of it. It is a scandalous piece of work. When the 1902 Tariff was under consideration, we did not have an instance of this character. On the contrary, ample notice was given of every amendment. Further, the whole of the arrangements for a late sitting this evening were made privately. I cannot understand how the late leader of the Labour Party can justify the action of the Government. Only yesterday, he stated that the imposition of these duties meant that the consumer would be called upon to pay an increased price for some time to come ? I ask him whether his remarks are not applicable to hats?
– I want to go home.
– The honorable member is at liberty to go. We should not suffer much loss if he retired for good. He only comes here when there is a “job “ on like the one which is now being attempted. This is one of the dirtiest things that have been done in this House.
– The honorable member for Grey has made statements for which there is absolutely no foundation.
– I repeat them.
– The day before yesterday the honorable member for Yarra brought this amendment to me, and asked me if I favoured it. I asked him to give me time to consider it. He also requested me to get it printed and circulated. I did so. I consulted the officers of the Department, and told the honorable member that I would not move it.
– But the Treasurer did move it.
– I did not move it in the first instance. I moved it only because an honorable member cannot move to increase a duty. I had the’ amendment circulated, and it was in charge of the honorable member for Yarra. I did not do that which the honorable member for Grey has accused me of doing. I do not wish to become heated, because I know that the honorable member has made statements which in his calmer moments he will regret. There has been no holeandcorner business indulged in, and no arrangement was made to sit late this evening until the last moment, because it was anticipated that this matter would have been decided very much earlier. I am sure that if the honorable member for Grey had known the facts he would not have made the accusations against .. me which he has made.
– I do not intend to take part in this little interlude, because I think that the honorable member for Grey is quite capable of looking after himself. Whatever the Treasurer may say in reference to his accidental or incidental connexion with this proposal, the fact remains that he is supporting it. No more need be’ said upon that score. But I rise chiefly for the purpose of brushing aside a little misapprehension which appears to linger in the minds of honorable members.’ I “have proposed a duty of 75 per cent in lieu of the fixed duty proposed by the Treasurer, and I have based that duty upon a value of 20s. per dozen.
– There are no fur hats manufactured for that price.
– The Government proposal is that a fixed duty df 25s. per dozen shall be levied upon these hats. I have assessed the value of the hats upon which I propose a 75 per cent, rate at 20s. per dozen. These are the hats which are used by the poor people.
– Poor people?
– The Treasurer sympathizes with the poor people on the platform, but sneers at them behind their backs in Parliament. The rate which I have proposed will work out at 15s. per dozen upon hats of that value.
.- I feel that I must protect myself from the serious attack which has been made upon me by the honorable member for Grey. I am satisfied that if my patriotism be compared with that of the honorable member, it will withstand any examination even of a most microscopic character. I am very pleased that, as a result of my previous speech, my free-trade friends have been induced to support a duty of 75- per cent, upon hats. This is so encouraging that I shall probably ask for a recommittal of the item “ woollens,” in order to afford the honorable member for Parramatta an opportunity to vote for a 75 per cent, duty upon it. Having induced him to do that, I should vote with him on this occasion but for the fact that I have paired.
.- I desire to call attention to the singularly unfair misrepresentation of the amendment by the honorable member for Corio. Although he knows quite well that the honorable member for Parramatta did not propose a duty of 75 per cent, on the article, yet he deliberately makes that statement here. Apparently his object is to mislead any person who may read Hansard into the belief that the honorable member for Parramatta, as a free-trader, proposed a duty of 75 per cent, on hats. It was made quite clear by the honorable member for Parramatta that, instead of proposing 75 per cent, as a specific duty, as the honorable member for Corio would have the public to believe, he proposed the imposition of that duty on a hal of a certain value.
– I ask leave to withdraw my amendment.
.Before the amendment is withdrawn, I desire to say a few words regarding the tangle into which the honorable member for Parramatta has got himself. It was quite a revelation to me to hear a free-trader propose a duty of 75 per cent, on an article of any value. It should be noted, both here and elsewhere, that, whilst protectionists are consistent in trying to obtain a Tariff in conformity with their policy, free-traders are not consistent in their action in opposing or harassing the Government. It may truly be said that they have abandoned everything when a free-trader proposes a duty of 75 per cent.
– As against a duty of 125 per cent.
– To propose the imposition of a duty of 15s. on every pound’s worth of imported hats is, to my mind, the most extravagantly prohibitive proposal thathas been made here. It behoves the electors to keep their eyes upon the members of the Opposition. I protest against -the withdrawal of the amendment, because I think that a division should be taken, and the honorable member for Parramatta hoisted on his own petard.
