3rd Parliament · 2nd Session
Mr.Speaker took the chair at 3 p.m., and read prayers.
Mr. JOHN THOMSON presented a petition from a number of fishermen, at Port Macquarie, New South Wales, praying that the duty on fishing nets and cork floats may be remitted.
Mr. COON presented a petition from 200 workers engaged in the manufacture of parasols, umbrellas, and sunshades, praying that item 123 of the Tariff be recommitted, and the duty fixed at 35 per cent. ad valorem, instead of 20 per cent.
Petition received and read.
– I present a similar petition from the workers engaged in the manufacture of parasols, umbrellas, and sunshades in Sydney, and desire that it be read.
– It is not usual to fead two petitions of a similar character.
– It is similar to, but I do not think identical with, the petition presented by the honorable member for Batman.
Consideration by Senate.
Mi. WILKS.- I desire to ask the Prime Minister, without notice, whether, with a view to facilitate the consideration of the Tariff, the Government are prepared to forward without delay to the Senate the five divisions with which this House has already dealt?
– As the result of inquiries instituted in consequence of a suggestion made by the deputy leader of the Opposition, I find that the Senate does not desire at the present time of the year to receive the Tariff jn sections.
– I desire to ask the Minister of Trade and Customs whether the proposed Bill relating to the importation of patent medicines has yet been drafted ?
– It will be laid on the table of the House to-morrow.
– I wish to ask the Min ister of Defence what arrangements have been made with reference to the selection of a site for a small-arms and ammunition factory and whether a decision has been arrived at in regard to the site at Lithgow which was offered to the Government ?
– No decision has yet been arrived at. I presume that . in the course of, perhaps, a few weeks a definite statement in regard to the whole matter will be made.
Colonel FOXTON.- Is the Prime Minister yet in a position to make any definite statement as to the oversea mail contract?
– So far as the Govern ment are concerned nothing remains to be done ; but the tenderers are awaiting a cable from London before taking the final step of signing the contract.
– Is the Minister of Defence aware that although new guns have been provided for the Field Artillery in Victoria it was found impossible on the King’s birthday - and. this has been the position for several months - to use them owing to the want of a range long enough to fire over. Has the Department made any arrangements for the selection of a suitable range on the Nepean Peninsula, or some more suitable site?.
– The question is a very important one, and there is some difficulty in dealing with it, since the area required must be large, fairly accessible, and obtainable at a reasonable price. Action is being taken in regard to the acquisition of ranges not only in Victoria but in all the States, and I hope to be able in the near future to give some information to the House in regard to the matter.
– Is the Minister of Trade and Customs yet in a position to state “whether the somewhat unusual- course adopted by his Department of seizing a consignment of- goods from Japan has resulted in a profit?
– I have not yet obtained the exact figures as to the sale of the goods in question, but know that a very handsome profit has been made. I hope to be able to give full particulars either to-morrow or on Tuesday- next.
– In view of the difficulty, of inducing a number of honorable members to attend to their parliamentary duties in connexion with all-night sittings, I desire to know whether the Treasurer will see that a record is kept of the names of those who remain in attendance on such occasions ?
– A record of all divisions appears in Hansard as well as in the Votes and Proceedings of the House. The names of those present at all-night sit tings can thus be readily obtained. I do not know what further action could be taken in the direction suggested by the honorable member.
– I wish to ask the Prime Minister whether, in order to do away with all-night sittings, it is not possible for us to meet six days a week? I am not prepared to remain here all night, but I am ready to be in attendance six days a week from 10 a.m. until 6 p.m.
– Any proposal for the better transaction of the business of the House is worthy of consideration.
-Has the Prime Minister given any attention to the strike of coal miners in New South Wales, and to the possibility of the dispute extending beyond the limits of that State ?
– No citizen of the Commonwealth can afford to ignore so serious a situation ; but I think that the honorable member will agree that, until events occur that will place the responsibility upon the Commonwealth, the least said regarding it in the meantime the better. . With an earnest desire to assist, by every means in our power, the earliest possible equitable settlement of this’ unhappy dispute, we think it undesirable to say anything that might possibly, impede the. negotiations, which according to the press are already in progress.
asked the Post master-General, upon notice-
– The answer to the honorable member’s questions is as follows
Inquiries are being made, and the desired information will be furnished as early as possible.
asked the Minister of Defence, upon notice -
Has he taken into consideration the possibility of making arrangements with the Imperial authorities whereby the benefits of military training afforded by such places as India- may be open to members of the Militia Forces of the Commonwealth, upon a basis which would provide those who are prepared to give the time with the ordinary pay and allowances?
– The answer to the honorable member’s . question is as follows -
Thequestion of sending a few selected officers of the Citizen Forces abroad for instruction has been considered ; and, recognising the value of affording such officers every facility for enlarging the scope of their military knowledge, I propose to recommend provision on next year’s Estimates, in order that the system may be initiated.
asked the Postmaster-General, upon notice -
With reference to questions relating to prohibitions recently issued by the New Zealand Postal authorities, against the transmission of mail matter to and from certain firms or persons trading in the Commonwealth, is it a fact that certain of these firms or persons were previously prohibited by his Department; and, if so, why were such prohibitions withdrawnor allowed to be inoperative?
– The answer to the honorable member’s question is as follows -
Yes. The delivery of correspondence to one firm or institute was prohibited in January, 1906 ; but the prohibition was removed in the following April, on the advice of the Crown Law Officers, upon the principal of the firm or institute in question giving a written undertaking that he would not again infringe the provisions of the Post and Telegraph Act 1901.
asked the PostmasterGeneral, upon notice -
– In reply to the honorable member’s questions I beg to state that inquiries are being made, and that the necessary information will be furnished as early as possible. I may add that instructions have been issued to the Deputy PostmastersGeneral in the several States that special measures must be taken to prevent any such delays in future.
asked the PostmasterGeneral, upon notice -
-The replies to the honorable member’s questions are as follow -
– In moving -
That this Bill be now read a second time,
I may say at once that I do not think it will be necessary for me to deal with all the details of this Bill, since a similar measure has already engaged the aftention of the House on three different occasions, and the debates in respect of it are recorded in Hansard. In 1902, a Bill providing for the payment of a bonus upon the production of iron was introduced by the right honorable member for Adelaide, after the matter had been inquired into by a Royal Commission. As is well known, the measure did. not become law. A majority of honorable members in that Parliament were averse to the granting of bounties.
– There are so many honorable members moving about the chamber and holding private conversations, that, it is almost impossible for the Treasurer to proceed. I must ask honorable members to obey the ordinary rules of debate.
– The Bill which was introduced by the right honorable member for Adelaide did not become law, because at that time a majority of honorable members were opposed to the granting of bonuses for the purpose of fostering the iron industry. Upon 22nd March, 1904, I brought forward another measure having a similar object in view. That did not meet with the favorable reception which I had anticipated, and consequently it was not passed into law. Again, in 1905, a Bill of a similar character wassubmitted, with a like result. I am now proposing the second reading of a measure which, though not identical with its predecessors, contains very similar provisions to those which were embodied in them. I have brought it forward because the Tariff has been so arranged that if it does not receive the approval of honorable members we shall then be in a position to deal with the question of iron and steel in another way. I am very strongly in favour of fostering the iron industry by means of bounties, because I hold that . if a duty’ be imposed upon iron - and that is theonly alternative presented to us - it will be, to some extent,, a tax upon the raw material used in many of our manufactures. In Division VIa; of the Tariff, we proposeto grant to manufacturers an increased protection of z or 3 per cent, in consequenceof the imposition of duties upon pig iron, and a variety of other products to which I shall presently refer.
– I cannot allow the Treasurer to refer in detail to matters connected with the work of the Committee of Ways and Means. I must ask him to make only an incidental reference to the Tariff schedule.
– This Bill is so inextricably interwoven with the Tariff proposals that I hope a little latitude will be extended to me.
– They are really allied proposals.
– Exactly. I do not wish to infringe the rules of debate, but it would be almost impossible for me to explain fhe provisions of this Bill without referring to the Tariff proposals of the Government.
– This debate ought to have taken place in Committee.
– I am endeavouring to meet the wishes of honorable members, and I hope that the honorable member will not endeavour to interpose obstacles.
– Of course I am not administering any rule which I myself have laid down. I am merely administering the Standing Orders, which preclude reference being made, in a debate upon one measure, to a debate upon another measure. If the Treasurer intends to refer in detail to the Tariff proposals, I cannot possibly allow him to do that. But I would point out that he will be able to accomplish his’ object by emphasizing the advantage of adopting the bounty method of encouraging the iron industry without discussing the exact rates of duty set out in the Tariff schedule.
– Your suggestion, sir, is a practicable one, and I shall gladly adopt it. In order that I may not wander from the particular points which I desire to emphasize I have had a few lines typed for the purpose of showing the effect of this measure upon Divisions VIa. and VIb. of the Tariff-
Division VIa. is a list of articles which are to remain free till the industry of making them in Australia is successfully established. So soon as this is achieved then the duties set out in the schedule of Division VIa. are to come into operation. The effect of . Division VIa. coming into force will be to place a duty (taking an example) upon 229 (c) bar and angle iron, sheet iron, &c, of 12½ per cent. The duty on corrugated galvanized iron under Division VI. is 20 per cent, and 25 per cent. Till VIa. comes into operation sheet iron is free, and, consequently, the maker of galvanized iron has the whole of his duty (20 per cent, and 25 per cent. by way of protection. The duty on the sheet used under VIa. is 12½ per cent. and when that division comes into force the protection now given would be reduced to the extent of the duty paid on the raw material, and the margin in favour of the manufacturer reduced to that extent.
– Assuming that the Bill becomes law, will the Treasurer still proceed with Divisions VIa. and VIb. of the Tariff?
– Yes. My typewritten statement proceeds-
To counteract this it is intended so soon as VIA. comes into force that VIb. shall follow and increase the import duty on galvanized iron by 5 per cent, (i.e., to 25 per cent, and 30 per cent.). This 5 per cent, is about equal to the additional cost to the manufacturer of the duty on his raw material. If this were not done the effect might be that manufacturers would be entirely in the hands of the maker of the sheet from who might not be able to supply, or might demand too much for the price of his article. If he did so then the manufacturer would be enabled to use imported sheet on which import duty has been paid, and would be in no worse position tha-n he was before.
– Would not this sheet Iron be imported?
– But my object is to stimulate the local production of iron, so that we shall not require to import a large quantity.
– Is the typewritten statement which the Treasurer has read his own production ?
– Has it been prepared . since half-past 5 o’clock this morning?
– Yes. I was not idle this morning, I can assure the honorable member, notwithstanding that the House had sat all night. I was desirous of placing the position on record in such a way as would admit of no mistake being made, and consequently I had the. statement, which I have read, typewritten. If we adopt Division VIa. of the Tariff we shall then have to consider Division VIb.
– Those divisions contain a long list of articles.
– But in Division VI. there are very few items which will be seriously affected. It was at the instance of members of the Committee of Ways and Means that I promised, within the past ten days, to bring forward this measure before Division VIa. of the Tariff had been dealt with, because its provisions may affect some of the duties specified therein. As we have dealt with this question upon at least three pievious occasions, I do not intend to make a long speech upon it. As a matter of fact, I am not quite sure that still another Bill relating to it . was not passed by this House and transmitted to the Senate last year, where it was defeated by, I believe, one vote. I regard the iron industry as representing the foundation of the prosperity of the manufactures of Australia. Not only in one State, but in several, there are abundant deposits of iron ore. I have visited some of those places, and, in my opinion, the best ore is to be found at Blythe River, in Tasmania. That ore has been tested thoroughly ; and I understand that a drive has been put in for about 600 feet. A small shipment was sent to England, not to be assayed, but to be dealt with in the ordinary way ; and the result was within 1 per cent, of the result from ore obtained from the richest mine in the world, in Norway. All this ore at the present time is lying idle ; and the Tariff proposals are, as the honorable member for Dalley has said, double-barrelled. The first barrel is represented by this Bill, and the second barrel is . represented by the duties which we propose if the Bill is not carried into effect.
– Blank cartridge !
– No; the second barrel will kill, if the first does not.
– Who is to be killed ?
– The Opposition.
– Oh, no !
– However, I do not think that I shall have much opposition to the proposal which I am now submitting.
– Would not those interested in the industry prefer a duty of 12 per cent, without a bounty?
– Yes; but there is the difficulty that if a duty be imposed before it is possible to produce iron in
Australia, then the price of the raw material is increased to manufacturers in the meantime. But for this fact, it would be by far the easier method to impose a duty. In every country in the world, where the iron and steel industry has become prominent - such as Canada and the United States, and, in earlier days, Great Britain - a bounty has been the first step towards development. I am merely proposing what Has been proposed three times before, namely, a bounty without a duty in the first instance, but with a provision that, when there is sufficient production, not only from one mill, but, perhaps, from a dozen, to prevent any great rise in prices, we may be relieved from the necessity of paying a bounty, and may impose a duty. That is the whole theory of the proposal now laid before honorable members. I should like to’ refer to the great imports of not only pig iron and bar iron, but iron manufactures as a whole. This matter has been referred to on previous occasions, and figures relating to the matter may be found recorded in Hansard. The average imports of iron and steel, unmanufactured and manufactured, into Australia represent about £7,000,000 a year. I have here the latest return, which I have pleasure in laying before honorable members -
– Honorable members know all these figures by heart.
