3rd Parliament · 2nd Session
Mr. Speaker took the chair at 11 a.m., and read prayers.
Mr. TILLEY BROWN presented a petition from the Wilberforce Gold Dredging’ Company, of Stanley, Victoria, praying the House to grant an exemption from or rebate of Customs duty on a portable engine.
Petition received and read.
– I beg to ask the Minister of Trade and Customs whether, in view of the fact that the drawback on timber used in the making of butter boxes is not always participated in by the persons who have originally paid the duty on such timber, and also that some of the boxes are not exported, he will make provision for the making of butter boxes in bond, so that all persons purchasing boxes may participate in the exemption intended by the Minister?
– The whole question of rebate in connexion with butter boxes . and fruit cases is now under consideration. We desire to give every possible help to the primary producer. At the same time, we are anxious that if it is to be done in the form of a rebate, the money shall go into the proper pockets. We have also to give due consideration to the timber industry. I am hopeful that, with the information I have at hand, we shall evolve something which will be satisfactory to all. parties concerned. Immediately I am in a position to give any information to the House I shall be glad to do so.
Exhibits : Lobbying
- Mr. Speaker, I desire to address to you a question affecting the privileges of honorable members. On the door of a room adjoining the Opposition room there is posted a notice “ Strictly private. For members only,” and signed under order by the Serjeant-at-Arms. In that room there has been erected by some strangers a machine with the object of influencing the votes of honorable members in regard to the duty on that particular machine. What I desire to know, sir, is whether it has been erected there with your authority or with your permission, and, if so, will importers of machinery be accorded a like privilege if they should desire it?
– We want a sample room here apparently.
– In the corridors and passages between members’ rooms and the chamber there are posted notices requesting honorable members not to- introduce strangers into the lobbies and corridors during the sitting of the House. Yet time after time, while the House is sitting, when honorable members desire to pass to oi from their rooms, they have to pass through what seems like a public thoroughfare, in which they are intercepted and importuned by strangers in regard to different items in the Tariff. I desire to know, sir, if that is not in contravention of your order; also whether you gave permission for a machine to be erected in a private room; and, further, whether similar permission will be given to other persons if desired ? . I have asked these questions because the honorable member for Hume last night professed great indignation at the alleged fact that the representative of an importing firm had been seen in the precincts of the House; though he appeared to regard it as quite “proper that local manufacturers should be present in battalions.
– I presume that the room to which the honorable member refers is that which is commonly known as the north lobby.
– About ten days ago the Treasurer asked me whether a room could be spared in that part of the building for the erection of an Australian-made sheep-shearing machine. I asked the honorable gentleman as to the amount of space required, and, having ascertained what it was, I said that the machine might be stood in the room, which is not strictly a private room, but really the entrance to that side of the building. I may men-, tion, although it lias not been referred to by the honorable member for Lang, that I found that the machine was being placed in the corridor immediately opposite the door. Of course, it was impossible to allow that. I, therefore, gave instructions that it should be placed where it was intended to be placed - in the north lobby. I do not think that any inconvenience will- be caused to honorable members by the exhibit. So far as space may permit in that room, but not- in the corridors, which are reserved for the use of honorable members only, I shall be prepared to give leave for the .placing of any exhibit of a similar kind. With regard to the presence of strangers in the corridors, I may say that six weeks or two months ago I called a meeting of the House. Committee because of the lobbying which was taking place, not only in the Queen’s Hall, but in the immediate precincts of the Chamber -lobbying which seemed to me most objectionable,, and to which the members of any party in the House ought not to be subjected by strangers. The House’ Committee resolved that for the convenience of those persons who might desire to see honorable members, tables . and chairs should be placed in the Queen’s Hall. The Committee thought that was the nearest place to the Chamber where such intercourse ought to be allowed. At the same time notices were posted in the corridors asking honorable members not to introduce strangers to those portions of the building reserved for their own use. If, in spite of the request of the House Committee, honorable members have introduced strangers I am very sorry. That is a matter for honorable members themselves to consider. I cannot accept, and I am sure that the House Committee cannot accept, responsibility for the introduction of strangers in such circumstances, because it is impossible for the officers of the House to know for what purpose an honorable member may be- bringing a friend into a corridor.
– Mr. Speaker, following upon the question of the’ honorable member for Lang, I think it is only fair for me. to ask you whether you are -aware that the Standard Oil Trust of America have sent out a special commissioner, namely, Mr. Campbell, and that he has been taken into one. of the corner rooms in order. to lobby honorable members who sit on the same side of the House as does the honorable member for Lang?
– I never heard of the matter before.
– I ‘ have not heard of it either.
– I desire to ask the Prime Minister whether, with a view to hasten the progress of the Tariff, he will consider the propriety of adopting the suggestion of the Age newspaper, and apply the closure to the Opposition ?
– So far as the rules of the House have permitted, we have been applying the closure of common-sense and sound judgment to the Opposition, and we propose to continue that practice.
– I desire to ask the Postmaster-General, without notice, whether it is true that the new head gear supplied to the Post and Telegraph Department in Adelaide consists of helmets made in China; and, if so, is it because there is no suitable head gear of Australian manufacture ?
– If the case is as the honorable member states it, there will be trouble. I am not aware that it is so. But I will make inquiries, and, if the facts are as related, will have the order cancelled, if that be possible.
– I wish to ask the Prime Minister a question, without notice. I observed, with very much pleasure, that on Saturday last an entertainment was given to veterans who had taken part in the Crimea War and the Indian Mutiny. I was sorry to learn that several of those veterans are now in charitable institutions, where they have to spend the evening of their days. Iknowthat this is rather a State than a Commonwealth matter, but I wish to ask thePrime Minister whether he will make inquiries as to how many of these veterans are resident in indigent charitable institutions, and whether he will take into consideration the desirableness of doing something - either in co-operation with the States or in some other way - to make the evening of their lives as pleasant as possible for them ? I should be glad, and I am sure the country would be glad too, to see these old soldiers, who have fought the battles of the Empire, properly provided for. I shall, therefore, be very pleased if the Prime Minister will make inquiries as to how many of them in all the States of Australia are in receipt of aid in charitable institutions.
– I shall have much pleasure in endeavouring to obtain the information asked. My colleague, the Minister of Defence, who organized the festival for the veterans on Saturday, found, on inquiry, that a certainnumber of them were in charitable institutions, nearly all of whom were able to come. But, in addition, there were some bed-ridden or otherwise incapable of attending. Provision was made for them to be entertained in the institutions where they reside.
– Arising out of the Prime Minister’s answer to the question of the honorable member for Swan, I should like to ask him whether he is aware that it was discovered’ in England some years ago that many of the Balaclava veterans were in workhouses, and that an organized effort was made to better their condition and to make a more worthy exhibition of Christian kindness towards them?
– I remember the fund being raised to which the honorable member refers.
– I should like to ask the Prime Minister, without notice, whether his attention has been called to the following paragraph published in the Age of9th April last -
Thereis a probability that a JapaneseAustralian iron and steel industry will be brought into existence very soon. The Investors’ Review stated in a recent issue, “A large steel plant, to cost some 35,000,000 dollars, is reported to be about to be erected in Japan, and all the machinery has been contracted for in the United States by Japanese agents. The greater part of it is to be delivered before the end of the present year.” From another source we learn that recently the Japanese Government sent emissaries to Australia to report on the iron deposits, with a view to their utilization inJapan. We are informed that these agents are now negotiating for supplies with the Blythe River iron mines of Tasmania.
I desire to know whether, so far as the Prime Minister is aware, there is any truth in that statement?
– In regard to the first statement I have only the authority which the honorable member has quoted ; but owing to information received from the honorable member for Laanecoorie I made some inquiries lastyear, which did go to show that Japanese Commissioners were travelling, one might say, all the world over, in order to study the undeveloped iron resources of various countries. They spent a considerable time in Australia, made careful inquiries into our iron resources, and, as I understood, obtained quotations for the supply of crude iron ore - that is to say, iron ore untreated and fresh from the mine.
– I should like to ask the Prime Minister, without notice, if, in view of the fact that the Manufactures Encouragement Bill was carried by a large majority in this House, it is assumed by the Government that it is the intention of the House to carry all the clauses in that Bill, including clauses 8, 9, and 10, which are objectionable because of their socialistic tendency ?
– The confirmation given on the second reading of any Bill is to its principle. No House of Parliament has ever parted with its right to criticise freely and if necessary to amend in detail, in Committee the provisions of any measure. I have no doubt that, after the honorable member hears further explanations, he will be so satisfied with the wisdom of the proposals in the measure to which he refers that he will not seek to alter them.
– I should like to ask the Minister of Defence, without notice, whether, while paying all proper attention to the requirements of humanity, justice, and human sympathy generally in relation to the veterans of the Crimean war and the Indian Mutiny, he will also take steps to see that the barest justice is meted out to those men in Australia who fought in South Africa a few years ago. Will he take steps to have confirmed in their rank, attained in South Africa, those men who won that rank fairly on the field of battle ?
– And whose rank is recognised by the Imperial authorities.
– Hear, hear.
– I have the fullest sympathy with the desire of the honorable member, and I feel that any step of the kind to which he refers would meet with the approval of the House. The difficulty with regard to the matter, as I have explained previously, is this: On returning from South Africa, men who had won certain positions of responsibility, after being subject to the best test that could be applied, were granted only honorary rank in Australia.
– And yet they had full rank in the Imperial service ! By Jove ! that is red hot !
– It was local rank to which they attained.
– What better test could there be than that they had to endure on the battle field ?
– I quite agree with the honorable member. It has appeared to me that these men, haying passed the best of tests up to the rank which they hold - being placed by competent officers in the discharge of duties pertaining to” those ranks - might well have been allowed to dispense with any further test. But their cases were decided several years ago.
– By Major-General Hutton.
– It was decided that the rank which they held on returning from South Africa could only be honorary rank. That decision has obtained from then tilt now. A number of the men in question have since passed the specified examination. A difficulty has therefore been created which it is hard to deal with. I have informed the House previously that I feel that it is in conformity with right and equity that their case should be considered. I will give further consideration to the matter. I do not care to say any more at present. It will be understood that in a large service like the military service - as in every other service - it is not possible to deal with individual instances on their own merits. We must have a general principle and must endeavour to treat all cases alike. I agree with the honorable member who has asked the question as to the general principle, and will endeavour to bring about the result which I am sure he desires.
– If equity and good conscience demand it, why not make a principle to fit these cases?
– I shall endeavour to deal with the matter as promptly as possible.
asked the Treasurer, upon notice-
– The Secretary to my Department has again written for an answer to these questions, and as soon as a reply has been received I shall be glad to put it before the honorable member. Perhaps it would be as well for him to repeat his question about four days hence.
asked the Minister of Defence, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follow -
Attendance of commissioned officers was as follows : -
In addition, two officers, Instructional Staff, and one officer, 6th A.I. Regiment, attended.
This school was first proposed to be held in September last, prior to the shearing season, but owing to the small numbers who signified their intention of attending, it was postponed until October.
The Commanding Officer, 3rd Light Horse Brigade, visited this school, and expressed himself as satisfied with everything in connexion with it.
No hardship is involved by these arrangements.
Ample opportunities are given to earn the maximum pay allowed during the remaining eleven months, and no complaints have been received at District Headquarters regarding this matter.
No day parades are held in June owing to the short duration of daylight in that month.
Further inquiries will be made, and the matters referred to dealt with.
In Committee of Ways and Means (Consideration resumed from 25th November, vide page 6590) :
Postponed item 159. Nails, viz. : -
Horse-shoe nails, per cwt. (General Tariff),8s. 3d. ; (United Kingdom), 7s. 6d.
Brads (including moulders’ and glaziers’) ; Picture Nails; Rail-dogs or Brobs; Spikes; Staplesn.e.i.; Tacks n.e.i. ; Wire and other Nails n.e.i., per cwt. (General Tariff), 5s. 6d. ; (United Kingdom), 5s.
Mr. DUGALD THOMSON (North Sydney [1 1.25]. - The duty on horseshoe nails is higher than was proposed under the original Kingston Tariff. When that Tariff was under consideration, the Committee decided, after a long debate, that there was no justification for the proposed duty, and reduced it from 7s. to 5s. per cwt. The Government now propose that the duty on horseshoe nails from the United Kingdom be 7s. 6d. per cwt., and that the imports from foreign countries shall be dutiable at 8s. 3d. per cwt. Those imposts are, to my mind, out of all proportion. Although it was said that the industry would be destroyed by the reduction of the duty from 7s. to 5s. per cwt., the evidence given before the Tariff Commission by the sole manufacturer in the Commonwealth, was that in a late year he had an output of 15,000 boxes, which constituted a record for him, and that additions had also been made to his factory. Thus even from the protectionist stand-point, the old rate of duty ought to be ample.
– The former duty was equal to 20 per cent., whilst that now proposed is equivalent to 30 per cent. Import and other charges amount to 12 per cent., so that the total protection proposed to the industry is equal to about 42 per cent. The evidence of the one manufacturer of horseshoe nails in Australia was that he desired a duty in order that he might be able to increase the price, and that if he could raise his selling price by 2s. 6d. per cwt, or £210s. per ton, he would be satisfied. Such an increase would fall entirely upon the farriers of Australia, who would not be able to charge more than they do at present for shoeing.
– Are these nails made chiefly by machinery?
– Yes. In answer to question No. 68,852, the manufacturer, when before the Commission, said that he employed twenty hands, and were the whole of the horseshoe nails used in, Australia locally made employment would be found for only from sixty to seventy men and boys. If an increase in the old duty is required, then the industry is not worth maintaining. I am satisfied, however, that, according to the evidence given before the Commission, the old rate of duty will be sufficient to support the industry. The local factory has been increased in size at least once since the imposition of the first Federal Tariff.
– Not the nail-making part of the factory. This manufacturer produces other goods.
– I can only say that, according to the evidence, the factory has been increased on five different occasions, and once since the imposition of the first Federal Tariff. It is very questionable whether we should increase the cost of these nails to all the users in Australia for the sake of so small an industry. It is doubtful whether even a duty of 5s. per cwt. is justifiable, but, recognising that the local manufacture is in existence and supplying about one-third, or a little more, of the horseshoe nails required in Australia, I, for one, would not go back upon it. Such an impost, however, is quite as much as the users of these nails should have to bear. I propose to move -
That, after the figures “ 8s. 3d.,” paragraph a, the words, “ and on and after 26th November, 1907,per cwt. (General Tariff), 5s.,” be inserted.
– I hope that honorable members will not agree to such an amendment. Honorable members will notice that we have practically adopted the recommendation of the protectionist section of the Tariff Commission.
– Its members constituted only one-half of the Commission.
– I prefer to accept the recommendation of that section of the Commission whose members desire to protect local industries. Although the horseshoe nail industry is not a very large one, I would remind the honorable member for North Sydney that our annual imports under this heading total about 108,000 cwt. Why should not these nails be made in the Commonwealth from the product of our native ores? My own impression is that if we adopt the recommendations of the A section of the Tariff Commission we shall probably induce another competitor to embark upon the industry, so that we shall not have to rely upon one firm. The moment that we impose a. protective duty upon these articles, we shall practically manufacture the whole of the horseshoe nails used within Australia, because it will provide somebody with an opportunity to compete with the existing establishment and will thus prevent an increase in the price. I am informed that since the industry was started in the Commonwealth the average price of imported nails has been reduced from ri d. to 4d. per lb. I trust that the Committee will agree to the Government proposal.
. When the Manufactures Encouragement Bill was under consideration a few days ago, I mentioned that there is an establishment in South Melbourne which is in readiness to start manufacturing horseshoe nails and which does not desire the aid either of a bounty or a duty. The Treasurer was good enough to say that he would pay a visit of inspection to it.
– I have not had time to do so.
– I am quite aware of that. I venture to say that the old duty of 5s. per cwt. upon horseshoe nails was ample to protect the industry.
– It very nearly ruined it.
– I have not seen any evidence of its threatened ruin. In fact, I have not” discovered any struggling industries except those which have been struggling for higher rates of duty.
– The honorable member asked me the other day to go down to South Melbourne, and inspect some wonderful invention there. He gave as his reason for requesting me to do so the fact that the author of this invention would sell it to another Government if the Commonwealth did not purchase it. 1 have not seen the machine in question ; but the honorable member described it as a wonderful piece of mechanism, which was capable of turning out horse shoes by the milJ ion.
– I did not blame the Treasurer.
– I said to the honorable member, “ If this gentleman has such a wonderful machine, and if he de sires the Government to keep it here, had he not better take some action in that regard?” The honorable member replied, Oh, he will not run after the Government, but will sell his invention to some foreign Government.” I then said, “li he thinks so little of his own country, le) him do it.” ‘
– Is not the Treasurer referring to a machine for the manufacture of horseshoes, arid not of horseshoe nails i
– But I pres um, that it will also produce horseshoe nails. If the gentleman in question has an invention, such as has been described, and if he desires to bull-dose the Government into buying it by threatening to take it elsewhere, I say that he had better dispose of it some where else.
– The Treasurer has not told the Committee the whole story of this machine. 1 pointed out to him some days ago that the inventor had an objection to being interfered with by any new protection proposals - that he is a believer in personal enterprise. I may add that he employs about 130 men, to some of whom he pays as much as £9 per week. I took the Minister of Trade and Customs down to see the invention.
– To inspect a machine for the manufacture of horseshoes.
– The Minister also saw the place where the horseshoe nails can be manufactured. I should like to see the duty retained at the old rate. When we reach item 171 I shall be glad to give the Committee some more information with reference to this matter..
– Yesterday Ave heard what subsequently proved to be a fairy story about a visit of the Treasurer to Woolloomooloo. He went there for the purpose of inspecting an industry -
– Order. The honorable member must not re-open that question.
– I do not propose to do so. I intend to connect my remarks with the item under consideration.
– If the honorable member is going to traverse the statements made by the Treasurer last evening, it is obvious that the Treasurer must reply, and that will cause a re-opening of the debate.
– You. sir, are anticipating my remarks a little. As an illustration of how little importance can be attached to the Treasurer’s statements, I propose to merely refer to the account which he gave us of his visit to Woolloomooloo. The Treasurer had previously given us one version of a visit which he was requested to pay to an establishment in South Melbourne. But he neglected to mention the matter until it was brought forward by the honorable member for Indi. He told us that the increased duty on nails was proposed because the industry could not succeed under the present duty. From what the honorable member for North Sydney has told the Committee it appeals that a duty of 5s. per cwt. was deliberately arrived at in 1902 after a proposal to fix the duty at 7s. had been contended for. We do not wish to make of Australia a charitable institution for various invalid industries. I understand that even the most rabid protectionists desire merely to support these industries.
– To give them a chance to support themselves.
– That is even better for my argument, because I propose to show that a dutyof 5s. per cwt. has not only enabled those engaged in this industry to support themselves but to considerably increase their business. According to the statement of the honorable member for North Sydney, based upon evidence given before the Royal Commission, they are at present producing nearly one-third of the whole of the horseshoe nails used in Australia.
– They commenced operations with a 14s. duty under the Victorian Tariff.
– I am not going back to antedeluvian times. Five years is a fair period within which to judge whether an industry is going to be a success. The present duty, with charges, is equal to 30 or 35 per cent.
– I shall read the part of the Commission’s report which shows that. It says -
The net cost f.o.b. in England of horseshoe nails is about £25 per ton.
– No invoice can be produced to substantiate that.
– The honorable member should not go back upon his statement when he finds that mine can be supported.
– It was the B section of the Tariff Commission who said that, and they knew nothing about it.
– The Minister of Trade and Customs just now referred to the A section as the Royal Commission, and the B section is at least entitled to claim to be described in the same way.
– The honorable member is reading only an opinion. Is it evidence?
– No, but it is based on evidence. The honorable member must be aware that I could read evidence on both sides with respect to all the items ; and if I read the evidence from one side only he would say “ What about the evidence on the other side”? I am trying to give the Committee the benefit of the Commission’s conclusion as to what the existing duty amounts to, as explained by the evidence. The report says -
The net cost f.o.b. in England of horseshoe nails is about £25 per ton. The landed cost with all charges added is from £32 15s. to £34. The present duty amounts to 20 per cent. of the invoice price and the present duty and charges together amount to an increase on the English cost of from 30 to 35 per cent.
The honorable member for Laanecoorie asked me for the. evidence, and this evidence will be found at page 2366 of the Tariff Commission’s Report. On the 27th March, 1906, Benjamin George Paddle, manufacturers’ representative, of 418 George-street, Sydney, sworn and examined, said -
The laid-down cost of imported horseshoe nails averages £34 per ton; and a similar assortment of Victorian nails would cost £42 per ton. Importing charges amount to from 30 per cent. to 35 per cent. on the invoice value; and if horse nails cannot be made properly under these circumstances, it would appear that the existence of such an industry was not justified.
I have noticed that the honorable member for Laanecoorie did not listen to the evidence which he asked me to read. I have now read not only the conclusion drawn by the B section of the Tariff Commission, but the evidence on which they based that conclusion. I have established the statement I made, and have shown that the B section of the Tariff, Commission told the truth at least once, although their statements are regarded so sceptically by the honorable member for Laanecoorie. The existing duty of 5s. per cwt., with charges added, thus represents from 30 to 35 per cent. upon the invoice price. It is now proposed to raise the duty to 7s. 6d. per cwt., which with charges added would represent 45 or 50 per cent. on the invoice price. This Tariff is likely to remain in operation for some considerable time; and at the end of three years, when a duty on iron is to be imposed, this industry will have the benefit of that duty and also of a duty on horseshoe nails, representing 45 or 50 per cent. I recognise that the Committee is, and has been, in the mood to pass reasonable duties. I do not propose to resist the inevitable, but every freetrader has cast upon him in these matters the duty of pointing out from time to time what is reasonable, because, while there may be some rabid protectionists in the Committee who are willing to put a Customs wall of the Chinese order round Australia, the majority are inclined to apply to these questions some degree of reason. If this industry has succeeded so well that those engaged in it have been able to considerably enlarge their establishments since 1902, with the advantage of a duty of 5s. per cwt., representing, with charges added, from 30 to 35 per cent., any reasonable and sane protectionist might ask why we should throw upon the owners and users of horses an obligation to pay 50 per cent. more duty upon their horseshoe nails than they have to pay at the present time. We have been told by the honorable member for Indi that, in addition to the establishment that has been shown to be succeeding so well, there is another in Melbourne, the proprietors of which deliberately say that they do not want any higher duty or any bounty.
– They have never made a nail.
– The honorable member for Indi says that he invited the Treasurer to go to this factory. We know the ease with which the Treasurer went to another factory, and was so misled that he unconsciously misled this Committeee as to the results of his visit.
– I did not do anything of the sort. The ‘honorable member persists in repeating misstatements.
– I cannot go into that question, because of the Chairman’s ruling, but the Treasurer represented to the Committee that a machine in this building was an Australian machine.
– The honorable member must accept the Treasurer’s statement.
– The honorable member for Indi not only invited the Treasurer to go to the factory, but actually took the Minister of Trade and Customs to it, and showed him not only horse shoes, but horse-shoe nails being produced.
– He did not, because he could not. I will stake my reputation that they never made a nail there.
– The honorable member for Indi told us so in as plain terms as he could, and I believe him.
– Ask him if he saw the nails being made.
– I did not say the nails were being made. Everything was ready to make them.
– According to the honorable member for Indi, the machinery . was there.
– We saw the shoes being made, and they told us that they had the machinery for nail making.
– We remember how, on another occasion, after being told that certain things were being made, we were told that they were ready to be made at Woolloomooloo, and that was supposed to be a sufficient inducement to impose a duty, because the Minister said “They cannot make them until they have the duty.”
– Who said that ?
– A Minister. I know that he will deny it, because he will contradict anything that I say. Do honorable members want us to raise the duty from 30 and 35 per cent. to 45or 50 per cent., in face of the fact that there is a factory ready in Melbourne to make these nails? They are practically a domestic article. Being used by carters, cabmen, carriers and men in a hundred and one occupations, they are not a rich man’s commodity. I ask the Committee therefore merely to balance the evidence. In view of what the honorable member for North Sydney said as to the progress the industry has made, how can we raise the duty from £5 to £7 10s. a ton ?
– They will be able to undersell the imported article.
– They are now making only one-third of what is required in the Commonwealth. The honorable member for Hindmarsh is not one of those who wish to put up a sort of prohibitive wall, because he knows that one advantage about the importation of articles from great communities like ‘Great Britain and the United States is that now and then the local producer gets hints as to improvements and machinery. If the honorable member for Hindmarsh believes that the existing duty has led to the increase of the industryup to the present, why should he support the sudden raising of it, seeing that he is not one of those who desire prohibition? We, on this side, have already done some heroic things in the consideration of this Tariff, but all that we can do now is to put before the Committee what appear to be facts established by good authority and leave the Committee to do what is fair by the consumer, because we are not here merely to consider the manufacturer.
– The bulk of the imported nails come through Germany from Norway and Sweden. A good quantity comes from the United Kingdom, but very few from America. The real trouble is that in Norway and Sweden there are peculiarly rich and valuable deposits of iron ore, eminently suitable for making steel. I venture to say, without knowing anything of the particulars, that it may be found on examination that the peculiar kind of ore found in that part of the world enables the people there to turn out a superior quality of iron for this purpose.
– They are worse nails. The Australian nail is the best.
– That may or may not be the case. If it is, it is very strange that our own people, who get their livelihood by their use, do not seem to appreciate the fact.
– They do.
– I assure the honorable member for Bass that they do not, according to the evidence of the maker here. He alleges, as has been done many times before by Australian manufacturers, that it is simply owing to prejudice, and nothing else, that his nails do not come into general use. He told the Commission -
It would appear that the users in that State -
New South Wales - had become so accustomed to the imported nails and satisfied as to their quality that they were not prepared to do more than give the Victorian nail a trial. They did not to any extent give repeat orders, notwithstanding the inducement offered by a price lower than that charged under like conditions in Victoria.
It appears, therefore, that that man cuts the price in New South Wales, and yet they will not take his nails.
– He cut the price lower in Tasmania, where he used to dump them.
– He adds-
Endeavours were made by the witness to deal direct with farriers by means of a traveller from the works and a local agent, but still the trade did not come, and the cost of distribution by that method was found to be too heavy.
Apparently, therefore, he has tried every conceivable plan to get the people in the other States to use his nails, and, for the most part, they still prefer those which come from Norway, Sweden, and Great Britain. Honorable members will see from the evidence that there really is a very substantial reason for the preference which is given to some nails over others. As a rule, there is no accounting for tastes, but in this case there appears to be a solid basis for the preference. It relates to the process by which the nails are manufactured. It seems there is a new process in the Old Country and on the Continent, known as the cold process, whereas in Australia, I understand, Mr. Pender simply employs the hot-forge method. There would seem, therefore, to be nothing more than preference or inclination of the users to account for the placing of orders sometimes in Australia and sometimes abroad.
– The hot-forge method produces the superior nail.
– I should like to know whether the Government Whip, even as a protectionist, would deprive people of the opportunity of obtaining a good article or from indulging their preference? Does the honorable member desire to shut out altogether nails made by the cold process ? If so, where does the liberty of the buyer come in? We must not forget that there is only one nail-maker in Australia, Mr. Pender; and he told the Tariff Commission, in plain language, that he hoped to secure from the increased duty an additional profit of 2s. 6d. per cwt.
– Not by increasing the price, but by getting increased trade.
– Does the honorable member suggest that increased trade will give him an advantage of 2s. 6d. per cwt. in price?
– There would be no additional cost for the factory or hands.
-At any rate, Mr. Fender was very frank with the Committee.
– He was quite right in what he said.
– If Mr. Pender was quite right, what becomes of the honorable member’s repeated statement that protection cheapens articles to the consumer ?
– So it does; and that has been the effect in the case of nails.
– From that 1 gather that the Australian manufacturer is to get a bigger price by selling his nails at a cheaper rate?
– Let the honorable member read the evidence.
- Mr. Pender told the Commission that he expected to get 2s. 6d. per cwt more. Where from?
– Profit; a man can make 50 cwts. at a proportionately cheaper rate than he can make 1 cwt.
– But if purchasers be confined to the goods of one manufacturer, is the price likely to be made lower or higher? Has Mr. Pender some superiorkind of human nature? Is he the one man in Australia who is prepared to make nails on purely philanthropic lines, or is he not likely to do what every other business man does, namely, get as much profit as the market will permit? At any rate, the fact remains that Mr. Pender makes only onethird of the nails consumed in Australia ; and, clearly, if we increase the duty we shall increase the price of two-thirds of the nails which cannot be produced here, or which are not produced here at the present time.
– That is better.
– I should imagine that if a local manufacturer can meet one-third of the total requirements, there is room for competition. If I could see competition, there would not be so much to say, but there does not appear to be any on the horizon. Mr. Pender has all the local manufacture to himself, and if we put a ring fence around one man, then, as day follows night, the price will be increasedto the consumer, there being no motive to so shape the manufactures as to meet the tastes and preferences of the people. If a man desires nails -which have been made by the cold process no legislation under heaven ought to prevent him from obtaining them.
– Not if hepays for them.
– But, at what rate? If the price be too high, the purchaser must sink his preference, and accept nails which he thinks are not suitable for his purpose. We have no right to interfere with purchasers in that way. This is not a matter of fiscalism - it goes beyond fiscalism. All we have a right to do is to so order our protective arrangements as to give the purchaser a fair preference between one class of nails and another. It is significant that Mr. Pender could not be got to say one word about the wages cost of his production, and, so far as I can see, his evidence appears to have been that of a very unsatisfactory witness.
– That is perhaps because Mr. Pender did not give evidence to suit the honorable member.
– The honorable member for Melbourne Ports ought not to make a remark of that kind. Mr. Pender refused, as I have said, to give any evidence regarding the wages cost of his production, but he, at the same time, volunteered evidence as to the wages cost in other countries.
– What is the use of a Royal Commission unless witnesses are compelled to give evidence?
– A Royal Commission cannot compel a man to give evidence against his will. Of course, a witness, under such circumstances, may be fined or sent to gaol ; but I apprehend that a Royal Commission takes a sensible course when the matter is not pressed. We know that in a Court of Law, when a man refuses to give evidence because he thinks it may injure his case, the fact is certainly not counted in his favour. The refusal of Mr. Pender is significant, in view of the fact that he was prepared to give evidence which was not wanted in regard to the wages cost elsewhere. He would not give the amount of work done on piece-work in Victoria, or any other data, on which the Commission might have arrived at the wages cost ; but he went on to say that the labour cost in Canada, which is not a competing country, is 5s.10d., as compared with 8s.10d. in Victoria. Is not that absurd evidence? What did the Commission require to know about a noncompeting country? No more unsatisfactory evidence could have been furnished to the Commission by any man; and, therefore, I think that Mr. Pender’s statements then made ought to be dismissed. There is already a substantial protective duty on horseshoe nails, and the duty, added to the cost of importation, is a very heavy imposition. Under the circumstances, the only local manufacturer ought to be able to compete; and an increased duty would only inflict an unnecessary penalty on users throughout Australia.