– I only rise to say, in reply to the honorable member for Gwydir, who has been chiding me about my proposal, that I proposed a duty of 15s. on every pound’s worth of imported hats in preference to supporting a duty of 25s.
– Apparently honorable members are inclined at this hour to make statements which are not conducive to the maintenance of good feeling. What the honorable member for Gwydir has been trying to do is by uttering words which misrepresent the actual position to cover up the action which he, with other members of his party and honorable members sitting behind the Government,” have taken up. The Government have proposed in all seriousness that there shall be a duty of 25s. a dozen on all hats of this description. I desire to put the question fairly and squarely before honorable members. A fixed duty of 25s. a dozen would be levied on hats .which might cost £1 each, as well as on hats which might cost 15s. or 24s. a dozen. In one case the user would pay a duty of 2s. id. on his hat, while in the other case the user would be charged a duty of 1 00 per cent. Honorable members who are supporting the honorable member for Yarra and the ‘Government are prepared to charge the man who can buy a 4s. 6d. hat the same duty - 100 per cent. - as they would charge a man who buys a Woodrow’s guinea hat. The one man is well able to pay the extra cost, but the other man should not in any circumstances be asked to pay that enormous duty. As one who believes in effective protection, I protest against the action which the Government are taking, and also against the action which the members of the Labour Party are taking, because it is not in the interests of those whom they are here to represent. The rate proposed by the honorable member for Parramatta is much lower than that f .ir which some honorable members seemed prepared to vote, being 50 per cent, less than that proposed by the Government.
– The duty he proposes is 15s. on every £1 worth of hats. On hats worth £6 a dozen, the duty which’ would have to be paid if his proposal were adopted would be six times 15s., whereas the Government duty would be only 25s.
– The honorable member for Macquarie fails to see that there must be a differentiation in respect of values. He appears to be willing -to vote for a duty of 125 per cent, on the cheap hats used by the poorer classes, while imposing but a small charge on those who buy expensive hats, to whom a difference of a shilling or two is of no consequence.
– But why should a man who is compelled to wear a silk hat be charged unduly for it? He, as much as the man who purchases low priced hats, is entitled to buy at reasonable rates.
– We have no option now but to vote for the proposal of the honorable member for Parramatta, unless we wish to vote for the Government proposal, and I prefer to vote for a rate of 75 per cent, rather than for one of 125 per cent. I hope that the honorable member for Parramatta will not withdraw his amendment, even’ though only a few members support him, because the country ought .to know who are prepared to vote for such an enormous rate as 125 per cent.
– I was surprised at the speech of the honorable member for Corangamite, and still more at the proposal of the honorable member for Parramatta. If I were opposed to a duty, I would seek to carry out my principles by voting against it, or cor the lowest rate possible. But the honorable member for Parramatta proposes a rate of 75 per cent.
– We are trying to get the lowest rate possible, and have been lighting inch by inch. If the honorable member votes against my proposal, he will have to vote for a duty of 125 per cent.
– If a duty of 125 per cent, is imposed,I shall escape it by purchasing locally-made hats. Honorable members are trying to mislead the country in making it appear that those who buy hats will in future have to pay a duty of 125 per cent, on them. They will escape the duty by buying locally-made hats. I am glad to see a good protectionist, like the honorable member for Corangamite, in agreement with a good Free-trader like the honorable member for Parramatta, and hope that they will vote for duties of 75 per cent, on other items. Apparently, if the Minister wishes to obtain high duties he should propose rates of 100 per cent., and then the Opposition may vote for 50 per cent., although, if he had proposed 35 per cent., they would not have agreed to it. But I am tired of this farce. The discussion of the Tariff occupies too much time for it to be permissible to take up more with ridiculous proposals of this nature.
.At 11 o’clock last night, the honorable member for Parramatta asked for an adjournment, but that was refused, and now, after an acrimonious debate lasting over three and a half hours, we have made no progress. I ask the Treasurer to note this fact for future reference. . Had he acceded to the request’ of the honorable member, for Parramatta, the item would have been dealt with immediately on re-commencing the consideration of the Tariff this afternoon. T take this opportunitv of warning the Treasurer that if this kind of thing happens again he will not find it so easy to get through his business as he has done on this occasion. I can promise him that I shall not restrain myself if we are com pelled to sit up after midnight. He will have to propose the gag if he wants to push business through at unreasonable hours. I do not see why we should be kept out of our beds simply because we have a mule in charge of business.
– The honorable member must withdraw that remark.