– These are the latest returns, and have not before been presented to honorable members.
– Surely this is ancient history.
– No; these figures bring us up to the present moment.
– Tell us about the Bill.
– I shall do so presently; I do not think honorable members, can say that I am detaining them too long. The figures which I am now giving, have hitherto been represented in totals and not in detail.
– The figures represent iron and iron, manufactures.
– Yes; and this is the largest importation we have had for some- time, the average being, as I have already said, about £7,000,000. I give the details in order that the magnitude of this inBustry may be realized by honorable members. I regret that the iron industry, which has been started in New South Wales, and has been assisted by the Government of that State, does not promise to be successful. This is not because the best class of iron is not produced there. It has been proved that the iron manufactured in New South Wales is better than English iron, and is as good as Scotch iron. The reason is to be found in the fact that an industry of the character cannot be started without immense capital.
– Or a good duty.
– A few years ago Mr. Carson, who came here from England with a view of starting the industry, told me that no degree of success could be looked for unless the capital invested was at least £900,000; and since then it has been estimated by Mr. Jamieson that £1,100,000 is necessary.
– But those interested in the industry say that if there is a duty they do not want a bounty.
– I know that they prefer a duty ; but I have pointed out how difficult it is to impose a duty without increasing the price of iron to manufacturers of m’achines, agricultural implements, and so forth.
– Could the duty not be brought in operation in twelve months’ time ?
– In New South Wales, under the Tariff proposed by Sir George Dibbs, the duty on pig iron was postponed for twelve months with the idea that, in the meantime, the industry would be established. At the end of the twelve months, however, the industry was not established, and the. Tariff immediately came into operation, and remained until free-trade was established by the present leader of the Opposition.
– There never was a duty on pig iron in New South Wales.
– There was; I know what I am talking about.
– And so do I.
– And I have been very cautious in regard to this prospective duty, from the fear that the experience of New South Wales might be repeated.
– I suppose the Treasurer has every reason to believe that the people interested in this industry are in earnest ?
– I have no doubt in my mind as to the earnestness of these people. I think that on the last occasion a number of honorable members were frightened by the rumour that the interest of the syndicate was being sold to London capitalists for a large sum of money.
– They were taking too much out of it.
– It was thought that they were taking too much for themselves.
– That idea influenced a great many votes.
– 1 think that it did. The reason why men with capital are very chary about investing money in the iron industry here, notwithstanding that we have so much ore available, is that they fear the American Steel Trust, which, with its ramifications, has a capital of £400, 000, 000.
– Surely not.
– That is so.
– Will- not the Australian Industries Preservation Act protect our manufactures?
– The steel and iron might be dumped down here at rates just below those at which we could produce. That might be done without injuring a large section of the community, but to the destruction of the industry itself. I hope, however, that the Act will have some effect in preventing wholesale dumping.
– Is it not the German and Belgian iron that capitalists are afraid of?
– Men whom I have urged to embark capital in this industry have told me that they are afraid of the American Steel Trust. We should do all we can to foster this industry in the interest of local manufactures, the increased production of wealth, and the defence of Australia, which is, perhaps, the strongest reason of all. When Premier of New South Wales, at the time of the South African war, I applied for 5,000 or 10,000 rifles; but every arsenal was at the time in full work, and the British Government replied that the rifles could not be supplied, and not one was obtained until some time after the war had finished. We should not, in war time, be unable to arm ourselves. We have the raw material for the manufacture of iron, and it will be a serious thing for us in the future if we cannot make our own arms. The Go-: ernment intend, within a few days, to make a proposal for the establishment of a small-arms factory, and I hope that later on we shall be able to make more than small arms. My honorable colleagues and myself wish to have something to fall back on in the event of this Bill meeting the same fate as similar Bills.
– This measure is very different from that last dealt with.
– It does not differ much.
– It introduces, the re-purchase principle.
– That was in the last Bill ; but it does not mean very much.
– The last Bill was defeated in the Senate.
– Did not the principle referred to secure its defeat?
– I do not think so. Clause 9 provides that a person claiming a bounty shall give his bond to the Commonwealth if he transfers his interests to the State in which the goods are manufactured, should the State Government wish to take over the industry.
– Have the States been consulted about this matter?
– It was not necessary to consult them so far as this provision is concerned. We only make provision for a State undertaking the work if it wishes to do so. If we cannot establish this industry in any other way, the State should do so.
– . Nationalization !
– Not to secure nationalization, but for the national “ defence.
– - Is not the Government of New South Wales considering the matter?
– I understand that Mr. Sandford has applied to the Government of New South Wales for assistance in carrying on his industry, so that he may prove the possibility of manufacture from local ore, or to take over the industry.
– The Government of New South Wales is considering whether, it would not be better to purchase and own the works than to guarantee them.
– I do not think that there is authority for that statement.
– I know only what I have seen in the press.
– Mr. Sandford has applied to the Government of New South Wales for assistance, and the Government are considering the matter.
- Mr. Sandford has communicated with me, to ascertain whether the Commonwealth could not take over his interest.
– Clause 9 does not carry us any further than we are, because the States Governments already have the power to enter into this industry.
– That may be; but there is no reason, why we should not pass this provision, though, if it is considered unnecessary, it can be struck out.
– It tells the State Governments that they can do what they clearly have the power to do.
– It also provides a means for the transference of interests. The schedule to the Bill is not quite the same as the schedule to the last Bill. For instance, no bounty is provided for the production of spelter, of which a great deal is required in Australia. As was shown when the wirenetting duties were under discussion, the manufacturers of wire-netting require more spelter than they can get in Australia. The honorable member for Kooyong said that plenty of spelter is being obtained from Broken Hill, but I have ascertained that the spelter used is made at Cockle Creek, from Broken Hill ore. In view of the’ probable expansion of the business at various places, I do not think that a bounty is necessary to encourage’ it. For the production of pig iron made from Australian ore, of puddled bar iron made from Australian pig iron, and of steel made from Australian pig iron, I provide for bounties of 12 s. per ton. The total amount the payment of which may be authorized in connexion with these bounties is £250,000, and the bounties expire on the 1st January, 1913.
– Are the bounties cumulative? Will a manufacturer get a bounty of 12s. per ton for making pig iron from Australian ore and another 12s. per ton for making puddled bar iron from Australian pig iron?
– Yes, though rhe bounties may be paid to two different manufacturers. The annual cost of these bounties will not be much more than £40,000.
– Is the measure to be retrospective?
– No. I propose to give a bounty at the rate of 10 per cent. on its value for the production of galvanized’ iron, but I intend to move an amendment to make it clear that the bounty shall be paid only when black iron made from Australian ore is used.
– Apparently there is to be a bounty, first for the production of pig iron, then for the bar iron, and then for the galvanized iron.
– I am not quite sure, at the present moment, how it will work out. The old Bill provided a bounty for the production of wire-netting, but I provide now a bountv for the production, of wire as well. The duties on wire-netting were reduced to a very low rate.
– By the Government.
– That is’ not fair. The lowest duties I tried to get were 15 and 10 per cent. When in England I saw wire being manufactured, and although the machinery used must be very powerful, the process is a simple one.
– But there must be a large output to make the enterprise profitable.
– Yes. I have been informed that Mr. Sandford intended at one time,, if he could obtain sufficient inducement, to put up machinery for the making of wire, and I offer a bountv of 10 per cent, for the encouragement of that industry. A similar bounty will be siven for the production of iron and steel tubes or pipes which are not riveted or cast, nor more than four inches in internal diameter. The bounties on galvanized iron, wirenetting and wire, and iron and steel tubes or pipes, will expire in 191 1, and must not exceed £50,000, so that the annual expenditure will not be very large. I also offer a bounty of £8 each for the first 500 reapers and bindersproduced in Australia. I had intended to omit that bounty, being under the impression that these machines are manufactured here: but I learned this morning that they are not.
– And never will be.
– They should be. What can be manufactured in other parts of the world can be manufactured here.
– I bought the first Corbet, and nearly lost my life in getting it to work. .
– Those who have seen reapers and binders at work will be amazed to learn that they are not made in Australia. Perhaps one or two may have been made here; but they are not being manufactured generally, and therefore 1 propose a bounty to stimulate the industry.
– Many of the parts are covered by patent rights not held in Australia.
– Those patents will soon expire.
Colonel Foxton. - Will they fall in within the life of the bounty ?
– Most of them have already done so. I think that I have explained, in a plain, straightforward way, the chief provisions of this Bill, and the reasons for its introduction at the present stage. I do not wish it to cut into the track of our consideration of the Tariff, but desire that a test vote upon it shall be taken, so that I may know what is the opinion of the House in regard to it. 1 certainly favour the bounty system, but it this Bill be rejected I shall not waver in my efforts to encourage the industry. In the event of such a contingency, I shall fall back upon the provisions of the Tariff.
– If the Bill be carried will the Government go on with their proposals in regard to the imposition of the duties of 12J per cent.?
– The honorable member refers to the provisions of Division VIa. of the Tariff. At ‘the head of that division there is a. paragraph intimating that it is to come into operation on dates to be fixed by proclamation, the proclamation to issue as soon as it is certified that the manufacture to which it relates’ has been sufficiently established in the Commonwealth. Until then it will be ‘ latent and the provisions of this’.Bill will operate. In that way we shall encourage the industry without imposing any duty on the raw material of those who use iron until it has been established. But as soon as the Minister or the Executive certifies that the industry has been sufficiently established in Australia these bounties will cease, and the duties under Division Via. will come into operation.
– The manufacturers will not have tlie benefits pf the bounty and the duty at the same time?
– No. I may say that part of this Bill was originally drafted by Mr. - now Mr. Justice - Isaacs, and that/as it left his hands, it contained a provision somewhat approaching what is now known as the new protection. ‘ That provision, however, was not in itself complete, as compared with the new protection proposals which we now have under consideration. I, therefore, eliminated it, determining that if the Bill were carried the one general policy of the new protection should apply., to the industries to which it relates as well as to others. I thought it desirable to make* a passing reference to that matter-, in order that honorable members should know what are the intentions of the Government in regard to the wages and conditions of labour of the men engaged in the industry. I consulted the Prime Minister about the matter, and I thought it was better to bring this industry under the general policy of the new protection rather than to insert in the Bill provisions relating specially to it. If we sought in this Bill to deal with the wages of employes and conditions of labour in the industry, we should thus create two different classes of cases to be adjudicated upon. Honorable members will recognise that it is far better to make provision in a general Bill for the policy of the new protection to be applied to this and other industries.
– Does not the honorable member think that it would be better to provide, first of’ all, for an amendment of the Constitution, to enable the proposals of the Government to be carried out?
– No. I feel that there is not the slightest clanger of the proposals of the Government in this regard being held to be unconstitutional.
– Will the High Court respect the honorable member’s feelings?
– I am confident that it will not hold our legislation in regard to the new protection to be unconstitutional. I have heard some honorable members express a contrary view, but the Prime Minister and a good many other lawyers have no fear in that regard. I’ think that the spirit, of the Constitution will be observed.
– We are justified in assuming our legislation to be right until it is proved to be wrong.
– Quite so.
– It is singular that as soon as we begin to help the worker the cry is raised that our legislation is unconstitutional.
– As soon as our legislation begins to work in that direction we hear the cry that it is unconstitutional. I said at the outset of my speech that I should not occupy much time in submitting this motion to the House, and I - certainly think it unnecessary to repeat, what I have already said in connexion with similar measures. I sincerely trust that the consideration of this Bill will not be delayed. I desire that a test vote shall be taken, either on the motion for the second reading or in some other way.
– The Government do ‘ not propose that a test vote shall be taken to-day ?
– No. If honorable members desire that the debate be adjourned for a few days I shall offer no objection. In the meantime we can proceed with the consideration of Division VI. of the Tariff, postponing such items as may be affected by this measure.
– Division VIb. sets out the items affected.
– That is so, but Division VI. contains a few of the items affected by the Bill. I’ did not intend to submit the Bill until we had reached Division -VI a., but yielding to pressure I consented to do so at this stage.
– We had better make the adjourned debate an Order of the Day for Tuesday next
– I’ am prepared to do so. I appeal to honorable members, however, not to keep the Bill dangling too long before the House. Whether the Bill be accepted or rejected I shall know what to do, and I have introduced it at this stage in order that I may ascertain by a test vote whether honorable members are prepared to support the application of the bounty system or the policy of protection to the iron industry.
– I rise, not to address myself to the motion for the second reading of the Bill, but to suggest that as the leader of the Labour Party proposes to move an amendment he should take the adjournment ‘ of the debate, so that honorable members may discuss in the one speech the original motion and the amendment.
.- In moving -
That the debate be now adjourned,
I desire to suggest that the Treasurer, in view of the importance of the speech which he has just delivered, should cause printed copies of it to be distributed amongst honorable members as early as possible.
Motion agreed to; debate adjourned.
In Committee of Ways and Means (Consideration resumed from 13th November, vide page 5977) :
Division VI. - Metals and Machinery.*
- Motive power, engine combinations, and power connexions are dutiable under their respective headings, when not integral parts of exempted machines, machinery, or machine tools.
Item . 141 (Ammunition) agreed to.
Item 142. Arms, viz. : -
Barrels (not fitted to any action) bearing the British test mark (General Tariff), 5 per cent. ; (United Kingdom), free.