– The honorable member for Parkes, when quoting from some documents, said that he was reading evidence; and I challenged him on the point. For a long time, the honorable member would not give me any satisfaction.
– 1 gave the honorable member the page.
– I asked whether the honorable member was reading evidence or a portion of the report of the Commission!; and when I pressed the matter he appeared to be somewhat disturbed. I can assure the honorable member’ that all I desired to know was what document he was reading from.
– lt would take a better man than the honorable member to disturb me !
– Then I have been judging by appearances again, and may have been deceived. In” reference to what was read by the honorable member”, there are, in my opinion, a few brief sentences in the report of the A section of the Royal Commission which I think the Committee should hear. On page 27 of Progress Report, No. 9, section XVII., having reference to horseshoe nails, there is. the following -
The Victorian manufacturer intimated that he was induced to - leave Canada and start the industry in Victoria by the then existing duty of 12s. per cwt. That duty was increased in 1893 to 14s. per cwt., and remained in force until Federation took place. His business increased under the old Tariff, and his factory was enlarged four times. Under that Tariff prices had been as low to the consumer in Victoria as elsewhere ; but they were higher than the rates now ruling.
He asserted that the present low duty of 5s. per cwt. had so affected the industry that’ onefifth of his nail-making plant had never been started. Although he had npt lost trade, he had reduced his price list on two occasions, amounting in all to 1¾d. per lb., and his profits had been thereby reduced bv about id. a lb. According to the .statement of the witness, it was owing to the assurance of the first Prime Minister of the Commonwealth that he would favour raising revenue without destroying local industries, that the witness enlarged his buildings, plant, &c, to nearly double their former proportions.
Surely the honorable member for Parkes believes in a man getting interest upon his capital ?
– Hear, hear.
– In regard to the price of nails, Mr. John Pender gave the following evidence, reported on page 2364 - 69220. If this protective duty which you ask for is put on, would the price of nails in Australia for the consumer then be. at the lowest down-cellar price? - Thev would to a very great extent. 69221. Now, what do you mean by a very great extent ? - I mean this : At the present time we are not making fair interest on our capital. We require a little more profit than we .are getting. If we can, by increasing the manufacture, reduce - our cost, we are prepared toguarantee the consumer those prices, provided we. have the market.
– Does he define what fair interest is?
– Does he say what the cost of labour is?
– I know that no honorable member who has anything to do with manufacturing could view with equanimity the fact that four-fifths of his plant was lying idle, or assert that in such circumstances he was making interest on his money, especially when he was selling his product at a lower .price than that of the imported article.
– I should say at once that he had made a very serious mistake somewhere.
– The honorable member for Parkes has made an appeal, not on be1 half of the “ poor widow,” but on behalf of the poor people of Australia-
– I made no appeal ‘, but endeavoured to bring a little logic to bear upon honorable members.
– The honorable mem=ber made an appeal on behalf of the poor people of Australia, whom he was attempting to defend.
– I did not say so. I said that the duty on horse-shoe nailswould fall more on the poorer classes than on the rich. I did not talk about the poor man at all.
– The honorable member referred to the duty falling on the poorer classes; he would not, apparently, call them men. I shall “use the same term. It is on -the poorer classes of Australia he says that the duty will fall. Any one who has had anything to do with horses which are doing hard work knows that they require to be shod once a month; Will the honorable member be astonished when I tell him that a horse can be shod twelve times in a year, and that the horse. shoe nails will not. cost more than 2s. 6d. ? Where, then, comes in. the plea of the hon:orable member, which has been made so pathetically on behalf of the poorer classes? With regard to the importation of horse-shoe nails, I want honorable members to- realize that since the last Tariff was framed, the importation has materially increased, notwithstanding the fact that the local manufacturer is selling his horse-shoe nails at a lower price than that at which the imported article can be bought.
– But under the late Tariff the manufacturer has increased his output.
– The honorable member knows that prior to Federation the local manufacturer’s output was for only Victoria, but that under the late Tariff it was for all Australia.
– No ; for years he exported the nails successfully.
– He exported nails to Tasmania and New South Wales.
– He did not export a great quantity. We know that previous to Federation nearly the whole of his output was absorbed by Victoria, and the increase since that event is, of course, due to the fact that he has a market throughout Australia.
– He would not sell if the market were not profitable.
– The honorable member, with his commercial knowledge and experience, knows that a great many persons sell considerable quantities of goods at a loss.
– Dumping. That is what he did in the case of Tasmania.
– How can a man dump in his own country? We do not call it dumping when a man sells his goods in his own country.
– Not when it suits the honorable member. When the manufacture comes from other countries it is called dumping.
– I do not think that the honorable member, who has marvellous capacity for twisting words and sentences, will assert that the term “dumping” can be applied to goods which are placed on the market in the country of origin.
– But it is.
– The honorable member apparently does not want to hear the figures. In 1902 Australia imported 6,511 cwts. of horse-shoe nails. The quantity increased until in 1906 we imported 7,809 cwts. The average value of these goods in 1902 was 35s. per cwt., and in 1906, 31s. 3d.
– And the local manu facturer says that his own production increased, too.
– That production was due entirely to internal competition. I feel sure that had the local manufacturer not been in existence we should have had to pay the old price for horse-shoe nails.
– But he said that his own production went up at the same time.
– With regard to the price to the poorer classes, about whom the honorable member is so solicitous, in 1903 it was 9½d., and in 1905 it was reduced to 4¾d., which, of course, is a very substantial reduction.
– Prior to Federation horse-shoe nails were sold at1s. 2d. per lb.
– Mr. Pender gave the following evidence as reported on page 2365- 69276. Do you remember what was the price paid for horse-shoe nails before you commenced to manufacture? - The common price that was charged for horse-shoe nails, when we started, to manufacture, was1s. and1s. 2d. per lb.
– Has not the price gone down all over the world ?
– How long is it since the price was1s. 2d. per lb.?
– It is not stated in the evidence, but that was the price before Mr. Pender commenced to manufacture. It is realized by those who have anything to do with the metal trades or trades involving the use of metals that the price of raw material has increased materially during the last five years. The horse-shoe nail industry was started in Victoria under a duty much higher than that which is now proposed, and carried on with a certain amount of success for a considerable period.
– Then why propose to coddle it now?
– When a man has erected an up-to-date plant under a distinct promise from a Prime Minister of the Commonwealth, and had four-fifths of that plant lying idle since the day it was erected, does the honorable member call it coddling the industry to give that man an opportunity to put into operation the whole of his plant and thus employ labour, especially when he is our only defence against monopolists on the other side of the world. He is the only one who has kept down, and is capable of keeping down, the price.
– It must be a miserable industry if it can support only one man.
– Surely the honorable member would not apply an argument of that sort to any industry or any calling?
– Of course I would.
– There are many towns that would support only one medical man, but I am sure that the honorable member foc that reason would not call them miserable towns. Surely the fact that this industry is run by one man and in one State should not weigh with honorable members. The fact that it is capable of producing all that we require is what should weigh with them, especially when we know that the article will be produced not at a price higher than that which we now pay but, if there is any alteration, at a lower price.
– I have been wondering at the amount of heat imported into this debate by the honorable member for Laanecoorie, and also at the assertive bumptiousness - I can characterize it in no other way - of the_ Government whip. I have been puzzled to know in what Victorian constituency Mr. Pender’s nail factory is located. It is a remarkable thing that those who agree with “us that, at the. outside, the industry employs only twenty men, including five boys, talk heatedly and excitedly in support of this excessive duty, whereas, when the Treasurer is imposing heavy duties on the backs of the masses they sit silently in their places and vote with the Government without a word to say on behalf of the people. It is disgraceful conduct on the part of those honorable members. I wish to correct one or two statements which have been made. When a manufacturer asks the members of a Royal Commission to believe that his industry is in a strangled condition, that unless he is able to secure the higher duty which he asks for he will be ruined, it is only fair that they should be supplied by him with all possible information, in connexion with his position. When Mr. Pender came before the Tariff Commission he refused to state the cost of his raw material, the cost of labour and the other charges in producing a ton of horse-shoe nails. I consider that honorable members are entitled to know the exact position of this .manufacturer before they should be asked to grant him this excessive rate of duty, amounting to 50 per cent.
– I .notice that the honorable member for Laanecoorie does not listen to the arguments on the other side.
– No; the honorable member for Laanecoorie replied .to an interjection about dumping by this Melbourne manufacturer. I feel satisfied that there is not a representative of Tasmania who does not know that for years and years Mr. Pender, after paying freight and all expenses, sold his nails in that . State at a rate very much less than that which he charged in Victoria.
– Does he do that now ?
– The people of Victoria were paying a very much higher rate for his nails than were the people of Tasmania. In New South Wales he was selling his nails at a reduced rate, but not at such a reduced rate as he charged to people in Tasmania. That is why the honorable member for Bass is so appreciative of the horse-shoe nail industry. He says that in Tasmania the people appreciate Mr. Pender’s horse-shoe nails.
– That statement is not correct.
– And the reason is liecause he lets the Tasmanians have the nails at a reduced rate.
– That is not so.
– It is of no use for .th>* honorable member to say that it is not so, because what I say is correct. The honorable member for Bourke, with a cheap sneer at the free-trade members of the Tariff Commission, said that we did not base our report on facts, and he challenged the honorable member for Parkes to produce an invoice to show that the charges on imported nails amounted to from 30 to 35 per cent.
– I said that the Commission did not get at the facts in regard to the matter of 25s. per cwt. f.o.b.
– It ‘did ; and, in addition to that, we had produced before the Tariff Commission an original invoice by Mr. Rupert Clarke, manager for Messrs. Holdsworth, Macpherson, and Company, of Sydney. In the course of his examination I put certain questions to him, the answers to which show clearly that the charges connected with the importation of nails into New South Wales amount to the percentage stated in the report of the freetrade section of the Commission. The original invoice is copied in the evidence of the witness: I assume that the honorable member for Bourke, and the honorable member for Laanecoorie, have not taken the trouble to read that evidence.
– I never said a word about that.
– It is a great pity that the honorable member should pick out little bits of evidence to suit his own purpose in bolstering up a certain factory in Melbourne, whilst he will not pay any attention to other parts of the evidence which clearly show that under the old Federal Tariff the manufacturer in question has been enjoying very great advantages.
– The honorable member is making a great mistake about the price of nails in Tasmania.” If he looks at page 2351 of the evidence he will find that.
– I propose to quote from the evidence to substantiate the position of free-trade members of the Commission, and that of the honorable member for Parkes. I quote from the evidence at page 2373, question 83742.
Can you tell us what the freight is on the importation of a ton of nails from London to Melbourne? - When I said that we principally imported Hamilton nails, I ought to say that we also import Globe and Capewell nails, both of which are of English make.
Do you import those in large quantities? - Yes.
Can you tell us what the freight and other charges are on a ton of those nails from London to Sydney? - I refer to some figures that were given in the Sydney Evening News and the Telegraph- on the matter - figures which were set out in the Evening News on 9th February, and I fmd they are practically correct. I have an original invoice here from London, showing that the figures are substantially correct.
Have you any objection to our seeing that invoice? - Not the slightest, although I do not think it ought to be published in the newspapers. The invoice, which is dated London, 27th October, 1905, and was sent to our London house, is as follows : -
I do not propose to weary the Committee by reading the items in the invoice. It simply shows that the maximum discount for large quantities is 70 per cent, and 5 per cent. The invoice shows a net London cost of ^24 us. 9d., which is half the quantity booked. The cost here would be about £32 15s. The evidence goes on: -
Does that include freight and insurance? - Yes.
And what else? - Wharfage, duty, cartage, and exchange.
How much per cent, does that come to on the invoiced cost? - Practically between 30 and 35 per cent.
That was under the old duty. So that the position of the one nail manufacturer of Victoria was that in addition to the duty he had this protection in connexion with freight, charges and insurance of 33J per cent. I remind honorable members that Mr. Rupert Clarke is well known to be one of the most experienced business men in the city of Sydney. I point out further that for years and years the local firm has exported nails, not only to Tasmania and New South Wales, but also to New Zealand ; they are at the present time, and have, been ever since the Federal Tariff came into existence, exporting nails to New Zealand, where they pay duty .and sell in competition with nails imported from other parts of the world.
– Did the honorable member read Mr. Rupert Clarke’s statement that he had not worked out the figures exactly ?
– His statement was: -
T would point “out that I have not worked out these figures exactly, having received notice to attend only last night.
The members of the Commission did work them out exactly, in order that we might justify our position before we made a recommendation. The evidence of other witnesses whose names appear in other parts of the report shows that the natural protection varies from 30 to 35 per cent. So that speaking generally we can say that it amounts to about 33J per cent. It is perfectly clear that the want of success of Mr. Pender, in New South Wales, is due to the fact that people who have tried his nails there, in many instances, came to the conclusion that it was better for them, in their own interest, to pay a higher price for imported nails than to use Mr. Pender’s. Though Mr. Pender went to all sorts of trouble, taking orders direct from various small blacksmiths throughout New South Wales, many of them did not repeat their orders to him. They found that it paid them very much better to use imported nails.
– How many factories are there in Australia?
– One, employing, at the time this evidence was taken twenty hands, of whom five were boys. Something has been said in relation to dumping. Absolutely no dumping was proved in connexion with this industry before the Commission, although statements were made to that effect. There was no specific case of nails being dumped in Australia with the object of wiping out the local industry.
– Would it not be difficult to prove in any case?
– We were not able to get from Mr. Pender a statement of the cost of raw material or of the wages paid by him. But he went out of his way to quote the wages paid in ‘Canada, from which country there is no competition. One would have thought that when he came before a Commission he would have been able to give information about the hours of labour and the wages paid in Sweden, Norway and Great Britain, from which the principal competition comes. But instead of that he was able only to give us facts about Canada, from which no horseshoe nails were imported.
– He came from Canada, and knew the conditions there.
– One would have thought that he would know the conditions in countries that were competing with him.
– What are the labour conditions in Scandinavia?
– I do not know. But if I were engaged in a business and came before a Royal Commission asking for higher duties, I should set myself to master the facts as to the industry in competing countries. It shows how gullible some people thought the members of the Commission were when it was expected that we should be prepared to swallow evidence of this character. The fact is that some years ago a Tariff Commission sat in Victoria, and all that manufacturers had then to do was to attend before it, and make out a sorrowful tale. No questions were asked, and the duties were readily granted. But we on the Federal Tariff Commission were very dubious about the claims of some manufacturers. Witnesses were submitted to rigid cross-examination. I think we were absolutely justified in doing that. It was our business to ascertain the exact position in which manufacturers stood. In a case like this where a manufacturer refused to give us the necessary particulars in connexion with his industry - to tell us what his wages were, and what the cost of material was - we were justified in being a little bit doubtful about his evidence. Of course, we had not only to consider the manufacturers who came before us, and who are only a small proportion of the people of Australia, but also the great consuming public of this Commonwealth. It was our business to see that, while we did a fair thing to the manufacturers, we allowed nothing unfair to be done to the people generally. We had to take into consideration how the great consuming public were being affected. I do not wish to repeat what has been said by other honorable members, but will refer the Committee to the report of the freetrade section of the Commission. I sub mit most respectfully to this Committee that there is no justification whatever for the proposed increase of duty. It has been clearly shown that Mr. Pender has increased his business largely since the Federal Tariff came into existence. At the present time he is the monopolistic nail manufacturer of Australia. Under these circumstances; I hope that the Committee will not increase the duty.
.- I was rather surprised at the honorable member for Illawarra attacking me because I happened to interject that the Australian nail was the best. He said that it was because Tasmania got horse-shoe nails cheaper than Victoria did.
– That is right.
– I did not know that. But I have been in the habit of visiting blacksmiths’ shops occasionally in different parts of Australia and seeing the nails used, and I have also kept horses for the last twenty-five years. Therefore, I know a little bit about this industry. In my opinion the Australian nail is better than the imported nail. I was at a blacksmith’s shop in Victoria a few weeks ago. He showed me two nails, and said, “ Which of those two is the better?” I picked out the one” which I thought the better, and he said, “ That is an Australian-made nail.” He showed me different nails in different cases.
– What was the brand on the other one ? Much depends upon the brand.
– I do not remember. The statement that Tasmania is now gettingher horse-shoe nails cheaper than she did before is not borne out by the facts. I would remind the Committee that the local manufacturer experiences great difficulty as compared with the importer in distributing his nails. In various parts of Australia blacksmiths enter into agreements with ironmongers to supply them with iron and nails, and in many cases to give them three, six, or twelve months’ credit. A man who has only one article to sell is thus placed at a disadvantage. When the States decided to federate it was determined that public servants, on their transfer to the Commonwealth, should lose none of their existing or accruing rights, and I think we should also take care that the manufacturers and the people of Australia generally do not suffer as the result of the union. I do not know the local nail manufacturer, but according to his own statement he was induced to set up business in Victoria by the fact that there was in operation a duty of j 2s. per cwt. That duty was subsequently increased to 14s. per cwt.-, and he was able to do a flourishing business. It was only because by means of that Tariff he had built up a business on a sure foundation that he was able to carry on when the duty was reduced under the Federal Tariff to 5s. per cwt.
– What about the rights of the people in those States where no duty prevailed on horse-shoe nails?
– I do not suppose that this increased duty will add one 6d. per annum to the cost of shoeing a horse ; but, on the other hand, it means a great deal to the one manufacturer of horse-shoe nails in Australia., a large proportion of whose machinery remained idle during the operation of the old duty.
.- The honorable member for Bass has told us that when he enters a blacksmith’s shop he uses his powers of observation and compares the imported with the locally produced horse-shoe nails. He says, however, that he does not know the local . manufacturer. Had he made better use of his powers of observation and his reasoning faculties during this debate he would have learned a good deal of the industry. When I entered the House this morning I did not know the name of the manufacturer, but I have gathered from the debate that he is evidently a Scotchman, since his name is Pender, that he is a Victorian manufacturer who gave evidence before the Tariff Commission, and that he is evidently biased. His interests are being supported by two honorable members who happen to be his representatives.
– His factory is -150 miles “ from my constituency.
– The honorable member for Laanecoorie talks about this unfortunate man having to sell his nails at a loss. That statement reminds me of the story of the Hebrew gentleman who, when serving a young woman with a small quantity of merchandise, assured her that he was practically letting her. have the goods below cost. When she inquired how he managed in the circumstances to live, he replied that he got- a little profit on the string which he used to tie up the parcel. It has been said that so far as this Tariff is concerned the free-trade party have no ‘’ sand “ in them; I think we have shown, in dealing with this item, that we can put up a good fight. The report of the protectionist section of the Tariff Commission states that -
A Victorian witness, who informed your Commission that he was the only horseshoe nail manufacturer south of the Equator, complained that importers - apparently all Victorian manufacturers so complain - had great facilities under the Commonwealth Tariff, to the detriment of his business. Although his output had not been materially affected, the imported article is admitted under such favorable conditions, as he had been compelled to cut down prices to the extent of 1¾d. per lb.
This shows that it is the competition of the importers, and not the establishment of a local factory, that has kept down prices. Surely that is one of the strongest arguments we could have in favour of freetrade. For the sake of this paltry industry, employing only twenty hands, the whole Commonwealth is to be taxed. The sound of the blacksmith’s hammer is to be heard iri every village, and, in opposing this duty, I am speaking, not for one individual, but for thousands of men whose interests I have at heart.
– I move -
That, after the figures “8s. 3d.,” paragraph a, the words, “ and on and after 26th November, 1907, per cwt. (General Tariff), 6s.,” be inserted.
If this amendment be carried I shall move that the duty, in the case of imports from the United Kingdom, be 5s. per cwt. I think that my proposal should, to some extent, meet the views of honorable members opposite.
– I hope that the amendment will be rejected. The very lowest duty that we should impose is 7s. 6d. per cwt., but if honorable members wish to grant a preference to Great Britain, that suggested by the Government is a fair and reasonable one.
Question - That after the figures “ 8s. 3d.,” paragraph a, the words “ and on and after 26th November, 1907, per cwt. (General Tariff) 6s.,” be inserted - put. The Committee divided.
Majority … …” 26
Question so resolved in the negative.
.- I move -
That after the figures “ 8s. 3d.,” paragraph a, the words “ and on and after 26th November, 1907, per cwt. (General Tariff), 7s.,” be inserted.
If this amendment be carried I shall subsequently move in favour of fixing the duty for the United Kingdom at 6s. per cwt. A little while ago, when an industry in New South Wales in which only one man was interested was under consideration, the honorable member for Flinders warned us that we ought to look very carefully into the matter. But we. have heard no such warning from him in reference to the horse-shoe nail industry in which only one man is interested, and it is somewhat significant that this is a Victorian industry. A duty of 7s. per cwt. would represent an increase of about 40 per cent. upon the rate operative under the old Tariff. Surely such an increase ought to be sufficient even for a Victorian industry.
Question put. The Committee divided.
Majority … … 22
Question so resolved in the negative.
Amendment (by Mr. Joseph Cook) put -
That, after the figures “ 8s. 3d.,” paragraph
A, the words “ and on and after 26th November, 1907, per cwt. (General Tariff), 7s. 6d.,” be inserted.
The Committee divided.
Majority … … 10
Question so resolved in the negative.
.- The proposal of the Government involves an increase of 50 per cent. upon the old rate of duty. Personally, I think that the duty under the general Tariff should not exceed 8s., and, consequently, I move -
That, after the figures “8s. 3d.,” paragraph a, the words “ and on and after 26th November, 1907, per cwt. (General Tariff), 8s.,” be inserted.
Amendment agreed to.
Amendment (by Mr. Joseph Cook) put -
That, after the figures “ 7s. 6d.,” paragraph a, the words “ and on and after 26th November, 1907, per cwt. (United Kingdom), 7s.,” be inserted.
The Committee divided.
Majority … … 18
Question so resolved in the negative.
Amendment (by Mr. Mahon) put -
That, after the figures “ 7s. 6d.,” paragraph a, the words “ and on and after 26th November, 1907, per cwt. (United Kingdom), 7s. 3d.,” be inserted.
The Committee divided.
Majority … … 12
Question so resolved in the negative.
Sitting suspended from 1.25 to 3 p.m.
.- These duties, like many other high protective duties in the Tariff, have already led to the combination of local manufacturers for the purpose of increasing prices. I find that although the actual importations of the nails included in paragraph b from the United Kingdom increased between 1903 and 1906, the percentage of the British importations to the total importation decreased. In 1903 the importations from the United Kingdom were 22,752 cwt., about 28.3. per cent. of the total importations, which were 80,340 cwt., Germany sending 28,847 cwt., the United States of America 20,482 cwt., and all other countries 8,259cwt.In1906 the importations from Great Britain were 28,104 cwt., 25.8 per cent. of the total importations, which were 104,967 cwt., Germany sending 42,120 cwt., the United States of America 23,472 cwt., and all other countries 10,271 cwt. The exports from Australia, however, increased from 361 cwt. in 1903 to 720 cwt. in 1906, that is, they almost doubled themselves within three years. While in 1906 the importations were 104,967 cwt., the total output of eight factories was about 300,000 cwt.
– Where does the honorable member get those figures?
- Mr. Gold, giving evidence before the Tariff Commission - page 2393 - questions 69423-4 - said -
Of the eight factories, one alone, by no means the largest, has an output of 50,000 cwt. ayear, The total output of the local factories, therefore, is about 300,000 cwt., while the imports for 1906 were 104,000 cwt.
The local output is constantly increasing. The industry is carried on by the labour of men and youths who are more or less unskilled workers ; but the number employed in it has more than doubled in the threeyears period with which I am dealing. According to the reports of the
Chief Inspector of Factories, appendix C, in 1903, there were employed in this industry forty-two adult males, at an average wage of £2 5s. 4d., and thirty-one boys and youths, at an average wage of 13s. 9d. ; while, in 1906, 106 adult males were employed at an average wage of £21s. 6d. ; and sixty-two boys and youths at an average wage of 14s.5d. The total number of hands employed in 1903 was seventy-three, at an average wage of £1 11s.11d., and in 1906, 168, at an average wage of £111s. 6d. It must be remembered, however, that these figures include those who are engaged in the manufacture of horse-shoe nails, who number twenty, all told. According to the evidence given before the Tariff Commission, the proposed duty is more than two and a half times as great as the labour cost of production. The labour cost of a ton of nails was stated in evidence to be from 36s. to 40s., or 16 per cent. on the total cost. That information was given by Mr. MacDougall - page 2381, questions 68480-5. - and confirmed by a Sydney manufacturer, Mr. Hill, who said that his weekly wages were about£30, and his average monthly output between 50 and 60 tons.Mr. Gold, a Melbourne maker, put the wages cost at 14 per cent. - page 2393, question 69424. Mr. MacDougall, in the course of his evidence, stated that wire nails, on the average, cost local makers 12s. per cwt. Therefore the old duty of 3s. per cwt. was equivalent to 25 per cent. on the total cost, and over 50 per cent. above the wages cost, whereas the proposed duty of 5s. is equal to 41 per cent. of the total cost, and more than two and a half times the labour cost. It has been stated that the object of protective duties like these is , to create local competition which will reduce prices ; but the manufacturers are striving to have the rates made so high that they will have a practical monopoly of the local trade, although, at present, they have about twothirds of it. One of the reasons why they asked for an increase of rates was that they wished to increase prices, because, they alleged, the present prices are not sufficiently profitable. Yet the old duty was admitted to be equivalent to 40 per cent. on the invoiced cost of American nails, and the proposed duty will be 63 per cent. That was stated in evidence byHr. Hill, page 2398, question 87143, and Mr. MacDougall admitted - question 68540 - that the effect of the higher duty would be to increase prices. Therefore, in spite of what honorable members opposite say about the effect of duties in reducing prices, here is evidence, not only that they really result in increasing prices, but that one of the objects sought by the local manufacturers in asking for the duty is to enable them to raise prices. We have in evidence the sworn statement of interested protectionist manufacturers that they ask for higher duties to enable them to increase their prices, because the present prices are not sufficiently remunerative. There is a combine among local manufacturers in this, as well as in other protected industries, whereby the comsumers are put at their mercy, and the reduction of prices is prevented. Mr. MacDougall stated in evidence that such a combine exists, and that the makers agree to sell at the same prices, each having allotted to him a certain proportion of the trade. When they know that these combines do exist, and that the persons engaged in these manufactures are engaged in a conspiracy in restraint of trade, to prevent the consumers getting the articles they require at a lower price, I wish to know how it is that some steps have not been taken by the Government to put in force the provisions of an Act, which we spent some time in passing, for the purpose’ of preventing conspiracies of this kind. I suppose that when that legislation was before the House those responsible for it had in mind only importers and those outside the Commonwealth engaged in sending goods to this country.
– What has this to do with nails ?
– It has everything to do with nails, because I have pointed out that it was sworn in evidence that there is a combine in the nail manufacturing industry. If we have any right to object to outside combines in restraint of trade, we should certainly see that there are no similar combines formed within the Commonwealth. Local combines are really the most dangerous, because they are given a practical monopoly of the Australian market, and being relieved of outside competition, can put their prices up to whatever figure they like. With a knowledge of these facts, which must be as well known to the Treasurer and other members of the Government as they are to other people, I ask why the Govern ment do not put in force the provisions of the law we have passed for the purpose of suppressing combines.
– Order. The honorable member should not enter upon a general discussion of combines.
– Nor do I propose to do so. Am I to understand, sir, that in objecting to the duties proposed in this case, I am not at liberty to give, as a reason for my objection, that in this industry a combine has been formed, which already has a monopoly of the market, and is keeping up the price to the consumer?
– The honorable member was going beyond that. He was discussing certain legislation passed by thisParliament, and asking why the Government did not take certain action. That was going beyond the incidental reference to the subject which the honorable member was entitled to make.
– The Committee are, I think, entitled to some information when the Treasurer comes down with a proposal for an increased duty, knowing that this combine is in existence.
– The question before the Committee is not whether a combine exists, but whether the duty proposed should be agreed to.
– I submit, in connexion with this matter, that when it is definitely stated by the honorable member for Lang, and has been clearly proved by the evidence submitted to the Tariff Commission, that an arrangement or a combine is in existence between the principal makers of these goods in Australia to regulate prices in the industry, the honorable member is justified in referring to the fact in commenting upon it, and in showing that the combine is fleecing the public in the way referred to.
– The honorable member would be quite in order in referring to those facts, but he would not be in order in discussing the question of combines generally.
– Not this special combine?
– If the honorable member were allowed, even in connexion with the special combine referred to, to enter upon an elaborate argument, I should have to allow the question of combines generally to be discussed, and we should lose sight of the item altogether.
– I have no intention to traverse the general question of combines, or to say whether they are right or wrong. I wished merely to direct the attention of the Treasurer to the fact that we have passed legislation to prevent the operation of combines acting in restraint of trade, and that there is a combine in connexion with this particular industry whose operations are injurious to the public. I put that forward as one of my objections to the proposed increase of duty. I have no wish to enable the combine in this industry to be more injurious to the public by becoming more firmly entrenched in the monopoly which it at present enjoys. For the reasons I have given, I move -
That, after the figures “ 5s. 6d.,” paragraph b, the words “ and on’ and after 27th November, 1907, per cwt. (General Tariff), 3s. 6d.,” be in.serted.
It is my intention, should the amendment be passed, to move that the duty be 3s. on imports from the United Kingdom.
.–I do not complain of the inclusion in this item of such articles as picture nails, tacks, and wire nails, or that they should be dutiable at the rates proposed ; but I think it is not fair to include in the same item such articles as bridge spikes and raildogs. I point out that several packets of tacks might be made from the material in one bridge spike or rail-dog. In the circumstances, it is almost ridiculous to propose that the same duty should be imposed on bridge spikes and . rail-dogs as on tacks and picture nails. I wish to move, as an amendment, the omission of the words “rail-dogs or brobs, spikes,” with a view to moving the insertion of the following new item -
Rail-dogs or brobs, and spikes, per cwt. (General Tariff), 3s. 3d. ; (United Kingdom), 3s.
Amendment (Mr. Johnson’s), by leave, withdrawn.
Amendment (by Mr. Hedges) proposed -
That the words “rail-dogs or brobs; spikes,” be left out.
– I do not rise to oppose the amendment submitted by the honorable member for Fremantle, but to point out that -while there may be justification for the amendment, there is certainly justification for a reduction of the proposed duty on the whole line of goods included in this item. It does not stand on the same footing as the item with which we have just dealt. In connexion with the last item there was only one maker, and it was difficult, if not impossible, to obtain information as to what profit he was making. There are many makers of wire nails. There are at least eight factories in the Commonwealth, and there is evidence that they employ at the’ present time nearly three times the number of hands engaged in the industry when the 1902 Tariff was passed. That is evidence that the industry is successful, and is paying under the duty imposed by the last Tariff. As a matter of fact, since the last Tariff came into operation, two factories have been started in New South Wales.
– And the owners of both are complaining. At least one of them came to me as a deputation, complaining that importers were dumping wire nails from Germany at a lower price than that at which the local manufacturers can import the material to make the articles in Australia.