– I withdraw it. The proper course would be for the Opposition to walk out of the chamber.
– I think it would be a very good thing for the country if the prohibitionists would walk out of the chamber. The present Government were not returned as a prohibition Ministry. They were returned to. impose a protectionist Tariff. But does the Treasurer call this protection ?
– It is prohibition run mad.
– The Government have really fathered an amendment” for a duty of 125 per cent.
– That is not so.
– The acting leader of the Opposition has suggested a duty of 15s. per dozen, simply because, not being able to get a whole loaf he is trying to get a half-loaf . We, on this side of the chamber, desire to prevent the people, of this country from being saddled with prohibitive duties. Hats are sold in London at from 15s. to 20s. a dozen.
– Not fur hats.
– But under this proposal there is to be no differentiation. The working man is to be compelled to pay as much for his hat as the man who wears a silk hat or a hard boxer. This is an absurdly prohibitive proposal, and one that should never have been accepted by the Treasurer. Had it not been promoted by the honorable member for Yarra, it would never have been fathered by the Ministry. If they had stood for duties of 35 per cent, and 30 per cent, they would have had the solid support of the Opposition corner.
– Where is that solid support now?
– We have given the Government solid support for protectionist proposals all through, but not for prohibition.
– Shandy-gaff votes.
– I should be ashamed to be’ such a shandy-gaff protectionist as the Treasurer is. The people of
Australia have a right to expect this Government to be reasonable and to propose sound protectionist duties, but not to force prohibition down our throats, as is now attempted. Even 35 per cent, would be 5 per cent, too much, but I should be prepared to go so. far. I am quite ready to justify my attitude in supporting the proposal of the honorable member for Parramatta.
– The Treasurer ought to commune with himself. After hours of sitting and a vast waste of time, he now learns what he has missed. He is informed by the honorable member for Grampians that if he had looked around he might have secured the solid support of the Opposition corner party. Well, the only Opposition corner member present is the honorable member fur Grampians himself. The Treasurer really ought to take warning, and realize that the solid support of the honorable member for Grampians is worth having.
– The honorable member is just about as good at humour as I am!
Amendment (by Mr. Joseph Cook) proposed -
That the amendment be amended by inserting after the figures “25s.” the words “and on and after 14th November, 1907, on hats of the declared f.-o.b. value of not more than 20s. per dozen - 15s. -per dozen.”
– I submit that the amendment is out of order, inasmuch as it is practically the same amendment as has already been rejected by the Committee. It is really a proposal for a duty of 75 per cent., which the Committee has negatived.
– I point out, that what the Committee rejected was an ad valorem duty, whereas what the honorable member for Parramatta now proposes is a specific duty.
– It is really an ad valorem duty, because the value of £1 is mentioned.
– I propose a fixed duty.
– The objection that I have personally to an ad valorem duty is the possibility of importers evading duty on the real value of the articles.
– That is a common practice, not a possibility.
– At any rate, I so put the position. For myself, while I am in favour of a fixed duty as against an ad valorem duty, I am not satisfied that there is any real need to impose so high a duty as 25s. and 20s. per dozen on. hats. If the honorable member for Parramatta would omit any reference to the declared value of 20s. - declarations can be made as low as required - I shall be quite prepared to vote for a reduction of the fixed duty as suggested. In my opinion, duties of 20s. and 15s. per dozen would be reasonable.
– I am prepared to accept the suggestion of the honorable member for South Sydney, and I ask leave to withdraw my . amendment.
– I submit that the honorable member has no power to withdraw his amendment, and that you, sir, should rule it out of order.
-I accept the amendment proposed by the honorable member for Parramatta, because I consider that his proposal is for a fixed duty as against a proposed ad valorem duty.
– I ask leave to amend my amendment by substituting duties of 20s. and 15s. per dozen.
– I object; we must have a straight out vote.
.I understand that the honorable member for Parramatta has, in accordance with your ruling, Mr. Chairman, moved that there be a fixed duty of 15s. on hats of the value of 20s. a dozen. We are now dealing with fur hats; and I am credibly informed that no such value can be attached to them. The whole thing is farcical ; the honorable member is turning the business of the Committee into a farce.
– That is what the honorable member for Parramatta has been trying to do all day.
– Is this in order?
– The honorable member for Gwydir has stated that the honorable member for Parramatta is reducing the proceedings to a farce. The honorable member for Gwydir has no right to refer in that wav to the business of the Committee, and I ask him to withdraw the remark.
– Have I to withdraw the truth?
– I ask the honorable member to withdraw the remark.