– The Minister has substituted for the old ad valorem duty a fixed duty, so that guns costing £60 or £80 will be liable to the same duty as a cheap gun put perhaps to a more useful purpose, such as the destruction of vermin. I think that the Minister ought to reconsider this item.
– I made the alteration in consequence of the recommendation of the protectionist section of the Tariff Commission, and should like to hear what the Chairman of the Commission has to say on the subject.
– There should be an ad valorem dutv, with a fixed minimum.
– We could have a minimum’ rate fixed. Personally I should prefer ad valorem duties such as the old rates of io per cent, and 15 per cent. The proposed change in the rates will not seriously affect the revenue, but it is rather unjust that cheap guns should be called upon to bear as high a duty as are the most expensive varieties.
– The present scheme of duties was first suggested in South Australia by an experienced gunsmith and merchant. His proposal was afterwards supported in Victoria by expert gunsmiths, who gave very satisfactory and clear evidence.
– They were importers, and perhaps wished to get dear guns admitted at a low rate.
– They were also interested in local manufacture.
– There is no local manufacture of guns.
– Then they were interested in repairs. Further, they wished to import gun stocks for the purpose of putting guns together in the Commonwealth. The old rates of duty were very low. Ten per cent, was imposed upon guns, revolvers were dutiable at 15 per cent., and military and match rifles were admitted free. The object of levying these fixed duties is to limit the importation of cheap rubbish - cheap guns, rifles, and revolvers which have been proved by bitter and disastrous experience to be dangerous to life, and not at all calculated to develop good rifle, gun, or revolver practice. Both these witnesses affirmed that the commonest rubbish in the world was imported into the Commonwealth under the operation of the moderate duty of 10 per cent. It is only fixed duties which are expressly designed to discourage the use of low class guns, rifles, and revolvers that will exclude this rubbish. A 10 per cent, rate will be absolutely ineffective, and a 20 per cent, duty might not be sufficient to keep out revolvers which are worth only 4s. or 5s. These weapons very frequently find their way into the hands of boys, and their use often results in the loss of life or limb.
It is for the Committee to determine whether it is not sound policy to promote the use of firearms of a superior character by admitting them at a relatively lower rate than is charged upon weapons of a low class and dangerous character.
– The Committee should recollect that at the present time guns are not made in Australia. In any case, it seems to me that the duties proposed would be of no value whatever from a protective stand-point.
– That is admitted..
– Therefore we can regard them merely from the stand-point of revenue. I do not object to the imposition of a duty upon this class of imports, but I do object to charging the same rate upon a fowling-piece worth £60 as is levied upon a gun which is worth only £5. I know from experience that one can purchase a gun for £5 which is quite as reliable - so far as immunity from bursting is concerned - as is a much more expensive weapon. I admit that there is a cheaper class of gun - principally of German or Belgian make - which is sold in Australia for about 50s. It is not desirable ‘to encourage the use of these verycheap weapons. For that reason I am willing to agree to the imposition of a minimum duty ; but I think that we ought also to provide that the really expensive weapon which a man imports merely to please his fancy should bear an ad valorem rate in addition to the specific duty.
– What does the honorable member think would be a fair fixed duty?
– Probably a duty of 5s. or 10s. levied upon all guns would still permit of the importation of cheap weapons.
– It might keep a percentage of them out.
– It might. If we are to sanction the imposition of a fixed duty I- think that it ought to be in conjunction with an ad valorem rate, as was the case in connexion with the item of cigars under the old Tariff. ‘It would.be a mistake to. adopt the fixed duty proposed.
– This duty was levied upon the recommendation of the A section of the Tariff Commission, and I do not like to upset their recommendation without very good reason. If we can devise a means by which we can impose a proportionate fixed duty which will give effect to the desire of the honorable member for South Sydney, I shall be prepared to adopt that course. But I do not wish to propose an ad valorem rate in conjunction with a specific duty without first hearing more about the matter.
.- In my opinion it is most unfair that a common gun should be called upon to bear the same duty as is a valuable weapon. It is- well known that one cannot purchase a, firstclass Purdey gun under about eighty guineas landed here. I do not agree with the honorable member for South Sydney that the use of an expensive gun is prompted by mere fancy. The very best value that can be offered to a man is to be found in a good gun.. Less than three years ago I saw a gun sold for about £6. It was so badly put together that the shot from the right barrel crossed the shot from the left. That defect is easily accounted for in the manufacture of a gun. Some persons imagine that the barrels of a gun are straight. But, as a matter of fact, in a double-barrelled weapon they are crooked. I suggest that a fixed duty should be imposed upon pea rifles, revolvers, &c. In mv judgment, pea rifles are the most dangerous weapons in use in Australia to-day. They carry much further than one would think, and almost daily we read of accidents occurring through their use.
– That is only because they are in the hands of inexperienced persons.
– Flannelette is much more dangerous.
– But one does not shoot with flannelette. I did not refer to flannelette in any way ; and if the Minister considers there is anything humorous in my remarks he is at liberty to go outside and think about them. I suggest that on all guns up to, say, the value of £3, a fixed duty shall be imposed, with an ad valorem duty on guns over that value. It is not fair that a farmer or a rabbiter should be asked to pay the same duty on his low-priced gun as is paid by the pigeon shot, who uses high-class fire-arms as a. hobby.
.- When speaking in the general Tariff discussion, I expressed the opinion that a duty of 11s. on a cheap doublebarrelled gun was too much. Those who live in the back blocks have not many- shillings to spare, and they require guns to rid themselves of rabbits and other pests. For such purposes a gun at 27s. 6d. or 30s. is quite sufficient ; and my own opinion is that there ought to be a duty of 15 and 10 per cent., which would tax the man who prefers to use a weapon at £42. We have heard much about bad guns and accidents which occur ; but most accidents arise from the fact that the people who use the weapons do not understand them, or do not exercise sufficient care. I may say that only a few weeks ago I was lent a gun, the cost of which was 27s. 6d., and I shot with it as well as I have ever shot with much more expensive weapons. I move -
That after the figures “ us.,” paragraph a, the words “ and on and after 15th November, r007 (General Tariff), ad. val., 15 per cent.,” be inserted.
– 1 have listened with great interest to the debate; and I now understand how it is that I have never been really successful as a shot. The explanation of the honor-, able member for Fremantle shows how it is that I have never been able to hit anything alive. I once shot a bird 100 yards off on the top of a tree, but when it “came down it proved to have been dead for years. On another occasion I nearly shot myself, and on a third occasion I nearlyshot my friend. My eye and my aim were right, but I must have had one of those guns to which the honorable mem ber refers ; and I am *glad to . have the matter cleared up. I think that the proposal of the honorable member for Bass is The simplest way out of the difficulty. As that honorable member, and also the honorable member for South Sydney, said, a matter of 2s. or 3s. cannot make any difference; and we have no object in imposing a duty of us., which would be a heavy impost in the case of a cheap gun. As the honorable member for Bass has said, the people who use these cheap guns are those whom we do not desire to tax to any extent.
– I favour the suggestion for a small fixed duty, and an ad valorem duty similar to that imposed on bicycles, pianos, and other articles. I hold the further opinion that there ought to be some establishment where fire-arms can be tested. I have here a price list of imported sporting guns, and in that I. read the following description of a gun -
Black steel or imitation Damascus barrels, left choke, top lever, extension rib, single bolt, re bounding locks, case-hardened frame, chequered snap fore end, walnut stock with chequered straight or pistol grip, steel heel plate, £1.
These prices are subject to a trade discount of 10 per cent., and of 2 per cent, for prompt cash. I have also here two samples of gun barrels given to me by a gun repairer, who is interested neither as an importer nor as a maker. One sample is a portion of an imitation Damascus barrel, and is painted to look like ordinary steel ; and the other sample is a portion of a real Damascus barrel. I repeat that if all the cheap guns could be tested at the Customs House many deaths would be prevented, and the additional cost would not be by any means serious. The gun repairer to whom I have referred gave evidence before the Tariff Commission,- and he showed that the imitation barrel is practically an iron pipe painted, and must be a source of danger. This is not a fiscal question ; and I think it ought to be treated just as we treated the question of the importation of opium, when dealing with the last Tariff, merely regarding it from the point of view of the safety of the public. We ought to impose a duty which will restrict, as far as possible, the importation of dangerous guns. My own opinion is that it would be better to admit the guns absolutely free, and to have them tested, than to impose a duty without requiring any guarantee. There have been accidents in the case of guns used by rifle clubs ;. and we know that the average Australian boy runs great danger when he buys a gun for £1 and goes out for a holiday.
– There ought to be a certain standard of gun.
– That is so; there ought to be an examination to insure that the standard is observed.
.- The fact of a barrel being called a “ Damascus “ has very little to do with the matter, because some of the highest class barrels are steel. I have been shooting with steel -barrel led guns for seventeen or eighteen years without any danger to myself ; and that proves that we must not take too much notice of the samples which have been produced. The portion of the barrel submitted by the honorable member for Yarra as Damascus steel of the highest quality shows evidence of being a portion of a gun that has burst, whereas the other barrel, which is supposed to be rubbish, has not burst. Any decent gun, at the back of the breech, is stamped with the mark of a test made in England.
– But there are many inferior guns which come from Belgium and elsewhere.
– Guns of that kind have been introduced into Victoria, and here stamped with the names of English makers.
– My experience is that shooters require examination more than do guns. I can assure honorable members that nine-tenths of the men who go out shooting have no idea of what is a proper charge. If I were shooting with a common gun to-morrow, I would not use the same charge that I would in the case of a high-class gun; and there is very little danger in any gun if it be properly used. I should like to see a fixed duty upon pea rifles, revolvers, and similar weapons, with an ad valorem duty on ordinary guns. I prefer the old duty, but, on consideration, [ shall support the amendment moved by the honorable member for Bass.
– I think that the rates proposed are rather low. An average value for a gun is ^3, on which an ad valorem duty of 10 per cent, would come to only 6s. It is very much by chance that one gets a good gun at a low figure ; I know that from experience. Some of the cheap guns are really dangerous- It would be a good thing if, as suggested by the honorable member for Yarra, all guns could -be tested ; but that is impossible.
– The worst guns come from the Continent.
– I am not sure that that is so. Some very poor guns come from Great Britain.
– Could we not insist that all imported guns be marked in a way which would guarantee their soundness?
– I do not think so. While an ad valorem duty of 10 per cent, comes to a great deal on a forty guinea gun, it would amount to nothing at all on a. j£i gun.
– Thoroughly sound guns can be bought for each.
– It is only, by chance that one gets a good gun at that price. I would prefer the imposition of small fixed rates in addition to the ad valorem rates.
– Such rates would not keep out cheap guns.
Amendment agreed to.
Amendments (bv Mr. Storrer) agreed to.
That after the figures “ ros.,” paragraph a, the words “‘and on and after 15th November, 1907 (United Kingdom), ad val., 10 per cent.,” be inserted.
That after the figures “5s. 6d.,” paragraph b, the words “ and on and after 15th November, 1907 (General Tariff), ad val., 15 per cent.”; and after the figure “ 5s.” the words “ and on and after 15th November, 1907 (United Kingdom), ad val., 10 per cent.,” be inserted.
Amendments (by Mr. Storrer) proposed -
That after the figures ‘’” 2s. 9d.,” paragraph c, the words “ and on and after 15th November, 1907 (General Tariff), ad val. 20 per cent.”; and after the figures “ 2s. 6d.” the words “ and on and after 15th November, 1907 (United Kingdom), ad val., 15 per cent.,” be inserted.
.- I hope that the Minister will oppose the amendment. Many of the weapons included in paragraph c are very cheap, and, by getting into the hands of youngsters who are careless in the use of them, are a nuisance and danger to the community.
– Incidentally, the possessors of them learn how to shoot.
– At the expense of other people. This is not a fiscal question. The fixed rates are very low, but an ad valorem duty of 10 per cent, on a revolver worth, perhaps, 5s. or 6s. would be practically nothing.
.- I think that it would bebetter to fix the rates at 20 and 15 per cent. ad valorem, or 2s. pd. and 2s. 6d. each, whichever may be the higher. Some of the weapons in this category are very expensive, and to them the ad valorem rates would apply, while the fixed rates would be. charged on cheap weapons.
.- I have been informed that under this pro vision the Customs authorities are charging duty on children’s toy pistols, used to fire paper caps, as if they were real pistols. Surely that is not the intention of Parliament?
– The weapons referred to are pop-guns, not pistols. I shall find out what is being done in regardto them.
.- I think that the fixed rates proposed - 2s. 9d. and 2s. 6d. - are too high ; because it must be remembered that many of the weapons to which they apply are largely used by orchardists to keep down sparrows, starlings, and other similar pests during the fruit season, when a large number, of boys are kept busy shooting..
– Are pea-rifles used for that purpose?
– Shot guns are most effective, but pea-rifles and all kinds of guns are used as well.
– I am willing to adopt the suggestion of the Treasurer, and, by leave, will amend my amendments so that the rates’ shall be 2S.9d. and 2s. 6d. each, or 20 and 15 per cent, ad valorem respectively, whichever may be the higher.
– Should not the same ratio of preference be observed in regard to both fixed and ad valorem rates ? The difference between 2s.9d. and 2s. 6d. is only 3d., while the difference between 20 per cent. and 15 per cent, is a difference ofone-fourth.