– The Treasurer speaks as if a request from a manufacturer for an increased duty were a proof that She, increase is necessary. With the present Government, it is altogether too much a case of “ Ask and ye shall receive.” Apparently no inquiry is made, the Treasurer does not require to be satisfied as to the real need for an increased duty, and it is sufficient merely that a request for an increase “should be made. Two factories were started in New South Wales since the Tariff of 1902 was imposed, and another is just about to be started. One was started in South Australia under the same Tariff, and one is about to be started in Western Australia. That is pretty good evidence that profits are being made in the industry. I have a balance-sheet here - and I believe it is not by any means the best that could be shown in the industry - which shows that one concern engaged partly in the- manufacture of wire nails and partly in the. manufacture of barbed wire, made a profit of ^2,092 on a capital of .£12,250. That represent* a profit of oyer 16 per cent.
– What is the name. of the company ?
– I do not care to mention names. The honorable member can see the balance-sheet if he wishes. 1 think that the names of companies and individuals are mentioned too freely in this Chamber. The rush of people into this business is an evidence that there is profit to be derived from it.
– The enormous importations do not suggest that.
– More than double the quantity is made locally. The fact that the number of hands engaged in the industry has been increased three-fold since the Tariff of 1902 came into force is the best possible evidence that the duties imposed by that Tariff were ample to bring about an increase in the business, to secure more and more of the local trade, and to give profitable returns to those engaged in the industry. The Treasurer referred just now to dumping in connexion with this item, but we bear a great deal about dumping that is altogether inaccurate. I should like to refer the Committee to a statement concerning dumping in connexion with some of these local companies, given in sworn evidence before the Tariff Commission in answer to question 68589. A witness was asked - .
Are you selling cheaper here or in Svdney? - In New Smith Wales.
By nearly 2s. per cwt., are you not? - No.
I am speaking of the run of the gauges, not of any particular gauge? - We sell at is. per cwt., f.o.b., less for Sydney than we do for Melbourne.
Then you have done with them, when they ]lft Ve left Melbourne? - Yes.
There is an illustration of dumping. In the answers given to other questions, it is shown that the companies engaged in this Industry have combined to fix selling prices. Question 68604 was -
Have you a schedule price with, the other makers here? -
The answer was -
Yes, we all sell at the same price.
What I have said is good evidence that the business was a very profitable one under the 3s. duty. Whatever doubts honorable members, may have had as to whether the industry of horse-shoe nail-making was profitable or not under the old duty, there is strong evidence that we ought not to increase the duty in this case. As the honorable member for Fremantle is in favour of the exclusion of some of the items, I hope that he will also see his way to vote for a more reasonable duty on the’ whole item than that proposed bv the Government.
.- The strongest argument in favour of the increased duty is the fact that last year ^71,890 worth of nails came from Great
Britain, where the wage in connexion with the industry is about 15s. a week. In giving evidence before a Commission appointed in the Old Country, one witness said that the duty they required was the same as obtained in Germany and the United States in order to keep foreign nails from entering. That is what thev are asking for in free-trade Great Britain, where they are paying 15s. a week against our 4.1s. 6d. a week wage. It is clear proof that the extra duty is required when we have to compete under those conditions.
– I should like to hear something from the Minister on this question..
– I want to get to a division.
– Honorable members are entitled to know reasons why the Minister’s proposal for an increase of duty should be adopted. . It has been clearly proved that the old duty amounted to about 40 per cent, on the invoice value of the goods. To that must be added the insurance, freight, and other charges on bringing goods to Australia. When, therefore, it is proposed to about double the old duty, the Committee ;s entitled to some explanation. The honorable member for Lang drew attention to the existence of a combine in order to fix the price amongst the Australian’ nail manufacturers. Evidence to that effect was given, not by one manufacturer only, but by several. The first to give evidence was Mr. MacDougall, who stated distinctly that they had a schedule, and all sold at the same price. The next witness was Mr. Gold. On page 2302 of the Tariff Commission’s Minutes of Evidence, appears the following - 69413. I am talking ‘about the ordinary wire nail. Cannot the Austral Nail Company turn them out? - I am not going to let them have all the trade. 69414. Are you underselling them? - No, we practically sell at the same price.
Further on he was asked more specifically about this matter as follows - 69450. As to this arrangement between the Austral Nail Company and yourself, how do you arrange to get five-elevenths of all the trade in Victoria, and they get six-elevenths? - Our books are inspected bv an accountant. If I have done more than my share, I have to give the difference to the Austral Company, and if they have done more than their share they have to give the difference to me.
Evidently, according to that question, the whole of the trade of Victoria was divided, between Mr. Gold and the Austral Nail Company. 69451. How is that done? - We pass on the orders. 69453. Does that arrangement you have with them in regard to the output extend to price? - We all sell at about the same price. 69454. When do you fix prices? - Every time there is a reduction or a rise in wire we have to raise or drop our prices accordingly. It is arranged according to the raw material. The raw material has gone up 30s. a ton during the last two or -three months. We have had to raise our prices, therefore.
Therefore, so far as Victoria is concerned, practically the whole trade is a matter of arrangement between the gentlemen interested in the industry, who fix the price that the Victorian people have to pay. Is this the sort of article upon which the Committee should practically double the duty? Are we to give those men a further opportunity of raising the price? It has been clearly proved that since the imposition of the first Federal Tariff the production of the industry has largely increased. Other establishments have been formed in Victoria and New South Wales, and another is about to be started in Western Australia. In Victoria, while there has been a large increase of production,, there has been a big decrease of importations. Protectionists always say that all that they ask for in connexion with their “strangled industries” is to have the conditions of labour equalized as between the Commonwealth and competing countries. That is always alleged as the basic principle of the protectionists’ claims. But in this industry skilled labour forms a very small proportion of the labour employed. The proportion of artisans’ does not exceed onefifth. It was stated by a Victorian witness that the proportion of wages and incidental expenses in his factory to the value of the output was 14 per cent. Yet, under the old Tariff, the duty was about 40 _ per cent., or, roughly, two and a half times as much as the proportion of the whole labour cost to the value of the output. Then what justification is there for attempting to double the duty? It has been clearly proved that .there is a combine, that the percentage of manufacturing cost is small, production has increased, new factories have been opened under the old Tariff, and the imports have largely decreased. We are therefore entitled to have facts and figures put before us before we vote to increase the duty. There is no doubt that the Combine have been able, for a long time past, to adjust their own prices and to bring them up just under the price covered by the duty. When manufacturers are in a position to do that, surely we ought to hesitate to impose a higher duty, which would give them a further opportunity of raising their price to a point just below it. It is marvellous that the great majority of the complaints about the Federal Tariff, made to the Tariff Commission, came from the Victorian manufacturers, who have had the benefit of high protective duties in the past. If there is anything in the protectionist principle that it is only necessary to give an industry a duty in its infancy in order to encourage it to start and grow, one would have thought that these Victorian industries, having had thirty years of high protection, would by now have had a fair opportunity of getting on their legs. Yet in connexion with all the industries which have had to feel the effects of Inter-State competition, it is from Victoria that the larger number Qf complaints have come.
– There are one or two other facts which the Committee should know before a division is taken. If there is one industry more than another that needs no further fostering, it is the nail industry. All the facts show that it is a very prosperous industry, which is subject to no disabilities that it cannot meet and overcome. The volume of trade is increasing and its profitable nature is undoubted.
– It will mean more local competition than ever, and prices will go down.
– I should think that that was the ideal condition of things which every protectionist wishes to .bring about. At any rate, the protectionist always alleges that internal competition will reduce prices. If that has been the case in regard to nails, what further proof is needed that no’ further duty is required? I take it that the protectionist -does not pile on duties for the fun of the thing. A case must be made out for them. It must be shown that they are needed in order to prop up some industry which cannot stand by itself against the compettiion of the world. This industry has shown that with the prop already under it. in the shape of the old duty, it was well able to hold up its head against the breezes that blow from all quarters of the globe. Since Federation there have been very few imports indeed under this heading-, but the Inter-State trade has quadrupled, clearly showing the great advantage that has accrued to this industry through the throwing down of the Inter-State barriers and. the command of the Australian market. Production has increased in the same ratio as imports have declined. Additional factories, as the honorable member for North Sydney said, have come into operation and are doing well to-day. I heard the other day that one of these companies had paid an 18 per cent dividend. Is the honorable member for Batman listening? The directors of that company said straight out that they did not want any further duty, but were satisfied with that at present imposed.
– The honorable member for Parramatta does not object to fat dividends, does he?
– I object to fat dividends at my expense. I like the monopolists just as little as does the honorable member who interjects. There is nobody, so far as I know, on this side of the House who desires to build up monopolies; but monopoly is the objective of the honorable member when he votes for prohibitive duties, and the consequent freedomfrom the ordinary competition of the world.
– What dividend did the importer pay last year?
– May I say that I believe I know less about importers than does the honorable member.
– Importers make 50 per cent. profit sometimes ; some of the published balance-sheets show enormous profits.
– The honorable member cannot show anything of the kind.
– I can.
– If importers asked for assistance they would not get it, no matter how small their profits might be.
– It is the greatest joke in the world to hear protectionists always girding at the importers.
– The honorable member is always girding at the poor manufacturer, even if he makes only 10 per cent.
– But I am speaking of a company, the dividend of which was 18 per cent. last year. I venture to say, however-, that the bulk of the large importers are not averse to protection of a very high character, so long as it is not prohibitive. High duties mean the crushing of the small importers, who cannot afford to pay down thousands of pounds in duty. As one large importer said to me the other day, “ We have nearly all become protectionist since we have had a taste of what it means; in Sydney, high protection has driven the small men out of the field, and the large importers have practically the monopoly.” The same may be said of Melbourne ; and that is why importers on a large scale are doing so well.
– Have not some Sydney importers started to manufacture?
– Some of them. Why protectionists should gird at importers I do not know, seeing that they are the friends of, at any rate, the large importers. It has been shown in evidence that the wages cost in this industry is 16 per cent. of the total value, and that the duty, before this further imposition, was more than sufficient to cover the cost of manufacture. It is true that the business was not very profitable under the old Victorian Tariff, owing to cut-throat competition, but the manufacturers formed a sort of union or combine, and so arranged prices as to enable them to do business at remunerative prices.
– Importers cannot be beaten at the game of combining !
– The importer! - “ King Charles’ head.”
– The manufacturer ! - “ King Charles’ head.”
– There is not an honorable member on this side who does not wish well to the manufacturers of Australia; but, at the same time, some regard must be paid to the consumer, of whom some protectionists seem to lose sight altogether. I should like to show how these duties will adversely affect some of our mining industries and ventures. In a statement of the case which comes from Ballarat, the constituency of the Prime Minister, a gentleman states that steel rails, steel raildogs, and wrought spikes are items which are most affected under this heading, and they are all used in the mines of Australia.
– They are used during the equipment of a mine but never afterwards ; and they do not cost much.
– The honorable member is entirely wrong, because roads are constantly being pulled up and put down.
– The same spikes are used over and over again.
– Certainly not.
– I have seen them put in.
– And so have I many thousands of times; and I have seen them pulled out and thrown away. In any case only the wrought spikes are manufactured here.
– There is no reason why steel spikes should not be- made here.
– Although steel spikes are not being made here, there is no discrimination made in the Tariff ; and the cost is thrown on the consumer, for whom there seems to be no consideration. The proposed duties will be a great tax on the mining community; and the statement to which I have already referred says that steel raildogs, under the old Tariff, paid a duty of 3s. per cwt., equal to 20 per cent., and under the new duty pay 5s. 6d. per cwt., equal to 36^ per cent. ;. steel rails, under the old Tariff, paid 25 per cent., and under the new Tariff pay 45 per cent. ; while the duty on wrought-iron spikes has been increased from 32 ,per cent, to 58 per cent., in addition to all the charges on importation. That is not protection, but prohibition. ‘
– The importation charges will not apply when the spikes are made in Australia.
– Exactly ; it means prohibition. It would have been much more straightforward to have proposed to build a wall round Australia, and altogether decline to do business with the outside world. I hope the Committee will abolish the proposed duty, since it does not appear to be required, in view of the fact that, so far as can be ascertained, the industry is a flourishing one.
.- I find that the protectionist section oi the Tariff (Commission recommended that nails, wire and other, and spikes, staples, brads, and tacks should bear a duty of 5s. per cwt. I do not know how raildogs or brobs got into the Government schedule ; and I feel I should be justified under the circumstances in supporting the proposal of the honorable member for Fremantle to omit them.
– Does the honorable member, as a protectionist, say that steel spikes cannot be made in Australia?
– I do not know; there is no suggestion made in reference to them.
– That is a nice confession to make.
– T am quite capable of deciding how to decide in regard to this question without the assistance of the honorable member. Iri reference to nails, wire and other, I shall support the increased duty, which I may say is supported, not only by protectionists in Victoria, but also strongly by Mr. Symon Hill, of 99 York-street, Sydney,’ the representative of the Acme Manufacturing Works, Pyramont. In his evidence, Mr. Hill said-
The pioneers of the industry were brought ti> a standstill through lack of capital, and the extensive import of nails from Germany and the United States of America.
We have not paid a dividend, and I cannot see any prospect of our doing so while the present Tariff obtains. The market is flooded with nails made in other countries, and exported here at about ns. per ton higher than the raw material costs in these countries, as this, difference of ns. per ton would not cover ihe cost of casing, cartooning, labelling, and weighing even in these countries.
The quantity of nails imported into New South Wales is about 3,000 tons per annum. ‘Our present capacity is equal to about 1,000 tons when the machines are fully employed. With) a Tariff of ^5 per ton we would at once put up the necessary plant and engage the requisite labour to meet the demand consequent upon the stoppage of imports.
I do not think that the assertion that this is solely a Victorian industry is justifiable. It is now carried on in- New South Wales, and, I understand, that factories have recently been established in Western Australia and in South Australia. With nal! factories growing up, an increased duty ought to be imposed. In reference to railway material, the Commission did not receive any evidence on the subject; arid I do not feel justified in supporting an increased duty.
.– I must say that the honorable member for Bendigo is one of the most remarkable protectionists I have come across for a good while. He first intimated that he was not going to take any dictation from me as to how he should vote. I should be the last to dictate to him ; and when the honorable ‘ member says he is content to rely on his own re-‘ commendations without giving reasons, we cannot suppose that he has not sufficient intelligence to form a recommendation: We must therefore fall back on the idea’ that he has not sufficient confidence inthe mechanical ingenuity of the people of Australia to think that they can succeed in making spikes. This reminds one of the famous utterance, during the last Tariff debate, in favour of the exemption from duty of three-legged glue pots. Here we have an honorable member who says that Australian engineers and manufacturers, who can turn out the most complex machinery, cannot make steel spikes.
– But the duty proposed is equal to 50 per cent.
– The question of how much protection it means has nothing to do with the point I am discussing.
– Yes, it has.
– The point I am arguing is that the honorable member for Bendigo, who as a declared protectionist is willing to grant a protection of 25, 30, and 40 per cent. , and even more in the case of specific duties, in respect of complicated pieces of machinery, gets up here and says calmly that we in Australia cannot make spikes to attach a rail to a sleeper.
– I did not say that. What I said was that the old duty was sufficient.
– The honorable member evidently takes up that attitude.
– I mentioned that no increase in the duty was asked for.
– The proposal is to exempt spikes from duty.
– No; to allow them to remain subject to the old duty.
– Which was equal to 30 per cent.
– If that is the case I am quite satisfied.
– The honorable member for South Sydney has been barking up the wrong tree. From the manufacturing point of view this is one of the simplest and most elementary of the industries, and if 25 per cent. is a sufficiently high duty in the case of articles which in their manufacture require the application of extraordinary skill, surely a duty of 30 per cent. ought to be ample in the case of an article which is of so simple a character that it is made chiefly by boy labour.
– In what direction is boy labour employed?
– In the making of nails.
– I was talking about spikes, not nails.
– The two articles come under the same item.
– But the manufacturing processes are different.
– The only difference is in regard to the material.
– And the method too.
– I know how a spike is made, because many thousands are made every day at Eskbank. It is a very simple process indeed. The work is all done by machinery, which is attended to by boys. Honorable members on the other side do not know what they are talking about. If a duty of 25 per cent. is sufficient protection for the complicated, skilful work which is requisite to the making of machinery, how much more than sufficient ought it to be in the case of the nail-making industry ?
.- I desire to say a few words in reply to the honorable member for South Sydney. The proposed duty on spikes is equal to more than 50 per cent. on the invoice value in England, whereas the duty I have proposed of 3s. per cwt. is equal to 30 per cent. Surely that is enough to permit of the articles being made. here. If bur manufacturers can make an intricate engine surely- they can make a dog-spike, and if they cannot they had better close up their factories.
.- I hope that the Treasurer will fall in with the suggestion of the honorable member for Fremantle. It must be obvious to any one that there ought to be a difference between the duty on rail-dogs or spikes, and the duty on high-priced articles like picture nails.
– If the duty proposed is equal to 30 per cent., I shall not object.
– It is practically equal to 30 per cent.
– The proposal of the honorable member for Fremantle, I understand, is to delete these words with a view to proposing a new item.
– To impose a higher duty.
– No; a duty of 3s.. per cwt.
– I shall not object if it approximates to 30 per cent. I wish to mention, in reply to the honorable member for Bendigo, that rail-dogs and spikes were included in this item, because it was thought by the Department that they were fairly dutiable articles, and could be easily made here to any extent. A few minutes ago a telephone message was sent to the Austral -Otis works to ascertain whether they are made here, and a reply has been received to the effect that they make a large quantity of them. We ought not to import these articles, but to make them here, as their manufacture is very simple indeed.
– The old Victorian duty was 7s. 6d. per cwt.
– With a protection of 30 per cent. I think that the local manufacturers ought to be able to make the articles.
– We ought to have a fixed duty.
– -The proposal is to have a fixed duty of 3s. per cwt. I do not want to prolong the discussion on the subject of wire nails, but I wish to mention that last year, before this Tariff was prepared, the representatives of a company in Sydney came to me with their invoices, and showed me that nails were being imported from Germany at a cheaper rate than that at which they could import the material for making them.
– How is it then that the local manufacturers have supplied two-thirds of the nails used in Australia?
– I am only telling theCommittee that these persons produced their invoices and gave me full particulars. I asked the Department to see if they could find the invoices, but they have not been able to do so. I forget the name of the company, but their representatives convinced me at that time that it was a crying shame that wire nails should be dumped into Australia at a price less than that at which the material to make them could be obtained.
– I desire to inform the Treasurer that a director of a. Melbourne Wire Nail Making Company has assured me that for years, under the old duty of 3s. per cwt., they have been paying dividends of from 15 to 18 per cent. Does the honorable gentleman mean to tell me that in those circumstances it is necessary to fix the duty at 5s. 6d. per cwt. in the general Tariff, and at 5s. in the preferential Tariff? This director, who is known personally to many honorable members, told me that his company do not want an additional duty, but are quite satisfied with the old duty.
– What are a couple of shillings per cwt. ?
– It is a lot of money, especially when it has to be paid by poor persons. In this country everybody more or less uses nails. No matter where a man may go he will find that nails are used as commonly as shoes are used. It is the working man who has to pay the duty on these articles. Some honorable members are apparently trying to build up a monopoly. The proposal of the Government means not protection, but prohibition. I am utterly opposed to it, because I think that it will be quite sufficient to revert to the old duty. In any case I would not support a duty of more than 5s. in the general Tariff, and 4s. in the preferential Tariff, and that is 1s. per cwt. more than I think ought to be paid.
.- I agree with the last speaker who has corroborated the statement I made at an earlier hour to-day that the South Melbourne factory does not want a duty imposed at all. It is quite clear to me that now we have got into the division relating to metals and machinery, there is a deliberate attempt to impose duties upon the people for the purposes of revenue. We have clear evidence to the effect that the bulk of these manufacturers are doing well and do not need an additional duty.
Amendment agreed to.
Amendment (by Mr. Johnson) put-
That, after the figures “ 5s. 6d.,” paragraph b, the words, ‘” and on and after 27th November, 1907, per cwt. (General Tariff), 3s. 6d.,” be inserted.
The Committee divided..
Majority … … 24
Question so resolved in the negative.
Amendment (by Mr. Johnson) put -
That after the figures “ 5s. 6d.,” paragraph b, the words “ and on and after 27th November, 1907, per cwt. (General Tariff), 4s.,” be inserted.
The Committee divided.
Majority … … 24
Question so resolved in the negative.
Amendment (by Mr. Fuller) proposed -
That, after the figures “ 5s. 6d.,” paragraph b, the words “ and on and after 27th November, 1907, per cwt. (General Tariff), 4s. 6d.,” be inserted.
– I desire honorable members to know what relation the duty proposed by the Government bears to the number of hands employed in the industry, and the wages paid. The consumption of Australia is about 15,000 tons, of which about 7,000 tons are imported. At the duty now proposed - 5s. per cwt. - the cost to the consumer amounts to £5 per ton, or £75,000. At the duty of 3s. which was previously imposed,the taxation amounted to £45,000. That duty was pretty fully taken advantage of because the makers were combined, and just underquoted the imported article. The increase we propose to give - that is, an in crease of 2s. per ton - means an additional payment of £30,000. The whole of the wages paid in the State of Victoria, according to the Factory Inspector’s return, amount to £13,700 odd per annum - that is to say, 168 hands at 31s. 6d. per week. If we take it that Victoria makes only a third of the whole manufacture of Australia, though I believe she makes more than half, the total wages paid in the Commonwealth would amount to not more than £40,000. As the makers took advantage of the previous duty of £3 per ton, we may take it that they will go practically up to the English price at the increased duty. That is to say, they will take advantage of the consumers to the extent of about £45,000, whilst the whole of the wages paid in Australia do not exceed £40,000.
Question - That after the figures “5s. 6d.,” paragraph b, the words “and on and after 27th November, 1907, per cwt. (General Tariff) 4s. 6d.” be inserted - put:
The Committee divided.
Majority … … 20
Question so resolved in the negative.
Amendment (by Mr. Wilson) put -
That after the figures “ 5s. 6d.,” paragraph b, the words “and on and after 27th November, 1907, per cwt. (General Tariff), 5s.,” be inserted.
The Committee divided.
Majority … … 22
Question so resolved in the negative.
. -I move-
That after the figure . “ 5s.,” paragraph b, the words, “ and on and after 27th November, 1907, per cwt. (United Kingdom), 3s.,” be added.
Three shillings per cwt. was the duty under the old Tariff, and I wish to give those honorable members who are pledged not in any way to interfere with that Tariff an opportunity to redeem their promise when on the hustings.
Amendment (by Mr. Wilson) put -
That after the figure “5s.,” paragraph b, the words, “ and on and after 27th November, 1907, per cwt. (United Kingdom), 4s.,” be added.
The Committee divided.
Majority … … 20
Question so resolved in the negative.
Amendment (by Mr. Hedges) agreed to-
That the following new paragraph be inserted : - “ And on and after 27th November, 1907, c. Rail-dogs or brobs and spikes, per cwt. (General Tariff), 33. 3d. ; (United Kingdom), 3s.”
Item, as amended, agreed to.
Postponed item 160. Tanks containing goods, or empty. - For every 100 gallons capacity or part thereof (General Tariff), 3s.
– I should like an explanation from the Treasurer in respect of this item. The Government propose to levy a duty upon tanks - irrespective of whether or not they contain goods - of 3s. for every 100 gallons capacity or part thereof. In other words, there will be a tax on the ordinary 400-gallon tank of 12s. I should like to know whether this is the only duty that will be collected upon tanks when they are the outside packages of goods, or whether it is intended to charge also a higher duty upon them under item 444?
– Does the honorable member wish to know whether they will be subjected to a double duty?
– Does the Treasurer mean the letters n.e.i. under item 444 to exclude tanks?
– Certainly. This is the only duty that will be levied upon tanks.
– Will the Treasurer assign his reasons for adopting the new duty ?
– In framing this Tariff, I have, as far as possible, adopted the recommendations of the A section of the Tariff Commission. I take it that the tanks upon which that section of the Commission have recommended the imposition of this duty, are tanks which are ordinarily filled with malt. Under the old Tariff, these articles were admitted free, but both sections of the Tariff Commissionhave recommended the imposition of a duty upon them.
– I would point out that this item is by no means a small one, seeing that in, 1905, no less than 6,000 of these tanks were imported, of an estimated value of approximately , £15,000. Sometimes they are made of black iron, and sometimes of galvanized iron. Their dimensions are usually 4 feet by 4 feet, and 3 feet by 3 feet, and they are generally used for the importation of goods. They are rivetted with a manhole which can be hermetically sealed. They are of a considerable marketable value, and are sold here for less than their cost value in the port of export.
– I purchased some last year for -£2 16s. each.
– As a result, they are brought into competition with a corresponding class of tanks of local manufacture. They come into competition with galvanized iron tanks, and consequently they ought to be subject either to a revenue duty or to a protective duty, or to a combination of both.
– Do not the contents pay duty?
– But they are not exclusively used as outside packages, because, after they have performed that function, they still have a marketable value. Therefore, they should be rendered liable to a duty. The free-trade section of the Tariff Commission have recommended a duty of 15 per cent, upon these tanks, and the protectionist section of that body, an impost of 3s. per 100 gallons cubic capacity. It is for the Committee to determine which of these rates shall be adopted.
– The honorable member for Bendigo has informed the Committee that these tanks are usually imported as the outside covering for a certain class of goods, and that they are afterwards brought into use locally. As a matter of fact, they are chiefly imported by brewers as the outside covering of material that is used for brewing purposes.
– They are generally filled with malt.
– After they have been landed here, they frequently prove very useful for conveying water to out-of-the-way places. For this purpose they are utilized by farmers, squatters, and miners.
– And they are also used for house tanks.
– Not to the same extent that thev are employed for conveying water long distances. The galvanized iron tanks which are used as house tanks, are composed of much thinner material, and cannot withstand the jolting that is inseparable from transit over rough roads. The proposed duty will therefore fall heavily upon our producing interests, which can derive no direct benefit whatever from protection.
– The farmers use fifty corrugated iron tanks for every one of these square tanks, because they are cheaper, and because they hold twice the quantity of water.
– In my own electorate the farmers have to convey water for a considerable distance, and galvanized tanks are not sufficiently strong to withstand the jolting associated with their transit over rough roads.
– The honorable member is referring to the ancient type of farmer, not to the modern one.
– If the honorable member visits the remote portions of his electorate he will discover that the farmers there are using these square tanks. Further, as a result of the destruction wrought by bush fires during recent years, bush-fire brigades have been established, and these tanks are largely used for conveying water from place to place to pre vent the spread of these outbreaks. So that all these interests are “involved. If we impose a duty upon iron tanks, which, have hitherto been admitted free, our producers will be required to pay an additional 12s. for the ordinary 40o-gallon! tank, and 24s. for the 800-gallon tank.
– One does not see many 800-gallon tanks nowadays.
– That is so. The 400-gaIlon tanks are easier to movefrom place to place. But there are localities in which the larger-sized tanks are used.. These articles do not enter very largely into competition with corrugated iron tanks.. The fact that these tanks are used for thespecial purposes to which I have referred will, I hope, induce the Committee to vote against this attempt to increase the burdensupon the pioneers in our primary industries, who can derive little or no benefit from protection.
– As the honorable member for Calare has pointed out, this duty will fall wholly on the people in the country districts.
– That would appear alf the more reason, according to the protectionists, for imposing it.
– Yes; judging; by some of the votes which, have been recently given. Apparently, the primary industries are the last to be considered by the Committee.
– Quite true.
– This is a Tariff framed in the interests of the towns and cities, and greatly in the interest of the two chief cities of Australia. The tanks on which it is proposed to put a duty will continue to be imported, however much wemay tax them, and the impost will be passed on to those who purchase them here. Thus, by agreeing to the duty, we shall b.: increasing the burdens of those whoare least able to bear taxation. Although this is a protectionist Tariff in some respects as it affects the large cities, it is a crushingly heavy revenue Tariff as it affects the country districts, and .will make a fine inroad into the earnings of the poor.
– They are the sole persons who will be taxed by the present: duty.
– Yes ; these tanks all find their way -into the country.
Mr. SALMON (Laanecoorie) [5.4I. - Had the honorable member for Parramatta followed the speech of the honorable member for Bendigo, he would have learnt that the protectionist section of the Tariff Commission was satisfied by the evidence which it took that these tanks are sold here for less than the cost of making them.
– Is it a crime that the farmer in the back country should obtain a cheap tank?
– The honorable member is not justified in putting that interpretation on my statement. I was going to apply the fact in an altogether different line of argument. The Tariff Commission found that these tanks are sent out as coverings for packages of goods of a certain value which it is necessary to keep dry, and to protect from pressure. They are not being sent out for philanthropic purposes, in order to give the people of Australia a cheap means of conserving water.
– No one has suggested that.
– They are sent out to protect the foodstuffs which the people consume.
– Yes. Cadbury’s chocolates and Coleman’s mustards, for instance, are two of the foodstuffs which the honorable member had in his mind. The tanks are not sent here to compete against the tanks made in Australia. They come out merely as coverings for packages, and, having served their turn, are sold at what would be a loss, were it not for the fact that they have done the work for which they were made. Those who make them, and those who send them to Australia, get full value for them, their primary use being to enable goods to be landed here in proper condition. An importer having got this use out of the tank is not entitled to expect anything more. As soon as the tanks are done with they must be got rid of somehow. It would not pay to break them up, and therefore they are usually sold for about £2 each.
– I wish I could have got them at that price.
– That is what they are generally sold for in Melbourne ; but the price depends upon the number in the market.
– Is there anything to prevent the importers from emptying the tanks in bond, and then tipping them into the sea?
– No ; but, of course, they would not do that. When the tanks are brought here they are used for purposes for which they were not constructed.
– That is not so.
– They are not constructed primarily to hold water; that is, they would be made in exactly the same way if there were no possibility of selling any of them in Australia to be used for holding water. At a time when the United States of America desired to develop the mining industry of the country, the “ Government placed a duty on imported lead, but importers got over the difficulty by bringing in solid leaden busts of General Washington, which, of course, were not dutiable, though they were afterwards melted down and used for quite other purposes than architectural adornment. Similarly these tanks are used locally for purposes other than those for which they were first constructed.
– For what are they used?
– As I have explained, they are sent out full of packages of chocolate, mustard, and similar goods,
– For what are they used when resold in Australia?
– To hold water, or tar, and for a number of other purposes.
– Are not the farmers and the men who live out back the only persons who use them ?
– No. They are used for all sorts of purposes, by all sorts of persons, in the towns as well as in the country. They are virtually waste material.
– I wish that the honorable member would have a few tipped into my yard.
– When they get here they have served the purpose for which they were primarily constructed. Therefore, if a duty is placed on them, it will not be added to their regular price. The honorable member for Grampians laughs at that.
– Because the statement is such utter rubbish.
– I do not know whether the honorable member uses these tanks.