– Oh, I withdraw- it ! I have been in a few deliberative assemblies, but I have never seen business carried on as in this assembly in connexion with the withdrawal of simple remarks, which would be held to be in order in any other assembly.
– I take that as a reflection on the Chair, and I ask the honorable member to withdraw the remark.
– I withdraw it. I simply say that the conduct of the honorable member for Parramatta in connexion with this item has the resemblance, at any rate, of reducing the proceedings of the Committee to what is known as a farce.
– The honorable member must withdraw those remarks.
– I have not’ said anything
– Will the honorable member resume his seat ? It is of no use the honorable member trying to get round his words, and it would be just as well for him to withdraw them gracefully. I ask the honorable member not to proceed on those lines.
– When one realizes that there are no fur hats invoiced at £1 a dozen it is a clear indication that the sincerity of the honorable member for Parramatta may be gravely doubted by the Committee. I made use of an expression which, unfortunately, is unparliamentary here, and I have had to withdraw it ; but I say again that, when we find ourselves sitting here hour after hour, discussing something that is not practicable or possible, it is time somebody rose to object. The honorable member for Parramatta has moved, in the form of a fixed duty, what he could not carry in the form of an ad valorem duty; and I say there. is no justification for his action, or for the support which is accorded him by the honorable member for Grampians and the honorable member for Corangamite. When those honorable members declare that we on this side are endeavouring to impose a duty of 150 per cent., and that they wish to save the people by reducing the duty to 75 per cent., they are making a statement which cannot be accepted. There are practically no fur hats indented from the Old Country at less than 3s. apiece, or 36s. per dozen. Therefore there is no weight in the plausible argument of honorable members opposite that those supporting the Government are endeavouring to impose a duty of 125 per cent., as against the free-trade proposal of the honorable member for Parramatta of 75 per cent. To vote «for the honorable mem ber’s proposal would be ridiculous. It would make honorable members to appear to be absolutely ignorant of the conditionswith which they were dealing. The honorable member for Illawarra chided me for not understanding the subject, and I admit that since he was a member of the Tariff Commission he has become an eminent authority on all these questions. I hope the Committee will not fall in with the suggestion of the honorable member for South Sydney.
Amendment (by Mr. Watson) proposed -
That the amendment be amended by inserting; after the figures “ 25s.” the words “ and on and after 14th November, 1907 (General Tariff), per dozen, 20s.”
.; - The duty proposed by the honorable member for South Sydney would? amount to 100 per cent., and more, on some classes of hats.
– What would be the average ? *
– I am concerned, not about the average of a duty of this kind, but about how it is going to affect people who can least afford to buy decent hats. I move -
That the amendment be amended by inserting after the figures “ 25s.” the words “ and on and* after 14th November, 1907 (General Tariff), per dozen, 17s. 6d.”
– I hope that the amendment of the honorable member for Parramatta will be carried. The honorable member for Gwydir suggested that I was a -sort of shining light on the Tariff Commission. I may have been, but it would be a good thing if the honorable member for Gwydir and others read the evidence and reports of the Commission before they gave such ridiculous votes as they are now giving.
.. - I wish to speak, not as a protectionist who believes that the duty chargeable upon an article is always paid by the consumer,, whether the article is made here or imported, -but as a protectionist who believes; that protection reduces the cost of an article. I hold in mv hand a hat made inMelbourne. When honorable members are buying hats, I wonder that they do not inquire the price. . I have eventually topay for my hats, so thai I know what I am paying. For many years I had worn onestyle of hat - a Woodrow - for which I always paid 13s. fid. I bought this hat, of equal quality, for 9s. 6d. Does the honorable member for Grampians say that I paid the duty on that hat ? I feel that I have obtained an equally good hat for 4s. less than- 1 used to pay. That is the result of protection. The honorable member for Grampians laughs. He gained his seat in this House because he professed protectionist principles, and it came as a shock to me to hear him declare that in every case the consumer pays the duty, whether, the article is made here or abroad. I had some experience of the operation of ad valorem duties when administering the Victorian Customs Department. I found that they were far too frequentlyused as the instruments of fraud. It is only by imposing fixed duties on these goods that we can secure for the revenue what Parliament desires. I urge the Committee to hesitate before they agree to substitute an ad valorem for a fixed duty. I am prepared to vote for a duty sufficiently high to secure to the Australian manufacturer the Australian market, in order that I may continue to get an article of. first class quality at a lower price than I previously had to pay for the imported one.