– Then I propose that the fixed rate in regard to the United Kingdom be 2s. 3d.
– I agree to that.
Amendments amended accordingly, and agreed to.
Amendments (by Mr. Storrer) proposed -
That after the figures “5s. 6d.” and “2s. gd.,” paragraph d, the words “ and on and after 15th November, 1907 (General Tariff), ad val., 15 per cent.,” be inserted; and that after the figures “5s.” and “2s. 6d.” the words “and on and after 15th November, 1907 (United Kingdom), ad val., 10 per cent.,” be inserted.
– (Bendigo) [subparagraph d as it stands really means the taxation of the raw material of which guns are made in Australia.
– I understand that guns are not made in Australia.
– The parts are assembled. The recommendation of the protectionist section of the Tariff Commission was -
That gun stocks in the rough, and barrels not fitted to any action, bearing the British test mark, be admitted free, and that other barrels or actions should be dutiable at 5s. each. I am rather surprised that the Treasurer has not noted that differentiation.
– If is provided for in paragraph g, where the words “ gun stocks in the rough; barrels (not fitted to any action) “ appear.
– It seems to me that the words “barrels or actions other” are of general application, and do not apply only to guns n.e.i.
– The words quoted by the honorable member for Corio relate only to “rifles, military and match.”
– As a semi-colon appears after the word “ rough “ the words in question are independent of the rest of the paragraph.
– If that be so, then I have nothing further to say.
.- I should like to receive from the Treasurer an assurance that the words in question appearing in paragraph g are not confined to rifles.
– I think that the meaning of the words is clear, and that there will be no difficulty in interpreting the provision.
– If the raw materials of ordinary sporting guns are free under paragraph g what is the significance of paragraph d?
– It relates to barrels not bearing the British test mark.
– It seems to me that paragraph d as it stands imposes specific duties on the two items. There is a considerable trade done in Australia in building sporting guns. The industry is a perfectly legitimate one, and is carried on in other parts of the world by men who are gun-builders rather than gun-makers. The barrels are prepared and the stocks are roughed out, and the parts are finished off and put together by the gun-builder. A man who can afford it finds it advantageous to have a gun built to suit his own particular physique, and I do not think that the Committee for the sake of securing an insignificant amount of revenue should do anything to interfere with the industry.
– If we allow the barrels and actions mentioned in paragraph d to be subjected to a very low rate of duty-
– The paragraph relates only to duplicates or extras.
– If that be so the extras ought surely to be liable to the same rate of duty as the guns them selves,otherwise the parts of expensive guns will be imported and assembled here.
– I think that is all covered. I have just made inquiries from the Comptroller-General on the subject.
– Does the Minister favour the amendment moved by the honorable member for Bass?
– I do.
– I should like the Minister to insert in paragraph d the phraseology used in paragraph g, and thus provide that these barrels shall bear the British test mark. We do not desire rubbish which cannot be sold in the Old Country to be imported. From what the honorable member for Bendigo has said, I assume that the intention of the protectionist section of . the Tariff Commission -was that barrels which did not bear the British test mark should pay a higher duty.
.- We have already dealt with double and single barrelled guns, and paragraph d relates simply to duplicate parts. It has been said that cheap guns are dangerous. The danger arises not so much from cheapness as from neglect. If every gun had to be tested, we should require an army of inspectors to visit the homesteads where guns are, perhaps, used only once in threw months, and, having been allowed to rust, are loaded and discharged, with the result that accidents often happen.
– What is the position in regard to guns which have the names of reputable English names falsely placed upon them?
– That is another matter.
Amendments agreed to.
– I would point out that both sections of the Tariff Commission recommended that the items dealt with in paragraph e should be dutiable at 15 per cent., and that was the duty under the old Tariff.
– We have provided for a duty of 15 per cent. on imports from the United Kingdom.
– I propose to move that the General Tariff be reduced to 15 per cent.
– Let it go.
– In the circumstances, I shall not press the amendment.
– I would suggest that paragraph g be subdivided, a separate paragraph being made of the words -
Gun stocks in the rough ; barrels (not fitted tc. any action) bearing the British test mark.
That would prevent any danger of the line being governed by the word “Rifles” at the commencement of the paragraph.
– There is no difficulty in regard to the matter.
– I think that the adoption of my suggestion would avoid disputes.
Item, as amended, agreed to.
Item 143 (Iron : plate and sheet) postponed.
Item 144. Lamps and Lampware, viz. : -
Fittings for lighting purposes, including parts thereof (except Chimneys, Glass Shades, and Globes) ; Lamps and Lampware n.e.i. (but not the columns of Street Lamps) ; Metal Reflectors and Shades, ad val. (General Tariff), 25 per cent.; (United Kingdom), t5 per cent.
– I move -
That the words “arc lamps and accessories; and incandescent lamps and bulbs,” paragraph a, be left out.
– Are any of these lamps made, in Australia?
– They are, but arc lamps and incandescent filament lamps are not commercially made in the Commonwealth. I propose their omission from this item, with a view to their insertion in item 180, under which they will be dutiable at 5 per cent. when imported from foreign countries, and free if imported from the United Kingdom.
.- I desire to know whether the ordinary house lamps are made in Australia?
– Lots of them are.
– It would be interesting to learn what proportion of the work of lamp-making is actually performed in the Commonwealth. I should like to know whether there are any factories within the Commonwealth which are manufacturing lamps.
– One of the most interesting exhibits at the exhibition which was recently held under the auspices of the A.N. A. comprised a number of lamps which were made in Australia.
.- The proposal to eliminate arc lights from this item, with a view to their transfer to another item, raises the question of whether it is fair that the electric companies should have their material admitted at low rates of duty, whilst the gas companies are charged very high rates. Under the old Tariff there were certainly a large number of anomalies in this connexion, and I think that the gas companies had good ground for complaining that the electric companies were favoured by reason of a good many of their accessories being admitted free.
– Does* not the honorable member think that the gas companies can very well look after themselves?
– I wish to see fair play done as between these competing companies. I suggest that in reserving the articles included in the proposal of the Treasurer with a view to re-grouping them, he should recognise the propriety of approximating the duties imposed upon lamp material for electric lighting” companies and upon lamp material for gas companies.
.- As the Treasurer is aware, I have circulated a memorandum directing his attention to the expediency of creating a new division under the Tariff in connexion with electrical machinery and appliances. I should like to know what is the honorable gentleman’s opinion of my proposal.
– I have not seen it.
– I am sorry to hear that. It has been circulated for some time, and I forwarded a copy of it to the Treasurer’s officers. I was under the impression that they had .consulted him in regard to the matter.
– I am having a new division created in connexion with electrical machinery.
– That is a very valuable concession. In view of the representations which have been made to me by persons interested in electrical appliances, both in Sydney and Melbourne, I have framed the amendment which has been circulated.
– I propose to transfer arc lamps from this item to item 180. .
– 1 was not aware of that. I ask the Treasurer to consider the propriety of establishing a new division in connexion with electrical machinery and appliances. ‘ v
– My present proposal will not interfere with that matter.
– I am very pleased to have that assurance.
– In view of the enormous charges which they exact from their customers, I have not very much sympathy either with the gas companies or with the electric lighting companies. But this item includes “ oil and other lamps,” and, consequently, I desire to know whether these articles are produced in the Commonwealth in quantity. Why should we penalize those who use oil lamps - and who are compelled to use them - in order to escape the enormous exactions of these huge monopolies? If incandescent lamps and bulbs are to be taken out of this item, surely similar treatment should be extended to the ordinary lamps.
– But these lamps are made in Australia.
– Have we not consistently been told that a duty of 15 per cent, is not a protective duty ? Personally, I decline to vote for a revenue duty. I therefore intend to move -
That after the words “25 per cent.,” paragraph a, the words “ and on and after 15th November, 1907 (General Tariff), 15 per cent.,” be inserted.
– This is not a revenue duty?
– When the question of the duty upon hats was under consideration the Postmaster-General did not think that 15 per cent, was a protective duty.
– I certainly resent the remark of the honorable member, who seemed to imply that I am specially interested in the duty upon hats. I contend that whilst a duty of 30 per cent, may not be protective in its incidence in regard to one industry, it may represent an adequate measure of protection to another industry. Lampmakers in Victoria affirm that if we grant them a protection of 15 per cent., it will be an adequate protection. I can assure the honorable member for Hindmarsh that we are making lamps in brass, nickel plate, and tin.
– Do we make the burners ?
– We are making a portion of the burners, and we are also manufacturing the glass and the globes. In short, we are turning out an article which is equal to that produced in any other part of the world. The industry is one which is capable of enormous expansion.
– Where are these lamps being made?
– They are being made in Little Collins-street, in Richmond, and in North Melbourne.
– I think we must all congratulate the Post-. master-General upon having at last offered his aid to the Treasurer in the gigantic task which he has undertaken. I am very much obliged to the Postmaster-General for the statement which he has made. I confess that I was not aware that lamps were being made in the Commonwealth, and it is a revelation to me to learn that a duty of 15 per cent, is sufficient to protect an expanding industry. In spite of all the differences between the alleged starvation wages paid in the Mother Country and the wages paid in Australia, it now appears that a duty of 15 per cent, is sufficient to allow our Australian artisans to create an expansive industry. I have always heard it contended by Ministers that a 15 per cent, duty was a revenue duty.
– Upon some articles it is.
– We have, therefore, one Australian industry - that of the manufacture of lamps - which nourishes under the operation of a revenue duty. I wish the industry every success.
– In view of the assurance of the PostmasterGeneral, I do not wish to press my amendment.
– The protectionist wing of the Tariff Commission recommended an all-round duty of 15 per cent. ; and, therefore, the present duty means an increase of 75 per cent, on that recommendation. We have been told by the Postmaster-General that 15 per cent, is a sufficient protection for this industry.
– I did not say so; but I take what I can get.
– Surely, when the Treasurer is flinging about duties of 40 per cent, and 50 per cent, for the benefit of Aus tralian manufacturers, he ought not to grudge the lamp-makers a fair measure of protection.
– It is the honorable member who grudges the protection.
– On the contrary, I wish the lamp-makers every prosperity, and do not propose to oppose the item. I merely point out that the protectionist wing of the Commission suggested 15 per cent, as sufficient by way of a general duty. That wing of the Commission took an enormous amount of trouble over these items; and I should. like to hear from the Chairman, whether, in his opinion, 15 per cent, is a proper protection.
– Hear, hear; ft is quite enough.
– We now have the Chairman of the Tariff Commission, supported by the Postmaster- General, saying that 15 per cent, is quite enough.
– But is the Chairman of the Tariff Commission prepared to reduce that duty in order to give a preference to GreatBritain ?
– The question of preference was not considered by the Tariff Commission, and, therefore, British goodswere included in the 15 per cent. In view of. the statement of the honorable member for Bendigo, I wonder whether the Treasurer noted this particular recommendation of the protectionist wing of the Tariff Commission.
– Yes; I saw the recommendation .
– Do we get many of these articles from countries other than Great Britain ?
– Oh, yes.
– Then we can help the British manufacturer to the extent of 10 per cent. ; and that, at any rate, is one recommendation of the proposal. But I am afraid that a duty of 25 per cent, will have a tendency to raise prices beyond the extent warranted by protection ; and I agree with the honorable member for Hindmarsh that those who use kerosene lamps are those who have the fewest comforts of life. I should be glad to see this duty made 15 per cent.
.- In regard to lamps and lampware, the protectionist section of the Tariff Commission recommended an all-round duty of 15 per cent., thus practically consolidating the old duties of 15 and 20 per cent. This was done on the ground that there were no applications by, or on behalf of, any lamp manufacturer for any increased duty. We therefore decided to adhere to the old duty ; and it certainly could not be suggested that the lamp industry was a strangled one. I believe that most of the lamps and lampware which come into competition with local manufacturers are from the United Kingdom; and, therefore, this proposed preference of 10 per cent, against the foreigner will not be very operative, though it may be operative to some extent. The Tariff Commission had no mandate to consider the question of preference, but I do not see that any harm will be done by giving a light preference against the foreigner; and, therefore, I do not strenuously oppose the proposal. ‘ I have no objection to the proposal to eliminate arc -lamps and -.incandescent lamps from this group. I think,, however, that the attention of the Treasurer might be directed to paragraph 10 of the report of the protectionist section of the Commission, where the whole subject of the conflicting views and interests of gas- companies and electric light companies, with regard to their supplies, is fully taken into consideration. I submit the recommendation which we made to the attention of the Treasurer and his officers. I admit the problem is a difficult one, and that it requires careful and calm consideration. Paragraph 10 of the report is as follows -
That electroliers, electric wall brackets, gas brackets and gasoliers, globe holders and adaptors, brass pendants and brackets, photometers, incandescent lamps and gas mantles, reflectors, arc lamps and globes, testing instruments and meters, should be classed together, and subject to the same rate of duty, whether used in connexion with gas or electric light.
No very high duties were suggested, because some of the articles cannot be made here. But I think there ought to be some approximation in the grouping of articles.
– Especially articles used for the same purpose.
– Quite so. Legislation ought not to favour one particular group of manufacturers at the expense of another group; and if I had the framing of this Tariff, I should consider what would be a fair all-round duty covering all these articles. The same duties should be operative for gasoliers, brackets, pendants, and soforth, as for incandescent lamps and arc lamps. I do not see why one group should- be free, and the other should be taxed for revenue purposes. Therefore, I consider that arc lamps and incandescent lamps ought to bear duties approximating to those on the other articles I have mentioned. I should like the Treasurer to look at this paragraph and consult his officers as to whether there cannot be a new item covering this cognate group of materials.