– I use them, and so does every person who lives out back. In comparison, they are used very little in the cities. They are made at Home purposely to hold water out here. They are a cheap package, but good, strong, flat iron is used in their construction, so that they will hold water, and have a saleable value out here.
– That is worth considering. The honorable member, as a protectionist, must see that on being sold here they displace the locally-made tanks; but does he think that the ingenuity and industry of the people of Australia are not sufficient to allow them to make tanks as good as those imported?
– We could make similar tanks if we had the material ; but we have not.
– I claim the honorable member’s vote as a consistent protectionist.
– The honorable member will not get it. The farmer will get it.
– I did not expect to get it. After the first two or three divisions, I knew how the honorable member would vote. But, as protectionists, we are justified in placing a duty on an article which could be made here as well as it is made in any part of the world, and which, on being sold here, displaces locally-made articles. Honorable members have said that the duty will be a revenue duty. I deny that. I think that it will be a protective duty. It is not the fact that those who buy these tanks will have to pay more for them because of the duty. They will continue to be sold at prices bearing a direct relation to the number in the market at any given time, and the demand for them.
– That argument will not hold water.
– If the honorable member will go to a certain yard in Melbourne, where these tanks are sold at auction, and he will find that the prices paid for them depend entirely on the number for sale, and the demand at the time. If these tanks were brought out to be sold here, and had something like a fixed price, there might be something in the argument which honorable members are advancing, that a duty would increase the price. But honorable members who have bought these tanks know that the prices vary according to the conditions to which I have referred, and they are not justified in saying that the duty will make each 400-gallon tank cost 12s. more.
.- I move -
That thewords “and on and after 27th November, 1907, free,” be added.
I do not find fault with the Ministry for having adopted the recommendations of the Tariff Commission in this matter, but I am surprised that the protectionist section of that Commission came to the decision which it did.
– The free-trade section recommended a duty of 15 per cent.
– F or revenue purposes.
– Yes, and in conjunction with a general scheme, which was not adopted.
– I am not going to defend the free-trade section of the Tariff Commission. I think that they made a gross mistake in recommending such high revenue duties. I merely wish to point out that, whatever duty is placed on these tanks will be added to the cost of the articles which they contain, while the impost will be absolutely inoperative from the protectionist point of view.
-The honorable member does not contend that’ the duty will be added to the cost of the tanks?
– It will not be added to the cost of the tanks. They are constructed primarily to furnish dampproof cases for the protection of certain goods, and will continue to be sent here, whatever duty may be imposed on them. A duty of 3s. will not prevent the introduction of these tanks where they can be conveniently used for the importation of goods requiring to be protected from damp. As the duty cannot possibly have any protective effect, I suggest that the Government should withdraw their proposal.
– Let us have a division.
– If the Treasurer will say that he is prepared to withdraw his proposal, I shall sit down at once. If the honorable gentleman is not yet convinced, I should like to convince himthat these tanks cannot be made here at a price that will pay if they are to be imported - as they will be - as a means of conveying various kinds of goods. They are not generally used for the purpose for which galvanized iron tanks are used. They are more often used for carrying water during a time of drought. At one time Broken Hill was supplied with water carried in these tanks. I am satisfied that there will not be an additional galvanized iron tank made in the Commonwealth as the result of the imposition of this duty. I hope the Treasurer will not press the proposal to a division.
.- These square tanks will be imported whether we put a duty on them or not. The Treasurer said that they come into competition with locally-made galvanized iron tanks, and I point out that the only way to prevent that is to see that these square tanks are destroyed on’ arrival, because they will continue to be introduced as casing for other goods. They are used throughout Australia for carting water. They are often taken into the interior as a casing for various kinds of goods, and but for this practice many people in remote districts would be unable to obtain a tank at all. I have no hesitation in saying that these square iron tank’s have largely assisted in the opening up of the back blocks of Western Australia. They have been used in that .State for condensing salt water containing 26 per cent, of solids. Waggons might often be met on the roads there carrying a few lengths of galvanized piping and some 400-gallon iron tanks for condensing purposes, and used in this way they have been of great assistance in opening up salt districts in Western Australia. I have before now said that the man who first conceived the idea of condensing water with these tanks should have had a monument erected to him. We have had engineers proposing huge schemes for condensing water, in connexion with which hundreds of thousands of pounds have been spent in a month, and yet many people go back to the use of the 400-gallon tank, which can be bought cheaply, and is no great loss when it becomes unfit for use. These tanks have been of great use in the opening up of districts where the pioneers have had to take water with them. If honorable members had been on the old Coolgardie track in the early days, they would have seen thousands of these tanks in use there. They were used at every soak, and every team met with carried one. I ask the Treasurer to withdraw the proposal, and if he does not, I shall support the amendment proposed by the honorable member for Boothby.
.- I feel that I need say no more in connexion with this item, than that the honorable members for Calare and Boothby have made two intelligent speeches upon it, and I intend to support the amendment.
– I have not yet heard any one make the point that the square iron tanks are dearer than the corrugated galvanized iron round tanks, but, as a matter of fact, they - are. They are more useful for a thousand and one purposes than are the round tanks. I agree with the honorable member for Boothby that they will continue to be introduced, no matter what duty is imposed upon them; but I differ from the honorable member for Laanecoorie, and say that I think the duty will be passed on to the consumer. As. water tanks, these square tanks are better than the ordinary round galvanized iron tanks, since they rust, and in this way the iron which is so necessary for soft water is obtained. I think the Treasurer should accept the suggestion to put these tanks on the free list, and if he does, I am satisfied that there will be quite as .many galvanized iron tanks made in the Commonwealth as there have been hitherto.
.- The only reason advanced by the honorable member for Bendigo why these tanks should be dutiable, was that the farmers can get them cheaply. That is a good reason from - the stand-point of certain members of the Committee, with whom it is a crime to allow the farmers to obtain anything cheaply. Another reason advanced in support of the duty, is that these tanks are necessary to people in the back country, to the pioneers who have to cart water from one end of the year to the other. A further reason suggested is that they are not required about towns. These reasons will, no doubt, be sufficient to induce certain honorable members to support the proposed duty. That anything which will be of use to the farmers should be put on the free list, would be something quite unusual in this Committee. These tanks would not come into competition with galvanized iron tanks locally-made to the extent suggested. They are* very useful for carting water; and who would think of carting water in a galvanized iron tank? As I believe that the numbers are up in favour of the amendment, I need say no more.
.- Amongst all the by-products of commerce - to use the term quoted by the honorable member for Laanecoorie - I should say that the square iron tank is one of the most valuable that comes to Australia. It competes with the galvanized-iron tank only to a very small extent indeed. I look upon these tanks as a necessity in the back country. A fact which impressed me,, and which I think should impress the Treasurer, is that at one time of drought in
New South Wales, the whole of the water supply for Cobar had to be brought by rail. I represented the district in the New South Wales Parliament at the time, and I know that if it had not been for the use of these tanks, the Railway Department would have been unable to supply the water required. Water was carried in these tanks a distance of 120 miles. It was a case of life and death when a wire was sent at the last minute that water was required, and it was conveniently carried by the Railway Department in these square iron tanks. They do not come into competition with the galvanized iron tanks, and there is no substitute for them throughout the country districts. At Cobar these square tanks are used to carry water from the taps to the outside portions of the town where the water is not laid on. On pastoral properties they are used as fire appliances, and I have seen them used on sleds for bringing water up to the house. The Treasurer will see that this is purely a revenue duty. It will not be protective. It will not cause any more galvanized iron to be used. If the duty is added to the cost, it will mean an extra tax on people in the country who must use these tanks.
.-The view I take with reference to these tanks is the same as I hold regarding packages in which goods come. Let us have whatever duty we think fit on the articles themselves, but let us not charge the packages or coverings. These malt tanks are very useful. We should regard it as a very petty tax if people in England put a tax on our butter boxes, our wheat or flour bags, or wool bales.
– England is a free-trade country.
– Take any other country the honorable member likes.
– Other countries do put a duty on.
– If a package of crockeryware comes into this country, I am told that the Customs Department actually assesses the straw in which the goods are packed, and imposes a duty on it. That sort of thing is too small, and ought to be beneath the dignity of this country.
Question - That the words “ and on and after 27 th November, free “ (Mr. Batchelor’s amendment) be added - put. The Committee divided. .
Majority … … 17
Question so resolved in the affirmative.
Amendment agreed to.
Item, as amended, agreed to.
Postponed item 161. Weighing Machines; Weighbridges ; Scales, n.e.i.; including Adding and Computing Machines, and all attachments; Cash Registers; Chemists’ Counter Scales; Spring Balances and Steel-yards; Weights n.e.i., ad val., 20 per cent.
– I desire to move the adoption of a duty of 15 per cent. as regards the United Kingdom.
.- I have a prior amendment. I move -
That after the figures “20 per cent.,” the words “ and on and after 27th November, 1907 (General Tariff), 25 per cent.,” be added.
I propose afterwards to move for a duty of 20 per cent. in the United Kingdom column.
– The duty in the Kingston Tariff was 20 per cent.
– I know. I propose to retain that duty in the second column; but I wish to have a duty of 25 per cent. in the first column, thus giving a 5 per cent. preference to Great Britain.
– How much comes from Great Britain?
– Of British goods we imported in 1905 ,£10,694 worth, and in 1906 £15,033 worth ; while of foreign goods we imported in 1905 £6,281 worth, and in 1906 ,£8,801 worth.
– What is the value of the preference under those conditions?
– It is not a very large amount ; but I desire, as far as possible, to keep up the preference in this case in unison with other items, and I do not wish this rate to go below what we had -before. If we fixed the duties at 20 per cent, and 15 per cent, respectively, we s’hould be imposing a lower rate than obtained previously.
– I hope the Committee will not agree to the Treasurer’s amendment. In the first place, all these articles form part of equipment which is necessary for a number of industries in the country. Representations were made to me months ago that these scales and weighing machines are necessary an every butter factory.
– Cannot they be made here ?
– They may possibly be made here.
– Of course they can be made here. The honorable. member for Flinders wants to reduce the duty below the old rate in the Tariff.
– I have no desire to do anything of the kind. The Government ought to stick to the Tariff which they have introduced. The rate first proposed by the Government was the same as in the old Tariff. It was recommended by the protectionist section of the Tariff Commission, after hearing the whole of the evidence.
– Does the honorable member want it to remain without any preference to Great Britain?
– Yes; without any preference in this case. Let it stand as it is. The preference in this case is practically worthless. I do not like to lie a party to any proposal to increase the cost of the equipment, of butter factories, for example, which ought to be supported sis much as possible.
Mr. HENRY WILLIS (Robertson) 75.41;]. - It is a most extraordinary proceeding on the part of the Minister to stone-wall “ his own Tariff. He gave the public to understand, through a newspaper interview, that he placed the duties high i in order that they might be reduced.
– The honorable member is not fair in saying that.
– The Treasurer was brought face to face with the newspaper report of the interview.
– The Treasurer revised the interview.
– I did not do anything of the sort ; and the reporter has never dared to come near me since.
– The Treasurer, when in New South Wales, made the statement that he had placed the duties high in order that they might be reduced.
– I rise to a point of order. I ask the honorable member for Robertson to accept my denial.
– I must ask the honorable member for Robertson to accept the denial of the honorable member.
– It is parliamentary to accept an honorable member’s denial, and, of course, I do so. But I should like the Treasurer to say whether, when he made the remarks reported, they were not submitted to him by the reporter, and marked as correct?
– It is not correct to say that I corrected them.
– Has this anything to do with the question before the Chair?
– I propose to connect my .remarks with the question. The Treasurer, first of all, proposes in the Tariff that the duty shall be 26 per cent. ; but on consulting” the returns, and finding’ that the imports are chiefly from foreign countries, he asks us to make the duty 25 per cent., leaving an impost of 20 per cent., as against Great Britain, the country from which very few of these scales are sent. Is that statesmanship? This really does convey an impression that, there was something in the statement of the newspaper reporter who said that it was part of the policy of the Treasurer to propose high duties in order that they might be reduced.
– I suppose I have put this duty low, in order that it may be put up.
– Here is another admission; but the Treasurer has the faculty of being unstable. If the duty remain at 20 per cent., I am prepared to support, it ; and it will be fixed at that figure whether the Treasurer approves or not.
– Do not say that; we can fight a little.
– Let the Treasurer throw the gauntlet down ! Here we have the spectacle of the Treasurer wasting the time of the House. We have been the whole of this afternoon considering the duty on tacks ; and now, as I say, we find the Treasurer “stone-walling” his own Tariff, knowing very well that he must accept a duty of 20 per cent. Honorable members in the Opposition corner are crying “divide”; and, that being so, as we cannot depend on them for five minutes, I shall no longer keep the Committee from coming to a vote.
.- I suggest to the Treasurer that measuring machines ought to be included in the item.
.- Is the Treasurer prepared to withdraw his amendment, and revert to the duty of 20 per cent. ? I should also like to know whether cash registers are being made in Australia, because, if they are, I am prepared to support a duty of 20 per cent. on them ? But if this is merely intended to be a revenue duty, I think that cash registers ought to be placed on the free list.
– Cash registers can be made here.
– I suppose we could build a £10,000,000 warship if we chose to face the expenditure.
– I do not think that cash registers are generally made here, but I believe they are made.
– Cash registers are being made here how.
– So I am told.
.- I should also like to suggest that computing and calculating machines might be omitted from the item. Those machines, which are not made here, are very necessary and useful in certain businesses.
– I notice that amongst the scales included are chemists’ counter scales. Under the old Tariff, chemical scales were free, and I ask whether, under this particular item, it is proposed by the Treasurer to make them subject to a duty of 25 per cent. I am alluding to scales which weigh below half a grain, and are used in laboratories, and so forth.
– The intention is to make such scales free under’ a subsequent item.
– Then I think that chemists’ counter scales should also be free, because they have to weigh very small quantities of drugs. I see that the protectionist section of the Tariff Commission recommends that chemical scales shall be free.
– They are free under item 212. I ask leave to withdraw my amendment.
Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.
– I intend to move that measuring machines be inserted in the item. I understand that these machines are made here to a considerable extent. But I was not made aware of the fact until within the last few days.
– What are these ma chines ?
– They are used in connexion with the measurement of leather. In answer to the honorable member for Barrier I may say that I understand that cash registers are not made here, at any rate, not in any payable quantity ; and the same may be said of computing machines.
– Is the Treasurer pre pared to omit adding and computing machines and cash registers from the item?
– I shall askthe Committee to strike the articles mentioned out of this item, but I think that I shall move that they be inserted in an item making them subject to duties of 10 per cent. and 5 per cent. I now move -
That the words “ adding and computing machines, and all attachments; cash registers,” be left out.
.- The Treasurer has told us that chemists’ counter scales are included in item 212, but I think that that item embraces a different class of scales altogether.
– I did not say anything of the kind. I said that the kind of chemical scales referred to by the honorable member for Hunter are free.
– Is it proposed to make chemists’ counter scales free?
– I submit that they ought to be free as tools of trade; if one class of scales be free, so ought the other.
– I wish that the Treasurer would include in his proposition automatic weighing machines and weighbridges.
– I think that they are made here to a large extent.
– They cannot, and are not being made in Australia.
– No; but of course they can be made in Carlton.
– Like a watch or a clock, they could be made here at a price. I know that last year we required a Fairbanks, Pooley, or Avery weighbridge. I received from the Chamber of Mines, of Kalgoorlie, a very strong protest against the inclusion of automatic weighing machines and weighbridges in this term.
– I do not always take the recommendation of a Chamber of Mines.
– No, but the honorable member takes the representation of any man who interviews him on the Sydney railway station.
– Perhaps when I mention that these weighbridges are used for weighing coal at Newcastle it may influence the mind of the Minister. I can assure him that these machines, especially for railway work, are very much used throughout Australia. They cannot, and are not being made here.
– Why not?
– Whether we are short of brains or material I do not know, but the articles are not being made in Australia.
– Does not the honorable member think that automatic weighing machines are brought here for the purpose of making a profit?
– Is anything brought to Australia without the intention of making a profit?
– That is quite a different thing.
– Machines are not imported out of mere fun. I hope that the honorable gentleman will include in his proposition automatic weighing machines and weighbridges with a view to their being placed under another item.
– I will not do it.
– I propose to move an amendment to that effect.
– The honorable member may propose that amendment after the Treasurer’s amendment has been dealt with. There can be only one amendment before the Committee at the one time.
.- I hope that weighbridges willnot be eli minated. The honorable member for Fremantle has said that they are not made in Australia. Mr. John Felix Martin, of James Martin and Company, Gawler, gave the following evidence before the Tariff Commission - 49160. What have you to say about weighbridges, on which you suggest a duty of £2 10s. per ton of carrying capacity ? - They can be made in Australia. They have been made for some time by Hawke and Co., at Kapunda ; but I believe the firm have lately been driven out of the market by the cutting of prices. The machines are made in Victoria. Any engineering firm can make them.
Amendment agreed to.
.- If I am in order, I propose to move -
That the following words be inserted, “except automatic weighing machines and weighbridges.”
– Will the honorable member bring up his amendment ?
.- I hope that automatic weighing machines will not be included in the free list, or subjected to a reduced duty. A monopoly import the machines, place them in different places and collect the money, but very often they do not weigh correctly. At the present time they will not sell a machine. Previously they did sell a few machines, but the sale was made on the condition that if required the machines would be returned, and the money refunded. This monopoly are operating their weighing machines all over Australia.
– The honorable member is referring to the penny-in-the-slot machines, but there are many other weighing machines.
– I hope that whatever is done with the other machines, these automatic weighing machines will be subjected to a substantial duty.
– The Committee has agreed to the omission of certain articles from this item, on the understanding that they shall be made free.
– I am not quite sure that I shall not move that they be made liable to duties of 10 per cent. and 5 per cent. respectively.
– Either the items must be inserted in the Tariff elsewhere, or they will come under a higher duty. If their insertion elsewhere is to be moved, then, on that motion, the honorable member for Fremantle will be able to submit his proposal.
– No; he wants first to strike weighing machines and weighbridges out of this item.
– No; the honorable member, I understand, wishes to strike out “ automatic weighing machines.”
– They are not mentioned in this item.
– No ; but they are covered by the phrase “ weighing machines.”
– I do not know.
– What I want to elicit is whether the honorable gentleman proposes subsequently to make free the articles which, on his motion, have been omitted from the item before the Committee, or to subject them to a lower duty.
– I intend to make the latter proposal.
– When the honorable member for Fremantle proposes to except automatic weighing machines and weighbridges from this item, he is departing from our practice. What he ought to have moved was to insert a new item, making automatic weighing machines free.
The TEMPORARY CHAIRMAN.Owing to a misunderstanding for which I was responsible, it is rather difficult for the honorable member for Fremantle to submit his amendment now. I understand that the honorable member desired to move the omission of some words that followed the words which the Treasurer proposed to omit ; but now it appears that he proposes to insert after the words “ weighing machines,” the words “ except automatic weighing machines,” and to strike out the words “ weighbridges.” It is obvious that the Committee cannot go back, except by general consent. There will be no opportunity for the honorable member to test the feeling of the Committee as regards weighbridges, unless it allows me to accept an amendment now. But, so far as automatic weighing machines are concerned, he can submit a proposal.
– If that course were taken in this case, it would create a precedent which hereafter might be found to be inconvenient. I do not object to a test vote being taken, but I submit that after a line and a half have been deleted from the item it is too late to move the omission of prior words. What I suggest is that the honorable member should move the insertion of a new paragraph, or an addition to a motion which probably I shall move presently, to bring the deleted articles under a lower duty. If I were to take no further action, those articles would be liable to a higher duty than they were under this item, but that I did not and do not intend. I have a note to propose that they should be made dutiable at 10 per cent. and 5 per respectively. Have we arrived at the stage, sir, when I can move in regard to tanners’ measuring machines? I want to get them included in this item.
– Some honorable members want to speak first.
– I submit, sir, that it would be very unfair if the amendment of the honorable member for Fremantle were ruled out of order, because I called to you, “ Will he not be too late?” You did not hear what I said ; but I heard you distinctly tell’ the honorable member that he could move his proposal afterwards; and, relying on that direction from the Chair, he deferred taking any action until after the Minister had moved. I submit, sir, that the Committee ought to offer no objection to the honorable member moving his proposal now, seeing that he was misled by what you said.
– I wish to suggest that there is a very easy way out of the difficulty, and that is to pass this item as it is, with an addendum that on and after a certain date, automatic weighing machines shall be free.
The TEMPORARY CHAIRMAN.If the honorable member for Fremantle desires to move that on and after the 2 7 th November, automatic weighing machines and weighbridges shall be free, he may do so when the item before the Committee has been dealt with.
Amendment (by Sir William Lyne) proposed -
That after the word “ including “ the words “Tanners’ Measuring Machines” be inserted.
.- There is a misunderstanding on the part of some honorable members as to the extent to which the honorable member for Fremantle wishes to go. I do not think that he desires his proposed amendment to apply to penny-in-the-slot weighing machines.
– The object which the honorable member has in view is to exempt automatic machines used for weighing coal and various ores. As the trucks run along the lines they pass over automatic scales which record their weight as they cross them. Those machines are patented, and despite what has been said by the honorable member for Bendigo, I do not think that they have ever been made in Australia. If the honorable member will accept, a proposition which, I understand, the honorable member for Newcastle intends to make, he will have my support, since it will enable a specific proposal to be put before the Committee.
– Tanners’ measuring machinesare designed to measure the surface of leather. Leather is sold by measurement instead of by weight, and these machines, which are made in Fitzroy, are very ingenious. I have lately had an opportunity to test them, and think that if we are to give the protection of a 20 per cent. duty to any machine made in Australia, we ought certainly to do so in this case.
Amendment agreed to.
.I move -
That the words “ Chemists’ counter scales “ be left out.
My desire is that these scales shall be included in item 212, under which chemical analytical and assay scales are free. A great deal depends upon the accuracy of dispensing scales, for a slight defect in one of them might lead to the loss of valuable lives. These scales, I understand, are not made in Australia.
– I am advised that they are.
– No reputable chemist would think of using any other than Avery’s scales.
– That is an antiAustralian statement.
– The honorable member knows as well as I do that I put the interests of Australia before those of any other part of the world. I hope that my amendment will be agreed to.
– I should think that item 212, which deals with -
Scales, viz., chemical, analytical, and assay, including weights; and precision and physical balances covers the scales which the honorable member has in view. The scales included in this item are used on counters in the ordinary way, and the amendment would make them free.
.- The scales which the honorable member for Hunter desires to have placed on the free list are not covered by item 212. They are small dispensing scales balanced in the hand, and they weigh quantities of from half-a-grain upwards. I do not think they are made in Australia.
– Are not dispensing scales referred to in item 212 as “ precision balances “ ?
– No. The object which the honorable member for Hunter has in view would be met by inserting in item 212 the words “ dispensing scales.”
– Surely the chemists can stand 20 per cent. on their scales.
– Dispensing chemists work longer hours for a poorer return than do men in any other profession. Very few chemists in the retail trade make fortunes. Counter scales are larger than dispensing scales, and are used for measuring from a dram upwards. So far as they are concerned, the Tariff should not be altered, but I hope that dispensing scales will be included in item 212.
– I dare say that they would be classed as coming under that item.
– No; chemical and analytical scales are usually kept in a glass case; they have to be protected from any draught, in order that they may weigh correctly. The passing of the amendment will do justice to a profession that deserves consideration.
– By leave, I wish to withdraw my amendment, in order that I may again bring forward this question when we are dealing with item 212.
Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.
.- I wish the question “ that the words ad val., 20 per cent.” stand part of the item, to be put.
The TEMPORARY CHAIRMAN.The honorable member for Fremantle has a prior amendment.
– It can be dealt with subsequently. .
– I rise to a point of order. I submit, Mr. Chairman, that you must leave the chair and suspend the sittings at 6.30, unless leave be obtained to continue.
.- I should like to, understand what the position now is. If the question, that the item as amended be agreed to, be now put, it will dispose of the whole item. Would it not be advisable that the amendment to be proposed by the Minister should be submitted before the submission of the question that the item be agreed to?
.- If the question, that the item be agreed to, is now put, I point out that it includes a duty of 20 per cent. If the item be agreed to, it will preclude any honorable member from moving a lower rate of duty.
– I understand that an amendment is to be moved by the Treasurer which will take the form of a new item.
Item, as amended, agreed to.
Amendment (by Sir William Lyne) proposed -
That the following new item be inserted - “ 161A. Adding and Computing Machines and all Attachments, Cash Registers, Automatic Weighbridges and Automatic Weighing Machines, except Coin-Freed Automatic Weighing Machines, on and after 27th November, 1907, ad val. (General Tariff), 10 per cent. ; (United Kingdom), 5 per cent.”
– Shall I be in order in moving an amendment ‘ in the second column of item 161 ?
– No. The item has. now been dealt with, including the second column. It has been our custom to take amendments upon the second column before the item as a whole is put. The honorable member did not take advantage of his opportunity in that respect, and he is now too late.
.- I fail to followthe reasoning of the Government in regard to this new item. It was well enough to take the machines in question from the original item, but I do not agree with the duties now proposed to be levied, in view of the fact that up to the present time Australia has not been able to produce them. Many reasons might be advanced as to why the machines have not been manufactured in Australia, but the principal reason is that there are patent rights in regard to some of them. This cannot be said to be a protective duty. Where there is no reasonable chance of producing articles in Australia, we ought not to impose revenue duties.
– The honorable member has voted for scores of such duties already.
– I deny that statement.
– It is a fact, all the same. I mean that revenue duties have been covered up in items which were supposedly protective.
– In my belief, each item which I have supported has been framed with the object of giving protection to an Australian industry. That, at all events, has been my intention. Whether I have been misled in some cases by the multitude of figures, I am not able to say, though I do not think I have been. At any rate, I shall not willingly be led into supporting high revenue duties. I fail to appreciate the desire of the Government to impose a duty of 10 per cent. upon these machines, which are so desirable and necessary in the conduct of many businesses within the Commonwealth. If there is an argument in favour of a revenue duty, I shall be pleased to hear it, but none has been advanced so far. I congratulate the Minister on appreciating the arguments which were urged in favour of removing these machines from the original item. He would have done good service if he had seen his way to place them on the free list.
– This is a very fair compromise.
– I do not think that it is a compromise at all. The amendment is the result of certain information which has been pressed upon the Minister, and I do not think it is fair to the users of such commodities that they should have to pay revenue duties upon them.
– I understood that the Treasurer had agreed to take these articles out of the item in which they were originally included in order to put them on the free list.
– I never said so; I said the reverse.
– I accept the Treasurer’s statement, although I was under that impression. I think the goods ought to be free. The Minister is not aware how widespread is their use. Every coal-mine must have one of these machines ; so must every gold-mine. There is scarcely a mine in Australia employing any number of hands that has not one of these automatic machines. Since they are not manufactured in Australia, but are protected by strict patent rights, it seems to me absurd to tax them. It means a tax upon the primary industries of Australia.
– Is this a tax upon the poor working man, then?
– Every man employed in a coal-mine has to have the result of his work passed over one of these automatic machines. My honorable friend may be quite certain that the capitalists will not pay this taxation themselves: They will pass it on to the poor working man, to whom the honorable member ironically alludes. There is nothing surer under the sun than that the working man will have to shoulder his proportion of . the burden, which is ostensibly imposed upon the employer. There is no pretence that we make the machines in Australia. I therefore move -
That the amendment be amended by inserting after the word “ machines,” line 5, the word “free.”
Question put. The Committee divided.
Majority … … 15
Question so resolved in the negative.
Amendment of the amendment negatived.
Proposed new item agreed to.
Postponed item 162. Marine engines, boilers, and machinery; and fittings and mountings n.e.i., for such engines, boilers, and machinery ; shafts, propellers; winches; liners for cylinders; windlasses; steering gear; feed water heaters; feed pumps; evaporators, auxiliary condensers; feedwater fillers; and ash ejectors, ad val. (General Tariff), 25 per cent.
– I ask the Committee to negative this item,’ with a view to the insertion of the following new item : - “ Motive power machinery and appliances (except electric), viz. : -
As I informed honorable members a week or ten days ago, officers have been employed to effect a re-arrangement in respect of some of the items in this division. It will be observed that the new item which I have placed before theCommittee does not include electrical machinery and appliances, which will be embodied in item 178. But in respect of the articles enumerated in the item under consideration., I have endeavoured to meet the wish of the Committee, and I hope that I have been successful. I admit that when I have previously attempted to do the same thing, I have been told that I have not succeeded. The articles originally specified in item 162, with the exception of those which are specifically mentioned in the new item, are covered by paragraph b. I hope that the course which I have adopted will have the effect of shortening debate.
– But the Treasurer has raised the duty, which was originally imposed, by5 per cent.
SirWILLIAM LYNE.- I am anxious to extend a preference of 5 per cent. to GreatBritain, and I hope that the Committee will assist me to do so. Two experts have been employed in re-arranging this item, one of whom is connected with the University, and the other with the Commonwealth public service. The instructions which I gave to them were to divide the articles specified in the amendments I have circulated into two groups, one of which was to include machinery and appliances, which it was possible to profitably manufacture in the Commonwealth, and the other articles which we cannot profitably manufacture for some time to come. The machinery and appliances contained in the former group have been subjected to a higher rate of duty than the articles comprised in the latter. Of course, it is quite impossible to obtain absolute accuracy in regard to what is likely to be made in the Commonwealth with commercial success. Therefore, I have had recourse to experts for information which will enable me to devise a scheme that would be just and acceptable to the Committee.
.- The item whose discussion we are now beginning, is one of the most important, if not the most important, in the Tariff. I am not sure that the Minister’s proposal will be accepted by the Committee. I have heard it said that there will be a lot of debate upon it, and I think that it will be well to discuss the whole item at once instead of having a discussion on each of its two paragraphs.
– I do not think that there need be any debate on paragraph a:
– I have an amendment on that paragraph.
– So have I.
– I cannot conceive of there being no debate on a proposal in regard to which two amendments are to be moved. No doubt the re-arrangement of items which the Minister has submitted is intended to make the Tariff clear, and to facilitate its administration. Paragraph a covers several kinds of machinery, all others being dutiable as “ n.e.i.,” at a higher rate, under paragraph b.
– The item deals with motive power only.
– The item deals with motive power other than electrical ; the Minister has made that clear. .
SirWilliam Lyne. - It is so stated at the beginning.
– I may reasonably claim that those who live in the constituency of Kalgoorlie will gain fewer advantages from the Tariff, in the immediate future, at all events, than those who live in any other constituency in the Commonwealth. But, in framing a Tariff for Australia, we should endeavour, while giving as much consideration as possible to manufacturing, to avoid unduly harassing the great primary industries upon which the secondary industriesmust depend. Up to the present time, the mines of Australia have produced £650,038,766 worth of gold, of which those of Western Australia have yielded over £73,000,000.
– Therefore a great deal of gold has been obtained from places other than Kalgoorlie.