.- I hope the Government will adhere to their proposal. The honorable member for South Sydney made a very impassioned speech, appealing to protectionists to vote against revenue duties. I now appeal to protectionists to vote for protective duties. How can we expect workers in the industry here to get £3 per week if locally-made hats have to compete with hats made by Japanese operatives paid 6d. per day. I was returned as a protectionist, and as such I intend to vote for protective duties.
.- The discussion to-night h’as reminded me of an incident that occurred at a place which I occasionally visit. The landlord asked myself and others to enter in his visitors’ book our opinion of the. accommodation he provided. I remember that I wrote - i came here for change and rest -
The landlord took the change and the waiter took the rest.
I have here a hat belonging to the honor-‘ able member for Laanecoorie, for which the honorable member said that he gave 9s. 6d. I am prepared to say that a similar article can be imported from England and sold for much less than the honorable member paid for this hat.
– But the importer does not sell such a, hat for much less.
– This hat is worth 5s. in England, and is not worth more than 7 s. here.
.- I should not have spoken but’ for the remarks made by the honorable member for Denison. For some years past I have worn only Australianmade hats, and I have found them far better than any imported hat I could get at the same price.
– I wear an Australian-made hat also, for which I paid 10s. 6d. at 66 Bourke-street, and a very good hat it is.
– Is the price less than that which the honorable member used to pay for imported hats?
– I believe that the imported hat for which I used to pay 10s. ,6d. now costs 12s. 6d.
– Was that hat any better from the stand-point of quality than the one which the honorable member is now wearing ?
– No. I think that the article which is turned out in Victoria is an excellent one, and that the price charged for it is reasonable. But if the Victorian manufacturers are able to produce an excellent article at a reasonable cost, why should we erect a ring fence to preserve them from the ordinary competitive conditions which the trades and businesses of the world must face in order to keep themselves alive and in a healthy condition? So far as the competition from Japan is concerned, I find from the statistical returns that last year our imports of hats were valued at .£213,000, of which £3,000 worth came from japan. It will be seen, therefore, that Japan is, indeed, flooding Australia with hats.
– The honorable member for Batman has charged honorable members sitting in the Opposition corner, and myself in particular, with being false to the pledges upon which we were returned to this House. I wish to say that I was elected to correct fiscal anomalies, and to redress just grievances. That is what I have attempted to do throughout the discussion of this Tariff. I ask honorable members whether there are any just grievances in connexion with the manufacture of hats? If so, I should like to hear of them. I desire to extend fair play to this industry, which, under the rate levied under the old Tariff, was a flourishing one. The honorable member for Brisbane has quoted correspondence which proves that the* Denton Hat Mills cannot supply any further orders for six months.
– Men-who are employed at those mills have been out of work for weeks.
– Customers must obtain hats from somewhere, and if they cannot secure them from the Denton mills, from what source are they to obtain them?
– Let them go to Anderson’s.
– His business is also a flourishing one - so flourishing that he has recently -imported more skilled hatters. In North Queensland and Western Australia the retailers must obtain their supply of hats from some source, and if the local manufacturers cannot supply orders the hats have to be imported. In such a case we have to exercise great care, because it is generally admitted that the customer has to pay the import duty. When hats have to be imported to supply the demand, it necessarily follows that if we impose top heavy a duty we shall interfere very unjustly with the deserving settlers in the back districts of Western Australia and Queensland. The proposition of the honorable member for Parramatta to impose a duty of 17s. 6d. a dozen is a fair one. It is a very high rate of duty on the lower class of hats, and, unfortunately, it lets off lightly the more expensive articles.
Question - That the amendment be amended by inserting after the figures “ 25s.” the words “and on and after 14th November, 1907 (General Tariff), per dozen, 17s. 6d.” (Mr. Joseph Cook’s amendment) - put’. The Committee divided.
Majority … … 9
Question so resolved in the negative.
– I have moved -
That the amendment be amended by inserting after the figures “ 25s.” the words, “ and on and after 14th November, 1907 (General Tariff) per dozen, 20s.”
The honorable member for Batman has complained that my attitude on this item has not been sufficiently protective. In my opinion, a duty of 20s. a dozen on hats is strongly protective. It will get rid of the greatest complaint which the local manufacturers have advanced, and that is the persistent undervaluing of imported hats. I think that1s. 8d. per hat is a very reasonable protection for local workmen to have in their favour.