Colonel FOXTON (Brisbane) [5.38].- The Treasurer, I understand, moves that arc lamps and incandescent lamps shall be omitted from this item; but I ask him whether lie is quite certain that they cannot be made in Australia.
– I have no information on the point, and the inference is that they cannot be made here.
Colonel FOXTON.- In Brisbane, there is a glass-blowing establishment, which, for the last couple of years, has been struggling for existence, and turning out very excellent work.
– Arc lamps?
Colonel FOXTON.- At any rate, testing instruments for meters and scientific glassware generally are made there. I understand that this factory represents an entirely new departure; and it is certainly worthy of encouragement, if only as an experiment. I know that the proprietors are crying out for a larger measure of protection.
– The proprietors say that they could not make arc lamps under a duty of 50 per cent.
Colonel FOXTON.- I was not sure that the lamps thus referred to by the proprietors of the works were the same lamps that we have now under consideration.
– I point out to the honorable member for Brisbane that the object of the Treasurer’s amendment is not to enable arc lamps and incandescent lamps to evade any duty but merely to transfer these to item 180, the consideration of which will afford the honorable member the opportunity he may desire to propose a higher duty. What the Treasurer desires to do” is to bring all these cognate articles as far as possible into one group.
Colonel Foxton. - I understood that the idea was to make these articles free.
– No; it is a mere transposition to another item.
– Seeing that the object is” to have these articles properly grouped, may I suggest that electric fittings for lighting purposes, and electric stoves for heating and cooking, should also be placed under item 180 ?
Amendment agreed to.
Amendments (by Sir William Lyne) agreed to -
That the words “ fittings for lighting purposes, including parts thereof (except chimneys, glass shades and globes),” paragraph u, be left out.
That after the word “ lamps,” paragraph n, the words ‘“n.e.i., including one chimney shade and globe or other article imported with and used as an integral part of such lamps,” be inserted.
.- As the honorable member for Bendigo has pointed out, lamps and fittings for gas or electric light should be treated in the same way.
– I do not agree with the honorable member. Gas lamps and fittings are made in Australia to an enormous extent, but electric lighting requisites are not.
– By imposing different duties on gas and electric lamps and fittings we are differentiating in favour of the electric lighting companies acrainst the gas companies, and I do not think that we should take sides in that way. Therefore, I move -
That after the words “ 25 per cent.,” paragraph D, the words “ and on and after 15th November, 1907 (General Tariff), ad val., 5 per cent.,” be inserted.
That will make these rates harmonize with the rates in item 180, as, if the amendment be carried, I shall afterwards move to. strike out the duty against the United Kingdom.
– I cannot accept the amendment. I am grouping together the items affecting electric lighting requisites, and am making the rates on such requisites as low as possible, because these things have to be imported. But I should be doing a great injury to the many manufacturers of gas lamps and accessories if I were to reduce these rates. The gas companies are not at a disadvantage, because they can purchase their requisites from Australian manufacturers.
– Undoubtedly, as the Tariff stands, users of gas are at a disadvantage, because, of course, the gas companies will pass on to their customers any duties that may preiudicially affect them, and in many towns it is impossible to get anything but gas light. The honorable member for Nepean is right in saying that we should not differentiate between electric lighting and gas companies. Neither should we differentiate between the users of gas and electric light j and I urge the Minister to treat them alike. If the Tariff is to last for any time - and we all hope that it will - it must be consistent.
– I have just fitted up my own house with Australian-made gasoliers and lamps, which were cheaper and better than the imported articles.
– In that case protective duties are not necessary.
– No reason has been given for differentiating between the users of gas and the users of electric light ; though all through the discussion the Minister has been making alterations from time to time, without giving the Committee any explanation of them.
Amendment (by Mr. McWilliams) put -
That after the words “25 per cent.,” paragraph B, the words “ and on and after 15th November, 1907 (General Tariff), ad val., 15 per cent.,” be inserted.
The Committee divided.
Majority … … 1
Question so resolved in the negative.
Amendment (by Mr. Wilson) put -
That after the words “ 25 per cent.,” paragraph B, the words “ and on and after 15th November, 1907 (General Tariff), ad val., 20 per cent.,” be inserted.
The Committee divided.
Majority … … 12
Question so resolved in the negative.
.-!. desire to move -
That after the words “30 per cent.,” paragraph. C, the words “ and on and after 15th November,. 1907 (General Tariff), ad val., 20 per cent.,” be inserted.
If the amendment be agreed to I shall move that the duty in the case of goods in thesame paragraph coming from the United Kingdom be reduced to 15 per cent.
– I have a prior amendment. I move -
That after the word “ lamp,” paragraph c, the word “ and “ be inserted, and that the words. and electrical,” be left out.
– Under what heading will electrical stoves be placed if this amendment be carried?
– They will come under a new division, which I am having prepared, and will bear the same duty asunder item 144.
From the Treasurer’s statement it would appear that it is intended to make electrical stoves dutiable at 25 per cent, and 15 per cent., and if that be so, I shall support the amendment. Electrical stoves are being introduced into many homes in the warmer parts of Australia in order that housewives may avoid the sweltering heat of ordinary wood or coal fires.
– And so are gas stoves.
– That is so; but in many towns where there is no gas supply electrical plants have been installed, and electrical stoves may be used. That being so, I think that a reduction of the duty originally proposed on such stoves is desirable.
– I wish to have a distinct statement from the Treasurer as to the item under which electrical stoves will be placed.
– They will be placed in a new division, the preparation of which has not yet been completed, and will be liable to duties of 30 per cent, and 20 per cent.
– Then the honorable member for Kalgoorlie was under a misapprehension, believing;, apparently, that they would come under paragraph a or paragraph b, and be dutiable at 25 per cent, and 15 per cent. We certainly ought not to go beyond those duties, and there should be no distinction between electrical and gas stoves, which are each largely used in order that the heat of wood or coal fires may be avoided. We should endeavour to cheapen these stoves as much as possible, and that being so I am prepared to support the amendment foreshadowed by the honorable member for Corangamite.
– At one time about ten firms were engaged in the gas stove industry in Melbourne, and were doing well. The Metropolitan Gas Company, however, has for some time been supplying most- of the stoves used in the metropolis, and within the last twelve months or two years has imported over 2,000 stoves of a cheap class. The result is that they have practically ruined the gas stove industry in Victoria. I have seen stoves imported by them which are inferior to those of local manufacture. That being so, I hope that the Committee will agree to the duty proposed by the Government so that the industry may again be placed in a flourishing condition. We are able to make a firstclass stove at a reasonable price, but the local production has been run off the market by the importation of cheap stoves.
.- When I previously addressed the Committee, I was under the impression that if the Treasurer succeeded in eliminating the words “electrical stoves” from this item, they would fall automatically either under paragraph a or paragraph b.
– No. They will be included in a new /paragraph, under which they will be subject to the same rates of duty.
– When I intimated that X would support the Government proposal, I believed that I was supporting a duty of 25 per cent, under the General Tariff, and of 15 per cent, under the Tariff for the United Kingdom. From my own experience, I can say that if there is one necessity to which we might extend special consideration this is it. By doing so we shall give to the housewives of Australia cheaper appliances ‘for cooking purposes, and this will be of great advantage in the hotter portions of the Continent. Iri my opinion, the Government might reasonably consider the [propriety of reducing the rate of duty proposed upon the manufactures of Great Britain by 5 per cent. They would thus be rendering a service to the. housewives of the Commonwealth, without prejudicing the position of any worker.
.- I should like to have an assurance from the Treasurer that electrical appliances and gas stoves will be subjected to the same rate of duty, after the proposed transfer has. been effected.
.- I wish to explain the reasons which prompted the protectionist section of the Tariff Commission in recommending 20 per cent, duties upon these articles. A Melbourne brassworker stated that electric radiators were dutiable at 12 *</inline> per cent, as electrical appliances, while hot water radiators were dutiable at 20 per cent, as manufactures of metals. In his opinion both articles were used for heating purposes, and should be subject to the same impost. It was upon that ground that we recommended a duty of 20 per cent. There was no suggestion that a 30 per cent, rate should be levied against the foreigner.
– I should like to know whether the honorable member for Bendigo intended to convey that he would support a duty of 20 per cent, under the General Tariff, and of 15 per cent, under the Tariff for Great- Britain?
– No. I am in favour of a 20 per cent, duty all round.
– But I wish to extend a preference to Great Britain.
– I do not.
– I would point out to the honorable member that the proposed duty is only 20 per cent, upon the manufactures of the Mother Country. The Government will adhere to their proposal.
– I trust that the Government will stand by their proposal. The gas companies are monopolies-
– The big companies, or the small ones?
– They are all monopolies, and they ought to be sufficiently patriotic to purchase everything that they possibly can in Australia. There is no doubt that gas stoves can be manufactured locally. As a matter of fact, they have been so manufactured. Let me point to the case of the Adelaide Gas Company by way of illustration. That company scarcely knows what to do with its income, because it is limited in regard to the payment of its dividends. It could afford to pay higher prices for gas. stoves than it would generally be called upon to pay.
– How about the hard-up companies ?
– They are few and far between. Under the operation of the duty proposed even those companies would not be at any disadvantage compared with the wealthy companies, I trust that the Committee will support the Treasurer.
– I think that the Treasurer might agree to accept a duty of 25 per cent, under the General Tariff, and of 20 per cent, under the Tariff for the United Kingdom. These rates, I think, would be sufficient for all purposes.
– I understand that the honorable member for Bendigo is prepared to vote for a duty of 20 per cent, all round.
– That is so.
– But, in connexion with items of this kind, we have already granted a preference to the goods of the United Kingdom. In this instance we propose to extend them a preference of 10 per cent. If we reduce the rate under the General Tariff to 20 per cent, we shall be denying the Old Country a preference.
.- The members of the Tariff Commission were not instructed to frame a Tariff containing provision for the extension of preferential treatment to Great Britain. Consequently, we recommended a Tariff which in our opinion would be an effective one against the world. How can I be expected to vote for an increase in the duty above the standard which was recommended by my colleagues and myself? How can I be expected to vote for an increase of 5 petcent, upon the rate that we recommended, much less an. increase of 10 per cent. ?
– If the honorable member takes up that position, he will deny himself the right to vote for a preference at all.
– If I were allowed - without committing any breach of faith with my colleagues on the Commission - to strain a point, I should be prepared to grant a preference to Great Britain in certain cases. In the present instance I do not think that the rate under the General Tariff should exceed 25 per cent.
Mr. TILLEY BROWN (Indi) [6.28].- I think that a duty of 20 per cent, upon these articles would be an adequate one, and the Treasurer would do well to agree to that rate.
Amendment agreed to.
Sitting suspended from 6.30 to 7.45 p.m.
Amendment (by Mr. Wilson) proposed -
That after the words “ 30 per cent.,” paragraph c, the words “and on and after 15th November, 1907 (General Tariff), ad val., 20 per cent.” ; be inserted.
– I should like to know the reason for the proposed increase in the duty. As a matter of fact, lamp and gas stoves are manufactured here already in large quantities, and the only ‘effect of an increased dutywould be to enable the local manufacturers to increase prices to the consumers. It is absurd to suppose that the manufacturers themselves are going to pay this duty ; I do not think that the most rabid and unreasoning protectionist could believe that that is likely to be the result. If the duty be increased, there will be practically a monopoly given to the local trade. And who are the people who principally use these stoves, and who will have to pay the increased prices? They are the housewives of the middle and poorer classes, especially in the country districts, where there is not the advantage of gas and electric lighting. ‘ Instead of increasing the burdens of these people, we ought to relieve them, if possible, in the way of reduced prices. It was my original intention to move a reduction of the duties to 12
– I had hoped the duty would be increased.
– I suppose the honorable member is perfectly consistent, as a protectionist, in taking up that attitude. I remind the honorable member, however, that the protection already afforded has been m’ore than “ample for this flourishing industry.
– Not now.
– Some of the local stoves have attained a reputation which enables them to withstand any competition.
– The local stoves arc better than imported stoves.
– If that be so, it fortifies my argument in favour- of a reduction of the duty. Australian stoves of various makers have attained a reputation that is worthy of all credit; but the fact merely shows that there is no need for any further protection. Under the old Tariff the duty was 12^ and 15 per cent. ; and the protectionist section of the Tariff Commission with every inclination to do so could not see their way clear to recommend a higher duty than 20 per cent., which, in itself, is a substantial increase. Yet in face of this recommendation the Government proposes a further increase of 10 per cent., thus more than doubling- the old duty. I do not think that the protectionist section of the Tariff Commission consisted of protectionists any less ardent than protectionists in this chamber; and we must remember that the former had the advantage of being able to sift all the details of the industry with the assistance of sworn testimony. We may depend that they fully informed themselves before making any recommendation; and I think that protectionists might rely on their decision as fair and reasonable.
– My knowledge of the loss of trade suffered by local manufacturers is evidence enough for me.
– That loss of trade must surely be due to defects in management, or the absence of proper appliances. The honorable, member has just said that certain Australian firms produced stoves better than those imported ; and, in face of that fact, it is difficult to understand how there can be a greater demand for an inferior article.