– I do not dispute it. I do not contend that all the gold produced in Australia comes from Kalgoorlie, though, if one State is to be compared with another, it is worthy of mention that at the present time the Western Australian gold yield is nearly half that of Australia.
– The Western Australian gold-fields saved Australia.
– The discovery of gold in Western Australia did a great deal for Victoria at the time of a big financial’ crisis.
– I understand that the yield of gold in Western Australia is now falling off, which makes it all the more necessary to give assistance to those interested in mining there.
– Like all wellestablished gold-mining centres, Kalgoorlie begins to feel the need for reducing costs, in order that the mines may continue to be worked profitably. While accidents sometimes occur in connexion with gold-mining, making the occupation of a miner somewhat dangerous, gold-mining is one of the best wage-paying industries in Australia.
– The Minister has explained that “ n.e.i.” in paragraph b means only not elsewhere included in item 162.
– The Minister did not tell us that paragraph b does not cover all motive power machinery other than that specifically dealt with in paragraph a. If the honorable member will turn to the proposed new item 177, he will see that mining machinery, n.e.i., is omitted from it. I think that paragraph b covers all motivepower machinery not specifically dealt with by paragraph a.
– The Minister has explained that the letters “n.e.i.” in paragraph b refer merely to the machinery covered by item 162 as it stands in the schedule.
– If the motive power machinery to which I wish to refer is not covered by paragraph b, in what part of the Tariff is it dealt with?
– It comes within thenew item 164 as “ n.e.i.”
– This item deals with motive-power machinery and appliances only.
– Yes. Item 164 deals
Avith all other machinery.
– The proposals have been submitted in such a way that possibly some of the machinery to which I .wish to refer is not covered by this item, although I think that it is.
– To what machinery does the honorable member wish to refer?
– To mining machinery ot all descriptions, except electrical. If honorable members doubt whether general mining machinery comes under this item, I ask them to look at item 177. Perhaps the Minister will explain what machinery comes under paragraph b of this proposed new item? I do not wish to speak without knowing that. Apparently the Minister is not in a position to inform the Committee,and I defy any one else to say authoritatively whether the machinery to which I wish to refer comes under proposed new item 162, or under proposed new item 164, though. I think that it comes under the -former. What does the honorable member for Flinders say ?
– I think that the new item 162 covers machinery for motive power only.
– In my opinion, the new item 162 deals only with machinery for generating power, such as boilers, cylinders,., engines, and air compressors, and does not cover such machinery as smelters, furnaces, and conveyors.
– Would they come under “ n.e.i.” in the proposed new item 164?
– Probably they- would.
– What .does the honorable member for Kalgoorlie wish to know ?
– I wish to know whether the Treasurer proposes to include in paragraph b n.e.i. any machinery other than that which would be used for the purpose of generating motive power?
– In item 162 of the old Tariff we dealt entirely with marine engines and pumps. The item now before the Committee deals with motive power generally, and the whole of the machinery included will be found in item 162 and part of item 164, with the exception of electrical machinery, which is not dealt with in these items at all.
– Will items 162 and 164 include mining machinery?
– They will include some mining machinery, but not very much,. I think.
– Engines and boilers ?
– Yes, of course, they are motive power.
– And all that is left is in the new item 177 ?
– All that is not found, in these items will be found in a later item 177 or 178. Honorable members will understand that it is motive power machinery that is included in the item under discussion at the present moment. They will see exactly what is included if they look at items 162 and 164.
– I think it is rather unfortunate that it should have been considered necessary to have two divisions in regard to motive power. The new item 162 includes steam turbines. I suppose that they are now used as frequently as the ordinary piston engines where that can be done conveniently, and as their value becomes .more fully recognised they will be still more widely used in Australia. I wish to say that I am particularly satisfied with the course adopted by the Government in giving special consideration to that particular line. I was proceeding to say in regard to the main division that although there seems to be a tendency on the part of a few honorable members to conclude from the recorded proceeds of various mines that every man engaged in mining is doing pretty well, the very opposite is the real position with respect to nearly every mining proposition in Australia, at the present time. It is true that there are a few Bonanzas, a few Great Boulders, Ivanhoes and other such mines returning tremendous dividends to their lucky shareholders, but the number of big dividend-payers in’ the Commonwealth at the present time can be counted on the fingers of both hands. The returns from most mining propositions in the Commonwealth at the present time are such that any considerable increase in the cost of working them, whether in the matter of machinery or stores, might involve either a reduction of wages or the closing down of the mines. Where an additional price can be charged for a protected commodity, and the duty thus passed on to the consumer, a protective Tariff can be operated, but in dealing with mining propositions honorable members must remember that if additional duties were imposed, which would have the effect of increasing mining charges, they would not at the same time increase the value of the ores which are being mined.
– We cannot increase the price of gold.
– We cannot, unless we are prepared to attach an additional schedule to the Manufactures Encouragement Bill and give a bounty upon the production of gold in Australia., a proposition which is not likely to commend, itself to this House. In making these remarks I do not wish to say that anything should be done contrary to tha general policy of protecting the industries of the country, but I am endeavouring to show that, with the exception of the few rich mines to which I have alluded, mining in Australia at the present time is in such a condition that reductions in the cost of working must be the first consideration of those controlling our mines. In order to secure that reduction of working cost, tools manufactured by specialists for the mining and treatment of ores must be used in every case. The manufacturers of general machinery in Australia, and in other parts of the world, are unable to compete in the manufacture of special tools of trade required in the mining industry. Those engaged in the industry must look to specialists in the manufacture of machinery whose machines have command of the world’s markets to enable them to get their work done at a business cost. Mining men admit that Australian manufacturers can supply satisfactory mining machinery for several purposes, but in respect of other purposes, and for the treatment of refractory, ores, they have to look to German, American, and English specialises for different classes of special machinery. It will be admitted that the present demand in Australia would not justify manufacturers in laying down the plant that would be necessary for the manufacture of machinery required to deal with various mining processes on a commercial basis. A great deal of the machinery used in the mining industry throughout Australia can be satisfactorily manufactured in the Commonwealth, and it is certainly the duty of the Government, by means of duties imposed under a Tariff, to give those who require to use that class of machinery an inducement to use the Australian article.
– What duties?
– That is a question with which I shall deal in a moment. I wish to say, in justice to a number of men engaged in mining in Western Australia, and whom I know personally, that the suggestion that British or foreign machinery is preferred to Australian, because the men who are working the mines are foreigners, or have come from Great Britain, is, in my judgment, without foundation. I know a number of men engaged in the mines of Western Australia who are Australians by birth, have spent most of their time and gained their experience in Australia, and are now managing Australian mines. They are Australian in sympathy, and are prepared to give every consideration to the use of Australian machinery, where it can be successfully employed. But in some cases they find that they are unable to work their mines at a reasonable cost by using Australian machinery. In connexion with machinery n.e.i., the necessity of giving consideration to the Australian manufacturer would be met, in my opinion, by a duty of 20 per cent, under the General Tariff, and of 15 per cent, on imports from the United Kingdom. I mention these rates because I have it on the best authority that on general items 26 per cent, represents the difference between the f.o.b. cost and the cost f.o.r., Fremantle, which would include freight, loadings insurance, and other charges associated with shipping. I am told that on the average freights now being paid to Western Australia, it works out at from 25 per cent, to 26 per cent. There is therefore a very considerable geographical protection to the Australian article.
– What would be the charges to Victoria?
– The freights to Victoria would be slightly less.
– Is the 26 per cent, exclusive of the duty
– No, it represents the difference between the cost f.o.b. London, and f.o.r. Fremantle, when, of course, the goods would have passed through the Customs. That is a considerable natural protection, but Victoria gets it to a less extent ‘ because the shipping ring up to the present have imposed higher charges in relation to goods coming to Western Australia than on goods coming to eastern Australia. I do not know why that should be, and I understand that the beautiful mail contract which we passed recently is going to remove it for the future. The greatest consideration will have to be given to the schedule now proposed by the Minister. I am particularly desirous of handing over to the Australian manufacturer those works which experience has taught us he is eminently adapted to perform. But I am also desirous of insuring that one of the greatest producing industries of this country, which is also one of the best employers of labour, shall not be unduly harassed by the application of the Tariff.
.- The honorable member for Kalgoorlie wishes to debate the question of mining machinery, but he could do that later on. The heading of this item, as revised, is “ Motive power machinery, and appliances.” That covers marine engines and fittings, propellers, and boilers and* fittings. This opens up the whole general question df the manufacture of motive power machinery. I desire to say a few words in support of the Government on this item. During the three months of consideration of the Tariff, they have given 150 per cent, protection on hats, and 40 per cent, on woollens, and to-day they fought most strenuously for protection upon nails. The nail industry employs not more than about twenty hands, whereas the engineering industry, employed 15,000 odd hands in Australia in 1904 - that is the latest return which I could get for the whole of the States - and in 1899 there were 16,400 hands employed, so that the industry has lost ground. I wish to show that the original duty of 12
– How many men are employed in mining?
– This item does not deal with mining machinery. I am speaking of motive power machinery. When I saw so many mushroom industries getting assistance, I thought that at least we could put up a fight for the engineering industries. Had I been a protectionist all my life, I should not have rested until the iron and engineering trades had received first consideration. I could never understand why the subsidiary- or auxiliary trades were assisted at the expense of what are really the main trades which protection should help. I make no secret of my object on this occasion. I am simply fighting, like many other honorable members are, for the interests of my constituents. A” few days ago the Victorian members desired to give a lot of consideration to the question of whether the New South Wales iron industry should be assisted, because they said there was only one employer concerned, before they voted any sum of money, although that was for a venture for the production of iron, of far-reaching importance to the whole of Australia. But to-day, in the case of the nail industry, they did not show the slightest hesitancy in supporting an increase of the old duty of 25 per cent. - twice the duty that there has ever been upon machinery - up to 40 per cent. Surely any man, unless he is a most rabid free-trader can put in a claim for the engineering establishments, when all these favours are being handed out all round. I say openly that not only one engineering establishment, but probably the largest as well as a lot of others, are in my electorate. I make that statement in order that honorable members may thank me, if they wish, for my brutal candour. When I see’ others making their best efforts for their electorates, 1 feel that it is my bounden duty to do the best I possibly can for my electorate. All the workers in my electorate have to pay heavy duties on every thing they eat, wear, and use, and I am prepared to see whether I cannot do a little for them in return by means of Tariff assistance. One of the troubles of the trade in the past was that it had to rely upon repairs only. That meant a most precarious existence for the engineering firms. What they required was a chance of new work. I appeal to the Labour Party, who sink trie fiscal issue, to sink it very deeply on this occasion, because they will never raise up a sturdy body of apprentices in the iron trades of Australia until they give those large firms an opportunity of doing work other than repairs. I am a new protectionist in more ways than one. I am going to support the new protection, not only in the case of this industry, but in the case of all others which receive Tariff assistance. I have always said that, if manufacturers would share the improved conditions with their employes, and also with the users of the articles which thev produce, any man who resisted the imposition of a duty to build up an industry of that character, must be essentially a foreign trader. I am not, and never have’ been, a foreign trader. The only reason why I opposed the imposition of duties in the past was that the assistance which the public were compelled to give to industries under the Tariff did not percolate to the proper channels, but went only into the pockets of a few master manufacturers. Now that we have a promise of new protection, I give my. support to the Government on this occasion subject to that being carried out. If the Government fail to carry their new protection, I shall be the first to ask the House to revert to the old Tariff, because I do not believe in imposing upon the users of machinery, any more than of any other article, heavy duties; if there are not compensating advantages for those employed. Although I am a theoretical free-trader, if, for practical purposes, a class of legislative machinery is provided that will share the benefits all round, I say that any man who does not wish to go to the other extreme should readily accept it.
– Can the benefits she shared all round?
– I believe so. I committed myself to that six or eight weeks ago.
– How would the honorable member treat the case of the consumer?
– The honorable member j-.ad better ask the Treasurer that question. 1 am not responsible for the Bill.
– Will the honorable member differentiate between the different kinds of machines? Is he satisfied with paragraphs a and b?
– I am satisfied with paragraph a, because it includes “ articles for the production of which in Australia at present, I would not press, but the “ n.e.i.” part covers motive power machinery, marine boilers, and fittings, steam winches, and other machines, which surely any engineering establishment in Australia can produce. .1 wish to show the Committee the difficulties which the Australian engineering firms have had to face up to the present. I will probably be twitted with the fact that there is an engineering establishment in my electorate. There are many in it. Those in the largest are not, and never have been, political supporters of mine.
– They will be after today.
– I do not know about that. They are supporters of the Labour Party.
– The honorable member is making a very fair bid for their support.
– The honorable member will do the same for the support of men in his constituency in the case of the timber duties.
– I am not blaming the honorable member.
– My answer to the honorable member for Barrier is that I am making a bid in the interests of thousands of men, whom I have known for years, and have always fought politically, but who to-day have to carry a heavy burden of taxation upon their food and clothing. It is all up with the free-traders in this House. They are done already, so far as a low Tariff is concerned, although there are some items which I thank the Committee for imposing low duties upon, or even making free. Cotton is an instance. But in this case, I should be recreant to my trust as a “representative of my electorate, if I did not fight for those men to get a small return out of the Tariff, seeing that in other directions, under the Tariff they have to carry new burdens. The Treasurer on some occasions says that this House is free-trade, and on others, that it is protectionist. I hope that on this occasion, in the case of the engineering trade, which must be considered the most important when protection is being given, in view of the great return from it, he will ‘ find that this is a protectionist House. He has been twitted on many occasions with the fact that no evidence had been- given before the Tariff Commission regarding industries which he desired to protect. My old free-trade friends on this side of the chamber, have often rightly asked, “ Where are the witnesses who stated that increased protection was required? We have read the report of the Commission, and cannot find any evidence from them.” The Treasurer is, in this case, in the very happy position of being able to say that witnesses from the whole of Australia asked for an increased duty, and stated that their establishments were falling back under the old 12 J percent, duty. They came, not from New South Wales and Victoria alone, but from the whole of Australia ; not singly from each State, but in groups ; and not only master manufacturers, but representatives of the various iron trades throughout the Commonwealth. The Commission’ had a splendid opportunity of crossexamining them, and cannot say that they were unable to come to any conclusion in this case for want of information and evidence. Any one who reads their report on the engineering industries, will be astonished at the amount of evidence, and at its overwhelming character. There is one great difficulty which the engineering establishments suffer under to-day that they did not have to face a few years ago. Then they did not have the competition that they have now. The existing competition, strange to say, is caused by Australia’s increased export trade of primary products. Vessels now take enormous cargoes of our exports, and invite what is called backloading. The old style of trade between the United Kingdom and Australia has been changed. In those days, ships came out in ballast for our wool. Today they leave here heavily laden with our butter, wool, and other staple products, and are able to bring here as back loading bulky machinery, particularly motive power machinery, at a much cheaper rate than they did a few years back. Another consideration is that the vessels that trade to Australia to-day are four and five times greater in tonnage than those which came here then. Transit and freightage have become cheaper, on account of heavy cargoes being carried in large bottoms. This has proved a serious handicap to the engineering industries of Australia. In Australia, owing, of course, to the assistance of the trades unions, the men employed in engineering receive a higher rate of wage per hour than is paid in any other part of the world, even in the United Kingdom.
– And still the wages are not high enough..
– I quite agree with the honorable member.
– I think the wages are higher in America.
– Without discriminating between the different branches of the trade, I should say that, generally speaking, the wace paid here is is. 3d. per hour.
– I think that fitters in America receive a higher wage than that.
– That may be so in the case of goods of very fine finish, such as cutlery. I am now speaking, however, of heavy marine engines and so forth, in respect of which our greatest competitor is Great Britain.
– Some of the fitters in America receive 3.50 dol. and 4 dol. a day.
– The wages of the locomotive fitters govern the whole trade.
– Not the branches of the trade of which I am speaking.
– Yes; the whole of the engineering trade.
– The hours are longer in America and England.
– That is so; and it is of no use speaking of the wages in America being higher by 2 s. a day if the men there work two hours longer. On the basis of an eight-hours day, I repeat that the wages here are higher, generally speaking, than anywhere else in the world, and certainly higher than the wages paid in Great Britain and on the continent of Europe. An interested witness before the Commission estimated that the labour cost is at least 87 per cent, higher here than in the Old Country.
– That is absolute nonsense !
– I agree with the honorable member; but I should say that the difference is certainly 40 per cent.
– That is not so.
– I happen to know that it is. .
– -Not over all the trade.
– The honorable member for Perth is forgetting that in the old world piece work is the rule, whereas in Australia there is a fixed wage.
– In the Old Country the wages are something like 36s. a week.
– And here they are
– No doubt instances may be given of very high wages being earned on piece work, but that system has never been favorably received here by the workers. We ought all, I am sure, to be proud of that extensive establishment known as Mort’s Dock and Engineering Works, which can by no means be regarded as a mushroom institution. In 1900,. the company paid, in round figures, £149,000 in wages, as compared with £94,000 paid in the year 1903. That, of course, is a very serious reduction, and it shows th-at under the old Tariff the output was not increased. No man .regrets that fact more than I do ; but in order to put the case fairly. I mav say that, in my opinion, the firm has suffered as much from want of proper administration as from any effects of the Tariff. The best proof of that statement is found in the fact that in and around Port Jackson, where, a few years ago, there was only this one engineering establishment, there are now, T am pleased to say, many. I have no desire to see engineering confined to any one State ; on the contrary, I should like to “see the engineering industry flourishing throughout the Commonwealth. I am putting in no plea on behalf of this large firm, but merely stating the facts in order to impress honorable members who earlier in the day were so keenly advocating Tariff assistance for an industry which employs only twenty men. As a matter of fact, in the free-trade days of New South Wales, Mort’s Dock was busier than it is to-dar
– There were more ships arriving here then.
– Exactly ; and the business thus, lost must be replaced in some way. If protectionists are showering favours all round, some assistance ought certainly to be rendered to the engineering industry. In the case of vessels built in England for the Australian coastal trade, the engines, with which they are fitted were admitted duty free under the old Tariff. Why should the Australian engineering industry be under this disability? This is the very class of machinery with which the Australian industry has to compete ; and now that there is to be a bonus on iron, I hope to see a bonus on shipbuilding. I am with the Treasurer in regard to the duty that he proposes; but I must point out that Mr. Franki, the manager of Mort’s Dock, when before the Royal Commission, said that if there were no countervailing duty of 10 per cent, on angle and other iron, he would be satisfied with a protective duty of 25 per cent. After we have imposed duties representing 150 per cent, on hats, 40 per cent, on nails, and 40 per cent, on woollens, the request made on behalf of a permanent institution like Mort’s Dock appears to me a verymild one. Of course, if a bonus on iron is agreed to, the difficulties of the engineering trade here will be to a great extent minimized ; but I hope that if the general Tariff is fixed at 25 per cent., that will not be used as an argument for a reduced, duty in favour of the Mother Land. In the case of the necessaries of life, I have availed myself, in the most innocent manner, of that cute device. But I do noi want the Committee, on this occasion, to follow the example, because I believe that a protection of 25 per cent, in this case cannot be said to be extortionate, when compared with the duties which have been imposed on other items. I intend to support the proposal of the Minister, subject to the application of the policy of new. protection. I am not prepared to extend to our engineering firms high rates of duty, if their employes are not to share in the protection which they themselves receive. For years that has been the cause of my strong opposition to the policy of protection.
– Do not the men receive good wages in these establishments at Sydney?
– The men do not receive as good wages as they ought to get.
– In Western Austra– Iia they receive very good wages.
– In answer to question 84555, Mr. Franki said that the value of engines, boilers, and machinery imported during the four years 1900-3 into New South Wales was £2,411,467, equal to about ,£600,800 per annum. I have quoted the figures in regard to one State in order to bring home to honorable members the volume of the imports. In asking for the imposition of these duties, I am not in the position of many honorable members who have voted for a bounty upon the production of rice or other product. There is no question about the class of labour which will be employed in the engineering establishments. I trust that when the Government initiate their immigration policy, at an expenditure of ,£200,000 or more, the main proportion of the immigrants will be drawn from the United Kingdom, and that the greater number of the British immigrants will be men engaged- in the engineering and kindred trades. Everything points to the necessity pf building up this industry in preference to all others. The men who are employed in the iron trade do not work at a low rate of wages, but rather at a high standard, and certainly they produce articles which are of great utility to Austrafia. I admit that the new proposal of the Minister includes some articles, such as electrical appliances, which it may not yet pay Australia to produce, and for that reason I see no necessity to make them dutiable. I believe that this is not, by a long way, the last that we shall hear of the Tariff.
– I do not think so.
– I “believe that if the Treasurer had been allowed to have his own way from the start, we should have found that the Tariff was full of anomalies, and even if we accept the new proposals he has submitted, I anticipate that anomalies will hereafter be discovered. It is only experience that will teach us how to frame the Tariff on satisfactory lines. It seems to me most absurd on the part of a public man to say, “ If you settle the fiscal issue, it is settled for all time.” I admit that the main question may be settled, but practically every third year the Tariff will require to be amended ; the particular item before the Committee, if adopted, will require to be amended at the end of that period. I shall vote with the Treasurer on the items to which I have referred. I do not intend to deal with other articles, such as traction engines, because they come under a different item. I do not think that they deserve such strong’ support as do some of the items to which I have referred. I recognise, sir, that the mere fact of a member addressing you has very little influence on debate, with the exception that he can point out that certain honorable members have not sound grounds for their advocacy of an item. If it can be shown that the institution on whose behalfI have been pleading is of mushroom growth, I do not suppose that the Committee will extend to it any sympathy or support. But honorable members will be able to estimate its value when I quote the following passage from the report of the protectionist section of the Tariff Commission : -
The representatives of Mort’s Dock and Engineering Company alleged that, with the view of giving the 12½ per cent. Tariff a trial, and of instituting a comparison between the cost of local production and” that of importation, his firm had during 1900 and 1904 built several sets of engines and boilers, aggregating about £18,000 in value, but, instead of profit, there had been a loss of about £2,000, or 11 per cent. on the cost of production.
I do not like to hear of that loss, sir, but I do not wish the Committee to be influenced by that fact too much, as it may have been due to want of administration. We. certainly are confronted with this position, that fewer men are employed in engineering establishments in Australia to-day than in 1899 ; and, so far as New South Wales is concerned, less men are employed to-day than was the case prior to Federation. That should appeal to every one who has any consideration for the welfare of Australia. I desire to give an illustration of the difficulties against which local manufacturers have to contend. Referring to Mr. Franki’s evidence, the protectionist section of the Tariff Commission said -
As an illustration of the difficulties against which local manufacturers contended he mentioned one case where his firm tendered for the construction of a boat of about 1,700 tons for the Newcastle trade. His company was prepared to execute all the work in connexion with the hull, but were, he alleged, handicapped to the extent of about £20,000 at the outset. The work, as a whole, was estimated to be worth nearly £70,000, of which labour represented £23,000. The difference between labour here and in England would be about £12,000 in favour of the latter country. About £16,000 worth of patented machinery would have been required, the freight and charges on which would total £4,000.The duty on these importations would be about £2,000, and on the framing, &c, for the ship, which would have to be imported, an additional £2,000.
The report is full of illustrations respecting the difficulties or anomalies which existed in the old Tariff. The greatest anomaly was that it allowed ship fittings to come in dutyfree, when they could be made in Australia. I shall not pursue the subject any further, but conclude by saying that I intend to vote with the Government for the imposition of duties of 30 and 25 per cent. respectively.
.- I must congratulate the Treasurer, and whoever was responsible for the rearrangement of these items. It is certainly a more scientific arrangement than was the original one, and is much clearer. But I am rather afraid that it may tell against the desire of the honorable gentleman, because many honorable members have a special kind of motive power or special machinery applicable to a particular industry which they desire shall be admitted at a reduced duty. The whole of the speech of the honorable member for Kalgoorlie was devoted to showing the necessity for a reduction in the duties upon mining machinery. If honorable “members generally indorse his view, the Treasurer must recognise that all the opponents of a high duty upon any particular line of machinery will be arrayed against him for the purpose of defeating it.
– Why should not they ? Does the honorable member advocate the mutilation of the Tariff in order that the Treasurer may gain a technical advantage?
– I am merely pointing out that whilst the grouping of the articles comprised in this item is exceedingly good, if the Treasurer had desired to bring about a defeat of his own proposals he could not have presented them in a better form.
– For once he is sacrificing expediency for the sake of principle.
– But he is also sacrificing the duties which he proposes. I fear that the effect of his proposal will be that, if the duty upon mining machinery is reduced, the imposts upon all other motive power and machinery will also be reduced.
– Is not the mining industry entitled to as much consideration as is the woollen industry?
– I ask the honorable member if that’ statement has anything whatever to do with the question? From some points of view the mining industry may be entitled to special treatment. The whole of the speech of the honorable member for Kalgoorlie was in that strain.
– All the articles enumerated in this item were previously subjected to a duty of 12½ per cent.
– Yes, and it practically ruined the industry. Whatever real agitation has taken place in favour of an increased Tariff is the result of the ridiculously low duty of 12½ per cent. which we imposed upon motive power and machinery. As the result of the present rearrangement of these articles, the Treasurer must expect to be placed in a difficulty. I am informed that gas heaters, flue-heated economizers, and mechanical stokers can be manufactured in Australia.
– Patent rights prevent that.
– The superheater is a very simply-made contrivance, and the same remark applies to flue-heated economizers. That the latter can be manufactured in the Commonwealth, the following letter from Messrs. White and Hosier, mining and general agents, at Broken Hill, to the Austral Otis Engineering Company, Melbourne, shows -
Me economiser. I thank you for your wire of yesterday in reply to my inquiry for a Green’s, or same type Economiser, but regret that I was unable to do business at your figure as against the imported quotation.
That document demonstrates that the old duty was insufficient to enable the Austral Otis Engineering Company to manufacture these economizers at a sufficiently low price to enable it to compete successfully with the imported article.
– We cannot make the same machine here.
– We can manufacture the same type of machine. In most of these machines the part that is patented is a very small one. The balance is made locally. In considering this matter, I ask honorable members to divorce from their minds the idea that this item refers to anything other than motive power engines and their appliances. Some honorable members have been under a misapprehension. The item includes ordinary engines and their appliances. It does not cover machinery generally. Take a mine. This item covers the machinery that would usually be employed in the engine room, but all the other machinery outside, comprising nine-tenths of the machinery on the mine, would not come under this item at all.
– It would not include the battery.
– It would include the pumps, but not any of the articles mentioned in item 177. Most mining machinery would come under item 164. So that we are not dealing with much of the patented machinery, but chiefly with steam, gas, and oil engines as generally understood. No electrical appliances are included. So far as motive power goes, the engines used on mines do not differ materially from engines used on other works. Amongst other things that would be included are boilers. Surely we are not going to turn out this Tariff with a duty of 15 per cent. on boilers. If so, we might just as well throw the Tariff under the table for all the value it will be to the producing interests of Australia. In regard to articles as to which there are no patent rights and no special difficulties in construction, there is every reason for hoping that we can establish a successful industry by means of a substantial duty. We have imposed large duties in regard to many industries which afford very little employment. In this case nearly the whole cost is. labour cost. Notwithstanding the denial of the honorable member for Perth, we must not forget that the labour cost in Australia is very much greater than in Great Britain. In regard to unskilled labour, the difference maynot be very great, but in the case of engine fitters, boiler-makers, pattern-makers, and blacksmiths, whereas the wages paid in Great Britain run from about 36s. to 38s., which are the recognised union rates ; in Australia the standard union wage is 60s. a week. So that there is a difference of labour cost amounting to over 60 per cent. We have to face that fact. It is no use for honorable members to think that a sufficient duty is being imposed to enable the industry to be successfully conducted unless this difference in labour cost be taken into account.
– That is a lively thing for the consumer.
– What is the natural protection in freight and charges?
– It is fairly heavy. But for that fact there would be no such industries in Australia at all.
– The labour cost is only about one-third the value of the product.
– Not in the line with which we are now dealing. In regard to very many of these motive power engines the labour cost is very much higher than 50 per cent. of the total.
– That can only be in workshops that are not properly equipped.
– We have to take into consideration the whole cost of production, included in which is the cost of labour.
– These articles are mostly made by machinery, which does not depend on men’s wages.
– Even in regard to machinery, very much depends upon the wages paid to those who tend the machines.
– If we make machinery very expensive we lessen the opportunities for men to get good wages.
– Of course if we were to impose such taxation that industries would not be able to prosper, and external competition was prevented, the honorable member would be perfectly right. Speaking as one who is just as anxious to see that the producer is not handicapped as is the honorable member, I point out that unless the duty is sufficiently high to encourage local production, there will be no local competition with the imported article, and, consequently, the foreigner will put up his price far beyond what it would be if there was internal competition. The best results are obtained when we bring the foreigner and the local manufacturer into competition. This industry is well worth protecting, so that we may hav e healthy local competition with the imported article. Anything like a reduction to 15 per cent. would lead to a repetition of the trouble we have experienced” in regard to the manufacture of iron and steel. By making such an amendment, we should disregard the mandate which protectionists in this House have received from Australia, and deal a heavy blow at one of the best industries that we could preserve.
– I should like the Committee to agree at once to the omission of the old item so that I may move the insertion of the proposed new item, and thus afford the Committee a better opportunity of dealing with the Government proposal.
Amendment (by Sir William Lyne) proposed -
That the following new itembe inserted - “ Item 162. On and after 27th November, 1907, Motive Power Machinery and Appliances (except Electric), viz. : -
Gas Producers; Flue-heated Economizers;. “ Mechanical Stokers; Steam Traps; Steam Turbines; Superheaters; Water purifiers, ad val. (General Tariff), 5 per cent. ; (United Kingdom), free.
N.E.I., ad val. (General Tariff), 30 per cent.; (United Kingdom), 25 per cent.”’
.- I do not suppose that in any other part of the Tariff we have so wide a drag-net as is paragraph b of the proposed new item. I still adhere to the belief that it is necessary to specify more fully than has been done the machinery and appliances that are to come within this item, and then to allow b, n.e.i., to stand.
– That would not reduce the drag-net effect of paragraph b.
– But theCommittee would then know exactly what machines and appliances came within the item. Although before the honorable member for Boothby spoke, most honorable members were inclined to think that this item applied more particularly to motive power” machinery used in the mining industry, we must recognise that it will affect all industries. That being so, the Treasurer might with advantage have made a further segregation of the item by differentiating between mining and other industrial machinery. I hope at a later stage to secure his co-operation in a proposal to differentiate between electrical machinery and appliances and other machinery. Although the speech made by the honorable member for Boothby was a forcible one, he must recognise that those who address themselves more particularly to this item as having a special bearing upon the mining industry are justified in the belief that in relation to the machinery employed, that industry has not received such special consideration in other parts of the Tariff as have other industries. This is one of the most important items in the Tariff. It is estimated that there are directly engaged in the mining industry of Australia over 100,000 men.
– Over 112,000.