– I am rather surprised at the honorable. member for South Sydney, who has always assured us that he was a protectionist, submitting this amendment, with the full knowledge that during the last two months the hat industry has been suffering from the importation of foreign hats. Despite the statement of the honorable member for Brisbane’ that, according to a letter which he read, an order has been refused by the Denton Hat Mills, we who are associated with the workmen know that they are not fully employed. The hat mills in Australia could turn out a great deal more than they do. In spite of the fact that the workmen are not working full time, thousands of dozens of hats are im ported every year. Why do we apply protection ? We do so to foster the industries of the country, and thereby give employment to our people. When, in spite of the protective duties in force, men in the protected trades are out of work, and importations are increasing, the only conclusion to be come to is that the rates are not sufficiently high, and ought to be increased. But when we propose to increase them, we are called prohibitionists. Personally, I would prohibit the importation of any article which we can manufacture in Australia. But if we increased this duty to 52s. per dozen, hats would still be imported. Some persons, through pure cussedness, or for some other reason, will insist on having imported articles; but they ought to pay for them. As a proof that the increasing of the duty will not raise the price of hats, I again mention the fact that in Perth hats cost 3s. more than they do in Melbourne, because there is no factory there. I hope that the protectionists will not vote for the reduction which has been moved by the honorable member for South Sydney.
Colonel FOXTON (Brisbane) [3.28 a.m.] - On a previous occasion I referred to a letter which had been received from the Secretary to the Denton Hat Mills Company, declining orders, and the PostmasterGeneral, who I understand is interested in the company-
– He has no interest in it.
Colonel FOXTON.- Then I withdraw my remarks. Still, he took it upon himself to contradict my statement that orders had been declined, and to pretend to a knowledge of the inner working of the establishment.
– As a retail hatter, he would be likely to know something about the business.
Colonel FOXTON.- As the honorable member for Melbourne Ports has also expressed doubts about the existence of the letter, I will read it to the Committee again, although it already appears in * Hansard.* It is as follows -
M. Kirkland, Ltd.,
We were duly favoured with your letter of February 26th. We are sorry that you should have been disappointed at the contents of our last, but we would state that you are quite under a misapprehension in thinking that we had undertaken to send you a range of samples within a week or ten days.
Whilst we have ample accommodation and power at the factory to deal with a largely increased turnover, the difficulty is that the supply of labour in certain branches of the trade is limited, and having already a large clientele in the various States we naturally study first those who have done a satisfactory business with us for years.
The orders which we have now on hand are fully as much as we can cope with for many months, exclusive of the repeat orders that are regularly arriving, so that, much as we regret it, we are compelled on this ground to pass your firm, as were we to encourage you to send us orders we fear our inability to deliver to time, which would be a disappointment to you, as well as unsatisfactory to ourselves.
In the meantime, we are,
The Denton Mills Hat Factory Coy. Ltd. (Per Secretary.)
Question- That the amendment be amended by inserting after the figures “ 25s.” the words “ and on and after 14th November, 1907 (General Tariff), per dozen, 20s.” (Mr. Watson’s amendment) - put. The Committee divided.
Majority … … 2
Question so resolved in the negative.
Amendment (by Mr. Joseph Cook) put -
That the amendment be amended by inserting after the figures “ 25s.” the words “ and on and after 14th November, 1907 (General Tariff), per dozen, 21s.”
The Committee divided.
Majority … … 6
Question so resolved in the negative.
Amendment (by Mr. Joseph Cook) proposed -
That the amendment be amended by inserting after the figures “ 25s.” the words “ and on and after 14th November, 1907 (General Tariff), per dozen, 22s. 6d.”
– We have had a sufficient number of divisions to test the feeling of the Committee. So far I have endeavoured to assist the honorable member for Parramatta, but I think that at this stage he might accept the decision of the Committee, and not call for a division on his amendment.
– I am sorry that I cannot oblige the honorable member for Wimmera. I should like to do so. I am exceedingly glad that he has been able to vote with us so far. But I conceive the proposed duty to be an infamous one. There is no reason in it, and thereforeI shall contest it at every stage.
– I should like to point out to the honor able member for Wimmera that, as the honorable member for Parramatta remarked a little while ago, we should never be weary in well doing. This is well doing. We are attempting to do what is fair by the manufacturers, the workers, and the people. There is always room for repentance; and honorable members, including the Treasurer himself, may be convinced that they are going further than is consistent with even their idea of protection. Under the circumstances, the only course left open to us is to vote for the proposal of the honorable member for Parramatta, which I ask the Treasurer to accept as a fair compromise.
– I shall support the amendment of the honorable member for Parramatta as the best way out of the difficulty. I do not “think that the honorable member for Corangamite ought to have to appeal to the Treasurer to accept any compromise, because the Treasurer ought to accept it of his own accord. None of us were returned here as prohibitionists; and yet the duty proposed by the Government is undoubtedly prohibitive. I never addressed an audience when I did not say that I should oppose prohibition ; and I cannot support the present proposal of the Government. Those who do support that proposal are, I think, misrepresenting the farming community. The honorable member for Laanecoorie made some remark about myself, and also about protection ; but surely he was not returned as a prohibitionist ? Has the honorable member any farmers in his constituency?