– The inferior article is cheaper.
– The imported article cannot be much cheaper when we consider insurance, freight, and other charges, which constitute a very considerable natural protection. In addition, the local manufacturers have hitherto had the advantage of duties of 12 J and 15 per cent.
– Whatever the advantage, it did not operate.
– I think the honorable member is mistaken. He may be right so far as one or two isolated cases are concerned, but, speaking generally, I do not think it can be denied that there is a large and profitable trade done locally. If the industry has already been thoroughly established under the old duty, I do not see what more can be expected under an increased duty, beyond a monopoly which, as invariably happens, must result in obsolete methods, lack of enterprise in the direction of improvement, and failure to keep pace with progress in manufacture in other parts of the world which produce under the stimulus of freer competition.
– It is very hard for small manufacturers to form a monopoly.
– The honorable mem- ber may be right, but the bigger ones who form combines can buy them out or crush them. I know there would be no hope of carrying an amendment to reduce the duties to 12½ and 10 per cent., and I do not desire to divide the Committee unnecessarily. The next best course for me is to support the reduction which has been moved by the honorable member for Corangamite.
Question - That after the words “ 30 per cent.,” paragraph c, the words “ and on and after 15th November, 1907 (General Tariff), ad val. 20 per cent. “ (Mr. Wilson’s amendment), be inserted - put. The Committee divided.
Majority … … 3
Question so resolved in the affirmative.
Amendment agreed to.
Amendment (by Mr. Wilson) proposed -
That after the words “ 20 per cent.,” paragraph c, the words “ and on and after 15th November, 1907 (United Kingdom), ad val. 15 per cent.,” be inserted.
.- As I previously intimated, I wish the duty to be 20 per cent, against all importations, whether from the United Kingdom or elsewhere. I shall therefore vote against the amendment.
Question put. The Committee divided.
Majority … … 3
Question so resolved in the negative.
Amendment (by Mr. Poynton) proposed -
That after the figures “ 40 per cent.,” paragraph D, the words “and on and after 15th November, 1907 (General Tariff), ad val. 25 per cent.,” be” inserted.
– I move -
That after the figures “40 per cent.,” paragraph D, the words “ and on and after 15th November, 1907 (General Tariff), ad val. 20 per cent.,” be inserted.
– The carrying of the amendment will wipe out of existence a Sydney industry.
– I do not think that it will have that effect;’ but I am not influenced in what I do in this Committee by the fact that my action concerns an industry in Sydney or in some other place. I intend afterwards to move to make the duty against the United Kingdom 15 per cent. Incandescent mantles are sold for about 66. each, which is much less than they cost some years ago. They are made in Australia, under a licence granted by the Welsbach Company.
– I think that the company’s patent rights have run out, so far as Australia is concerned.
– Their patent rights were held not to be good, so far as Australia is concerned.
– My information is that the patent rights have expired, both here and in England. That is evidenced by the fact that prices have gone down.
– Prices have been going down for years. I understand that the company still holds some patents in Great Britain, though I am not sure about it. The prices charged for mantles here are about Twice as high as those charged in Great Britain. The mantles are not easily imported, because any heavy shock will break them, and large losses are sometimes incurred by breakages in the cases. The local manufacture consists merely of dipping what is known as the stocking, which is made of textile material, and is imported ready for use, into a solution of mineral earths, also prepared in Great Britain, and imported.. The stocking is impregnated by The mixture and allowed to dry, and the fabric having been consumed by the application of a match, what we know as the mantle remains.
– A glorious industry !
– The use of mantles undoubtedlv reduces the consumption of gas in- proportion to the light obtained, and therefore shouldbe made as general as possible by the cheapening of these articles. I know of no reason for increasing the duty. A duty of 15 per cent, added to the cost of importing - and we have to remember that there are many breakages in connexion with the shipment of these mantles to Australia - ought to be ample protection. I do not know that the industry, such as it is, has not been successfully carried on in Australia; and the only competition which it seems to have to meet is that of the English branch of the .Welsbach Company, which also carries on business in Australia. The one object of imposing this duty, it seems to me, is to enable the price to be increased. Consumers will thus be penalized. The fact that this co-called industry is carried on in Sydney does not affect my view of what is the right course to take. The interests of the consumer are far greater than are the interests of those who dip these stockings in the fluid to which I have referred. The industry is so trifling that it would be idle to endeavour in this way to encourage it at the cost of- all consumers of gas.
.- I rise to point out the invidious distinction made between the electric light companies and consumers of gas. These mantles correspond with the carbons used by the electric light companies, which are dutiable at 5 per cent, when brought from foreigncountries, and are free if imported from Great Britain. On the other hand, the Government propose duties of 40 per cent, and 30 per cent, on mantles. That is a very unfair handicap to impose upon the gas as opposed to the electric light companies.
– Poor gas companies !
– If the one is a monopoly, the other is also a monopoly ; and we ought not to differentiate between them.
.- I have not the slightest interest in or sympathy with the big gas companies, but I would point out that this item affects not the gas companies, but the householders who use the gas, and to whom these mantles mean a practical economy in their household expenditure. Who could say that the industry just described by the honorable . member for North Sydney is one of the kind which honorable members wish to make desperate efforts to establish? The protectionist wing of the Tariff Commission recommended the continuance of the old duty of 15 per cent., and I do not suppose that that recommendation was lightly made. There can be no object in making such an enormous increase in the duty, because the industry in itself cannot employ very much labour. It. it, practically of the most primitive description. Tlie honorable member for South Sydney said very forcibly and frankly yesterday that a large number of these duties would be a burden upon the people. That being so,’ we have in this case an opportunity to extend some little consideration to the people without damaging -an industry of any great consequence. The industry will not be injured by the reduction of the duty to 15. per cent., because the protectionist section of the Commission seemed to think that such a duty would fairly protect it. In the circumstances the increase of duty proposed by the Government seems to be without justification.
.- I wish to read the following passage from the general report, signed by all the members of the Tariff Commission -
The fact that while carbons are on the free list, gas mantles (which it had been said practically fulfil the same purpose) are dutiable at 15 per cent., is not considered an anomaly. It might be considered that mantles were made dutiable for protective reasons, as they can be easily made in Australia, whereas’ carbons are not locally manufactured.
No evidence was submitted in favour of either an increase or a reduction of the duty on incandescent mantles.’ All that was asked for was an equalization of the duties upon gas and electrical materials and implements. ‘ In these circumstances we did not feel called upon to recommend any increase. If it be considered desirable that there should be an increase in the old duty, with a view of giving preference to British goods, I would suggest that the duty on foreign imports should be’ 25 per cent., and that the preference to Great Britain should not exceed 10 per cent.
– Duties of 15 and 25 per cent, should be sufficient.
– I am prepared to accept an amendment providing for such a reduction,
– If the honorable member for Grey will amend his amendment accordingly, I shall be prepared to withdraw mine.
Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.
– I desire, by leave, to amend my amendment, so that it will . read -
That the following words be added : - “ and on and after 15th November, 1907 (General Tariff), ad val., 25 per cent.; (United Kingdom), 15 per cent.” ‘ -
Amendment, by leave, amended accordingly and agreed to.
Item, as amended, agreed to.
Item 145. Lamps, Miners’ Safety (General Tariff), 10 per cent.; (United Kingdom), free.
Amendment (by Sir William Lyne) agreed to -
That after the words “ 10 per cent.” the words “ and on and after 15th November, 1907,. free,” be inserted.
Item, as amended, agreed to.
Item 146. Lead, Sheet and Piping, per ton, sos.
.- The Treasurer will perhaps explain why this item has been removed from the free list. I do not know that there is any local manufacture of lead, sheet and piping.
– There are a number of manufactories.
– This duty was recommended by the Commission.
– It was not. “I take exception to the Treasurer speaking so frequently of the report of only one section of the Commission as that of “ the Commission.” As a matter of fact, this duty was recommended by the protectionist section of the Commission only.
– Which is the main section.
– It is not. The Treasurer has the unblushing audacity to maintain that one-half of the Commission represents the main section, when, as a matter of fact, there was an equal number of protectionists and free-traders. Taking his own view of the matter, I might with equal right say that what from my point of view was the main section of the Commission recommended that the duty should be 5 per cent.
– It is not worth lighting about.
– It is of great importance to the building trade, but I do not propose to debate the matter.’ I move -
That the following words be added : - “ and on and after 15th November, 1907, free.”
.- I trust that the honorable member will not press his amendment. The duty is immaterial. Fifteen hundred tons of lead are produced every week in Broken Hill.
– And the manufacturers are treated very badly.
– The honorable member does not know what he is talking about. All the lead that is necessary at the local manufactories is easily obtainable in Australia, and the importations, which ‘are comparatively trifling, are to meet special requirements. Whatever duty we may impose upon this item will not affect the position.
.- The honorable member for Kooyong was good enough to say that I knew nothing about this matter. As a matter of fact, I have taken some interest in it, and I say without hesitation that the Broken’ Hill Proprietary Company has not treated at least one manufacturer in this city very fairly. That company is sending lead to England, where it is selling it at a lower price than it will accept locally. I have been informed that if the company would only reduce its price for lead bullion by 1 os. per ton, this manufacturer would be able to compete with the world. But the company refuse to make even that little concession to him.
.- The honorable member for Herbert usually knows a great deal of the subjects to which he addresses himself in this Chamber. But I think that he ought not to have made the statement which he did without supplying us with the name .of the manufacturer in question.
– It is Mcllwraith.
– I cannot say what arrangement exists as between the Broken Hill Proprietary Company and Messrs. McIllwraith and Company, but I do know that it is in favour of the local manufacturer. The price charged by the company for lead is determined by its cost in London with so much per ton - I cannot say exactly how much - deducted.
.- The Treasurer certainly out Herods Herod in proposing this duty upon leaden pipes. Three witnesses appeared before the Tariff Commission in reference to this matter, and I cannot do better than quote from the free-trade report as to what they asked -
The requests of the three witnesses who gave evidence in this matter were 25s. per ton and 20s. per ton on products from the United Kingdom, and 30s. per lon upon other products.
The Treasurer is prepared, practically, to double the duty for which the manufacturers themselves asked.
– Has the honorable member quoted the recommendation of the protectionist section of the Commission?
– I have quoted the evidence of the witnesses who appeared before the Commission. The following is a statement from the Trade and Customs returns for 1905 (page 338) of the imports of sheet lead and piping into the Commonwealth from oversea during five years : - 1901, 3.657 cwt., valued at £4,353;1902, 8,300 cwt., valued at £6,717; 1903, 8,395 Cwt, valued at £6,505; 19045,347 cwt., valued at £4,128; and 1905, 5,071 cwt., valued at £4,127. Honorable members are probably aware that there is a large export trade in this material from the Commonwealth. I find from the Trade and Customs returns, for 1905, page 343, that in 1901 we exported 22,611 cwt, valued at £17,571; in’ 1902, 17,429 cwt., valued at , £12,147; in 1903, 28,783 cwt., valued at £22,304.; in 1904, 20,552 cwt., valued at , £16,116; and in 1905, 34,629 cwt., valued at £29,643. Surely these facts speak for themselves,- and fully justify my statement that the Treasurer’s proposal is utterlv unjustifiable in its character. Mr. FRAZER (Kalgoorlie) [8.36].- The figures quoted by the honorable member for Perth have demonstrated that for years past the importations of this material have been very small. According to official statistics, they amounted last year to only 196 tons.
– Notwithstanding that lead was on the free list.
– The imports probably consisted of special piping.
Mr.FRAZER. - As the honorable member reminds., me, probably the piping imported was of. a special’ design. . We have already, had the assurance of the honorable member” for Herbert that, at least one manufacturer of this, particular article, has a complaint against, the Broken Hill Proprietary Company, and if we grant that company an absolute monopoly by levying a duty of 50s. per ton upon lead,, it is highly probable that it will obtain a very large proportion of that impost.
– By increasing the price of lead?
– The honorable member may be perfectly sure that the company will not do that. .
– I am not at all sure that it will not. The history of every monopoly in Australia is that it increases the price of the article which it produces up “to the point at which it can just undersell the imported article. Where is the necessity for imposing such an enormous duty as 50s. per ton? Personally, I feel disposed to support placing the item upon the free list.
– I would like the honorable member for Kooyong to state whether the price of lead is fixed by the cost of bringing it to the Commonwealth from abroad ? If so, the duty must be added to that cost, and, consequently, the impost will go to those who are producing the lead here and not to the makers of pipes.
– The Broken Hill Proprietary Company has no interest in the matter.
– If the producers of lead - which is the raw material of the manufacturer- fix their price here- according to the cost of bringing the article into. Australia from abroad, it is evident that the imposition of a duty of £2 10s. per ton -would- increase that cost to the manufacturer without extending any protection to the industry. If, on the other hand, the price is fixed, by the London price, less the cost of sending the product there, the position is entirely different, and the manufacturer might receive a benefit by the imposition of such a duty.
.- The local consumption of lead is so small that the Broken Hill Proprietary Companyis not concerned whether a duty is imposed upon that article. The Broken Efilf Company produces about 70,000 tons of lead annually, and the local consumption is only about’ 3,000 tons or 5,000 tons. If the honorable member for Kalgoorlie imagines that the companies are in the least degree concerned in the question of whether or not a duty be imposed upon this article, he is very much mistaken: If the manufacturer needs a protection of 50s. per ton, by all means let him have it. My own feeling is that Messrs.. Mcllwraith and Company, and other manufacturers, both in Sydney and Melbourne, require some protection, and I should like to see them get it. The price charged for lead by the various Broken Hill companies is the price of the article in London and Japan, where, large quantities of it are sold.