– I quoted round numbers. It is said that there are dependent upon every one of those directly employed in the mining industry at least five others. On that computation, it will be seen that the proposed duties directly affect about 500,000 persons. In addition, it may be pointed out that nearly every person in Australia is or has been interested, more or less directly, in some mining enterprise. The honorable member for Kalgoorlie told us of the immense amount of ‘gold which . Australia had yielded ; but the proposed duties affect, not only gold-mining enterprises, but also copper, silver, tin, lead, and other mines. Those connected with such ventures ask, not so much for help, as for relief from unduly heavy burdens. The timber duties and other proposals which will come before us, as well as the duties immediately under discussion, press very heavily on the mining community. Honorable members have said that they wish to see all the machinery used in Australia manufactured locally. I, too, should like that to come about. But those who have special knowledge know that there are many appliances, protected by patents, or manufactured in accordance with special methods, in Europe, Great Britain and America, which cannot be made here. Our manufacturers, given a regular turn-out, and no labour difficulties, can make ordinary machinery as good as any made elsewhere. While machinery made in the older manufacturing countries may have a better finish than is given to Australian machinery, our workmen have turned out magnificent machinery. It has been said that gold has a fixed value ; but that is not true of other metals. The metal market is subject to great fluctuations, the value of our output being determined entirely by prices abroad.- During the last twelve or eighteen months there have been enormous increases in the values of copper, lead, tin, and other metals ; but of late prices have, fallen considerably, and the present depression is having a serious effect on the mining industry. Therefore, I ask the Committee, while giving consideration to local manufacturers, not to impose too heavy duties on mining requisites. Let me show what the proposed duties on machinery mean to some of the larger mining enterprises. I atn . informed the Cobar Company has ordered a plant, to cost ,£71,225, on which the Customs duty will be the enormous sum of £25,978, the higher rates of the present Tariff being responsible for an increase of ,£17,000. Six of the more important Broken Hill mines have been affected to the extent of £33,581, while the increase in the duty on machinery under order to the Mount Lyell Company, of Tasmania, is ,£4,086. The Western Australian Chamber, of Commerce has informed me that the new Tariff has affected the Kalgoorlie mines to the .extent of over £50,000. The Golden Horseshoe has ordered a new compressor upon which, on an f.o.b. cost of .£5,651, the duty will be £”2,175. Then the Great Fitzroy mine, a property in Queensland which has recently been developed, will have to pay a duty of .£657 on a compressor costing £1,725 f.o.b. Although excellent compressors have been made in Australia, those required in these particular instances are of a special class, and could not be successfully made here. Surely the Minister, in proposing rates of 30 and 25 per cent., wished to have something to give away in expectation of reductions being moved. I gave notice yesterday of my intention to ask the Committee to agree to rates of 20 and 15 per cent., but I am only too glad that the honorable member for Kalgoorlie has moved in the matter. He represents one of the great mining centres of Australia.
– Of the world.
– And of the world. Although the Kalgoorlie mines do not compare in extent with the great Rand mines, whose reefs run through many miles of country, what is known as the Golden Mile, Kalgoorlie, is probably the richest area of that extent in the world. The letters “n.e.i.” mean so much, that I venture to suggest that the Treasurer would do well to consult with the officers of the Department upon the suggestion made by the honorable member for Boothby, that while some industries might fairly be expected to pay a higher duty for their motive power, the machinery providing the motive power required in- the mining industry might be admitted at a lower duty.
– Why should I make special provision for wealthy mining companies ?
– What about the people who are dependent upon the industry ?
– I have tried to explain to the, Treasurer the magnitude and importance of the mining industry.
– The honorable member might explain the magnitude of the wealth taken out of this country by those engaged in the industry.
– The honorable gentleman will permit me to say that, whilst we very frequently hear of the profits made from mines, very little is heard of the enormous amount of money contributed week by week and month by month by mining shareholders throughout Australia to carry on the industry. The Treasurer must have some knowledge on that point. He has, no doubt, been interested in some mining properties, and I am sure I hope that his investments in that direction have been successful. If mining were reduced to an exact science, and was not subject to so many risks, and associated with so many unfulfilled expectations, it would be a marvellous industry in which to invest one’s money. I assure the Treasurer that the prizes of the mining industry are very few indeed. The honorable gentleman could count on his fingers the mining properties throughout the Commonwealth that are at the present time paying anything like large dividends to their shareholders. It is true that there is an enormous number of mines, that may be said to be existing between life and death, in connexion with which wages are being paid to thousands of men, and to which shareholders are regularly contributing, in the hope of ultimate advantage.
– There are more philanthropists in the mining industry than in any other.
– The honorable member for Barrier speaks with considerable knowledge on this subject. He is aware of the comfort which the mining industry has brought to thousands of people resident in the great city of Broken Hill, which he represents in this House.” Honorable members owe the presence of the honorable member in this Chamber, and I was going to say my presence in the Chamber also, to the existence of the great mines in that district. May I hope that for years to come the possibilities of the district may be considerably improved, and the honorable member for Barrier be here to represent it. There are no new developments of any great importance in the mining in dustry of the Commonwealth at the present time, and those who control mining operations must study the utmost economy in equipment and working cost in order to secure success. As the greater depths are reached on mining fields, we have to deal with refractory sulphide ores, which require for their successful treatment appliances included in these items, the increased cost of which, due to excessive duties, might represent the difference between profit and loss.
– The honorable member proposes a distinction between mining and other machinery. In the case, for instance, of an imported pump, who is to know in what industry it is going to be used ?
– The honorable member will remember that when we were dealing with the first Tariff, I succeeded in inducing the Committee to adopt a uniform rate of 15 per cent. That rate was subsequently altered in the Senate, and a compromise was arrived at, fixing -the duty at i2L per cent. I then saw the difficulty to which my honorable friend now refers, as well as the desirableness of a uniform rate in connexion with machinery. I was led to make the suggestion I made to-night, in view of the business-like address delivered by the honorable member for Boothby, who pointed out that while the Minister, in .common with many members of the Committee, desired to see subordinate industries assisted under the Tariff, the mining industry, in view of the disabilities and difficulties with which those engaged in it have to contend, is unable to afford to pay high duties on the articles included in these items.
– The difficulty is that we cannot tell the destination of much of this machinery.
– I admit that the honorable member for North Sydney has suggested a practical difficulty which did not at the moment occur tq me, or possibly to the honorable member for Boothby. The question is whether the Committee is prepared to deal fairly by manufacturers in affording them some additional consideration under the Tariff, in view of the proposals made to attach certain conditions requiring the payment of sufficiently high wages to the workers in these industries. We are entitled under those new conditions to assume that the old duty would not compensate for the new obligations placed upon the manufacturer.
– -What additional duty does the honorable member propose to give the manufacturer?
– I propose duties of 20 per cent. and 15 per cent.
– Does the honorable member call an increase of 2½ per cent. ample ?
– It means 7½ per cent. I have been quite frank with the Government in the desire to indicate to them the feeling of the Committee on this item, so far as I couldgauge it. The Treasurer knows that I have suggested this as a fair and reasonable compromise.
– Fair compromise !
– If the Treasurer expects the Committee to pass the high duties which he has proposed, in connexion with the mining industry, I assure him that if I am any judge of the feeling of the Committee, he is very much mistaken. I urge him to lessen the duration of the debate by accepting the compromise.
– I would not if I stopped here for fifty years. It is an absurd proposal.
.- I presented a petition this morning on this very subject. The honorable member tor Kooyong has presented the facts in connexion with the larger mining companies of the Commonwealth. My petition dealt with a very simple company at Stanley, which employs some fifty men, and has been struggling ever since its birth. The company could not get a thirty-horse power portable engine here, and had to send to the Old Country for it. It has just come out, and a 25 per cent. duty means the payment of a sum of£250 and the bursting up of the company. That is not the kind of legislation that we were sent here to pass. I will read one of the numerous letters which I have received -
Beech worth, 20th November, 1907.
My dear Brown, - Kindly do the best you can for us inthis matter. We have been staggering under innumerable difficulties from the start, and there have been six calls lately in quick succession. This 25 per cent. duty threatens to be a crusher. How can it be for the good of the country to discourage enterprise and to throw fifty men out of employment?
Certainly there is a Minister at the table, but the Minister who should be attending to these matters is nearly always absent when some important point is being discussed.
– That is not correct. He sits here more than does any other Minister.
– That may be but honorable members are asked to sit from 10.30 a.m. until all hours of the night. It is very difficult for a member to do his duty under these circumstances, especially when crushing imposts are put on nearly every industry that I have had any connexion with since I have been in Victoria. I understand that the Treasurer does not mean even to consider the suggestion of the honorable member for Kooyong. for duties of 20 per cent. and 15 per cent. Under the old Tariff the duty was 12½ per cent. on certain machinery, but portable and traction engines werefree. We know that they cannot be made here.
– Rubbish !
– They are not in this item.
– I know that, but I understand that a general discussion is now being allowed on the items 162. 163, and 164, which the “Treasurer proposes to group in another way. The honorable member for Kooyong very wisely suggested that instead of using the expression “ n.e.i.,” which is a drag-net of the worst possible character, the individual articles should be specified. I desire on this occasion to place upon record the necessities of the small mine which I have mentioned.. To my knowledge, there are hundreds of mines in Victoria in a similar position. 1 said in this House some time ago that certain proposed legislation would diminish mining investment in this country, and that that diminution would mean a loss of employment for a very large number of men. Honorable members sitting in the Ministerial corner were good enough to jeer at the observation, and to say that they had heard it before. They will hear it still oftener if these heavy duties are to be put on struggling industries. The mining interest made this country. It is infinitely more important than is even the woollen interest, to which we have given a duty of something like 40 per cent. We have also given large protection to the hat manufacturers. Under a special line in the Tariff a rebate of the full duty paid is allowed on “ machinery and parts thereof, used in the manufacture of fibrous materials and felt, and felt hats, when installed for use in a woollen mill or hat factory.” If those industries are allowed a rebate of the whole of the duty paid on their machinery when it is erected, we can surely afford to do the same for the great mining interest of the Commonwealth. I believe that that would give a greater impetus to the mining industry , than would, any other legislation which we could pass. 1 shall be prepared on the next item to make a proposal by which some of the money, at any rate, may be saved to the company at Stanley, and to assist the honorable member for Kooyong in reducing this duty within reasonable limits. In the old days the late Sir Graham Berry, who over and over again rallied his party in this very House against overwhelming odds, told the .farmers of Ballan and Bacchus Marsh that no higher duties than 10 per cent, would ever be required, and that when the cities had accepted the policy of protection he would see that the farmers were considered in this connexion. Well, we know how little benefit the farmers have received from protection. In the amendment which I have foreshadowed, I hope that I shall do something to assist the great mining interests of Australia.
.- This may be called the miners’ “ night-out,” seeing that “so many special pleas have been made on behalf of the mining industry. When the honorable member for Kooyong was speaking I asked, by way of interjection, why any difference should be made between mining and other machinery, and he promised to inform me later. It is true that the honorable member explained why the duty should be reduced in the case of mining machinery, but he said nothing about the machinery required for other industries. No one denies the benefits of mining to Australia; but a similar special plea could be made on behalf of many other industries, for instance, saw-milling. The man who goes out into the back-blocks, and there prepares the timber for sale in the towns, performs work just as important as that in any other industry ; and I could, therefore, urge that the machinery required by him is necessary to the well-being of the community, and ought not to be unduly taxed. The Tariff Commission was appointed with the object, amongst others, of assisting the engineering industry out of its difficulties. In Queensland and other places the industry was found to be suffering very much owing to the anomaly presented by the duties on the raw material and on the finished article. Hundreds of men were out of work, and it was considered necessary that something should be done to place the industry on a sounder footing. There may be a reduction made ,in the particular duty under discussion ; “but I do not think it right that a distinction should be made between industries. There are many mines in my electorate, but I make no special plea on their behalf.
– Is not a duty of 20 per cent, sufficient?
– That is another question ; at present I am contending that all industries should be placed on the same footing.
– Does not mining take precedence of all those minor industries ?
– I think not, seeing that I have heard the honorable member earnestly advocating the claims of agriculture and other primary industries.
– I am very loth to prolong the discussion, but I am compelled to do so at this late hour, in view of the fact that the mining industry is so important in the State of which T am one of the representatives. I am altogether opposed to the duty on mining machinery being made so high as the Government propose; and I do not think it is satisfactory to this House that the Government have proposed such high duties when they are willing to greatly reduce them in Committee. The Tariff should have been fully and fairly considered beforehand. The Government know the difficulty there was in fixing this duty on mining machinery in 1902, when the. Government proposed a duty of 25 per cent., and Parliament decided to make it 12 J per cent:
– If the duty had been made 25 per cent, it would have been a great thing for Australia.
– Mining machinery, especially that necessary to deal with refractory ores, is, in many cases, not made in Australia, and many kinds- of machinery from other countries are preferred by those who have to work it. To obtain gold and other minerals machineryis, of course, necessary. If the gold-fields were all alluvial diggings, and men could work without machinery, there would be a different tale to tell ; but, especially in Western Australia, nearly all the gold is in reefs, and much scientific knowledge is necessary for its extraction. Machinery is as necessary to obtain gold from ore as are the tools of trade, of any artisan. It it generally regarded as impolitic to tax raw materials required by manufacturers; and I” .regard the machinery necessary for the treatment of refractory ores as really the raw material of the industry. Without machinery it is impossible to obtain gold; and it does not seem to me to be wise to place any difficulties or impediments in the way of procuring the necessary machinery. We all desire to encourage and stimulate manufactures, which afford employment for large numbers of people, who are consumers; and we desire Australia to be self-contained as far as possible. But we must be careful not to “ kill the goose that lays the golden egg.” We must be careful that, in trying to help one industry, we do not injure another. I am afraid, however, that the proposed heavy taxation on this necessary adjunct - the necessary tool - of gold-mining will very seriously hamper the industry. It is not every mining centre which is successful. In very many cases mining enterprises are unsuccessful. Those who are speculative and enterprising embark upon gold mining because of a great reward which may be in store for them; but a great many of them lose their money. It is not right to say to an enterprising man who desires to embark ‘ on this speculative work which, if successful, has such great result to the country and himself, “ The materials by which alone you can win this reward for yourself and your country, shall be taxed, notwithstanding the fact that your venture may be unsuccessful.” That, I think, is not defensible. I do not advocate it, but I think it would be more reasonable to place a tax on the product obtained, rather than put difficulties in the way of obtaining it. Very many of those who embark on gold mining get nothing; while others are very successful. Those who get nothing have not only lost their capital, but have also had to contribute large sums to the revenue, whereas the successful ones have not perhaps had to pay more to the revenue. I think that to impose a burden on a great industry is a suicidal policy. Why should those who embark on gold mining and mining generally, have burdens placed upon their industry for the benefit of another class of persons who have the same object in view, viz., to promote the welfare of the country? After all, mining is to a very large extent a wages question ; it is a workers’ question, as five-sixths of the value of the gold obtained is paid away in wages and other local expenses. Those who embark on mining, whether they are successful or not, employ an immense amount of labour. Those who are unsuccessful, equally with those who are successful, are employers, and we know that in any case the employes have to be paid. If honorable members place extra burdens on the mining tools, for that is what they are, they will prevent prospecting “and check enterprise. Gold mining and mining generally is a splendid industry, because it helps every one, and does no one else any injury. Many industries are, in a way, in competition with other industries ; but that is not so with the mining industry. It helps every other industry, and injures none. Take, for instance, the Kalgoorlie, Broken Hill, and Murchison fields. At one time, these were uninhabited wildernesses, but now, owingto the mining industry, they are great hives of industry, supporting large populations, and affording excellent markets for all the producers of Australia. If it were proposed to tax only those who are making a profit out of the industry, there might be a little more sense in the proposal. But it is proposed to tax those who are unsuccessful, those who are struggling, and those who are losing their money equally with those who are successful. I do not see why any other industry should be treated in a better manner than the mining industry. In this Tariff-, we see proposals for remitting taxation in regard to the woollen and hat industries, but no proposal to do the same thing in regard to the mining industry-. Does any one dare say that the hat industry is as important to Australia as is the mining industry? There is no reason why any industry - I do not care what it is - should bc treated in . a better or more liberal manner than the great mining industry. I think that honorable members will do a great wrong if they hamper the mining industry. I hope that this desire to assist one section of the community, and not the most important section either, at the expense of a far more important industry will be unsuccessful. I would vote for the duty as it is now if I had the opportunity, but I shall certainly vote for the proposal which was outlined by the honorable member for Kooyong, and I think that even then we will have placed a far larger burden on this most important industry than is justifiable.
– It is very strange to hear honorable members pleading so hard for the poor miner.I represent the greatest mining district on this earth.
– I represent a district which is permanent. Year by year the population increases, the product increases, and the power of intelligence increases. They are the most intellectual people on this earth else they would not have voted for me to represent them. I have faith in the young Australian. Honorable members who sit in opposition have no faith in this country. In their opinion things can be made splendidly everywhere except in Australia. They love to wear and use goods which have been made out of Australia. I am making this remark in the best spirit of Christianity. A number of free-trade miners have come to me and urged me to vote for the imposition of high duties so that their sons may have a chance of getting something else to do than engage in mining. Many and many a time I have heard the Honorable Frank Hurd, of Toledo, pleading at Washington for free-trade, and saying, “ You cannot make this or that in America.” I have often heard the Honorable . William McKinley say: “Give us a chance.” I have also heard Garfield say : “ Give us a chance.” Honorable members have never given the Australians a chance to prove what they can do. How can the chance be secured if they do not take some step to stimulate industries, and give encouragement to people to invest their capital in the development of manufactures. I desire to encourage Australians to aspire to be something more than “ hewers of wood and drawers of water.” The primary producer requires to possess no very great amount of intellect. He has merely to sow the seed and Nature does the rest. Before Whitney invented the cotton gin in the southern States of America, cotton was valueless there. Yet a blackfellow was producing it- he was the primary producer.
– I think that my remarks are germane to the question. As soon as the cotton gin was invented, cotton became an article of great commercial value. In exactly the same way we cannot expect capitalists to -invest their money in industrial enterprises if we offer them no encouragement. Some honorable members have said that the mining companies in Australia send their orders for machinery to Europe. But do they adopt that course because we cannot manufacture it in the Commonwealth? Why is it that orders for mining , machinery are so frequently sent to Europe? It is simply because the mining managers wish to* get commission upon the orders.
– That is not a fair statement to make.
– The honorable member is very green in politics. He is in his swaddling clothes. I know a little more than he does about this question of commission. When I was in Western Australia a few years ago, mining managers repeatedly told me that they would place their orders for machinery with Australian manufacturers but for the fact that they could obtain a higher commission elsewhere.
– Give us a single instance.
– The honorable memberfor Fremantle is also green in politics. I am speaking of a matter of which I have absolute knowledge. I have no objection to the payment of commission upon orders. The practice is associated with almost every business enterprise in Australia. But I do hope that the Treasurer will stick to his guns and thus afford our Australian industries - and the iron industry in particular - a chance of proving that they are able to manufacture the best machinery in the world. Why should they not do so, seeing that we have the best managerial talent available? i suppose that I own one of the biggest antimony mines in the world, and I hope shortly to erect upon it machinery made in Australia.
– Where is it situated.
– Its name is the “ Grizzly Anaconda.” I have more faith in this country and its resources than have many persons who were born here. Some honorable members who are possessed of affluence, have been singularly blessed in Australia. In short, it is a country which they ought never to forget.
– They have not seen other countries, and consequently do not appreciate how good a place Australia is.
– I trust that the Treasurer will adhere to his proposals.
.- I think that the Treasurer has acted wisely in remodelling this portion of the Tariff.
But, to my mind, he has not gone far enough ‘iri’- the direction of making a number of articles dutiable under the general Tariff at 5 per cent, and admitting them free under the Tariff for the United Kingdom. So far as the engineering industry is concerned, I maintain that its chief requirement is a market for its manufactures. That market is provided by other manufacturing industries, which need to employ machinery, and by the big field of mining enterprise. If we study the interests of all these industries, we shall be doing the right thing. The old Victorian Tariff, despite the operation of heavy protective duties, and a big free list, yielded a large revenue. One of the difficulties about an n.e.i. item is this: When we are framing a Tariff, we place a number of articles in the free list. But if, in the course of years, fresh inventions are made in other parts of the world, and they are necessary for the mining industry, they are compelled on being imported to pay duty at the n.’e.i. rate. That is one of the ways in which the mining and other industries are unnecessarily handicapped. It ought to be possible to make an arrangement to prevent that kind of thing, without injuring the protectionist policy of the country. This is, without intending to be, distinctly a revenue item. We have in various parts of the Commonwealth, notably in New South Wales, a considerable number of mines in which, though the formations are large, the ores are of a very .low grade. When machinery is invented that enables these low-grade ores to be profitably treated, the result is to create a market for numbers of people who are not connected with mining at all. Ar Cobar, £50,000 per annum is paid by one company for ordinary supplies to its mine. It employs 700 men, all of whose wants have to be attended to. In this way mining creates a market .for numbers of other industries. Consequently, whatever can be done to assist in its development is beneficial to the whole country. We have a good deal of inventive talent in the Commonwealth, but the world is larger than Australia, and in the United States of America, and other countries, busy brains are constantly devising improvements in the handling of large bodies of ore. Fresh processes and machinery are patented, and these cannot be made in Australia. It is not a question of asking for favours, but of not unnecessarily taxing an industry that is important to very many other industries. It is extraordinary to me that some honorable members will insist on looking at this matter solely from an engineer’s point of view. I never heard of an engineering manager who would admit that he could not make anything. Honorable members have seen some correspondence which has taken place between the manager of the Cobar Copper Mine and the manager of the Otis Engineering Company, a very fine firm that has done extremely good work. Mi. Blakemore challenged the manager of the Otis Company to say that he could make a particular machine. If honorable members look at the reply, they will see that the Otis Company’s manager practically admitted that he could not make that machine. He said : “ If the plans are supplied to us, we can make it.” But what is the fact? The machine in question is made in the United States of America. “ I am assured personally by Mr. Blakemore that when the company bought the machine it tried to get the plans, but the American firm wanted £500 for copies of them. So that it is very easy to say : “ We will make this machine if you give us the plans,” when the plans cannot be procured except at a prohibitive price. These are facts that cannot be overlooked. The question of making many of these machines is simply one of money. The shareholders of mining companies will not permit their money to be wasted. Hence it is that a considerable number of items ought to be put upon the free list. There is one machine in particular, the Babcock and Wilcox tubular boiler, which should be put upon the free list. The Otis Company say that these boilers can be made here, and it is urged that if the duty were sufficiently high, the patentees would make them here. But that is a speculative thing. It would be an excellent thing if the Babcock and Wilcox patentees would do their work in Australia, but, in the meantime, their boilers are required for mining and other purposes. I am opposed to putting a tax unnecessarily upon industries. When matters affecting city firms have cropped up. it has been noticeable how much consideration has been given to their raw material, but honorable members do not seem to be disposed to pay so much attention to the machinery of our mining industry, which stands in the same relation to it as does, raw material to many of our city industries. Mining is yielding ,£24,000,000 a vear to this country. . An immense number of mines employ labour, and get little or no return. It is an industry that develops the country. If our Northern Territory is developed, we shall have to encourage mining there. Let us have a scientific Tariff, under which those goods which can be made in Australia will be protected, whilst those which cannot be made here will be put upon the free list. I am utterly opposed to industries being needlessly taxed. There are certain kinds of machinery that are made perhaps by only one firm in the world. It would not pay to make them here. It does not pay to make in Australia a machine which, perhaps, is only required by one mine. The question is whether it is reasonable to expect certain lines, to be made here. I wish to impress upon honorable members the fact that instead of endeavouring to make it possible for engineering firms ro manufacture machinery required only in exceptional cases, we should seek to encourage the development of other industries that provide a market for their general manufactures and will keep them going. The honorable member for Kooyong has referred to the imports of the Great Cobar Company, and some honorable members have said that since it is an English corporation if is more likely than are local companies to import its machinery. The manager of the Otis Engineering Company, in a letter addressed to honorable members, has asserted that some mining managers select from catalogues the machinery they require. The suggestion that machinery is selected at random in this way shows that the gentleman in question knows very little about mining. The mine manager who1 adopted such tactics would not long retain his position. Mining managers and mine engineers, before placing an order for a machine, know exactly what it is capable of doing. The great English companies have inspectors, who travel all over the world and examine every new mining invention that is likely to be useful in the development of their property. They are never influenced by mere ex parte statements. Many of our mining propositions to-day - and more especially those employing the most labour - work on a very narrow margin of profit, and it is absolutely necessary for them to use the most up-to-date machinery. It has been stated that substitutes for patents are often employed ; but, as a matter of fact, the sales of a machine are in many instances due largely to a new patent that has been attached to it, and substitutes are generally inferior. The Treasurer is on the right track so far as the general framing of the item is concerned, but we should enlarge the scope of paragraph a. Later items covering machines and machinery are unlimited in their scope, and I think the mining industry should be taxed as lightly as possible. As has been said, we cannot protect the miner; we cannot control the prices of metals. Unfortunately, the prices of many metals have fallen, and a number of mines have been shut down. In my own electorate, the Nymagee Company is leaving untouched a great field of low grade ore, because in present circumstances it does not pay to work it. It is simply picking out the higher grade ores, but if it had railway communication, it would work a larger area and, with improved machinery, would treat ore that is now being passed over. A high duty on mining machinery would prevent the working of low grade propositions, and the engineering industry would be deprived of many orders that it would otherwise receive. I know something of the mining industry, and have no hesitation in saying that mining managers prefer, if possible, to obtain their machinery in Australia, since they can have it made under their own personal supervision. I have known imported high-priced engines on arrival to be found unsuitable. Experiences pf that kind have caused most mining managers to endeavour, as far as possible, to obtain their machinery locally. I think that it would be well to add to paragraph a Babcock and Wilcox tubular boilers - the evidence is that they are not made here - and the Connersville blower, which is patented. With those additions, the paragraph, so far as I am concerned, might be allowed to pass. I wish the tax on the mining industry to be as light as possible consistent with our desire that the engineering industry shall be so protected that it will be able to make most of the machinery that we require.
.- I hope that the Treasurer will agree to progress being reported.
– No. If we do not carry this item to-night, there will be no duty on machines and machinery of this kind.
– We can put it 011 again.
– The Department cannot hold anything back. Another point is that we have done nothing to-day.
– We havesat from11 a. m. till11 p.m.
– But we must make a fair advance. We have had nothing but talk to-day.
– I do not wish to put the Treasurer in an awkward position by leaving the blank unfilled to-night.
– But the old. resolu tion is still in force.
– No, it has been struck out.
– While there is something to be said for the new proposals submitted by the Government, inasmuch as they reduce the rates of duty on some machinery, I take great exception to a dragnet arrangement such as that in paragraph b, whereby everything not specifically mentioned is dutiable as n.e.i. This classification, while probably extremely convenient to the Customs House authorities, is very dangerous to the public interest. It means that everything for which we do not specifically provide, including new processes and inventions, is to be dutiable at high rates. In the district which I represent there are miles of arid country, containing large quantities of low-grade ores. This country is useless for pastoral or agricultural purposes, its future depending upon its mining possibilities ; and its ore reserves cannot be exploited profitably except by the use of the most up-to-date machinery. When 3 per cent. ores have to be dealt with, nothing but the best machinery and the most economical processes will make operations profitable. At the present time the Broken Hill mines are getting fairly good prices for their metals ; but if there were a fall in lead, many of the properties there could not continue to be worked unless every effort were made to reduce the cost of production, and that can be reduced only by employing the latest machinery, or by cutting down wages. We have heard about the16,000 men interested in the engineering trade whom these duties will benefit; but over 120,000 men are employed in the mines, and they are as a rule fairly well paid.
– What about’ the tributers of Ballarat?
– Unfortunately, they are badly paid; but that is greatly their own fault.
– The duties on mining machinery will not improve their positions.
– That is so. Next to the agricultural and pastoral industries, mining is the greatest industry in Australia, and those engaged in it cannot obtain any benefits from a protective policy. It may be argued that if you establish industries you create consumers for the produce of the farmer; but that does not hold true of the mining industry. The output of our mines has to be sold in the markets of the world. While it may be well to consider the proposals of the Government from the stand-point of the engineering industry, it must not be forgotten that the mining industry in its various ramifications gives more employment than all our factories. But if you go through the manufacturing establishments in Melbourne, you will find that, although their market is protected by high duties, most of the machinery which they use has been imported free of duty. The manufacturers say, “We must have the best machinery, and what we need is not in large demand, so that it will not pay to make it locally.” The same thing is to be said for the machinery requirements of the miner and of the agriculturalist. I regret that those who have expressed so much anxiety for the interests of the miner, and advocate the reduction of duties on mining machinery, slavishly followed the Government in voting for high duties on agricultural machinery and the implements which are the farmer’s tools of trade. The farmer, like the miner, especially in poor country, must have the latest and best appliances for the saving of labour and expense. But while I feel bound to draw attention to this inconsistency, I should not be justified in voting out of pique for high duties on mining machinery. The honorable member for Darwin has told us that the miners want openings for their sons. That was a stock protectionist argument when I was a boy. Many years ago the miners of Victoria were being told that new avenues of employment would be provided for their sons. The miners believed that statement, but it is a sad commentary upon it to have to say that during a decade no less than 120,000 of the prime young men of the State had to leave it to enter the mining industry in other States. I should mention further that by some of the duties imposed we are creating industries that do not give a great deal of employment to labour. It is not much consolation to the head of a family to know that his daughters may find work in a factory if his sons are obliged to walk about the streets looking for work.
On this item I propose to vote for duties of 20 and 15 per cent. I confess that I do not like the n.e.i. division as at present framed. It affords a cloak for a lot of sin in the shape of high duties. The finest machinery invented by the most ingenious brain, if not definitely set out in one or other of the items of the Tariff comes under the n.e.i. provision, and must pay the highest duty. I would much prefer that all articles subject to the highest duties should be specifically defined, and that the lowest duties should apply to the n.e.i. division. If that course were followed in the arrangement of the Tariff, new appliances intended to reduce the cost of treating our low-grade . ores might be admitted free, or at a duty of not more than 5 per cent. I will not take up time in referring to the burden imposed upon the mining industry by the duties levied under the old Tariff. We can give no relief to those who have already imported their machinery, and while we might protect industries carrying on recognised lines of manufacture, we should permit the introduction of new inventions at the lowest duty possible.
– This is the most important item in the Tariff, and in the circumstances I think that the Government should consent to adjourn at this hour.
– I venture to say that the haste with which the Ministry are pushing this matter through is absolutely indecent. If I remember rightly, when we dealt with the first Tariff, the duties proposed on mining machinery occupied the attention of the Committee for nearly a week. I am in favour of the proposal contained in paragraph a of this item, but I wish to include an additional article. I wish to have hot-air engines included.
– They are very easily made.
– That may be so, but it is complained that the demand for them in the Commonwealth is not sufficiently large to make it worth the while of any one to manufacture them, otherwise I should not ask the Committee to make an exception in their favour”.
– They are extremely simple in construction.