– Then the honorable member is misrepresenting them tonight. I hope the Treasurer will accept the amendment of the honorable member for Parramatta as a fair compromise.
– The honorable member for Grampians has been good enough to make particular reference to myself. I would remind that honorable member, however, that the use of such a term as “misrepresenting,” when applied to honorable members, is scarcely calculated to increase the good feeling which has hitherto prevailed.
Question - That the amendment be amended by inserting after the figures “ 25s.” the words “ and on and after 14th November, 1907 (General Tariff), per dozen, 22s. 6d.” (Mr. Joseph Cook’s amendment) - put. The Committee divided.
Majority … 7
Question so resolved in the negative.
Mr.Batchelor. - As a teller, I can state that the honorable member was distinctly inside the chamber.
.Does the Minister intend to ask the Committee to deal with the whole item; or will he report progress when the consideration of this paragraph is finished? I understand that these hats are pulped together, and not shaped properly for wearing, and are of small value when imported in that condition. They are partly manufactured, and a great deal of the work is done in making them up into proper shapes. That being the case, is it the intention of the Minister, and of the honorable member who has suggested this duty to him, to have those hats of low value charged at the high rate? The impost is very heavy, and honorable members are justified in offering very strenuous opposition to it.
Amendment (by Mr. Joseph Cook) negatived -
That the amendment be amended by inserting after the figures “ ass.” the words “ and on and after 14th November, 1907 (General Tariff), per dozen, 24s.”
Original amendment agreed to.
Amendment (by Sir William Lyne) agreed to -
That the following words be inserted : -
Firemen’s Helmets and Miners’ Hats. Free.
Hats, Caps, and Bonnets of all descriptions and materials n.e.i., including Forms,’ Pull-over Hoods, Shapes, and .
Frames, n.e.i., ad val. (General Tariff) 35 per cent. (United Kingdom) 30 per cent.
– On behalf of the honorable member for Fawkner, I move -
That the following new paragraph be added - “ (e) Grass Hoods for the purpose of being manufactured into complete hats under departmental by-laws, free.”
I understand that the honorable member consulted the Government on this matter, and he requested me to move the amendment for him.
– The Comptroller-General has sent me a memorandum to the effect that he has no objection to the proposed amendment. The honorable member for Fawkner spoke to me about it, but I have not had! time to consider it. I do not know what its effect would be, and I do not think it would be wise for me in the circumstancesto accept it. I should prefer to take advantage of an opportunity to deal with the matter in a different way later on.
– Is it in order for any member of the Committee to delegate to another the moving of an amendment on his behalf?
– I can only accept the amendment as having been moved by the honorable member for Wimmera. It will appear in his name, and I can recognise no one else in the matter.
.- Whether the amendment is moved by the honorable member for Fawkner or some other honorable member is not a matter of much consequence to the Committee, but it is important for honorable members to know that the Minister is not in a positionto say what the amendment would involve.
– I do not know what its effect would be.
– Then we should not lie called upon to vote for it.
– It does not come from the right quarter.
– The honorable member is not fair. I might be prepared to accept the amendment if I knew exactly what its effect would be.
– What does the honorable member for Parramatta suggest?
– That if the amendment came from the Labour corner it would be accepted without question.
– That is beneath the honorable member, and the position he holds, but if he chooses to take up an attitude which belittles himself and the Committee, no one can prevent it. I am sure that no member of the Committee would be influenced to vote against a proposal which he thought was just, merely because it was moved by a certain honorable member.
– I am much obliged to the honorable member for his lecture. I repeat that if the amendment came from the Labour corner it would be accepted with alacrity by the Treasurer. I think the amendment is one which ought . to be passed, and I shall support it in every way I can. If no one else moved the amendment, I should be prepared to move it myself.
– I should not have required the honorable member to move it if I knew exactly what the effect of the amendment would’be. I do not know what it involves, and I decline to accept it until I do. The honorable.. member for Batman, I believe, wishes to submit another proposal also, and I shall be prepared to consider how these proposals can be dealt with later on, but I wish it to be understood that I am not prepared to have the whole item recommitted, and to be heckled as I have been to-night in connexion with it.