– Less the freight.
– I think it is less the freight. The desire of the companies is to give the local manufacturer some preference in order that he may not be put to the expense of importing lead.
– That is not what the honorable member said before.
– So far as the companies are concerned, honorable members may disabuse their minds of the impression that the matter is of any importance. If the local manufacture desires a duty of £2 10s., let him have it; the whole matter involved in the duties is not worth consideration.
.- Under the building laws in South Australia, all bathrooms must have lead floors ; and, notwithstanding the local production, lead for that purpose is now dearer by 50s. than it was before the imposition of the Tariff. No argument has yet been advanced- why this duty should be imposed. Victorian manufacturers asked for a duty of only half the amount ; and my experience is that they are never very modest in their demands, and that if they ask for a dutv of 25s., they will be satisfied with one a great deal less
.- The remarks of the honorable member for Kooyong are a strong argument for placing this commodity on the free list.
– Bullion lead is already on the free list. The comma after the word “ lead “ is a mistake.
– This does not appear to be an industry which involves any great outlay of capital or much brains ; and I think the duty ought to be considerably reduced. This commodity was free under the old Tariff ; and yet there seemed to be very few imports, showing that the local manufacturers must have pretty well captured the market.
– Lead is exported.
– Sheet lead?
– Manufactured lead.
– We are assured that lead, both manufactured and bullion, is exported; and that, of course, is an additional argument against the -proposed duty.
.- I at first understood the honorable member for Kooyong to say that lead is sold to buyers here at the price received in London, less shipping charges and so forth ; but, from his later remarks, the impression I received was quite different. The honorable member said then that he understood this lead to be sold to local buyers at a little less than the price for which it could be ob tained from elsewhere. If that be a correct “ statement, it means, I suppose, that lead is sold to local buyers at, perhaps, a shilling less than the price at which it could be imported from London. That. is hardly a fair way of treating the industries of Australia.
– This is only sheet and piping lead, not bullion.
– But the Tariff says “ Lead,” and that may be interpreted as meaning lead of any kind. We ought not to leave any item in a state of uncertainty.
The item reads “ Lead, sheet and piping.”
– The comma ought not to be there. Lead in bulk is free.
– Then the sooner the comma is removed the better. In any case, I do not know that the industry of making this sheet lead and piping is one which justifies the duty at the rate proposed.
– The proposed duty is much higher than that suggested by the manufacturers, who asked for protection to the extent of only 25s. and 30s.
– When the raw material is produced here, and nine-tenths of it is exported, there should be no need for protection, either in the case of the lead or of any product of it. We have in this case what is called natural protection; and, unless for some special reason, the duty ought not to be imposed.
– I suggest that the item should read, “ Sheet lead and lead piping, 25s.” Such a duty would be only fair, because we ought to give some consideration to those engaged in the manufacture of piping.
– It seems to me that the wording of the item is not so correct as it might be ; and I. propose to so transpose the words that it will read -
Sheet lead and lead piping.
This will make the meaning quite clear, and cause no confusion in regard to ingot lead.
Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.
– I think that honorable members who support this duty cannot have read the evidence given before the Tariff . Commission, or they would have seen that no manufacturers asked for anything like the proposed duty. This form of lead is used most extensively in building; and the duty will mean increasing the cost to those working men, amongst others, who desire to get out of the clutches of the landlord by building their own homes. Every endeavour of the kind on the part of the people ought to be encouraged. Recently I had occasion to obtain estimates for the building of a house, and was just about to sign a contract, when the architect informed me that the price of lead, amongst other items, had increased in consequence of the Tariff. As a - matter of fact, I found that, under the new conditions, the building would cost me nearly £100 more. Every man who has only his daily wage to depend on tries to acquire a little home of his own; and this Tariff will mean an additional handicap in his struggle to get free. The Treasurer has not shown a single reason why the proposed duty should be imposed. He did tell us that it was recommended by the Tariff Commission ; but he omitted to say that the recommendation was only that of the protectionist section. When we look at the evidence on which that recommendation was made, we find that not a single person interested asked for anything like the proposed duty. In the report of the protectionist section of the Tariff Commission we. read -
A Victorian witness who represented several other manufacturers, suggested that a duty of 10 per cent, should be placed on imports from the United Kingdom, and a duty of 15 per cent, on imports from other countries (Coop, Q.70711 ; Mcllwraith, Q. 70796). An alternative duty was proposed, viz., 25s. per ton on products from the United Kingdom and 30s. per ton against other countries - (Mcllwraith, Q. 70797-98). The New South Wales manufacturers suggested that the dutv on British products should be is. per cwt., and that on manufactures from other countries is. 6d. per cwt. - (Crane, Q.81421).
It will be seen that the highest duty asked for was 30s. ; and when we return to the report of the free-trade section of the Commission we are told -
The rate of 25s., it was stated, would entirely prevent the introduction of manufactures of lead into Australia. The extra rate suggested over the protection against Great Britain was, one witness admitted, “merely a sort of ornamental demonstration of the Empire’s unanimity.”
I should like the Treasurer to show me where there is a scintilla of evidence to justi’fy the duty now proposed.
– I shall not feel very sore if this duty is reduced. Perhaps it would be well to impose ad valorem rates of 15 or 10 per cent.
– An ad valorem rate of 10 per cent. on lead would be equivalent to £2 a ton.
– Lead is worth £18 10s. a ton.
– A duty of 25s. would be a fair one.
– To make the meaning of the item clearer, I move -
That the words “ Lead, Sheet and Piping “ be left out, with a view to insert in lieu thereof the words “ Sheet Lead and Lead Piping.”
Amendment agreed to.
Amendment (by Mr. Johnson) proposed -
That the words “ and on and after 15th November, 1907, free,” be added.
.- In my opinion, if we impose a duty the effect win be to induce the Broken Hill Proprietary Company, the largest, and, practically, the only producers of lead in Australia, to take advantage of it by manufacturing their lead into sheet lead and lead piping. If they did so, they would soon get rid of all competitors, because the present manufacturers would have to import their raw material. Therefore, if the Committee wishes to do a good turn to those engaged in the making of sheet lead and. lead piping, it will allow these ma_’ terials to be admitted . duty free.
Mr.CARR (Macquarie) [9.5]. - I indorse the view of the honorable member for Boothby. The position of the company to which he has referred is an instance of the manner in which monopolies grow up as the result of exclusive control of natural opportunity, and are not necessarily the creation of either protection or free-trade. It seems to me that the manufacturers of sheet lead and lead piping have a sufficient natural protection in the cost of importation. We need not fear over-importation, because there is not an over-production of lead.
– I hope that the Committee will not be influenced by the suggestion that the wealthy company to which reference has been made will, if the duty be agreed to, commence to manufacture its lead into sheet lead and lead piping, and destroy the business of those who are now manufacturing these articles. The same argument might have been used when we were discussing the duties on woollen piece goods. It might then have been said that their effect would be to induce the Australian woollen mills to commence the business of making up their woollens into clothing, to the detriment Or those now engaged in that business. It must be borne in mind that, although we have now only one lead mine, others may be discovered in the future.
Amendment agreed to.
Item 147 (Mangles, &c.) ; item 148 (Agricultural, Horticultural, and Viticultural Machinery and Implements); item 149 (Chaff cutters and Horse Gears, &c.) ; item 150 (Combined Corn-shellers, &c); item 151 (Churns, &c); item 152 (Stripper Harvesters); item 153 (Strippers); and item 154 (Metal Parts of Stripper Harvesters and Strippers), postponed.
Item, 155. Agricultural, Horticultural, and Viticultural Machinery and Implements, viz. : -
Cream Separators; Testers and Pasteurizers; Cotton Gins; Fibre Scutching Machines; Hand-worked Rakes and Ploughs combined ; Hay Tedders ; Horse Rakesj Lucerne Bunchers ; Maize Harvesters ; Maize Binders; Milking Machines; Mouldboard Plates in the rough and not cut into shape ; Potato Raisers or Diggers ; Potato Sorters : Root Cutters Pulpers and Graters ; Sheep Shearing Machines; Straw Stackers; Sub-surface Packers; Threshing Machines; Winnower Forks (wood and steel) (General Tariff), 10 per cent; (United Kingdom), free.
– The items which have been postponed are affected by the provisions of Division VI. b and the Manufactures Encouragement Bill ; but this item is not.
– Why is it proposed to (put a duty of 10 per cent, on the implements included in the item ? The duty is purely a revenue one.
– It is a tax on the dairying industry.
– I wish todifferentiate in favour of Great Britain’, and therefore I have proposed a duty of 10 per cent, on importations from all other places, allowing British importations to come in free.
– Many of the things mentioned in the item are made in Norway and Sweden under patent rights.
– That remark does not apply to all of them. The importation of cream separators from Great Britain last year was valued at £14,845; and that from other countries at £129,128 ; while other importations from Great Britain were valued at £12,685.and from other countries at £33,389. I am aware that, because of the existence of patent rights, we shall be unable to manufacture many of these implements for a considerable time to come; but in my proposal I am following the recommendation of the B section of the Tariff Commission, so far as the imposition of a duty of 10 per cent, on the foreigner is concerned. It seems to me that we shall do no injury to the butter factories by this impost, and that the item does not clash in any way with the Manufactures Encouragement Bill.
.- All the industries to which this item relates have been subjected to additional taxation. Seven or eight of the materials or implements used by butter factories have already been taxed, and those interested in viticulture certainly ought not to be subjected to further taxation. . This item means an additional tax on primary industries, which really contribute to the whole of the work of other industries. - There is no reason why this duty should be imposed. I recognise that the Government desire to grant a preference to British imports, but I fail to see why, in order to achieve that object, we should place the man on the soil, who is already highly taxed, under an additional disability. I wish to move -
That after the words “ 10 per cent.” the words “ and on and after 15th November, 1907 (General Tariff), free,” be inserted.
.- The total value of imports coming under this heading in 1906 was £144,032, and, according to the Treasurer, the value of cream separators - which are included in those figures - was no less than £143,953 only £14,800 worth coming from Great Britain. As a matter of fact, nearly all the cream separators used in Australia come from Sweden, where the industry has been specialized. I read recently that even America was importing 25,000 machines from that country. It is idle to say that by this duty of 10 per cent, we shall do no injury to the dairying industry. Even if the duty on imports from foreign countries were increased we should continue to draw our supplies chiefly from that source. The separators imported from Sweden are so well known that, even if the duty were increased, the demand for them would continue. I support the amendment.
.- The Treasurer ought, without further argument, to agree to the amendment. Many of these implements are used in the district which he so ably represents. We have, first of all, cream separators, which are used in all butter factories. Then, again, pasteurizers are absolutely essential to the successful making of butter for export, and milk testers must be used to determine the proportion of butter fat in the milk supplied by dairymen to the factories. Since we have recently agreed to a bounty to encourage the production of cotton in Australia, I fail to see why cotton gins should be dutiable. The same remark will apply to fibre scutching machines. Handworked rakes and ploughs combined, hay tedders, horse-rakes, lucerne bunchers, maize harvesters, and maize binders’ open up a delightful vista of farm life. Milking machines are absolutely essential to the dairyman. Potato raisers or diggers are made, to some extent, in Australia, a patent having been secured in respect of them. As to sub-surface packers, I would point out that they are essential to the development of the arid districts of Australia, which cannot be properly farmed unless on the American principle of subsurface packing. Senator McColl, when a member of this House, made a most interesting speech with regard to the use of these implements. They are not made here, and I think that the Minister might well give way in regard to this duty. For the most part, these implements and machines are imported from foreign countries.
.- The chief reason advanced by the Treasurer for proposing this duty of 10 per cent, was the exceedingly lame one that the Government desired to give a preference to British imports. This, after all, is simply a revenue duty. During the consideration of the Tariff I have supported the Government in regard to all revenueproducing duties that were fair in their incidence. In this case, however, the duty will fall solely upon the farming community, and there is no excuse for it. We undoubtedly hope to make the farmer one of the pillars of our national prosperity. We look to him to build up a sturdy yeomanry, which will be the backbone of the country, and this is a tax for which the least possible excuse can be offered. The farmer has a big fight against climatic difficulties, and has to labour under many other disabilities. The preference proposed to be given to Great Britain in this case cannot be of any effect, for the simple reason that most of the machines covered by the item are patented and of foreign manufacture.
– The last things in respect of which we ought to give a preference.
– Quite so. The fact that many of these machines are patented in other countries is in . itself sufficient to demolish the argument of the Minister that the duty will enable us to give a preference of any value to the Old Country, and I hope that the Committee will vigorously oppose the item.
.- There seems to be no justification for the imposition of this duty. Taking the first machine mentioned in the item, cream . separators, every one knows that the bulk of those used throughout Australia are of foreign origin. The same remark applies to a very large proportion of the other implements in the item. This duty can be imposed only as a revenue tax; it must fall upon those who are engaged, in primary industries, and for that reason I shall oppose it. By the time that it reaches the consumer, I dare say that, at the very least, it will.be equal to an impost of 15 per cent., and that in respect of a machine foi which a man has to pay £30,£40 of . £50, is a serious item. The Prime Minister’ said the other day that he was prepared to ask Parliament to find , £200,000 to encourage immigration. Surely we are not going to ask those already on the land to find the money to bring other people here. The poor man, struggling on the soil to obtain a living, should not be asked to put his hand in his pocket for that purpose. I hope that the Treasurer will consent to the item being4 made free.