– Quite so, but they are engines of small power. They do not compete with ordinary engines.
They are used, I understand, only in places where it does not pay to use an ordinary engine, and because of their simplicity and cheapness. They are used for special purposes, by agriculturalists in the far-back parts.
– Are they much in use; and in what parts?
– Yes; iri many parts. Two or three honorable members of this House use them, because of their cheapness . “and portableness. They serve the purposes of a windmill for pumping water in places where a windmill cannot be used. There is not sufficient demand for them to make it worth while to manufacture them here.
– Will the honorable member help me through with” this item to-night if I agree to his suggestion?
– If that is the case I will sit down. I decline to make a bargain of that sort with the honorable member.
– No protectionist in this House desires to injure the mining industry. The honorable member for Grey twitted honorable members with slavishly following the Government ii regard to harvesters and other agricultural implements, but there is a great difference between them and mining machinery. It has been proved that we can make any kind of agricultural machinery and implements’ in Australia. It has not been equally demonstrated that we can make all kinds of mining machinery, but we can m a;ke most kinds of mining machinery. The honorable member’s suggestion was a wise one - that we ought. to come to some conclusion as to what mining machinery we cannot make in Australia, and what is covered by patents, and put those in a line by themselves. I for one am willing to allow them to come in free.
– Let the Government supply the list.
– That should be done by those who are asking that these duties should be reduced. The Government seem to have come to the conclusion that all classes of mining machinery enumerated by them can be made in Australia.
– They say that a horserake cannot be made here, and put it on the free list.
– The honorable member for Perth, as a member of the Tariff Commission, should be able to give valuable information as to what classes of mining machinery cannot and will not be made here for some time. I am willing to reduce the duties in this case, but not to 15 per cent. Rather than vote for 15 per cent., we ought to allow the whole of the mining machinery to come in free, because that would be purely a revenue duty. I do not object to a 20 per cent, duty in the two columns, so that mine-owners, if they could not get it here, should be able to get the best machinery either from the Continent or Great Britain. If those who object to the proposed duty draw up a list of mining machinery that cannot be made in Australia, I promise to vote for admitting it free.
– And what about the other ?
– In the case of the other machinery that we can make, I shall be satisfied with a duty of 20 per cent, in both columns, but I shall not vote for a 20 per cent, duty in the general Tariff, and then agree to a proposal for a 15 per cent, duty in the second column, on the argument that we should give a preference to Great Britain. While recognising that the mining industry employs a large number of hands, we must give some consideration to the engineering industry, where there is room for enormous expansion. It is all very well to say that there are so many thousand men engaged in mining, but many of those are employed where there is no machinery of any consequence at all used. In the case of some mines producing enormous quantities of minerals, huge dividends are paid, and the duties proposed by the Government will not hurt them at all. If the matter is narrowed down in” that way, it will be found that the engineering trade gives far more employment than does the mining industry in those cases where machinery is used.
– In a number of mines, Australian machinery is used, and it is good machinery, too.
– That is quite true. Many miners who are tributing at Ballarat and on other fields use little or no machinery, but they are counted among the thousands of miners quoted here tonight. A good deal of first-class mining machinery is made in South Australia. I have seen some splendid work of that kind turned out in Australia, and I am not going to vote for a duty that will shut up the whole of the foundries that are making this class of machinery.
– They are alreadyflourishing with the present duty.
– They are not: flourishing. A few years ago there were thousands of men employed at South Melbourne in the iron trades. How many areemployed there to-day? Last year I was in a building devoted to experimentsin the iron industry, where something like- 600 men were once employed, but not oneman was to be seen there. In another place, where 400 or 500 men were at one time employed, no one was to be foundWhile prepared to assist the mining industry, I think it is only fair to extend! some consideration to the engineering industry. The mining industry will not beprejudicially affected to anything like th& extent which honorable members have attempted to show, even though we imposethe duties proposed by the Government ; because, as a matter of fact, there is only a very limited class of mining machinery which cannot be made here. There arethe engineering works of Martin and Company, Forwood and Company, and May Brothers, in South Australia, the last mentioned of which make a large quantity of mining machinery, including some recent inventions suitable to the country. In Victoria and New South Wales, thereare other engineering firms, and in Queensland there is a firm which used to make a large amount of first-class machinery.
– Some of which went toWestern Australia.
– That is so. It has been said that portable engines arenot in such demand as to justify their manufacture here. Only the other day,, however, I saw a magnificent piece of machinery in the shape of a road roller whichhad been manufactured here ; and weknow that for this class there is, I suppose, the least demand of any. The honorable member for Barrier asked what was the price that had to be paid for this road? roller; and I admit that the price washigh, owing to the limited demand. For mining machinery, ‘ however, there will bea larger demand in the future than therehas been in the past. If it could be arranged by the House to reduce the duty to 20 per cent, in both columns, I should* be prepared to support a proposal to that end. I am not prepared, however* to votefor a duty of 20 per cent, in- the general Tariff, and then to give a preference toGreat Britain. My idea is to start with
– I move -
That the amendment be amended by inserting after the word “ Economizers “ the words “Hot Air Engines.”
Those engines are in a class by themselves, and do not come into competition in any way with engines made in Australia.
– They are about the simplest engines ever . made.
– That is quite true; but, owing to the extremely limited demand, there is no inducement to local manufacture, or they would have been made here long ago; and in New Zealand and other places hot air engines are on the free list. If these engines were being produced here, I should not propose any differentiation.
.- I am sorry that the Government are not prepared to consent to an adjournment.
– But if we adjourn, it will not be possible to collect the duties to-morrow.
– I am sure that if the Government were to move the re-insertion of the duty with the idea of resuming the discussion to-morrow, no objection would be raised. We have been here since 1 1 o’clock this morning, and it is only fair that at nearly midnight we should be permitted to go home. I move -
That the Chairman do now leave the chair.
– I can see no possible reason why any distinction should be made between hot-air engines and other engines. Their construction is extremely simple.
– Are they made here at all?
– I do not think so, nor do I expect that with a duty of 12½ per cent. they will be made here. No one expects a revenue duty to encourage in any material way local manufactures. Any : reason which can be urged for putting hotair engines on the free list is, in my opinion, a ground why no duty should be imposed on any class of engine. The honorable member for Parramatta was not correct when he said that hot-air engines do not enter into competition with locallymade engines, because I know that they compete with oil engines and windmills which are made here.
– The honorable member is quite wrong. Hot-air engines are only used where a windmill cannot be used.
– I knowof my own knowledge that persons are using hot-air engines in places where a windmill could be used. But same persons prefer to use a hot-air engine, because in their localities it is more reliable “than is a windmill. Wind cannot always be got in a country district as well as it can be obtained, for instance, in Parliament House. For that reason some persons prefer to use a hot-air engine. So far as I know, it is a very good engine, but as regards difficulty of manufacture there is no difference between it and any other class of engine. I trust that it will be treated in just the same way as other engines.
– I am prepared to admit all that the honorable member for South Sydney has said. There is not sufficient demand to make it worth while for any one to manufacture hot-air engines. They are not made here at the present time, and I am told on the best authority by those who use them that they do not, and are not likely to, compete with any other kind of engine.
– I hope that the Committee will agree to the amendment of. the honorable member for Parramatta. The hot-air engine has very small power. It does not enter into competition with any large engine power.
– The cost of a hot-air engine runs into nearly£200 sometimes.
– The only purpose for which I know it is used is lifting water but of shallow wells and tanks for watering stock. As a rule, windmills are used for that purpose, but where these are not suitable, usually a hot-air engine is called in to do the lighter and easier kind of work. Where heavy work is required to be done, a hot-air engine is out of the question. It is not sufficiently strong and reliable to compete with oil or steam power. So far as I know, the only hot-air machines that enter into competition with other engines are Ericsson’s machines, which are turned out in fairly large quantities in America, I think, and which previously were on the free list or subject to a low duty. The proposal of the Minister, if accepted, means that farmers and squatters will have to install a steam or oil engine to do the work which the cheaper forms of engine have been doing. The great point is that hot-air engines are not made in Australia.
– Order ! Honorable members are conversing around me in such loud tones that I cannot hear what the honorable member is saying. I again ask them to discontinue their conversations.
– That ought to be an indication to the Minister that it is time to report progress. Certainly the Committee is not in a condition to hear a question argued out in a reasonable way, and therefore I content myself with stating that I shall support the amendment.
.- The last speaker has really upset the position. From the remarks of the honorable member for Parramatta one would have thought that a hot-air engine was a cheap engine worth about 25s. when, as a matter of fact, the cost runs as high as £200. I am in favour of putting the £200 hot-air engine on the same footing as any other engine.
Question - That the words “Hot- Air Engines “ proposed to be inserted be so inserted (Mr. Joseph Cook’s amendment) - put. The Committee divided.
Majority … … 9
Question so resolved in the negative.
Amendment of the amendment negatived.
Amendment (by Mr. Spence) proposed -
That the amendment be amended by inserting in paragraph A the words “ Babcock and Wilcox tubular boilers.”
– There are the very strongest reasons why this amendment should not be adopted. The representative of the Austral Otis Engineering Company, when questioned about the tubular boilers manufactured by Messrs. Babcock and Wilcox, stated that they had made such boilers in their works in Melbourne. He added that if a sufficiently heavy duty were imposed, Messrs. Babcock and Wilcox would either establish works in Australia, or would open negotiations with a concern such as that which he represented, with a view to seeing whether their boilers could not be locally manufactured. Similar evidence was given by iron-founders in other parts of the Commonwealth.
– In this instance we have a repetition of what we frequently witness in our Tariff debates. A plea has only to be set up that in future some article may possibly be manufactured locally, and it is at once seized upon as a sufficient justification for the imposition of as high a rate of duty as the Committee can be induced to sanction. There are boilermakers in Australia who say that they can produce these particular boilers. What they really wish to do is to compel the people to use an inferiour boiler simply because it is of Australian make.
– Why should it be inferior ?
– Because there are patent rights attached to the tubular boilers manufactured by Messrs. Babcock and Wilcox. That is why these boilers cannot Be manufactured here. Only the other day, in connexion with the erection of the huge works at Lithgow, Mr. Sandford had to import Messrs. Babcock and Wilcox’s boilers.
– If there are not patent rights attached to them, why are they not manufactured in Australia?
– There are patent rights.
– The patent rights to which the honorable member alludes expired a few years ago.
– I am surprised that the Committee should be misled by these specious arguments. The proceeding is on a pari with what was done when the former Tariff was under consideration. An endeavour was then - made to place tanning machines upon the free list, and we were told that because a certain individual was producing an obsolete machine, all the science and skill of the world should be excluded from the Commonwealth. I trust that the Committee will place these articles on the free list.
.In the quotation which he made, the honorable member for Bendigo completely gave away his whole case. He stated that the Austral Otis Engineering Company declared that they had made these boilers. He then went on to say that Messrs. Babcock and Wilcox themselves were prepared to come here and manufacture them. The fact is that if we could make them here, all the engineering firms would be manufacturing them, because they are so superior to other boilers. But we cannot make them in the Commonwealth, because of the patent rights attached to them.
– If the honorable member will look at item 183, he will see that the tubes are admitted free.
– That does not get over the patent rights.
– Those rights have expired. Other firms are manufacturing these boilers in Sydney.
– I am aware that tubular boilers are made within the Commonwealth, and have been manufactured here for a very long time. But Messrs. Babcock and Wilcox’s boilers cannot be made in Australia because of the patent rights attached to them.
– Is the honorable member sure of that?
– Yes. The evidence taken before the Tariff Commission proves it.
– It does not.
– If our manufacturers were at liberty to make them, why would they say that Messrs. Babcock and Wilcox themselves would come here and manufacture them?
– I have seen similar boilers in Sydney.
– The persons who desire to obtain the best article will have these boilers, irrespective of their cost.
– The officers of the Department state that the patent rights have expired.
– I am aware that the Minister declared just now that the tubes were admitted free. That, however, does not dispose of my objection. They are certainly not being made here now.
– A duty of 12½ per cent. will not permit them to be made here; that is a certainty.
– That is not the reason given by the firm. They did not mention the smallness of the duty as a reason why the boilers were not manufactured here. They stated that if a higher duty were imposed Babcock and Wilcox would make them in this country. I think that the whole of the evidence goes to prove that the boilers cannot be made here by the local makers, no matter what the duty may be. They would not be allowed to make them even if they were capable of doing so.
– It has been suggested that because other boilers have been made in Australia under a duty of 12½ per cent., therefore boilers built on the principle of Babcock and Wilcox’s boilers ought also to be made here at that duty. But I wish to point out in that relation that on Cornish and Lancashire boilers there is a very heavy freight charge. They are very bulky. But the tubes of Babcock and Wilcox boilers can be taken to pieces and packed separately, when they occupy much less space than do either Lancashire or Cornish boilers.
– How are they fitted together at this end?
– The tubes are packed separately, and are put into position when the boilers are erected.
– Are they screwed in?
– The point is that they come out separately. There is proportionately, therefore, a much lower freight charge on boilers of that type.
– What percentage does the honorable member think that the freight charge bears to the value?
– There is a considerable difference in this respect between Babcock and Wilcox’s boilers and other boilers. I wish to observe also that those honorable members who state that Babcock and Wilcox are the only people who manufacture this particular type of boiler are mistaken. At the Sydney Show last Easter I saw a boiler made, I think, by an English firm named Hornsby, which was exactly like the Babcock and Wilcox boiler.
– Has the honorable member seen the two kinds of boiler together?
– I have taken a great interest in this matter, and at all big works where I have had an opportunity of inquiring, I have asked the people in authority their opinion as to theBabcock and Wilcox and other boilers. Amongst those who are acquainted with different types of boilers there is much controversy as to whether the Babcock and Wilcox boiler is better than others. A number of people prefer other types. On the other hand, I admit that I have met a great many people” who say that the Babcock and Wilcox boiler is very much superior. But if the amendment now under consideration were carried we should be in this extraordinary position- that Babcock and Wilcox would get their boilers in free, whilst if any other firm put on the market a similar type of boiler duty would have to be paid. That would be a most ridiculous position for any Parliament to take up. To exempt the manufacture of one particular firm would be a most unfortunate thing to do.
– Our object could be achieved if we could define the type of boiler.
– If we are to have any exemption at all, it should be for the type. But let us see what that would mean. Are we to exempt a type of boiler that is alleged to be superior, and encourage the Australian manufacture of an inferior type? That would not be a wise thing to do. I think that a duty of 12½ per cent. would lead to no likelihood of the manufacture in Australia of those boilers that do not admit of a very heavy freight charge. The older type of boiler can be manufactured here largely because of the heavy freight. But once you get a boiler that could be put into a small compass for packing purposes, a duty of 12½ per cent. - which would be merely a revenue duty, and would not encourage manufacture - would be useless. Therefore, it is not wonderful that these newer kinds of boiler are not manufactured here. I understand, from the Chairman of the Tariff Commission, however, that some have been manufactured in Australia.
– They have not.
– That is what we have been informed.
– I am going to correct the Chairman of the Commission.
– Anyhow, that does not set aside the argument I am advancing. As a duty of 12½ per cent. has not been sufficient to encourage the manufacture of the particular class of boiler which does not bear the same freight charges as other types do, it would be a very unwise thing to differentiate in favour of this type.
– The honorable member for Parramatta worked himself into a state of violent indignation when it was stated that the patent rights of the. Babcock and! Wilcox boiler had run out. I understand that the Tariff Commission took certain evidence regarding this matter.
– Which confirms all that I said.
– I have been to the Library and tried to lay my hand upon a book bearing upon this matter, but have not been able to find it. But I believe that the patent rights ran out many years since.
– They had not run out on the 15th February, 1906, according to the evidence of Mr. Rigby, the manager of the Austral Otis Engineering Company.
– Is it not possible that he may have made a mistake in that regard? I am quoting from the records of the Patent Office in Melbourne, and can assure honorable members that my statement is correct. If I am unable to confirm it later in the day, I shall apologize to the honorable member for Parramatta ; but I object to his describing as a specious argument, or an attempt to mislead the Committee, a statement made in good faith.
– I rise to a point of order. The honorable member for Laanecoorie has accused the honorable member for Parramatta of attempting to mislead the Committee.
– I have not; I was simply quoting the honorable member for
Parramatta. The honorable member for Parkes sits with his thumbs in the arm holes of his waistcoat, looking like a second-hand draper, and after attempting to dictate to others as to what they should do, rises to a point of order, which is a gross misrepresentation.
– This cross firing ‘must cease.
– In England, as in Australia, patent rights are of fourteen years’ duration. Surely the honorable member for Parramatta heard of a Bab<cock and Wilcox boiler more than fourteen years agc?
– I did not.
– A patent expires afterthe lapse of fourteen years, and an extension may be obtained only by special petition to the Privy Council. I am assured that no such petition has been presented in the case of the Babcock and Wilcox (boilers.
– By whom is the honorable member assured?
– By the Patent Office.
– Has the honorable member been making special inquiries?
– No; but I learned of this when making inquiries about another matter. I intend to obtain during the day the book to which I have referred, which ought to be but is not in the Parliamentary Library, and perhaps honorable members will accept as correct a quotation from it, even if they will not accept my own word. Since every honorable member who has had anything to do with machinery has known of the existence of Babcock and Wilcox boilers for more than fourteen years. I think the Committee should be prepared to accept my statement as being correct, and not as having been made with a desire to mislead the Committee or to advance a specious argument.
– The honorable member for Laanecoorie has requested the Committee to accept his assurance that the patents appertaining to the Babcock and Wilcox boilers have expired, and says that during the day he will look up the authority on’ which he relies, and submit it to the Committee.. He overlooks the fact that by that time we shall have dealt with this item. I intend to show the Committee that as late as February, 1906, patent rights in connexion with the Babcock and Wilcox boilers were still running. . That was the evidence -given by Mr. Rigby, manager- of the
Austral Otis Engineering Company, when before the Tariff Commission.
– And it was given on oath.
– It was. In his examination in chief - in answer to question No. 71839, he said -
The tubular boilers referred to undoubtedly are the Babcock and Wilcox make, and other tubular boilers of similar shape. We have built such boilers in our own works here. The Babcock and Wilcox tubular boilers can and have been built here.
That definite statement, like many others made by manufacturers in their evidence ;n chief, was not substantiated on crossexamination. Mr. Rigby was crossexamined - questions 72075 to 72081 - as follows -
Is there anything special about the Babcock boiler? - The patents.
Are you able to produce a boiler here free from the patents and of equal steam-raising capacity? - They have patents on portions of their boiler which would prevent you making a Babcock boiler at all without their consent.
But could you make a tubular boiler of approximately the same steam fuel consumption? -
Then can you tell me how it happens that the patented boiler is chosen by certain protected industries? - Yes, I think I can. It is because of its general excellence and economy effected by it. These advantages are probably due to the patent construction.
Then, as a matter of fact, you cannot make one equal to it here? - You cannot make one equal to it without infringing their patent.
This evidence was given on 15th February, 1906 -
I ask you if you could make a similar boiler with the same amount of fuel consumption? - To make a boiler with the same steaming capacity of the same construction without having their patent construction, it would be necessary to make a much more expensive one, that would probably be double the weight and cost more.
So if two or three Babcock boilers were installed in a protected establishment, where” there is a local industry, they would be put there in order to save money? - Certainly. Taking a 1,000 h.p. boiler - if you put in one of Babcock’s construction, or Hornsby’s, or other similar boilers, the first cost would probably be “50 per cent, less for same power.
That was the evidence of the managingdirector of a very large engineering company in Melbourne, who declared that patent rights in connexion with the Babcock boiler were in existence in February, 1906, and that it could not be made in. Melbourne without the special consent of the patentees.
-I hope that the Committee ‘ “ will recognise that those engaged in the mining industry are the best judges of what they require. They surely know more about this question than do honorable members generally. These boilers save labour and fuel, and are more efficient for the purposes for which they are used than any others that come to Australia. At the same time, I think that the amendment ought to apply to all tubular boilers or boilers of a similar type, which, in my opinion, should come in free, or be subject to only a reasonable duty. One of the advantages of the Babcock and Wilcox boiler is that it can be taken to pieces, which enables it to be handled by lighter cranes, and transported with less difficulty than, say, a Lancashire boiler, which would weigh from 16 to 20 tons, and would do the work . of two such boilers. Facility in transport is a big thing when mining is being conducted in a remote part of the interior.
.In my opinion, it would be a “mistake to specify the name of any particular manufacturer. The difficulty might be got over by making the amendment apply to watertube boilers. We should be doing a great injustice if we did not give the same treatment to the Stirling and other boilers that could be named as it is proposed to give to the Babcock and Wilcox. In confirmation of what has been said of the portability of the last-named boiler, I would mention that within the last few months, it was necessary to send a boiler to a remote part of Gippsland, through almost inaccessible mountain ranges.
– The boiler was sent to the Crooked River, in Gippsland.
– I do not know that that country is inaccessible.
– The place is a very difficult one to get “machinery to. The honorable member would not like to take a big Cornish boiler there. One of the great advantages of the Babcock and Wilcox boiler is that it can be taken to pieces, and the makers have given so much attention to the subject of transport that every piece is packed and numbered so carefully that one may be sure that when they arrive at their destination everything will be there for putting the boilertogether again. I attach greater importance to that than to the fact that the boiler is patented. As I pointed out earlier in the evening, in not specifying in more instances the articles on which the duties are to be imposed, we are not making an efficient Tariff. Local imanufacturers are not in a position to make Babcock and Wilcox or Sterling boilers. Apart from the patents, the perfection of these boilers is such as we could not obtain here. That is due to the fact that the manufacturers have a large market, not in Australia only, but throughout the world. I think that a case has been made out for giving special consideration to these boilers.
.I suggest to the honorable member for Darling that he should amend his amendment by making it apply to watertube boilers, the technical name for all boilers of the type to whichhe has referred. On the general question, I would point out that, although item 162 deals with motive power, machinery and appliances, the only motive power machinery specified as dutiable at5 per cent. is steam turbines. There is nothing about steam turbines entitling them to different consideration from other kinds of motive power machinery. The same thing might be said of the other machinery which is particularized. The whole item should be recast, if we are to act in accordance with common-sense, reason, and jusfice. In my opinion, the Minister should report progress, so that the matter may be considered, calmly and deliberately, when honorable members will be in better temper, and in a mood more conducive to its settlement in the best interests of the country. The item as it stands is not as we individually would have it framed, nor what the country would approve of.
– The honorable member for Echuca, in suggesting that progress be reported, has said what I intended to say.
.When the honorable member for South Sydney spoke, I saw that his objection was a reasonable one, and that it would not be well to name any particular manufacturer. Therefore I wish to adopt the suggestion of the honorable member for Echuca, by making my amendment apply to water-tube boilers, which, I think, covers what we mean better than the word “ multitubular.”
Amendment, by leave, amended accord ingly.
– It appears that an attempt is being made to admit these boilers free in competition with boilers made in Australia. Under item 183 a, large part of these Babcock and Wilcox boilers can be introduced free, and there is therefore no reason why honorable members should atempt to secure their free admission under item 162.
– I wish to quote, on this question, the evidence of Mr. William Frederick Harrington, manager of Walkers Limited, Maryborough. Referring to these watertube boilers, he said -
They are all being made abroad, and under the existing 12½ per cent. Tariff they bid fair to oust the ordinary boilers.
In other words, the free admission of these boilers would destroy the boilermaking industry in Australia, which is largely occupied in the manufacture of Cornish and Lancashire boilers. Mr. Harrington added that, in his opinion -
All these water-tube boilers should pay an ad valorem duty of not less than 33 per cent.
That is the proposal of the representative of the biggest foundry in Queensland. The representative of the largest foundry in South Australia, Mr. John Felix Martin, speaking of the Heine and Babcock boilers, said -
They can be made in Australia. … I do not know that any part of the Babcock boiler is now protected by patent. I think the patent has expired. No boiler is made that cannot be made in Australia. The locomotive boiler stands a higher pressure than any mine boiler.
He contended that if we can make locomotive boilers in Australia we can also make these water-tube boilers. The Government would make a great mistake if they accepted the amendment. It would knock the bottom out of the Tariff altogether.
– I wish just to say that the Babcock and Wilcox boiler has been made in Australia. I could put three journeymen into the witness-box who would be prepared to make affidavit that they had made Babcock and Wilcox boilers in Australia during the last two years.
– In my electorate.
– In which establishment?
– In my electorate. If we place the Babcock and Wilcox boilers on the free list, we might just as well say that we wish no more boilers to be made in Australia. Such a proposal as has been made would result in the penalizing of those who are compelled to use the cheaper boilers, and, as usual, the “ fat man” would be given the advantage.
We have in Australia to-day engines of every capacity, and of all known boilers, and they do work of the most diverse character. Yet to-night we have been told that there is only one boiler made that is fit for certain engines. If that be so, how is it that Lancashire and Cornish boilers are so generally used? If these Babcock and Wilcox boilers are admitted free, there will be but a poor look-out for those engaged in the boiler-making industry in Australia. Those who support the amendment, no doubt mean well, and think they are acting in the interests of the people of Australia, but they forget that the effect of the amendment, if carried, would be to wipe out the Australian boiler-making industry.
.The honorable member for Melbourne Ports no doubt believes he has supplied a very forcible argument, when he refers to these modern water-tube boilers as the “fat man’s” boilers. I have to inform the honorable member that it is owing to the ability of employers in the mines in Western Australia to utilize such upto date appliances as these boilers that wages are found for thousands of workers in that State, and a good living for thousands of families. If the present proposals of the Government are carried into effect they will work disaster to the mining industry of Western Australia.
– We have heard that on every Tariff proposed in Australia.
– No Tariff of this kind was ever proposed in Australia before, and I believe that if it is adopted it will create such a reaction against, protection as to bring about the downfall of the beautiful theories of those who profess that doctrine.
– Does the honorable member know of any place where such a reaction has set in?
– I do not wish to enter upon the general question, or I could supply the Postmaster-General with some interesting information. . The honorable member for Bendigo has quoted the evidence of Mr. Martin, of Gawler, in connexion with these boilers. The evidence of that gentleman is, in my opinion, worthless. He admitted to the Tariff Commission that he was not an engineer, and it is a fact that, in spite of the long period of protection which his industry enjoyed in South Australia, and the disgraceful sweating of his employes, Mr. Martin has had to go out of the business altogether. The extraordinary argument has been used that if these water-tube boilers are admitted, the older type of boiler will be pushed outof existence. If that argument were carried’ to its logical conclusion, we should go back tq the wheelbarrow instead of the locomotive, and the trucks behind it. We should revert to the use of the most primitive appliances, and reject those which have done most for the advance of civilization. No doubt boilers of a type have been made here. In the Perth Museum there is a bicycle made by a bushman in the West some years ago, of exactly the type of the best bicycle made nowadays. It is constructed from wire, scraps of myall, and raw cowhide. According to the theory advanced by some honorable members to-night, that article is as good and effective as the machines turned out by the best equipped works in the world. The difference between the alleged water-tube boiler turned out in Australia and those turned out by the large firms mentioned is simply that those firms have spent enormous sums in laying down extensive plant in order to give quality as well as cheapness. They have had large experience, and have brought to bear on the production of their boilers all the skill, money, and enterprise possible. They manufacture for the whole world, and are undoubtedly in a position to commend themselves to buyers by the excellence and value of their product. It is just as though in Australia some enthusiastic believer in Australian industry brought the necessary number of wheels, pinions, and levers to a watchmaker, told him to put them together, and was prepared to regard the result as of equal value to the best work of Rotherham. The way to develop the making of such boilers in Australia is to give opportunities to those who are likely to purchase and utilize them, and when there is a sufficient demand in Australia, then, and not till then, shall we be able to make them in a way that will commend them to buyers for quality and cheapness:
– Whatever mav be said for the Babcock and Wilcox boilers, whether the patent rights have run. out or not, it is palpable that if we make an exception of water-tube boilers, the prestige which the firm already have, and the excellence of their work, will only accentuate the monopoly, whether we name the firm specifically or not. One type of boiler will ha”p mi absolute monopoly of the whole boiler market, and boiler-making in Australia will go out. ‘ What reason can be offered for giving that firm the Australian market for all time? We are passing this Tariff not for a week or a year, but for several years at least. Of all the mischievous proposals I have heard, this strikes me as the most mischievous.
Amendment of the amendment negatived.
.I oppose the 5 per cent, duty in the gene1 ral Tariff column for paragraph a, and therefore move -
That the amendment be amended by leaving out the words “ 5 per cent.,” with a view to insert in lieu thereof” the word “ free.”
It is nothing but a revenue-producing item. The revenue from it will be very small, but the cost of the article to the consumer will be” increased by 5 per cent. The matter with which we are dealing is one of the most important in the Tariff. It affects the mining industry very seriously. We ought not to penalize that industry unnecessarily. If the Government and the Committee think that it is not worth carrying on, let us say so frankly. Although I represent a mining constituency, when I consider the large number of people that are killed in mining and the amount of illhealth caused by the work, it is an open question to me sometimes whether the ore produced is worth the sacrifice of life and health. If honorable members are desirous that the mining industry should be strangled, let us say so calmly, and not penalize it by imposing unnecessarily high duties. I admit that there are a large number of engineering establishments in Australia which we ought to encourage. , We all desire a diversity of industries and employments in Australia; but there is no doubt that the proposed duties will raise the prices of mining machinery.
– The duties will make mining machinery cheaper.
– It is peculiar that while manufacturers, when before the Tariff Commission, contended that their products would be made cheaper by protection, they all urged that the articles they required in order to carry .on their industries, ought to be free. We ought, as far as possible, to relieve the mining companies from duties which are not of a protective character. Three or four years ago, I proposed that all mining machinery should be admitted free; but that proposal was defeated. On the present occasion. I am merely asking the Government to admit free all mining machinery which cannot reasonably be made here, and offering, if that be done, to accept a duty of 20 per cent. as against both foreign countries and the United Kingdom. Under a duty of 12½ per cent., a great deal of mining machinery is already being manufactured in Australia ; and that is a fact which must be gratifying to all of us. Some time ago, when in the South Mine, Broken Hill, I saw a winding engine, which the manager told me had been manufactured at Maryborough, Queensland, and was the finest in the line of lode. The mining industry is one of the most important in Australia; and is, therefore, entitled to some encouragement. If twenty-five men happen to be thrown out of work in an industry in Melbourne, Sydney, or Adelaide, especially in Melbourne, an extra duty is clamoured for at once in order to find employment for them. In to-day’s newspaper, I read that 200 men have been thrown out of work - I hope only temporarily -in Block 14 at Broken Hill, owing to a poppet head having caught fire. Until it can be replaced with a temporary poppet head, those men will be unemployed. When any men are thrown out of work in a mining district, we cannot find employment for them by the mere imposition of a duty. The importance of the mining industry to a community is demonstrated by the effect which the working of the Broken Hill mines has had upon South Australia. If those mines were to cease work to-day, one out of every three of the railway officials in South Australia would have to be dismissed almost immediately, and Port Pirie would cease to be a township. We ought not to interfere unnecessarily with the mining industry. Seeing that I am prepared to agree to a duty of 20 per cent. on those articles which can be made in Australia, I submit that it would be only fair and reasonable on the part of the Government to forego the duty of 5 per cent. on other articles which come from Germany, America, and other places outside England. Unless Ministers are prepared to give way, and ‘allow all the articles mentioned in paragraph a to come in free, it will mean an added cost of 5 per cent. on those articles to the mining industry. Is it fair to unnecessarily tax the mining and other industries of Australia ?