.I have the strongest objection to the amendment. It is unreasonable that the honorable member for Fawkner, who has not been present for a considerable time, should expect other honorable members to carry on the business of the country in his absence, and at this hour to consider an amendment submitted on his behalf. The honorable member for Parramatta has said that he is prepared to support the amendment, though he knows nothing about it. It simply indicates what the honorable member is prepared to support, even when there is nobody to explain it. I shall vote against the amendment. I do not think that the Government ought to offer to those who absent themselves from’ the House facilities to submit amendments by proxy, or to take up time at a later stage by moving the recommittal of the items.
– I can scarcely see that any exception can be taken to one honorable member submitting an amendment on behalf of another. The reason why I did not explain this proposal was that I understood it was more of a departmental matter than anything else, and that the honorable member who placed it in my hands had consulted the proper authorities, who had offered no objection to it. Under the circumstances, I thought that there was no necessity to explain it. I trust that the Government will agree to the amendment.
– What is the reason for it, anyhow?
– If the Treasurer will promise to recommit the item, so that a fair opportunity may be afforded honorable members to discuss it, I shall be satisfied.
– So long as honorable members do not desire a recommittal of the item in order that there may be a revision of the position of the hat industry, I have no objection to that course being adopted. But I must have an assurance to that effect before I agree to its recommittal. The honorable member for Batman has an amendment, which is rather an important one, and I am prepared to allow the two proposals to be considered, upon the conditions that I have outlined. But I do not wish it to be understood that I shall consent to a recommittal of the item unconditionally.
Question - That new paragraph e be added (Mr. Sampson’s amendment) - put. The Committee divided.
Majority … … 20
Question so resolved in the negative.
Paragraphs a and b negatived.
Item, as amended, agreed to.
– I wish to move -
That the following new item be inserted : - “ 125a. Incandescent Mantles -
Finished and ready for use, ad val. (General Tariff), 30 per cent. ; (United Kingdom), 25 per cent.
Unfinished in sizes . for finishing, or material in the piece if defined, for cutting up into sizes for Mantles, ad val. (General Tariff), 15 per cent:; (United Kingdom), 10 per cent.
Material in piece, n.e.i., ad val. (General Tariff), 5 per cent. ; (United Kingdom), free.”
If this item is not inserted, incandescent mantles will come under paragraph d of item 144 in division VI., where they are charged a much higher duty than I now propose. The Department do not wish to charge that higher duty, but they will be compelled to do’ so unless my proposal is accepted.
– Make the alteration when we reach, the item.
– The ComptrollerGeneral is very anxious that incandescent mantles should be brought at once under textiles in division V. There is nothing in the alteration I propose.
– It is a very important item, affecting the gas companies throughout Australia.
– The effect of my proposal is to reduce the duties. At the present time the” duties are 40 per cent, and 30 per cent, respectively, and the Department desire that thev should be reduced to 30 per cent, and 25 per cent. I hope that honorable members will, offer no objection to my proposal.
– I have a very strong objection to the proposed alteration, because the duty under the old Tariff was only 15 per cent!
– The protectionist section of the Tariff Commission recommended a duty of 15 per cent.
– I would like honorable members to decide the matter at once, and if they are agreeable it will not take many minutes to finish this division.
– I want to start with other business to-morrow.
– What the Minister is proposing to do is really to bring forward an item in the Tariff. Some time ago we had a big fight over a proposal of that kind, and we may have a big fight if it is attempted again at this hour. I for one will not be a party to it. I Hold that a big question of this kind should be discussed in its proper place.
– Otherwise it means that we cannot dispose of this division.
– I hope that the Minister, will not persist with his proposal, because the gas companies feel . very strongly about the duties on incandescent mantles.
– That fact almost tempts me to allow the higher duties- on the articles to remain, because the gas companies are the most grasping people I have ever met.
– I am talking of the hundreds of gas companies throughout Australia. Every town or hamlet, which is able to afford gas, is interested in the duties on this article.
– If any objection . is to be offered, I shall defer the matter, allowing the higher duties to remain in force, for which I am very sorry.
Item 141. Ammunition, viz., Shot, Bullets, and Slugs, per cwt. (General Tariff), 5s. 6d. ; (United Kingdom), 5s.
*Motive Power, Engine Combinations, and
Power Connexions are dutiable under their respective headings, when not integral parts of exempted macliines, machinery, or machine tools. .
Bill returned from the Senate without request.
Motion (by Sir William Lyne) agreed to -
That the House at its rising adjourn until this day at 3 p.m.
House adjourned at 4.36 a.m. (Thursday).
Cite as: Australia, House of Representatives, Debates, 13 November 1907, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/hofreps/1907/19071113_reps_3_41/>.