– On behalf of the honorable member for Angas, I propose to move -
That after the word “combined” the words “ or separately ; also hand-worked cultivators,” be inserted.
I would point out to the Treasurer that, under the old Tariff, handworked cultivators were exempt from duty.
SirWILLIAM LYNE (Hume- Treasurer) [9.32]. - Some honorable members; appear to take exception to a portion of this item, and especially to the duty upon cream separators.
– We take exception to the whole of it.
– The honorable member cannot have read it. It contains a large number of articles which are being manufactured locally. I will consent to the postponement of the item, and will go through it carefully again, with a view to seeing what articles enumerated should bear a duty.
– Will the Treasurer take into consideration the articles which I have mentioned?
– Yes. The item will be dealt with before this division is passed - probably next week. I therefore move - .
That the item be postponed.
.-I object to this backing and filling on the part of the Treasurer. It is all very well for him to say that he will postpone the consideration of this item, but surely he ought to have devoted some attention to it before the Tariff schedule was submitted. In my judgment, the item ought not to be postponed, because, in the interim, duty is being collected upon the articles specified. We know that cream . separators are a very important factor in the dairying industry, and it is not right that’ the money which has been invested in them should be tied up in this way. These separators cannot be made in Australia at the presentmoment.
– We could deal with another item to-night if the honorable member would give wav.
– If the Treasurer will give me his binding promise that if cream separators be subsequently placed upon the free list, a refund will be made of the duty paid in the interim, I shall be satisfied. Sir William Lyne. - I ask the honorable member to allow the item to be postponed. .
– When the Treasurer asks me in that way, I must consent.
– I onty wish that honorable members had been as anxious to postpone the consideration of the duties levied upon food supplies, apparel, and hats, as they . are to defer the consideration of this item. What I wish to know is whether the proposal of the Treasurer is really a skilful retreat upon his part for the purpose of placing all these articles upon the free list.
– That is what it is.
– If so, I should oppose the motion which he has submitted. I am led to believe that, whilst we can produce the most complicated machinery in Australia, and also the most intricate woollen goods,- we cannot manufacture a potato raiser. By their votes, protectionist members of this Committee admit that such articles as potato raisers or diggers, potato sorters, root cutters, pulpers, and graters, not to mention sheep-shearing machines, cannot be manufactured in the Commonwealth.
– All those articles, if of British origin, will be admitted free.
– I am quite aware of that. When the last Tariff was under consideration, I fought strenuously for free-trade, but, upon the present occasion, T have been given a free hand by my constituents in regard to the fiscal question.
– The honorable member cannot blame others for exercising a similar discretion.
-It is significant that some honorable members who did not baulk at a hurdle of 50 per cent. are greatly concerned about one of 10 per cent. Only last evening, a. section of this Committee was very grieved over the loss of revenue which had been sustained by reason of the reduction of various duties. Here is a chance for them to grieve again. Do I understand that this proposal means a skilful retreat on the part of the Treasurer?
– No. I should be very much obliged to the honorable member if he would allow the motion to pass, because I have no desire to sit late to-night. If I get this and the free items through, I shall be prepared to adjourn.
– If the Treasurer savs thathe is not postponing this item for the purpose of effecting what the Opposition corner members desire I shall raise no further protest. .
.- I should like to invite the attention of honorable members to the duties that are- imposed on agricultural machinery and a.p- . pliances. Item 167 is -
Machine Tools, as prescribed by departmental by-laws, free.
And item 169 is -
Tools of Trade, for the use of artisans and mechanics and Tools in general use as prescribed by departmental by-laws, free.
Under these two items the Treasurer, on the day the Tariff was unfolded, made free of duty hundreds of machine tools and tools of trade used in the different protected ‘industries of Australia. Amongst these were the tools of tinsmiths, vehicle makers, harness makers,painters, and many others, and they amount to hundreds of tools. Now, surely the articles mentioned in the item now before us are the tools of trade of the farmer. Why should those engaged in those trades which get a substantial benefit from the high protective duties have their tools placed on the free list, while the farmers of Australia, to whom, in the majority of cases, the Tariff is of absolutely no benefit, are heavily taxed on the tools they use? The principle which gives the city artisan and manufacturer tools of trade free ought to extend to the tools employed in the farming industry. In the case of apparel alone, there are some thirty free lines, and this is an industry which enioys protection to the extent of 45 per cent. Then, again, in the case of the boot and shoe industry, there are about fifty free lines, in spite of the enormous protection which is accorded to that industry. I hope the Committee, in dealing with agricultural implements and machinery, will apply the principle of making tools of trade free, always remembering that the farming community get very little substantial benefit out of the Tariff.
Motion agreedto; item postponed.
Item 156. Cutlery, of all kinds, n.e.i., including Plated Cutlery ; Clippers; Knife Sharpeners;. Manicure Sets; but not cutlery in part or wholly made up of gold or silver, ad val. (General Tariff), 20 per’ cent. ; (United Kingdom), 15 per cent.
.- I notice that “ clippers “ are included in this item. These clippers are surely a tool of trade of the barber and the horse clipper, and I think that they ought to be placed on the free list.
– Surely most of these clippers are made in Australia?
– No; the clippers used in the barbers’ shops are imported.
– If the item is otherwise acceptable, I have no objection to omitting clippers.
Amendment (by Mr. Poynton) proposed -
That the word “clippers” be left out.
. I notice that manicure sets are includ-ed in this item. .
– People who use manicure sets can well afford to pay the duty.
– Does the honorable member not know that manicure sets are chiefly used by young women, who engage themselves as manicurists? These sets are practically tools of trade, and we know what a hard struggle many women have to make a living. I think it most reasonable to suggest that these manicure sets should be placed on the free list.
Amendment agreed to.
.- I hope that the Treasurer will take care that in removing clippers from this item we do not place them in some other item where a higher duty may be imposed.
– I take it that in deciding to omit clippers from the item our desire is that they shall be free.
Item, as amended, agreed to.
Item 157 (Crucibles), and item 158 (Diving Apparatus), agreed to.
Item 159 (Nails), item160 (Tanks), item j6t (Weighing Machines), item 162 (Marine Engines, Boilers,” . and Machinery, &c), item 163 (Steam Road Rollers), item 164 (Engines, including traction and portable, &c), postponed.
Bill received from the Senate, and, on motion by Mr. Groom, read a first time.
– I move -
That this Bill be now read a second time.
This measure has been introduced as the President of the Arbitration Court had doubts as to his powers under theExcise Tariff Act 1906. Honorable members know that under that Act Excise duties are imposed on certain agricultural implements manufactured in Australia, but that there is exemption from duty on the part of those who obtain a declaration from the President of the Court of Arbitration to the effect that the goods have been manufactured under certain conditions. The section of the Act is as follows -
Provided that this Act shall not apply to goods; manufactured by any person in any part of the Commonwealth under conditions as to the remuneration of labour, which -
are declared by resolution of. both Houses of the Parliament to be fair and reasonable ; or
are in accordance with an industrial award under the Commonwealth Conciliation and Arbitration Act 1904; or
are in accordance with the terms of an industrial agreement filed under the Commonwealth Conc liation and Arbitration Act 1904 ; or
are, on an application made for the pur pose to the President of the Commonwealth Court- of Conciliation and Arbitration, declared to be fair and reasonable by him or by a Judge of the Supreme Court of a State or any person or persons who compose a State Industrial Authority to whom he may refer the matter.
The Bill deals wholly with matters of procedure, and does not interfere in the least with the fundamental principles of the Act of 1906. When Mr. Justice Higgins came to adjudicate under the principal Act, he pointed out that it was doubtful whether he possessed the powers of a Judge sitting as President of the Arbitration Court, and the Bill has been introduced to declare, exactly what his powers shall be in regard to matters of procedure and evidence.
– Does the measure deal only with matters of evidence P
– Only with matters of procedure and evidence. At the present time His Honor is. sitting and adjudicating in accordance with the principles of the Excise Tariff Act of 1-906. When Mr. Justice O’Connor came to administer the Act, . he found it necessary to lay down a certain practice and procedure, which was printed and circulated, and has been followed bv the Court in dealing with the different matters which have come before it. But a question has arisen as to the power of the- President to call in assessors to assist him, and to issue subpoenas requiring persons to give evidence.
Mr.W. H. Irvine. - On his own initiative ?
– These things might have been thought of when the original Act was being drafted.
– It was thought then that the President would be able to exercise the powers of the President of the Court of Conciliation and Arbitration; but as a doubt has arisen it is desirable to settle it by clearly denning his powers. The Bill adopts almost in their entirety the principles regarding procedure and evidence of the Conciliation and Arbitration Act. It declares that the President - in the hearing and determination of ‘any application …. shall act according to equity, good conscience and the substantial merits of the case, without regard to technicalities or legal forms.
He is left free to inform his mind from the best sources available to him, without being bound by the technical rules of evidence. He may, at any stage of an appli cation, appoint two assessors to advise him, one of whom is to be nominated by the applicant and the other nominated in the interest of the employes; and, in default of nomination by cither party, he may. appoint an assessor or assessors without nomination.
– The Conciliation and Arbitration Act provides that either party may insist on the appointment of assessors.
– There we provide for litigation between two parties, but in this instance the Fresident is simply asked to declare whether certain conditions are fair and reasonable. It may be desirable, even if employes do not appear, for him to appoint some one to represent their interests, or to afford him assistance in dealing with their case, and he is, therefore, empowered to appoint an assessor or assessors at any time, even at the last moment, to assist him in framing his award. Clause 5 provides that, except by the consent of all parties, and by leave of the President, no partv shall be represented by counsel or solicitor.
– Will agents be excluded ? .
– It is necessary to allow parties to be represented by some one. If there were 1.50 employes concerned in an application, they could not all be expected to appear in person, and very often employers will find it convenient to be represented by their managers or other agents.
– Then will solicitors who have been struck off the roll be able to appear as agents?
– The President has control of his own Court. The intention of the clause is to reduce the cost of . litigation. ‘
– Is that a;i admission against the legal . profession ?
– No. In many ..Wages’ Boards . proceedings it has been found desirable to obtain the assistance of members of the legal profession, and in many other instances the attempt to do without them has increased expenditure.
– It is likely to do so in this instance.
– Perhaps so. The matter is left to the parties themselves, who will have to bear the . expense. The provision was inserted . by the Senate. Power is given to the President to issue an order to any person to take evidence on his behalf. That provision is made with a view to securing elasticity of administration, because it may be desirable to take evidence at some place remote from where -the Court’ is sitting. Seeing that these inquiries may often be confidential, no .person taking evidence will be allowed to disclose, except to the President, such evidence relating to any trade secret, or to the profits or financial position of any witness or party. The President can prohibit the publication of evidence if he thinks fit.
– Star chamber procedure !
– Not at all. In many of these inquiries confidential information which the President is entitled to have will be put before him ; but it may not be in the public interest that it should be published. What we aim at is the obtaining of fair and righteous decisions. The powers of the President will be the same as those of the President of the Conciliation and Arbitration Court. He may refer technical matters, or matters of account, to experts, whose reports he can accept as evidence, and he will have power to summon witnesses, to take evidence on oath, and generally to give such directions as he may. deem fit or necessary. Clause 8 is a, copy ot a similar provision in the Common.wealth Conciliation and Arbitration Act, and deals with contempt, while clause 9 provides for the same penalties’ for contempt by witnesses as are .provided for in that Act. Any one who disobeys a summons to appear, or refuses to be sworn as a witness, or to answer any question which he is required by the President to answer, or to produce any books or documents which he is so required to produce, will be liable to a penalty; but’ no person is to be compelled to give evidence, except to the President, or’ to the person ordered by him to take evidence on his behalf, relating to any trade secret, or to the profits or financial position of any witness or party.’ Such evidence is not to be. disclosed or published without the consent of the person entitled to the trade secret or non-disclosure. Section 10 provides ‘ for the protection of witnesses, making it an offence to use, cause, inflict, or procure under violence, punishment, damage, loss, or disadvantage to an.y one for having appeared as a witness. No employer may dismiss an employe” because he has appeared’ as a witness, and. no em- pl’ov-6 shall’ cease to work in the service of an employer because of evidence given bv him; In clause 13 penalties are provided for the . intimidation of witnesses, and under clause 15, where an application is referred by the President to a Judge of the Supreme Court of a State, or to a State industrial authority, the Judge or authority’ shall have all the powers and privileges vested, in or imposed on the President. Clause 16 empowers the Presi-dent to make regulations prescribing practice and procedure on applications; but these are to be subject to the approval of the Governor-General. The Bill deals wholly with procedure, the principles followed being those of the Conciliation and Arbitration Act. The President is given just, the amount of power necessary to enable him to make the proper investigations required by the Excise Tariff Act. It has been found necessary in the administration of that Act to confer these powers on the Court.
Debate Con motion by Mr. W. H. Irvine) adjourned.
House adjourned at 10.15 P.m
Cite as: Australia, House of Representatives, Debates, 14 November 1907, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/hofreps/1907/19071114_reps_3_41/>.