– Judging by the way in which we are proceeding, I believe that this Tariff will be very much more complicated than the last one. The Government make a proposal, and if one can get a sufficient number of honorable members who are interested in the item to vote with him, the duty is removed or cut down very materially. A great many of the honorable members who to-night have been advocating a reduction in the duty on mining machinery or its removal, were amongst those who last session, without a quiver of conscience, doubled the duties on agricultural machinery, showing very little consideration for the primary producer. I think that there ought to be some consistency with regard to the Tariff, but I do not intend to vote for the imposition of high duties on mining machinery. In some States, a dividend tax is collected. Suppose that a company spend£10,000 in developing a mine. As soon as the first dividend is declared, a dividend tax of1s. in the £1 has to be paid to the State. Men who have paid calls month after month and year after year, have been called upon to pay that tax to the State as soon as their first dividend has been declared. Of all the people in Australia the miner is the one person who derives no benefit from protective duties. When we can give him no protection, surely it is not fair to tax those things which are practically his tools of trade? It has been said that wealthy companies pay the tax. But machinery is employed in many mines in which working men are very large shareholders. Every tax levied upon mining machinery is a blow to the mining industry.
.- I merely wish to say that every item of machinery mentioned by the honorable member for Kooyong can be manufactured in the Commonwealth, and some of it at a cheaper rate than it can be imported. Under these circumstances, I trust that the Committee will agree to the proposed duty.
Question - That the words “ 5 per cent.” proposed to be left out stand part of the proposed new item- put. The Committee divided.
Majority … … 25
Question so resolved in the affirmative.
Amendment of the amendment negatived.
Amendment (by Mr. Frazer) proposed -
That the amendment be amended By leaving out the figures “ 30,” paragraph B, with a view to insert in lieu thereof the figures “20.”
– I shall support the omission of 30 per cent. with a view of imposing a uniform duty of 25 per cent. In my opinion, a duty of 25 per cent. is absolutely necessary in order to be effective. We have heard a great deal about effective protection. Now is the time to show our earnestness in favour of effective protection. So far as concerns the representatives of the engineering industry in Western Australia, the bulk of them are of opinion that unless they get a duty of 25 per cent., the whole of these duties on machinery might as well remain at 12½ per cent. The result of a lower duty will be that instead of settling this Tariff question as we desire to settle it, we shall leave this great problem outstanding, and the agitation will go on. It is of no use talking about fiscal peace until we have this matter settled on a satisfactory basis. As Chairman of the Tariff Commission, I have had the same application for a duty of 25 per cent. from every State except Tasmania. In Western Australia, in South Australia, in Victoria, in New South Wales, and in Queensland, the representatives of the biggest mechanical industry in the country asked for - almost demanded - a duty of 25 per cent., and said that they could not effectually carry on business with a lower duty. I sayagain, therefore, that* if honorable members agree to a lower duty than 25 per cent., they will simply be leaving this great question unsettled, and the agitation will go on indefinitely. I am in favour of fiscal peace. I want a settlement that will be definite. It is of no use attempting to patch up a temporary peace. We want a permanent one.
– We shall not have a permanent peace with prohibition. That is not the way to settle it.
– This is not a Victorian application. It is an Australian application. Unless it is agreed to the whole settlement will be merely of temporary duration. With reference to the alleged incapacity of the foundries and engineering establishments in Australia I say that they are quite capable of turning out the biggest and most elaborate power-producing machinery required for industrial purposes in Australia. I will take the constituency of the honorable member who has moved this amendment. When the Tariff Commission visited the Great Boulder mine,they saw there a mill engine of. 750 horse power. The engine was made in Melbourne by the Austral Otis Company. The manager of the mine gave a certificate to the Otis Company testifying to the satisfactoriness of its work. That is an answer to the charge that this machinery cannot be made in Australia.
– It was made under the old duty.
– There is the motive power in operation at the present time, and it has given satisfaction to the purchasers. ‘ Then, again, in the Boulder Perseverance Mine, there is a winding engine which is the most powerful engine of its kind in the Kalgoorlie field. That also is of Australian make. It was manufactured by the Austral Otis Company. It is a thoroughly satisfactory engine, and the manager of the mine has given a certificate to that effect to the makers. Those are instances in which the local makers had an opportunity to obtain plans and specifications to enable them to compete. But all the mining companies have not given the Australian firms an opportunity of making their machinery. On the contrary, some of them have given orders direct to English and American firms, and others have asked. English and American firms to send in prices for machinery without supplying plans and specifications to enable the local makers to have a chance. As to the reason why plans and specifications have not been supplied to the Australian companies, I make no reflection upon the mining managers. They are a splendid lot of men, and I believe they would give fair play to our Australian industries if they had their own way. But most of the companies that are creating this clamour are British-owned, having their head offices in London, the directors being probably interested in other enterprises and inclined to give a preference to British productions. I say that if these mining companies would prepare plans and specifications of the machinery they require, and call for tenders in Australia, they would get the machinery made as well in this country as in any part of the world. It is only a matter of duty and opportunity. What we want is a higher duty to secure fair play for our own manufactures.
– I congratulate my honorable friend who has just resumed his seat on the triumphant cheers which greeted him from the Government benches.
– He made a very good speech !
– I should like to say to the honorable member just one word - and I think it is time to say it in this House - that he must not expect this fiscal question to be settled on a basis of prohibition.
– A duty of 25 per cent. is not prohibition.
– I should like to remind the honorable member, too, that there are other States which must be considered in the settlement of this question than the one which he particularly represents and speaks for. The honorable member has been pleading for Victorian manufacturers, and for none other. These are Victorian duties, which to-morrow would be scouted if they were referred to all Australia.
– It is a great pity to bring in that sort of consideration.
– It is about time to bring it in. It is being brought in by honorable members constantly.
– It is a slander on New South Wales to say such a thing.
– A slander on Queensland, too.
– We ought to be able to deal with the question on its merits.
– I am dealing with it on its merits. The honorable member for Bendigo has said that we cannot have fiscal peace unless we pass practically prohibitive duties. He will find out that that is not the way to secure fiscal peace, and that there are more States than one to be consulted in regard to the question. I am tired of hearing the cry of fiscal peace raised as a reason for voting prohibitive duties. In that connexion the whole of Australia must be considered. I do not believe that Australia to-day is in favour of the fixing of these duties at the high rates proposed by the Government. - I should like to make some reference to what I thought was an implied reflection by the honorable member for Bendigo on the management of mines in Western Australia. The honorable member says that the managers, if they were free agents, would be glad to place their orders for mining machinery in Victoria and elsewhere in Australia, but that they are under the domination “ of directorates having their head offices in London. The implication that these mining managers are not free agents in the control of the mines, is an unworthy reflection upon a body of independent men obtaining their machinery, I believe, where they think they ought to get it.
– The directors have a voice in the determination of where their machinery shall be obtained.
– I should like to hear of a London directorate of one of the huge mines in Western Australia which would dictate to its manager on the field where he should obtain his machinery. I do not believe that there is such dictation. No manager with so huge a responsibility upon his shoulders would submit to it.
– They have an absolutely free hand.
– I should think so. If it be true as has been said - and I believe it is - that magnificent mining machines, made in the eastern States, are doing splendid work in Western Australia, what a triumph for the old duty it is. If we were able under the old Tariff to make such machinery, and to ship it to the West, why do we need these high prohibitive duties to. foster a strangled industry? Nearly all the mining managers in Western Australia are unanimous in their request that these duties should be lowered. Here are their statements. Does the honorable member for Bendigo suggest that they are not honest, or that the mine managers were acting under compulsion on the part of the London directors in submitting them tous? I do not believe it. “ We have heard during this debate repeated references to the Austral Otis Engineering Company.
– The Mort’s Dock EngineeringCompany applied for’ the same duty.
– I am afraid that my honorable friend is too ready to listen to all that interested persons have to say. He seems to think that the mere fact that interested persons ask forthese dutiesis conclusive evidence of their need. Who would not ask when he knew that he might receive? Who would not say in such circumstances that he wished to dip into the public Treasury ? Such statements have no right to be considered unless they were proved up to the hilt before the Tariff Commission. The Commission was appointed to investigate every statement regarding the Tariff, and to prove or disprove it. I should not have spoken to this question but for the statement made by the honorable member for Bendigo, which, I think, was unworthy of him, in regard to the position of mine managers. In order to buttress up his case, he had to make a reflection upon a body of men as independent and as capable as are any to be found in Australia, and men who above all others would not brook any dictation in the management of their mines. I shall vote for the amendment moved by the honorable member for Kalgoorlie, that the general Tariff be 20 per cent. - and that the duty on imports from the United Kingdom be 15 per cent. - not because I think that we ought to impose a duty of 20 per cent., but because I believe it is all that we shall be likely to get. If I thought we had the slightest chance of reverting to the old duty I should propose an amendment accordingly, but since I think that there is no chance of our doing so, I shall vote for this compromise.
.Since my night’s rest has been broken, I! intend now to justify the work that I did as a member of the Tariff Commission 011 this item and the promises I have made to my constituents in connexion) with it. I agree with the honorable member for Bendigo that the engineering firms asked for duties of 25 per cent:; but many of those employed in the industry asked for double that rate. If the honorable gentleman is looking at the matter from the stand-point of the workman, he should advocate duties of not 25 but 50 per cent. We were told by some in the industry that duties of 25 per cent. are of no use to them ; that what they want is prohibition. If protection is worth anything at all to the working men of Australia, the protective duties should be raised until they become absolutely prohibitive. A great deal of the equipment of Australian mines has been made by Australian engineering firms. I was glad to see that evidenceof the willingness of the managers of those mines to use Australian productions as much as possible. But while much of what they require is made in Australia, they said that it is absolutely impossible to procure within the Commonwealth everything that they need, and they asked to be permitted to import special machinery, without being penalized by duties which would seriously handicap the development of the industry. The honorable member for Bendigo has insinuated that the mining managers are influenced by their directors in London to purchase machinery outside Australia.
– I have heard the same thing many times.
– One after another of the mining managers came before the Tariff Commission, and all swore that they had an absolutely free hand in ordering what they thought necessary for their mines. Nearly all of them are Australians by birth, and expressed the desire to use Australian machinery as much as possible. They said that it is only in cases of absolute necessity that they go outside the Commonwealth. I hold in my hand a letter which has been sent to me by one of the best-known and most-respected managers in Western Australia, a gentleman who stands as high as any one in the mining world. His reputation for honesty and integrity is unsullied, and his word shouldbe taken absolutely and entirely. He was Presi- dent of the Western Australian Chamber of Mines when the Tariff Commission visited Western Australia, but was unable to give evidence. At the time I thought that he might have made a special effort to do so, and I was . inclined to draw what proved subsequently to be an altogether false conclusion. The gentleman to whom I refer is Mr. Richard Hamilton, the manager of the Great Boulder Proprietary Gold Mining Company. Although he did not come before the TariffCommission, he sent to the Chairman a letter in which he explained bis attitude in regard to duties. I believe I am correct in saying that that letter was not taken into consideration by the Chairman in drawing up his reports, and that it was not placed amongst the papers of the Commission. The letter which I received from Mr. Hamilton, enclosing a copy of a letter which he sent to the Chairman of the Tariff Commission, was as follows -
The Great Boulder Propty. Gold Mines Ltd.,
Boulder, W.A.,17th October, 1907.
The Hon. J. M. Fowler. M.P.,
Parliament House, Melbourne, Victoria.
My dear sir, -
Mr. Kirwan has written me regarding a recent conversation he had with you on the Tariff question, when you expressed a doubt that my published opinions as President of the Chamber of Mines did not correctly reflect my private views. In order to dispel any misconception, I hasten to inform you that there is no divergence between them. Although in favour of a low Tariff for revenue purposes, and to prevent importers’ monopolies, I am strongly opposed to duties that will tend to cripple primary industries, in order to maintain manufactories that must eventually entirely depend upon the indigenous industries.
With so small a population in the Commonwealth, the prohibitory duties on high -class machinery seem to invite monopoly by a firm that might be induced to undertake the manufacture, for there is not demand enough within the Commonwealth to adequately employ even one firm, if that firm will spend a sufficient amount of money to keep it abreast of the progress made by manufacturers in the older manufacturing countries. The effect would be a great increase in the immediate cost of the machines and inferiority of design and workmanship.
I do not think I can do better than enclose for your perusal a copy of my letter of the 3rd October,1905, to the Chairman of the Tariff Commission, wherein I have set out at length my private views on the import duties on mining machinery. I also send you a report of an interview published in the Kalgoorlie Miner on the 31st August, 1907.
In conclusion, I may add that the opinions expressed by the protectionist section of the Tariff Commission in paragraph 12 of their report are quite in accord with my views, viz. : - That wherever price and efficiency of production will allow them to do so, the mine managers will always give the preference to Australian manufactures.
You are at liberty to make whatever use you deem necessary of this letter.
The letter sent by Mr. Hamilton to the Chairman of the Tariff Commission is as follows -
Kalgoorlie, 3rd October, 1905.
Royal Commission on the Commonwealth Tariff, Kalgoorlie.
I regret that, having been called away on urgent business, I have not had an opportunity of appearing before the Commission to give evidence in support of more favorable treatment in the matter of import duties on machinery and requisites used in connexion with the mining industryof this State.
The reasons which led me to take up the position of advocating a reduction in the duties on machinery - which I think should be classed as “tools of trade” in this industry - and on materials used in the pursuit of mining, are briefly as follows -
We have in this State an enormous area of auriferous country awaiting development. So far only the richer mines are being worked ; but the future will entirely depend on the lower grade deposits, of which a large number, almost payable under present conditions, are already known to exist.
If by means of good and cheap machinery we are placed in a better position to open up these low grade mines, it will be to the material advantage of the whole community of this State.
Unlike other industries, the product of gold mining is not of fluctuating value, and having established our mining industry on a wider basis, we need have no fear of the profitable disposal of the product, inasmuch as a standard price is always obtainable. . Mining is a natural industry, and in it Western Australia has no fear of outside competition. Every extra man employed directly supports on the average four other persons; this can easily be proved by taking the number of workers in any group of mines in the State, and it will be seen that where100 workers have found employment a community of about 500 congregates in the neighbourhood.
It seems to me that by encouraging the mining industry we are, by its expansion, creating a greater demand for the manufactured products of subsidiary industries,and that by natural growth the latter can hone for ‘more assistance than the artificial support of protective duties.
I do not wish to discourage the manufacture in Australia of the simpler lines of machinery which the local manufacturers are able to produce in competition with the outside world, but I am convinced that Western Australia’s first consideration must be the development of its great primary industry of mining.
This State affords an excellent example of the fact that there is nothing which will open up a new country so quickly as gold mining. j have no doubt that in the course of time the expansion of the mining industry and the consequent growth of the agricultural and pastoral industries, due to the increase of population, a greater demand will be created for machinery, which Australian manufacturers will be able to make, but in the meantime it is a distinct disadvantage, froma mining point of view, that the industry should pay protective duties to enable local manufacturers to supply us with copies of high class machinery and often, I am sorry to say, very bad copies.
In my opinion, the population of the Commonwealth is loo small and too scattered to expect the establishment of manufactories on a sufficiently large scale,and equipped with the costly tools necessary to make high class machinery, either in the field of steam and electricity.
From my intimate knowledge of the goldbearing country within a radius of 200 miles from Kalgoorlie, I am sure that for generations to come there will be work provided in the opening up of the low grade bodies to which I have referred, and which have not yet been thoroughly prospected ; and it is more to the advantage of the community at the present stage that every facility should be given to open up these natural resources, than to retard their development by bolstering up what may be termed artificial industries.
So long as there is a population here supported by the gold produced, we can make use of the pastoral value of the gold-fields country to a considerable extent ; otherwise large tracts of good pasture land, suitable for raising cattle and sheep for local consumption, must remain unutilized.
I, personally, would advocate the removal of the duties on all machinery which comes into the country to develop its mineral resources andgive employment to workers, and would suggest that the revenue which would be lost from the abolition of such duties could be raised by a tax on, say, liquors and narcotics, and articles of luxury, tea, coffee, and several articles of food which cannot be produced in the Commonwealth. These might be legitimately taxed to raise revenue, and a very small duty on such items would return many times more than the amount now raised by duties on mining machinery, &c.
Western Australia essentially differs from all the other States in the necessity for supporting the mining industry, because, owing to the deficiency of the rainfall in the interior and on the gold-fields, the agricultural land does not extend inland very many miles. Unless we keep the industry going on the gold-fields, this particular part of the country will revert again to the wilderness, and the agricultural interests of the State would immediately suffer a serious decline.
My firm conviction is that in the interests of the State it is of paramount importance that the mining industry should receive every legitimate encouragement.
I have read the reports of the evidence submitted by the mining representatives who have appeared before the Commission, in which evidence I fully concur, and as the case has been, in my opinion, well placed before you from the mining point of view, it does not appear to me that I am able to add anything of much importance to the voluminous evidence that has already been submitted.
In these circumstances, it is not my wish to further trespass on the time of the Commission, particularly in view of the fact that the brief time remaining at their disposal in Kalgoorlie will be fully occupied in hearing the evidence which witnesses representing other sections of the community desire to tender. i have the honour to be, sir,
Your obedient Servant, (Signed) Rd. Hamilton.
I became acquainted with the existence of this letter only by receiving it from Mr. Hamilton the other week. It contains a very eloquent plea against subjecting the. mining industry to further increases of duty, and shows the position of mining managers, who have sworn that they use Australian machinery to the greatest extent possible.
– Does the honorable member say that the letter was written to the Chairman of the Tariff Commission in his official capacity, and that he kept it from the other members of the Commission?
– I do not wish to say anything like that. The letter has teen sent to me as a copy of one sent to the Chairman of the Commission.
– The honorable member knows that the Commission did not recognise letters unless the writers came forward to support their statements on oath.
– I know that the honorable gentleman utilized other letters in drawing up his reports.
– And we put them in the schedule.
– This letter has not been published in the schedule. We are told that it is for the benefit of the workmen in the engineering industry that the industry should be given a. high degree of protection to enable it to compete with outsiders. That phase of the question as affecting this as well as every other item in the Tariff was carefully gone into by the free-trade section of the Tariff Commission, but although the labour question has always been put forward by protectionists on the hustings and in protectionist’ newspapers as the most important aspect of the whole matter, honorable members wilt not find from beginning to end of the reports of the protectionist section of the Tariff Commission a single attempt made to analyze the labour question. The members of the free-trade section have done so, and we find, as I have said, that the demand for protection based on the alleged necessity of protecting labour is an absolute sham. Here is one of our findings, based on facts and figures referred to in the report, and I challenge any one to controvert it -
That the amount paid in wages in the manufacture of mining machinery in the Commonwealth does not exceed one-third the total value of the output; that the cost- of labour in Australia is, at the most, one-third higher than the cost in competing countries; that, therefore, the existing duty of 12^ per cent, ad valorem much more than “covers the difference in the labour cost. For example, in an output abroad of the value of £1,000 the sum of £240 would be paid in wages. In a similar output in Australia the amount paid in wages would be £332. The difference, therefore, in labour cost would be £83 in a total value of £1,000; in other words, a little over 8 per cent.
Here is one of the industries in which the disproportion between the wages paid m England and in Australia might be considered more striking than in connexion with many others, and yet it is shown that the difference in price due to difference in labour cost is not’ more than 8 per cent. This is what all the outcry has been about. I wish to say now that the duties as recommended are intended for the benefit of Victoria, and if adopted would strike^ a staggering blow at the State from which 1 come. If I considered merely my personal interests I should be found with the honorable member for Dalley advocating protective duties for the benefit of engineers. There are no mines in my electorate, but there are a great many engineers. Still, in common with other Western Australian representatives, protectionist and free- trade, I realize that the welfare of my State is bound up in the welfare of the mining industry, and that unless I do everything in my power to assist the development of that industry and prevent injury overtaking it the engineers in my electorate will not be well served by me. The engineers of Western Australia depend for their prosperity upon the development of the mining industry of the State, and whatever would be good for that industry would re-act for the benefit of the engineers. So I have no hesitation in taking a broadminded view of this matter, and in voting for the lowest duties I can obtain, for the benefit of the mining industry of Australia, and specially of the State from which I come, believing, after having gone into the matter carefully as a member of the Tariff Commission, that in so voting I shall be doing what is best in the interests of the engineering industry of the Common- wealth.
.As a member of the Kalgoorlie Chamber of Mines, and knowing the whole of the members of that Chamber, I think I should defend them from the slur attempted to be thrown upon them. It is a scandalous thing that straightforward, honest, men should have been made the subject of such an attack. Two or three times the honorable member for Bendigo made statements which implied that the directors of the mines were interested in purchasing machinery from the Old Country.
– I deny that I said anything of the kind.
– We shall see what Hansard says on the subject. The honorable member said by implication that the managers of the mines were not free agents, and were dictated to as to where they should purchase the machinery they required. I deny the statement. I say that these men are as free as any in the world, and would be prepared at once to resign if any attempt were made, even by their directors, to dictate to them in the manner suggested. The mine managers of Kalgoorlie are Australians, and as capable in the business which they follow as any men could be. . I hope the Committee will recognise that they are free agents, who will purchase in Australia where they can. There are only a few items which they ask us to allow them to get elsewhere, because they can do so with advantage to the industry, and in order to lower the working cost of the mines. They have to treat large bodies of low grade ore. They have now to work on lower grades of ore and at lower levels than ever before, and they should surely be allowed to be the best judges of the tools thev require for their work. I am English, but I am proud to know that these men are Australians who would not be dictated to in such a matter even by the owners of the mines. I do not believe that any of them would stand it. I know that one of them refused an offer to take charge of a mining property in Borneo at a salary of ,£3,000 a year. Such men are not likely to be dictated to in the manner suggested by the honorable member for Bendigo, and I hope the members of the Committee will be prepared to allow them to purchase the material they require where they please.
– I am sorry that the Treasurer has decided to “ bullock “ this item through at this hour of the morning, when the Committee is not in a condition to give it the consideration which its importance demands. I do not intend to address myself at great length to the question at this hour, although, in view of the importance of the interests involved, the temptation to do so is very great. I cannot allow the opportunity to pass’ without expressing my appreciation of the straight talk which the deputy leader of the Opposition administered to his anti-Socialist colleague, the honorable member for ‘Bendigo. The debate has shown where the free-trade forces are drifting in this matter. The honorable member for Parramatta must see now that the ultimate goal aimed at by a number of his anti-Socialist supporters is prohibition. The honorable member for Bendigo indicated that that was his objective in the Tariff proposals that he put forward.
– I said 25 per cent, as an average standard.
– That is a fairly high average standard; but he said that so long as there were importations, and the possibility of Australian competition was prevented, no satisfactory Tariff would be obtained. Although a certain amount of work has been produced under the 12J per cent, rate, if the 25 per cent, proposed does not materially limit the imports now coming in, I presume that the honorable member for Bendigo would meet the difficulty by advancing a little further along the line towards prohibition. The interest for which he is fighting to-night does not ‘represent the whole of the industrial interests of the Commonwealth. It is a secondary interest, dependent upon the development and progress of other interests, amongst which the great mining industry is not insignificant. .Figures submitted by competent authorities to the Tariff - Commission, of which the honorable member was Chairman, show that the total number of hands employed in the engineering trade throughout the Commonwealth in 1904 was 15,022 ; and that the total value of plant and machinery in the industry was ^1,195,637. As against that, the primary industry of mining, upon which the engineering industry is dependent for its very existence, employed 111,714 hands; find the value of its plant and machinery was ^12,476,17^7. The honorable member for Bendigo battles for the former as against the latter. The honorable member may get his prohibition, but there is a big element in the Commonwealth that has a say, and that, fighting for its own without asking for any special consideration, will be heard. That is the element which I am going to stand by in my vote. I regret that I am unable to have the duty reduced to what would be equitable and fair to the mining industry. To see the great difference between the prohibitionists of this House and the protectionists of other countries, one needs only to turn to the Tariffs of protectionist countries like New Zealand and Canada, where a big proportion of this machinery is either on the 5 per cent, revenue list or upon the free list, the great bulk being on the free list.
– The honorable member for Bendigo voted a little while ago for a 12 J per cent, duty upon agricultural implements. Instead of the honorable member lashing himself into a white heat of passion, it would have been interesting if he had told us why the mining industry of Australia should be treated differently from the farming and other industries.
– I voted for 25 per cent, on harvesters and other big agricultural machines.
– That circumstance scarcely justifies the honorable member, as a protectionist, in voting for so low a duty as 12^ per cent, on a large number of implements used in farming. The honorable member is well aware that the one industry of this country which receives no. Tariff advantage whatever is that of mining. No Tariff can add a farthing to the value of an ounce of gold. I have never yet heard protectionists in this House,, either in connexion with this Tariff or that of 1902 - not even the right honorable member for Adelaide, the framer of the 1902 Tariff, a man who has made protection a life study - face fairly and squarely the question why an industry which receives no Tariff advantage should be loaded up with the highest duties imposed under the Tariff. Why should those who receive no Tariff advantage be required to bear the highest Tariff burden? And why should those whose products are artificially enhanced in price bv the Tariff, escape all taxation under the Tariff? I am not specially concerned about the big rich mines at Kalgoorlie or anywhere else. Probably those properties, floated and managed from London are able to pay any impost that may be levied upon them-
– They have had £13, 000,000 in dividends.
– If so, they have put a good many millions into the ground to earn it. They risked a considerable amount of capital, and are surely entitled to some reward for their enterprise. All the Kalgoorlie mines are not Great Boulders, Lake Views, or Perseverances. In a great manycases, there is some difficulty in making low-grade mines even pay their way.
– Persons will not work mines that are made unprofitable to them.
– Yet, we have resolutions from miners’ unions asking for a protective Tariff.
– I was coming to that. These resolutions are. eloquent of the patriotism and disinterestedness of the Western Australian miners. The bulk of the mining community there desires to see Australia self-contained, being content to sacrifice a good deal to assist the producers of the eastern States to attain prosperity, without having themselves any hope of sharing in it. But the honorable member for South Sydney would be the last to accept a chance resolution of bis constituents as an instruction to him to vote in a certain way. He would be still more disinclined to slavishly obey such a resolution if he were convinced that it was adopted hurriedly, or onmisleading and ex parte information, or without the people concerned having had such an experience of the operation of the Tariff on their interests and occupations as would maketheir carefully-matured views a chart by which the Parliamentary representative might mark out his course. This is the difficulty which confronts me in respect to these isolated expressions of public opinion. Like the honorable member for South Sydney, I am always prepared to give effect to the will of the people, duly obtained and decisively expressed. In this case, the evidence satisfies me that the protection given by the lower rate of duty will be adequate to the encouragement of the engineering industry without being unduly oppressive to those engaged in mining. That is the golden mean which governs my vote on this item. We must not discard from our consideration the prospectors and pioneers who are working their own properties in the isolated portions of Australia. It is their interests and not the interests of the large mines at Kalgoorlie, Broken Hill and elsewhere, which arouse my solicitude. Many properties in Western Australia are being developed by the men who discovered them, and they are in the position of small cooperative parties upon whom it would be cruel to place any unnecessary disability.
-That is not confined to Western Australia.
– That is so. I have received a circular relating to the Stanley mine at Bright.
– That has reference to portable engines, which are not in question under this item.
Mr.MAHON. - The two are intimately related. Portable engines are in the next item ; and I am anxious to see what the honorable member for Bendigo will do in this connexion. That class of engine is not manufactured here; it is absolutely necessary under the conditions of this particular company. It is mainly composed of working miners; and they recently held a meeting, at which resolutions were passed demanding a reduction of the duty. I remind honorable members that in Western Australia, as the honorable member for Swan, is aware, there are many one-mine towns, which are dependent on low-grade ores ; and, if the high prohibitive duties favoured by the honorable member for Bendigo, by raising the cost of machinery, have the result of rendering such mines unprofitable, not only will the foundries of Bendigo, Castlemaine, and Melbourne not receive orders, but unemployed miners will be thrown on the labour market in competition with the workers of the towns. We have heard enough about the bigmines at Kalgoorlie and Broken Hill; and I do not desire to detainthe Committee by any further reference to them. I am sure that the honorable member for Bendigo desires only what is fair and right in the interests of the whole of Australia. I do not accuse him of speaking merely on behalf of Victorian foundries; he had given proof of his zeal as a Federalist long before we ever dealt with the Tariff ; and we all give him the utmost credit for being a good Australian. I point out, however, that if, by any action of his the low-grade mines of Western Australia are closed, and the miners, who have been fertilizing other portions of Australia with the proceeds of their industry, are thrown out of employment, the expenditure by the Postal and other Departments, in extending the conveniences of civilization, will be lost. Some of these small centres will disappear from the map, and the workers, instead of receiving remunerative employment, will be thrown into competition with workers elsewhere. I am sure that that is not a consummation the honorable member desires; and I place it before the Committee as a consideration which ought not to be excluded in dealing with this duty.
Question - That the figures “ 30 “ be left out - resolved in the affirmative.
Question - That the figures “ 20 “ be inserted - put.
The Committee divided.
Majority … … 1
Question so resolved in the affirmative.
Amendment of the amendment agreed to.
Amendment (by Mr. Frazer) agreed to-
That the amendment be amended by leaving out the figures “ 25,” paragraph b.
Amendment (by Mr. Frazer) put -
That the figures “ 15 “ be inserted in lieu of the figures “25,” just left out.
The Committee divided.
Majority …. … 1
Question so resolved in the negative.
Amendment (by Mr. Fuller) negatived -
That the figures”17½” be inserted in lieu of the figures “ 25,” just left out.
Amendment (by Mr. Fisher) agreed to -
That the figures “ 20 “ be inserted “in lieu of the figures “2.5,” just left out.
Proposednew item, as amended, agreed to.
– I said earlier in the evening that I would be prepared to adjourn when the consideration of the item which has just been dealt with had been completed.
– The Treasurer also stated that we should cease work each evening at about 11 o’clock.
– That arrangement was conditional upon fair progress being made. In the circumstances, I do not think it would be fair to ask members to deal with any fresh items this morning. Of course, there are times when the Government might feel compelled to proceed further. If such a long debate had not taken place upon this item in the early portion of the day it would have been disposed of by 10 or 11 o’clock last evening.
Motion (by Sir William Lyne) agreed to -
That the House, at its rising, adjourn until 2 p.m. to-day.
House adjourned at 2.45 a.m. (Wednesday).
Cite as: Australia, House of Representatives, Debates, 26 November 1907, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/hofreps/1907/19071126_reps_3_42/>.